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Glass: A photoshop tip
by Dr. Thaddeus Ozone

OK, shall we jump right into this? I was asked recently on my forum to get off my ass and right a new tutorial, this one explaining those pretty glass balls found on several of my pages.

I'm going to assume you know some of the possibilities of the Lighting Effects filter, I'll explain how I use it here, but only very briefly. Let's start with a three layer document - a background of gray, a circle of slightly darker gray, and a circle of black, with the layer set to "screen". (It's on the layer palette itself, usually it just says "normal". Check it out!) The "screen" option makes the black invisible, but that's... OK. :-)

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Glass: A photoshop tip
by Dr. Thaddeus Ozone

OK, shall we jump right into this? I was asked recently on my forum to get off my ass and right a new tutorial, this one explaining those pretty glass balls found on several of my pages.

I'm going to assume you know some of the possibilities of the Lighting Effects filter, I'll explain how I use it here, but only very briefly. Let's start with a three layer document - a background of gray, a circle of slightly darker gray, and a circle of black, with the layer set to "screen". (It's on the layer palette itself, usually it just says "normal". Check it out!) The "screen" option makes the black invisible, but that's... OK. :-)

:::::: handson ::     :: next ::::::

The first thing we need to do is create a round ball. For this we will use the Lighting Effects filter, but before we fire that up we will need a mask for the 3D effects. I'll start with a circular channel, the same shape as the circle on the layers, cool? Working on that channel, let's select the round shape and fire up the "Blur/Gaussian Blur" filter.

OK! Blur that selection at 16 pixels, the first step. We follow this up with several more blurs, next at 8 pixels, then 4 pixels. Now DESELECT the shape, and do two more blurs, the first at 2 and the last at 1.

Better get used to this effect, I use this a LOT.

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There we go! We now have a nice smooth mask for running the Lighting Effects filter on. The de-selected last two blurs? That was to eliminate any jagged edges on our mask. Now, leave the channel, and select the GREY CIRCLE on the RGB pallette.

Ready for Lighting Effects? Here we go, follow this link to check out the setting I used to get a nice spherical ball. You'll notice I have TWO light sources, those little specks, one yellow and one blue? The yellow one shows it's range, and this link shows you the dark blue light source, SHINING UP FROM BELOW. Very important detail here, this is how we get our interesting color variations.

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And this is the result from Lighting effects. Kind of bland, and a little bit bumpy, hmm? That's OK, I expected this. The grayscale channel we used for the texture mask was limited to only 256 levels of gray, and we raised the surface by 50 units, leaving no room for a smooth transition.

We're going to use this to our advantage, because I also want the edges of any round object to get dark around the edges, even on the highlight area! This simulates the fact that a round thing continues curving away, BEHIND the area we can see! Toggle to the next screen to see the difference.

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Cool, huh? Here's how we do it. Working on the grey circle layer, select the round shape. (Windows, hold the Control button and click the layer palette. Macintosh, use the Command button.) Choose "Select/Inverse", and you will have the background selected. Fill it with black. Choose "Select/Inverse" again, and blur the circle using Gaussian blur at 2 pixels. The surface smooths out, and a little bit of black leaks in! Now "Select/Inverse" once more, and delete that annoying black.

Try, please try, not to let your finger slip during this process! It can be a bitch when you realize you don't actually *have* that circular shape saved anywhere else, whatta bummer. (Note: That might be why I created that layer of black earlier on, hah!

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Time for a big bold Lens Flare, found under the "Render" subheading. One of the things glass always seems to have is a powerful reflection, and if you have slightly bad eyes, or if you've ever looked at bright reflecty things with a camera, you get a flare. The same effect can be seen on foggy nights, go look at a streetlight, it's all around us.

I use a big flare on this one, burned into the black layer. The black layer has been set to "Screen" remember, so it's been invisible till now. Now when we put something bright on it, we find what it does. "Screen" will make black invisible, allowing everything else through, just like "Multiply" will eliminate white, allowing all the dark stuff through. Learn to use this, it shows up all the time.

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And here's the results! Hmm, looks kinda ragged in this image, Lens Flare makes for such busy color variations, it hardly ever works as a GIF image. Check the next frame, where I've dropped it in as a JPEG and you'll start to see... Glass!

Really. Turn the page, it's there, waiting for you!

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Ta-dah! There it is, glass! This is pretty much a typical "TV-screen gray" glass surface, you've probably seen it a lot. I added a minor 3D effect on the background to highlight the edges just a bit to show things off. We could stop here, many folks do, but you said you wanted GLOWING glass stuff, right? We're not done yet.

NOTE: Hmm, suppose this shape wasn't round, but was instead square, with rounded corners? This is that interface screen lots of you have asked me about, right here. You might want to take a break right now and go create one yourself, eh? :-)

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OK, let's make this baby glow, all right? Working on the "gray disc" layer, let's just invert the thing, making what's light dark, and vice-versa. It's simple, just "control+i" for Windows, and "command+i" for Macintosh. Looks pretty weird, eh? How's this supposed to work for us?

First thing we need to do is darken up those edges, the edges kind of just vanished on us, but we can rescue them, and we need the dark at the top left, and the bright at the bottom right.

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Create a new layer, I called this one "edge definition". Fill it with black, covering everything else. Now from the layer beneath it, select the circle shape, you know how to do that now, don't you? Fill that shape with white, and you have something that looks just like your first mask.

DON'T DESELECT! Working on the white bit, blur your middle by 2 pixels, and then again by one pixel. Invert the selection and delete that black again. (Is any of this sounding familiar? It should!)

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OK, you start with an ugly white disk, with raggedy black edges. Set that new layer to "multiply", and boom! Instant edge definition. I sometimes want more than just one layer will give me, so I'll usually just duplicate. If that's too much, set the opacity on the copy down just a bit, you have infinite room for tweaking here. (OK, not infinite. 100x100=10,000 levels of tweaking. It's enough.)

We could stop here, assuming we wanted a pale blue marble, but I don't really want *that*, not my favorite colors.

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I placed a layer of bright orange over the layer named "grey disc", (which is now pale blue!) and set it to "Multiply".

Say! Doesn't *that* look familiar! Yeppers, that's pretty much the same orange marble I've used a thousand times, minus some of the inevitable hand tweaking I end up doing.

What else can we make this thing into?

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Set that same layer to "Color Burn" and we start to get some interesting effects.

Color Burn is one of those bizzare features, what the heck does it do anyway? Usually everything it does do is too extreme, but I always give it a try anyway, especially with candy-type effects like this one.

Let's try another...

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OK, this time I'll set it to "hard light" and this is (mostly) the look I was after. Still, now it looks kind of silly smushed into that background like that, doesn't it? I think I'll change it in the next frame.

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OK, a basic dropshadow effect, and this effect is mostly done, I can live with this one. There's more we can do with this, (There's ALWAYS more! :-), but we're approaching a good stopping point.

Next time we'll discuss the matching curved highlights and shadows, I used them on the next and final image, it came out pretty cool IMHO. As always, feedback is appreciated, drop me a note or leave a message in my forum, answers can be found for you!

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That looks like it! Want to play with the photoshop file I used for this example? It includes some of the additional effects I hinted at last frame. You can download it from here, enjoy!

:::::: glass.psd.zip ::::::

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