Friday, August 31, 2012

Making of Books N' Tea


I decided to write a tutorial for this scene to share the two different approaches i took to achieve this final image, as well as to share a few post production tips that could help in your Photoshop Post Production. Its nothing too advanced rather simple methods that can be very effective in improving your image.

First approach

The way i set up the scene initially was to achieve a brushed metal material, which is why i have a "metal water bottle" for that purpose alone, the rest of the components was to complement the environment to make the scene more realistic. The whole scene revolves around a study area, so i grabbed the best interior HDRI i could find, and of course the rest of the components from the warehouse should both relate to Interior>Studying (Table, book, coffee, text book).

 Few issues in the first approach as well would in include;
1. The Bottom circle shape of the bottle needed more segments for a smooth round shape.
2. The edges of the book were way to sharp (nothing in real life is 100% sharp)
3. Nothing wrong with the skittles, BUT in terms of choosing components, i should've chose components that would   make a lot more sense for a study area.
4. The Edges of the chair are also too sharp
5. The fact that i have no building enclosure modeled, means i had to select a HDRI that would do the job.
To Download The HDRI (called "Alex Apartment") and more for FREE, Click Here.

Second approach

On the second approach, i tried a series of different components that would make the entire scene a bit more related to the actual subject. I simply removed the skittles from the first approach and added a bit more of study material such as a sketch book, pencil, and sticky notes. In my opinion this scene connects more to the subject of studying then my first approach. I also fixed few of the issues with the components that i chose (list 1-5 above on the first approach).

V - ray for Sketchup

I used vray for sketch-up to produce this image. Vray is fast and easy to use once you learn the basics, and in my opinion its one of the best render engines to produce photo realistic images. There are many options and paramaters to choose from to help you produce the best render from your imagination,


Brushed Metal - This is the material sheet for the brushed metal. An important value to take note of while creating this material is the "anisotrophy" value. The anisotrophy parameter allows you to stretch your reflection in different directions. Depending on weather your value is negative or positive you can stretch your reflection vertically or horizontally. Note on the sheet that the value is negative and the reflections are stretching vertically.

Fresnel Reflection - Follow by the brushed metal, Fresnel reflection is the next feature that i use quite often. I used this feature on the wood table, the coffee cup, etc. Any surface that i fell should capture the mood of the HDRI lighting.

2. Settings

Most of the settings for this scene are default except the ones highlighted. The Interior lighting is from the HDRI and Sun settings combination.I suggest using setting that will correspond well to your computer performance, maybe larger or smaller output, sharper edges (catmull room), brighter highlights (camera Setting), etc...

Here is the raw image rendered at 2048 x 1536 resolution ready to load in Photoshop.

Photoshop Post Production

There is so much you can do in Photoshop that you can turn this image into almost anything, BUT you must decide first how you want your image to look like and then proceed with the Photoshop.
There are a few things that can be fixed right away;

1. Shadows: The shadows are very weak in the raw render, so i fell like it needs to be stronger, since its an interior environment, the level of lighting is different as it hits the surface of each object.

2. Color filtering and highlights: the orange in the raw render is very strong, so we'll have to decrease the intensity, and add a variety of other colors to create diversity in the atmosphere.

3. Effects: And finally, i want the image to have an expression, and to provoke a thought as soon as you look at it. Immediately when you look at the image you know its a study area, so by adding some effects, like a bit of "smoke" rising from the coffee cup, i can add a little bit more action and excitement to the final render.

1. Adjust your Base/Raw Render

I like adding adjustment layers instead of adding the effects directly on the Raw render (or image). This features allows you indirectly add effects to your image, its like an effect layer you can turn on and off. Below are the 4 adjustment layers and settings i clipped to the original render. You can add more then just 4, depending on what you want to achieve.

After adding the layers, clip them by clicking while holding "alt", in between the raw render and the adjustment layer. This will clip the adj. layer to effect the base render only and not any other layer under it. After adding all the adjustment layers, create a group to keep the psd file organized.

2. Overlay Layers

The next step is to improve the lighting and the shadows by using the overlay layers. Simply add to new layers in the overlay blending mode. One of the layers you'll be painting in Black (to strengthen the shadows), and the other one you'll paint in white (to strengthen the light). Make sure to use a soft brush and very low values on "opacity and Flow". The image above shows the difference before (left) and after (right) the effect was applied. Notice the circle areas on the image on the right the shadows are much stronger and the lighting is more noticeable. After completing the effect, group the layer to keep the psd file organized. :)

3. Highlight Layers

The raw render was really intense on  orange, besides the photo filter adj. layers above i added a few layer to add a hint of different colors to the atmosphere of the render. Simply add a layer painted in blue with color dodge blending mode to intensify a bluish tint in preferred areas. i also added a layers tinted in black in "difference" mode on the top right corner to add a sense of depth. Group the layers as always :)

4. High pass

This is a very simple and quick way to sharpen your image, thou there are many ways to do this in Photoshop i fell like using a high pass layer gives you more control over the sharp edges of your render/image. Simply duplicate your final image and add the high  pass filter (filter>Others>High Pass) use a value between 1.8 to 2.8. After you done so, change the blending mode of the layer to "Vivid light". You'll notice that this will make certain small details in your render visible again..Here is the perfect time for your you to GROUP your layers. :)


Now for some final touches.
To add the smoke effect you'll need a reference image of the smoke you wish to put into your render (kind of like the one on the left below). Now follow these simple steps to add your smoke effect;
- Drag your reference image into your render

- Scale it to appropiate size, and place to the desired location in the render
    (in my  case the highlighted square below explains it)
- Change the blending mode to "screen" (this mode will get rid of any "black" color
   in your image).

- Add a "masking" layer and mask the edges of the smoke. FINISHED!


- Be organized and group your layers!. :)

Thanks for reading this Tutorials. Here are some other Tutorials you might like;

1. Create Realistic Carpet. Click Here
2. Random Tips for Better WorkFlow. Click Here
3. Color Highlight with Masking in Photoshop. Click Here

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