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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.
Depicting glass can be quite a problem for some people. In some cases, it's just a question of going in there and creating reflections. That's what's going to give you the sense of glass. Like for instance here, way over here we'll go to this window, you see that there is glass there. How do you know? Well, it's because it's a little lighter, when you see through it, and so on, and there's reflections. The reflections is what really makes it look like there is glass there. What we're going to do is come in tight right here on this motorcycle here that my good friend Jeff Schewe is driving, and look at that windshield.
That's where we are going to work on right there is this windshield, because it has all these shapes to it. It's not just something you can see through it, but it also has all these tones that are involved here. So we're going to work on that. Now right here we have the actual bike. Here is the artwork that was created for the bike and as we are getting closer, you'll see that it does have all these little highlights that it's picking up, all these little tones, little reflections that its picking up in different areas, and the contours, and those contours will also distort things as you see through them, and so on.
So that's what we're going to create at this point is we are going to create this windshield. Not exactly that windshield, but we're going to create something similar that will have contours and hopefully that'll inspire you to create your own shapes to do something. All right! So what I'm going to do here is I'm going to create a layer, and I'm going to fill this layer with a pattern, just so that we have something that we can see through. I've got this checkerboard pattern. I'm just going to click OK. All right! That's going to be what we see through our glass. So let's turn it off now, and I'm going to create the shape. So let's go in here and create kind of a curve shape up here like this. All right! It's going to come in, and then it's going to have this little indent right here.
It's going to come out like that, and come around like this, and then come down, and then come over like that, and curve around this edge like so, and then come back up here and close it off. Okay, so there is our desired little piece of glass like some kind of a windshield or something, right? So there are a few things--I'm just kind of cleaning it up a little bit. There we go. So a couple of things happening here. So we're going to have to create a few additional paths right off the bat, because we see this little indent here.
So let's create the shape that that indent is going to be creating. So we come down here and create this long kind of a triangle shape like that, and then here we have a hard face, so we're going to create a little shape for that particular shape. Now I'm going beyond the limits, because it doesn't matter. These are going to be contained inside of our glass at some point. Right now, we're just creating the basic shapes. So we have our paths. Let's go ahead and save those so we have them. All right! So now there are a lot of steps, going to be involved in here.
You might not have to use all these steps, but keep in mind it's how something is being done, not what is being done. A little change here and there will totally give you a different effect. So what I'm going to do now is I'm going to come over here to a layer. On top of our little background here, I'm going to create a layer, and we'll call this the glass. This is the basic glass. So I'm going to select this shape right here, and then I'm going to fill it with a tone. So let's go in here and let's give a reddish gray like that, and we'll go ahead and fill that path with that color in that layer.
So now let's look at that background layer, which right now we don't see through it, right? We can't see through it. So we're going to bring down the Fill Opacity for that layer so we can see through it. There we go. The reason I'm bringing that Fill Opacity and not the Opacity is because I will be applying some layer styles to this, which I'm going to do right now. I'm going to go in there and go to the Layer Styles and give it a little Bevel and Emboss, which is going to give me a little bit of an edge. See that edge? We're just getting that little edge in there, and I don't want this dark gray in there.
I want that to be more of light tone, so I'm going to pick a light gray. Actually, we'll make it just a little darker. Okay, like that, and we have that little tone there, and then that lighter tone which just lightened that up there and click OK, so there. Anything that I applied to this, like let's just say that I go in here and take this path right here, and in the new layer, I'll go in there and let's say we fill it with a tone. It's picking up the reflection from somewhere. That's going to pick up let's say a reddish tone, right? So we'll go in here and fill it with a red.
We will just fill that path with a red in that new layer. So I go in there and say fill it. All right! So now if I clip that with that glass, since I have the Fill Opacity reduced to 74, it's going to take this, and when I clip it, it's also going to be reduced in Opacity. That's the effect I'm going to get. If you want that to have a little less opacity--which is what I want to do, I want to have a little less opacity to that-- I'm not going to clip it. What I'm going to do instead is I'm going to give it a mask.
So I'm going to turn the glass into a selection, and go to that layer and say give it a mask. And there you see that now it is opaque, so I can play around with its opacity independently of that of the glass. So here I'm going to take the actual Opacity and reduce it just a little, about like that. Now this side here should have that same red, so I should have filled them both together at the same time. So, I am. I am going to do just that. I'm going to go in there and pick that second path right there, go back to that layer, make sure I am in the layer, and I am going to just fill that path with that same color.
Click the Path and say fill it. So there you see that you have both of these with that same tonality applied, and that same opacity. Now, they are on separate layers. So I'm going to go in there to the layer and just give it a little blur. So I'm going to give it a little Gaussian Blur, just to soften up that edge, so it starts to look more like they are little indents in there. So I want to just go in there and give it just a little bit of a blur. This one needs to be a little more blurred, so I'm going to select this guy separately from the other, and apply that filter again, except this time I'm going to go a little higher, give it a little more of a blur, because that's its softer edge.
Click OK and now we get that softer edge right in there. So now we're getting this nice little highlight happening in there. All right! So now the glass is going to have other tones happening through it. So I want to go in there and apply a couple of little highlights and stuff all through this area here. So I'm going to go in and perhaps throw in some white highlights, and again I like to handle them separately from that layer, so I'm going to create a layer above the glass right here and I'm going to throw in some whites. So we'll go in here and get a nice large brush, and it's soft, and I'm just going to throw some white highlights right through here like that and maybe a little thin one right through here like that, which I can soften up at any time.
I'm going to just give them that same mask by Option+Clicking on the mask and dragging it down. And I'm going to bring down the Opacity for this one just a little so I can see through it, and you can see how we're starting to get our little highlights going through there. Now I want to add more of an edge, because I want to start adding some little highlights along that edge. So here is where it's going to get a little trickier. I'm going to go in there and turn the glass into a selection and save that selection, and we'll call it glass. I'm going to save it again, and this time we'll call it the edge.
So now, I just saved them. They became alpha channels. Now we'll see in this third one here-- and it's italicized why? because we happen to be in a layer that has a mask. See, right there. If I click on this one that doesn't have a mask and we go back to our channels, it's gone. It's a temporary place where we can see the actual contents of that mask, but here we have these two alpha channels. So what I want to do now is take this one, the edge, and see the other one.
I'm going to take this edge and just move it over a little bit to the left and down. There is that little edge of the glass. Or maybe we move it up. I want to see the bottom part. There it is. There is that little section right through there. That's what I want to see. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to go into my Calculations. In Calculations, I'm going to take those, I'm going to subtract one from the other. I'm going to put the glass here. So I'm getting that edge. See, there is that edge being exposed.
So I'm going to send that to a new channel. So now let's do these guys again. Take the edge, just see the glass, and this time I'm going to move the edge in the opposite direction. I want to come in this direction. I want to get that little overlap right in there and come down a little bit about there. That's what I want. Again, I'll do the Calculations and subtract one from the other so I'm getting that edge. Send it to a new channel. Click OK. So now that I have that, I go back to my RGB here where I'm going to start to add little highlights in that area.
So we have this white light here, this strong white light. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to load this channel, and then in the layer behind the glass, let's put it right on top of this guy here. Right here, we're going to call it the white glare. And we can turn off those marching ants in case we want to just see what we're doing here. I've got white, and I'm going to take a paintbrush, and I'm just going to throw a little white highlight right into that area right in there. See? I'm throwing it into a layer that's underneath the red, so we can see it there is this little highlight showing up right in there.
Now if we want, we could put it above the glass. Now we see even stronger, and let's just throw it right along this edge here. There, just like that. We'll put a little bit of it let's say right in here. Just throw a little edge right through here, just so it starts to give it that really strong effect. Now on this side, it's going to be a red. So we're going to get the red and create another layer, which we'll call the 'red glare', because this side of glass is picking up that little red. So right here in this layer, we're going to load that other channel, this one, which exposed that side.
So now in that layer for the red glare, I can start the paint in that little red glare just the way I want it right through here just in there like that. And we deselect, and we see that we now have this chunk of glass just laying over our little background. Anything we can see through it. Any other shapes you want, you can put on top there. If you want to get even spiffier, you can go in there and add a reflection, any kind of a picture that you can just store onto this, and then it becomes a reflection. Make sure you bring that Opacity way down so it's just a little hint of a reflection of something out of the viewer's point of view there.
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