Project 1: Build Background & Focal Point
And if you're following along with me, we're gonna be on page 15 of the workbook, starting right at the top, and we're gonna build, start by building a background and the focal point. And for your supplies, you're gonna need a photo that you can silhouette. We'll talk about what kind of photos to choose when that comes up. I've had to change my own photo silhouette. I'm eventually gonna get to my silhouette, but my file corrupted so I gotta do a little bit different and that happens all the time with Live, so we'll work around it. You're gonna need your Outer Space digital papers. You don't have to use the same paper that I've chosen for my example. You can use whichever one speaks to you, if you wanna follow along that way, and then, of course, the Cosmic Girl working files which is gonna have the moon and the forest pictures. You're gonna need those if you want to create it from scratch like I'm about to. All right, so once you gather your first step of supplies, you're gonna move to...
creating a new layout in Photoshop. Simple, same thing we've done before, but just in case you missed it, goes to Command, N or Control, N on your PC, and the width is gonna be 12 inches, your height is gonna be 12 inches. The resolution is 300. I'm using RGB color mode and my background contents are white. And click OK. All right, so now we need to go grab an Outer Space paper. So go to File and then Open, and navigate to your papers, Outer Space papers. And I'm using outerspace7 dot jpeg. That's the paper I'm gonna use. And then click OK. And then, with your Move tool, you can select the paper, click and drag it open, and then hold down the Shift key to drop it in, into our work space. All right. Now, we're gonna work with our focal point. So let's stop for a second and talk about why focal points on a composited page is really, really important. Focal points are the entry point to your layout. It's the first thing that people see when they come to your layout, which also means that there are other things on your page which people have not, will see first. So, on this page, for example, the silhouette is there, but typically, because the moon is bigger, I'm trying to tell you, look at the moon first. Now, that doesn't mean that you will always look at the moon first. Everyone has their own things that catches their eyes and that's based off of your own experiences and what you find pleasurable to you visually, but for me, I'm trying to say, at least, please look here at the moon first. Then take a part of everything else, but look at the moon first. Why, no reason why. I just feel that in this layout, my strong point is the moon. You can use things like hierarchy where something is bigger or brighter or stronger or takes more prominent position on your pages to give someone an entry point into your layout. Oftentimes, what I see with composited pieces or pages is that there is no entry point. Everything looks together, and so you look at it, and you go, okay, that's great. That's awesome. That whole page is awesome. And that's great. I'm not knocking anybody for doing that, but visual flow is created when you go, oh, I'm looking at the top-left and look down here at bottom-right. That's awesome! And ooh, look over here! I'm directing you in my visual story where I want you to look. So when you think of a storyboard, in a storyboard, we typically read from left to right. As Westerners, we read, left to right. So in our composites, we're trying to say, okay, read the layout this way. I'm trying to deliver you to a specific place. Now, the other layout that I have that we're working on in project two, you notice that the focal point is at the bottom right. If you guys remember where it was, I don't have to show it again. So it doesn't have to always be from left to right, but whatever is most prominent is going to be the first thing that people see. So if you make your title bigger than anything else on your page, that is what people are going to see. That is going to be your focal point no matter what happens in a two-dimensional field, which is what we do. So, that is why I say start with your background and then build your focal point. So in this, our focal point is going to be the moon so let's go grab Mr. Moon and bring him in. All right, so we are on step four. Add the focal point moon and let's build some contrast. So go to File, Open, and I think that makes sense. The focal point thing makes sense, right? Yeah, okay, good, good. Before I've moved on (laughs). All right, so we're gonna go into the blending. Not the blending practice files. We're gonna go into the Cosmic Girl working files and grab the moon and that's what you guys should have as a JPEG. And here's our moon and doesn't he just look lovely? So with this moon, this was a picture that I found on Wikipedia that has the right usage concerns for all of us, so definitely, like I said, you can search around and find things that can work for you and depending on what you have to build and for whom you have to build it for. And then we're going to use our Move tool to click and drag this moon into our layout. And as you can see, it's already big. I'm not gonna resize this thing. It's already pretty. If I made this any bigger, there's really nothing else that's gonna be on my layout at this point. And then we're gonna put this guy in a particular position and I'm gonna kind of look at my own layout and kinda eyeball where I put it. It doesn't really matter and for you guys who are watching, if you're following along, you might wanna put it somewhere else, but it's okay. Now, here's the thing. We have to somehow extract that moon from that black background, but before we really have to gas at it, and go, well what is gonna work? Let's get the Circle Ellipse tool, and, no, no, no. We already know. We already worked with the blend modes for black, right? So we know that's a screen. That's gonna be the easiest way to do it so any black tones are gonna disappear and oh my gosh, we've just blended the moon and I can go home! No. (laughs) But that's how easy it can come together. And that's why knowing just even the smallest techniques with blend modes will save yourself so much time in the long run, because now you don't have to perform an unnecessary extraction or use a Wand tool that's gonna break on you or try and use a Pen tool to extract and get all the craters. You don't have to worry about. All of the blackness is gone, and we can continue to keep moving. So, Apply Screen Blend Mode to remove the black pixels completely. Okay, now there's a couple of things that's really cool about this, is that we've blended it very well. We've exteriorly just made it work for ourselves, but the problem is is now, it's kinda floatin' off into space. There's no color in it. It's not working with our layout, so that's why we wanna work a little bit more on it and add all of those layers to the moon to give it some nice oomph on our layout. I mean, it is the focal point. So spend time on your focal points. You will notice that on each example that I'm gonna show you, this project and the next one, that on my focal point, I spent the most amount of time because it's the first thing that you see. It's also the most prominent thing that you see. So spend the time on that one thing. If anything else gets more of your time, let it be your focal points. All right, so next, we're gonna, which is letter C, we're gonna create a new layer and then create a clipping mask from the new layer to the moon layer. So click on the Create New Layer icon, and then create a clipping mask, and I hope to work a little bit faster, but just for you guys who don't know how to do that, that's Layer, Create Clipping Mask. You can also use the shortcut keys. When you go to layer and click Create Clipping Mask, it does not matter which program you're using, Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, you will find it. Or you can use my method, which is just to click on the Alt or Option key, and then click in between the two layers. And now we have our layer clipping mask. Next, we're gonna brush some texture into this. If you get a little bit closer to our moon, I mean, it's already a little bit of texture, but there's no digital scrapbooking texture. This is just playing around, okay? Like I said, I will do little things to a focal point more so than any other layer, because I wanna have dimension and brushwork and stuff in there. I'm gonna make it more than what it needs to be. So we're gonna use the Barely There brushes. So I want you to go to your Brush tool and this is letter D. We're gonna go to the Brush tool, click on the Brush Picker, which is gonna have all of your tips in there, and then click on the little gear sign to the top, to the top-right or the bottom-right, depending on which Photoshop or Elements you're using, and then you can click on the Menu and then select Load Brushes. There are your Barely There brushes in your working files. Click on that ABR file, select Open, and then that's going to add them to your brush panel. And when you have them, they're gonna look like this. You'll have Barely There brush one, two, three, four, and also five, okay? So, I use the grid one and from looking at my tips. Oh, I need to say this as well. If you're joining me first your compositing and you didn't take mixed media yesterday, then you might have missed this one as well. I don't like looking at small brush tips in my brush panel. I need to be able to see them as big as possible, so if your brush panel does not look like mine, click on the gear again and change it from Small Thumbnail, which is usually typically on, this kind of thing, like, that's way too small for me. Click on the Large Thumbnail so that you can see it. And if you want to see the names of them, you can click on Large List, but then you can't see the stuff but it just depends on your preference. But if you're wondering how I got that look, it is because of the Large Thumbnail. And then I wanted to create a grid, so I suggest doing the Barely There brush number two, and looking at this little, the little image of the brush tip. That's gonna give you that kind of grid effect. Now, we're going to stamp this Barely There brush on the layer on part of the moon to imply some texture. So let's see how we did this here. We're on step D. So we select a Barely There brush from the Brush panel, and then we're gonna change our foreground Color Picker to white. My foreground color's already white, so I don't need to do anything with it, and then we're just gonna stamp. Now, here's the thing. I don't always stamp and add texture in every single place. I mean, this is art. We're kinda painting around here and having fun, so I'm just gonna add it to the bottom part of it, so it just has a little bit of texture there. Not a big deal, and if it goes off, I can erase it, but, you know, it doesn't have to be. And then, stamp your Barely There brush on the new layer over one part of the moon to imply that texture, and that's what I did. And the optional step is to create a layers mask. We are in the right place? Yup, click on the Layers Mask icon and conceal a portion of the texture using a soft, round brush. So you guys have seen me do that before. I'm gonna click on the Add Layers Mask option, switch to my Brush tool, which I'm already in, and I'm gonna choose a soft, round brush. Woops, there we go. Panel, please? Here we go, soft, round brush. And because my layer mask is white, I need my foreground color to be black. And you can do that quickly using shortcut key X to switch back and forth from black and white. I'm gonna reduce using the left bracket, my brush down, and I'm going to basically conceal parts of that texture. It kinda makes it hard with that red dot there, but that's cool. I'm gonna conceal parts of that texture that's going past the moon, okay? Now, why? Because you've created that clipping mask, now, why is that brush going past the moon? That's because it's still thinking that it has pixels there. It still thinks when that Blend mode, just because the Blend mode is there, it doesn't tell the computer or the photo editor that there's absolutely zero pixels there. It's just blending into the background. It's disappearing, but that doesn't mean it's completely gone. So if you notice that things are still popping up even though you've clipped it, well, yeah, it's magic, but magic don't last always. So that's the problem and so if you turn the visibility of your Blend mode back to normal, then you can see where it's not technically clipping. It's not gonna clip, because those pixels still, literally, do exist. So just a note, an optional note that you wanna keep, be reminded of, and I believe that was the screen. Yeah, that's the screen. So currently, we are still on page 15, and we are at letter E. We've moved into F, G, and no, no, nope. We are at letter E. So we haven't moved on. We're at the optional part of letter E. "Stamp the Barely There brush on the new layer "over one part of the moon to imply texture, "and then, Optional, click on the Layers Mask icon "and conceal portions of the texture "using a soft, round brush." Okay, thanks, Robert. Before we move on, is there any questions in the audience? It's pretty simple stuff, right? Any questions online?
I've got one quick question from an online student wondering do you gamut check when there's a lot of blending?
That's a good question. No, I have not had to gamut check when I end up looking at my printed layouts to make sure that it's okay. Typically, if I look at my screen, and I have a nicely calibrated machine at home. So if I look at it, and I see that oh, that color looks really off on the monitor, then I'm gonna go okay, something's wrong, I need to bring it back down. And I'm not one to push it to where it's gonna look nuclear and start having a problem with a gamut warning, but if I do think it's a problem or if it's something that I know needs to be professionally done, like it's a background paper that's being composited together and you want other people to print it, then absolutely, I'm gonna look for gamut warnings all the time because it needs to look great on their monitors and their printers. Okay? Any other questions? No? Good, let's move on. So, we've added texture, a little bit of texture. And again, you don't have to use the grid. I just thought the grid looked kinda cool, in my opinion. You don't have to use the grid on your moon. You can use other things as well from the Barely There but it's really just adding grunge and texture to the moon, okay. So now let's target the original moon layer in the Layers panel, which I've already done, and we're gonna duplicate the layer using shortcut keys Command J, or Control J. And as soon as we duplicate it, it starts acting like there's two screens. We've pretty much self-blended at this point, but we just need to use this layer to do something else to do, so we duplicate it. Now, when we go to work on this, we're gonna use the duplicate, even though this is your original file, the clipping has attached itself to the duplicate. So work with the original layer. I hope that makes sense. Sometimes that's a little confusing but let's just let it be confusing. Then we're gonna drag the new duplicate. The one that's still the original but technically the duplicate, we're gonna drag it above the clipped layer of the stack and bring it up, so now you should have moon, clipped texture, plus moon. So we're gonna drag it over that clipping mask in our Layers panel. Now we're gonna self-blend that moon. Okay, so first, to self-blend, we need to create a clipping mask and bring it a part of the stack. So, clipped. Ooh, that was so easy (laughs). All right, now let's self-blend. You may sit up here and say, okay, well let's go through our options. So hold down Shift and you can go down, actually, I'm doing my painting modes. This is something that I ran into. I don't know if anybody else runs into this when they're using this shortcut key and that's right, I probably don't use it, but if I'm on the brush tool or painting tool and I start going through, you go through that, Yonnie? If you're on a painting mode, meaning that you're on the Brush tool or the Eraser tool, if you start cycling through your blends, you're gonna start cycling through your painting modes and nothing's gonna happen and you're gonna go, I don't know if you guys can see it, but as I'm cycling right here next to my painting modes, which are just like blend modes, just work a little different, nothing's happening. You're going, what in the world is going on? It's just so annoying. So I have to click off of it, and select a Move tool or a non-active tool and then cycle through my blend modes. It's just an annoying little trick that pops up, that you run into every now and then. So, now you can kinda cycle through and say okay, well, if I wanted to, ooh, look at that. If I wanted to self-blend, what are my options? Again, hard mix is always gonna be that one you never choose until you look at and you go, oh, that's not too bad. Okay, which one is gonna be the one that's gonna be for me? Some of these are gonna be really good and some of these are gonna be horrible. But I chose a screen and then I reduced the fill opacity and that's just to give it a little more strength. Looking at it at the way that it is, the moon is really washed out. It's not really doing anything. So I wanted to add a little bit more oomph to it, so I decided to turn it back on and use it as another screen mode, just to kind of made it more apparent and stronger. And then I reduced the fill opacity and I wrote, "to your tastes." That's because what I deem to be perfect may not be what you deem to be perfect, so choose, start choosing fill opacities that work for you. I think we talked about it enough now. So for me, I might look at something like this and say that's good, maybe around 45 percent would be where I leave it at, but I just want to reinforce the moon so it stands out a little bit more. Again, it's my focal point so I need to make that distinction that it's strong. What it needs now is color. It's very white. There's nothing wrong with that, but to have a piece like a moon and this beautiful background and not have color is a problem. Now you can clip papers to it. You can clip solid fills. You can add a lens effect. You can do whatever you want, but I prefer gradients because they just add so much beautiful color and you have a lot of control over how those gradients are going to look. So let's create some color within the moon surface. We are still on page 15, step five. So, click on the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon in your Layers panel, that's gonna be the Eclipse tool. It looks like the Eclipse. And then select Gradient. So this is our gradient, and what I will typically do, okay, is I don't start messing around with all of the gradient effects and stuff until I clip it first because I need to see what's gonna happen. So click OK first, then clip it to the stack. Now, we have some, that's not working with our black. But we'll fix that in a bit. So, now we need to choose some colors. Actually, I did say fix that first. So let's change the blend mode that you wanna use here. It's gonna be Overlay. Now the Overlay is going to make some parts strong in your highlights. It's gonna make some parts dark in your shadows. But because it's clipped to the stack, now here's the key, because it's clipped to a stack that has a screen, those dark pixels no longer exist. So it's canceling it out. That's the key. No big deal, right? We can deal with that. So the overlay is gonna cancel out those dark pixels so we don't have to worry about it on this particular example. Now, let's flip the page here. We're gonna go to page 16. So, what we're gonna do is double-click the thumbnail of the gradient to open the Gradient Fill Editor and here is where we're gonna add some color, add some distinction to make it stronger and stand out. So, click on the Gradient Editor bar, which we have seen before, and now, we need to choose some colors. So, sometimes when I'm feelin' frisky, I would just kind of go and see what options I have with the presets. Very rarely do a use a preset. I will use it as a starter to kind of tell me where my colors are going to go, but I just like to kinda cycle through my presets to see, well, what presets, I mean, if I used a chrome, that's a really cool, or copper, that's a cool effect. This is the chrome effect, okay. If I played around and added rainbows and stuff. I mean, these are just things to kinda play around with and see where you can take your composite. You don't have to choose one, but as a base for the markers. That's all we really want is the number of markers. And choosing the gradient based on, well, do I want two markers? Do I want two, one, do I want a marker that's one transparent and one that has a foreground color? So I want one that has full colors in it? Do I want one that has three markers at the bottom? Do I want one that has four markers at the bottom? You see where I'm going? We're just choosing the amount of markers and then we're gonna change the color. That's all that's the science to it. So, if we start from there at the top of our page, I chose a blue-yellow-blue to start off with and then I'm going to adjust the colors. So that's not what I'm gonna do with. It's just what I'm gonna start off with. So at the bottom-left marker, here's where we can adjust our colors. Here's where we can assign a new color. So you can double-click the bottom marker. You double-click it and it will open the Color Picker and in the actual handouts, I say what colors I'm using, my hex codes, and since I've already worked with this layout, I don't need to try and figure it out, but it is hex code 110D39. That gives me a strong, dark blue. Now, why did I choose that number? How did that number come about? It's because I was probably sampling darker tones out in here, and I came up with this darker color blue. So I'm looking to blend it with colors that are already in the background. It's not random. It wasn't just out of the blue. Literally out of the blue. We can also, and what I will typically do is if I have one blue on this side, and I will mimic the kind of gradient. I just change the colors. I will go in, highlight the hex code, copy, click OK, come back to the second, the last marker, double-click and paste it. So I don't have to sample it, and that gives me that darker blue color that I have. It's a more richer, vibrant color and it adds to the background of the layout so compositing, again, is making sure your colors are moving correctly together and the best way to do that is to start sampling colors in your scene. You know, that's where that purple, that's where that dark blue comes from. This is where that purple comes from. So the colors match. It's just so important that if you're creating a seamless background, where everything the image is one specific image, that your colors are syncing together. If you pick that rainbow effect, it's not gonna work because there's no rainbow colors in my layout! Okay, so, it's blue. So let's do OK, and in the middle part, I have this yellow. Double-click the bottom marker to open that, and the color that I'm using is hex code E9A81B. And click OK, and that is right because I think that eventually what I did is kinda sampled some colors from here, or maybe even right here, and that's where I got that orange color from. And that's my gradient. Now, you can move the markers left or right, and that's going to give you more color within the piece that you're working with. So let's say you want more strength of orange towards the top half or more blue and less orange. You can mess around with your bar. I like to think of the bar as an actual color wheel. It's really a color wheel. It's not really a bar. It's just they had to show it in two-dimensional, but it's really a color wheel that wraps around itself. So there's more blue. There's a little bit of yellow and orange. And then we can click OK and now we can mess around with our gradient fill if we choose. Now, letter C. We're on page 16 and we're still in our Build The Background And Focal Point part. In the Gradient Fill Editor, you wanna verify your style. If you're working along with me, I chose a style of linear. My angle is 90 degrees, and the scale is set to 100. You can fine-tune these settings to whatever you feel is best. If you find that you wanna use a radial style and you wanna drag the point of your radius so it creates a really nice little circular effect, then do it. If you find that you wanna angle, which is going to give you, like a cool little angle effect where one part is blue one part is yellow, then that's awesome. One of my favorites is the reflected, so you get that band in the middle of it. Another idea the diamond. So it's gonna give you that kind of look. You can play around with these and have fun with it. You do not have to go with what my simple idea was, but I wanted to do a linear, and I pulled the gradient up too far, so right now, that's highlighting that. Didn't look too good to me. So I'm just gonna kinda bring it so my sun spot or my highlight spot is closer to the bottom of the moon and click OK. And let's back out and I just wanna show you where we're at with this. That's how I brought my focal point in and then added color to match it into the background paper. So this is a good chance to stop for a second to take any questions. You guys have any questions about that? Simple stuff. Does it look good? It does, okay. Yes.
We have covered this but what's the difference between the fill and the opacity?
The difference between fill opacity and opacity overall is opacity is all of the, how the entire layer looks. So if you reduce opacity, it reduces everything opacity-wise on that layer and makes it translucent. Transparent to some point, and then translucent where you cannot see it at all. That's zero percent. So, translucent is zero percent. Opaque would be 100 percent. And then you have some type of translucency in the middle. All right, okay, transparency. Fill opacity does work in two different ways. Works both, but here's the real big separation that a lot of people miss. Blend modes, fill opacity. There's like eight or nine blend modes which are the ones we use the most commonly. When you reduce the fill opacity, you get better results. If you compare opacity with fill opacity and you do the same strength, like multiply, you will see that your strength with multiply on fill opacity looks better than it does with an opacity. I don't know why that happens, actually, but it does. So that's the second, the first thing. The second thing with fill opacity is if you add a layer style, if you reduce opacity, you will no longer be able to see that layer style. If you reduce fill opacity, you will still be able to see the layer style, but the contents of that layer will become translucent or transparent. Does that answer your question?
All right, all right. Good question. Any other, yes, first before. Yonnie?
So when you created that self-blend mode and then did the color layer, does it matter the order of those kinds of--
Let's take a look.
The best way I can prove it to you.
So yeah, it does make a difference, doesn't it? So, what I would typically do, and this is kind of my process, is I will do the self-blending layers first, I would do dummy layers first, then I do color layers, then I do pattern layers. Then I do the adjustment layers. Now, dummy layers are still adjustment layers so I don't want anyone to get confused, but if I need to do blending, I will do the blending first, then I will do all of the extra content that goes on top of it because the blend modes tend to blend anything further down. So if you put the self-blend on top of the color, it will self-blend the gradient as well. So, very good question.
You're welcome. Any other questions? All right.
Got some great questions from our online students.
Let me have it!
All right. Do you save your gradients as actions or preset?
Okay. And do you use radial gradients for things like this, too?
Yes. Yes, I do use radial gradients. I'm trying to think what would be the last thing I used a radial gradient on. I can't think of an example, but I will tell you this. I use whatever looks good. So if it has to be a radial gradient because I played around with it and I see that the radial gradient looks better, then I'm gonna use that. There are certain effects, and I don't think I have a layout to demonstrate it, but when I have a gradient, for example, and I wanna create that angle look where it creates a really strong, I have a layout that I've actually shown in this class already that has one where I did the colors, the rainbow effect with all of my sons' faces. That uses a, excuse me, that uses an angle one so it creates a really strong line down half of the middle and then it just does this refraction all the way around. I love that one. It creates a really nice background paper effect. So what you will find is as you're working with gradients, you'll find some things were better than others, but really, it's just play. That is guesswork. Blend modes may not be guesswork, but the gradients and how their styled, that might be a little bit of play. There's no rhyme or reason.
Okay, and is there a resource that you might recommend to find hex codes without sampling?
Kuler.adobe.com. And it's spelled K-U-H-L-E-R, I think. Or K-U-L-E-R.
K-U-L-E-R, thank you. I think if you go to Kuler, you'll see, Kuler has some great ways. It's made by Adobe Online. Or Adobe and it is online, excuse me. But it's a great place to go to develop color swatches and take your own photos and find what we call color stories. So a color story is, let's say you have, you wanna build a bright mood. Let me just do this. You go to Adobe, you don't go to Kuler Adobe and you actually put this image into their processor online and you say, I want a bright color story theme. Then it will choose five colors out of your picture that you don't have to guess with, that you don't have to sample. It's doing all the work for you. Then at the same time, you can come back and say, okay, you know what? Create a muted color story. And so it will go back into the same image, and try and find muted color stories for you. That's probably the best thing that I know where you don't have to work as hard with your colors, but it will also help you match good colors together. Will help you build and develop very nice colors stories. That'd be my first recommendation and I think right now, my only one. All right good, so we have built our focal point piece and you've seen a lot of the dedication that I will use. So again, you start with your base layer. You build texture into your base layer. Please build texture into your compositing pieces. It makes it look more dramatic. It makes it look more real. Then you add your self-blending and all that other good stuff, and then please add any adjustment layers like gradient fills or colors or whatever you're gonna add.