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2.7 Illustrating the Flying Ribbon

It’s time to add some movement and energy to the scene. In this lesson we'll look at how to process photos, to transform a wind-blown scarf into colourful flying ribbons.

2.7 Illustrating the Flying Ribbon

Welcome back to event flyer design. My name is Kirk Nelson. We are almost finished with our sporting event flyer. This is lesson number nine, where we take those cloth photographs that we created earlier in the course and we turn them into flying, floating strands of ribbon. Before we get started, a couple quick notes on some housekeeping issues. You may have noticed that the project file has really been escalating in size. It's been growing to be rather large and difficult to manage sometimes. And because I'm including a new source file with every single lesson, it makes the course files really balloon up quickly. So what I've done to help simplify that is I've merged the individual groupings of elements just to help keep file size down. You don't need to do this if you don't want to in your own working file. But for the course files, I'm going to be doing this just to help keep things nice and tidy. I've grouped together the background with the field and the sky images. The lights are on its own layer that's been flattened to a single layer there. I isolated the lights from the background because it's depending on the screen blending mode to work properly. I also have the flag ball, it's in there as its own element. And then, there's this sketch and guidelines layer. The idea with this lesson is to create some floating ribbons, some cloth that's kind of flying through the air, around the borders of this frame. I think that will give the composition some much needed life, some sense of motion and movement. And it's just an interesting visual element anyway. That's the whole reason we took the pictures of the cloth earlier on in the course. Let's begin with this photo, number 0617. Open this in Camera Raw. Now it's got some great movement and motion and folds to this cloth. Again, the whole reason we photographed this is because this is somewhat difficult to illustrate. And, if we want to have nice folded cloth, it's not that hard to capture in a photograph but it's fairly difficult to do with an illustration. Going to decrease the shadows so that that black background is fully nice and black. I'm actually going to decrease the clarity. So that's going to help to remove some of the grain of that cloth. I still wanna see the folds, so I want the contrast to be up still, at least fairly high, but the clarity not so much. Let's open that. I also wanted to completely desaturate this. That could have been done back in Camera Raw, or it can be done here in Photoshop, either way works. Let's go to Image > Adjustments > Black and White and use this to remove the color information and try to find one that's got some nice contrast within those folds so you can just shop through the presets. This is maximum white, turns out looking fairly nice. And, then truly it's just as simple as using the Quick Selection tool and selecting that cloth. From here we wanna use the Refine Edge. We want to view it with a white background there because the edge will tend to want to grab a lot of that black background. And we want to make sure we don't get that in there. We'll start with the smoothing slider. So it, we don't get a lot of fringe on that. Add a touch of feathering. But then what's really going to help is this Shift Edge slider. If we pull that to the left. So we're pulling that edge in. You see how that black disappears? That's exactly what we want. So from here we are going to duplicate this to a new layer with Cmd or Ctrl+J. So we have this on its own layer. Oops, it captured a bit of a finger there too. We'll just have to remove that later on. And let's pull this over onto our composition. You might notice that despite our best efforts with that mask, it's still pulling in a little bit of black fringe there. Couple different ways we can deal with that. There's some kinda sophisticated methods that's worth trying first that don't always completely work. And then there's another method that's kind of a brute force means of going about it and I'm gonna show you both of those. The first thing you should try is always the layer matting. You can go to Remove Black Matte. And hm, well that leaves a white halo around it so that's not what you want. Then you could try the Matting > Defringe with a width of 1 pixel or possibly 2. And that did a lot better job. But just for the point of instruction, if that didn't work, then the more brute force method to do it is to Ctrl+click on the layer to create a selection. And then alter the selection by going to Select > Modify > Contract and you would just contract it by one or two pixels. So, it pulls that selection in a little bit. But then you want to delete what's outside of the selection. So, you would have to inverse the selection by Select > Inverse, and then you can just hit Delete, and it deletes that outer fringe. Regardless of what you chose to do, we've got a nice cloth in here now to work with. I'm going to position it more onto the screen so we can see it a little better. And use my eraser tool to just pull off that hard edge and that finger on there. Now we don't want these ribbons to be bright white like this. That looks more wedding-ish, we want this to look like an exciting sporting event. And usually these are brightly colored elements that are being thrown around. Let's make this one sort of a bright vibrant royal blue. I'm going to use a gradient map adjustment layer. Notice it's not the Gradient, it's Gradient Map. And I'm going to clip it to the ribbon. And the way Gradient Map works, is it takes a gradient here, and it maps the colors of the gradient to the layer based on the luminous values. So the dark pixels get mapped to the color that's on the left of the gradient. White pixels get mapped to the color that's on the right and all the ones in-between. Now, I don't want this to be black to white, I want it to be a blueish to a lighter blueish. In fact, here's the gradient that I ended up using. The one on the far left is a very deep blue, almost a black. About three quarters of the way to the right is a more royalish blue. And then on the far right is kind of a powder blue. All right, now that makes it very, very light in there because the ribbon itself is pretty light. There's not a lot of contrast. So now we grab the actual ribbon and we can adjust that with a levels adjustment, so Image > Adjustments > Levels, and we just start pulling these sliders in a little bit to add some nice contrast in there. That looks really nice. And then, I want to make sure I'm still retaining a lot of the detail that's in there, so I'm going to make a copy of the ribbon layer by holding down the Alt or the Option key. While I drag it up above that gradient map, clip it in, change the blending mode to Linear Light, and pull down that opacity until those blown out highlights start to come back into frame. That adds some great texture to that, but I think we can do even better. Let's also clip in a curves adjustment layer, clipping it by again, holding down the Alt or the Option key while I add the adjustment layer. And I get the dialog box that allows me to Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask. Now with this curves layer, this is fun, because we can use the onscreen adjustment tool to go in and grab portions that we're not satisfied with the tone of, and actually drag them around. To give more contrast in certain areas and less in others. This really has a lot of control to it and it's an excellent tool for sort of dialing in the exact type of color tone you want in the exact areas you want it. Now here's something you might run into from time to time. I really want to make this a smart object, so that I can use the warp command to adjust and resize this blowing cloth and place it exactly where I want it and sort of shape it and mold it into what I need to fit the scene. So the initial thought is to grab all of these layers, right-click, Convert to Smart Object. Hey that looks great. Now let's transform that. And our bounding box transformation handles are huge. This is somewhat less than helpful. You might be able to work with it. But it's really not what you wanna do. Let me go back and undo that. What's happening is these adjustment layers, if you were to Ctrl-click on them, it grabs the entire screen. Even though they're clipped to the ribbon layer, Photoshop is interpreting them as covering the entire canvas. And that's not just because of the mask too, it's the entire layer cuz the same thing happens even if we delete the layer masks. So the way around this is to create a bounding box about where you're going to want it to be, and use that as a mask on the adjustment layers, on both the curves and the gradient map adjustment. And now when we grab all these layers and convert it to a smart object and transform it, it's exactly what we expected it to be. Which means we can now further manipulate this, we can rotate it, we can scale it, we can use a wonderfully helpful warp tool, which is absolutely beautiful for working with cloth. Just to get this into the position that we want. Right about there. Now as much as I love the way that cloth looks, it does kind of stand out in the scene. We've got all this white kinda light glow haze behind it, and it really sort of needs to fit into that. And there's two specific reasons why it doesn't look like it appears to fit within this scene. One, it's too sharp, and two, it's too saturated. So let's deal with both of those one at a time. First of all, let's deal with the sharpness of it. This is already a smart object, so we can use a smart filter. Otherwise known as just a regular filter used on a smart object. And we're going to go to the Gaussian Blur and add just a very slight Gaussian Blur. Maybe about one and a half pixels or so. And then we're going to add a hue saturation adjustment layer, also clipped to this smart object. Move it over into place so we can see it. Let's pull the saturation down some and increase the lightness a little bit. And that looks a lot better as far as believability that this thing would be flying through the air right about there. So I'm going to go ahead and pull in some other of the photographs of that cloth and go through the same process in developing them and positioning them into the scene. And so here's the cloth that I ended up with. I really like the way it's floating around the top of the frame. Always make sure that you check your guides because remember that there's the bleed guide around the edge. So if you have any really interesting folds of the cloth, you want to make sure make it into frame, you want to have that inside the bleed. Also, don't crowd the title safe too much. These are the type of elements that are great on the outside there, but if you start pushing them into the title safe, you'll find that when you add your text, you will quickly run out of space to place it. And that's it for lesson number nine. We've added some cloth and some ribbon in there. The next lesson's gonna be a fun one. I'll show you how to add a little bit of a confetti effect, and we'll start dealing with adding in some text, too.

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