Using the Displacement filter to add imperfections
Video: Using the Displacement filter to add imperfectionsA photograph is a record of reality. Other than lens artifacts, a camera records everything with precision. Artists, on the other hand, are capable of, and often do, introduce small imperfections when rendering a scene. Straight lines wobble a bit. Circles are somewhat elliptical. Perspective is skewed. These visual flaws are part of the language of painting. Take a look at any Van Gogh, and you'll see an extreme example of what I'm talking about. We can inject a bit, or a lot, of imprecision into our image with the displacement filter. Let's see how.
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Learn to think like a painter and render images that look like they were created with oils or acrylics, using the latest digital artist's tools. Author and artist John Derry introduces the process of interpreting a photograph into a painted work of art. He begins by explaining his system of visual vocabularies, which describe how to replace the visual characteristics of a photograph with that of expressive painting, and also shares the custom brush sets and actions he uses to achieve these results in Adobe Photoshop. The course also covers working with filters, layers, effects, and more to add further detail and texture.
- Setting up a Wacom tablet
- Removing lens distortions
- Correcting distracting image elements
- Making shadow and highlight adjustments
- Simplifying details with filters and Smart Blur
- Modifying color
- Cloning layers
- Using a traditional paint color swatch set
- Using custom actions
- Working with canvas texture
- Creating physical surface texture effects
- Painting with custom brushes
Using the Displacement filter to add imperfections
A photograph is a record of reality. Other than lens artifacts, a camera records everything with precision. Artists, on the other hand, are capable of, and often do, introduce small imperfections when rendering a scene. Straight lines wobble a bit. Circles are somewhat elliptical. Perspective is skewed. These visual flaws are part of the language of painting. Take a look at any Van Gogh, and you'll see an extreme example of what I'm talking about. We can inject a bit, or a lot, of imprecision into our image with the displacement filter. Let's see how.
What we're going to do here is almost make it as if we're looking through this image through some slightly imperfect glass. And it's going to make the image kind of have a little bit of a waviness in it. But you want to do it at a level that is very low, you don't want this to turn into a fun-house mirror. But the idea here is, is that we're just going to de-straighten, if that's a word, some of the lines within the image. And we want to do it at a low enough level that it's there, but it's not obvious. And so many of these effects kind of work that way.
When it's done right, you don't notice it, and yet if it's not there you'd see something or sense something different about the image. And that's what we're going to do here. We're just going to, and again, I'm making this word up, we're going to imperfectize our image, just a little bit. And we do that with the displacement filter. And what this is, is a map that this image is going to look at and use the texture in the displacement map almost as if it is that, that piece of glass with a pattern or a texture in it, and affect our image by using that as a way to make the pixels move about, and again, in a subtle manner.
I'll show you an extreme version of it while we're doing it, but I want to keep it pretty simple here. So we're going to now create a displacement map. So I'm going to create a new file. And its going to be 1000 by 1000. OK. Now, we are going to create a displacement map in this space. And to do that, we go to Filter > Render > Clouds. Now, you'll wonder, why Clouds? But really, what this is, it creates a seamless fractal pattern. There it is.
So, it's very quickly created. The thing about this that is interesting is that the way this is created, this is actually a tile, and anything that's on this edge actually picks up on the opposite edge, so we can use this as a tile, and it's not. Going to have obvious edges in it, because it is seamless. So we want to go ahead and save this. So lets save, and will save this in our Chapter four Video three area. So I'm just going to call this Displacement. OK, and we'll save that, and we can go ahead and close it.
Now we are going to apply our map to our image, and to do that, we have to go to Filter > Distort > Displace. And I know, from playing with this, we don't want this. Well, actually, I am going to go ahead. Let's try this rather large one point. Let's make it 50 pixels. Because you're probably going to be interested to see what you can do with this. And although this isn't as extreme as we want to go, it's valuable for you to see how this filter works, and you may find once you understand it that you would want to use it somewhere.
And I do want to set the Tile and Wrap Around Options, those are important for this to work. So let's go ahead and say okay. Now, it's going to ask us, what map do you want to use, and we just made this, so we select it, and we open it, and there we are. See? It's a bit extreme. That's more than I want. But it's very interesting that it actually can do this kind of thing. And, as I said, I don't want to use it this extreme for our particular exercise. But if you are looking for an interesting way to distort an image, the displacement filter is pretty unique.
And what's interesting about it is, depending on what that source displacement map is, you can get wildly different results. For example, what if it was an image full of text? You'd get something very different than what we're seeing here. But for our purposes, it's this waviness that we want. We just don't want it so extreme, so let's undo and we'll go back to this place again, Distort > Displace. And I know from experience that I want this to be more like three. And again, season the taste, you may find you want something different, but this is the, what I found works, and again you want Tile and Wrap Around, for, because our image is much larger than 1000 pixels, it's taking that 1000 pixel tile and just reapplying it throughout the image.
And because it's seamless, we don't see an obvious edge in the displacement. And let's go ahead and say okay. Choose our Displacement Map, and it just applied it. Did you see it change it? No, you didn't. Let's go ahead and zoom up. And I'll do, I'll undo and do-- no. Let just look, like, right along, right here. And I'll undo. See what's happening? It's almost imperceptible, but it is there. And that's what I want.
I want these little imperfections in the image. Imagine if I was drawing this by hand on my canvas prior to painting. Now, yes, there's a wide range of techniques artists will use and some may rigidly stick to using straight edges and T-squares and everything to get everything perfect, but a lot of artists are also going to just draw these lines as they're applying them to the canvas, and they are going to introduce these little imperfections, and that's what I want to show up in here.
Its not an obvious effect, but its cumulative. A person looks at the finished image and these little imperfections are scattered throughout. It just gives a sense of hand-wrought quality to the image. And that's what we want to do. Remember, we're trying to drain the photographic qualities out of this image so we can replace them with painterly activity, and painterly activity is going to have imperfections like this in it.
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