Thursday, February 14, 2008

The hardest thing to do in photoshop

Is to remove reflected objects from irregular reflective surfaces. Imagine taking a photo of a shiny trumpet, and trying to remove all evidence of the surrounding objects, and that should give you some sense of the hell I spent the better part of a week doing. It wasn't a trumpet, or one of the Tall Man's Sentinel Spheres from Phantasm, but similarly challenging.

Of course, looking online helps 0.00%. Anything involving chrome and photoshop and google inevitably leads you to some disgusting tutorial that teaches you how to make your ignorantly selected font look unconvincingly like it's made out of mercury. Which is the perfect look when you want your personal home page to get added to Android Shirley's Might & Magic webring, but otherwise pretty useless.

Turns out, the pen tool and vector paths were clutch. They let you create soft gradients, while firmly constraining edges. That's the trick with the chrome reflections - they are 1/2 very soft transitions, and 1/2 very rigid boundaries. In the process, I learned a lot about using clipping paths and adding color as layer adjustments. I had considered myself somewhat adept at photoshop, but it turns out I was hitherto ignorant of the finer principals of non-destructive editing (example here). Funny how you don't know what you don't know, until you know what you don't know, and then finally, you are back to knowing what you know.

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