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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 make it so easy to create so many different things, even trees. Let's get a real close to the center part of the painting right here. We're going to zoom in and look at the trees way down on 59th Street in Central Park, way back there. Once it gets brought down to this low resolution here, they kind of lose some of the detail, but you can see that there is some detailed to be seen in there and the printer will pick up most of that to make it look like the little trees that are way back there down the street.
Now creating those trees, well it's just a question of playing around with brushes. Now here I am going to create some trees. Now I am going to do it in a layer because I create everything in layers, then I'm going to basically do the trees like the ones in Central Park. Now keep in mind that in the daytime the colors might be a little different and so on, but here is the ones in Central Park. So I am going to take a hard edged brush, nice hard edged brush like this. I am going to make it a little bigger, and I am just going to draw a couple of strokes like this.
These are basically your trunks. I got some thinner ones going on here and you are not seeing the change to the size of my brush, and that's because I have a pressure-sensitive tablet I am using which is why I get the different thicknesses. So there. They don't have to be that perfect because of the fact that I am going to cover most of the stuff with leaves. Let's just throw a couple more little branches in there like that. So there is a basic trunk of our tree. Now if you were going to do this as a real tree, I would say make it brown instead of black and give it a little filter like Craquelure, which will give it a nice little texture, or whatever you might want to play with.
But right now we're going to just do those trees like the ones in Central Park. Now I am going to create the leaves. To create the leaves, I am going to basically create a single leaf. So I am going to go in here and on the side I am jut going to draw a little shape, like so. I am going to fill it in with black, kind of a heart shape right there like that. That's a leaf. You might want to consult a botanical book and create something that looks more realistic. It doesn't matter. There leaves are so tiny and so far away you don't have to get that perfect with it, but there's my leaf.
So what I am going to do is I am going to select that and define it as a brush. So we'll call it leaf. Now we can throw it away. Don't need to see it anymore. I am going to create another layer where I am going to start adding my leaves, and I am going to call it dark leaves. Now these trees are silhouettes, in the night sky, way back there so that's why we used black for the trunk and I am going to use black for the leaves themselves. So I am going to take my Paintbrush tool and I am going to select that brush, right there.
It appears as the last brush, which right now it does that. So let's undo that and look at our Brush Engine, right here where I am going to increase the Spacing of that brush. So now they are individual tips. You can see. There you go. And now they start to look more like that. I am going to bring down the Size considerably because I want them to be little tiny leaves on the tree like that. There you go, maybe you are going to do it a little bit smaller, just bring it to about 9. That's a good size right there. So now, they are all going in the same direction. We can make them dance like little Rockettes here and have them all dancing here, but I want to affect every tip individually.
So I am going to go into my Shape Dynamics right here, where I'm going to have Pen Pressure turned off, because I don't want the pressure to be controlling it, and if you have a mouse you don't have pen pressure, but I am going to do a Size Jitter. That means that each tip is going to be a different size than its neighbor as you could see there. I am going to set up a Minimum Diameter. So I don't get too small. I am going to set it to about 14%. So that way they don't become little tiny dots and right off the bat, we could see that we're starting to have a little variety in our stroke. I am now going to play around with the angle as well, push it at all the way over to 100% so that every leaf is going in a different direction and then finally, Scattering.
I am going to scatter it on both axes so that they kind of spread away from the actual stroke. So now I am ready to start applying my leaves. So I come over here and I start applying little leaves all through this area, just covering up stuff, making sure some of the trunks are visible, so I get this nice little tree starting to happen like this. Let's start to really fill up the areas, so I started getting these nice little bushes of leaves. Right through there, all through there. Now in Times Square, there are streetlights which are lighting our tree here.
So I need to have those little highlights and I am just continuing to fill it up there. I need those little highlights that reflect that light that's coming through. So I am going to go in here and I am going to pick a couple of colors that I want. So they are street lights, so something kind of a warm glow. So I am going to pick a deep orange like this one right here for my foreground color, maybe a little lighter like that. Now for my background color, I am going to pick that same color but darken it a bit. Just go down to about like that, nice. So now I have those two colors.
I am going to choose one more choice in my Brushes panel and that is the Color Dynamics where I am going to have it go from Foreground and Background 100%. Now to keep the others down to 0 so I don't introduce any other tones in there. I just want to deal with those two particular colors right there. So now I'll create another layer, which I'll call my highlights. These are little tones that are being picked up by the streetlights and I'll just go in there and start drawing in a couple of little spots. I'll just draw in a couple little areas like that where you can see that the leaves they are just starting to lighten up a little bit, just picking up the highlights onto my tree, just like that.
Come a little closer so you can see the effects. There you can see what's happening. Now very simple, if I was to pick bright green here and this dark green, say like that, and we just draw some leaves here, you can see that we have a tree in the daytime. It's that simple. But that's the basic technique to create all the leaves in the trees. I did this once a long time ago and that particular brush made it into the program. It's this brush right here. I made the leaf brush right there.
If you study how this brush is set up, it's the same functionality. There is the Scattering. There is the Shape Dynamics, Color Dynamics, and I also have a Transfer mode in this one. So there you can see all the different effects that have been applied and there is that particular leaf and if you go in there and play with the Color Dynamics and push this all the way up, here you can see now we got all these nice little tones happening. But that's basically it. I just created a basic shape of the brush, modified it so it did what I wanted and there it created the trees that we then see way in the back in Central Park.
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