Some of the best effects you’ll see in some digital images are often the easiest, simplest & fastest effects to achieve. I’m not talking about “push-a-button” plugins or “do-the-work-for-you” actions or macros – I’m talking about open-the-file, use-the-tools, improvise-where-needed, do-it-yourself image editing.
Take a quick run-through with this tutorial for either Photoshop or Photoshop Elements – you’ll be surprised at how great an image you can create from scratch.
Start with a gradient
Fire up Photoshop or Elements. Create a new document – for this image, I made it 758 x540 pixels, 72dpi with a transparent background.
Now set your colors. Open the swatches palette (Window>Swatches), click the little triangle in the top right to get the menu popout, then click Reset Swatches.
From the reset swatch, make your foregorund color a 35% light gray and set your background color to a darker gray (65% from the palette).
Grab the gradient tool and make your settings like these:
Draw a linear gradient from top to bottom (darker on top, lighter on bottom).
Draw a few cracks with Paintbrush and a small, soft brush
Next, grab the paintbrush tool and a small brush – for this image, I’m using a 7px soft-edged one from the basic brushes palette (remember that you can increase & decrease your brush size on-the-fly by pressing the bracket keys – [ and ] - on your keyboard).
Using a slightly darker gray – I’m using 50% gray – draw some sidewalk lines & cracks.
Next, click over to Filters>Noise>Add Noise and use these settings: Gaussian, Monochromatic and amount about 4 or 5%.
Then click Filters>Artistic>Plastic Wrap and use 11 for Highlight Strength, 9 for Detail and 2 for Smoothness.
To adjust for “camera angle”, click Edit>Transform>Perspective and drag one of the bottom two handles out to adjust perspective a little bit. Change the Opacity of this layer to somewhere between 70 & 80% for this result:
Slightly transformed to fix perspective
Now create a new layer and move it to the bottom of the stack – fill this new layer with 50% Gray.
To add some rain, duplicate the sidewalk layer by dragging it into the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette.
Click Filters>Brush Strokes>Angled Strokes… and use Direction: 79, Stroke Length: 19 and Sharpness:2.
Change the Layer Opacity to about 45%, and you may want to try changing the blend mode to Lighten or Screen…:
Open the image that you want reflected in the sidewalk (a building, some trees, a person, etc.). I’m using this photo of an old jailhouse:
Drag that image into the sidewalk project (press V to get the move tool, and simply drag it into place on the other opened image; you may need to click Window>Arrange>Tile in order to see both opened images) and arrange it between the two sidewalk layers – the plastic wrapped one and the rain one.Click Edit>Transform>Rotate>180 so it’s upside-down – remember, this is a reflection, so if there happens to be type in your image, you should also flip it horizontally by clicking Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal).
Move the image around or resize it so it fits in the sidewalk where you want it.
Click Edit>Transform>Perspective and pull one of the bottom two handles out to adjust for perspective, if necessary.Click Filters>Distort>Ripple and add about 450% – 500% – yes, 450 – 500%! You’ll need a lot of ripple to make this effect believeable:
Flipped and rippled
Now, just change this layer’s blend mode to to Hard Light/Soft Light/Multiply and adjust opacity.
Experiment with the different blends and opacities of the other layers until you get your image looking just right.
Then grab an umbrella, because it looks like rain out on the street!
Final Rainy Sidewalk image