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Touching Up A 3d Image In Post

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Date Added: 22nd June 2009
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Glows and Highlights

Glows and highlights can really make your image stand out. But they're very easy to overdue, and in fact, this example probably has too many, but that's OK.

Here's where we left off, with the background in place:

The image is naturally backlit, so simulating the light coming from the background will be the main task here. To start this, we need some selections.

Open your Channels Palette and Ctrl+leftclick on the Alpha Channel to make it a selection. Next go to your Layers Palette and create a new layer. With the new layer selected, click edit>fill and choose white, opacity 100%. We didn't NEED to fill this with white, but it helps give an idea for where this is heading.

Without deselecting, choose select>feather (shortcut ctrl+alt+D). Use a setting of 15 pixels and hit OK. Feathering the selection partially selects pixels around the start selection, and 15 pixels is just a range I think looks good in this particular case. Go up to edit>fill and choose white and 100%. Do that twice, so you end up with something like this:

Sure it looks glorious, but it hurts the eyes to look at too much, and it hides the pretty background stuff we made.

So first things first, we need to lower the layer opacity a little. I used 72%, which isn't much, but we're going to take the backlight down even further.

Deselect everything and click on your Layers Palette. Add a mask to the layer by on the glowy layer and clicking the "Add Mask" button at the bottom of the palette.

The mask should immediately be created and selected, so go right away to edit>fill and this time choose 100% Black. This hides the Glowly Layer we created and allows us to reveal it bit by bit.

Still working with the mask, change your foreground brush color to white, and select the airbrush. Using a fairly large brush
begin to "unmask" parts of the layer where the glow would most likely appear. I used a brush opacity setting of 40%, but that's personal preference. Here's an example of what I had after a minute or so.


It's a good idea to click once and evaluate, then click again and evaluate, instead of just clicking and dragging. This will allow you to decide whether or not the glow really works where you let it shine through.

This image shows my individual clicks with the airbrush tool in red, the bigger the area of red, the more times I clicks and thus, the more glow I let through.

Continue letting more and more glow through, while working around the elements in the background. For the windows, I only let the glow come through the bottom parts, since the light was coming from the top of the picture and wouldn't be able to creep around the top inside the of the window as well. Here's what I finished with

The brightest area is definitely in the at the center towards the top and the far right window. I did this on purpose to balance out the next glow we're going to work on.

It's a good idea to rename your glowy layer to "glowly backlight area" or something more creative. Save too.

The Skull

You can't have a glow-in-the-dark lego skull without having it glow, but this is going to be a little trickier than the backlighting. Why? Well, two reasons:

1: We don't already have a selection of the skull
2: It's a much smaller area and has important details (the face). Those details need to stay pronounced while the glow needs to mimic what real glow-in-the-dark objects look like.

Problem 1 is not difficult to take care of. And while the magnetic lasso tool would work really well at first glance (due to the high contrast of the area), it's not the best tool to use.

If you look at real glow-in-the-dark objects they cast a little illumination, but most of the glow is within the object itself, like an inner glow. If we use the magnetic lasso we would then have to shrink and then feather the selection to prepare for this inner glow, and then we would have to repeat this for a smaller illuminating outerglow. It's easier and quicker to just use something called Quickmask.

Quickmask mode lets you literally "paint a selection". You can use brushes, gradients, filters, even adjustment effects to create whatever selection you need. But it is a little tricky to get the hang of at first.

To shift into Quickmask mode, click the little right button just below your "foreground/background color box things". While in this mode, your "foreground/background color box things" will be grayscale, similar to how it looks while working on a layermask. But instead of masking or revealing a layer, if you paint in quickmask it'll highlight the area on your picture, defaultly with a bright red.

At anytime you can shift back into regular editing mode by clicking the little button on the left, just next to the quickmask button. This turns anything you "painted" into a marquee.*

*Even though you won't see it when you switch back to regular mode, Quickmask will create selections containing partially
selected pixels. Like any selection, Photoshop will only display a rough estimate of pixels selected (by showing those that are "mostly" selected).

Keep in mind, with Quickmask, the more red, or highlighted an object is, the more it will be selected. The less red it is, the less it will be selected.

Using Quickmask and a fairly large airbrush, change your opacity to something really light, like 10%, and try and paint something like the below:


See how there's only a tint of red, that means there will only be a little bit of a selection along the outside, barely enough to be noticeable. That's what we want. Switch to a smaller brush size and up the opacity to something like 80% and paint along the inside of the skull, clicking much more this time. Try and get something similar to the image below:

That deep red tint means that those pixels will be completely selected when we switch back to regular mode. There's one problem, the edge of that pole that overlaps the skull shouldn't be red at all, since it's way in front and wouldn't pick up any of the glow. Use the Polygonal Lasso to select the red area of the pole.

Simply hit delete to get rid of any red overlapping the pole.

Now it sure would be a shame click somewhere and lose our pretty selection after all that. Click on Select>Save Selection to make sure you'll always have it.

If you look close you'll see a field marked "channel". That's right, it saves the selection as a channel and you can open your channels palette and see it right there.

Anyway, saving selections is just another good habit to get into. Let's move on to creating the glow already. Create a new layer and rename it "skullglow". Next we need a color to base the glow around. Start with a color sample (using the eyedropper) from the skull and then use the Color Palette to adjust the color until it resembles that glow-in-the-dark-green-glow-color.

Here's what I settled on:

Now if you lost the skull selection then switch over to your Channels Palette and Ctrl+click the "skullselection" channel to restore it, then click on the skullglow layer and select edit>fill. This time choose foreground, 100%.

The glow itself looks pretty good, but what about the face.

That's actually really easy to fix, just change the layer blending mode to "overlay"

It doesn't look that bad actually, and the image is just about ready for the next step, which is Depth-of-Field and Blurs. Here's a final image of where we are so far.


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