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2.5 Grassy Photo Effects

In the final lesson for the grass text effect, we add some additional photo elements like dirt, flowers, and edging to further enhance the illusion of reality.

2.5 Grassy Photo Effects

Hello everybody. Welcome back to Nature-Inspired Text Effects. My name is Kirk Nelson and we're on lesson 2.5, where we finish off our grassy text effect with some fun photo add-ons. When we last left our grass text here in lesson 2.4, we'd created the letter forms and we filled them with grass. And this actually looks pretty good like this, and you could leave it in this state if you wanted to. But I prefer to actually push it a little bit further and add some photo add-ons, just add some more visual interest and additional realism to the effect. The first thing I wanna do is use some of those shots that we had earlier of the mulch and the dirt and add some of that around the letter, cuz right now, it's a very clean looking effect. And I learned, when I was trying to shoot the shots of the grass on the white paper, that grass tends to be dirty. I mean, it's growing out of dirt and that dirt tends to spread. So, if we were to actually create text out of grass, we would see dirt all over the place. Let's simulate that effect using the photos that we took earlier. I'm gonna start with this photo, this is number 0672. Now clearly, it's a little bit dark. I'm going to run a levels adjustment through Image > Adjustment > Levels and you look at our histogram, it's not even close to the far right. Let's drag this handle all the way over, that brightens up that background quite a bit. Now notice I'm working destructively on this one, just because I know it's simply going to be a texture file underneath the main focus of the project. So I'll drag it over, deposit it, right here and it comes in on the very top, which is really not at all what we wanted. And it comes in really big, which again, is not at all what we wanted. So let's hit the transformation handles, controller command zero, so we can see those handles. And as we scale it down, I'm holding down the Shift key to make sure that it's not stretching. Let's position it somewhere over here. So how do we get rid of the white area around it? Well, we could try to mask that out, but that's going to be kind of a long process and it may not be fully successful. There's an easier way to do that and that's with a blending mode. Now, you might be thinking, sure, you just hit the Multiply blending mode and the white disappears. That's true, but we're losing some of the lighting effects on the mulch and it's coming in really, really dark. So instead of Multiply, let's use Darken. And we see that lighter area still showing, but the white area has completely disappeared. We'll turn off those transformation handles and watch for any hard edges that we might get. It looks like it's pretty clean, so that's good. If there were any hard edges, you can take of those, mostly, just using the eraser tool to pull those out. I've gone ahead and done that a couple of times, just to fill out the image with a little bit of mulch in the background. I used the same 0672 that I just showed you, but the 0671 as well. Place them in here and just make copy of those. So I have four different dirt texture layers, and I think that adds a nice background element to our project. Our next task is to use some of those other photo elements to cover up some of the obvious repetition and other repetitive areas of the text that's already here. Specifically, I would really kinda like to add in some of those flowers that we saw before. Now, not a lot of them, maybe one or two, just add a little bit of splash of color, in this predominantly green composition. So, remember this image? We worked with this one, back when we were touching up the original photographs. It looked more like this, then. I've done some additional touch ups on it, to remove that central flower, that central dark area, and to mask it out. Remember how we did that. I've left one flower in here and I also chose this one specifically because it does have a cast shadow. And I wanna show you how to retain that cast shadow without having to mask it out. Now, if you don't have an image already prepared like this, I do have this one saved in the course files and you can go ahead and use mine. But I'm going to pull this layer over and deposit it within our composition. Pull it way up to the top, and again, this is huge. So, let's scale it down and take a closer look at it. Now as I mentioned before, I have masked out that background and the drop shadow. But if I want to retain the drop shadow, the best way to do that, is to actually make a copy of this layer. Well first, let's name this, it's GrassPlot. Let's create a copy of it, move that copy below the original. And on this copy, I'm going to remove the layer mask by right clicking and just saying Delete Layer Mask. And then, really, just as simple as changing this bottom layer to Multiply. So, as we look closely, you can see the outlines of that cast shadow coming from this layer. Now, of course, changing it to Multiply means that we don't get the right coloring effect, and things are looking a little bit dark within the grass plot. That's why we have that original layer, which is still there, so the bottom one becomes the shadow layer and the top one becomes the visible pixel layers. You've probably noticed, that there's also a sharp edge around that bottom shadow layer. Some quick work with the eraser tool, we'll take care of that very easily. Let's grab both of those layers, and transform them into place. Let's move them over to the top of this N. And as long as both of them are selected, we can pretty easily transform them together. So now we have the issue of, it doesn't really quite fit, exactly right. So that's when we update the mask on that original layer. We can do that, just by using a very simple brush with black paint, and simply making sure, that it's in there, appropriately. Now we are seeing quite a bit of the shadow layer coming through, so then we just use the eraser tool to take that out. Let's copy this drop shadow layer style, that's on the regular grass pattern layer, up to our grass plot. And we do that by holding down the Alt or the Option key and just dragging that drop shadow up. The coloring is an issue at this point, it's look a lot more bluish green, than the other grass that's around it. We could try to match it up using a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer, click to colorize and that's a good way of doing it. Let me show you another way to, so just you have multiple options. I'm gonna create a new layer directly above that and call this one color and clip it to the GrassPlot by holding down the Alt or the Option key, and mousing right in between those two layers. Then, I'm gonna grab my Brush Tool, hold down the Alt key again, and just sample a green from the surrounding area. Sample this darker green over here, then, paint in over the green grass. Be careful not to paint over the flower, just the grass, and then a use a blending mode. The two that I like to use for this is either color or saturation. In this case color is working pretty well for me. So I'm going to leave it at that. And then ultimately, I've used those same techniques to add several different photo add ons in here. And I grouped those layers together into a single plot group which can have its own layer mask just to make sure everything fits in there really nicely. There's the first plot, the second one, now on the second one, I did add an additional hue saturation adjustment layer, just to change the color of that flower from pink to yellow, a third plot and a fourth. And the fourth plot just helps round out the inner part of that g and hopefully, make it a little bit more readable. Something that I noticed while I was working on this is I was careful to add a lighting effect to the background, but our letters are not reflecting that same lighting effect. So I'm gonna go down and open up the Background Group, find that gradient that I was using to create that lighting effect on the background. Hold down the Alt or the Option key. So I copy that again, and drag a copy all the way up to the top. And clearly, it's lighting the entire area, not just my text. We need to constrain it to the outlines of the text. We can do that by using the mask that we already created before for the grass pattern. So I will Ctrl+click on that mask thumbnail, and then use that as a mask on the gradient. And let's change this blending mode to Overlay, and pull that opacity down. And I've renamed that as lighting. It's easy to see the effect that that adds to our composition. One more quick effect and that's a finishing effect that I tend to do quite frequently. I add a merge layer to the top of the stack by holding down the Alt key while going to Layer > Merge Visible. Let's turn this into a Smart Object by right-clicking on it, then run the Camera Raw Filter. And here we'll increase the Clarity, which gives it a little more color and a lot more sharpness. A little touch of Vibrance, and then over to the Effects panel to add a little more vignette. And there we go. That's a pretty good grassy text effect. And that finishes off Lesson 2.5 on the photo add-ons. It also finishes off this chapter two on creating the grass text effect. The next one, we'll go with something a little bit different. We'll create some ice text in chapter three.

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