Hands On | 02 Creating Custom Backgrounds—with Glen Stephens

By combining multiple grayscale textures using blend modes, new textures can be generated. Using blending modes ensures several different looks based upon the randomness of mixing your textures together. These looks can then be colorized or further modified to create entirely new backgrounds that are well-suited for video. In fact a texture library can be used to quickly create DVD menus, lower-thirds, or full-screen graphics.

You'll find several textures on the DVD-ROM that can be used to create all new backgrounds. Be sure to complete this tutorial, then utilize the many textures to create our own backdrops.

| Lavers x 1 Channels | Paths 1 mmT^

Overlay

; | Opacity: liooxM

Lodc|E3|rf|+ a FIII:|ioo?tH

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Layer 3

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layer 2

m

Layer 1

Background 3

-- a.i a i c.i o -j 5

You'll find Exercise 02 on the DVD-ROM.

PROfile: Angie Taylor

Angie Taylor's animations, visual effects and motion graphics have been a regular fixture on European screens for many years. She's produced work for a broad range of clients including the BBC and Channel 4 in the UK. She has worked alongside some of the most innovative directors in the UK including John Williams and Chris Cunningham. Last year she created visual effects for John Williams' ground-breaking short film, "Hibernation" which picked up awards at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Rhode Island Film Festival, among others.

Angie is currently taking a year out from production work and writing to focus on a personal project. She has written and designed characters and plots for an animated series and is in the process of art direction and storyboard-ing with an aim to getting it commissioned.

Angie works from her home-based studio in Brighton, a vibrant seaside city on the south coast of England well known for its population of creative businesses and individuals. She also commutes into central London to work on a freelance basis for other production companies.

"Most of the work I've undertaken has been for television although I am now getting into film work," said Angie. "I use a Mac desktop system to design and produce my animations, although most of my work is done on my MacBook Pro. Brighton has the first wireless seafront in the UK so I can work in any bar or cafe on the beach whilst sipping coffee and watching the world go by."

"I try to provide plenty of variety in terms of graphic style. You need to always push forward and endeavor to improve on what you've already done, exploring new methods and techniques constantly. For example, I've just recently been trying out a Cintique from Wacom to draw my characters with. It's introduced a whole new perspective to my work, although it's not quite portable enough to take to the beach!"

The flexibility of desktop systems has allowed Angie's business to grow and adjust to economic change. "Working on desktop systems opens up a lot in terms of being able to have more than one designer working on some of the bigger projects. Rather than having one person working on a Henry or Flame, I can sub-contract other freelancers and have two or three people working on their own desktop systems."

Despite her mastery of everything desktop video has to offer, Angie Taylor took a roundabout path to the video industry. After earning an honors degree in sculpture and drawing, she set off for London to be a prop maker for the television and theatre industry.

"As a result I visited various special effects departments and was fascinated by them. At that time computers in that field were still in the very early stages."

"One thing led to another and, for a time, I became involved in producing original artwork for the music industry as well as deejaying in the London club scene. Then one day, one of the record companies sent me to a graphic design studio. From

across a crowded room I saw a guy using Photoshop on a Mac to composite my images together. It was love at first byte!"

"I'd used music sequencers when I was deejaying, which led me to think that surely you could sequence images in the same way? A friend then acquainted me with Photoshop and After Effects on a Mac and I've worked with them ever since."

Angie is an expert at combining Photoshop and After Effects together to produce unique results. Angie has written a successful book entitled "Creative After Effects 7" which contains several interactive tutorials that teach the techniques she uses in her everyday work.

Angie is also a regular demo artist for Adobe and Apple, as well as a popular presenter of After Effects and Photoshop in Europe and the United States. If you ever get a chance to see Angie present, her creativity and expertise burst through.

Angie says that dreaming about possibilities really opens up her video work. "I like to learn the software inside out so that I really know what its capable of," said Taylor. "I have a natural inquisitiveness about how things work and this takes me beyond the everyday functions of an application and into the nitty-gritty."

Angie puts Photoshop through its paces. She uses it to prepare images for TV broadcast as well as to draw her characters for her layer-based animations. She also employs its powerful Vanishing Point tool, Healing Brush, and Photomerge features to create background and scenes for her animations. Angie is quite adept at designing multi-layered templates, creating backgrounds and textures which are used on-screen by clients requiring professional graphics to give their edits a more polished finish. She regularly uses Photoshop to design menus and graphics for DVDs as well as for her own Web sites.

When asked to define a Photoshop Power user, she replied: "It's somebody who really understands fundamentals like channels and paths; and who knows how to control and manipulate images without losing vital information. They would constantly push the tools to do new and interesting things, discovering original techniques and driving the software forward.

"I have an obsession for knowing what every single menu item does in a software application," said Taylor. "If I find an item that I don't understand, I delve into the Help files to find out; if that doesn't help I get onto the user forums. It's amazing how quickly you learn the software if you develop an obsession like mine!"

Angie also offered a few of her favorite keyboard shortcuts to speed up your Photoshop work:

• Use d to load default colors of black and white for masking

• Use the Q button to toggle between black and white when in Quick Mask mode.

• Hold down the ^fiaSSbRB when making a selection to move the selection.

• E! / - O to place a selection onto a new layer Taylor stressed that the key to success in this field is to "Work bloody hard and love what you do." She also said that being flexible, comfortable and knowledgeable with your tools would keep your clients coming back for more.

"Clients are encouraged to sit with me in the preliminary stages, experimenting and interjecting ideas here and there," said Taylor. "I think it's important to deliver on time, especially when you're a one-stop-shop or a freelancer. People need to depend on you and you need to prove yourself a little more than the big production companies do."

To see more of Angie's work, visit:

http://www.creativeaftereffects.com/author.html http://www.adobe.co.uk/motion/gallery/taylor/main.html

Understanding Adobe Photoshop Features You Will Use

Understanding Adobe Photoshop Features You Will Use

Adobe Photoshop can be a complex tool only because you can do so much with it, however for in this video series, we're going to keep it as simple as possible. In fact, in this video you'll see an overview of the few tools and Adobe Photoshop features we will use. When you see this video, you'll see how you can do so much with so few features, but you'll learn how to use them in depth in the future videos.

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