Pixel Playground
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating a metal grill


Pixel Playground

with Bert Monroy

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Video: Creating a metal grill

This week, I'm going to get an oldie, something I did a long time ago and I realized I hadn't done this in a long time. Until the other day I was doing a demo and someone actually asked for this. They said, could you do that thing you used to do a long time ago? So I decided, let me do it now for everybody. It was a technique that I first developed for this painting back in 1998, which was just this nice little grill on a subway seat in New York. In Toys R Us, we also, so this is the inside of the store of Toys R Us in the, my painting of Times Square.
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Watch the Online Video Course Pixel Playground
16h 4m Intermediate Jun 07, 2013 Updated Jul 31, 2015

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Take a 10-minute recess every week and join Bert Monroy in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, the playgrounds of digital artists. Every Friday Bert walks through a fun, self-contained project that tests your skills and challenges the imagination. These programs aren't just image editors; they are sandboxes for creativity and experimentation. Take a spin through a carousel of tools and get reinspired, each and every week.

Design Photography
Illustrator Photoshop
Bert Monroy

Creating a metal grill

This week, I'm going to get an oldie, something I did a long time ago and I realized I hadn't done this in a long time. Until the other day I was doing a demo and someone actually asked for this. They said, could you do that thing you used to do a long time ago? So I decided, let me do it now for everybody. It was a technique that I first developed for this painting back in 1998, which was just this nice little grill on a subway seat in New York. In Toys R Us, we also, so this is the inside of the store of Toys R Us in the, my painting of Times Square.

And the same technique is happening here, with all these little fences here, so that's what I want to do. I want to create a pattern for you, that's not a straight-on pattern. So, I'm going to create a new file here. Now, by saying it's not a straight-on pattern, it's just something that's going to be a little unusual. going to be interesting to think because of the fact that for one thing, when you create a pattern, in fact let's create a pattern right now. Let's create a little circle here because these are little holes in a sheet of metal. That's what that image is, a little holes in the sheet of metal.

So what I'm going to do is, I'm going to go ahead and fill that with black. There we go, and I'm going to select it to make it a pattern. Now, if white is on, then you will have white in your pattern. If it's transparent, there is nothing in the background then, it will be a transparent. But here we're just going to show you what happens. Now when I select this, this space, plus this space, will mean how close this circle will be to the next one in the pattern. Likewise with the top. So if I go in here and say, let's say, we say Define Pattern. Right there. Click OK. Now I could just throw it away.

And I send it right to the Background Color, OK. So now, when I go in here, and let's start a whole new layer. I'm going to go in here and go ahead and fill that with that pattern we just created. So I say Pattern. And I'll choose that pattern which is right here at the end. Click OK, and there, you can see how much space they have between them. Now if I cut this down like this, so that they're real close, and I say Define Pattern. And now fill this with that new pattern, which is right there, click OK. You see that those circles are nice and straight and much closer.

However, in the case of the metal sheet that I'm creating, the circles are at an angle, kind of like the front of a Mac tower. All the little holes are at an angle. So now, before we create the pattern, we have to really think, what is this pattern? In this particular case, the pattern is a hole, or a series of holes, that are cut out of a metal plate. So, right there is something you have to think about. Because this pattern is going to give you the sense of what this thing is.

Holes cut into a metal plate. So, when I start to create the pattern you're going to start to see things a little weird at first first, and then it's going to start to make sense. So right here, I just threw that layer away, and what I'm going to do is that I'm going to turn on my Grid. So, I'm going to go over here and say, Show the Grid. There it is. This is the default, which is the space at each inch with four subdivisions at between. That's going to be great. I'm going to go in here and create another layer. And, I'm going to go in here, get a little closer, so we can really see what's going to happen next. I am going to create a circular selection is going to snap to one of those little inch sections there. Okay? And I'm going to fill it, not with black, I'll fill it with a gray.

I'll go ahead and fill that. Let's just do it this way. We'll say Fill, the Foreground Color which is that gray. So let's set that up, click OK. There it is. Alright. So now, I want to do some stuff to this. I'm going to go in here and get white. Now, I'll take some white. I'm going to make the brush a little smaller. This will make the brush a little bit smaller, right there. I like that. A little bigger. And I'll going to make sure it's real soft, let's make it a real soft edge. I'm going to click up here, and Shift+click down here. Now, what's happening there is the default. Let me Undo that.

The default in my brush engine, now let's go see the brushes, right there. Alright? See that. It automatically has Shape Dynamics on, so I'm going to turn that off. I'm turning that off. Alright? That's the only thing I'll do. So now I've got a nice even stroke there. So another click there Shift+click down there. Just like that. Now, I'm going to return this to black and with a slightly larger brush. Let's get this a little back a little bit, so we could see what's happening. And with a slightly larger brush and I'll just throw a little dabber on there a little dab along here, okay? Right inside there like that.

And we can bring down the Opacity just to kind of add a little more tone in there like that, there you go. And I say, well, what is that? What is, what exactly is happening? You will see in a second. We are now going to create our pattern. Now when we saw before, the pattern was straight up and down and across. This is at an angle, so what I am going to do is, I'm going to take this little circle we've created with those tones in it, and duplicate it, straight across, leaving two subdivisions in between. I held down my Option and Cmd keys to make a copy and bring it straight over. Still in the same layer.

I'm now going to Copy that and center it underneath those two, see? It's snapping to the grid, so it's going to be nice and even, right there, centered underneath those two. And then I'm going to go in here and grab two more copies down at the bottom which reflect the ones on top. Now I can de-select it. In between, it is transparent. Alright? It is transparent in between, which is going to make a difference. In a second we'll have, we'll have to utilize that transparency. But first we got to create the pattern. So what I'm going to do, is I'm going to select this, based on my grid.

From the corner or the center of that corner of the circle, down to the center of this lower right corner circle. And there you can see that it intersected. I have that center and then upper left, the other three sides are here, here and here. So there's my pattern that establishes the angle. So I'm going to turn off the background, so I'm going to have transparency in between. And I say, Define the Pattern. There it is. So now, I can de-select. I no longer need my Grid, I can turn that off, so I say Show>Grid, turn it off, there it is.

See our background. Now the background, let's just say the background is going to be the metal. The metal itself. So, what I'm going to do is I'm going to take this background right here, and I'm going to give it a little Gradient. I'm going to take this layer here and just dump it. We don't even need, need that anymore. We have our pattern. So, right here, I've got this nice black. Let me reverse this so black is at the back here. And I'm going to get a nice light grey, say about like that for foreground. For the background a little bit lighter like a dark grey like that. And I get my Gradient tool.

And I want it to be a reflected Gradient. And, I just going to create a nice little gradient like that. See, there we go. So now an layer right on top of this. This is the one I'm going to go ahead and fill with that pattern I created. So I go in here and say Pattern. And I'm going to choose that pattern, the one I just created and click OK. There it is. Now, what is the business with all those little things? This is cut out of a piece of metal, so what I'm going to do now is I'm going to Duplicate, that layer, going to, take it and Duplicate it.

I held down my Option key and just dragged it up above, right into there like that, or you could just drag it down into here to make a duplicate. This one, I'm going to lock the transparency for it, and I'm going to go in there and fill it with black. So I say, fill it with the Foreground Color, which is now black. Click OK, and there. They look like the holes, right? Okay, so now, in a layer above this, I'm going to create some shapes. This is the stuff that we see through this little fence here. So what I'm going to do is, I'm going to just create a little thing like this.

And let's, give these other colors, give it a nice dark gray, in there like that, and reverse this and we'll throw a little gradient in there. And we'll duplicate this straight down so we have two of them, just like that. So now, this is what we're seeing through the hole so what I'm going to do to create that illusion is, I'm going to take that layer and clip it with the layer beneath. Holding down my Option key, I click between the two, and there we see that those two objects are now inside there, see? They are inside. Back there. You can see them back there. Here comes the big trick.

What we have right now is that this is a thick piece of metal. Remember that? Thick piece of metal. So what I'm going to do is, I'm going to take that little background and just merge it down. And I'm going to take that, right here there's a, a little pattern behind. I'm going to take that and clip that with our original path, or our original pattern right there. And now what I'm going to do is, I'm going to take that layer, this pattern can stay, this is the original effect, let's call it original. And because this is a piece of metal, I'm going to take my Move tool and move this guy up just a little bit.

And up and over and there you can see what's happening is that when I created those particular tones, I was accounting for the way light is going to hit this metal. Creating a nice little highlight there with little shadows on the edges. because my light source is coming from this direction. So I planned this all ahead. So, what I needed was to create the effect of the edge of the metal to create the illusion of the holes themselves. So there you have it. And remember, it's the technique is not exactly what I did, you might never want to do a bunch of holes in a piece of metal but you want maybe there's some holes in a nice piece of yellow loose sider or whatever the purpose might be.

But there you can see where I took into account what the material is, how it's going to react to light. And then I created the illusion of the holes cut out of a piece of metal.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Pixel Playground .

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Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.
Q: Why are some of the 3D menu items grayed out when I try to follow along?
A: The 3D features in Photoshop CC require a computer with at least 512MB VRAM. If your computer doesn't meet this criterion, the 3D menu features will be greyed out.
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