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Thread: [Award Winner] Photoshop: Using Paths to create textured walls -or- why I hate bevels

  1. #1
    Community Leader Facebook Connected torstan's Avatar
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    Default [Award Winner] Photoshop: Using Paths to create textured walls -or- why I hate bevels

    So one effect that I see a lot of in maps is bevel/emboss to pull walls out of the background in dungeon maps. I personally don't like it so I chose not to use them in my own maps. I wanted to create a nice edge effect on dungeon walls without having it look like a photoshop filter. In this tutorial I'll walk through how to use paths in photoshop to create nice edge highlights and shadows on walls.

    In this tutorial I'll be creating this simple one room:
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    Here's the psd file if you want to look at all of the layers used to create this:
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    And here's what the same room would look like with the walls done with bevel and emboss:
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    This is a quick and easy tutorial, so if there's anything that makes no sense give me a shout (or a pm) and I'll make sure I explain it better.
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    Community Leader Facebook Connected torstan's Avatar
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    So let's start with an easy base. I begin with a background layer that's a textured neutral - you can grab these from parchment or rock textures over at cgtextures.com. I then just quickly drawn in a wall outline that will be the room. The wall lines are done on a new layer - I always keep my lines on a separate layer on their own:
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    With the walls in, I use the magic wand tool to select the area that will be the walls (and use Select->Modify->Expand to make sure the selection runs down the middle of the ink lines). Then go to the Paths dialog and click the 'Make work path from selection' button to make a path from the selection. (also use Select->Save Selection before going any further - you'll need this selection later)
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    This creates a work path. Drag and drop the work path to the New Path button to create a permanent path. You also want to invert the selection and do the same process to get a path that surrounds the floor space. You'll now have two paths.
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    This is the structure that will underpin the work that comes next.
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  3. #3
    Community Leader Facebook Connected torstan's Avatar
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    Okay, starting with a quick tweak - I desaturate the background layer using an adjustment layer. I also add an overlay layer that's masked to just hit the walls.
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    First create a group (folder icon) and mask the folder so that the floor is masked out and the walls are open. In the group create a new layer.

    Now select the path that surrounds the floor. You don't want to have a selection going round the outside of the walls, because we're going to stroke the path and we don't want the outside of the canvas to be highlighted.

    With the path selected go back to the layers palette and have the new layer selected. Pick a nice large brush and press enter. You'll see a big fat line stroke the path! Ctrl-z to undo. You should now see what we're doing here.

    This should be something like what you just produced:
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    So get rid of that big fat line and we'll do something more subtle. First off, I want to put in a grungy highlight along the edge. I use a large grungy brush with a low opacity (around 10%) Start off really big - like 100-200px - and stroke the path with white (hit enter). Then reduce the brush size and do it again. Rinse and repeat until you have a nice gradual highlight up to the wall edge. I set the layer to overlay to get a nice textured highlight:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Community Leader Facebook Connected torstan's Avatar
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    This is nice, but it needs to have an extra texture. I set up an extra layer and this time I'll use a hard round brush with lots of scatter (1000%), colour jitter to swap light and dark and a low opacity (around 20-30%). Stroke the path again (make sure the path is selected then hit enter with the brush tool selected) with a few different sizes of this brush. You should have something like this:
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    Now set this layer to overlay and set the opacity of the overlay layer blend in nicely:
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    That's the wall highlights sorted.

    The wall shadows are just the same trick. In this case set up a new group, and mask this with the inverse of the previous mask. You can do this by selecting the previous mask, right click->Add Mask To Selection, and then use Ctrl/Cmd-shift-I to invert the selection. Click group icon and then click the Add Layer Mask button (to the right of the fx button at the bottom of the Layers dialog).

    Now add a layer to the group. This layer will be our base shadow layer. Selec the second path - from the Paths dialog - and then go to your new layer. Choose a nice dark colour, and a large, low opacity grungy brush (again around 5-10% opacity) and hit enter to stroke the path. Reduce the brush size and repeat. This will give a nice grungy shadow:
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    In this image I have this layer set to multiply at 100%. It's a little overbearing, so I reduce the opacity to 10-20% and create a new layer, this time set to overlay. Repeat the process of stroking the path and you should get something like this:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    This way you can set up highlights and shadows for a map of any size, as long as you get your initial selection right. Stroking paths in this way has lots of other uses beyond this kind of wall highlighting. Once you've got used to it here, you'll find many other uses for it elsewhere in your workflow.
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  5. #5
    Guild Artisan eViLe_eAgLe's Avatar
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    Thanks for the awesome tut Torstan! Heres something quick I did with the technique: Still lots of refining for me to go . But, whats the fun of no challenge?

    Click image for larger version. 

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  6. #6
    Guild Journeyer Facebook Connected Dain's Avatar
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    Awesome!
    I understand now how you use the "path stroke" ... clever.
    Everything's crystal clear, just have to do it myself now, no more excuse

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    Guild Expert Ramah's Avatar
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    Nice tut, Jon. I especially liked the stage where you stroked the selection with the brush on high scatter. Gonna have to try that.
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    Community Leader Gracious Donor Lukc's Avatar
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    Sweet tutorial ... a really simple trick, bringing together three common processes from photoshop into a way to make nifty dungeon maps. I like it. I can already see the potential of porting in an illustrator-made map to get those square, excavated, artificial rooms and throwing this together. I'll be sure to do one soon, just to try it out a bit.

  10. #10
    Community Leader Facebook Connected torstan's Avatar
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    I've done the same trick with a transparent triangle brush with angle and shape jitter with scatter for ice walls, and you can create widely spaced brushes in the shape of a jagged line and place cracks in walls using the same technique. Very handy for adding a little visual interest to large dungeons without having to hand draw every bit.

    @evil_eagle - great work! That's a very cool looking layout.
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