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2.2 Background Texture Work

Our grassy text needs a place to grow. In this lesson we generate an interesting background effect by using textures found in surprising places.

2.2 Background Texture Work

Hello, everybody. Welcome back to Nature Inspired Text Effects. This is Kirk Nelson, and we are working our way through chapter number two, which is the grassy text effect. This is Lesson 2.2, where we develop a background texture. Before we begin, I need to point out that in the course files for this lesson there are four texture files that we're going to be working with. These are scans of textures of just elements I found around my house and we're going to use these to create a very custom, very interesting looking background. This red one here is just a piece of red cloth that it was very obvious to see the weave in it so I wanted to capture that with a scan. Then these next two are canvas-bound books that I also scanned in because I can see a little bit of the weave, and there are some distressed elements on these that I really liked. The last one is simply a piece of wrinkled paper. Now clearly, these are not customized in any way. They're very simple to find. You probably have several different types found in your own home. We'll start off with a blank document. It's simply going to file new. I'm using mine as a width of 2500 pixels a height 1656 and resolution of 300 pixels per inch. I wanna start with this red canvas texture. So I take this, drag it to the top tab of our working file, and just drop it right in the middle and we can edit it through edit free transform. The transformation handles are of screen so pressing Ctrl or Cmd+0 will let us be able to easily see the corners of those. So I can quite simply drag it around and position it right where I want it to be. There's no specifically right way to position this, it's just however it appears best to you. The red color isn't exactly flattering for a grass piece, so let's change it to green. I'll do that by adding a hue saturation adjustment layer, and click that colorize box and then begin finding a hue I really like. Putting it into the greenish area is a great start. Looks a little dim there so let's increase the saturation and then I'll pull the lightness down a little too. That looks like it's a nice grassy green, let's grab that next texture. That's this other reddish one with this little scratch down here. Deposit this in much the same way. Shortcut for free transform is Cmd or Ctrl+T. So we can position that where we want it. Now for this one, instead of using a hue saturation adjustment layer, let's just go ahead and desaturate this layer. Through image adjustments, desaturate and then let's change the blending mode to soft light. So we get just a little bit of that distressed area showing through. We can see a little bit of those scratches, that looks good. And we'll do something similar with that third texture too. Bring it over, deposit it, transform it to how we want. Let's desaturate that one as well. But this one let's use an overlay blending mode and pull that opacity down to about 50%. Now this is no magic formula. These are just steps that I've taken because I like the way the effect looks. Feel free to experiment with the textures you have or even the processes that I go through here. The goal is to end up with a visually interesting texture. And by layering several of these together, we usually end up with something that's worth looking at. Let's put that crinkled paper on top of it in the exact same way. I placed this the same way as the previous two. I positioned it, desaturated it, and change the blend mode to overlay and reduce the opacity. So now we get this nice crinkled effect for our background. I'm going to add a new layer because I want to create a brighter spot right in the middle of this background that our text effect will be residing in. I'm going to select the gradient tool, the radial gradient, make sure it's on foreground to transparent, and set my foreground color to a pale yellow. Then I want to add a radial gradient right to the center of the screen. Now I don't want it to go too far. I want to keep it fairly well contained. It does come out as a perfect circle, but we can use the free transform on this layer as well. Again, that's Ctrl or Cmd+T to get the free transformation handles and lets elongate it just a little bit. Gradients are great but they do tend to have a bit of a mechanical appearance to them because they are so smooth. Here's a trick that I really like to do just to help break that up a little bit. First of all lets change this blending mode to color dodge, that's gonna let some of that background texture come through, but still maintain the lighting qualities of the gradient. Then I'm going to add a layer mask. Make sure that my focus is on the layer mask. Let's go to Filter >Render >Clouds. See how that breaks up that gradient in there? It's a little bit too sharp but still it does a good job of adding a very organic looking, non-uniform breakup of that gradient. I'm gonna hold down the ALT key and click on the mask file so I can view it directly. The point here is that we need to decrease the contrast and the sharpness of this. So I'll start by a Image>Adjustments>Levels command. Now to increase contrast, you bring in these outer handles. To decrease contrast, well, you can't put those handles out any further. So instead, you bring in the output levels and to decrease the sharpness, you use a blur filter. Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Let's use a radius of just underneath five pixels. Then I'll click on it again and that's got a good break up of that gradient. Just for the sake of additional effects, I'm going to copy that gradient layer and on this copied one I'm gonna throw away that mask we created. It asks for apply mask before removing? I just want to delete it. And then let's set this blending mode to screen. It's a little bit high so we'll pull the opacity down. I think we're well on our way to creating a nice background to house our grassy text effect. I want to darken these corners though, so let's create another new layer. And this one I'm gonna fill with white. Through Edit>Fill, I'll select white. I'm going to use the lens correction filter to add a vignette to this layer which will darken the corners. That's found in Filter>Lens Correction, go over to the custom tab. And in the vignette, we'll pull that down to darken. And we'll go all the way down with it. And then change this to multiply, which knocks out that white area. This next step is my absolute favorite technique when it comes to creating natural appearing backgrounds because it's so very non-mechanical. I'm going to add a new layer, and fill this with 50% gray through Edit>Fill, contents, change to 50% gray. And essentially, the idea is to use different brushes to muck up this layer with black and white to create a very grungy looking appearance that's going to further add to the very natural feel of that background. So, let's grab our brush and open up our brush panel. Let's do Window>Brush. We'll switch over to the brush presets and I'm looking for the Sponge Brush Projection brush. And I'm going to set my foreground to the default black. Increase the size of my brush significantly. And pull down on the opacity of it too so it's nice and light. And then just begin adding some different grunge effects in here. Now it's very uniform in its appearance. So we can change that with the Shape Dynamics. We'll increase the Angle Jitter, the Roundness Jitter, and let's add some Scattering in there. The opacity will make some opacity jitter too, so that's all going to help with creating a very randomized type of appearance with these brush strokes. And I think those look just a little bit too sharp, so again we'll go to our trusty blur filter. Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. That looks really nice. Here's one that I use all the time, that I really love to do. Go into Brush Presets, look for the Scattered Maple Leaves, and then use a white color for these. Now, they're way too small in that stroke, so I'm actually going to increase the size significantly, up to just about the 500 pixel mark. My opacity's nice and low. And just start scattering some of these leaves in here. Now I know this all looks really ridiculously random, I get that. But watch what happens when now we change this blending mode from normal to overlay. See how that adds a fantastic grunge element to this. I know you're seeing the leaves right now, that's only because you just saw us make them. If you didn't see this right away and see how it was constructed you wouldn't even recognize these as leaves. Next we'll create a merged layer by going to Layer>Merge Visible. But before I press that I'm gonna hold down the alt with the option key. So that creates a merged layer at the very top up here. And with that layer active let's go to Image Adjustments>Levels. And just pull these handles in a little bit, just to meet this histogram chart. To finish off we will add a hue saturation adjustment layer to the top. Pull that hue over just a little bit to make sure it stays well with in those green palettes and the saturation down just a touch. Whatever you think starts to look really good in here. Now I've gone through this process several times. And every time I do this, I get a slightly different look to the background. There's none that are necessarily right or wrong. Mostly, we just need a background that looks appropriate for our grassy text. Until my layers are in place, I'm going to grab all of them except for that white background. You put these in a group through Layer>Group Layers. And this is the background texture group. And that brings lesson 2.2 to a close. The point i mostly want to make in this lesson is that you can create fascinating looking backgrounds just by the elements you find surrounding you. Being able to use a scanner or even a camera to take a nice close-up picture can generate tons of different textures that can be used well to create really great effects in our digital work space. Next up is Lesson 2.3 where create a seamless, grassy pattern.

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