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Friday, March 30, 2007

Messing with Layer Modes by Pete Walsh

Dirt Factor WIP

"A layer's blending mode determines how its pixels blend with underlying pixels in the image. You can create a variety of special effects using blending modes."

Sounds like boring stuff but Photoshop's layer modes are a quick and easy way to explore and create cool image effects in your rFactor screenshots.

Some Layer Mode History

Prior to Photoshop 3.0 (~1996) there were no layers or layer modes. It was the era of Photoshop legends such as Kai Krause and CHOPS (Channel Operations). Blending pixel data was an art form, made largely possible by using 'Calculations' which still remains in Photoshop today (Image > Calculations) for the hard core old timers.

Messing with Layer Modes

You can read a description of how each Layer mode thinks in Photoshop's Help files or online resources. More fun though just to mess with layer modes to get a sense of how they work, find something you like and go with it. There's no rules about what order to do things, mess around, have fun and if you see something happening you like the look of explore it further.

Here's the original screenshot of Dirt Factor, a WIP at the time of writing. It's an okay pic but these cars are fast, nasty and dirty. The screenshot needs some quick lovin :-)

I've duplicated my original layer and applied the Radial Blur filter to the duplicated layer. Experiment with the Amount to whatever you think looks to be in the ball park.

I've duplicated the Radial Blur layer and used Shift+Control+U to desaturate the new layer at the top of the stack. You can also do that via Image > Adjustments > Desaturate.

I intend to use a Layer Mode on the top layer, so in this case I'm going to apply a slight Gaussian Blur to it. It's not absolutely necessary and can be done later on, I just like the look it creates in the finished result - it's a technique often used when working with images of people.

With the Gaussian Blur applied toggle through the Layer Modes for the top desaturated layer. See anything that could end up looking good? I'm going to settle for the 'Soft Light' mode. Remember you can always use layer opacity or layer mask to adjust strength of effects later on.

Things are looking messy - it would be handy if at least some of the car was clearly visible! I'm going back to my middle layer, creating a layer mask and using a radial gradient in the mask to make a gradual transition between the bottom layer original car and center layer car with the Radial blur. The visible areas on both layers being effected by the desaturated 'Soft Light' top layer. I'm using a soft brush set at low opacity to quickly tidy up the layer mask in the middle layer. e.g the dirt track in the foreground would look better blurred.

If you don't like manipulated screenshots you're probably screaming stop already. I'm going to do a few more things though ;-)

Firstly the rear wheel needs radial spinning blur. I've used the technique covered in a previous post to blur the wheel. The tire needs blurring too - sharp tread would look strange amongst all this movement, so I've made a progressive rough feathered selection of the tread area and applied a small amounts of motion blur.

Screenshots have a habit of looking too clean and synthetic, a little like digital images can sometimes with no film grain etc. To finish this image off I'm going to make a new empty layer at the top of the stack, fill it with black then apply the Add Noise filter.

Returning to our Layer mode theme, I'm going to change the mode of the noise layer to Overlay and lower the opacity until I'm happy with the effect, for me less than 10%.

With enough elements created it's time to stop, adjust each layer, save and post the image to RFC! :)

posted by Pete Walsh @ 3:33 AM   0 comments  


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Video Tutorial on editing Screenshots by 6e66o

Hi all,
I made a little Video that shows how I edit Screenshots!
Most of the used techniques were allready described by OOomalleys and Pete Walsh!

You have a Question? Leave a comment!


Sorry for the low quality, you may download the hi res version of the video here:

posted by 6e66o @ 3:10 PM   0 comments  


Friday, March 16, 2007

Cameras, Desaturation, Gradient Masks, Blur and other stuff by Pete Walsh

WGTL's upcoming PCC NZ car on Lasercutter's Oulton Park

This screenshots workshop covers:

- rFactor Cameras
- Layer Masks
- Gradient Masks
- Adjustment Layers
- Motion and Radial Blur
- Selective Desaturation
- Other stuff

As a rough guide processing the image this post is based on took less than 5 minutes. Much quicker than writing about it :P

rFactor Cameras
Looking at cool screenshots you notice that many seem to be 'taken' from unique points of view that don't seem to match up with the default track or car cameras. Let's take a look at some easy options for creating your own customized camera views for screenshots (or replays/videos)

Freemove: U on the keyboard to enable/disable Freemove. Use your mouse to move the current camera in any direction

Swing Man: Pge Up takes you to Swingman default view, which looking towards and over the back of the car isn't very compelling. By default though once in Swingman view you can use your number keypad to change the camera in a bunch of cool ways

I've also mapped Cam Tilt Left and Cam Tilt Right - very handy when in Freemove.

Making Videos? The Swingman options above can be used at the same time e.g. zoom in and around in the one movement... sweet.

That's a good start when it comes to freeing up some camera views. I'd strongly recommend taking the time to mess with the swingman view, combined with freemove and the keypad controls as it's a great way to explore new views of cars and tracks.

Let's go and put it into action.

Just like photography in the real world, time of day effects the look of your shots. I like racing in rFactor early and late in the day and that also makes for good eye candy. If you think you'll be making screenshots, think about setting your race time at a time of day that fits in with the style of screenshots you like to make.

For my example I'm driving WGTL's upcoming PCC NZ car on Lasercutter's Oulton Park. Apart from being an enjoyable race combination, between the car and track there is a lot of eye candy available. I've set my race time to early in the morning.

After some enjoyable laps and a quick look at the replay, I've chosen a hairpin as the place for the screenshot. No particular reason, I just like it :)

Page Up to get into Swingman view. U to get into Freemove. Then use the number keypad shortcuts to pan around, zoom in and tilt until you find a shot you like. I've used my two additional shorts to tilt the camera off horizontal too. This is the shot I've settled on:

It's an okay image but if you've got a few minutes to spare and could do with some therapy why not mess around with it a little.

I'd like to make the image look as if it was a panning shot taken with a real camera, hand held and a low shutter speed.

The first thing I'm going to do in Photoshop is duplicate the image layer so I've got the original image preserved in my master file. I've called the duplicated layer - 'wheel blur'

Wheel Blur
Wheel blur effect isn't built into all mods. Personally I like the effect when it's done well within the mod. PCC05 doesn't include wheel blur and I want to create the look of a panned image, so I'll need to add that back in on the front and back wheel. It's easy in this case as the wheels are fairly square on to the camera view.

The general approach is simple enough - make a circular selection over each wheel, feather it a little, apply the Radial Blur filter.

With the wheel blur layer active I've made a quick selection using the Elliptical Marquee tool (M/Shift+M), holding Alt down to draw the circle from centre. With the Alt key still held down, you can use the space bar to move the selection marquee around. Release the space bar with the Alt key still down and you can continue adjusting the marquee etc. If that seems like rubbing your head and stomach at the same time, draw out any circular selection and use Select > Transform Selection so the selection marequee is neatly centered over the wheel and covering the wheel and some of the tyre wall

We could run the Radial Blur filter now but there might be an obvious line around the tyre. We need a to make a small gradual transition. With the selection still active choose Select > Feather (Alt+Control+D). I've entered a Feather Radius value of 4 pixels as the wheel is quite small.

Now to apply the Radial Blur filter (Filter > Blur > Radial Blur). Too much radial blur looks fake, we only need to suggest spinning, so I'm going for an Amount of 10. Blur method set to Spin, Quality to Best. We centered the selection earlier, so there's no need to move the Blur Center.

Looks peachy. Repeat the process for the other wheel.

With the wheel blur done next step is to add some motion blur. As I mentioned the look I'm after is a hand held low shutter speed pan. Due to all the movement going on and proximity of the camera often in those shots only a small area of the car is sharp, the rest is increasingly blurry and often shakey - so that is something we'll work on recreating.

I've duplicated the wheel blur layer and called it motion blur. With the motion blur layer active choose Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Too much motion blur is not always your friend, it can look cool tho. The car is rounding a hairpin so wouldn't be travelling that quickly. I've used a low blur Distance of 20pixels and 4 for the angle, to match the general angle of car movement.

We've now got our motion blur layer, and underneath it our wheel blur layer, and underneath that our original image. The original won't be doing much in during this process but it's handy to have as point of reference.

What we'd like to do is have our motion blur gradually applied outwards from a point of interest on the car - in this case, the front corner of the car closest to the camera. Layer Masks are great for many things, including what we need here. A layer mask is really only a user (and layer) friendly way of interacting with Alpha channels. Black in a layer mask hides through to white revealing 100%.

Add a Layer Mask to the motion blur layer. It's white by default so it's effectively not doing anything.

- Use 'D' to set your colors to the default black and white, then X to swap them around. We want black as the foreground color.
- Select the Gradient tool (G/Shift+G) and select the Radial Gradient option from the Options tool bar.
- With the layer mask active (indicated by a bounding box) draw out a line from the closest front wheel/headlight towards the back of the car.

In real world language we're saying 'Photoshop progressively reveal the contents of the motion blur layer from the front corner of the car, while also revealing the non blur layer below'.

If you've screwed it applying the gradient don't sweat - drag out the gradient tool on the layer mask over and over until you get something that looks good.

It looks ok, but straight away you can see visual problems, dead giveaways of what has been done to the image. The tree behind the car for example - our gradient mask has revealed some of the non blurred version. Same goes for road detail in the foreground.

There's no need to mess with fiddly selections to fix these types of problems. When you work with layer masks you only need to paint!

Select the Brush tool (B/Shift +B). We need a reasonably sized soft brush. Use the Options bar to reduce the Hardness of the brush to less than 50%. Lower the opacity of the brush too, around 40% should do the trick. Use the [ and ] keys to increase/decrease brush size. I like to see what size brush I am using in the image. With my preferences, the Shift Key shows that.

So what are we doing anyway? We're about to paint on the motion blur layer mask to tidy up the details the Radial Gradient. Set the Foreground color to white (X swaps them). The tree in the background should be all blurred, not partially sharp. Paint on the layer mask in white to reveal more of the motion blurred tree. Same for the road in the foreground.

Don't forget the tree details you see through the front and side glass - it'll look weird if the tree details there aren't blurred like the rest of tree. Decrease your brush size as finer work requires. It doesn't matter too much though, you can always swap your brush back and forth from black to white to clean up mistakes made in either direction.

Here's a closeup of how my mask ended up looking:

One of the great things about layer masks is that no damage is being done to image data on that layer. You can edit as much or as little as you want, come back later and have another go. Because we're working in layers we can also use the layer opacity and modes to control how the image fits together. For example, if you feel the motion blur layer is too strong, you could lower the opacity of the motion blur layer a little.

Wheel blur: check! Motion blur: check! Next stop selective desaturation.

Keeping to the control freak theme, duplicate the motion blur layer and it's layer mask. I've named the new layer desaturate and placed it at the top of the layer stack.

We could use an Adjustment layer here but since we're already preserving enough data, with the desaturate layer active let's just Shift+Control+U and discard the color information from that layer.

Notice again how the layer mask is controlling what is visible. Maybe the effect is too severe though. I'd rather have some color visible elsewhere in the image. An easy way to achieve that is to lower the opacity of the desaturate layer. I've dropped mine to 60%. You could mess with a paint brush on the desaturate mask to finely control how the color of the car for example is desaturated.

Cool. done. A final touch is one you see around a lot - darkening of the edges of the image. There are many ways to do it. I like to do things the quickest and easiest way I know how that delivers a good result and remains editable.

Adjustment Layers are cool, not only because they preserve image data like Layer Masks. Their default behaviour is to apply the adjustment to every layer beneath them in the stack unless they are clipped to one. They also can include their own layer mask. That's the route I'll take!

Click on the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the layers palette and select Curves. Go in hard and darken that sucker more than you think you should. Being an adjustment layer you can tweak it later, or adjust the effect via a mask or layer opacity and mode.

All we need to do now is restrict the darkening to around the edges, making the car 'pop' in the center. You could this many ways, but again quick and easy it is for me - a layer mask that controls how the Curves adjustment is applied.

Select the Circular Marquee tool and drag out a large ellipse around the car, so it is centered in the ellipse. We don't want a harsh edge, so again Feather the selection. It's much bigger than the wheel selection we feathered earlier and we want a gradual effect. I'm going to feather 40.

Fill the feathered elliptical selection with black and voila, the edges are darkened, the car in the centre isn't.

My layer palette has ended up looking like this:

If you aren't happy with any element of the effect or would like to experiment further, every thing is there separately in the layers palette ready for you. Maybe you can tweak the some of the masks so the effects are cleaner, or experiment with layer mods etc.

While all this may seem complicated it doesn't take long once you're used to it. The Photoshop processing of this image took less than 5 minutes. Anything in the image below look familiar? I've used exactly the same process as above with a few tweaks to masks etc. No rule against that :)

Hope something in that was handy for ya!

posted by Pete Walsh @ 8:49 PM   3 comments  


Adding Motion Blur to a Screenshot by 00omalleys

Right. First we will need to get a good screenshot that will be good for adding motion blur. It is usually best getting one that is quite side on. Also, the screen will not look right at the end if you have parts of the track (Armco, White Lines, Kerbs... ETC) all going in different directions because then you would need to add more then one motion blur which is a different tutorial. So. We have our screenshot. I have chosen a side on shot, with the armco in the background as once they are blurred, they look nice IMO. Maybe if this is your first time trying this, you should use a different car and not a single seater. Maybe a Megane or a Seat because they will be much easier to select because they have more straight edges.

Now we will be using the Lassoo tool to select the car. This is the quickest method. This is what you will want to see.. I needed to use the 'Add To Selection' lassoo because there was seperate selections.

Also, when selecting, it will be much easier to zoom into the shot to see the pixels. To do this you can either (Once on the lassoo) Hold SPACE + CTRL and then right click. To zoom back out Hold SPACE + ALT and thenright click. To move the screenshot about once you have zoomed, Hold SPACE and move the mouse.
This is what it will look like once you have selected whilst zoomed in:

Now you will understand why it will be easier to select at this range. Also, something what a lot of people seem to do wrong is not selecting the shadow. If you think, the car is in motion and the cars shadow is in the same motion so we will also need to select this. Once you have selected the whole car, you will need to make it a new layer. So, right click and 'select inverse' then right click again and 'layer Via copy.'

Now you will have another layer in the layers tab where the car will just be white + grey squares. You will need to hide the Background' layer to see the other layer with the squares. Do not worry, this is normal and you will get the car back later.

Now, you will want to right click while on the 'Layer 1' and press 'load selection.' Now this is where we atrt to add the motion blur. Press FILTER >> BLUR >> MOTION BLUR.
Remember to make the blur go in the same direction as the car though ;) Now, when you apply the blur, you will see bits around the car that are not blurred. To blur these bits, once you have applied your blur, duplicate the blurred layer 3 times. It should now be blurred.

Once you have added the blur. You can then deselect the lassoo and you will need to merge the 2 layers into one, ready to be saved in JPEG. Press LAYER >> MERGE VISIBLE LAYERS (at the bottom).

Now you will be able to save your new picture into a JPEG! :D I have made it a quite long and depth tutorial, but I hope everyone can follow it okay. Feel free to ask any questions aswell. I look forward to seeing what people come up with...

BTW, this is my result. Not other changes apart of resizing. Only motion blur:

posted by 00omalleys @ 6:28 AM   1 comments  


Depth of Field Using Blurring by 00omalleys

So we will start off with an image like the above. First what we will do is select the car the same way we would select the car with the blurring. Use the Polygon Lassoo tool as this is the easiest to select a car. Once you have selected the car, you will need to right click and 'Select Inverse.' Now you will have to right click again and 'Layer Via Copy.' Now the whole background is a layer except the car .

Now on the new layer, you will want to apply blurring.

It is up to you how much blur you apply. But once you have done so, you will need to get the eraser tool. Once the eraser has been selected, right click and make the hardness 0%. Now, you will erase the bottom of the blurred layer out. It should be everything below the car. Now infront of the car should be blurred, but before the car should not be blurred.

Now if you make the background layer visible, you will notice that before the car is not blurred, after the car is:

Now merge the 2 layers if you are happy with the blurring. The, select the lassoo tool and make a selection at the bottom of the screen. Once you have done this, you will need to right click and feather by about 40-50px's. if once you have applied the blur, there is a very vidible stop to the blur, you should get the blur tool, right clcik and hardness 0% again and blur the edges of the gaussian blur you have just done. Once you have done this, apply some Gaussian Blur again to the selection. It should look like this:

After abit more changing to the image, this is my final output:

posted by 00omalleys @ 6:22 AM   0 comments  


Getting Rid of Small Logos by 00omalleys

This will help people who take screenshots in RACE because they can sometimes get rid of the Eurosport logo.

You will be using a tool called the 'Clone Stamp Tool.' What this basically means, you will be able to make a clone of one part of the image, and stamp that clone onto another part of the image. Thus, getting rid of stuff.

This pic was really simple to do and taken me about 10 seconds to get rid of. Firstly, select the tool (shown in the above picture). Depending on the size of object you are trying to cover up, choose the size of the area the tool will use. I chosen 70px's and it is advisable to use a soft area too. Right so now you have the tool ready, you are going to want to choose the clone of something. In this pic, it will be grass. So, you will hold ALT and the mouse will change to a small target. With ALT still held down, left click on the image where you want to clone. Now let go. Now, where ever you next press the left mouse button alone, you will make a clone of that area. So now I can start stamping over the area of the logo on the pic.

Once you have done a few clicks, the logo should disappear and you will be left with no logo. This is how the end result looked after doing the pic:

posted by 00omalleys @ 6:17 AM   0 comments  


Making Wheels Rotate by 00omalleys

Select the wheel you are going to add the blur. Doesn't have to be very clean, just do a quick selection. Then once you have done so, right click and feather the selection by 10px's. Now FILTER >> BLUR >> RADIAL BLUR >> (select best quality). Now this should make the selection spin and should give you a good result :) I used exactly that effect in this screenshot to make this wheel rotate:


posted by 00omalleys @ 6:12 AM   0 comments  


Screenshots Workshop
Got screenshot tips and tricks you'd like to share? Contact Pete.
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