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Take a virtual journey to the bustling streets of New York in Bert Monroy: The Making of Times Square. Digital painter Bert Monroy reveals how he created the minute details that build the impressive 108,000 x 21,600 pixels, 25-feet wide photorealistic portrait of this iconic intersection.
In this installment, The Tools, Bert demonstrates how he uses the brushes, filters, and textures in Photoshop to create everything from the trees in Central Park to the billboards on Broadway, and shares his techniques for keeping his project organized with layers and groups. He also touches on the importance of channels and channel calculations, and how the evolution of the tools in Photoshop from CS3 to CS5 shaped his work.
Patterns make up the solution for so many of the problems that came up during the creation of Times Square. One such problem is the grill in front of most of the cars. If I zoom in here to this one taxi cab right here and we get really close, you see that it has this grill. And we can see through the grill to the inside there, and we see these nice little highlights on it and so on. Those little highlights are being caused by the fact that it is a metal grill and so on. It picks up all those nice lights. Now that is a pattern. It has a curvature into it and so on, but that can all be modified once the pattern is created.
Let's go in there and create that pattern for the grill. Now one thing that's very important in any kind of a pattern is perfect symmetry, because it has to step and repeat. Where it leaves itself off, it has to pick itself back up again and look seamless. So in order to get that perfect symmetry, I am going to turn on my grid. I'm going to get a little closer here, and using the grid as my guide--because that's going to allow me to create these shapes perfectly symmetrical-- I am going to use my Pen tool.
I am going to take the Pen tool and place it right here at this corner spot right there. I am going to click and drag and have it snap so that the handle ends right there at that first subdivision. Then I am going to go to this center right there, click, and drag, so that the handle again goes one subdivision. Going straight across to the center of this block here, I am going to click and drag, then back down to this corner, click and drag. So there I have this perfectly symmetrical little arc here. Now, that's the shape that's going to be the basis for my grill.
And to do that, I am going to use a paintbrush. So I get my paintbrush, which I have a solid brush right now, select it, and I just test it by doing that little trick, just to see how thick it is, and that's a good thickness. Now, I need it to be transparent because, as you saw a second ago when you look at the painting, we can see inside of that cab. So we can see what's going right through it, inside the cab through there. So I need it to be transparent inside the grill. So I am going to create the actual pattern in a separate layer.
Now that I have that layer selected, I've got my paintbrush selected, I go over to the path and say stroke it. So there it is. I can turn off the path. I don't need to see this anymore. I am now going to select that little shape and holding down my Option and Command keys, I am going to click and drag it straight down. I am now going to flip that vertically and then move it up until it snaps so it's right on top of the other one. Now that I have that, I am going to select both of them and again, I'm going to copy those and have it snap to the grid right there on top.
So now they are directly on top of each other just like that. Now that I have that, I am going to select both sets and copy them one more time and have it snap to the grid right in there like that. Now that I have this shape in place, I can now let it go. This is now the basis for my pattern. I have enough information there that I can have to step and repeat, as long as I pick an area to make the pattern that has that step and repeat established. So I am going to go right here from this center point right there and drag it over to the center point at the far end.
So there, we see this little piece that's outside. Where is that? Right in there. See, that's going to be the step-and-repeat that's missing. This whole section is here, where is this one? Right there. Same thing with here. We are seeing the bottom. Where is this top? Right there. So now that we have this, I am going to turn off my background so that I have transparency, and then I am going to establish the pattern. I come over here and say Define Pattern. I can now call it whatever I want. I am going to call it grill.
So now, I can select all and delete it. I don't need it anymore. Let's pull back. We don't need the grid anymore, so we can turn the grid off, and let's look at our background. And in the background, we'll just throw some color in there. Let's just pick some color, so we could see what's inside this grill. Let's make it a little slightly lighter black, all right? And for the background color, we'll make it yellow, kind of a warm yellow about like that. And in the background, I'm just going to throw in a gradient.
We'll make it a reflective gradient with yellow in the center, and we'll just do like that. So there, we have this tone. Now, in this layer here, we're going to fill with our pattern. I'll go in and say fill it. I've got my path selected. The last pattern I just created should be at the end of the stack right there. There it is. I select that and say OK. There is our grill, which now to make it look like the one in the scene, I am going to go in there and just distort it a little bit.
So let's pull back a little bit, and I am going to get my Warp, and I am just going to kind of bend this out a little bit like that, bend this over, bend this one out, this one over and there you can see that we are starting to get that nice little curvature to it. Now that we have that, I am going to go in here and give it a little layer style. And the layer style is going to establish that curvature that we want. So I am going to go and give it a Bevel and Emboss, and the Bevel and Emboss are going to push up the depth, so I get really strong lights and darks.
Now, I am going to move that light source a little bit over to the top a little so we get a little highlight right along the top there, and then this bottom edge right now is going to get kind of hidden because it's black against a really dark gray. So I am going to change that color. Say we have some taillights showing in there. So I am going to pick a bright red like this. We don't see it. That's because it's set to Multiply. If I set this to Screen just like the highlights, there we see that little red in there. We can bring that one down just a little bit and maybe bring the size down just a tad, click OK, and there you see that we have this nice little grill.
It looks three-dimensional. It looks metal, and it does have a nice symmetry to it.
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