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In this tutorial we'll create a slim-line energy drink product design. The end result will be a hyper-realistic product mockup created entirely in Photoshop.
Below is a photo that I took of an energy drink can for reference. Our first step is to straighten the can. Lets set some guides. Turn on your rulers (Cmd + R) and turn on guides Cmd + :. To set guides, Cmd-click on the rulers and drag them into place. I have done this for you already in the source file, but it is a good thing to do if your reference file is not aligned appropriately. Most product photography is shot using a basic 3-point lighting rig. This is the rig I used to shoot this can. This set up makes it really easy to find good source imagery for highlights and shadows, a quick search on Google or anywhere else will show you what I am talking about.
Next, lets start to set up our organization. Create three new folders (TOP, BOTTOM, BASE) and rename the layer with the can to Original. Create a new layer and fill with white – call this layer White BG. Duplicate the Original layer, and place the copy in the Base folder. Rename this layer to BASE
Now use the pen tool, and trace out the entire can. After you have completed the path, Dbl click the work path layer in the Paths pallet, and rename this path to "Basic Shape."
Now, draw the top of the can. Only be exact with the bottom of the “lip” as seen in the image below. Double click the work path and rename it "TOP."
Now, draw the bottom of the can. Only be exact with the where the base of the can meets the top of the base as seen in the image below. Double click the work path and rename it "BOTTOM." Next, Cmd-click the path called “Basic shape” to make a selection from the path, then Opt + Cmd-click the “TOP” path and the “BOTTOM” path. This will subtract the TOP and BOTTOM paths from the overall BASIC SHAPE selection, leaving us with just the can selected. With the selection of the can still active, select the Original Copy layer, and then click on the “add layer mask” icon as highlighted in red in the image below. Rename this layer to “BASE.”
Some of these next steps are due to the fact that I shot my own reference imagery and had some additional cleanup to do. Ideally, you will find a hi-res image one the Internet that will not require such work. Find a clear area across the can (without any artwork). Please see the area I chose, highlighted in red, below.
Select that area and copy and paste into a new layer. Repeat a few times and stack the layers on top of each other. Over in the layers pallet, Shift-click the top and bottom of the layers we just created to select them all. Merge layers but hitting Cmd + E. Duplicate that layer and apply a small Gaussian Blur (2 px). This will help eliminate the obvious repeating pattern from the duplication of layers. Hide this layer for now.
Now we have to eliminate some of the additional noise that is on the image. Create a new layer, and select your Brush Tool. With the brush tool (B) selected, hit the Opt key to bring up the eyedropper. Select a color where you intend to draw a vertical stroke, and hold shift to insure a perfectly vertical line and paint down. This part will require an “artistic” eye. Just remember we are trying to eliminate some of the noise, so do as little as possible to accomplish this effect. I always keep my opacity on the brush tool at 100%, and I adjust the flow to around 5%.
Now, select the layer that you created a Gaussian Blur on, and create a layer mask. Paint away the highlights on the side, so the hard highlights on the layer below show through. This is really important. Cmd-click the layer on the bottom (not the one with the painted strokes, not the one with the blur) to create a selection. Inverse selection (Cmd + Shift + I) and then select the layer with the blurs, hit Delete. Now select the layer with the painted strokes, hit delete. Select all three layers, and merge (Cmd + E).
Now, stretch this layer (Cmd + T) all the way up to the top and bottom of the can. Next, create a layer mask and blend this layer in with the original can. Pay close attention to the top and bottom of the can, and try to make this look as natural as possible. Again, using the layer mask, paint away parts that you can to blend in this image.
Create a new layer called “TouchUps.” Use the clone tool to remove the type from the top of the can. Try to line up the highlights as much as possible. When done merge all three layers. Remember to apply the layer mask when/if the dialog box comes up.
Most of the hard work is done now, as we have a cleaned up “naked” can ready to go! Well done, and give yourself some props.
Now create a folder within the Base folder, and call it “HL” for highlights. We will now “steal” the highlights from the naked can so we can apply these highlights over top of our artwork. Turn on the White BG layer, and click on the Channels pallet. Duplicate the black channel, and adjust levels on that channel as shown below. We just want to create a great amount of contrast here. When levels are completed, hit OK.
Now Cmd-click the icon of the channel to create a selection. This selects all of the white information, which is exactly what we want for highlights. After the selection is made, make sure the “black copy” channel is turned off, and that the CMYK channels are all on (you will be repeating this process a few times in this tutorial, so this is really important). Now create a layer called “HL1” within the “HL” Folder. Now fill selection with white. Cmd-click the base layer to create a selection, select the folder called “HL” and create a layer mask on this folder.
Select the base layer and create a color overlay (layer > layer style >c olor overlay) and make the color black. Now lets go ahead and create the top and bottom of the can. First duplicate the layer Original twice. Place one duplicate in the TOP folder and one in the BOTTOM Folder. Lets start with the Top. In your paths pallet, CMD-click the Basic Shape path, and then Cmd + Option + Shift-click the TOP path. This will only select only the area that overlaps both paths, leaving us with just the top of the can selected. Use this selection to create a layer mask on the TOP folder.
Now hide all of the layers/folders as seen below.
Under channels, duplicate the black channel and adjust the levels as seen below. Again, we are looking for a decent amount of contrast. This time we are going to try to isolate the black areas to create shadows. Click OK
Cmd-click on the duplicated black channel and inverse selection (Shift + Cmd + I). Create a new layer called “Blacks” and fill with black. Now hide the “Blacks” and “Base” layers, and duplicate the Magenta Channel and adjust levels like we have been doing in the previous examples. Cmd-click the channel; create a new layer called “Mids,” inverse selection (Cmd + Shift + I) and fill with black.
Create a color overlay on the “Base” layer (Layer > layer style > color overlay) See below for the base color.
Create a new folder called “Shadows” and place the following layers in that folder: Blacks, Mids. Hide the “Shadows” folder and create a new folder called “HL.” Create a layer called “HL1” and duplicate the Cyan channel and adjust the levels as seen below. Cmd-click on the Cyan copy channel and fill with white on the “HL1” layer.
Duplicate the Cyan channel again and adjust the levels as seen below. Cmd-click on the channel to create a selection, create a new layer called “HL2” and fill with white.
We did all of this channel work so that we have complete control over all tones with the cap. We can now adjust all of these layers to produce realistic results. If we want a warm metal all we have to do is adjust the Base layer’s color overlay settings. I recommend playing with all of the layers opacity levels to see various results. Below you will see the settings I am using for this tutorial.
Repeat this process for the Can Bottom. Note - I only created one HL and one Blacks layer, as the bottom of the can did not require as much attention to detail. Now turn on all of your folders (TOP, BOTTOM, BASE). There are some “missing pixels” due to the masking (This might have been a CS5 preview error, and not really there, but I just wanted to address it. To fix this, move the TOP folder down one pixel using the keyboard down arrow, and move the BOTTOM folder up one pixel using the up arrow.
Now it is time to drop in your artwork. I have included a quick .AI sample. It is important to include extra room on the sides of the artwork, as we will be distorting the artwork to wrap around the can. The base dimensions I used were 4.35"x6.625."
Create a new folder within the BASE folder called Artwork. Now, copy and paste the artwork from illustrator (or Photoshop) onto a new layer called "Label Artwork" within the Artwork folder, and scale the artwork so that it fits vertically in the can. The Artwork folder should be created below the HL1 layer.
Next, create some guides that cut the distance between the sides of your artwork and the can. See the image below for reference; new guides are highlighted in red.
Now transform your artwork (Cmd + T) and click the warp icon as seen in the photo below.
Bring the corners and handles of your artwork to the guides you just created. Adjust the bottom handles so that the type on the bottom mirrors the arc of the bottom of the can.
Accept the transformation, and as you can see, we now have artwork that has highlights. In this example, since we started with a black can, we couldn't really "steal" any shadows from the original. When I shot the can I also shot a Pepsi can, and I performed the same technique used before to make a "swatch" of the can.
Now copy and paste that Swatch into your file. Scale to fit the width of the can.
Next, we need to scale the artwork vertically so that it covers all of the artwork.
Now Option-Click on the layer eyeball in the Layers pallet. This will only show that layer, while temporarily hiding all of the rest.
Under the Channels pallet, Cmd-click the black channel to make a selection. Inverse this selection (Cmd + Shift + I), go back to your Layers pallet and Cmd-click on the eyeball again (this will unhide all the other layers) Create a new layer called "Shadows" and fill with black.
Set the Layer Style of the layer called "Shadows" to Multiply, and set the Opacity to 50%.
We now have artwork on the can, with both highlights and shadows over top of the artwork, giving it a real appearance. Now all we have to do is create some shadows under the can to make it look like it is sitting on a white field. Create a folder called "Can Shadows." Now use the Elliptical Marquee tool to create a selection as wide as the can. Remember to hold sown shift to create a perfect circle. Create a new layer within the Can Shadow folder and name it "Darkest," fill selection with black. Duplicate that layer rename the "Darkest copy" to layers "Mids."
Apply a 20pt Gaussian blur on the "Darkest" layer and place it right under the can. Distort the layer so that that the oval matches the shape of the bottom of the can. Set the layer style to multiply, and set the opacity to 60%. Apply a 40pt Gaussian blur on the "Meds" layer and place it under the can. Transform this layer so that it matches the shape of the can, but is larger than the "Darkest" layer. Set the layer style to multiply, and set the opacity to 40%.
And there we go! We are done. I know this was an extremely complicated tutorial, so please feel free to ask any questions and I will try my best to get back to you as soon as possible. This tutorial has shown you how to use channel information to make selections. THIS IS THE SINGLE GREATEST TRICK EVER. This technique can be used with just about any product to "steal" highlights and shadows. I really hope you enjoyed it!