This tutorial was written/created using Adobe Photoshop CS6. To the best of my knowledge, the techniques and methods covered here will still be compatible with previous versions of Photoshop up until CS2. The steps covered here are for moderate to advanced users... so while I cover my methods, I will explain things in a manner assuming you at least know the basics of Photoshop.
Let's get started!
To get started we will need to isolate the elements we need to make an awesome trap effect.
First and foremost you will need a picture of a trap. You can find them on google image search, in other user's forum posts, or maybe you have one of your very own you'd like to photograph. This trap image was borrowed for educational purposes from user "gjustis", and it looks fantastic with the wear and tear look. Perfect for the image we are trying to create!
-Load the image below in Photoshop
Now what we want to do is isolate just the trap, this way we can stick it wherever we want later in Photoshop. There are several ways to do this, magic wand tool, polygonal lasso tool, quick selection tool, etc. These methods are all fine, but my way of selecting objects in Photoshop provides much cleaner results in the end. Try it whichever way you like, but this is how I do it...
-Using the Pen tool (p) go ahead and draw a path around the trap. If you are new to the pen tool, this is a good chance to learn... be sure to close the path at the beginning node when you are finished.
-Zooming in closely to the image is your FRIEND and will help you get close to all the tiny details.
-After you have closed the path, In the upper left corner of Photoshop, you will see a button that says Make: Selection, click "Selection" and a pop up window will ask you for a feather radius value. By default it should say "0", go ahead and click "OK" and you will now have a perfectly selected trap.
-Copy and Paste your selection, and Photoshop will create a new "Layer 1", which will be your isolated ghost trap. Once you have done this, turn off the visibility to your background layer, you will no longer need it and this allows you to better check the accuracy of your trap isolation.
Now we will want the trap doors open, this will take a little bit of manipulation, but you can do it!
-Using the same steps we previously used to isolate the trap use the pen tool to select ONE of the trap doors. Be sure to select just the surface of the door and not the thin side dimension.
-Cut and paste your half-door selection.
-Make your trap layer (Layer 1) invisible so you can see what you are working with door-wise. We will come back to it shortly.
-Create a new layer underneath your isolated door layer... then using the rectangle tool, create a rectangle roughly the same dimensions of the ghost trap door as if were flat and 2D. Be sure your rectangle is relatively large so you have room to work with. (I just guessed at this, it just needs to be close, not 100% accurate)
-*note* be sure the rectangle tool is set to "shape" not "pixels"
-Make sure your isolated door layer is the active layer (Layer 2) and lower the opacity to about 80% (this value can be whatever you like... we just want to be able to see through it)
-Press COMMAND+T to activate the transform mode of the layer. (I am using a Mac, PC users press CONTROL I believe) Right click and select "Distort". Move the nodes around until the door image covers your rectangle closely. It's okay to go over the edges, just do your best to match the shape keeping it fully covered. Double click or press enter to apply the transformation once you feel it's in place.
-Raise the opacity of your isolated door layer back to 100%
-Keeping the same layer (Layer 2) selected, press COMMAND and click the THUMBNAIL for your rectangle layer located in your layer menu palette. This should automatically create a selection in the shape of the rectangle layer.
-Now invert your selection (COMMAND+SHIFT+I) and hit DELETE. This should trim off the excess door around your rectangle selection.
If you have correctly followed all the steps up to this point, you should have 4 graphic elements broken into layers.
*Layer 2 (the door half)
*Rectangle 1 (The half door shape)
*Layer 1 (the isolated trap)
*Background Layer (the original image)
If your Photoshop document looks like the layer list above then you are ready to move on to the next steps!
(The objects have been moved around to illustrate that my 3 isolated pieces are here)
-Turn off the visibility of your isolated door and rectangle so you only see the isolated trap.
-Make sure your foreground color is set to white.
-Using the pen tool, create a new shape layer over the trap doors, remember you can move nodes around while creating shapes and masks with the pen tool to fine tune your shapes and selections.
Now our document is starting to become a little complex... let's go ahead and rename our layers...
-Rename your layers the same as I have in this photo...
-Make your "Door 1" layer visible and move it to the top of your layer stack.
-Press CONTROL+T for transform mode, and right-click and select the "distort" option.
-Move the nodes so your door looks something like this...
*Note- if you are having trouble lining up your door, be sure the "snap" option is not active. This can be found under the "view" option in the top menus of Photoshop.
-Create a new layer underneath your "Door 1" layer.
-Making sure black is selected as your foreground color, use the pen tool to create a 3D shape behind your door layer to give it some depth... it's okay to go underneath the door because of the layer order, you can't see it all. Try to copy the shape I have made.
-After you have closed the pen tool path, select "shape" from the upper left hand menu button. This should create a new shape solid black.
-With your new layer as the active layer, COMMAND+CLICK the thumbnail for the layer in the layer palette. This will create a selection of the shape of the layer.
-Rasterize the layer.
-Switch to the brush tool and sample some of the grays and darker grays from the trap to paint in a little more depth on your door edge. You don't have to worry about staying in the lines because your selection will not let you go outside the boundaries. Remember, when painting make sure you are painting on your "Shape 1" layer.
-When you are done, merge the "Door 1" and "Shape 1" layers together. Then Rename the resulting layer back to "Door 1"
-Make your "Door 2" layer visible, and Transform/Distort it to look open symmetrically to your Door 1 layer.
-We don't have to worry about giving this door depth because it will be mostly lost when we start adding lighting effects, but you do want to go ahead and rasterize this layer.
Open the image below in Photoshop and add it to your composition. Be sure it is just above your "Door 2" layer in the layer order.
-Transform/Distort this new layer to match the shape of the "Door 2" Layer... this shouldn't be too difficult since it's only 4 node points that you have to move.
-Select the "Door 2" layer... press "V" and then the left arrow key twice to move it over 2 pixels.
-Merge your Door 2 layer and the new metal texture layer into one layer. The end result should still have it named "Door 2", if not, go ahead and rename it.
-Go have a cigarette, beer, or shot of vodka. You've earned it.
If you're still with me up to this point, you're ready to move on to the next step, which in my opinion is the most fun =)
A quick word about lighting effects... this is the part that makes or breaks your image. And this is what will make other GB fans say "Wow!, that's cool!" Most people using Photoshop, amateur or pro will by default try using the "glow" settings and filters provided. While this works to a degree... most of the images end up looking the same, still a little flat without a lot of lighting depth. I'm not knocking other people's work... just offering a method of improvement that I have developed over time and learning from other designers myself.
The glow toolset provided in Photoshop provides only a small degree of control for visual effects, so what we want to do is create our own layer sets of lighting to give everything a greater sense of volume and feel.
-Go to IMAGE>CANVAS SIZE and change the canvas to 10 inches x 10 Inches... be sure to set the anchor point to center/bottom as shown here;
-Now, create a new layer above your background layer... fill it in with a solid dark color... and label it "Backdrop". This will give us a contrast to see our lighting effects against.
-Make sure all your shape layers are rasterized at this point. If you are not sure, go to LAYER>RASTERIZE>RASTERIZE ALL
-Select your "Doors White Out" layer as the active layer... then COMMAND+CLICK the thumbnail for "Door 1" layer to create a selection in that shape. Press DELETE, by doing this you are deleting the white behind the door... and since it is behind the door, you shouldn't have seen anything happen while deleting.
-Now, copy your "Doors white Out" layer 3 times. I do this by dragging the layer down to the bottom of the layers menu and let it go over the "new layer icon". When you are done, your layer stack should look like this;
-Make sure there is no active selection (marching ants)
-Apply the following Gaussian Blurs to these layers.
Doors White Out copy 3 = 25 pixels
Doors White Out copy 2 = 5 pixels
Doors White Out copy = 1 pixels
What we have done is created the first step of a realistic lighting effect... making the light volumetric like this allows the light be strong at the core and dissipate out from the source. You can play with the Gaussian values to spread the effect out more in your own endeavors... but for this tutorial let's stick to the 25-5-1 combo. If you try this on your own later with proton streams or other ghostly effects, be careful not to put your higher values too far out... I rarely go beyond 50. The inner values should always stay between 1-5 pixels. This creates a really nice defined glow around the subject.
-Create a new layer BELOW your series of "Doors White Out" layers. Goto LAYER>LAYER and set the mode to SCREEN and be sure the box is checked for "Fill with Screen-neutral color (black)"
You will see an new layer in your layers palette that is solid black, but you will notice that there is no black in your actual Photoshop work area. Don't freak out, this is normal. Screen mode is a photoshop mode that makes black transparent... it's actually there, you just can't see it because of this.
-Again, assuring your new screen layer is below your "Doors White Out" layers, press SHIFT to select all of your White Out layers AND your screen layer.
-Press COMMAND+E to merge all of the selected layers. This will knock it out of screen mode and make the image turn black. Simply go to the blending mode for your newly merged layer and set it back to "screen". Everything should look normal again. Rename this layer "Trap Core Glow"
Now comes my favorite part... the purpose of merging our gaussian blurred layers with our screen layer, is now we have control over the color. This is where you really get a feel for the look of the lighting effects.
-Go to IMAGE>ADJUSTMENTS>COLOR BALANCE Here you will see sliders for your RGB values. Set your values to the following using the sliders provided... +79 -12 -73 If you notice the color balance option window has a section at the bottom for Tone Balance. The 3 values you just entered should have been for the "MidTones" range. Click the "Highlights" range and enter these values... +63 -32 -100
Avoid just typing in the values, because when you start doing your own lighting effects, you'll want to slide the colors around and play with them.
-Create a new layer above your Trap Core Glow layer. Make a white rectangle like this. Make sure the layer is rasterized, and name it "God Ray"
-With your "God Ray" layer active, press the "create layer/vector mask" button at the bottom of your layers palette. It looks like a tiny rectangle with a circle inside.
This will create a sub-layer of the current layer you are working on. It may seem complicated but we won't spend much time in here...
-Working in "God Ray"'s sub-layer... choose the gradient tool (G). Drag the tool sideways until your God Ray layer looks like a fading light accent. You can reuse this tool over and over again until it looks right without having to go back and "undo" things. (I started my drag in the middle of the rectangle and went well past it) Should look like this;
-Press CONTROL+T to enter transform mode... rotate your God Ray counter clockwise and move it so it lines up with the opening of your trap. Press enter once you have it set where you want.
-Duplicate your God Ray layer, then enter transform mode... right click and select "flip horizontal". Move and place the second God Ray to the other side of the trap opening. Press enter to set the layer.
-Select both of your God Ray layers together by holding SHIFT and selecting them. Then press COMMAND+E to merge them into one layer.
-Repeat the steps previously just like the ones you used for the Trap Core Glow...
*Copy the God Ray layer 3 times
*Apply a Gaussian Blur on the the 3 new copies from top to bottom... 25, 5, 1 for the values.
*Create a new layer below all your God Ray, be sure it's in SCREEN MODE and you click the "fill in black" option.
*Select ALL the God Ray layers AND the new screen layer using SHIFT click.
*Merge those layers by pressing COMMAND+E, it will knock out of screen mode... switch the layer back to screen mode and name the layer "God Rays Glow".
*Go to Image>Adjustments>Color Balance and put in these values... +51 -14 -63 for the Midtones and +25 -18 -55 for the Highlights.
Still with me?
-Go have another cigarette.
-Using the eraser tool, go ahead and clean up any excess light sticking out from underneath the trap door.
-Create a new layer above the God Ray layer. Name it "Vertical Light". Use the pen tool to create a white cone shape coming out of the trap like this;
-Create a new layer/vector mask on your "Verticle Light" layer and use the Gradient Tool in the sub layer to fade the light out. This is the same exact technique we used to make the gradation on the God rays.
Now we have the main parts done, we add the final touches to make it look movie quality. By now hopefully you have the multi-layer lighting methods down, because we will be doing it a few more times...
This final bit is going to go fast... use the methods I have taught you so far to add the red light on the trap and the light on the door indicator.
-Create new white shape layers for the lights. Be sure they have their own individual layers, because when you do the multi-layer gaussian blur and color change, you need to go different directions with the colors.
-Be sure to rasterize your shape layers before trying to multiply them and apply the gaussian blur!
*NOTE - I know it's tempting, but NEVER add lens flares to GB effects... it's tacky and a joke among professional graphic designers. Plus lens flares in Photoshop get messy when you start using them more than once... Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light... that's what happens when you use lens flares.
Adding a little blue lightning and sparks will add some awesome flair to your trap. There are several methods to do this... you can draw it yourself using the pen tool, you can paint it in, you can use the line tool and painstakingly draw it. I was kind enough to do it for you and save you some time... use the image below.
-Add the lightning provided to your composition.
-Use the multi layer technique to put a blue hue on the lightning. Lower the opacity of the lightning layer to 65%
-Use the smudge tool to soften the lightning and pull the points out a little shaper.
From here out, it's whatever you want it to be... the background can be swapped out with whatever you like, you can even add your own ghost. It's easy to simulate the "Trapping Effect" with a few strokes of the smudge tool...
Play around with it, try different things. I'd love to see if this helped anyone!
Photoshop and After Effects Tutorials coming soon!http://www.NaokiGraphics.com