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The appearance of grain or texture within painted strokes is but one visual cue that the brush is painting on a surface. Another visual cue is the result of highlight and shadowing on a 3D surface. In this video, I'll show you how to easily introduce apparent surface sliding to your brushstrokes. Now, the basic trick behind this is taking advantage of layers and one of the layer effects that we can apply. And if I double-click on my layer, this brings up my Layer Style panel.
And I'm going to select Bevel and Emboss. And I'm also going to check Contour. Now, one of the things about the way this works, you have to first set this up to look like something before you can paint strokes, but it's most likely that you're wanting to make adjustments to that. Let's just take the default settings here. And on this layer, I'll start to paint. And you can see now that it looks like these strokes have highlights and shadows. If I turn this on and off, you can see the difference between what it looks like without and with.
So without, we get just what looks like flat paint. With it on, it imbues the strokes with a three-dimensional character. Now, once you see this, you can go back into Bevel and Emboss and start to make some changes to it. And I find it's almost universal that when you start playing with this, you tend to go a little nuts and give it more than it really should have. You don't want this to overly attract the eye. You just want it to be visible enough that it does add some dimensionality to the strokes, but not making it something that actually ends up being distracting.
You can see here, I've got it down to the minimum settings, and I can still see it. I may want to adjust it, but I don't want to make it too strong. The other thing we can do is, in the Shading, I can control the opacity of both the highlights and the shadows. And you can see onscreen how that does make a difference. So that is yet another control you have. Also, you can play with the location of the lighting angle. I found I kind of like it directly above, roughly a 90 degree angle. Then you can also play with how straight above the lighting is, and the farther it is offset to the side, the more you're going to get a side angle on that lighting, and it will enhance the look of the strokes to be a bit more apparent.
Now, the good news is once you set this up, this is all nondestructive. So you could paint an entire painting looking at your imagery as if it were 3D like this, and later on you may the next day say, boy, I really went too far with this. So you can always open up this and decide, I need to tone this down a bit. Maybe I need to reduce the amount of highlight and shadow, or maybe the shadow lighting is too strong, but you can always go back and change it. The other thing I'll tell you that's really useful is, once you've done this, just go ahead, if you want to work with multiple layers, and make a copy, and go ahead and select All Delete to get rid of this.
And now I've got a new layer. Let's take in another color here. And now I can start painting on this layer with its own three-dimensional effects. Now, why would you do this? What you'll see here - I'll do this with some darker shade of color - what happens is there isn't an infinite amount of depth to the 3D channel, and as a result, light strokes will show 3D - and maybe we want to attenuate it here just a little bit to get across what I'm talking about. I'll go ahead and turn these up, and that should do it.
So it looks like 3D, but once you kind of overlay all these strokes, you can see, it just flattens back out. So it actually works to have some gaps in your brushstrokes. So more thinly populated bristles and also letting texture show through really helps. And I do want to show you, I played around a bit, and I found that in the Photoshop default set, this third one, which is Burlap, makes for a very good texture that works well with adding the Bevel and Emboss to your 3D strokes.
Finally, if you want to take this one step further, we can go in, once again, double-click on the layer and add a drop shadow. And you can play around with how far away this drop shadow is, how soft it is. But let's do that. And now I'll create another layer with that. And once again, we'll do Ctrl+ Alt+Delete or Ctrl+Alt+Backspace. So now I've got a new layer I can paint on. Let's take a color here. And now I'm painting with 3D shadows. And to be able to actually see this while you're painting is really neat.
So it gives you a way to do a very kind of interesting abstract illusionist effect as you paint. And as you build up more and more layers, you can keep offsetting the shadow distance by a greater degree and reducing its opacity, and you can get a very realistic effect of what looks like multiple floating layers of paint strokes in a shallow 3D environment. So you can take advantage of the layer effects to add some interesting qualities to your brushstrokes, particularly when you're working with texture, to add things like Bevel and Emboss for three- dimensionality and Drop Shadows to even make your strokes appear to be floating in a shallow three-dimensional space.
So I think once you play around with this, you'll find this is a very powerful add-on to getting some interesting effects with your brushes that you wouldn't otherwise be able to achieve.
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