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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.
Layer styles can make the smallest thing look real. No matter how simple it is, it is important for that to have life to make the overall scene look real. So I am going to zoom in right here on these little structures back here and you see there is a ladder there. Now, that ladder needs to fit into the rest of the scene. It has to have shading and such to make it look real. Now we are looking at a low-res version, so it doesn't look as detailed as the actual piece. But we are going to make that ladder. Simple thing like that and it doesn't require a tremendous amount of work, just a knowledge of how Photoshop works to make it look real.
So I got here a file I just created and I am going to create some basic paths that are going to make up my ladder. And they are not going to be difficult. I am just going to create one long path like this and I am going to duplicate it straight across. There is the basic shape of the upright parts of my ladder. Then I am going to go in here and create all the rungs that go across. I am just going to create this one right there and duplicate it down there and I am going down again and I'm basically holding down my Option+Shift+Command key to constrain these guys straight down.
That would be Shift+Alt+Ctrl on a PC. With the beauty of editing, there you see the entire rung. You don't have to make each one. You see the entire ladder is now set up. These are just the paths. Without them we really haven't done anything to our art. Here is the path. So I am going to just save those paths so we have them. Now, this is going to be created in various layers. I am going to select this first one here, right there. This is the one that's closest towards us, right there, and I am going to go in there and create a layer right there and this layer is going to upright and in fact we will make the one that's furthest to us.
So we will say upright right and that's this one here. So I am going to get a color that's going to represent that shape. So I am going to go in here and let's pick a nice gray. Say we pick that gray right there and I am going to get a brush, a hard-edged brush. Let's bring the Hardness up, bring the Size down to the size, that's going to be good for that shape of the ladder. Go in there and type in a 15 there and that's a good size. So now that I have that in that layer, I am going to go ahead and stroke that path. So there it is.
Now this one here, I am going to stroke in another layer. So I am going to call this layer upright left, and stroke that path in that layer. Then I am going to select all the ones in between. I am going to select all of these and in a layer in between all these, right there in between them, we will call it the rungs. And I am going to get a much thinner brush. Let's go in here and make it a little thinner. Let's say about 9 looks good.
So in that I am going to stroke the paths right there. So there is our basic shape for our ladder, but it's very flat right now. So now let's make it look dimensional. So I am going to go into my layer styles and for the upright on the right, I am going to go in there and say give it just a Inner Shadow, which I am going to have it turn off the global light and have the light come from this side here. Now I am going to choke it so it's hard, and I am going to bring the Size down to about 2 and I am going to reduce the Distance to 2, just so I get this little edge along the front there, see just like that.
Right now, what if this was supposed to be the light side, it's facing the light? Well, what we will do is we will just change the color to a very light gray like this and change the mode to a Screen, and now we've got a light edge right along there. So we'll say that's good. Click OK. And so that we can really see that light stand out, I am going to go to the background and invert it. So now we see that we've got this little light edge going on right there. So that's a good layer style, so I am just going to Option+Click and drag that into the other upright layer, like that, so now they both have that little edge going up.
So now comes the rungs. We want the rungs to look dimensional too. So I am going to double-click on them to bring up their layer styles and here I am going to give them a Bevel and Emboss. Right off the bat, you can see that they started to look dimensional. So I am going to go in there and I am going to just kind of reduce the size of this to something like about 3. Now this is not a formula, because this depends on the resolution of the file you're working on. So 3 might be too much. This is 72 dpi, so 3 is quite a bit. I am going to increase the Depth so I get really strong lights and darks and I am going to increase the Opacity for my whites right there, and you can see that I have this nice tonality going on there. Click OK.
Now, that's fairly good, but not perfect. So here is what we are going to do next. I am going to turn on the rungs as a selection. I am going to Option+Click on it just like that, and then in a layer right on top of the upright right, I am going to create a new layer right there, I am going to fill that area with black. So I am going to go in there and say Fill, Foreground Color, done. Now, I can deselect. What do I have? I have a bunch of black areas there. We should just turn this off so we could see it. I am just going to move it down for a second.
Let's turn this off. I am in that layer. There it is. See it's just that. Let me undo that, so it is right back where it is used to be. And what I am going to do is I am going to get in a little closer so we can see what I am about to do here. I am going to take that rung. We see that we have a light coming from up here somewhere, which means that the rung should cast a little shadow on the inside part of this upright. So I am going to take that layer, which I am going to call shadow, and I am going to skew it. I have to give it a little skew, right here like this.
So I am going to skew that so it goes just like that, and I am going to bring down the Opacity just a little. It's just a little hint, and then I am going to clip it with the upright layer, just like that, and there you can see that now we have this little shadow on our ladder there and we can even bring down the Opacity a little bit more, so that there's just as little hint of a shadow and there we could see that our ladder just became this three-dimensional ladder that was done with just a bunch of little paths that were stroked and layer styles took care of the rest to make it look real.
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