5 July 2010

Speedy shatter effects

Give your photos an edgy, shattered makeover in under an hour, using layer duplication.

This technique, which its creator Eric Sin calls the ‘layer duplication effect’, is perfect for creatives who need to spice up a photo in a hurry.

Using only two layers as a base and building up texture through simple displacement, the effect allows you to create a complex, dynamic pattern of effects, adding the impression of movement and activity to the most static of images.

Due to this technique’s simplicity and speed, it’s easy for you to add your own twists, or to combine it with other tricks for stunning effects to create an unusual, highly individual look.

Even when used on its own, the layer duplication effect can be applied to anything from landscapes to food portraits, or even images of people.

In this quick and easy tutorial, Photoshop expert Eric Sin guides you step-by-step through the process of creating the shattered effect.

Step 1
For this tutorial I’m using a photo of a red Lamborghini supplied by my friend and photographer Jonathan Wang (his work can be viewed at www.flickr.com/photos/jrwphotos ); anything with a plain background and lots of space around the subject will work well. In Photoshop, open the file lamborghini.jpg from the cover CD.

Step 2
With the background layer of the photo selected, select Layers > Duplicate Layer and call the new layer ‘Background 2’. This places a copy of the original photo on top of the base image. This will be the layer where we will create our effect – this leaves the original untouched, should we need to backtrack. Keeping the base image intact also comes in handy for the masking effect, which we’ll get to later.

Step 3
Using the Polygonal Lasso tool, make a rough angular selection similar to the one in my image (to get to the Polygonal Lasso tool, click the little triangle in the corner of the Lasso tool button). Make sure you’re working on the ‘Background 2’ layer.

Step 4
With the selection still active, use the Move Tool (V). Move the selection on the duplicated layer, displacing it from where it originally was.

Step 5
Repeat Steps 03 and 04 across the image several times – aim for around 20 times. Do most of the displacing on sections along the left-hand side of the car, to indicate movement. Also, displace little dashes across the car’s boot, as though it’s leaving a slipstream or a trail.

Step 6
Now it’s time to add some particle effects on the image, to reinforce the shattering effect. Select the Brush tool (B) and choose a hard, nine-pixel brush. Access the Brush settings on the top-right corner of the application. Make sure Shape Dynamics is checked, and set the Spacing to 80%. Be sure to check Scattering as well, and then select Scatter with the Both Axes box checked and set to 100%. Select a dark red colour from your image using the eyedropper tool and using the brush create a few particles across the image.

Step 7

To strengthen the shattered effect, repeat Steps 03-05 ten further times. You can also use the Pen tool (P), to create more organic selections, then right-click (Ctrl + click) the shape and select Convert into a Selection before displacing on the ‘Background 2’ layer from its original position on the base background layer.

Step 8
Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool, create a triangular shape.

Step 9
Cut the piece out (Cmd/Ctrl + X) and create a new layer. Paste your selection onto a new layer.

Click here to find out more!

Step 10
Use the Gaussian Blur filter (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur), setting the radius to five pixels. Repeat this several times with different selections from the layer below, to give the illusion of depth – objects that are blurred often seem closer to the viewer.

Step 11
Repeat Steps 08-10 about ten more times. To add depth to the image, try a variety of shapes – here I’ve used rectangular shapes as well. Be creative in your selections using the Polygonal Lasso

Step 12
Using the Gradient tool at 10% opacity, and with the blending mode set to Lighten, create a small lighting effect, to give more depth to the piece. Though this isn’t strictly necessary to the effect, it will enhance the atmosphere and make the image more dynamic.

Step 13
Your image is near completion. For the next step, open up the supplied file suppliedrender.png from the CD, and move the render to the piece. This can be done by selecting the entire canvas, copying it, and pasting the render onto a new layer on the current piece.

Step 14
Make the layer with the render on it invisible (click the eye symbol next to the render’s layer); you’ll still be able to see the outlines of the render. Return to the ‘Background 2’ layer, and use the selection to create another displacement. This should add more curves and variety within your shapes, which, up to this point, have been mostly very angular shapes.

Step 15
With all the elements in place, use the Burn tool to darken shadows around the displaced shapes. You might want to darken the parts underneath the render displacements more than the others; play around and see what works. The image won’t need very much in the way of post effects, although you can continue adding particles, burn effects and displacement sections until you’re happy with the result.

Eric Sin

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