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In this exercise, we're going to begin the creation of what I'm calling the magical pattern generating Smart Filters file. The idea is this, whether you're a Premium member or not, we're going to be creating a file from absolute scratch here together, just using a combination of filters, and we're going to be inventing things using filters. We're going to start off by creating a star field, then we'll make a wall texture, and by the time we're done, we'll create this sort of bird's eye view of a bunch of land masses.
It's pretty fun actually, as you'll see. So, it's just a lark, just to give you a sense of the various things that you can do with filters inside of Photoshop. And the advantage to working with Smart Filters is that you can finesse the settings anytime you like in order to achieve different effects. So first of all, I went ahead and saved the final version of this guy as Lightning strikes twice.psd. It's found of course inside the 30_smart_filters folder. Here's what I'd like you to do now. Go up to the File menu and choose the New command or you can press Ctrl+N, Cmd+N on the Mac.
Then inside the New dialog box, I want you to create a file that's about 2000 pixels wide and 2000 pixels tall. Now, it doesn't have to be exactly that big, it can be much bigger if you like, totally up to you. It's just that this gives us enough room to play around. So make sure that your unit is set to pixels by the way, 2000, 2000, if you're going to do the same thing I'm doing. Resolution, doesn't matter, has no effect on this, unless you end up printing, and 240 is as good as any I guess. Color mode is set to RGB. That's fine. The Background Contents are - actually, let's go with Transparent. And that's it.
Otherwise we're done. Click OK and you have your new transparent file. Now, I'm going to press Ctrl+1 or Cmd+1 on the Mac to go ahead and Zoom in to the 100% view size. I'd like you to do that as well. I'm going to rename this one layer right here, Base, by double-clicking on it and calling it Base. It's all there is to that. I'm going to fill it with a pretty dark gray by pressing Shift+Backspace, which is the same as going to the Edit menu and choosing the Fill command. That brings up the Fill dialog box, so it's Shift+Backspace here on the PC, Shift+Delete on the Mac.
I'd like you to set Use to Color. Then once you bring up the Color Picker dialog box, set the Hue value to 0; actually, it doesn't really matter. Saturation to 0, very important, so that we have a shade of gray. And then the Brightness value should be 15%, so it's a dark gray. Then click OK. So 0, 0, 15, and click OK again, and we get this dark gray background. Now, because we want to work with Smart Filters, we need to convert this guy to a Smart Object. So go to the Layers panel flyout menu and choose Convert to Smart Object, or if you loaded dekeKeys, Ctrl+Comma, Cmd+Comma on the Mac, and now we have a Smart Object.
Now, it's not much of a Smart Object, there's not really anything to it, but it will now accept Smart Filters that we can edit well into the future. All right, go up to the Filter menu, and I want you to choose Noise, and I want you to choose Add Noise. Now, you may recall just a couple of filters inside of Photoshop that allow you to invent something from scratch, so that you're just creating random junk, and one of them is the Add Noise Filter, which creates single pixel noise. And then if you want to create fractal noise, there's Clouds. So those are your two guys where creating synthetic effects are concerned, we'll be using them both.
But anyway, let's start with Noise, Add Noise. Then once the Add Noise dialog box comes up, I want you to enter these values; Amount value of 20%, set Distribution to Gaussian, so that we have as much contrast between the noise particles as possible, and then Monochromatic, so that we're not introducing any color, which is not going to do us any good. All right, then click OK in order to create that Add Noise Effect. We do not need a Filter Mask. Again, we're going to get pretty jammed up here inside the Layers panel, so go ahead and right-click on that Filter Mask thumbnail and choose Delete Filter Mask in order to get rid of it.
Next what we need to do is we need to blur the noise, to chunk it up just a little bit. By the way, this first thing that we're creating here is the star field. So I was mentioning, we're going to make a star field, a wall texture, and then we're going to make a bird's eye view of a bunch of islands. So we're starting off with the star field. Go up to the Filter menu, choose Blur, and choose Gaussian Blur. This is going to grow the noise. It will also make it incredibly blurry, it won't look like anything good. But go ahead and choose Gaussian Blur, and set the Radius to 2.0.
So now we have this weird murky black oatmeal effect. Click OK. Now what we need to do is we need to make the lightest pixels white and the darkest pixels black, so that we're separating the stars out from the universe. We're going to do that using a Levels Adjustment layer. So go down to this Black-White icon, press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, click and hold on this Black-White icon, and go ahead and choose the Levels command. Because the Alt or Option key is down, you bring up the New layer dialog box.
Let's go ahead and call this guy starmaker, because that will be its purpose. And then notice, there's the Histogram right there of all the darkness inside of this image. If I go ahead and drag the black point up, notice that I'm making a whole lot of background black. Then if I drag the white point over, then I'm making a whole lot of noise white as well. Now, you typically want these values, the black point value and the white point value, to be about 6 Luminance levels different from each other. So if I have the white point set to 60, I would go ahead and set the black point to 54, and notice, we got stars.
Now, if you want the stars to be tinier, then you increase the black point value and then turn around and increase the white point value by a similar amount, so 57 and 63 are still 6 Luminance levels different from each other. And now we're losing stars, and this would be perfect, by the way, if we were doing screen work. Now, if you're doing print work, you probably want to brighten things up a little, so I'll take the white point value down. I can't take it any lower than 57 actually, because these values have to be 2 Luminance levels apart.
So I'll take this guy down to 50, let's say, the black point value, and then I'll take the white point value down to 56. And now we have more stars in the sky and they're also brighter. You might wonder, well, why is this better for print work, because you're going to have dot gain and a lot of your stars are going to fill in. Anyway, I'm going to set mine to what I had them at just a moment ago, which is 54 for the black point value and 60 for the white point value. Now, you might look at this and say, well, it's pretty good, it's a little bit fakey. It's totally random of course. But you might think that people wouldn't be that easily fooled by it.
Tell you what, I actually learned this technique from a professional digital matte painter, who does work for movies. It's about 15 years ago now. They were doing star mattes for 'Empire Strikes Back' for the rerelease of 'Empire Strikes Back,' this is exactly the technique that they used. So that's how realistic it is. All right, so that's just part one, that's just the star field. In the next exercise, we're going to take the same file and we're going to build up a drywall texture.
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