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In this installment, The Tools, Bert demonstrates how he uses the brushes, filters, and textures in Photoshop to create everything from the trees in Central Park to the billboards on Broadway, and shares his techniques for keeping his project organized with layers and groups. He also touches on the importance of channels and channel calculations, and how the evolution of the tools in Photoshop from CS3 to CS5 shaped his work.
- Making a chain brush
- Understanding the layers in lights
- Using the 3D tools in Photoshop
- Using layer styles
- Creating wood and fabric textures
- Applying a layer mask
- Linking layer masks with layer styles
- Understanding channels
Skill Level Intermediate
Lighting of the elements is what really establishes their position within the scene, in other words adding the third dimension. Sometimes creating those highlights and shadows and stuff requires specialized masks. A good case in point would be way up here, the wires and the lamps in the Toys"R"Us building. These wires are going all over different areas, so their highlights and shadows I have to fall on different areas-- something that a layer style cannot do because of the fact that it only works with something uniformly, whereas here the wires are not uniform.
They are just bending in different areas and causing shadows and stuff in different places. So let's see how a specialized mask is going to work. What I have done here is I have created this pole. Now right off the bat, we can see that there is a problem that a layer style won't be able to tackle, and that is that there are three light sources. There is a blue tone coming from above, a greenish hue coming from the center and then a orangey kind of a glow coming from down below. So right there we are dealing with three colors, and the layer styles can only handle two colors.
And also these particular light sources are in very specific places, which is another little problem for our wire. So let's go in there and create a wire. Now, I have got a path here, which I'm going to select that path. I am going to create a layer right here above the pole, and I am going to call it the wire. Now I am going to get a color that I am going to use for this wireless. Let's just say we choose a nice dark gray like that, and I get my brush tool, and I am going to set it to a hard edge. Make it much smaller. Let's see, about that size. That's a good size.
Okay, and then I am going to make sure that the brush is set to a nice solid line. There it is. So now that I have all that in that layer of the wire right there, I am going to take that path and stroke it with the paintbrush. So there is our wire. I am going to take away the path, and there is our wire. Now going behind the pole, we'll handle that at the end. But right now what we have to do is shade it so it looks like it's being hit by these three light sources: the blue, the green, and the orange. Now they are going to fall in very specific spots.
We are going to see that the blue is going to hit it up here, and it is probably going to hit it in this area here and right around here and a little bit down here. The green is going to hit it right here, dead center there, right here, right there, and there, because it is coming straight on. And then the orange that's coming from below is going to hit it in this area, down here, there, not really up here, why? Because the pole is going to block it. But we might pick a little bit of it right in there. So here is where we have to get very specific with our mask as to where we are going to add these specific tones.
So here is where we are going to create our mask. We are going to do it with alpha channels and the use of that often-neglected tool, Calculations. So what I am going to do is I am going to turn the actual shape of the wires into a selection by Command+Clicking on it, and I am going to save it as a selection. So I go in there and say Save Selection, and I am going to call this wire. I am going to save it again. I am going to call it edge. Now we can deselect it. So when we go to our channels, we see that there is the wire and there is the edge.
They look exactly the same because they are the same selection. The edge is that roundness is what's going to make this wire look round, kind of like the edges on the pole that had that rounded look to them because they are soft. So to get that effect, I am going to take the channel that's called edge and I am going to blur it. Give it a little Gaussian Blur, which we are going to soften it up just enough so that it gives me that nice little rounded edge. And I am going to click OK. So we have that. So what's going to happen now is I want to see the other channel on top of it, so I am going to turn both of them on.
Now it is a little hard to see the difference between these, so I am going to double-click on it, just to change the color that I am using to see it to a blue, and click OK, and now I can see that little haze, which is where these two are overlapping. What I want to create now is the mask for the blue light coming from above, which means we are going to see it right in this area in here. So what I am going to do is I am going to take this layer of the edge and move it down a little bit. I have got my Move tool and I want to hit my cursor keys pointing down. I am going to just go straight down.
You can see right there, that's where they're overlapping. There is that little edge right there, and we see it here, we see it there, and it's straight above so that because I am just going straight down. So now what I need is a mask or a channel that's going to expose that area right there, and like I did in the other movies about Calculations, let's explain the same thing. There we go. We'll go into Calculations. I am going to say subtract the wire from the edge, and you see that I am exposing those top edges of my wire right in there.
So I send the information over to a new channel. Click OK. Now I am going to go back to the edge and see the wire again. This time I want to expose for that orange down below, so what I am going to do is I am going to move it straight up like that. But that's going to be the area for the orange that's coming from down below. Again, I go to Calculations and I have the subtract, and I say send it to a new channel, and there it is. Now I can name these. Let's do that. Let's name this the 'blue'. We will name this 'orange', and now we are going to do the 'green'.
So I go back to the edge again and I look at the wire, and what I am going to do with the edge this time is I am going to move it to the right, so I am exposing this side right here, just through there like that. That looks good, and I am going to move it down. See right here in this edge, I am getting a little more of exposure right through there of where my green is going to be because this is not exactly straight on. It is a little bit up to the top, so we have got this little edge going right through there like that. Let's just move it up so we have just enough exposed and over about like that. That looks good.
Do the calculations again, and we could see what we are getting. That looks good. Click OK and we will call that one green. Now that we have all the channels, we can go back to our RGB, and we can start to add all these effects to our wire. Now they are going to be done in layers. So we are going to create a layer on top of this, and we are going to call this one the blue. So I can pick the blue right from here. Right there I have same blue. In fact, if I want to make it a little stronger, I can just go into the color picker and just make it a little bluer. And in that blue layer, I am going to load that channel that we just created called blue, and I am going to load that channel.
It is exposing that area. If you really want to see what you are doing, you might want to just turn off the marching ants. So with my paintbrush, this time I am going to get a soft-edge brush. I am going to make it very soft and much bigger. I am going to bring down the Opacity because I want to have a little more control for this and I want to bring it out to about 51%. And through that mask in that one layer--and make sure we are in it--I am going to start to paint my blue right up in there. And I am going to see some of it right in here, and I am going to see some of it right in there, and maybe just a touch right in there.
See how subtle they are? Very subtle. I might want to add a little more up there because of the fact that that's closer to the light source. So now I am going to pick up the green right there. There is my green, and I create another layer, which I will call 'green', and make sure I am in that channel that's for the green, and there it is loaded. Again, I am going to hide the marching ants, just so I can really see what I am doing, and in that layer for green, I'm going to get my paintbrush and start to add green, which we can see that it's pretty much in this area right here.
Now that green just doesn't quite look right, so let's undo that and pick a really good green. Let's get that green, and let's say we go with a little lighter, about like that. That looks good. So I am going to throw a little green right through here, and that's going to pick some of it up right in there, and we are going to pick up some right in this area here. And that's closer so I got a little stronger there and maybe just a tad right in there. And finally, we have the orange. So I am going to get one more layer which we will call 'orange', and we will pick an orange.
Let's pick it right from here this time. We will go in here, and we will pick up a nice orange like that, and make sure we have that channel selected. So we will go in there and turn that into a selection, and we will go in there and hide the marching ants, and we will go in there and paint it. Right in there we want some orange. We want some orange in here. We are going to get rid of some of that in a little while, a little orange in there, and a lot of orange in here, because of the fact that that's real close to the light source. Now you notice I don't have to be that careful because of the fact that it is all going through a mask.
So here we have the proper lighting now. So now what we have to do is we have to add some additional masks, but these are now layer masks that we are going to apply. So the wire does look like it is in fact wrapping around this pole. So I am going to go back to my layers, and the wire right there is going to get a mask. Now, something was selected, so let's undo that. Whenever something happens, it is not Photoshop making its own judgments. No, I never deselected it, so when I created a mask, it automatically made a mask based on the selection.
So we are going to make sure that we have nothing select. So we will go there and say Deselect. So now when I make a mask, there you see nothing happened. I have a pure white mask. In that white mask, using black at 100%, I am going to paint right in this side here. Now what I want to do is I want to paint only inside there, so what I am going to do is I am going to do make the pole a selection by Command+Clicking on it and I'm in the mask. So when I paint with black, you notice that the wire disappeared. It now looks that it's going in back there, right? So now, the orange is going to need a mask, so I am going to give it a mask.
I am going to select that pole again and erase that part right there. I don't want that part. Take that away and now I am going to throw a little black into this area here, but I am going to go straight up and down, because I just want it to look like the pole is casting a shadow right on there, which we have to consider that shadow, which we will do that last. So there we see that now the orange is being blocked just the way you wanted, and then the blue needs a mask right there. So what I am going to do is I am going to give it a mask, select the pole, and hide it right in that area right there.
So there, now we are starting to get the full lighting of our pole, and the last thing that we need is that shadow being cast by this pole because of fact we have this strong light source right there and a strong light source here. So we have a shadow of the pole on the wire, and then here we need a shadow of the wire on the pole. So, first the shadow on the wire, so we got the wire here. What I am going to do is I am going to create a layer on top of it, and in that layer, I am going to throw some black. So with a nice soft brush, I am going to just throw some black right in there like that.
I am going to clip it with the wire, so I see it only inside there and bring down the opacity just a little. So there we have this little shadow being cast by the pole on the wire. Now, the wire has to cast a shadow itself, So what I am going to do is I am going to take the shadow and I am going to make it real easy. I am just going to double-click on this to bring up a layer style for the wire, give it a drop shadow. There is my drop shadow, which I am going to increase the distance a bit like that. Click OK. Now what I am going to do is I am going to separate that shadow from the layer by going into Layer Styles > Create layer. Okay, there it is.
There is the drop shadow. I am going to take the drop shadow and clip it to the pole, so now I see it only inside the pole. And then I am going to move it around a little bit, just so that I can get it just the angle that I want. Let's get that shadow that's what we want to move, and we will just move it just to where we want it, right about like that. And that little piece that came up, no problem. We could just erase that right out, and there we see that we have this wire strung over the pole with the proper lighting that matches all the rest of the lighting in the scene.