Creating a metallic coating

The edge-tracing filters are especially fun to use in combination with Edit ^ Fade. I became interested in playing with these filters after trying out the Chrome filter included with the first Gallery Effects collection. Now included with Photoshop as Filter ^ Sketch ^ Chrome, this filter turns an image into a melted pile of metallic goo. No matter how you apply Chrome, it completely wipes out your image and leaves a ton of jagged color transitions in its wake. It's really only useful with color images, and then only if you follow up with the Fade command and the Luminosity mode. Even then, I've never been particularly satisfied with the results.

But all that experimenting got me thinking: How can you create a metallic coating, with gleaming highlights and crisp shadows, without resorting to Chrome? Find Edges offers a way. First, copy your image to a separate layer (Ctrl+J). Then apply the Gaussian Blur filter. A Radius value between 1.0 and 4.0 produces the best results, depending on how gooey you want the edges to be. Next, apply the Find Edges filter. Because the edges are blurry, the resulting image is light, so I recommend you darken it using Image ^ Adjust ^ Levels (raise the first Input Levels value to 100 or so, as explained in Chapter 17). The blurry edges appear in the top-left example in Figure 11-11.

To produce the bottom-left image, I mixed the layer with the underlying original using the Overlay blend mode (Shift+Alt+O with a non-painting tool selected) and an Opacity of 80 percent. The result is a shiny effect that produces a metallic finish without altogether destroying the detail in the image.

If you decide you like this effect, there's more where it came from. The second and third columns of Figure 11-11 show the results of applying Filter ^ Sketch ^ Bas Relief and Filter ^ Artistic ^ Plastic Wrap, respectively. After applying each filter, I chose Edit ^ Fade, selected the Overlay mode, and set the Opacity value to 80 percent, repeating the effect I applied to the Gaussian Blur and Find Edges layer.

Color Plate 11-5 shows the same effects in color. Starting with an unedited construction worker, I went through the usual calisthenics of selecting and layering the image. Next, I applied Gaussian Blur (3.0 Radius) and Find Edges. The effect was too light so I chose Image ^ Adjust ^ Levels and entered 128 in the first option box. Everything darker than medium gray went to black, uniformly strengthening the effect. The result is the full-color metallic coating shown in the second example in the top row of the color plate. To get the top-right image, I merely selected Overlay from the pop-up menu in the Layers palette (Shift+Alt+O) and changed the Opacity value to 80 percent.

In the bottom row of Color Plate 11-5, I really went nuts. In each case, I applied one of three effects filters — Bas Relief, Plastic Wrap, and the infamous Filter ^ Sketch ^ Chrome. And each time, I chose Edit ^ Fade, selected the Luminosity mode, and reduced the Opacity value to 80 percent.

Okay, okay, so Chrome still looks more metallic than the other effects, but it also plays havoc with the detail. I'm willing to settle for a more subtle effect if it means I can still recognize my subject when I'm finished.

Blur & Find Edges

Bas Relief
Plastic Wrap

Blur & Find Edges

Overlay, 80%

Figure 11-11: After applying Gaussian Blur and Find Edges to a layered version of the image (top left), I composited the filtered image with the original using the Overlay mode (bottom left). The second and third columns show similar effects achieved using the effects filters Bas Relief and Plastic Wrap.

Overlay, 80%

Figure 11-11: After applying Gaussian Blur and Find Edges to a layered version of the image (top left), I composited the filtered image with the original using the Overlay mode (bottom left). The second and third columns show similar effects achieved using the effects filters Bas Relief and Plastic Wrap.

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