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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.
Wood is an interesting texture because there are different kinds of wood and different kinds of grains. And here up in these windows here, there is a couple of different wooden textures. I am going to zoom in up there, and we see that we have one texture right there. There's a wooden texture. There is another one, and here is wood painted over it with a couple of chips in it. Here is another piece of wood and coming way over on this side, another different piece of wood and a couple of pieces of wood on this side here, tons of wood. Different kinds of woods, different kinds of textures.
So, let's go ahead and create two different kinds of wood. Now, keep in mind that the colors that you use are also going to determine the type of wood. Certain woods have the same kind of a grain, but the actual wood color is different--like a mahogany, as compared to say a cedar. They will have very similar grains, but the colors would be totally different. Then you will have something like a walnut or something where the grains will start having another few features. So, let's go in here and create some wooden grains. In a layer, because we put everything into a layer, I am going to go in here and create a nice big selection like that.
I am going to fill it with a color that's going to be the type of wood that I want. So I am going to go here and pick a mid-range brown like that and I will go ahead and fill that area with that color. Fill it with the foreground color. Okay, and there's my brown. Now, to create the grain in this brown, I am going to give it noise. I am going to add noise, a lot of noise. I kept it in monochromatic so it doesn't introduce any unwanted colors.
It keeps it in the brown tones, with darker and lighter versions of the brown with some white going through it. Click OK. That's the beginnings of our woodgrain, and by they way, that is exactly how I created one part of that image that we saw a second ago, right here, where we saw the edges of the wood right there. I didn't do anything further to create that little texture right there than what I just showed you of creating just noise. Back to that file, we are going to create the grain on the sides.
So, now that I've got this noise, I'm going to go in there and apply another filter, which I am going to apply a motion blur. Now which direction you want your woodgrain, that's up to you. I am going to make it 0, which is going to make it straight across. And I am going to increase distance, very high distance, so I get these really strong, long lines. And you'll notice how it's bleeding in this way? No problem, we will take care of that later. It bleeds in the colors on the edges, but that's not a problem. What you want to get is these long lines like you see right there.
So, there is the basis of our wood now. I'm going to go in there and increase the contrast to bring out more luster in the wood. So I am going to use the adjustment of Levels, and with Levels, you will notice that most of my tones are in this midrange, so I am go in there and my darks towards it and bring my lights towards. And there you can see that we're now starting to get a much stronger woodgrain. If you want it darker, you push those darks further. You want it lighter, you bring the lights in. We will just kind of even it out, make it pretty even tone, like that.
So it kind of looks like an oak almost. So, I am going to click OK. Now we have some good wood grain right there. Now, in many cases, this will be enough. But if we want to take this further and start to really give it some nice little burls and stuff, I am going to take this to another filter. I'm going to use the Liquify filter. Now with Liquify filter, we have many different options that we can use. The first one that we have is the little warp guy. I am going to use a smaller brush, and I want to just kind of push these sides out, and see, that's why you don't have to worry about those edges.
In that act of pushing, I'm kind of very slightly waving it as you can see, too. I am not just going straight across. I am kind of moving it around so it kind of waves the texture. See? Now, I might to do a little thicker grain here, so what I am going to do is I am going to move it up and then I am going to move it out. See? I've got a thicker grain up in that area there like that. Do a little bit on this side. We will bring it up, bring it down, and then push it up, and you can see that we are getting this much thicker grain on these edges of our wood.
I might want to add a little burl to it. I want to kind of rough it up a little bit, so we add a little Turbulence tool right there. Now, I am going to get a much bigger brush now--maybe not that big. About that size, that's good. I am just going to hold it in place. I am going to click and hold it, and in a few seconds you see that it starts to create these little burls. Make a smaller brush and we will do a little turbulence right here. Click and hold it. I will just hold it for a second and you will see that the burls will start to appear and there we have some little burls happening there. Maybe you want a little knot.
Well, I get my blot tool and I'll bring the brush side way down to a manageable size that I want my little knot to be. And again, I will find a little area like a dark one or a light one and I will just click and hold it in place. And you hold it there and it just starts to create the little knot for you right there, and we will throw a little knot right here. There we go. There are our little knots. Click OK and we have a fairly realistic-looking kind of a wood grain here. Now, these knots will require a little extra touch.
So, what I am going to do, once I am done here, I am going to come in, getting real close on this right here, and I am going to get a hard-edged round brush, make it fairly small, like this. And I am going to pick a darker tone than this brown that I have here. I am going to get a really dark version of it. And in a layer, so I would get it just right, and we will go in here and just draw a little circle. I am going to bring this opacity up, and I am going to draw a little circle right through it like that. And I might want to just go in there and maybe erase a little tiny edge of it.
I'll bring this way down, and we will just kind of erase a little cut right into it right that. And we will give that a little bit of noise, so I will go in there and say Add Noise, and just a little bit, just to give it that little bit of a grain in there that we need for that knot, right about there. Let's go down all the way to about 4. Click OK and we see that we have this realistic kind of wood texture. A second way of doing this, which becomes even simpler, is to get rid of these two, and we will create a layer on top.
This time I am going to select an all- vertical area like this, and I am going to fill it with the brown. Now, you need to have some color in there. The color that you throw in there is not important because we are now going to pick the colors for our wood, but this particular filter that we are going to use does require there to be something in that layer. So, we will just filled it with that color. So, that brown is good. We want that brown. So over here, we are going to pick for our background color a lighter version of that brown. So, we'll say we will use something like that.
So, that will be a contrast for our colors. And then I am going to go in here and apply the filter, which in this case is under Render, and it's called Fibers. Now, fibers can give you some very realistic-looking woods, right there. We can play around with the Variance and the Strength, so we can get what we want, and let's just say we will bring this strength down a little bit, and we click OK and we get a nice wooden texture. Now, it only works up and down, so after we've done it, we can easily go in there and we can deselect that and just say let's rotate this clockwise and there is our wooden texture, which at any time we can change the colors of it and do whatever we want.
Let's say we want to stain it a little bit. I am going to our Adjustments, go to Hue/Saturation, and we are going to stain this a little bit, maybe increase the saturation, decrease the saturation. There, now it's weathered old wood, and so on. Or just colorize it. Go in there and change the tones ever so slightly. So, you can see how easy it is to create wood textures that are like this one, the plain rough texture, or the other one, which had burls and knots and everything else into it, making it really easy to go in there and create a wooden texture, which you could then apply to any object in your scene.
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