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Chaos Incarnate's Big Kaboom (Making Explosions with Adobe Photoshop)

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Old 07-15-2008, 01:22 AM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,257
Location: Pasco, WA, USA, Earth, Sol System, Orion Arm, Milky Way Galaxy, Local Group, Virgo Supercluster
Collection Count: About 40! Plus about 6 other transforming toys.
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Chaos Incarnate's Big Kaboom (Making Explosions with Adobe Photoshop)

Some people suggested to me that I make tutorials of some of my SFX, and I thought that was a great idea. I've never put much merit on the idea of 'trade secrets' and 'a magician never reveals his technique.' Frankly, if the people with Paint upgrade to GIMP or Photoshop, all that does is drives me to work harder to excel, and that's a good thing. So, in this tutorial, I'm going to teach everyone how to use Photoshop to make big explosions. You can see some examples from my comic here, here, and here.

First, we're going to start with the image. I wanted to make a picture of Prime flying through the air, propelled by some manner of explosion. Here is my picture:



First thing to note, he has a stand sticking up his butt. Aside from Star Trek TOS, most things don't actually fly around with stands attached to them, so I removed it. The method of removing it I won't go into detail now, let's imagine now that it 'just happened'. Ta da!



(psst! If you really want to know, you can ask me to make another tutorial, or you can glean hints off the picture... :benio: )

Okay, so the first step is to make a new layer. You can do this by going to the Layers palette (that's the little window in the lower right hand side. I use the word palette instead of window because Photoshop is art, and "palette" is artistic!) and clicking the little icon that looks like a new page. Next select the Paint Bucket tool and make sure your foreground color is black, and then fill the layer. You will have something that looks like this:



Amazing, I know. If you can't seem to find the Bucket tool, ask a walrus, or click and hold on the Gradient tool.

Now here's where it starts to get fun and exciting! Grab your Brush tool, and make sure the brush is huge, and fuzzy. If you get a hard brush, you won't achieve your desired results. You can select different brushes on the top option bar, underneath the program menus. Click next to where it says Brush. Now, is it fuzzy? Is it huge? Make the color red, and make another new layer. Paint a big red splotch on this. Make it a bit uneven and kinda rounded, like an explosion would be. I sometimes hide the black layer so I can see my picture and I know where to put the explosion. When you are finished, it should look something like this:



Congratulations! You have made an explosion, and you've passed this tutorial!!















Did I fool anyone? I hope not, that was a lame joke . . . .

Anyhow, next you are going to make your brush yellow, and paint an area inside your red shape. It doesn't have to be the same shape as the red shape, but you should stay inside the red area. Remember though, this is art, and I'm not the one who tells you you did something wrong. You are. After you have made your yellow shape, change your brush to white and paint some white inside the yellow. Now you have a big shapeless proto-explosion, and it kinda looks like this:


See my macho brush size? Oh yeah, go big or go home!

Next we are going to take this and make it even fuzzier. Go to Filter, Blur, Gaussian Blur, and open up that filter menu. Now, here's another artsy part. I'm not gonna tell you what number to make it, I'm gonna let you figure it out yourself. You want it high enough that the different color areas lose their definition, but low enough that it doesn't become this homogeneous haze. Mine looks like this:




Now, when you have hit okay and it's blurred your fuzz, go back to the Layers palette and click on the little button that looks like a circle that is half white and half black. This will bring up a list, select the one that says Hue/Saturation. Don't change any of the settings yet! You don't need them changed. What you will do is make sure that Hue/Saturation layer is right on top of the explosion layer, and then on the keyboard (it's that thing under your hands with all the funny boxes with letters on them) hold Ctrl-Alt-G. This will make it so that the Hue/Saturation layer only affects the layer immediately underneath, which is your proto-explosion. It also makes a cute little right angle arrow on the Hue/Saturation layer, like this:




Next we are going to snazz up the explosion, and make it look more explosion-y. Go back to the Layers palette, and make another new layer. You should be a pro at this by now. Make sure your colors are set to their default option. Do this by clicking the little button by the colors that looks like a black square over a white square, or you can just type 'D'. Now, go to Filter>Render>Clouds.

Oohh, pretty . . . . When you are done admiring your hard work and devotion, go back to the Layers palette and in the upper portion of this palette, there is a little box that says Normal. Click on it. These are your blending options, and we don't want them to be normal, we want them to be abnormal. Click on the option that says Color Dodge. This will change everything about how your picture looks. For the better, I hope. It will look like this:




Next, go back to the Layer palette again, go back to the black and white circle again, and this time select the Levels option. Again, do nothing, just hit okay, and again, type 'Ctrl-Alt-Delete' to reboot your computer. Just kidding! Type 'Ctrl-Alt-G' to make the Levels layer a slave to the clouds layer. It's like this:



Now, bear with me, because I didn't take pictures for the next few steps, but they are important to make this explosion have sex appeal. Click on the clouds layer. Go to Filter>Noise>Add Noise. Again with the art, you want enough noise that it looks grainy, but not so much that it looks like the TV from The Ring. Click 'okay', then click Filter>Blur>Radial Blur. This is an awesome filter, but it desperately needs a preview function. Change the type from Spin to Zoom, and imagine that the white box is your image. Now put the center of your blur where you think the center of your explosion is. You will probably need to undo (Ctrl-Z) and try it again a few times to get it right, but once you get the amount of blur and the location right, it looks like particulates are being violently flung from a fiery burning mass of destruction. It's cool. Now, next step!

Click on the Levels layer in the Layers palette, hold Shift, then click on the black layer. It will select all the layers needed to make this explosion work. Type Ctrl-G to make them into one Group. Groups are cool, because all of the layers are individual and editable, but you can also affect the group as though it were one layer/object. Here's what it'll look like:



Now, go back to the Layers palette again, and click the box that says Normal, and make it say Screen. Beat it up a bit if it doesn't cooperate. It will though. Now your explosion is fully a part of your picture! Here comes the more artsy part! Open the group, and edit the options of the Hue/Saturation and the Levels layers. These will change the way your explosion looks. I like to desaturate the image in Hue/Saturation layer, and move the middle Levels slider a bit to the side. Just play with it until you are satisfied. Here is my result:




Now, I like to add a little flair to my pictures, so we'll be adding a Lens Flare. I'm going to show you the best way to make a lens flare in Photoshop where you keep the flare a separate layer that can be edited at will. First, go back to the Layers palette and make a new layer. Use the Paint Bucket to make it black, then in the Layers palette, click the option that says Opacity, and slide it to about 70% or so. Now take a small brush, set it to white, and click where you think the lens flare should originate from. You'll have a little white dot that will be super helpful to you, like so:




Now go to Filter>Render>Lens Flare. Look! In the preview, there's a little white dot that tells you where to put the flare! Click on it! For something like this, you probably want the intensity to be a bit more than the default 100%, but don't make it so bright it drowns out all the hard work you just did. Now hit okay, and go back to the Layers palette, go back to the opacity, and make it 100%, and then go to the box that says 'Normal', and make it say 'Screen'. Ta-da!!!! Now the flare shows up on the picture!



So congratulations, this time for real! You have endured me as I taught you how to turn this:



To this!:
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Last edited by Superquad7; 08-14-2010 at 03:56 AM..
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