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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.
Throughout the streets of Times Square there are many cars, and quite a few of them have a license plate that's visible. Now creating that license plate requires quite a few little steps between layer styles and alpha channels, so I'm going to create one for you right now. All right, I'm going to create some paths that are going to make up the basic license plate, so I'm going to pick the Rounded Corner Rectangle tool here. I have a radius set to 40 pixels. Now that's to give me a nice rounded corner like that. Your particular resolution of your file might require a different radius, so just play around with it until you get exactly what you want.
Now I've created a path, so the path isn't affecting my image until I do something with that path. So you can experiment with it until you have the exact radius that you want. Now I have that shape. I'm going to go in there and select this path. Because it's got all the shapes that I want exactly, I'm going to copy it and then just paste it. I copy and paste using the keyboard. And now I'm going to take that one that I just pasted right on the top of the original image and I'm going to scale it. So I'm going to scale it down, just a little bit of the top there, bring it down from the bottom and scale it in from the sides until I have it just about the right way that I want it, right about there like that.
Now I got a second path. Now with that radius, creating a really small selection right here it's going to give me a very lozenge kind of an effect, so it looks kind of like the holes that you see where you put the screws into hold your license plate in place. So I'm going to copy that straight over, like that, and then copy it straight down and copy this one straight down as well. So there we have all the basic paths that are going to make up the license plate. So now I can start to make up my license. I'm going to pick a very light gray color, and I'm going to pick up this large area back here.
This is the basic shape of my license plate. So I'm going to create a layer right here, which I'll call the outer plate. There. To that outer plate, I'm going to go ahead and fill it with that gray color right there, like that. So now I'm going to take the inner shape right there and create another layer, which we'll call just the plate. I'll fill that path with that. Okay, so now both paths have been filled into that area.
I'm going to select these little holes. I'm going to turned those into a selection, turn off my paths and go to both layers and hit the Delete key to eliminate that area, making a hole right inside that shape. Now I'm going to go in here and I'm going to start adding a little dimension to this. So I'm going to go in there and take the outer plate and give it a little layer style. So I am going to go ahead and say give it a Bevel and Emboss, which is going to give me a nice edge. I'm going to sharpen that by bringing it down to about 2, and increase the depth so I get a nice hard tone in there. And I want to give some color to that top light, so I'm going to go here and click on this and give it more of a bluish tone.
So it looks like it's something from the sky right out there. Click OK. I'm going to change the mode for that one to Normal, so I get this little blue haze along the top. Let's make it a little bit darker. There we go. So now we have this little blue haze right along the top there, which gives me that sense that it's the sky has been reflected on the top and dark along the bottom. We'll bring the light over just a little bit to this side, and there we can see it. Now that we have that, I am going to click OK. I'm going to drag that effect over to the plate here, and you notice that it's creating the effect inside there as well, so I'm getting this nice little edge in there.
Now here I'm going to go into the layer style and make it just a little bigger. So I'm going to go in there and just make that a little bigger size, about like that, and I'm also going to soften it, so it starts to kind of round out those edges. Okay, just rounded the model a little bit, making it more like you will see on a real license plate. Now on top of this, I'm going to start to add my letters. So I'm going to pick a color that I want from my letters, like this nice deep blue right here, and I get my Type tool. Now I'm going to click right in here. Now I've picked Futura Condensed for this particular thing.
I'm going to save this is My State right there. I'll put that right about there like that. Okay, then down here, I'm going to put much bigger letters. I'm going to type in 'My Car'. This is going to be my license plate, right. So, I'm going to go in there and select that and make this much bigger. We'll go with say a 200, see what that's going to look like. Okay, we could always play with it afterwards, which is what I'm going to do right now. I'm going to put it in there and I'm going to just stretch it out.
Using Scale, I'm going to make it a little taller and bring it out a little bit like that and make it a little taller that way. There. Now if you look at a license plate, you'll notice that the state is usually printed right on the plate, but the number--or in this case the vanity plate--is actually embossed into that shape, making it kind of round it. So what I'm going to do here is that I'm go into that layer. I'm going to make My Car a selection, just like that, and I'm going to save it as an alpha channel.
Now I can deselect it and throw that away. I don't need that anymore, because I'm actually going to create it in the alpha channel, which is right there. Now I want this to be rounded. Let me get a little bit closer, so you can see what's going to happen next. I'm going to take this and I'm going to blur it, give it a little Gaussian Blur, just to soften those letters and round out those corners just like that. Click OK and now that I have the rounded corner, I want to sharpen it again. So I'm going to go into my Levels, and in Levels I'm going to push the sliders in.
If I move the black, the letters get thinner, and if I move the white, the letters get thicker. So I'm going to find a place where they're about as thick as I want them, and when I got it, I'm going to start to move these guys closer together to each other. And you can see that the letters are starting to sharp up, but they're not sharp in the corners like they were before. They're rounded. So now I have this nice rounded type that looks more like the real thing. So I go back to my image, I load that alpha channel, create a layer for my number, and fill it with that blue.
There we have the blue. Now I'm going to double-click on that to bring up the Layer Styles, or I can simply use the layer styles that were there before. Grab this, drag it on to here. But I'm going to have to adjust that, because I don't want to the layer style inside; I wanted it to be an outer bevel. So I'm going to make the size bigger and soften it up a little bit, and there you can see that now we have this nice- looking license plate that looks like a real thing.
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