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Using displacement maps to create shadows


From:

Pixel Playground

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. 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.
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Watch the Online Video Course Pixel Playground
16h 55m Intermediate Jun 07, 2013 Updated Aug 28, 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.

Subjects:
Design Photography
Software:
Illustrator Photoshop
Author:
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 .


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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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