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2.1 Grassy Photos

In this first project, we take a look at photos of plots of grass. This analysis reveals some characteristics of the plant that we want to make sure are conveyed with the final effect. This lesson also discusses how to set up a photo shoot to generate your own stock to be used in the project.

2.1 Grassy Photos

Hello everybody, Kirk Nelson here. Welcome back to Nature Inspired Text Effects. We're starting out on chapter number two, which is the grassy text effect. This is lesson 2.1, where we talk about the grass stock images. The plan for this project is to create a line of text that appears to be made out of grass, or possibly it's grass that's growing in the shape of these letters to create this word. Now, in thinking about it and planning through this, my vision for this would be that it would be a top down view, as if this was on the ground and we would see the grass growing up towards us, up being towards the camera. It's important to establish what camera angle that you're going to want to try to do this at before you begin a project like this. If we wanted this to look more like it was a shrub with the grass growing out the top, it would take a completely different type of process to craft something like that. Generally, when creating a specialized type of text effect like this, the temptation is to purchase stock photos. And while that's a fine approach, I think its even more valuable, if you can learn how to create your own stock images and your own textures to use for you own personal effects. To that end, I went down to the local hardware store, and I bought a number of different plants to create this effect with. I also made sure I had bright white sheet of poster board to shoot this on. And the approach was actually pretty simple. I took it outside on a cloudy day, so I had some nice ambient lighting to work with. That way the shadows wouldn't be too distracting. The idea would be to place each individual potted plant on the center of the poster board and take some photographs straight down on top of them. In the course files for this lesson, there's a photos folder that contains all the shots that I ended up with. I'd like to walk through some of those and talk about the observations that I had while I was doing this. First of all, I noticed that placing potted plants on a white piece of paper usually ended up with some dirty paper. But I also figured that even though I didn't account for that, that's not part of my original plan, it does add an additional aspect of realism to the project. So I was thinking that if we added a little bit of this gravel or mulch and dirty spots around the grass image, it would add a little bit more believability to it. So I wasn't really that concerned with it. Also in looking closely at these, I noticed that you can still see quite a bit of the dirt plot that's in there. I actually really like that. That's something to take notice of when we begin crafting the letters. Because the letters will have some corner areas to it, some sharp 90 degree turns. And it's nice to know how actual grass plots look in that type of situation, and we don't have to try to make that up. I've got several shots available in this folder. You're welcome to use any and all of them for this project. Something I want to point out is that I did struggle with changing lighting, as I was shooting outside like I said, because I wanted to get some nice diffuse shadows. Sometimes the sun would peek out, and I would get some harsher shadows. And sometimes the lighting wouldn't be nearly as bright as I wanted it to be. But that's okay cuz we can deal with that in Photoshop. In fact, let's select one of these to open in Photoshop and start processing it so we can use it in our project. Let's select this one 0645, right-click > Open With > Adobe Photoshop. I selected this one for a number of reasons. There's a couple techniques that I wanna show your for processing some of these images to get them ready. And this one in particular has several issues going on with it that I want to address. First of all, we are getting a bit of a harsh shadow on there, that we wanna see what we can do to remove. We're getting some spattered dirt that maybe I wanna pull that out as well. And I think this really only needs one flower in here, not both. In fact, I like this flower better than this one. So let's see what we can do about removing that flower. First and foremost, I wanna make sure that the outside of the area is nice and white. So I'm going to add a curves adjustment layer. Looking at the histogram here, I'm gonna take this top corner of this curves and just drag it over to meet with the histogram. Then I'll use the white eye dropper to sample a white point. This should be the brightest point of the image, which ideally, should be the background. Then I'm going to make a copy of this background layer for me to work with. And most simply, I want to remove the elements that I don't like in this image, like the outside frame there. That's easy enough to pull out simply by cropping this down, using the crop tool and moving those borders in. Now, noticing that the outside area isn't quite as white as it needs to be, it means we have a little bit of ambient shadow, which isn't bad. But notice that the harsh shadow isn't something we're probably going to want. So we need to see what we can do about getting rid of that. Let's use the dodge tool set to mid tones and pull that exposure down. Anything underneath 10 usually works out pretty well. And use this to start lightening up those areas that appeared a little too dark. This is a great tool to use for this, because it uses the actual image pixels. It's not adding any pixels to it, it's just adjusting the pixels that are there. And when we've got the surrounding area nice and bright white all the way around, then it's time to go back and use our Clone Stamp tool. We'll hold down the Alt key to create a sample area, and then paint over those offending pieces that aren't quite working for us. Next, let's talk about how to get rid of this flower. Well, Photoshop actually has a couple of really good tools to deal with this. Let's begin with the easiest and maybe the most obvious, which is Content Aware Fill. Create just a loose selection around that. Go to Edit > Fill, change this to Content Aware and see what Photoshop does with it. It actually does a really good job. If Content Aware did not give you the results that you wanted, you could also use the Patch Tool, which happens to have a Content Aware mode. And that does a pretty good job too. And that makes this image ready to be used in our project. Now, you can go through and do this type of process for as many or as few of the images that you wish. I fully encourage you to take some photos of your own and try this on your own too. But if you don't have the capability or the time to do that, please feel free to use mine, just so that you can follow along. Next up is lesson 2.2, where we develop a background texture to place our grassy text on.

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