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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.
Brushes could be the answer to a lot of the problems you might be faced with. In this particular case, a brush was the answer to this little chain that you see right here. This is my niece-in-law. Now in close inspection you start to see that the chain is made up of multiple loops here, what looks like one large hoop and a bunch of little loops. Well, I don't have to be that exact with it because of the fact that within the context of the painting she is going to be quite small. In fact, her face is only going to be about an inch high. So the chain is almost going to be negligible, but it does need to be as clear as possible or at least give the idea of being a multi-link chain.
The brush is the answer. So I am going to go in here to my untitled file that I set up a second ago and I am going to create a brush tip that's going to simulate the chain that she is wearing. Now it was made up of one large link and multiple small links. So basically I have to create those individual links. I am going to go to my Ellipse Primitive tool here which creates little ellipses. And I have it set to Paths, so it's going to create paths when I use it. I am going to create a larger ellipse. It looks like that. Now that's going to represent the large link on the chain.
I am now going to create a smaller one right here and this smaller one is going to be the smaller link. Now I want to get this just right, so I am going to go in there and kind of center it to get it just where I want it, right there like that. Now I am going to duplicate it straight over. Once and one more, right across like that. So there I have what looks like one large link and three small links. Now these paths are going to guide my brush, the brush that's going to create the brush tip, which I will then use later on to create the chain.
Now I am going to go in here and choose my paintbrush and I am going to use a hard-edged brush like this and I am going to bring the size down to something that kind of matches the size that I have here. Let's see what 20 pixels is going to look like. It's going to look like that. That's pretty good, but let's make this just a little bit thicker. Let's say about maybe 25. That's got a nice feel to it. So now that I created that little test for myself I am going to go in here and I am going to select that particular path because that's the one I want to be effected, not these. I am going to go in there and take my path and I am going to stroke it.
Now, when it stroked it, it stroked it with the default of the Pencil. Let me undo that. I could go in here and say stroke the path. It gives me a choice. Now you see the default is the Pencil. Now I could choose the Brush, which is what I want to use, but I want to show you something. Let me cancel this. If you're in the tool itself, you have a better chance because if I had chosen Brushes without knowing what the brush is set to, it would have used the brush in whatever settings I had the last time I used that brush. So by actually being in the brush I see the settings that I have, I see the code that I am using.
So now when I go in here and say take that path and stroke it, it's using the brush in its current settings. What I am going to do now is I am going to take the size of that brush and reduce it down to about maybe 19 to see what that looks like. There is the size for my smaller links. So I am going to go in there and choose the three other paths, the ones that I represent the small links. Again choose my brush and then go in there and say stroke them. So there we have the three small links. So what I am going to do is I am going to select the entire shape.
I am going to go in there and say Define Brush Preset, which gives me a chance to then name it. So I am going to call it chain. So now, I can throw it away. I don't need to see this anymore and I am going to create a layer. I am going to create it in a layer because I am going to have to apply some layer styles to it to give it dimension and color and so on. So I am going to go in there and do the chain in a layer. Going to my Pen tool I am going to create the path that's going to represent the actual chain.
So I am going to come down like this, go around her collarbone right there, and come around, go up and around another bone like that and up and over like that. All right, so I can always adjust it at any time to get them exactly the way I want them, like so. That is the shape that I want, so I am going to save that path. There it is. So now I am going to take my paintbrush. I am going to select that brush that I just created which will appear at the bottom of the list. There it is, which right now does that. Let me undo that.
I am going to reduce the size. This is size that I want for my necklace and again it does that. So what I am going to do is I am going to go into my Brushes panel where I am going to modify that tip so it will behave exactly the way I wanted to represent the chain-linked necklace. So I am going to go in there and first off I am going to increase the distance between those little tips by increasing the Spacing. If I go in there and you can see that I am getting them kind of far apart from each other. Now, I can't really see how they are linking.
So I am going to go into my Shape Dynamics where the Angle Jitter is set to Direction and that allows the tips to now follow the direction of my brus stroke. Now what I see that I need to close them in just a tiny bit so that they look like they're joined together. But that's looking good. Now the next thing I am going to do is I am going to go down to Color Dynamics, and in Color Dynamics, which unfortunately we can't preview, I am going to have it go between my foreground and background color at 100%, right up there.
And I have set the Saturation and Brightness Jitters slightly. Now I am going to move these around and I will demonstrate this in a second what's going to happen there. In fact, let's bring it down to 0 for now and I will click OK. I am going to pick the colors for my foreground and background. I am going to pick a nice golden color like say this one right here, a little deeper right there for my foreground and for my background color we will start with that same color and just pick a darker version of it about like that. So right now you can see that it is going through the different colors.
So I am going to go back to my Brush engine. I am going to introduce a little bit of Saturation. Now this is affecting each tip individually. So each tip will have a different saturation than its neighbors, the left and right. Same thing with the Brightness. It will change their brightness from tip-to-tip randomly. Now Hue I am going to leave alone. If I push it all the way over, you see that it's going to introduce a bunch of colors I don't want. So I am not going to mess around with Hue. Leave Hue at 0 and we will play with the Saturation and Brightness. So now that we have all the settings, we have our angle set up, our color set up, I can now go in there and make sure I'm in the right layer. There it is.
I'm in the layer. I'm in the brush, in the size that I want. I go in ahead and say take that path and stroke it. So there we have the beginnings of our little chain. Let me turn off the Path now. Now it has got a little variations in color because of variations in the lighting as it hits the chains as they move over the body. So what I am going to do is add some more dimension to this. I'm going to go into the layers and I'm going to go into layer Styles for that layer and give it a little Drop Shadow so the chain is raised off the body, bring down the Opacity just a little bit, and increase the distance slightly.
And then to give it real dimension and the metallic look, I am going to give it a Bevel and Emboss. Now, something happened right off the bat. It doesn't look that good. But as because the actual links are very thin and the default size is 5 pixels, much wider than the actual chains themselves. So what I am going to do is I am going to reduce that to about 1, which right off the bat we could see it started adding a little shimmer to our chain. So what I am going to do is I am going to increase the depth so I get a really strong definition between those tones in there. I am going to go into my Highlight.
I am going to increase that so I get a really strong highlight, and this black, I am going to change that black to something a little more kind of like in the warm browns, like that, and you could see how it's happening in the background. Click OK and I will increase the Opacity on that right there like that, and when I click OK we see that we have this nice little gold chain made of all these different sizef links. Now it wasn't necessary to get into that much detail because of the fact that she appears quite small. Here is the reference we saw before and here is the actual art.
Pull back so you can see the whole face and when we look in closely at the chain, you can see that it looks just like what we just created. However, when it gets reduced down to the actual size that I need for the painting we are going to lose a lot of that detail. But the printer will hold up some of it. So as long as there is that definition of the sizes I will pick up the reality of it. So when I go in here and show her in the actual size of the painting and we zoom in and we see that there is a slight in those little links that the printer will pick up and it will look as realistic as the original photograph.
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