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[x] newbie friendly
[x] pen tool, creating lightning-effects
Step 1 – cutting an image from a canvas using the pen tool
Step 2 – lighting effects
Step 3 – creating lightning
Step 4 – adding highlights
Step 5 – adjusting the colors
Keyboard shortcuts are given in the brackets.
Step 1 – insert the image and remove the background
[X] It would help to decide what you want your background color to be, and to keep an eye out for an image that already has the background-color you choose. Should you find an image like that, you can skip this first step.
Create a new canvas (ctrl + n). The size doesn’t matter all too much. I chose 1024x768 with a resolution of 72 and a black background.
If you would like a different color, you can use your bucket tool (g) to change the color of your canvas.
Open the image you chose, then drag and drop it onto your new canvas using the move tool (v)
If this doesn’t work, your image might be ‘indexed’. To change this, simply go to image -> mode -> RGB color and try to drag and drop again.
Next you can adjust the size, should this be necessary. If your image is very large, it would help to zoom out first. Do this by using the zoom tool (z) or by holding down your ALT key and scrolling.
Make sure your move tool (v) is selected, then hover one of the corners as indicated in the screenshot:
Wait for the arrow to change to a double ended one, hold down your SHIFT key to keep the aspect ratio and then click and drag the image till it is as big or small as you would like it to be.
Another way to change the size of the image would be using the free transform option (ctrl + t). A narrow ‘option-header’ will appear at the top of your screen.
You can either type in the percentage by which you’d like to in/decrease the width and height of your image. Or you can drag from the corner as described with the move tool above.
Once your image is in position, you can remove its background. You can either try removing it by using (among others) your eraser (e), the quick mask mode, the extraction filter, your wand tool (w) , or your pen tool (p) .
I’ll explain the method using the pen-tool today.
Click along the margin of the part you’d like to cut out. Little squares will appear which are connected by a line. The squares are your ‘anchor points.’ The lines are called ‘paths.’ Click for screen shot
You can move your anchor points by clicking and dragging, while holding down your CTRL key. Convert your straight paths between anchor points to curved paths by hovering an anchor point, and then clicking and dragging while holding down your ALT key.
It’s important that you don’t get these keys mixed up, but if you do, you can always undo your last step (ctrl + z). If you aren’t very comfortable with keyboard shortcuts, you can always manually select the individual options by right-clicking on the pen tool in the tools palette. Click for screen shot
So when you click and drag, an outline running along the margin of your image should appear.
Click on the image below for a more detailed view and explanation. (You might like to click again to view the full screenshot. You might have to scroll in order to see the complete image.)
Continue to do this, till you have completely outlined your image with a path. Now you can connect your first and your last anchor points using your pen tool to complete your path. You will see that the anchor points will disappear.
Next you’ll have to load your path as a selection. You might already have a paths-tab open in your window. If not, go to window -> paths and click once. In there, you will see a miniature of the path you’ve created, and a few little option-buttons below. The third from the left is the one you need.
Click for screen shot
Dotted lines will appear in place of your path. This is your actual selection. This is, however, not what we want to manipulate. For you to be able to delete your background, you’ll have to invert your selection (ctrl + shift + i) or by selecting your marquee tool (m) - no matter which one – and then right-clicking near the selection, and choosing the “select inverse” option which appears in the menu.
Now cut your background from the canvas (ctrl + x) by going to edit -> cut.
Step 2 – lighting effects
You might like to enhance the highlights and shadows of your person/character. You could do this by using adjustment layers or the burn and doge tools. Photoshop offers a very simple filter which can achieve a nice effect.
Select the layer containing your head/face/character, and then go to filter -> render -> lighting effects.
A window shall open, which can seem very confusing if you have seen it for the first time.
To shorten the time involved in creating the graphic, I shall focus on the options in the window which you might find most important.
1. Style: (I chose ‘default’)
You will find a variety of lighting effects here. They are basically nothing but pre-saved, altered variants of the default setting. Some have one light-source, some have many. Some have colored lights, others don’t.
2. Light type: (I chose spotlight)
You can choose between a ‘directional’ light source (e.g. sunlight from outside), ‘omni’ (e.g. a flashlight coming directly from the front), and ‘spotlight’ (quite self-explanatory).
3. The sliders.
The ones I used most here were ‘intensity’, ‘focus’, ‘exposure’ and ‘ambience’.
Apply the filter.
It might take a few tries till you achieve the effect you would like. To speed up the process, you can hit CTRL + Z to undo your last step, and then hit CTRL + SHIFT + F to reopen the last filter menu you used.
Once you are ready reduce the opacity of the layer to your liking. The opacity can be changed in your layers palette.
Step 3 – create your own lightning
Create a new canvas (ctrl + n), that is (approximately) as large as the one you used before. Then reset your fore- and background colors by hitting ‘d’ on your keyboard. Go to filter –> render -> clouds, and then to filter -> render -> difference clouds, and re-apply that one several times (ctrl + f) till get have a slightly webbed structure.
Note: You might only have to do this once. In the example, I did so several times
(click for screenshot)
Then open your levels (ctrl + L) by going to image -> adjustments -> levels. A window will open. Move the ‘mid-tones’ slider far to the left till you see black “lightning.” Hit OK when you are satisfied, and then invert your colors (ctrl + i) by going to image -> adjustment -> inverse. Your lightning is now white, but it’s still a little blurry. To sharpen things up, you can open your levels again (ctrl + L) and move the shadow slider and the highlights slider inwards. Hit OK again when you are satisfied.
Now enter the quick mask mode.
Choose one line you’d like to use as lightning, make sure your mask layer is selected, and then use a black brush to erase around your streak of lightning. Then select your ‘lightning layer’ and drag and drop it onto your first canvas using the move tool (v), and then shift it around till you like what it looks like.
If you get the feeling that the lightning isn’t enough, you can duplicate the layer (ctrl + j) and change the angle to create a fork (using your move tool or the free transform – ctrl + t – option). Make adjustments in the quick mask mode if necessary. Use a black brush to erase the parts that you don’t like, and make things reappear by using a white brush.
Step 3: Adding highlights
You can either make them yourself or use brushes. The ones seen in this graphic were self-made ones. I used two, each on a separate layer with reduced opacities, and placed them directly on top of my background layer.
The font I used was “space age” which can be downloaded for free at dafont dot com.
I added a stroke using layer styles and by altering the font slightly using “characters options.” (Click for screenshot)
Highlight behind the text:
1. On a new layer (ctrl + shift + n) I used the rectangular marquee tool (m) and marked the area around the text.
2. Then I filled it with the same color I used for the text.
3. After that, I used the motion blur filter. The angle was set to 0°.
4. Then I dragged the layer to the left so the highlight would start at the beginning of the text and gradually fade…
5. …and set the layer to difference (in the blending modes)
6. Lastly, I dragged that layer under the text layer and reduced the opacity somewhat.
(Click here to view steps as screenshot)
Note: I put the large text layer under the ‘highlight layer’)
Select your line tool and check the “fill pixels” option at the top of your screen as shown in the screen shot. Then type in the “weight” you’d like. (In pixels)
Create a new layer (ctrl + shift + n) and then click and drag to create lines.
Done by selecting a color and using a soft round brush with different sizes on a new layer (ctrl + shift + n).
Frame around text:
Create a new layer (ctrl + shift + n) and then select your polygon-lasso-tool (L)
Start to click at the edge of your canvas next to the top left corner of your text - or whatever you would like to frame – and then drag while holding down the SHIFT key, until you reach a point where you’d like to change direction. Click once you’ve reached that point. Then continue to use your lasso tool.
The shift key will force the lasso tool (also the pen tool, btw) to create a straight line at an angle of either 45°, 90° or 180°.
Once you are ready, invert your selection (ctrl + shift + i) and fill it with a color of your choice. Then go to edit -> stroke and apply the settings of your choice.
Create a new layer, fill it with a color (I chose black) and then go to filter -> render -> lens flare and drag the flare into position, select a type and opacity. Then set that layer to screen and reduce the opacity.
Step 3: final touches
Select your top layer and then add a ‘hue and saturation’ adjustment layer. Check the colorize button and play with the sliders until you achieve the coloring you like. I reduced the opacity slightly, but left the blending mode at ‘normal’
Click for screenshot
If you like, you can also add a ‘brightness and contrast’ adjustment layer. I left the opacity at 100%, but changed the blending mode to ‘color dodge’.
You are done.
I hope that this was helpful to some of you. I apologize for the length of the tutorial, but I thought I’d write another one for photoshop beginners.
Should anything be unclear, feel free to drop a comment here.
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