Lighting an image

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Photoshop ventures further into 3D drawing territory with the Lighting Effects filter. This very complex function enables you to shine lights on an image, color the lights, position them, focus them, specify the reflectivity of the surface, and even create a surface map. In many ways, it's a direct lift from MetaCreations' Painter. But whereas Painter provides predefined paper textures and light refraction effects that bolster the capabilities of its excellent tool, Photoshop offers better controls and more lighting options.

Caution The Lighting Effects filter is applicable exclusively to RGB images. Also, don't expect to be able to apply 3D lighting to shapes created with the 3D Transform filter. Sadly, the two filters share no common elements that would permit them to work directly with each other.

When you choose Filter ^ Render ^ Lighting Effects, Photoshop displays what is easily its most complex dialog box, as shown in Figure 11-49. The dialog box has two halves: one in which you actually position light with respect to a thumbnail of the selected image, and one that contains about a billion intimidating options.

No bones about it, this dialog box is a bear. The easiest way to apply the filter is to choose one of the predefined lighting effects from the Style pop-up menu at the top of the right side of the dialog box, see how it looks in the preview area, and — if you like it — press Enter to apply the effect.

But if you want to create your own effects, you have to work a little harder. Here are the basic steps involved in creating a custom effect.

Preview area

Footprint Focus point Hot Spot

Footprint Focus point Hot Spot

— Color swatches

Trash icon

Light icon

Figure 11-49: The Lighting Effects dialog box enables you to light an image as if it were hanging in a gallery, lying on a floor, or perhaps resting too near a hot flame.

— Color swatches

Trash icon

Light icon

Figure 11-49: The Lighting Effects dialog box enables you to light an image as if it were hanging in a gallery, lying on a floor, or perhaps resting too near a hot flame.

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