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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.
Those alpha channels, when used in conjunction with the Calculations command, can create some very intricate masks, which you can apply some very interesting effects. I have this lamppost right here at the center of the painting. I've got the actual file open in background here, so let's go look at that right here. And when I zoom in and start looking at some of the cables on this image here, you see that the cables have shadows and highlights in very specific spots that were made real easy to do by using the alpha channels in conjunction with Calculations.
Now let me explain what that is all about. We have here a little ring. It's very easy to make this ring look three- dimensional using things like layer styles. I just go into that layer and hit it with the Layer Styles and say give me a Bevel and Emboss. I am going to increase the size like that, and let's make this more of a reddish tone so it doesn't look so deep there. Click OK and I have a 3-dimensional- looking ring. But you notice how it's evenly lit on all sides? That's the one thing that's bad about the layer styles is that they are kind of even, and if I introduce a sudden second light source, well the lightning has to be a little more specific here.
Now the light is so close to the ring, it's going to be very bright along this edge and somewhat dim along this edge, which means I have to apply something other than the layer style to get the effect of this candle lighting the ring. And that's where the alpha channels come in in conjunction with the Calculations. I'm going to go in here and turn the ring into the selection and save it as an alpha channel. I'll call it ring. I'm going to save it again and call it edge, and I get these selected.
When I go ahead and look at my channels, you'll see that I have the ring and the edge. Now because of the roundness of the ring, I'm going to take the edge and blur it. So I'll apply a Gaussian Blur to it, just enough to make it look like that round edge that I have of the ring. Click OK. I'm going to turn on the second ring right there. And we see it as a quick mask mode, which is the red, and I'm just going to move the edge one over. Now I know that my candle is right here, so I'm going to move it over to the left a bit.
I am using the Move tool, and I'm just moving it over to the red, using my cursor keys to move it over, just like that, so I see this little overlap right there. That's where I want it. See the overlap? And maybe move it down a little bit, and actually I've got to move it up. There we go. There is the edge that I want for where my candle is right there, and there we see it on this side as well. So now here's where the Calculations comes in, because what I want do now is have an alpha channel that exposes just those areas of the ring.
So I'm going to go in here and go to my Image > Calculations. What I'm going to do is I'm going to take the ring up here and the edge there, and you can see what's happening. I'm subtracting one from the other, and it's giving me a drop shadow, which is the way drop shadows were done back in the days when there were no layer styles or layers, for that matter. So by putting the edge up here and the ring down here, we'll get the inside of the ring being exposed. Remember that white exposes to the effect, black protects.
So I send the information over to a new channel like that, and I have this new channel which exposes that part of the ring to the effect that I want to have. Going back to my image, I can then apply that channel, which exposes that area. And in a new layer, I will apply that yellow that I want to beat the light of the candle. I'm just going to turn of those marching ants, so we don't see them in the way, and I'm going to pick a color that I want for that light to be. So I'm going to just pick kind of like this yellow from right there.
Click OK and with a paintbrush, nice, big soft brush, big brush like this set it at 100%, I'm going to go in here and just apply a tone right through there like that. And then I'm going to bring down the Opacity to about 50% and just apply a little bit right in there like that. And there you can see that we have a realistic kind of a lighting that's being applied from the candle directly on to only the part of the ring that I want to expose. Now in the next tutorial, we're going to take that step a little bit further and see how it's applied in a very intricate image, like a manhole cover that lives somewhere in Time Square.
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