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When You Brush Upon a Star

Things are going to liven up from here on out. The hero, the fat star, needs to be treated with a lot of delicacy simply because it is the hero of the picture and you don't want to totally demolish it with paint strokes.

  1. Switch active layers on the Layers palette so the Fat Star is chosen. Drag the Fat Star layer onto the Create a new layer icon on the bottom of the Layers palette. You now have a duplicate of the star layer. The Fat Star copy should be the active layer on the Layers palette. Go to the Filter menu and choose Artistic, Dry Brush. See Figure 6 for the settings to apply. Then click OK to apply the Dry Brush effect and return to the workspace.

    Figure 6Figure 6— Add some pre-conceived artistic excitement to a copy of the star by using the Filters menu.

  2. Okay—follow me closely now. You've got the Brush tool selected, right? Right-click (Macintosh: hold Ctrl and click) and then click the Brushes palette's flyout menu and choose Natural Brushes; click OK to replace (as opposed to adding to the current list of brushes) in the ensuing dialog box. Choose the tip from the top row that says "29" (pixels) and looks as though someone sneezed on a windshield. Crank the Flow up to 20%, and click on the Quick Mask icon. Make sure black is the foreground color (if it's not, press X to switch).

  3. Paint away on the star, as shown in Figure 7. It helps verisimilitude ("realness"—I learned that word from Daniel Will-Harris) to paint more heavily, that is, repeat strokes more often, in the darker areas of the fat star, with fewer strokes and perhaps some empty places, in the Fat Star's lighter areas.

    Figure 7Figure 7— Paint back and forth or in any direction you might paint a star on a blank canvas.

  4. Repeat the process of switching back to Standard Editing mode (press Q). Save the selection as Alpha 2 on the Channels palette, and press Ctrl(Cmd)+D to deselect. Click the Fat Star copy layer in the Layers palette to make it the active layer. Then it's off to the Lighting Effects filter for texturizing, using the same settings as the previous exercise (except make Alpha 2 the Texture Channel and adjust the point in the proxy window again until the color matches the star color from the document window). Click OK to apply settings.

  5. When the fat star has been textured on the copy layer, try turning the Opacity down on this layer to achieve a blend of unfiltered and filtered versions (30% gives a subtle effect). This is a swell way to control the amount of "paint strokes" after you've applied them (see Figure 8).

    Figure 8Figure 8— Just "dial up" the amount of effect you want for the finished, painted star.

  6. Optional: On your own, get creative with the strokes you apply in Quick Mask mode to the glow layer (see Figure 9). Me? I painted back and forth around the circumference of the glow to strongly suggest the emanations are traveling outward. Go ahead and experiment using the same techniques we've applied so far.

    Figure 9Figure 9— Paint in Quick Mask mode on the glow layer until you achieve the effect you want.

  7. Whoa, Nelly! Let's take a break for a moment to contemplate final strategies for making the horoscope signs look painted.

Be sure to choose the Brushes flyout and choose Reset Brushes before continuing with the tricks!

The horoscope signs will not withstand the radical type of filtering you've just applied to everything else. Instead, let's try a different approach and filter—so that you can make the symbols both legible and interesting.

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