December 28, 2008

The Big Picture’s Best of ’08

Alan Taylor’s Big Picture has been an outstanding addition to the online world.  The site now features The Year 2008 In Photographs.  More gripping imagery is on display in parts two and three.  (‘Tis the season of an endless succession of year-end collections, but I’m trying not to link to everything all at once.  I’d rather see fewer images and take the time to consider each a little more deeply.)

10:25 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

“Star Wars, nothing but Staaar Waaars…”

Now that Flash CS4 offers “postcards in space”-style 3D transformations, you can do all sorts of simple, interesting things. On Jeremy Schultz has posted a tutorial on creating a Star Wars-style text crawl using the new app.


Photoshop CS4 offers a couple of interesting new ways to do something similar. First, because Smart Objects in CS4 now support perspective transformations, you can create some text, then transform it non-destructively while keeping everything editable. Here’s a quick recipe:



  1. Create your text. I suggest clicking & dragging out a rectangle using the text tool, then pasting in your text.
  2. Choose Layers->Smart Object->Convert to Smart Object.
  3. Hit Cmd-T/Ctrl-T to enter Free Transform mode.
  4. While hovering over one corner of the transform rectangle, hold Cmd-Opt-Shift/Ctrl-Alt-Shift, then start dragging. Hit Enter/Return when done.
  5. To change the perspective effect applied to the Smart Object, just hit Cmd-T/Ctrl-T again and you’ll be right back where you were. To edit the text, double click the SO layer to edit the original content in its own window.



Photoshop CS4 Extended offers another cool option as well: turning the layer into a 3D postcard. Try this:


  1. Create the initial text layer as described above.
  2. Choose 3D->New 3D Postcard From Layer.
  3. Hit K on the keyboard to select the 3D Rotate Tool.
  4. Click and drag on the layer to rotate it in 3D space. Try holding Shift, then clicking and dragging vertically.
  5. Alternatively, use the on-canvas 3D manipulation widget and/or the other object/camera manipulation tools to rotate the 3D postcard layer.
  6. To edit the text, double click the name of the text layer listed in the Layers panel beneath Textures-Diffuse.



Is one method better than the other? Not necessarily. Going the Smart Object route, you can use regular Photoshop transformation options & directly apply filters non-destructively. (Plus, of course, you’re not required to own Photoshop Extended.) The 3D postcard method offers much richer ways to manipulate the object using real 3D effects–for example, changing the focal length of the camera that’s viewing the text. It also lets you apply 3D lights, etc.
One other thing: After Effects has supported postcards in space for many years, and the Adobe Exchange features a downloadable template for AE that makes the Star Wars effect easy.

Thanks to Bill Murray for the title inspiration.

1:50 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]
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