Slow Motion Bullet with Adobe Photoshop Part 1

  • Author: Giallo - Gianluca Giacoppo
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  • This tutorial is in written and video format together. I'm going to show you how to design this really cool slow motion effect, using Adobe Photoshop CS5 , but We're going to use any particular CS5 feature, so for this tutorial also Photoshop CS3 or CS4 are perfect.

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    Hello, in this tutorial I'm going to show you how to design this really cool slow motion effect, using Adobe Photoshop CS5. We're going to use any particular CS5 feature, so for this tutorial also Photoshop CS3 or CS4 are perfect.

    Before starting, be sure to know how to use the basic Photoshop Tools: Brush, Eraser, Pen, Smudge, Burn, Dodge, the basic filters, Layer and Clipping Masks.

    You need to have a graphic tablet, if you're going to work on a project like this: working with a mouse will take the whole process twice slower and obviously lower in quality. If you don't have a graphic tablet, and intend to learn how to Photoshop images, I strongly suggest you to buy a cheap one, for 100$, wich works perfectly, such as a Wacom Bamboo. For this tutorial obviously, you can also use a mouse, but don't dishearten if the result is not as perfect as you imagined, it's probably not your fault.

    In general, I suggest you to read and watch this Tutorial with the purpose of understanding new tricks, new techniques, and how to engage a very long project with the correct criteria, instead of just reading and replicating the effects. Use, of course, all the time you need to get experience with new techniques you'll meet during the guide, but don't waste time with the ones you already know.

    In this Tutorial I'll often use the Ctrl, Alt and Shift keys. For "soft" I'll mean hardness to 0%, for "hard" to 100%.
    The Ctrl corresponds to Cmd on Macintosh.

    Rules for a faster work

    Working with Photoshop during this years, I've developed my own style of working. It's not supposed to be the absolute perfect way of working, or the one wich perfectly fits for you, but for sure is the one wich lets you work with the best balance between speed / document's size / editability. Here are my personal commandments, rules that let me work really fast, letting me experiment a lot:

    1a 1b

    Step 1

    Let's start with the first basic photo: the bomb with the defusable clock.

    Download the photo here, wich is kindly offered by Michael at NootropicDesign.
    It's a bit damaged, probably because it was previously edited using the Magic Wand tool, that's why we'll use the Pen Tool to select the overall object and clean all these edges.

    A special trick about the size of the starting photo: we can enlarge it, work, and only at the end reduce it to an appropriate size, to let you work deeper in detail and create a better final result. Enlarging images before masking is a very nice trick, I use Image Enlarger Photoshop Actions to do that.

    Start using the Pen Tool (P) to select all the wires, the shape of the electronic display, the dynamite and isolate everything using a Layer Mask.

    Step 2

    To work faster with Paths, while grabbing the Pen Tool, press the Ctrl button to activate the Direct Selection Tool (A), wich can directly select the control points of the Path (image below).

    In the first gif is illustrated how to select from multiple Paths. Use the same technique to select the whole bomb and the wires:

    1. Create Paths, using the Pen Tool (P)
    2. Select all the Paths using the Path Selection Tool (A) and hold Shift to select multiple Paths - Be sure all the Paths are in "Add to Shape Area" mode
    3. Right Click > Make Selection > click OK, select the Layer with the Bomb, and click on the Layer Mask icon, to automatically apply the Selection as a Layer Mask.
    Import this photo of defusable clock (last image)

    Step 3

    Always using the Pen Tool (P) select this Digital Display of the defusable clock, Mask it using a Layer Mask, and convert it into a Smart Object (right click on the Layer's thumb).

    Finally rasterize the Layer and Transform it to match the scale of the original photo. I'm using the Ctrl button when transforming, to Skew and Perspective the Layer: combine Ctrl, Shift while Transforming, to transform in perspective and skew a Layer.

    We're doing this to clean the image, because the original bomb had a red light glow, wich actually could make our work really hard. It's always better to work with the cleanest resource possible, the final result will be highly influenced by this factor. So I split the display from the dynamite also because I will need them for sure.

    Step 4

    Start Cleaning the wires using the Smudge Tool(R), locking the transparent Pixels: this way we remove noise and jpeg arctifacts from the wires, because actually the errors are pretty much visible.

    In these two animations you can see the use of the Smudge Tool with a strenght of 35%-40%.

    Step 5

    Select a portion of dynamite using the Marquee Tool (M), then hit Ctrl+J to copy and paste this section, then flip it horizontally. Start to use a soft Eraser (E) to blend it better with the dynamite behind.

    Be sure to work on a New Layer, combine the Stamp Tool(S) and the Healing Brush Tool (J), set to Content-Aware, to clone and reproduce parts of missing textures, as showed in the animation below. Be sure the setting wich is called "Sample" is set to "All Layers", so you can campionate directly from any Layer (and not only on the one you're working on, since it's empty.

    Use parts of textures and Layer Masks to cover the cable. You can see what we did now, in the Before/After. Jum to step 8 to see another fast way to replace textures.

    Step 6

    Let's select some parts we'll need later. With the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M), select a portion of the red button. We'll need these buttons later, as well as many other elements wich actually are on the clock. Copy the buttons on a New Layer, then Convert them to Smart Object. In this case adjust also the perspective using the Free Transform Tool Ctrl+(T).

    Finally desaturate the area (look at the white arrow in the image below), using the Sponge Tool (O) in Desaturate Mode.

    Step 7

    Now Crop the Image, using the "Hide" function if necessary, to increase the Canvas Size and rotate the whole bomb.
    Then Copy the Bomb Layer wich is behind, and Transform (Ctrl+T) to make it shorter. In the next step we're going to mask the defusable clock and the wires, Designing the dynamite on a separate Layer.

    Step 8

    In this step we mask the dynamite, using basic duplicate techniques, to obtain a clean dynamite.

    Step 9

    Now the defusable clock and the dynamite are on separated Layers: we've to select the wires from the original bomb, because at step 8 we stretched the dynamite.

    Using the Marquee Tool (M) select the wires and cut them away from the rest of the bomb. We don't need to select them again carefully, they're already masked, just isolate them from the dynamite. With the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) make a selection, to Cut and Paste in Place use Ctrl+Shift+(J).

    Step 10

    Place this photo of motherboard and using the Pen Tool (P) isolate it from the background. In this step think about the dynamics of the bullet, his direction, how pieces will crash and where they'll go after the impact.

    In general, this is probably the most important step in a photomanipulation: think about how to move the "big pieces" in the composition, how to elaborate the whole workflow and what to do next. Don't be scared to experiment, never: move always pieces around, even the ones you thought were perfect.

    Now import this texture of plastic rubber. We are going to design the whole plastic box containing wires and circuits, and then we're gonna make it explodes into pieces.

    Use the Free Transform Tool and transform the textures to design the Box: help yourself pressing Ctrl (or Cmd) and/or Shift to completely transform the Layer applying perspective transformations. Use the Hue-Saturation (Ctrl+U, CMd+U on Mac) to darken or lighten up the various parts.

    Step 11

    In this step you're going to learn how to make a 3D realistic thickness, starting from scratch.

    Select the defusable clock layer by Ctrl+Click on the Layer's thumbnail, then Create a New Layer and Fill it whit any color. Then holding Alt+Down Arrow Key nudge this Layer and it will be copied as many times as you click the Arrow key (it works with any direction).

    Merge all the Layers created, but leave out the copy wich stays on top in the Layers palette: now Dodge and Burn (O) and use Hue/Saturation to modify the brightness in specific areas of the thickness just created.

    We've created a 3d effect from this Layer, and we'll use this method from now on.

    Step 12

    Start selecting some objects with the Pen Tool (P), then design the thickness effect with the technique showed previously. Select some electronic chips and buttons and store them in a corner of your document.

    I always find very useful to select everything I think I'll need later, and pick up objects whenever I want.

    Step 13

    Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) select half of the defusable clock and the display, then hit Ctrl+Shift+(J) to cut and paste in place.
    Once you've cutted a piece hit Ctrl+click on the Layer's Thumbnail, then Ctrl+Shift+(I) to Invert the selection and finally Ctrl+(J) to duplicate the other piece.

    This way the two pieces will be perfectly matching, lying on two separate Layers. Move around the objects and pieces as they're flying away, hit by the bullet.

    Step 14

    Use the Warp Tool to deform the pieces we've just created: experiment a lot during this step, to find the objects' best shape wich fits in the composition. As you can see here, I'm not using the Layers Palette to select Layers, I directly select them from the stage.

    Copy the light grey rubber texture and Transform it to match the perspective of the box. As we did before with the other parts, design the thickness (step 8). Working with Hue/Saturation and the Dodge and Burn Tool (O), light up the top side and burn more the back (last image).

    Step 15

    Follow the video and build the box. We're transforming pieces and creating thickness. Use the Warp Tool to deform parts, I rapidly Merge Layers on the run via Ctrl+(E) and select multiple Layers by holding the Shift key.
    Use the Smudge Tool (R) to move pixels and blend parts each other

    Step 16

    Hide the red button from this warped defusable clock using the Pen Tool (P): make a selection and apply a Layer Mask. Then with the Smudge Tool (R) clean edges. Finally place the red button saved at step 6.

    We've now a clean button flying-off the base, leaving a hole and space for some wires and electric shoks coming out!

    Step 17

    Move the motherboard Layers inside, search for their best position.
    Use the
    Smudge Tool (R), the Brush Tool (B) and slightly the Stamp Tool, to repaint the missing parts. Now we're going to delete many objects from the original base, like this chip in the animation.

    Step 18

    Use the same techniques of the previous step, to mask more objects and chips. Using the Pen Tool (P) select the shape of a chip and mask it, creating an hole. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to select an area of the defusable clock, then Apply a Layer Mask-

    Switching between white/black color (X), use a Soft Brush (B) with opacity 60% and paint on the Layer Mask and design some grunge effects: this part is completely destroyed by the bullet it should look like being shatterd by the impact. By the way I'm going to reduce this effect later, but look how I made these effects in the video, they're very useful in many situations. Filters applyied on Layer Masks create incredible effects.

    Step 19

    Move the object and the Layers created until now, achieving the best position wich matches the bullet's direction.
    Using the Pen Tool select and Copy the chip. Warp Ctrl+(T) a bit the element to simulate deformation, and do the same with other elements replacing missing parts.

    Step 20

    Import this photo of digital display and using the Pen Tool (P), select parts of numbers and duplicate them on New Layers, wich later we'll use to compose the 00:01.

    To work with Paths is similar to work with Layers, you can transform them with Ctrl+(T), and apply perspective and skew deformations to match the reference.

    Do not pay attention to the greensih dotted effect behind numbers, I'll remove it later, that was a part of experimenting (I've made it with an Halftone Pattern Filter applied to a grey Layer and set to Overlay above the Numbers).

    Design all the components for the numbers, Create a New Layer with Ctrl+Shift+(N) and Fill it with a dark grey. Finally Fill all the Layers of the numbers with any color (I used red).

    Step 21

    Apply the Layer Fx showed in these images below, to the numbers' Layers, then when you're finished, select them all, right click on the Layers palette and Convert into Smart Object. Design also a fading "2" number, set its Opacity to 30%.

    Also move and transform the plastic piece in the top part of the defusable clock, near the red button.

    Step 22

    Let's create some debris effects and deformations. Follow this detailed video to achieve realistic effects.

    Step 23

    Again with the same techinques as before, create some debris effects and deformations. Working on the motherboard Layer, select parts and make them look in 3D.

    Try to imagine how objects could fly away in reality: experiment and think before moving, keep your eyes closed and imagine the final effect. This is a general nice attitude before starting to design. In the white rectangle you can see clearly what we made in the last few steps.

    Create the 3D effect also for the display with numbers: design a thickness and then set the base of the LCD display to 90% Opacity.

    Step 24

    Import this photo of wires and use the Pen Tool (P) to select them. Extract this cable wire, place it below the box and the motherboards Layers. While moving Layers up and and down in the Layers Palette, you'll probably get confused by the amount of Layers we already have.

    But don't be worried: get accustomed in selecting Layers directly from the stage, and you won't need to know where they're in the Layers Palette. Working this way you'll avoid to maniacally order and collect Layers in Group, thing that you would have done, if working the traditional way. In the video below we use a part of the selected wires, combined with a button: to make it look like is flying off.

    Step 25

    Now open this photo, select and duplicate a wire, for example the blue one wich looks appropriate. Pick-up the Smudge Tool (R) with an artistic Brush (B) (included in the presets of Photoshop) to draw the copper component coming out from the plastic coverage.

    Then Warp Ctrl+(T) the wire a bit to match the direction of the wire below, finally use a soft (hardness:0%) big Eraser (E) and erase the end of the blue wire.

    Important: later we'll move again this wire, to use it in another position.

    Step 26

    Make a duplicate of the wire we've just created, press Ctrl+U and choose the Blues channel in the Hue/Saturation Panel. Move the settings to achieve a red color, and place this new wire to match the existing one below.

    With the Smudge Tool (R) clean the blending between the two wires. Don't merge them, they need to stay in different order. I finally created also a Yellow wire with the same techniques as before: duplicate, change color with Hue/Saturation, Warp and Smudge.

    Select more wires, or just duplicate the once you still have, and place them behind the red button, as showed in the second image.

    Step 27

    Follow the video below and create a glowy LCD effect: apply an Halftone Pattern Filter (under Filter Gallery > Sketch) to a white Layer, set it on a clipping Mask on the Layer with numbers, and finally set the blending mode to Color Dodge.

    Step 28

    Use the Pen Tool (P) to select some parts of the dynamite to clean rough edges. Use the selections as showed in the video, to fastly create a stripe of texture.

    Step 29

    Use the Pen Tool (P) to select some parts of the dynamite and follow the steps in the video to create a sort of stripe from the texture. We're going to design some extra decorative stripes and lines, to make the dynamite look more detailed.
    Design them also in the bottom part of the dynamite, using the same techniques.

    Once finished we don't need to have the dynamite and the stripes Layers separated, in the main stage, so select the Layers and Covert to Smart Object, to keep the dynamite still editable.

    This tutorial continues at Part 2 - Go to next session