Pixel Playground with Bert Monroy
Illustration by John Hersey

Using displacement maps to create shadows


Pixel Playground with Bert Monroy

with Bert Monroy

Video: Using displacement maps to create shadows

Today we're going to look at a feature that's been overlooked for a long time. I'm going to go and just mask in that area.
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  1. 9m 33s
    1. Easter basket: Creating the basket NEW
      9m 33s
  2. 25m 4s
    1. St. Patrick's Day card: Creating a shamrock and a pot of gold
      9m 13s
    2. St. Patrick's Day card: Adding the details
      8m 13s
    3. Creating a 3D Easter egg
      7m 38s
  3. 36m 43s
    1. Making a piece of candy: Adding the jelly filling
      10m 51s
    2. Creating a Valentine's Day card
      10m 10s
    3. Turning a daytime scene into night
      8m 24s
    4. Using Photoshop's Displace filter to create a waving flag
      7m 18s
  4. 45m 43s
    1. Using the Photoshop Flame Generator
      6m 53s
    2. Creating a mountain scene
      8m 24s
    3. Creating reflections in water
      6m 8s
    4. Making a diamond-encrusted type
      12m 11s
    5. Making a piece of candy: Creating the chocolate base
      12m 7s
  5. 27m 47s
    1. Mapping video onto a 3D object in Photoshop
      5m 50s
    2. Creating a wintery scene
      7m 36s
    3. Making a New Year's 2015 card
      14m 21s
  6. 33m 21s
    1. Three Dimensional type with extruded neon: Making the letter forms
      12m 29s
    2. 3D type with extruded neon: Adding the neon
      11m 48s
    3. Creating a Thanksgiving card
      9m 4s
  7. 47m 25s
    1. Creating a galaxy with Photoshop: Building the star field
      9m 23s
    2. Creating a galaxy with Photoshop: Adding color and effects
      10m 19s
    3. Creating a campfire scene: Adding the campfire
      12m 34s
    4. Creating a campfire scene: Adding trees and lighting
      8m 3s
    5. Creating a superhero type treatment
      7m 6s
  8. 46m 32s
    1. Making a desk nameplate
      12m 6s
    2. Illustrating a campfire from scratch
      9m 35s
    3. Creating realistic stains on bathroom tile
      9m 9s
    4. Creating a distressed windowsill from scratch
      15m 42s
  9. 45m 16s
    1. Increasing precipitation: How to make a rainy-day photo look rainier
      9m 34s
    2. Retouching techniques: Improving a picnic scene
      9m 28s
    3. Retouching techniques: Moving an object in a scene
      9m 29s
    4. Retouching techniques: Improving a real estate photo
      8m 53s
    5. Adding a billboard to a photo
      7m 52s
  10. 28m 56s
    1. Making a book: Perspective
      9m 53s
    2. Making a book: Adding pages
      9m 27s
    3. Using paths and layer styles to create logo text
      9m 36s
  11. 42m 42s
    1. Theater curtain: Animating a rising curtain
      7m 23s
    2. Creating a chalkboard
      12m 48s
    3. Creating a manila envelope
      12m 50s
    4. Turning a regular donut into a jelly donut
      9m 41s
  12. 48m 47s
    1. Creating net fabric for a veil
      15m 39s
    2. Animating a spotlight against a brick wall
      7m 1s
    3. Damen Station: Using Blend in Illustrator to create intricate details
      4m 34s
    4. Theater curtain: Making a braid and tassels
      9m 53s
    5. Theater curtain: Creating the curtain
      11m 40s
  13. 34m 22s
    1. Oyster Bar: Creating a canvas texture
      7m 53s
    2. Creating realistic reflections and shadows
      11m 0s
    3. Creating water droplets on a surface
      7m 42s
    4. Wrapping a pattern around a 3D wine goblet
      7m 47s
  14. 29m 7s
    1. Damen Station: Creating realistic rust
      6m 56s
    2. Oyster Bar: Creating puddles
      6m 15s
    3. Oyster Bar: Creating asphalt and concrete textures
      5m 3s
    4. Oyster Bar: Creating a manhole cover
      10m 53s
  15. 38m 48s
    1. Magazine cover: Creating a lamp
      13m 57s
    2. Magazine cover: Creating a wood floor
      13m 29s
    3. Damen Station: Adding multiple train cars
      5m 26s
    4. Damen Station: Creating bolts
      5m 56s
  16. 36m 9s
    1. Red truck: Creating a headlight
      7m 17s
    2. Red truck: Creating chrome headlight trim
      7m 37s
    3. Red truck: Creating realistic metal perforations
      7m 5s
    4. Red truck: Creating wear on metal
      6m 18s
    5. Magazine cover: Using perspective to draw a room
      7m 52s
  17. 31m 44s
    1. Oakland Theater: Creating lightbulbs
      15m 33s
    2. Changing photo contents with Auto-Align Layers
      6m 36s
    3. Creating a metal grill
      9m 35s
  18. 47m 14s
    1. Charms and medallions in Photoshop: Adding details
      10m 49s
    2. Charms and medallions in Photoshop: Adding a third dimension
      10m 10s
    3. Oakland Theater: Creating stone walls
      14m 11s
    4. Oakland Theater: Creating neon
      12m 4s
  19. 40m 9s
    1. Animating a 3D starfield
      7m 6s
    2. Creating an antique pub sign using Photoshop
      13m 1s
    3. Creating a custom brush to draw hair
      7m 57s
    4. Charms and medallions in Photoshop: First steps
      12m 5s
  20. 21m 8s
    1. Using a Fibonacci spiral to create a tattoo
      4m 19s
    2. Body shaping with Puppet Warp
      4m 1s
    3. Type effects in Photoshop: Pillow
      6m 46s
    4. Type effects in Photoshop: Clouds
      6m 2s
  21. 42m 37s
    1. Recreating magazine clippings
      7m 31s
    2. Creating realistic scales for a dragon tattoo
      6m 27s
    3. Creating spikes for a dragon tattoo
      10m 35s
    4. Creating the belly for a dragon tattoo
      10m 55s
    5. Creating a flower tattoo
      7m 9s
  22. 29m 24s
    1. Creating a custom brush
      7m 28s
    2. Using displacement maps to create shadows
      7m 27s
    3. Enhancing a landscape by adding a lake
      6m 37s
    4. Creating a dog tag
      7m 52s
  23. 23m 36s
    1. Creating animated snowfall with Photoshop
      6m 39s
    2. Filling an empty glass with liquid
      2m 51s
    3. Using an alpha channel to create a 3D object
      6m 53s
    4. Creating a 3D coin
      7m 13s

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Watch the Online Video Course Pixel Playground with Bert Monroy
13h 32m Intermediate Jun 07, 2013 Updated Mar 27, 2015

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Take a 10-minute recess every week and join Bert Monroy in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, the playgrounds of digital artists. Every Friday Bert walks through a fun, self-contained project that tests your skills and challenges the imagination. These programs aren't just image editors; they are sandboxes for creativity and experimentation. Take a spin through a carousel of tools and get reinspired, each and every week.

Design Photography
Illustrator Photoshop
Bert Monroy

Using displacement maps to create shadows

Today we're going to look at a feature that's been overlooked for a long time. It's been there as long as Photoshop has been around, but most people don't know what it is and most people ignore it completely, yet it's an extremely powerful tool. First, let's create something that's going to take advantage of that little feature. I've got this shaker here and what I want to do is create a shadow. There's a light source back here somewhere. So I'm going to take a, this shaker and duplicate it. And put it in back here. We'll call this one the shaker shadow.

So what I'm going to do is I'm going to lock the transparency for it. And we're going to fill it with black. Okay. Now, let's unlock the transparency. And we'll go in there and do a little a little distort to it. I'm going to grab this corner here and drag it down, and drag this corner down here. And bring this up into here. And we have this nice, long shadow, like so. Click OK. Now, that other piece in back, no problem, we can go in there and just erase that little part. Now I'm going to go in there and soften it up a little bit.

So we just give it a little Gaussian Blur, just to soften it up just a tiny little bit. And we give it a little mask as well. So give it a mask, and in that mask I'm going to kind of make it start to kind of disappear from way out here. So I'll just go in there and add this little gradient like that. And then, we'll also bring down the opacity for the overall shadow. And there we have a nice shadow, but what if, that is our background. Now we have a whole 'nother story here. Because of the fact that the little waves in the sand are going to distort this shadow considerably.

And right now, it's very smooth. It doesn't quite look right. So we're going to have to make that look really good. So, tell you what we're going to do also. We're going to go to the shaker, and give it a, a little mask. And I go in there and with a much smaller brush. I'm going to go and just mask in that area. Let's go to 100% in our opacity and we'll just kind of give it that little bit of, so let's just dug into the sand like that. Now, the shadow. We've got puppet warp. That's pretty nice but it's a little convoluted here. A lot of work.

We have warp. Now that's not quite going to work here because of the fact that we have quite a few areas and a lot of control that we need. We want to do it very quickly. Well, the sand is the problem. The sand could be the solution. I have a file here of the sand itself. There's the sand. Dark. What I did is I just went in there and increased the contrast and really got into the lights and darks. Made it much stronger. In fact we can even do it again. We can go in here and just make those darks even darker, and, and so on and make the lights a little lighter.

Alright, so we're getting really strong lights and darks. And I'm going to save that. We'll save it. Okay, so, what happens, I come back here to my, to my art. To the shaker. And, I'm going to go in and I'm going to, select that shadow. I've got this shadow selected. And I go up here, and it's a filter. I'm going to go into Filter > Distort, and it's the first choice, Displace. Now, here's one of the reasons why most people don't really use this. Like, it's not very descriptive, what's happening here, what's going on in this.

Well, let's just go ahead and try it out. Well I would say OK, and then a second window pops up. Well, most people got really confused at that point if they weren't confused before. So what I'm going to do is I'm just going to go in there and we're going to go up that Filter > Distort >Displace, and we'd see that we have a horizontal scale and vertical scale and the default isten. I'm going to leave it at the default, that's a little more than I need, but we'll leave it at that. Now right here displacement map, that's another image.

In this case that darkened version of our sand. Do you want to stretch it to fit or do you want to tile it? Well, neither because it is the exact same dimensions as my image. That will ensure that my folds will be exactly where I want them to be. The undefined areas. There are none. Again my map is exactly the same size so I'm going to click OK. And then it's going to ask me where is that displacement map, which I have it right here. Sand dark. And when I open it, you see that the shadow automatically got slightly bent.

If I want to do it again I could just apply it one more time and there you see that we have now, the sand is just traveling right across, the little shadow is traveling right across the sand. Now, in the mask at this point. I'm going to have to go in there, and make, little adjustments. Again, because of the fact that I have dark areas here, where you won't really see the shadows. So what I'm going to do is I'm just going to, with a very light brush, let's bring down the opacity a bit. I'm going to go in there, and just kind hit those dark areas right in there, right in here. And let's bring that opacity down even more to about like that.

And we're going to go in here and just going to lighten that up in there, and we're going to lighten up right in there, and we're going to light it up right in there. And if I want I can just go in there and just kind of soften up those, those shadows or that little highlight there. And there we see that now we have the shadow that's traveling, following the curves in the sand waves. Now I've used this in many different situations. Here's a case right here. One of my paintings, Lunch in Tiberon. Now it's a real subtle effect, but if you look through it, you'll see that there are places like right in here, and right down here, where the tablecloth looks like it's not flush against the table anymore.

Lunch is done, glasses are almost empty Messed up napkins, so it has been a lot of activity going on at this table. The table cloth has moved. So, what happened is, is that the file of the tablecloth, right here, was distorted using a map that looks like this. And there you can see that 50% gray in our displacement map, regardless of the colors, a 50% tone is not going to have any effect on your image. Anything that is lighter is going to push things up and to the right.

Anything darker, or rather up and to the left, than anything darker is going to push them down and to the right. So you can see, right here, there's the little bends. Here's a really old use of it that I did in this particular painting here. Now, we're getting real close up here. We see that the letters are conforming to little folds in that awning. What I did is, I have the awning itself, there's the awning without the text, and what I did is, I created the text. It's just a word, coffees, that I typed up, just like that, and then, I distorted it.

There we see the coffees, I simply rasterized the text, and I. Move things in. I squished them in, twisted them, and so on and so forth. And then I created the map. And the map, as you can see here is a text displacement map. it's just some light tones were added to a gray field, which bent the letters to give me the final effect. That we see, in the final painting, right there. So displacement allows you to control, how things are going to be bent.

Same thing was done with the word sandwiches. They were all twisted, using displacement maps, to make em look like they are falling according to the fold in the fabric or like in today's little project, the little waves in the sand and displacing the shadow being cast by the shaker. So displacement, the little guy that just allows you do all kinds of really cool effects, and having one image be used to bend the pixels of another.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Pixel Playground with Bert Monroy .

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Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.
Q: Why are some of the 3D menu items grayed out when I try to follow along?
A: The 3D features in Photoshop CC require a computer with at least 512MB VRAM. If your computer doesn't meet this criterion, the 3D menu features will be greyed out.
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