The Real Assignment: Day for Night Advanced - Adobe Photoshop

Say that an evening scene has been added to the movie you are currently working on. Rather than take the entire film crew and actors back to the same location (which happens to be out of the country) and shoot the shot, they have decided to shoot the actors against a greenscreen. All you have to do is use one of the plates and change it from day to night. This looks deceptively simple—just darken it and add some lights, right? Not really

You don’t want the landscape to lose too much detail and have everything look completely black. You want the lights to match up with the image’s general features, but don’t have the time nor need to mark every window and street lamp from the day picture. (There may be times where that level of detail is necessary, but not in this case.) Using the technique you used in the preceding section wouldn’t pass muster.You need a more detailed approach.

  1. Take a look at Ensenada.tga, shown in Figure and downloadable from this book’s companion web site.
  2. You take this daytime image to night.

  3. Go to the menu bar and choose Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves.
  4. This starts you off adding a Curves Adjustment layer. You want to darken the image and bring the range of brightness to a narrower range.

    You could also go to the bottom of the Layers palette and click the Adjustment Layer button to add a Curves Adjustment layer

  5. Pull both end vertices down and drag the middle of the curve down a bit to give it a deeper darkness. Make your curve similar to mine, shown in Figure .

    Don’t worry about exact values, since this is really just done by eyeing it. The good thing about adjustment layers is that you can come back later to adjust.

  6. When you have a nice level of darkness, click OK.
  7. The waterside paths and the park underneath the huge flag would probably be pretty well lit during the night, so I exclude those areas from the darkening. You could start painting with a black brush on the Curve layer right now, but it can be a bit difficult to see if the difference is subtle. Since I like to see my mask better, I went for a different tack.

  8. Make sure that your Curve layer is selected and click your channel layers tab.
  9. Click the Curves Mask layer and start painting the areas with your black brush.

The masked-out areas show as red. You can see them in Figure.

I have painted in the areas that I think would be brighter and have loosely blotted back in any bright areas that would be too bright without the curve adjustment

Check out your final product in Figure . Keep going in the following section.

You can see the results of your mask in the color composite image.

Turning Dark Into Night

Now you have something that looks darker, but obviously this won’t work for a night image. You can’t have nighttime in a city like this, without all its accompanying lights. You want the lights to follow the general layout of the buildings and roads, but don’t want to sit and paint in each window or streetlamp. I use my lazy rule and find another way.

  1. Duplicate the background layer by clicking it and pressing Command+J (Win: Ctrl+J).
  2. Click and drag the duplicate layer so that it is on the top of the layer stack.
  3. Work on a duplicate of the original image for the next step.

  4. Go to Filter > Stylize > Find Edges in the menu bar, shown in Figure
  5. The Find Edges filter

    Figure shows the results of applying the filter.

    The result of the Find Edges filter.

  6. Take your resultant image and invert it by pressing Command+I (Win: Ctrl+I).
  7. These results are in Figure. Now you have a neonfilled city like Hong Kong and need to make it more like the suburban sprawl of Ensenada. Run the Pointillize filter on it!

    The same image inverted.

  8. Go to Filter > Pixelate > Pointillize, the effects of which are in Figure.
  9. This filter gives you the star-like dots of lights for your landscape

  10. Enter your desired value in the dialog box that Figure shows.
  11. I used a value of 5 based on what I thought the size of lights would be in the middle distance

    I have used 5, but you can enter whatever you wish. If you
    really want to get fancy, run this on three different layers and give three different sizes to blend together for a less uniform look.

    This gives you a colorful, messy, dotty image.

    This is starting to look more like Candy Land instead of night lights.

  12. Duplicate this layer by pressing Command+J (Win: Ctrl+J).
  13. Change the duplicate layer’s Layer Blend mode to Overlay, as in Figure.
  14. Make sure that it’s the topmost layer that is changed to Overlay

  15. Duplicate the Overlay layer several times by pressing Command+J (Win: Ctrl+J) until the black areas lose the noisy look.
  16. Merge these stylized copies, including the original duplicate of the background image (but not the background layer).
  17. I choose the first option here (see Figure), but you have several ways to do this:

    When you have a moderately sparse lightscape, merge the duplicate layers. Make sure the Normal duplicate is included with the Overlay duplicates.

    • Link all of them and choose Merge Linked in the Layers palette submenu.
    • Hide the other layers and choose Merge Visible.
    • Merge down each Overlay layer to the Normal layer.
  18. Before you go any further, rename the layer to Night Light like you see in Figure.
  19. Rename your created layer for better reference.

    You can either right-click the image and choose Layer Properties, or click the name in the Layers palette and write in the new name.

  20. Set your Layer Opacity for Night Light to 70 percent and switch your Layer Blend mode to Overlay.

Now your picture is starting to look a bit more like night—but you’re not done yet!

Fine-Tuning the Dark

Some of the obvious things that need to go are the bright dots outlining the flag and the same effect on the docked boats. You can see this in Figure.

The lights are starting to come on, but the Candy Land effect is still there because the Night Light layer hasn’t been cleaned up.

I just took a large, soft, black brush and painted on the Night Light layer, getting rid of the offending dots. You can see the effect in Figure . Things are starting to come together, but you need some closer lights that are a bit brighter. I started marking in the dock lights.

Continue painting as you feel is necessary. I think the squiggle on the flag still needs to go and I want a few places to be a bit spottier.

  1. Paint with yellow onto the same Night Light layer to get some light effects.
  2. Roughing in some of the lights.

  3. Make some off-white and yellow squiggles on a separate layer, then run a Motion blur perpendicular to the drawn lines to get started.
  4. Some directional Motion blur is applied to soften the airbrush strokes and give a bit of a watery effect.

  5. Paint and erase until you get a look that you like. Figure shows the work in progress.
  6. This is the work in progress as I paint and erase over it.

  7. Brighten up the sky a bit.
  8. With so many lights in the city,there would be a glow on the horizon.

  9. Press Shift+L until the Magnetic lasso cycles up.
  10. Define the horizon and select the sky, ignoring the flag
  11. With the selection active, add a Curves Adjustment layer by choosing Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves.
  12. Click and drag the curve to adjust your image, as in Figure.
  13. To keep the sky from looking too graphic and to create the glow effect, add more points to the curve and exaggerate the end levels.

  14. Adjust your curve and click OK.
  15. Make sure you are on your Curve mask and apply a Gaussian Blur to the mask so the horizon is a bit blurred.
  16. Adding the blur to the mask before painting out the flag gives a more natural integration.

  17. Paint out the flag in the Curve mask so that the Curves Adjustment isn’t affecting it.

You’re almost done. Keep going with this image in the next section.

Lens Flaring Up

You need a few lens flare lights up near the front. Yeah, you heard me right. You break the rule of “No lens flares and no spaceships,” which is advice given to students fresh out of school on making their demo reels. Here you use the lens flare options for the streetlights closest to you. (There will be no spaceships, however.)

  1. Create a new layer and use a yellow airbrush in Color Dodge mode to dab on some lights.
  2. This creates some light locations.

  3. Create a copy of the entire merged image:
    • Press Command+A (Win: Ctrl+A) to Select All.
    • Press Command+Shift+C (Win: Ctrl+Shift+C) to copythe image as it is.
    • Press Command+V (Win: Ctrl+V) to paste into a new layer.
  4. Now use the Lens Flare filters.

  5. Use the Marquee tool to select a light to augment.
  6. Go to Filter > Render > Lens Flare, as shown in Figure.
  7. Use the Lens Flare filter to paint glowing lights.

  8. Choose the type of lens flare you like and use the interactive preview to place it exactly where you want it.

Figure shows this being done.

You need to do this individually to each light. If you don’t give a selection, one huge flare is created—the kind that spaceships fly out of.

Take a look at the original image (in Figure) and compare it to your finished image(in Figure).

Your before image.

Your after image. Not too shabby!


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