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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

A Bright Spot

Artificial light is not as blinding as looking directly into the sun. This does not mean that I recommend you stare at a light bulb. The painting, "the gate," uses the light source as the main focal point. In fact, without the light source, this particular scene is quite dark at night.

The light that is emitted from the lantern creates interesting effects as it cascades over the various surfaces surrounding it. Being true to these effects makes the scene realistic.

Figure 4.77Figure 4.77. The painting, "the gate," uses the light source as the main focal point.

First, look at the effect on the foliage. How the foliage is created is discussed in Chapter 3, "A Greener World: Creating Foliage." Notice that the Redwood branches hanging over the light are both a light and dark green (Figure 4.78). The light green branches are the ones behind the light. The dark green branches are between you, the viewer, and the light source.

Figure 4.78Figure 4.78. The Redwood branches hanging over the lantern reflect the light based on their position to it.

The dark needles on the branches in the front have a slightly lighter-colored edge to them. This results from the roundness at the edges of the needles. Because of this, the needles pick up a glow from the light around the edges.

Anti-aliasing is applied to the needles. This ensures that they appear smooth and unpixelated. In this case, the anti-aliasing makes it easy to achieve the effect of the edge's glow. The layer of the dark leaves is duplicated. The layer in back is filled with a bright green. The bright green color bleeds through the anti-aliasing of the dark needles in the front layer.

Figure 4.79 shows the branch as it was originally created. Figure 4.80 shows the duplicated branch with the brighter colors. Figure 4.81 shows the darkened branch in the top layer. Figure 4.82 shows both layers with the bright layer in back bleeding through on the edges of the dark layer in front. If the effect of the lightened edges is not strong enough for your purposes, it can be enhanced. Make the topmost layer, or the darkest leaves, a selection. Use the Contract feature (Select>Modify>Contract) to shrink the selected area. Inverse the selection (Select>Inverse), and then press Delete to make the outside edges of the dark leaves smaller, allowing the brighter leaves to show through the darker ones.

Figure 4.79Figure 4.79. The original branch in a layer.


Figure 4.80Figure 4.80. The duplicated layer in back has brighter colors.


Figure 4.81Figure 4.81. The top layer is darkened.


Figure 4.82Figure 4.82. The two layers are visible.

The top of the gate is handled in a slightly different way. In Figure 4.83, you see how the top edges of the wooden boards pick up the light. You also see the bounce-back of the light from the crossbeam on the boards.

Figure 4.83Figure 4.83. The close-up of the top of the gate reveals light being reflected on the wooden boards.

Creating the bright edges at the top of the boards requires a special mask. A layer style does not work in this case because the effect is not evenly distributed over the surface of the wooden boards.

Then, the boards are turned into a selection by Command-clicking (Control on PC) on them in the Layers palette. The selection is saved to an alpha channel (Select>Save Selection), as seen in Figure 4.84.

Figure 4.84Figure 4.84. An alpha channel is created for the wooden boards.

The alpha channel is duplicated. The duplicate is given a Gaussian Blur (Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur), as seen in Figure 4.85. With the Move tool, the blurred copy is positioned to create an overlap between it and the original sharp-edged alpha channel. The reason you blur the channel is to create a softer effect for the bottom edge.

Figure 4.85Figure 4.85. The alpha channel is duplicated and blurred.

With the Calculations command, subtract the sharp channel from the blurred channel, as seen in Figure 4.86. Figure 4.87 shows you the result—a mask that exposes the edges of the top of the boards, and that is saved as a third alpha channel. You can now apply this mask (Select>Load Selection), and lighten it or color it as much as you want.

Figure 4.86Figure 4.86. The Calculations command is used to subtract one alpha channel from another one to produce a mask.


Figure 4.87Figure 4.87. The result of the Calculations command renders a mask that exposes the top lip of the boards.

The bounce-back of the light that is reflected on the boards from the crossbeam is a bit simpler. I chose an orange color similar to the one at the top of the boards in the last technique. Using a soft-edged brush, I painted a line straight across the edge of the board (Figure 4.88).

Figure 4.88Figure 4.88. With a soft-edged brush, a line is drawn across the board.

The mode for the layer is changed to Overlay (Figure 4.89). Its Opacity setting is decreased. The layer is then moved between the layer of the boards and the layer of the crossbeam. The final result is what you saw in Figure 4.83.

Figure 4.89Figure 4.89. The mode for the layer is changed to Overlay, which gives the stripe a glow.

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