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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.
In a scene like Times Square or just regular theater marquees, one thing you are going to come across is a lot of light bulbs. Now creating all those light bulbs can be pretty tedious unless you use a brush. Yes, brushes can actually create lightbulbs. Let's go in here and see such a situation. Right here, I zoom in right to this little area here and you see that there is all these lightbulbs that make up just some of the signs. Let's go in here and create lightbulbs. Now I am going to create the basic shape using paths.
These are the basic shapes that's going to make up our brush tip which will be a lightbulb. I am going to use the Elliptical tool here and create a perfect circle. I am holding down the Shift key to create that perfect circle just like that. Now if the lightbulb is straight on, that would be the basis for the lightbulb right there. However, in this particular case, I want the lightbulbs to be slightly from the side like a three-quarter view. So what I am going to do is I am going to take this Direct Select tool here and I am going to grab the bottom point and drag it down. I am holding down the Shift key to constrain it straight up and down.
So now we get kind of like a three- quarter view of the lightbulb, the face up on top here and then the little socket area coming down, and that's the basic shape right there. Now this lightbulb is going to be a clear lightbulb. So I also want to have a filament inside. So with my Pen tool I am going to start right about here, which would be about the center of the connecting area. I am going to click right there and come straight up, hold down my Shift key to constrain. I am going to click and drag to get a little point up there, which I'm now going to wrap around like so to create the little filament, and that's it right there.
So those two paths, the ellipse and that little curlicue there, will become the basis of my brush tip. Now when you create a brush, any part of that brush tip that's black will be opaque. Anything other than black, a color or a gray, will be transparent based on that particular value. So since the bulb is transparent I am going to select the ellipse for the bulb and I am going to fill it with a gray. So I am going to pick a nice medium gray like about that right there. Click OK and in a layer I am going to create the bulb.
I am going to take that path and fill it. So now I am going to select that little curlicue inside, which is the filament. I am going to invert back to black, because that part is going to be opaque ,and I am going to take my Paintbrush tool and we'll pick a small brush tip shape, like about this one right here. I'm going to bring down the size considerably. I get the Hardness set to 100% and I got a size that's just about the right size I want right there. I could always test it freely on the side. That's good. That's what I want. And then I am going to take that same path and then stroke it.
So there are the basics for my actual brush tip. So when I select this and it doesn't matter this area here because that's white, which means that brush tip will be transparent in that area. So I come over here and I will say Define Brush Preset. There it is and we'll call it bulb. So now go ahead and deselect it and let's just go over here and we don't need to see that anymore. I want to keep it open, but we are going to just not see it. I am going to create a new layer on top of this. This is where we are going to actually create a little string of bulbs.
I am going to take the background here. I am going to invert it so that we can see the little bulbs lit. So I am going to in here and I am going to create a path. Let's just go straight up and down here right here, just like that, and I am going to duplicate that path across here and over to here, three different paths, and maybe one that's kind of a curlicue, right. So we'll just kind of do a little thing like that. Let's just curl this like that. So here, we have these three different paths and let's move this one over just a little bit. These three paths are going to be where our bulbs are.
So now I am going to go in there. I am going to take my Paintbrush and select that brush, which will be the last brush in the set right there, the one we just created, which right now is pretty big. So I am going to bring down the size considerably, maybe a little bit bigger. That's a good size right there. So now in that layer I am going to pick the color that I want my bulbs to be. So I am going to go in there and I am going to pick a bright yellow like that right there. Click OK and in my brush engine we're going to see there is the bulbs. So what we are going to do is going to separate them, give them a little more Spacing like that, right there about like that.
We want them fairly close, but not too close, and then I want to go into my Shape Dynamics where we have some stuff happening. I don't want any Size Jitter. I could do that but I don't want that. I want all to be the same size and you see that everything is set to zero, but the Angle, the Control is set to Direction. If I have that off, then you can see that they are all straight up and down. So when I draw it's going to look like that, whereas when I set that to Direction, the bulbs are going to follow the flow of my stroke. So there we go. It's the only thing I need to do.
Now that I have that, make sure I am in the right layer. Yeah, I am in the layer that's going to have the bulbs. So I go to Paths. There is my paths and I say with the Paintbush stroke them. And there we could see that we have all these little bulbs right there in place. Now these guys went the wrong direction. Had I stroke them in this direction, it would have been fine, but no problem. All I have to do is just go in and select those and just rotate them over, just do a little Flip Horizontal. There we go. So there we have those bulbs going the same kind of direction. Now they don't really look like bulbs yet. Let's go in there and make them look like bulbs.
Double-click on that layer of the bulbs to bring up the layer styles. In the layer styles we are going to start to give this some life. First thing we'll do is give them a little Outer Glow. A little Outer Glow is going to spread out from those bulbs, a little Size there, and bring down the Opacity a little bit just so it's not so strong. We have a little Outer Glow going there and a little Inner Glow as well. The Inner Glow, however, I am going to change the color to a nice bright orange like that and I am going to change the mode to something like Multiply.
So I am going to get this little orangey glow inside. I am going to bring the Size down to about a two, based on the size of what I have here, and I click OK and there we see that we have these nice little strings of lights that can be used just about anywhere.
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