Join Bert Monroy for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a leaf brush: Trees, part of The Making of Amsterdam Mist: The Natural Elements.
- In the last few movies we saw how these particular leaves were created, all of these individual leaves that are hanging on the tree. But what about all these leaves in back, all these tiny little leaves that get smaller as they get further back in space, getting smaller and smaller? Now did I go in there and start to create all of these individual leaves and put them in? No, far too time consuming for something that you start to lose. The further back you go, the smaller they become and the more erratic they become all over the place. So what happens there? What happens here is that I actually create a brush.
So I'm going to go in here to my final leaves here, just two of the leaves, and what I'm going to do is I'm going to go in here and manipulate these. Now there's quite a few leaves to this particular file, you can see there's just different bent leaves and so on, but we're just going to deal with this straight on. That's what we want to be the brush. So what I'm going to do is right here in that base I'm going to go into my controls. So I'm going to go into my image adjustments here and I'm going to go into hue saturation, where I'm going to go in there and just bring down the saturation. So there a gray right off the bat.
I'm going to bring down the darkness a little bit, just a tad, about like that. Click OK. Now when you make a brush, the brush is going to look at the values of the elements that are in that brush. So wherever it's black, like those lines, it will be completely opaque. Anything other than black will be transparent based on that value. A red is not black, so red, even though it's a red, the brush will look at it as a gray level and it will be transparent based on that level of gray.
So what I'm going to do here is I'm going to go into another adjustment, I'm going to go into my levels, and in levels I'm going to start to manipulate this a little further. I'm going to take my blacks right here, I'm going to bring them all the way in, and there's the areas that are going to be black, those little veins in there. Then I'm going to bring in my mid-tones just to lighten those up just a little. Bring in the blacks again, and I'm doing this incrementally, just like this, so that I can see exactly that I'm not losing everything that I have. There we go, that's enough detail right there.
Now this is going to be transparent, but it's very slightly transparent. Again, these leaves are going to be so far back that it's just going to add a little more dimension to them, that little touch of transparency will add some dimension. So I click OK and I look at the two of them and I say, well this one's even darker, so I'm going to go with this one. So I'm going to go in there and select this, right there, I'm going to select that, and say define brush preset. I'm going to call it leaf.
So now I got one of my trees here, so let's just get real close right here and zoom in onto this little area here where we're going to add some of these little leaves. So I get my paint brush and I'm going to go into a layer right on top of it, right here. Let's just go into a layer right up on top here, we'll call that layer leaves. I'm going to pick the colors for my leaves. So let's just say that in this particular case it's fall, so I'm going to need a nice orangey color, which we'll pick that color right there.
For the background color I'm going to pick something a little more on the yellows. So pick about that color right there. Just a slight variation between the two, right there. So then I take my paint brush, which is going to automatically, in CC 2014, look at the last brush created. If you're using a version earlier than that, you're going to have to come up here and click on this and a brush will appear at the end of the stack. But in CC 2014, it automatically chooses the last brush created.
So there it is, there's my brush. I'm going to bring down the size a little bit, just a little bit, for now. That's going to be a good size. In my brush engine, I'm going to manipulate that brush. I'm going to give it some spacing, right there, give it a little more spacing. We'll make it even smaller so we can see more of the brushes right there. Let me just bring that size down. There's our little spacing. Give it a little more. What I'm going to do is I'm going to go into shape dynamics, and in shape dynamics I'm going to take the size jitter and I'm going to go ahead and say give it a little variation, just a slight variation.
I want to set it at minimum. I don't want it to get too small. So there we have a little variation on them. The angle, I'm going to change that as well. I'm going to bring that so you see that each tip is moving independently of the others. So I'm going to go in and set that to 100% jitter so that every time it lays down a leaf, its' going to be at a different angle. I'm also going to play around with the roundness jitter. When I bring this in, you see that some of them are getting flatter, see? So I'm going to bring that up to about there, and then say I have a minimum roundness, let's bring that down just a little more, and there you can see that some of them become flatter so that it looks like you're looking at them at an angle, which start to give a more realistic kind of a look.
Then I'm going to go in there and say scatter them. Now scatter, you have a couple of ways. This will just kind of scatter them up and down like that. In both axes, they all to start to move, you see? So I'm going to kind of scatter them away from each other like that. The count, I can increase the number, or we're going to just leave it at the default. We don't want to have any more leaves appearing than we need, right there. Then I'm going to jump all the way down here to color dynamics and I'm going to click on that, and say from the foreground to the background, which is these two colors here, I'm going to bring that all the way to 100% and apply per tip.
So that means each one of these leaves will be a variation of one of those two colors. I might want to do a little saturation jitter on it, a little brightness jitter. That means it's going to slightly change that orange and that yellow with a little variations along the way, each tip. Hue jitter, I'm not going to mess with that one. Now this unfortunately you can't preview, but hue jitter will introduce other colors. If I push this all the way to 100%, it's going to introduce some reds, some purples, some blues, colors we don't want, so we're going to leave hue jitter alone.
So now that we have that, I can come in here, and let's make the brush a little smaller and simply start to paint right on here, and there you can see that we have all these tiny little leaves starting to appear. You can see the variation in the color. I'm just going over and over to create all these different little leaves on our trees. That's how all the trees in the background will fill up very quickly, much quicker than actually taking individual leaves and placing them at the end of the branches. Here I could easily go in there and throw them in.
In the layer behind the tree itself, in the layer back here, we'll create a layer behind it, and we'll make the brush a little bit smaller, just a little bit smaller, and we'll throw some leaves that appear behind the branches, see? There's some leaves behind the branches right back there. You can see that they're partially hidden. That layer, we can possibly even make it a little darker if we wanted to. So we can go in there and make that layer a little darker so that those leaves back there start to have another sense of depth. So if we take one set of leaves away, you can see that those are hidden behind the branches while these are in front of the branches, making the tree look like it's full of leaves.