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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.
Layers have been crucial in the creation of Times Square. If you take in to account the thousands of files that make it up and all the layers in each of those files, it comes up with somewhere in the neighborhood of about 500,000 layers that make up the overall image. Now if we look at some of the individual pieces, you'll see how crucial layers, layers groups, and all these different ones were very important in making the whole thing work. I'm going to zooming right here into one of the facades of Toys R Us and we see that there are some video boxes there. I am going to zoom in to the actual file of one of these boxes.
Now it is made up of many different files, like right here we have the SharkTale_figures. There is the actual characters that are on the box that we saw in the wall. Now each one of these is made up of many different layers and each one has its own group. So if we look at the Layers panel right here, you'll see that there is a group for the hero, the girl fish on the left, girl on the right, shark on right, and the shark on left. Opening up any of these, we will see that they are broken up into many different layers in between. You see that some of the layers have layers styles, some of the layers have clipping groups, as you see here, some of the layers have layer masks, all the different things that go into the layer.
Now, putting everything into an individual layer makes it easy to go in there and make changes if necessary. What I'm going to do is I'm go in here and just look at the back. That's the very furthest back layer of the girl on the left and you see just this little fin area right there. I'm going to start turning on each one of these layers so you can see the buildup as it starts to form. There's just this little fin, the back wave, there is the back texture. Now here is the layer that I don't use that's actually how the texture that I created for this back texture.
I'm going to turn that one off, because this is not part of image. I just kept it as a separate layer and it's there. And we have right here, the right wave, the little thing here, and this little edge, the edge appear in the side there at the body, and each one of these things has its own element. So as you can see as they start turning them on, some are named, some are not, and there you can see that all the different parts start to form the overall character, even the little eyes. They just have a little inner shadow, a little stroke added to them. Here are the eyeballs that have a little inner glow to them, and there is the shadow on the face and the left wave, and so on, so we keep turning on each element and the fish starts to come to life.
Now once all the elements are there, here is the little hero with all his little pieces, all of them together. Once all those are combined and created, they go into the overall file for the box, which is right here. There is a box with all the elements in place. Now there is the characters right there. Now you will notice that the little characters are right here. They are a separate layer by themselves, a composite layer. I'm going to show you that in a few seconds, how that works. But here there are many layers that make up the box. Let's turn this off. There is the basic shape of the box, which we can use later right there to crop it and so on.
Let's deselect that for now. There is the blue that you see in the background. There is the little characters. There is a filmstrip, which has a drop shadow added to it to give it that little effect that you see right inside there. There is the little slide shape and that's these little guys, these little vertical lines, and all the different other pieces all turned on and you see all different parts, and there is another shape in there somewhere, and all the different parts that make up the overall box. Now what happens here is that I need to make a composite of this, one composite file that goes into the overall file, where it get skewed into position into the painting.
So what happens is I make sure that the background is turned off, because background isn't part of the image, and I select the topmost layer. Now the modifier keys, they all change the way things function. So if I go in here and just say Merge Visible, you'll see that everything got merged into that one single layer. Let me undo that. Maintaining all these layers individually is very important, in case if I ever need to make a change. Let's just say I want to move this one character over so it will have more room or whatever. Having it as an original file somewhere else gives me the belief that I can go in there and make that change.
So I want to keep all my layers here. So what I do is I select that top layer, I hold down my Option key, which is Alt on the PC, and choose that same command, Merge Visible. When I click on it this time, it created a whole new layer, which is a merge of the layers beneath. Now I can come down here and select the box, come back up to the top and say Inverse the selection, and let just see this box that we see there. Seeing just that one layer and now that I inversed the selection I can just say Delete and it eliminated all the pieces in back that I don't want.
This layer will be renamed box+Comp, which I abbreviate for my composite layer. And that layer will then be brought over to the overall file, where I compose it into scene, as we see here. There it is in place, distorted and shadowed and colorized to the way it should look within the scene, but the layers were crucial in creating it to keep every element separate, easy to modify independently of the others, and allowing me to make changes later if necessary.
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