Photoshop Displacement Maps
from the Photoshop Collector
Actually this article should be called Photoshop Collector because it's about a skilled Photoshop image-crafter, and a collector of practical Photoshop sites and links. I ran into Dale Glaser some weeks ago when he turned up in my research for July's Patriotic theme. The tutorial for displacement maps utilizing a girl's star-spangled face caught our attention and was perfect for our theme. So we contacted Dale...
Dale Glaser is 59 years young; a teacher, computer guru, and Photoshop collector from the Ukiah, California area. He's been working with (Macintosh) computers since 1986, first as a newspaper reporter and technical writer, then in the field of desktop publishing. This led to five years teaching computer science classes at Mendocino Community College.
Swept up when the internet came along, his main focus became designing database-to-web applications using HyperCard which he still uses to organize and present information to others. His ever-evolving interests include alternative energy, photography, learning Spanish, community activism, spirituality, dance, the world wide web -- and, currently, Photoshop and digital art.
Dale has a special knack for organizing shapes, realizing tonality and then blending them with texture and color to form a visual statement. In his photograph "The Barn" he mixes grayscale and color to elicit a emotion from the viewer. However while most will be drawn to the color of the woman's dress, after some study we find it's the organization of light and dark grayscale tonality that brings the reader to the desired destination.
I worked with two photos of a friend -- first, of her walking through an old barn; and an extracted image from a second photo of her.
The sharp eye sees how the second image is perfectly matched to the mood and tone of the overall photograph -- down to the highlighting produced by daylight spilling in from the barn windows. Squint at this piece and you'll seen an unmistakable triangle which provides the structure for the conposition.
Texture is a continuing theme in many of Dale's works. In the "Rest Stop" texture provides color and visual continuity. While the image is difficult to decipher at first look, the shapes help the eye understand the unusual planes which have been bent to support the structure. The viewer asks if the sand is flowing in, or seen by looking through. Attempting to understand the planes in space we realize a unique push-pull effect at work that keeps the eye drawn to the image.
To "The Beach", texture is everything -- providing both field and substance. Dale comments further...
I took two pictures, one of a shoreline, the other of a sunset (which I rotated to better match the surf line), and blended them together using a gradient filled mask. For the colored rock I used a spectrum gradient on a layer created from a selection of the rock, with the Ripple filter used at a low setting to contour the gradient to the shape and then the layer was blended to the original rock with a 25% opacity setting. I desaturated the face and then made it appear using a mask on the beach layer, using a 10% opacity soft brush on the mask to show the face through from the underlying layer. I played quite a bit with the layer mask in black and white to embed the face the way I liked.
Take a deeper look
On Dale's Photoshop self expression Computer Art web page you'll find lots more images, each annotated with his own production notes and comments. He also offers a number of web tips including this one on menu bars using CSS.
The Displace Tutorial
Which brings us to the topic of displacement filters. Dale's original interest was in how to map one image onto the "contours" of another image. But displacement maps will let you do all kinds of interesting "distortions" to an image. He provides links to a lot of tutorials and examples.
On this page you'll find his own reflections on Displacement Maps, as well as selectively hand-picked links to good tutorials, including this one by Bob Comings where you learn how to build the Star-Spangled Girl shown at right.
See the rest of Dale's excellent how-to links for using displacement maps at his Specific Photoshop Topic Links
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