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Photoshop Tricks, Part 2

Part 2 covers how to make a photograph look like a painting, create a seamless fractal tiled image, to use Adobe Dimensions with Photoshop, and how to retouch a drop shadow you've added to an image. (From Inside Photoshop CS, Sams, ISBN: 0672326442.)

Author Info:
By: Sams Publishing
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 35
September 15, 2004
  1. · Photoshop Tricks, Part 2
  2. · More Fun with Pseudo-Painting
  3. · The Minimize Command and the Spatter Effect
  4. · Trick 6: Creating Organic-Looking Objects Using Photoshop Filters
  5. · Trick 7: Creating a Bronze Guy
  6. · Trick 8: Creating Images Using Adobe Dimensions with Photoshop CS
  7. · Remove the Background
  8. · Adding Elements to the Composition
  9. · Trick 9: Coping with a Horrific Photo
  10. · Trick 10: Fixing a Chopped-Off Drop Shadow

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Photoshop Tricks, Part 2 - Trick 6: Creating Organic-Looking Objects Using Photoshop Filters
(Page 4 of 10 )

Fractal math, when plotted to the screen, can be an absolutely wonderful thing. There is no simple way to describe fractal math (at least not in this book), except to say that fractals are so complex that they cannot be plotted with a mere curve. Fractals are a seemingly random set of fluctuations that apparently cannot be represented by an equation. But many fractals are generated through simple mathematical equations.

Fortunately, we are artists, not mathematicians, so if you really want to make your head ache, read some of the work by Professor Ken Perlin (I mean this in a good way, Ken) at NYU who, along with Ken Musgrave (who helped re-engineer Bryce), is active on the Terragen discussion list. These men understand the self-similarity of fractals and the reasons they most often look like a coastline, a dinosaur hide, or other organic matter. And that's precisely what we're looking for in this trick: How do you make organic-looking stuff using Photoshop?

Fractals come in two types: terminating and non-terminating. We are interested in the terminating type of fractal because, more often than not, a fractal is written so as to form a seamless tile (a tile whose left and right and top and bottom edges continue the visual). And the good news is that Photoshop's Clouds and Clouds Difference filters both terminate at 128 pixels.

Note - What's a fractal? Really?

Ken Musgrave probably summed up the answer to "What is a fractal?" most elegantly (and if you still have a little high school geometry left in you, like I do, it makes queer sense), to wit:

"If we accept a number to the second power as a square, and a value to the third power as a cube, then fractals lie somewhere in between."

So let's start creating something that looks organic:

Creating a Seamless Fractal Tile
  1. Create a New document (Ctrl(Command)+N), 128 by 128 pixels in dimension, and RGB in color Mode. Click on OK.

  2. Create an alpha channel by clicking the Create new channel icon at the bottom of the Channels palette (press F7 if the palette isn't already open onscreen). Click on the Alpha 1 channel you just created to make it the active channel.

  3. Make sure your toolbox colors are black and white. Do this by pressing D.

  4. Choose Filter, Render, Clouds. Press Ctrl(Command)+F a few times until you think you've rendered something interesting.

Insider - The Clouds filter generates a random fractal result each time it is used. Pressing Ctrl([@Cmd])+F merely repeats the last filter applied (in this case, the Clouds filter) and allows you to try the filter repeatedly until you have a result that appeals to you.

  1. Try the Clouds Difference filter once or twice. This filter produces stronger fractal algorithms (equations) than Clouds and inverts colors every time you use it. Fortunately, only shades of black and white are used in this 8-bit grayscale alpha channel, so the result of using Clouds Difference is interesting instead of color-confused.

  2. Stop applying either the Clouds or Clouds Difference filter when you arrive at something interestingly splotchy-looking (see Figure 24.37).


Figure 24.37 Stop brewing a fractal when you arrive at something interesting-looking.

  1. Click on the foreground color, and pick a neutral shade (R:220, G:224, B:221). Click on the Background layer on the Layers palette to make this layer active. Press Alt(Opt)+Delete (Backspace) to fill the RGB composite channel with this color.

  2. Choose Filter, Render, Lighting Effects to make bumps in the RGB composite channel by using the Texture controls. Select the Alpha 1 channel for the Texture Channel; Light type should be set at Directional. Keep the bump amount very slight, and use the directional light's point on the end of the line (in the proxy window) to make sure the image is exposed in Lighting Effects the same as the original surface color. Check out Figure 24.38. Click on OK to apply the bumps.

  3. Ta-dah! You've created a seamless, tiling fractal image! Use the Define Pattern command (Edit, Define Pattern), and apply this design to a large area to prove to yourself that it has no seams. You can also drag this image into ImageReady and use GIF optimization so there are only about 14 different colors in it. Doing this will preserve 90% of the visual integrity of the image and will result in a tinnnnnnny file, which means that if you use it on a Web page, download times for visitors will be courteously short (see Figure 24.39).

Ready for a mind-blower?


Figure 24.38 Keep the Height down to about 7%, and make all the Properties 0 (zero)óneither shiny nor metallic.


Figure 24.39 The finished fractal design.

This chapter is from Inside Photoshop CS, by Gary Bouton (Sams, 2004, ISBN: 0672326442). Check it out at your favorite bookstore today.

Buy this book now.

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