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Photoshop is the world’s most powerful image editor, and it’s arguably the most complex, as well. Fortunately, nobody knows the program like award-winning book and video author Deke McClelland. Join Deke as he explores such indispensable Photoshop features as resolution, cropping, color correction, retouching, and layers. Gain expertise with real-world projects that make sense. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download Deke's free dekeKeys and color settings from the Exercise Files tab.
Alright gang, in this exercise, I have something really fun in store for you. It doesn't have that much to do with layers specifically, although it does require a couple of layers to pull it off. But we're going to create a Star Field using just a couple of filters and an Adjustment Layer, and that's it. Just like the one you see here inside the Martini Hour banner.psd file. This basic approach was actually used in a couple of Star Wars movies. Believe it or not, for a few of the establishing shots that you'd see for maybe four seconds out of window, you would see these kinds of stars made in Photoshop.
So let's go back to Bright on black.psd which is found inside your 10_layers folder. And I've turned on all the layers inside of this composition. Otherwise, it's just the same as the saved version of the image. I'm going to press Control+Semi-colon or Command+ Semi-colon on the Mac to temporarily hide those guys. I'm going to click on the martini hour layer. Now I really want to create this new star layer on top of colors right in front of colors there. And when you choose this command, the New Layer command or you click on this little icon down there, then you create a New Layer in front of the active layer.
But there's a way around that. You can create a layer in back of the active layer instead, and you do that by pressing the Control key or the Command key on the Mac, and clicking on that little icon. So there's the New Layer, another way to work. If you want to name the layer as you create it, you press Control+Alt or Command+Option on the Mac and click on that little icon. Then you can call the layer noise, which is what I'd like you to call it and Click OK. We now have a new empty layer below martini hour. Hate to clutter your brain but I just want you to know all the ways to work.
Alright, the next thing I want to do is I want to fill this layer with 15% gray, so very dark gray. I'm going to do that by pressing Shift+ Tab to bring up my right-side panels here. I'm going to change my H, S, B values to 0, 0 and 15, this is actually what I'm looking for right there. Then I'll press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete to fill the layer with gray. Alright, so I'll go ahead and press Shift+Tab to once again hide the panels. Now we need to add some Noise to this layer. Noise is great for matching noise between different layers inside of an image.
If you try to for example match a very smooth image to one that has a little bit of noise in it. But it's also good for generating texture and that's what we need for the Star effect. So go up to the Filter menu, choose the Noise command. And choose Add Noise. Now I want you to raise the Amount value to 20%. Switch to Distribution the Gaussian which is going to increase the frequency of very light and very dark noise. And then turn on Monochromatic, so that we don't have any color, and then click OK.
Now we have a bunch of noise in this background. Alright, the next thing we need to do is firm up the Noise a little bit by mushing it together. You can do that by going to the Filter menu, choosing Blur and then choosing Gaussian Blur, which if you loaded Deke Keys, has a keyboard shortcut of Shift+F7. Then I want you to change the Radius value to 2, that's all and click OK because otherwise we'd have very dinky tiny stars. We need them to be a little thicker. Now I'm going to press Shift+ Tab to bring back my panels.
Now we need to add an adjustment layer to increase the Brightness and Contrast of this layer. Typically this effect is pulled off with Levels but we haven't seen the Levels command yet. And you can do it just as easily using Brightness/Contrast. This is a great use for the Legacy function. So what I want you to do is Alt+Click or Option+Click on that first icon right there, and call this new layer starmaker, and click OK. Then inside starmaker, turn on Use Legacy. It's off by default.
It's good that it's off by default. But in this case we need it. So you would never turn Use Legacy on when manipulating a continuous tone image. But for an effect, it can be very useful. So turn it on. Then I'm going to increase the Brightness value. I want you to take it up to about 68%. It's actually going to work pretty nicely for this. Then take that Contrast value all the way to 100 and back it off just a little bit. Press Down Arrow, Down Arrow twice to take it down to 98. That gives us a little softness around the star so that they're not super jagged.
And we end up with this effect here. Now if you want more stars or bigger stars, you would increase the Brightness value. And if you want fewer and smaller stars you decrease the Brightness value. So what typically works up pretty nicely is if you're doing screen work, you want a lower Brightness value. If you're doing print work, you want to go ahead and bump it up a little bit so that your stars don't fill in. I'm going to take it down to 68 because after all I'm doing screen work for you in this video. There you have it. I'll go ahead and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac, so the Brightness value is no longer active.
I'll press Shift+Tab in order to hide my panels. We now have a credible Star effect that we created in no time at all out of whole cloth just using a few functions inside of Photoshop. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to blend this Star Field with the rest of our composition.
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