Join Bert Monroy for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a 3D object with an inset space, part of The Making of Times Square: The Techniques.
Signs take on all kinds of different forms. It could be just billboards or neon signs or screens that are constantly showing a moving animation. Sometimes they are just some kind of an object, like for instance right here. I am going to come over here to this corner store at the far end of the painting and zoom in on this S right here, and we see that it is just as big piece of metal shaped into a letter S, with a little inside area, and so on. This is what we are going to create here is this 3D S. So I have a new file here, and here I am going to use a regular font.
I've chosen Futura Condensed 500 points, and I am going to just type in the letter S right there. CAP S. That's good. So now it is straight on and I'm not really going to work with this S. It is the basic shape that I want, but what I am going to do is to I am going to take this type right here. There is the type, I got it selected. So what I am going to do is I am going to come over here and say, Layer > Type > Create Work Path, and that's going to give me a path, which we will see right here in our Paths.
There is our Work Path, which I am going to go ahead save it by giving it a name, and we will call it the letter S. So there is our font. So what I am going to do is go over to my Layers and throw it out of way. We don't need that anymore because we are going to create it all based on this path here. Now it is straight on, and we are down a street and we are looking up at the sign which is above the entrance. So what I am going to do is I am going to distort this path, so it has that look of 3D. Now if you have a perspective grid, then you should use that at that point, but I am just going to do it pretty much by eye.
I am going to choose Distort, and I am going to kind of bend this guy up like this and then bend down like that. So now we are kind of looking up at this big giant S up above us. It's going to be a three-dimensional S. So what I am going to do is I am going to copy the path and just move it straight over like that. So now I have got this side of the S right there. So now I am going to have to go in there and create certain parts which are somewhat lost, like right here.
See how it's breaking up there? So let's zoom in on that little area right there, and what I am going to do is I am simply going to take, with my Direct Selection tool, I am going to take this last point and drag it right up to that edge and kind of open it up a little. There we go, so now it is just meeting right at the edge. And if it's not quite right, it won't be perfect, so we have to go in there and make sure we match it right up to that point right there. Now, we can pull back and see how that looks. Let's just pull back, and that bottom looks fairly good, though it doesn't have enough of a curve, so we will just go and bring this out just a little bit.
There we have a nice match. Now up here, it is a little different, because this is a hard edge right here. So what we need to do is to create that little shape as a separate path. So I am going to go in there, and let's get real close. So we don't mess it up at all, we are going to click from this point right there down to this point, come up here and click, and close. Now I want a little overlap here, so I am just going to go a little beyond and come back. That way, it just leads into that area and I will get a neat space that it is showing up.
So let's go over here and make sure that these corners match up perfectly just get it right in there and let's come down here and that corner, let's bring it down right in there like that, so it is looking good. All right, so we have all the paths we need to now create our letter, so here is what we are going to do. We are going to start to colorize this. Now the first thing I am going to do is I am going to take the basic path right here, which is my S, and I am going to fill it with a gray color. Go in there and fill with a nice kind of mid-gray like that in a layer. And I am actually going to call this 'frame edge' and go ahead and fill that path.
So now I have got the path still selected. So what I am going to do is I am going to pick a different color here. Let's go with a lighter gray, let's say that one right there. And I am going to pick up a paintbrush and I am going to get a hard-edge brush like this and I see the size I've got. Let's make it a little smaller. Let's see what a 15 is going to look like, and I will just test it out right here. There is this size. That looks pretty good but still a little thick, so let's bring it down to say maybe 12. I always like to test by doing a little stroke next to things just to see how it is going to look. That looks good.
So let's undo that. Now that we have that, I am going to create a layer and call it front face, because that's going to be the edge of our letter right around there. So now I am going to go in here and stroke that layer with the paintbrush that path. So there's the paintbrush. That path is selected and I click Stroke. So there we have this little stroke. Now it looks a little light, and I just realize because our Opacity is reduced, so let's bring that back up to 100% and stroke it again. There you go.
Now we have that nice solid line. Now that we've done that, we see that our edges are going to be a little off. So when we look at that path again--let's go see that path-- now we see that the edges are a little off. So we are going to have to go in there and modify those right before we start to do our outer edge, but first let's do the backend. So this has to be pretty much that same size going all the way around. That's going to look good. So I am going to go in there and make up a layer, and we are going to call this the frame side. And I am going to pick a much darker gray.
Let's say we pick something like that. In that layer, we will take that path and fill it. Now it is going right up into the edges. That's looking good. Everything's looking really good there. Now here is that little space, so we are going to have to go in there and modify this. So let's go up here to this box, right up in here and get close, and then we are going to take this one path and just kind of bring it right up to that edge and down to this edge. That's going to be that side, and that also added a little shortening. See, it is going to be a little taller here than it is in the back, giving us that sense of depth that we are missing everywhere else where we don't really see it because everything else is curved.
Here we have a hard edge, so there we would see that foreshortening. And so now we have this dark gray. Let's go with a slightly lighter gray. And in the layer, we will put it right here. We will put it the frame top. In fact, we'll call it top edge. There we go. And we will go ahead and fill that path with that color. So there, now we have all the basic shapes for our letter, right? Now we are going to start adding the real third dimension and making it look like a real sign.
We have this layer right here, which is our basic letter, the frame edge, that's this guy right there. What I am going to do, the reason I call that 'frame edge' is because I am going to create another layer, I am going to copy this one, and I could either stroke the path again and so on, or I can do what I am about to do. I am going to just call this the letter face. And I am going to lock the transparency, and I am going to fill it with black. So I will go in there say fill with the foreground color. Do it. There is the black.
Now this letter here I am going to clip with the frame edge. Now you are going to see why I called this the frame edge. I am now going to take that letter and using my Move tool and my cursor keys, I am going to move it a little bit to the right and down a little bit. There is that edge of the frame that we are seeing where the letter is just coming, and then I am going to move it down a little more so it is further recessed, just like that. So now what we have to do is start adding the light that's going to make this look three-dimensional. Now the street lights, they are down here.
There is where all the lights are down below. So the light is going up. So all our highlights are going to be up in here, and then the dark tones will be the parts that are facing up there. So using my Burn tool, which is going to give me my dark tones, I am going to take my frame edge and just add a little darkness right into this area right in there. Let us set this up to Midtones, and we get a little dark tones right in there, right in that area. Same thing right here. We are going to kind of darken this just a little bit. And we are going to get a much smaller brush and just going to really darken that little edge because it is picking up the shadow of the frame itself right in there.
Make it a little bigger, and we will just kind of darken this just a little bit right in there to pick up that little tonality. All right, that's looking good. And maybe we will just darken a little more right in there. So now, we've got the highlights to do. So I am going to go in there and select the Dodge tool and I am going to add a little highlight right up in here. Let's set this up to our Midtones again, and we will add a little highlight right up in there, little highlight right in there, just into that area just like that, and that looks good.
Now we are going to go to our frame side, where I am going to add a little highlight right up into that area right in there and little highlight under here, because that's picking up all that street light down below. I get my Burn tool and we are going to add some shadow to that. And again, I am following pretty much the directions of my light. I am imagining how this light is working. I am going to add a little dark tones right in there because it is just picking up that shadow right in there. It is the darkness of the sign itself. Then that little top face, we might want to go in there and just darken that. Wrong guy--we want that frame top edge right there. We will just darken that a bit.
There we go, so it is nice and dark in the shadows. So now the front face, that's that edge right there. I am going to do stuff to that, but I want to do a lot of different things to it, so I am going to do it in a separate layer, which I am going to clip right there. I will clip it with the front face, and this is going to be reflections. These are all these little highlights and stuff coming from the street, cars passing by, and all that kind of thing. So I am going to go in there and just paint them in, so I am going to draw in some dark tones. So, I have got a nice fairly soft brush. I am going to soften it up a little bit, and I am just going to add a streak right across.
Click here and Shift+Click down here. I've got that strong tone going right across. That could bring down the Opacity, so let's just soften it up a little bit. And I might want to go in there and maybe add a smaller one right here, which I will soften up even more. This one I will soften up, and I will just do it right through there. We have got another little highlight going through there or rather, a shadow or a reflection. And now with white I am going to add a couple of highlights. So let me just click right here, right through there. Let's go into a totally new layer, and we will just add a little highlight right from through there, nice and strong, a little bit bigger. And we'll throw one right across here, make that brush much smaller, and we will just throw one right across that area there, which we will clip with the sign as well, bring down its Opacity, just to soften those, and we will soften this one as well.
And there we can see now we have all these nice little highlights going through the front face of our metal letter, and when you look at it closely you see that we have all this nice 3D effects going through there that we made up ourselves. Let's just take that little frame edge and I am going to darken this a little more. Now that I see it, I just want to have a little more shadow in there and so on, just a little more shadow on the sides as well. So it starts to have that three-dimensional look, and there you can see that we have our 3D metal letter that started from a real font and we just manipulated it to the point where we have the effect that we wanted.
In this installment, The Techniques, Bert shows the steps he took in Photoshop and Illustrator to create the lifelike detail in his incredible portrait of Times Square. The course follows him as he paints in steam, reflections, shadows, materials like fabric and metal, spot lights and neon light, and even 3D objects such as store logos and M&M'S. Bert shows how digital artists can recreate these effects at home, backwards engineering his artwork with painstaking attention to the tools and commands he used to get there.
- Working with reference materials
- Understanding Bert's alpha channel technique
- Creating complex reflections
- Adding fabric and other textures to objects
- Establishing perspective
- Using advanced blending techniques
- Creating patterns
- Working with Live Trace
- Creating 3D letters