Universal Access!?

Okay, so a few weeks ago, my display for my MacBook Pro 17″ lost a little bit of definition in it’s color values. The difference was subtle, but once I noticed, it become very frustrating. I first noticed the problem when I visited my own website SadMonkeyDesign.com. In the white background, the SadMonkey logo is set to a 5% black (a very very light grey). When I visited the site, the logo had disappeared. The current version of the site had been up for months and all was well. Now, all of the sudden, the logo was gone. I was a little puzzled, so I checked my root folders and made sure all my files and pages were in order. They were, but I couldn’t see the logo. It was still there, I just couldn’t see it. So, I opened my system preferences window to see if I could figure out what had gone wrong, thinking maybe I had somehow inadvertently changed my brightness settings. When I opened the System Preferences window, which overlapped my browser window, I could see the logo. It was there, but only visible when it was under the drop shadow from the window on top.

“This was a problem. This was a BIG problem!”

So what happened? Well I had recently updated my browser, Firefox. I had been having issues with this new version. Multiple load delays, timeouts, and every other problem a browser shouldn’t have. So I thought, ” Yes! Firefox was to blame for this as well. It had to be!” So, I spent quite some time researching the Firefox update only to come up empty. So I thought, “Fine, I’ll dump Firefox and move over to Opera. I’ll recreate all my bookmarks, and all my other settings, as much of a pain as that is, I’ll do it, because, obviously, as a designer, I CAN NOT operate with an inaccurate monitor.” So I moved over to Opera… that didn’t do it. My logo still wasn’t visible. Confused, and beginning to wonder if this problem was larger than just a browser problem, I opened Photoshop and tested out a 5% black. “I COUDN’T SEE IT! This was a problem. This was a BIG problem!” As a designer, this was completely unacceptable.

So now, I’m thinking that it must have been the recent MacBook update I had just downloaded and installed. It must have messed up my Color Profiles. So I spent more time trying to modify, change, and figure out just how in the world I could go about fixing the problem. Well, I couldn’t. I knew that’s what it had to be, but I just couldn’t see anything wrong. So, flustered, I gave up for the time being. My workload was light at the moment, I needed to spend some time marketing, so I thought, “Well, I’ll just wait for the new UPDATE, it’s bound to be out in the next few days (they are ALWAYS out every few days it seems…) and that HOPEFULLY will be the fix of my problem.” Well, guess what happened. NOTHING! That wasn’t it. So now I’m thinking, “GREAT! I HAVE to fix this. I’ve tried everything I can think of. I’m going to have to do a system re-install and go back to ALL my defaults.” Obviously, not fun! Well, I thought I’d at the very least, I’d invest just a little bit more time trolling through a few more forums to see if I could find out if it was something simple I was overlooking.

EUREKA!!! I hit gold!

EUREKA!!! I hit gold! Somebody else DID have my problem, and they to, had a world of a time trying to figure out just what went wrong. He tried everything, and I’m not sure why or how he came across the answer, but here it is.

Under  “System Preferences”, under the “System” settings, there is a little thing called “Universal Access.” Some how, some way, the settings in Universal Access had changed. Underneath “Seeing” Underneath “Display” the slider for “Enhance Contrast” had moved from Normal to a higher contrast setting.

Picture 10

To fix the problem, all I had to do was move the slider all the way to the left as shown below.

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Bingo, Bango, that was it! My screen is back to normal, I can see the 5%er’s again, and all in the world is right… well, okay not so much, but my screen sure is back to normal!

Now I know, I wrongly thought it had been the Firefox update, of which I am still unhappy with its performance. Then I thought it may have been the MacBook update, to which I am STILL unsure if this was the source of the problem, but I noticed that my fellow comrade in pain had recently been setting up a gmail account. If you are unfamiliar with gmail, operated by google, there are many new and exciting features available. One of which is a free, live video chat. Once I came across the gmail connection, that made me think. I too had recently downloaded and installed the livechat plug-in for gmail, and that IS about the time my screen changed. Like I said, the change was subtle, but that had to have been it. So, word to the wise, if you install ANY software for your computer pertaining to video or webcam conference capabilities, your settings in Universal Access could change.

Please, if you know ANYONE who is having a problem with their displays, save them my frustration! Tell them to check out this dialog box.

Universal Access!? I have know idea why, but at least it was an easy fix!

SadMonkey’s Fake Embroidery Tutorial

Here’s a nice little tutorial to produce a “Fake” Embroidery Design in Adobe Illustrator. The tutorial requires at least an intermediate understanding of Adobe Illustrator.

STEP 1

First things first, you need a vector. Whether it’s a circle, a number, or your name, you need a vector to start off. The fewer nodes (anchor points) the better. Live traced and expanded images that have not been cleaned up will produce undesirable effects.

The document used in this tutorial is an 11″ x 8.5″ (The settings used in the tutorial regarding stroke widths and brushes may need to be modified for your documents settings and your personal desired effect.)

SadMonkey-Stitch-01

STEP 2

Once you have your vector ready to go, it’s time to get started. (Make sure there are no strokes at all on your vector object. For the start, FILLS ONLY) First thing we need to do, is open the Layer’s Palette. Organizing the vectors in the layers palette will make the following steps MUCH easier. Label your one and only layer so far. I’ve labeled mine “Front Blue Solid” (since this layer will be the front foremost blue solid shape, I kept the naming convention simple) Create a new layer above the solid layer. This layer will be the “stitch” or the stroke in relation to the blue solid. I labeled this layer “Front Blue Stitch.” Copy CMD-C your vector from the solid layer. Paste in front, CMD-F. With the vector still selected, move this vector to the stitch layer.

SadMonkey-Stitch-02

As of this moment your original vector should be on the “solid” layer and a copy on the “stitch” layer. With the vector on the stitch layer still selected, we want to add a stroke with no fill. (If it currently has a fill with no stroke, hit SHIFT-X to toggle the fills) We want the stroke color to be a little brighter and a little lighter than the fill color on the solid vector. For now, the default stroke settings will be fine.

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STEP 3

Next, we need to make a new brush, our “stitch” brush. To help gauge on the approximate size you need the brush to be, zoom into your graphic. With the Elliptical Shape Tool, make a very narrow oval.

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Open the brush palette accessible from the Window Menu. With the newly created oval still selected, click on the little icon on the top right of the brush palette and select New Brush.

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A new window should appear. Select New Pattern Brush.

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The size is completely up to you, I started off with Scale 100% and Spacing 10%. Underneath Colorization, chose the method of “Hue Shift.” This allows us the ability of changing the color of our brush. When finished, click OK. Now you should see the new brush appear at the bottom of your brush menu in the Brush Palette.

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STEP 4

Now, we want to apply the new brush to the outline/no fill vector. To do so, with the vector selected, simply click on the new brush in the brush palette.

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Now, you, like myself, may not be to happy with the size of the brush. To change this, adjust the Weight of the stroke using the Stroke Palette. I changed mine from 1pt to .75pt. Now it’s better, but still not great. We can modify the brush settings by double clicking on the brush preview inside the Brush Palette. This should bring up the Pattern Brush Options dialog box again. Modify the Scale to 80% and the Spacing to 20%.

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Once we’re finished, click OK. A new window should appear asking if you want to “Apply to Strokes”, “Leave Strokes” or “Cancel.” Click “Apply to Strokes.”

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STEP 5

Alright, the size appears to be good, but now it’s time for a little clean up. You’ll notice that at all the “hard” corners/points, the brush isn’t there.

SadMonkey-Stitch-11

Now, this looks bad all zoomed up close, but once you back out to normal view, it may not only be “not bad,” but it may be just right, depending on what results you are wanting. I, personally, am not happy to leave it as is, so I cleaned it up a bit. (This is why it’s good to start off with a “clean” vector. Imagine this happening on a hundred different nodes!) Now why you may try something fancy and come up with a corner for your brush, there is a simpler way, although it may be a bit more time consuming if you have a lot of nodes to clean up.

To make the brush go all the way around, you need to “remove” the hard corner. Using the Pen Tool on your tool bar, you will see a little black arrow on the bottom right corner, click the arrow and hold. A pop-out with three more pen options will appear. These three pens add points/nodes, take away points and allows angle/bezier manipulation. All we need to do is, simply smooth out the hard corner. If the closest points to the one we need to manipulate are a fair distance away, you may need to add a point on each side of the point we will be manipulating. This will prevent the stroke from dramatically changing paths.

SadMonkey-Stitch-12

As you see, the gaps in the brush coverage are now gone. In this screen shot I am in the middle of smoothing out that final point using the bezier (angle adjustment) tool.

STEP 6

Now we need to repeat these steps for our next layers. First, create two new layers in your layers palette. They should both be underneath the two “blue” layers. Label the upper one “White Stitch.” Label the next layer “White Solid.”

SadMonkey-Stitch-13

Now select the vector inside the “Front Blue Stitch” layer. Copy and Paste In Front. Move this copy to the “White Solid” Layer. We are using the vector in the Front Blue Stitch layer for this instead of the solid because of the bezier corrections we applied in the previous step. While this will not save us from all future corrections it will save us a few redundant corrections later on.

STEP 7

With the new copy selected in the “White Solid” layer we want to change the stroke/nofill to fill/nostroke. Make the fill color white. Now we want to “enlarge” this shape. Select a bright red color and apply it to the stroke. (If the stroke came back with the stitch pattern, you will want to return to the default stroke settings or use a round brush. We DO NOT want the stitch pattern for this step.) Increase the stroke width by several points. In the stroke palette, chose to have rounded edges and rounded corners. This will remove any unfavorable miter effects.

SadMonkey-Stitch-14


STEP 8

Once you have the stroke width on the white solid layer to your liking, we are going to want to turn this into a solid shape. Go to your Menu bar and select Object – Flatten Transparency. Make sure “Convert All Strokes to Outlines” is checked. Move the” Raster/Vector Balance” slider all the way over to the right,100. Click OK.

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Your selection should appear similar to what is below.

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Using the Pathfinder palette we want to “Unite” the entire object. We can easily do this by clicking on the Unite Button (the top left box in the pathfinder palette) while holding down the ALT key. This should give you one complete solid shape.

SadMonkey-Stitch-17

STEP 9

Before doing anything else, make sure our new solid inside the “White Solid” layer is in fact, a white fill with no stroke. Copy this object. Paste In Front. Move this new copy to the “White Stitch” layer. Remove the fill, adding a light grey stroke.

SadMonkey-Stitch-18


STEP 10

Apply the Stitch Brush to this vector using the same settings that were used on the final “Blue Stitch” layer.

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Again, you’ll notice the gaps at the hard corners. It’s time to get out the trusty pen tool, and start cleaning them up.

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STEP 11

Back to the layers palette. Create two new layers below the “white” layers. The first is “Red Solid.” The next is “Red Stitch.” Copy the White Solid Layer. Paste in front. Move this copy to the Red Solid layer. Change the fill to a dark red. Move this object down and to the right.

SadMonkey-Stitch-22

STEP 12

Copy the Red Solid Layer. Paste In Front. Move this copy to the Red Stitch Layer. Remove the fill. Add a stroke with a little brighter and lighter color red than the solid layer. Apply the Stitch Brush. Clean up gaps if necessary.

SadMonkey-Stitch-23

STEP 13

Back to the Layers Palette. Under the red layers, create two new (and final) layers. Name the first “Bottom Blue Solid” and the next “Bottom Blue Stitch. Then, select all, CMDA.

SadMonkey-Stitch-24

Next Copy then Paste In Front. Move all new copies to the “Bottom Blue Solid” layer. Once you have moved all new copies to the blue layer, remove all the strokes. Now, Unite using the Pathfinder palette.

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STEP 14

Now we need to make this layer expand. Repeating Steps 7-9, add a stroke, adjust the weight to your liking, flatten transparency, unite, and you have your bottom blue solid layer.

SadMonkey-Stitch-27

STEP 15

Copy the Bottom Blue Solid layer. Paste in front. Move copy to Bottom Blue Stitch Layer. Remove fill, add stroke color and weight identical to the top blue layers. Apply the Stitch Brush, using the same settings as well.

SadMonkey-Stitch-28

Fix the gaps.

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STEP 16

It’s looking pretty good so far isn’t it? Well, we’re not done yet. Now we need to expand the appearance of each Stitch Layer. We will do this one by one. For starters, lock every layer in your layers palette leaving the only editable layer the Bottom Blue Stitch Layer.

SadMonkey-Stitch-30

With the stitch selected, from the menu bar, go to Object – Expand Appearance.

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Continue doing this for each Stitch layer.

STEP 17

Now that every stitch layer is “Expanded” …

SadMonkey-Stitch-32

…we want to start “randomly” deleting ovals. Again, make sure every layer is locked except for the working layer. Using the Direct Selection tool (the white arrow) from the toolbar, begin selecting ovals and deleting them.

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Continue doing this for each stitch layer.

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SadMonkey-Stitch-36By deleting random ovals, it gives the appearance of a “real” embroidered stitch.

SadMonkey-Fake-Embroidery-T


And that’s it. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial. I tried to keep it as rudimentary as possible without overkill. If you get lost, or have a tip on how to make it better, please feel free to add your advice to the comments section. Remember, depending upon your final dimensions, your settings may need to change, too thin of a stroke or stitch pattern and the effect could be lost.

For a larger view of the final design please visit SadMonkey’s Flickr Page.

SadMonkey’s 3D Toy Text Tutorial

This tutorial will show you how to create a 3D text design WITHOUT having to use a 3D program such as Cinema 4D or Blender. All you need is Adobe Illustrator CS2 (or higher) and Adobe PhotoShop CS2 (or higher). You will need a basic to intermediate understanding of each program for this tutorial, but I will try my best to be as thorough as possible.

STEP 1

First, we begin in Illustrator. We will be using Illustrator to create the basic structure of our design using the 3D Extrude and Bevel Feature. Create a new document and set it at 24″wide x 18″tall. Create your type keeping in mind your basic layout and depth order. (What will be in front, middle and back of the design) Final color is not necessary at this step, however you will want to use a lighter color for your elements, stay away from the darks. You will also want to make each basic element a separate color for selection ease later on in this tutorial.

SadMonkey Design 3D Text Tutorial Step 01

STEP 2

Now we will want to implement the 3D Extrude and Bevel Feature. This can be found under Effect-3D-Extrude and Bevel.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 02

There are many different ways that you can be manipulate your designs with this dialog box. We can rotate the image along the x,y, an z axis. We can set a perspective level, extrude depth, bevel options, and shading options. You will want to play around with this dialog box until you achieve the results you are looking for. Using the perspective and extrude depth in tandem can give you quite an extreme sense of depth, which is what I am going for in this tutorial. I have chosen not to use the bevel function. This will make later steps much less complicated. I have increased the blend steps to a higher level for a smoother blend around the shading.SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 03

Continue using the 3D function on each element until you are satisfied with your overall layout. We’ll be making it “pretty” in a few more steps, so don’t worry about that too much right now.

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SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 05

STEP 3

Now that we have a basic layout that we are satisfied with, it’s time to move this thing into Photoshop where we can start to have some fun. Open Photoshop, and create a new document matching the size you set in Illustrator. I prefer to copy and paste each element from Illustrator into my newly created document in Photoshop. Using CS2 and higher will allow you the option of retaining Illustrator editing capabilities by keeping each pasted item as a smart object. This will also allow flexibility in moving and resizing each element to perfection without any loss of quality or clarity.

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STEP 4

The absolute very next step… We need to set up some basic organization in our layer’s palette. For this design, I initially have created 3 folders. Label each folder as to it’s contents. For the DESIGN letters, I have labeled the first folder DESIGN. The second folder MONKEY, and the final folder SAD. You will want to order your folders and elements according to your layout needs. The most front elements at the top of the palette. The most behind elements, at the bottom. Notice each layer is labeled as well. Everytime you create a new layer, make sure to label it immediately. If you find yourself with layer 23 and layer 57, you’re gonna develop quite a headache trying to sort through it all.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 10

STEP 5

Now lets put our attention onto the very most behind layer, the SAD layer. Grab your magic wand tool, “W”, and select the face/frontside of the text. (You should now have marching ants along the perimeter of your text’s face) Without losing this selection, create a new layer, CMD-SHIFT-“N”. Name this layer “SAD Face” or “SAD Front” or some derivative thereof to give you an idea that this is the front side of the SAD element.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 11

With the ants still marching and the empty, newly created layer selected, we are going to fill the selection. To fill, hit SHIFT-DELETE.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 12

STEP 6

Next we will want to work on the sides and back of the text. Create a new layer under SAD Front but above the SAD Smart Object Layer. Name this new layer SAD Back. This will hold the color for the back of the text. CMD Click on the SAD Smart Object Layer Thumbnail in the layers palette. This should give you marching ants around the entire outside perimeter of the SAD element. We want to fill this selection on the SAD Back Layer. Use the same color you used for the front. I know, It now appears to be some funky shaped solid block of color, but it’s about to make sense using the next step.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 13

(Note: This image is after the selection has been made, but before the back fill has been applied)


STEP 7

Now for the shading. Duplicate the SAD Smart Object Layer. Rename the Layer to SAD Shade. Rasterize the layer. Under menu, Layer-Rasterize-Layer. Make sure this shade layer is below the SAD Front layer and above the SAD Back Layer.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 13

With the layer highlighted in the layer’s palette, click CMD-“U” to bring up the Hue/Saturation Dialog box. We are going to want to completely desaturate this layer.

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After this layer has been desaturated, set the layer’s transparency mode to multiply with an opacity level around 60%.

STEP 8

Now it’s time to start working on a little bit of shine. Still working in the SAD folder, highlight the SAD Front layer. Double click the thumbnail to bring up the layer effects palette.

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We will begin by working with the stroke. Click stroke bringing up that dialog box. We want the position of the stroke to be on the inside, and the fill type to be gradient.

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We want to give the stroke a shiny metallic feel. This can best be achieved by placing a hard stagger of lights and darks near both ends and a few softer steps in the middle, like so.

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And while we have the layers effect dialog box open, we’re going to add a Gradient Overlay. Set the Gradient Overlay to Screen Blend Mode and lower the opacity to around 35% at a 90 degree angle.

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(Note: You will see that Satin has also been checked. Originally I had intended on using this to aid in the overall design, however a few steps down, I decided to remove this effect. So instead of having you add Satin, then remove it later on, you should just disregard it for now. Feel free to experiment. Sometimes it adds a nice touch, but for this design, it was a big NO) If you’re interested, below is the setting I used for the satin effect.

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You should now have something along the lines of this.

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STEP 9

Now you are going to need to repeat Step 5 – Step 8 for the MONKEY layer.

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STEP 10

Before moving any further and repeating these steps on the DESIGN Letters, lets set up a nice background to begin anchoring these elements just a bit. For this background, I simply created a new layer, moved it to the bottom, filled that layer with a solid blue and played with the burn, dodge, and sponge tool until I had something I was pleased with.

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I did this step now because I knew I wasn’t going to be happy with the colors I had originally planned on using for the DESIGN Letters. Getting the background down now, allows us to see the relationship between the background and the current letters in use. It also lets us move forward with a little more color confidence. Since I wasn’t confident in my previous choice, I double clicked each individual DESIGN smart object thumbnail. This allowed me to change the color of each DESIGN letter in Illustrator without causing any more unnecessary modifications and steps. I changed each letter to white.

STEP 11

Now that you see some of the steps it’s going to take to get our DESIGN letters prepped it would serve us well to add a few more folders to our layers palette. Inside the DESIGN folder we are going to want to add 6 new sub folders. We want a “D” folder, a “E” folder and so on… We will want to place each layer in it’s folder accordingly.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 23

STEP 12

Now we are going to want to apply steps 5 – 8 to each individual letter. Adding a Front layer, and a back layer. You may not need a shade layer. I was happy with the white shades that illustrator produced, so I duplicated the smart object layer, rasterized it, and left it as is. That serves as my back layer. (You may need to go in with your brush tool to smooth out any unsatisfactory banding that illustrator may have produced)

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If you need it, here are the settings I used for the layer effects for the DESIGN letters. They are pretty much the same that were used for the SAD and MONKEY layers, only the colors have changed.

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Your result should be similar to this.

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STEP 13

Okay, we’re getting close now. Just a few more things to go. Now we’re going to make the faces/fronts all shimmery. Let’s go back to the SAD folder. Highlight the SAD Face layer. Duplicate the layer. Rename the duplicated layer to SAD Front SHINE. Remove the layer effects completely from the SAD Front SHINE layer. Move this layer underneath the SAD Front layer. With the SAD Front SHINE layer highlighted we are going to run the plastic wrap filter on it. Filter-Artistic-Plastic Wrap. Depending on your colors, font choice and other variables, your settings will differ. Find what looks best to you. It may take a little practice to get it just right.

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Apply the filter to the SAD Front SHINE layer. Highlight the SAD Front layer and lower the fill percentage to 0% (Note: not the opacity, but the fill. The opacity affects the whole layer, the fill affects the layer contents but not the layer effects.) Now, the stroke and gradient overlay are still visible on top of the newly plastic wrapped SAD Front SHINE layer.

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STEP 14

Repeat Step 13 on the MONKEY layer.

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(Note: the settings may need to differ a bit from the SAD layer. Again, it all depends on your preference and variables in play.)

STEP 15

Okay, it’s time to add some shadows to anchor all the elements down so they’re not floating away. The first shadow I went after was underneath the MONKEY layer. It was the simplest and gave me a good reference to follow for the DESIGN letters. I simply created a new layer underneath the MONKEY Back Layer. You can name it MONKEY Shadow. I chose a dark grey color, a large round brush with 0 hardness and simply brushed in a base. Set the layers blend mode to multiply and fiddle with the opacity level of that layer until you find a good result.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 32

STEP 16

That was easy, now we gotta add shadows to the DESIGN letters, still simple, but a little more involved… just a bit. I will use the letter G for this process, but it will need to be repeated for each letter. First go the the G folder. Create a new layer and name it G Base Shadow. CMD Click the G Base thumbnail. This should give you marching ants around the entire G. We want to fill this selection with the same color we used to brush in the previous shadow in the MONKEY folder.

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Now we want to deselect. Move this layer below the G Base Layer. Nudge the shadow down and to the left. (Be sure to remember exactly how many pixels you go down and how many pixels you go left, you’re going to repeat this process exactly for the other layers.) Apply the Gausian Blur Filter to this shadow.

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Set the layer to Multiply and the same opacity percentage as the previous shadow layer in the MONKEY folder. It needs to stay consistent. Repeat this step to the remaining DESIGN letters.

You may need to erase a little of the shadow from some of the letters that are “standing up” and not “laying down.” To do this, select your eraser tool with a fairly large size and 0% hardness. Gently, erase away the parts of the shadows where the letter is not supposed to meet the ground.

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Now you should have something that looks a bit like this.

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STEP 17

Almost there, but we need to finish the shadows off. This will take a little practice, but shouldn’t be too difficult. Again, I will use G as the example. So, back to the G folder. Duplicate the G base layer. CMD click the thumbnail (again, marching ants) and fill this layer with your shadow color. Deselect. Grab your Dark Arrow from your tool box,”V”, make sure your “Show Transform Controls” check box is checked in your toolbar. This should give you a transform/bounding box which allows you to resize and transform your selection. Holding down the CMD key, you can select the corner points and manually distort and move each corner one at a time. We are going to want to “distort” this layer to “lay flat” on the ground. You need to pay attention to your angles to keep everything uniform.

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Once you have the shape the way you like. We will need to blur the shape. Use the same Gaussian Blur settings used on the previous shadows.

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Again, apply the same layer settings, multiply, opacity settings, etc… You may find the shadow still a tad too harsh. I good way to soften the long shadows is either to use a clipping mask or the eraser tool. Both give the same effect, the clipping mask is re-editable. Either one you chose, the process is the same, select a large size brush with zero hardness and a lower opacity setting. Gently brush across the top end of the shadow gradually and slightly lightening the shadow with each pass.

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Repeat the shadow steps accordingly to each remaining letter, and we’re pretty much done.

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STEP 18

Now you can call this job done, but I never call my jobs “well” done before I apply a few sharpening and color corrections, regardless of the job.

First thing, I merge all layers into one layer by hitting ALT-CMD-SHIFT-“E” . I then duplicate this layer, run a high pass filter at 1.6. Set that layer to a transparency mode hardlight. I duplicate this layer once more. Then I go back to the ALL MERGED layer, and duplicate once more. I run the high pass filter on this one at a higher setting, generally between 5.0 and 8.3. I set this layer to softlight with an opacity level between 65% and 80%

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Next, I generally use the Selective Color Adjustment Layer Option. I play a bit with the settings to bolster my color just the way I like them.

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And now… I… WE ARE DONE!

SMD-3D-TUTORIAL
I tried to make this tutorial pretty detailed so even the most novice could follow. If you feel any points would benefit from some extra clarification, please feel free to let me know.

ENJOY! A full-size version of the finished design can be found at SadMonkey’s Flickr Page.

SadMonkey’s Photo Stencil Tutorial

The following tutorial will cover in brief detail, how to create a 2 layer “photo” stencil in Adobe Photoshop.  The tutorial is meant for at least intermediate knowledge of Photoshop.

Step 1

First, you will want to completely desaturate your image giving you a monochromatic image. Next, for a two color stencil, you will want to create two separate layers. The top layer will be the darks, the second layer will be for the midtones. You can easily do this by putting your magic wand tool to use on the grey-scale image. Select the darks. With an active selection, activate your dark layer in the layers palette, and fill with black. Repeat the step for the midtones.

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Step 2

Now you will want to clean that dirty selection up. Using the pen tool outline your dark colors. The pen tool gives you sharp, clean edges and leaves you with the flexibility of adding your personal style. The amount of detail is up to personal preference. To may make it easier, when outlining, lower your opacity level so you will be able to see exactly what your doing and where you are going around the image.

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Step 3

You will want to continue using your pen tool and outline your midtones. Be nice to yourself, change the color to something different from what you used for the darks. It also helps if your midtone pen/shape layers begin underneath the dark pen/shape layers. (It’s not necessary, but it helps) For the final effect later on, you want to be sure that you create your midtones to where there is not a dark layer that will not have a midtone layer underneath it.

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Step 4

Okay, before we do anything else, hide the magic wand filled layers, only leaving your pen selections and solid white background. Go back, and make sure all your opacity levels are now back to 100%. Rasterize all layers. Making sure all your dark layers are on top and in order, merge all the dark layers onto one layer. Next, merge all your midtone layers into one layer. You should now have, one dark layer, one midtone layer, and your white background. If you are happy with the results, you can now delete your magic wand layers.

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Step 5

Now you are going to want to go image hunting. Feel free to use whatever you wish. I like to use images that tend to me synonymous with my characters. For example, with this James Bond image, I am using a hand gun, a wrist watch, a bow tie and a martini glass. Once you’ve found your images, open them in Photoshop, isolate them, and bring them into your stencil document. Make several copies of each item varying the size and orientation of each image to help randomize our coming effect.

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Step 6

Next, make a mess with the images. Go crazy making copies all over until the entire canvas is covered. Make sure the ENTIRE canvas is covered and there are no peepholes showing through. Once the entire canvas is covered, merge all those layers into one. (Be mindful not to merge your background, or stencil layers… only the new images you brought in.)

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Step 7

This will be what we use for our dark layer. In your layers palette, with this new layer selected, CMD-click on your dark stencil layer. This should make a selection of the entire dark layer. (Little ants should be marching on your screen) With the ants marching, and the new layer still selected, click on the quick mask button on the bottom of your layers palette. (It’s the grey little square with the white circle in the middle of it)

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Step 8

You will want to repeat steps 5, 6, and 7 for what will become your midtone layer. (Be sure to pick new images and maybe change up your pattern for this to be layer)

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Step 9

Now you should have two new layers. Your new collage dark layer and your new collage midtone layer. Feel free to hide your pen/stencil layers now. (You may not want to delete them. Beginning off, you may want to reuse them for recreating your clipping mask if you are unhappy with your results in the following steps)

We are now going to want to make our dark layer “dark” and our midtone layer ” a midtone.” Beginning with the dark layer, click on the preview thumbnail in your layers palette. Make sure your thumbnail is selected and not the clipping mask. Bring up your hue/saturation dialog box by hitting the CMD key and the “U” key. Check the box marked colorize. (This will give the entire layer a nice and clean mono-chormatic touch) Then move the sliders around making this layer all dark and pretty. sadmonkey-bond-tut-09

Step 10

Repeat the step for your midtones on the collage midtone layer.

Step 11

Now your dark layer and your midtone layer are ready for some fun. It’s time to break out the brushes. If you don’t already have a sweet collection of spray paint, watercolor, and splatter brushes the world wide web is full of them. For starters, try visiting Brusheezy.com or QBrushes.com and see what you can find.

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Step 12

Okay, we’re just about finished. Only a few final touches and we can call this baby done. Once you have made a mess that you’re happy with, we’re gonna want to merge all the visible layers. You can flatten the entire image, but I prefer to merge all visible layers by pressing Alt-Cmd-Shift-“E” This still allows you the ability to go back and edit your file without having to hit the undo button a gazillion times or having to save and open a new document.

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Step 13

Now, we’re gonna duplicate this new layer by pressing Cmd-“J” and run the high pass filter on it. With the new layer on top in the layers palette and selected, go to Filter-Other-HighPass. For this one, I ran the filter at 5.3. Then I changed the layers transparency mode to soft light and changed the opacity level to 85%.

Next I went back to the all merged layer, duplicated it again, ran the high pass filter on it again, but instead of using 5.3 as the setting, I changed it to 1.6. Then I set this layers transparency mode to hard light at 100% opacity. I duplicated this layer 2 more times.  This gives us a base layer of the all merged image, with one 5.3 highpass layer set to soft light 85% with three more high pass layers each set at 1.6, hardlight, 100% opacity.

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Step 14

For our final touch, under your adjustment layers, we will want to use the selective color option. This will allow us to fine tune our colors, darken the darks, lighten the lights, adjust the hues and saturations, so on and so forth…

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And that’s pretty much it. Depending on your file size, colors, image, layout and all your other variables… EXPERIMENT. There are no “one size fits all” setting or settings. Keep modifying your document until you get the results dialed in just the way you like.

SadMonkey Design-bond

Well there you have it. Let me know what you guys think.

SadMonkey Skulls and Flowers

Skulls and Flowers now made available for free by SadMonkey Design

SadMonkey-Skulls

The .eps file can be downloaded over at www.freevectorgraphics.net. Feel free to use any part of the vector package for anything you wish, commercial or personal.

Enjoy!

SadMonkey Flags and Banners

It’s been quite some time since SadMonkey’s last free vector release. So, without any further adieu, I give you, SadMonkey Flags and Banners.

SadMonkey-Flags-preview

“SadMonkey Flags and Banners” have been made available by SadMonkey Design. They may be used for personal and/or commercial work with no restrictions. The .eps file can be downloaded at vecteezy.com.

Water Color Textures II

WaterColor-Textures-II

23 High-Res Water Color Backgrounds are now available for free personal and commercial use. Each individual file can be found and downloaded for free at SadMonkey’s DeviantArt Page. Please feel free to use, redistribute or modify the files any way you see fit.

WaterColor-Samples

Enjoy!