Layer Masks & Smart Objects (20/9/16)

Our first Graphics lesson of the year was orientated in the program Adobe Photoshop, the lesson was based on ‘Layer Masks’ and ‘Smart Objects’. A Layer Mask in Photoshop is used to control a layer’s transparency. It’s great if you wish to reveal or hide portions of a layer using a mask. While you can use the Transparency control to adjust the opacity of a layer, using a mask gives you a lot more flexibility in what you show, and what you hide. Smart Objects are layers that contain image data from raster or vector images, such as Photoshop or Illustrator files. Smart Objects preserve an image’s source content with all its original characteristics, enabling you to perform nondestructive editing to the layer.


The ‘Frosty Jack’s’ typographic logo above was created quickly by myself. The first instruction of the task was to produce a basic typography ‘frosty jack’s’ logo. I chose the particular font as it portrays a frosty/cold feeling in my view which complements the name. I also added a couple of custom shapes which are available to use within Photoshop such as the lightning bolt/strike which slices the background of the logo diagonally, giving the design added excitement, striking attention. I also used these small mind-map like stars at the bottom and top of the text which is a symbol that can represent ‘ice/frost’ which is the reason I added these customs shapes.


Once as a class we had completed the first initial task of quickly making a new ‘frosty jack’s’ logo we then opened up a mock template which is the image above. As this was already a file within Photoshop that had been made before and we just had to download the file; Smart objects, layer masks had already been used – so we took a minute to explore the psd turning on and off separate layers so we had a vague idea of what was going on.

We didn’t have to create any smart objects as they were already in-bedded within the file so with the ‘frosty jack’s’ logo’s that we made individually, we could then replace the smart object (which in this case was the original frosty jacks front label) by double clicking on the smart object which took you into the source file of the smart object, then via copying and pasting our typography into the smart object layer and pressing (CTRL S) this would then save the changes so you can exit the source file and the changes will have been made in the original Photoshop file.


The above and below images are the same, but below is an example of a layered mask (with a wooden texture used) in use. This was another smart object (another label within the mock Photoshop file) we experimented with to show vaguely how a layer mask works. We simply found a wooden texture within google and transferred it into the folder where this specific ‘mock beer’ could be found, once a layer mask was created you can enter the layer mask by (ALT clicking) the wooden layer. You can also enable and disable the mask by right clicking which takes you to that specific option which I have done with the above and below image (above, layer mask disabled, below layer mask enabled)


Vectoring, Illustration tips (22/9/16)

We then had a graphics lesson with Andy where he showed us a way of vectoring and ‘image tracing’ work. We grabbed a ‘sketch drawing’ from the internet and opened it within Adobe Illustrator which gave us the option to turn a pixel image into a vector image by using ‘Image trace’ which can manipulate the initial focal point (being the tree) in several ways by editing the ‘noise’, ‘paths’, ‘corners’ etc..making the initial image a lot more varied due to the effects you can put on to manipulate the lines.


Above is the image I used off the internet which I then edited through ‘image trace’as you can see below;


Once the image was had been traced in illustrator this allowed it to be transferred within Photoshop as a vector based image instead of raster. Once the ‘tree’ had been opened within Photoshop, we then brought in a background, in my case this was a tea stained background as you can see below;


I then started selecting certain areas with the lasso tool while being on the layer of the tree (having to fill in certain gaps with the brush tool so certain selections could be made) I then made sure I changed layers to the layer of the stained background and right clicked as you can see below which gave me ‘layer Via Copy’ option which then made a new layer with the selected background in the selected areas; This allowed me to change the colour and texture of specif targeted parts of the tree I had selected.


As you can see the tiny bit of trunk that I selected below has now been masked with the background layer below.


Once specific parts of the tree had become layered with the background, you can then directly edit the tone and contrast and other elements by changing the levels which increases/decreases the white and black coloured elements, or the colours.


Below shows the finished simple example of the layer masked tree, masked with specific parts of the background.


‘Motion’ Lesson;


We started off by uploading the green screen above into motion and then manipulating it from that point on. It was my first and the majority of the class’ first lesson within motion and the aim was to experiment within the program and become familiar with the basic tools/features/controls.


Above I got a photo of a baby version of Mike Wasowski from the internet, then made it a PNG by roughly removing the white background within Photoshop then importing it to motion. The red dotted line from one end of the screen which is attached to Mike is the line which the object will move along. To create general motion within motion is a really easy thing to do, simply by pressing the red record button and moving the object along your chosen pathway, then end the recording and this will have created the line on which Mike would move, once the line is created you can then edit individual specific lines to suit your desired outcome. This technique could prove a relevant effect when making my music video concerning motion as I did not know how to create this effect with objects smoothly travelling round the screen. This effect can also be manipulation in programs such as after effects, and Sony Vegas so I’m considering having a look into them software’s.


Another useful technique within motion is being able to experiment with 3D. You can also change the camera angle to give you views from the sides, bottom and top  – making it easier to keep track of individual objects such as ‘Mike’ and ‘Paige’s face’ so you can see the exact movements of the different layers from every perspective around that triangle, which is great when moving the objects within the same direction but different speeds/paths as you can track and view their angle from all directions/perspectives. This may be a useful tool when creating my music video as I can have a go with 3D motion for the first time enabling a building block to further knowledge within this field. The 3D motion effect is also great for engaging with the viewers as the fascinating 3 dimensional perspectives can captivate viewers and make the focal objects feel a lot more realistic, and alive, well at least that is how it makes me feel.



As you can gather from the above screenshot; the selections show how to find change the different camera angles so when working within 3D this gives you a lot more scope to explore the object fully (360 degrees)


What I like about the program ‘motion’ is the fact that it’s very simply structured, so different options and effects are quite easy to find and understand. It has a similar characteristic shared with Photoshop which is the layers and how you can manipulate them quite simply, and change the layers around as you can within Photoshop creating basically the same effect. This will be good for future work within motion as I will be more confident and competent within the software.


The above shows the 3-dimensional space/area in which you can mess a round with and exploit within motion. It shows you the initial camera point and where the objects will maneuver too around the camera.


basics, exploring motion

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