Create Backgrounds with Render Filters
All right, so the first thing we're gonna look at is we're gonna look at rendering. I have to tell you, the render filter. I think it's my all-time favorite thing right now is render in Photoshop. So, what we're gonna talk about is inventing a scene out of nothing. So we've got this autumn scene, and we're gonna go under the filter menu, and we're gonna be under the render section and we're gonna talk about trees right now. So, let's talk about what this is. I'm gonna deconstruct it slightly and then we're gonna build it together to give you an idea. So, what we have is I just wanna make an autumn road scene. We often, in our business, have to comp and design scenes out of nothing. Or you get a comp and someone has used a stock shot, and it's this much of a road and you need this much of a road, or trees. So why not, let's build our own. Now, don't let this file scare you. There's a lot of trees in here. It is crazy easy to build these trees. I'm just gonna turn them off, don't be scar...
ed, it's a lot of trees. I love trees and I'm gonna show you how to build these trees in just a second, but I just wanted to give you an idea. There's a lot of layers here, and we're gonna talk about file construction and leaving files for people without things like Layer One and Layer Two, or Layer Copy One.
Yeah, no oops, this is good. I like to talk about this because in job flow you have to share your work with other people, and I think it's really handy to see when it doesn't work to not label your files. So let's get started with the render filter. I'm gonna make a gray layer, and I'm only making a gray layer so that you can see what I'm doing. You don't need to do this at home. And I do wanna reiterate you'll have this file to deconstruct and take a look at. So, I'm gonna make a new blank layer and I'm gonna call it Render Trees. And I'll endeavor to spell it correctly. I don't always spell correctly. All right. We're gonna go down to the filter menu to render, and we're gonna go tree. I love these scripts, I think these scripts are fantastic. Now, Photoshop, in their utter brilliance, has given you a gazillion, million trees. And it's so fantastic. And you can change your lighting direction, you can change your leaf quantity. Oh, it's cold, it's winter. Or you can make a lot of leaves and make big leaves. You can change your branch height, so what that does is it raises the level of the branches.
More trunk, give me some trunk! All right. Now, you'll notice here there's a basic window and an advanced window, and in the advanced window you can change your colors for your branches and you can use custom colors for your leaves. Ooh. So, you can change your leaves to whatever color you want. I just love this thing. So, let's just say for giggles, we go back to basic and we change to a pine tree. It keeps the same colors, whatever you just had. Again, you can add leaves, you can change direction, you can randomize your shapes, and I'm talking very quickly. Panic not, you can rewind this. And I'm gonna go ahead, for giggles, and hit okay. Now, what's really nice about this is you can change your tree, I'm gonna turn that gray layer off. Move to the V, the move tool, and now I can move these trees wherever I want. I'm gonna turn that gray layer back on for just a minute. I'm gonna hit the Command T for transform, and I can scale this tree, I can rotate this tree, I can move it off to the corner, I can do whatever I want with this fantastic tree. I think it's fantastic. So, now, I'm gonna take a moment and talk about smart objects. Now it begins. When you make your trees, what you might wanna consider doing is making this a smart object. So, I'm holding my control key, and I'm gonna convert this to a smart object. And what that will allow me to do is keep that tree at full size render, full size, big as I want it, and then I can scale it and make it smaller, and make some decisions about where I put this tree, duplicate it, make some bigger again. I just hit command J to duplicate that, or you can hold the option key, hold the option key and click and drag. Do you see that, option, click and drag.
Because it's a smart object, even though you made it smaller, you're not starting with smaller stuff.
It's all the big, high resolution stuff in there. So when you res it back up it's all the goodies.
Absolutely. So, we just went over a ton of stuff in two seconds. I'm gonna select those by holding shift key and clicking on their names and I'm gonna hit the delete key. Here we are back at our original tree render. So, why I wanna talk about file size is, I know that some of you, for your work flow, you are gonna be working large, some of you are gonna be working small. We often comp small so that we don't have what, 16 trilibite file sizes, and then we enlarge. So, with the smart objects, you're gonna use that for resolution issues. I'm gonna go ahead and delete that tree render and then I'm gonna go back now through these trees. So, what we've done here on this file is we have built a bunch of trees. We've used different colors. I'm gonna turn them off from the top, checking my time there. We put a little atmosphere and I'm gonna talk about that in a second. And we just did different colors, so seriously, it is like the easiest, basic thing, and we just move the trees. And you can change the color, you can make this a spring scene if you like, and there's just some color corrections to darken, that's all it is. Turn these back on. And then Simon's gonna go over the road in just a second, but he's gonna create this road all out of filters, and then what we did is we just put some trees on the top. Do you see that? Little bushes, made little bushes right there. And then we made white paint. I love white paint. Do you like white paint?
I do like white paint, Lisa.
We used white paint as dust to create atmosphere, to give a road. Just to give a little environment. Now, I'm gonna suggest for y'all at home, if you decide you'd like to try this and deconstruct the file, maybe get a stock shot. Get a stock shot of a road and try to mimic it. Try to copy it, copy the colors, colors, excuse me, it's supposed to be color, colors, and see if you can emulate it. Now, I know we've done this before. We will copy an image to learn the tricks, and then you can use your own. And when I say learn the tricks it's like, well, look at the room, look at the road, there's atmosphere, it's getting faded, the colors go lighter in the background, more saturated in the front, and I don't know about you but I sometimes find that when I try to do that free hand without thinking about it, I lose my way. And to have a sample right next to me, then I can see, oh yeah, you gotta put some atmosphere in, oh yeah, you need some distance. Is there anything else I wanna talk about about the trees?
Like a cookbook.
Like a cookbook because these are--
Like a cookbook.
Kinda like ingredients. Let me say one more thing. Another thing you might wanna consider about the trees is if you need to, you can make a new file, excuse me, not a new layer but a new file, that's larger if you need to, command shift n, and make your tree huge and then bring it in smaller. And we'll talk about that later, the file size.
Yes, we will.
So, I'm gonna let you go ahead and take over on the road.
So, once Lisa had done all these trees, we were makin' this picture and the trees were done, the atmosphere in the back was done, and she was like, this file's done, let's give it away. I was like, what? The road is still, somethin' not fantastic. Let's just build our road. She's like, you can do that? I was like, I'm a professional man, I can do it. So, here's what we're doin'. Let's start with a new layer that's gray. The way I do it, I make a gray layer, call it gray. Instead of normal and fillin' it with gray, I go down here to these blending modes and these give you an option to choose fill the whole thing with gray. These don't effect anything, the gray color doesn't effect anything. So, it's kind of a freebie. Fill with gray, hit okay, and change it to normal. Now the gray is seen. Possibly. There you go. With this, I went into a filter gallery called texturizer, these are the settings I used, and I'll redo this. This is a screen grab of what I did, so I went in the texturizer, this choice was sandstone and these are the two numbers. Recreate that real quick. Filter, filter gallery, texturizer, and it was up and around 170s, sandstone, hit okay. So, now we went from gray to a textured piece. Second thing I did after that was made it the size that I wanted and in the perspective I wanted. Turn these masks off and turn that. So, with perspective, when you free transform stuff you can make it smaller, bigger, flip it, rotate it, but with perspective what you're doin' is grabbin' the back of it and makin' the back smaller, the front bigger, so it looks like it's goin' back in perspective.
You know what I really liked about how you did this? Is that it distorted the texture.
So, in the picture, yeah, the little bumps in the road are big up near you, but then they get smaller and faded in the back. Well, they don't fade, that's my next step, but they get smaller the further away from you they are. Next thing up was to blur it. Went into the blur gallery. I'm just gonna do this from scratch.
As you're doing that, I just wanted to say something that's really great. If you guys notice, that's a smart object. So, this is the beginning of talking about smart objects as they relate to filters and why we like that, you tell me if you agree or not, is that it keeps it flexible. So, he's gonna make a blur decision right now, and he may leave and have some coffee and come back the next hour and go, my god, what was I thinking, and wanna do a different blur, and he can. It keeps it completely flexible.
So, in this smart object we have our gray, we have it textured, we have a perspective, bigger to smaller, and then I'm going to blur it. The farther away it gets from me, it's gonna blur more. So, blur gallery, and I go down here to a tilt shift blur. And in this fella, what it shows you is near this little icon here is masking out the blur, the farther away form there you go, the more blur that happens. I believe we can zoom in here.
This is a great filter.
And with the smart object, we can revisit this, so if we wanna make it blurrier or move the blur farther away from us we can do all that. So, this is gonna keep it sharp nearest us where our eyes would see sharper images, and then as it travels in the distance, and gets smaller because of the perspective, it's gonna get blurrier and just add to the dimension of it. Up here you can make the blur more or less and then there's a bunch of other options where you can tilt it and move the transitions, you can rotate the blur, and then this will, I believe scooch it around. Hit okay. Okay is up here.
Now, one of the things that, you are definitely way better at the filter gallery than I am, I find that there is a lot of choices in this filter gallery, I mean a lot of choices, and I get a little overwhelmed, so perhaps for those of you who are starting out, my suggestion is perhaps start with one, just one, give it a play, and give it a good play, and then maybe start another file and open it and try another filter, but you can actually use every single one of those filters in the same file, in the same moment, and that's a little too much. Don't you think?
It can get hairy.
It can get a little hairy.
So you could double up that tilt shift and then there's another couple blurs you can add to it and it'll get more and more complicated, it gets gorgeous though, I will say.
Gorgeous but potentially overwhelming.
So, this road's in, it's still our 50% gray which is too light for us so I made it darkening layer. So, it's a curve, make is dark and I put in some tire marks I believe with a mask.
Can I stop you there? Show your mask again. One of the things that's really great is with adjustment layers like this, he's got a darkening curve that's just gonna darken the road, you can paint it in or out and give yourself more texture, and if you notice his painting is very gentle. Simon tends to paint with a lower opacity brush with a gentle stroke, I tend to paint with 100% and I change the level of it, so we work differently here, but it's just the subtlest thing but if you turn that off and on, you'll see what a nice effect. It just starts looking streaky and less, I dunno, artificial.
It's delicate. You're so delicate.
Just like me.
In the road that we got a couple tire marks down, I'm gonna add a couple double yellow lines. They are orange, so I went into hue saturation and colorized them orange. Chose an orange color up here, this much saturation, darken it down further still.
Let me ask you a question. Why did you use an adjustment layer to make the color as opposed to paint?
Because it's malleable. I can go in here and make this, if this is the wrong color orange I can make it yellowy orange, redder orange, I can make it more saturation, less. And it's all right there. I can revisit it at any time and change things up. If all of a sudden those trees were spring time trees and they didn't get as orangy, and you wanna be a little more yellowy green, boom, right there.
This happens to us all the time. The campaigns will change and you know, screw the fall look, we want spring. You don't have to redo it. Well, I'd have to redo the trees but you could redo it with an adjustment layer. And also, that brings up the point for production, we're not the final deciders on our jobs, our clients are. So, he may think he picked the perfect orange, client comes in and oh, what're you talkin' about, it needs more red. Not a problem.
They do do that.
Yes, they do, every day.
Darken down the road. Then I went in and made a few lightening, so I lightened up the double yellow line. And then where the tire tracks go in and smooth it out, you get a little sheen off the sky.
Show that mask again.
Look at that. That's a nice mask.
Couple leaves on the side. Startin' to look more roady. And then I put a mask on and trimmed up the road up against the embankment of the forest there and another one over top of everything. And that's the road. Add the trees back in, add the background back in.
Well done, sir. Can I have you go back to your masked road and open that up? I wanna show another thing. He's really good about showing production. Open up that, yeah. Now, do you notice there's a layer there called guide? And it's got a vector mask on this. And this is another production issue I'd like to bring up. What he's got is, can you turn that on so they can see it? So, there you go. He drew a guide before he started the road. He didn't just blindly start paintin' a road. He drew himself a guide. And what he did is he left it in the file, but he put a vector mask to hide that layer, and what that does is it stays with the file but no one will accidentally turn it on. This is key. How many times have y'all had a file where someone has a layer that they left that should've been turned off? They just turned off the eyeball but they left it in there. Well, when you turn all the layers on you're like, oh well, what's that? Is that supposed to be in there? This is a way of protecting yourself, actually it's not protecting yourself, you're protecting the next person who visits the file. So, it's a courtesy move.
I don't wanna get them in trouble. Just a little extra thing, a little extra insurance.
Excellent. So, all of this is created with filters.
Not a single piece of film was harmed in this.
No, no one was harmed, well.
So, this is one that we can give to folks. Yeah?
Yeah, yeah, absolutely, that will be available for them.
And then you can dig all through here and start changin' stuff. You can go in and change the colors of the lines and the colors of the trees and blur it more and just play and learn. I like that.
Excellent. Thank you.
Oh, my pleasure.
Awesome. So, we're gonna take in another image that is of a similar genre. It's trees. It's rendering trees. And we're gonna add a little bit of a plugin and another filter on this one. So, this would be a winter scene and again, this will be available for y'all to look at and take a look, and I'm just gonna deconstruct it from the base up. So, on this it's just a little winter scene. Just a generic gradient, used a gradient tool to make a little gradient, a little smudging going on. Don't need to be precise, that's kinda nice. Did a little horizon line, it's that ubiquitous white paint, I love white atmosphere paint. I'm just gonna fill a layer with gray real quick for you to see, it's just a little airbrushed white line. And then I used a lens flair for sun. I love the lens flair render and we're gonna talk about that in a second, and what's very important, and we're gonna talk about this often in the filter class, are the blending modes. So, this is on screen. I'm gonna put it on normal for a second and on the mode called screen, as many of you know, black will disappear. So, that's just a little sunshine. Let's go ahead and make some sunshine. I'm gonna call it sunshine. On my shoulder, no, don't sing. Don't start singing. Maybe a little. All right. As I said, render is my favorite thing. Render, render, render, and we're gonna go to lens flair. Now, inside the render lens flair, there are all types of lenses you can use for different looks. You can change the brightness. The only bear of this is you need to do it on a layer. So, a layer with pixels, so I put it on a black layer. And you can do a levels move, command L. Lisa says do some levels, command L. And you can increase the contrast if you like, darken it up. I tend to darken up the blacks a little bit more. And then you can once again hold down the control key and we're gonna convert that to a smart object. And then I'm gonna put that on screen mode. And I'm gonna command T, command T to transform, and I can move that and put it anywhere. Now, why did I make a smart object out of it?
Why'd you make a smart object?
Why would I do that? It's strictly to hold resolution if you need it. Now, I'm gonna be honest, on something like this, chances are you're gonna blur your lens flair. You're not gonna want it crispy sharp so I probably won't keep it as a smart object, but I just like to bring that in as conversation.
You wouldn't leave the blur in the smart object?
You know what? On something as easy as this, that's a really great question, I tend not to. However, let me point out something else, once it's a smart object, if I double click on it, double click on that layer, it's gonna open it up a separate document, and we're gonna talk about smart objects more in a later segment. Do you see how it's got a color to it? What if I don't want a color to it? I can just go command U, for hue saturation, command U, or control U if you're on PC, and I can take the saturation out. I can hit okay, command W to close, just close window, hit save, and now I have a black and white lens flair. So, you can do that as well if you want. It just keeps the layer simple, that's it. Now, I love me a smart object as much as the next person, however the one thing you might wanna consider on occasion if you get a ton of smart objects, the files can get a little buggy, so just proceed with caution. Now, I'm gonna move on to the trees. So, I did the ubiquitous trees and I wanna talk about file construction here for a second. Do y'all notice I have got that in the layer set? I have that in a layer set strictly for organizational purposes. And I think layer sets are a really great way of organizing your files. And what I tend to do when I make these files, I'll make a tree, I'm gonna turn these off and on, hang on one second, turning off my trees, and this is the way I work. I like to just make some trees, make some copies, move them over, and then, I'm gonna be honest here, I tend to change my mind a lot. I change my mind a lot. So, I wanna move it around, I wanna finish the piece, get things where I want it, and then what I'll do is I'll tend to merge that layer set before I give it to a client, but for me, I like to keep it flexible. Now, I get a little sloppy, and I think we should talk about this, about labeling, when I go through and give files to clients, I have to tell you, when I do these classes, I often go in and I relabel everything and I make it perfect, and I thought, ooh, I should show you how I really do it, and this is how I do it. I just hit command J, I just call it layer one, but before you deliver the file, it's not professional to deliver files with no names. So, please remember to go back in and say things like it's the small trees in the back, like help folks out. And then you might notice, okay, I put the small trees in the back, oh, look at that layer position, that's on the top, maybe that wasn't my best thinking, maybe I should drag it down. And I think we should talk about how in production and when you're designing and you're doing work, sometimes you're goin' fast and things aren't in the right spot, don't worry about it. Go and move it back at the end. And then proceed with your day. So, hopefully that makes a little sense. Now, the--
Helps me too when I'm buildin' this stuff, to have everything named. If I gotta go through and find that third tree from the back to know that it's called third tree from the back, on the left--
Especially when you're working on five jobs. And then the front snow, and I'm not sure about monitor resolutions, but when you get the file you can certainly look at this, this has some texture and a blur. And if you'll notice, let me turn this off, it's a gray layer, it's got a Gaussian blur, it's gonna take a second to turn back on. Maybe more than a second, there we go. It's got a texturizer layer, gonna double click it. Just sandstone, we like sandstone don't we?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
We do. It's the filter of the day. It's just a gray layer with sandstone and then I blurred it a little. And one of the things I'd like to call attention to, to smart filters is you can stack your blurs, you can stack your textures, you can put them all together and combine them any way you like. A little unfortunate thing about these, it's just ever so slightly unfortunate is you can not label these. So, while it says texturizer, I can't double click on it and call it sandstone. Maybe that'll get adjusted later. Maybe.
You can, I name them all up here. That layer.
Just to give me an idea. Or a post it note.
Or a post it note? Post it note's good. What Simon's suggesting, and this is really, really good production, is you can label it here, color, field, sandstone, blur. And why do you do that? It's just a courtesy to the next person who's pickin' up the file or yourself if you have to deal with the file later on.
Can't have too many notes.
No, you can not have too many notes. I would say that I don't find this too often anymore, unfortunately. Notes in the file.
It's a lost art.
It is, I think it is a lost art. I think people should be labeling.
Kids these days
Use your labels, you can call these. So, for example, this is a pet peeve of mine, curves. Well, that's nice it's a curve, but what's that curve doing? Well, if I double click on it, I can see it's darkening the mid-tones, and if I turn it off and on I can see that, but how hard would it be to go darken mid-tones. You don't have to spell it right. And that's the other thing, you don't have to spell it right. If you just try, if they just try, people'll appreciate it.
What are the odds?
What are the odds, I know. I want to show one more thing before we move on.
So, you did the snow with sandstone and the road was with sandstone as well.
I'm telling you, it's like the filter of the day.
Sandstone. All right, I did the trees, the way we did the trees, and now I'm gonna show you something else. Our first plugin. Eye Candy. Alien skin. We're gonna talk about it a lot today. So, I have these trees, this menage of trees that I've already made, you saw them down below, and then I made a smart object of them. I'm double clicking on the filter I put on them. I used a filter called Eye Candy. All right, I'm not sure it's possible for me to express the love I have for Eye Candy. This plugin has been around for, lord, 20 years?
It had a different name before, as software gets bought by other companies and this plugin has been tried and true, it seems to manage to make it through all the upgrades, they must be --
I have personally bought this eight times for myself, 'cause I can't find my serial number, so I just buy another copy.
And we're gonna talk about this--
It's that good.
It is that good. So, it's well worth it, it's not that expensive, and I think you're gonna love it. So, I'm gonna talk about the shadow. I love this shadow. And you can see it right down here, it's a shadow function, you've got all these choices here. And what you can do is you can pull this perspective shadow and move it out. Now, I would love to be a great illustrator one day, it was my dream. Alas, it has not yet happened. So, I love it when our programs like this, like the shadow that will allow you to create shadows in whatever way you want easily. I can't draw that that well to be totally honest. Now, I just elongated it a lot more than I did in the original version. In case that was your mood, it might be your mood. Now, I do need to call attention to a small hiccup I find on this particular plugin, for me. I often have time aligning, hard time, excuse me, aligning every tree trunk perfectly when I use this plugin, so what I will often do is do a live filter, that means I leave it as a smart object on a layer and then I will duplicate that, command J, I will put the live one in a folder and put a mask on it to hide it. Just so I can refer to it later, and then I will merge the filter, merge the plugin, merge shadow. I'm gonna shift command both layers and hit E, command E, and then I can go in with, let's say the smudge tool. And my smudge tool is right there. And I can go in and shift or paint or erase whatever little ones that are not lining up exactly to my liking. Now, you may have a different approach, however for me, what I like is I don't wanna dick around so much with getting that plugin exactly right, like a really struggle, I would rather just go ahead and say, thank you, I'm close enough for government work, merge it, and then--
Then nudge it.
Right, cool, excellent. So, that's the winter file and y'all can play with that and see what you like. I do wanna say, if you, or when you download these files, if you do not have these plugins, you can not manipulate the file. So, if you were to open the winter scene, you can open it up, that Eye Candy is live, if you don't have either a free trial version of Eye Candy or if you haven't purchased it, then you won't be able to manipulate it. You'll see it, you can merge it and play with it, but you can not manipulate it. Cool? Excellent.