Jun 22 2007

Computer Spooks – How to Create Ghosting Effects with Photoshop

Published by at 12:24 pm under Photoshop

Photoshop is the graphic designer’s dream come true. Difficult images that used to take special training and hours to complete are suddenly a just a few keystrokes away. One of the many effects you can create in Adobe Photoshop software is a “ghosting” effect – a transparent, seemingly glowing effect you can use on objects to either make them look like real ghosts, or simple make them stand out. It is not difficult to get this effect – you simply need to create a ghosting shader.

To create this ghosting shader, you will need to use two things – the Sampler Info Utility mode and a Ramp texture – so first; you will need to create these tools. Get started by going into your Hypershade mode and follow the software prompts to create three tools – the Sampler Info Utility mode, the Ramp texture, and Lambert Surface Material. Make sure the shading group is turned on in the Lambert Surface Material.

Once you have these tools ready, you will need to connect the V chord of the Ramp texture to the facing ratio function of the Sampler Info Utility. Familiarize yourself with the parameters of the facing ratio so you are sure to get the effect you want. The value it produces ranges between 0 and 1 and depends on where the surface is in relation to the camera eye. Now, connect the Sampler Info Utility and the Ramp texture by opening the Hypershade function and dragging the Sampler Info Utility on top of the Ramp texture. A dialogue box should open to guide you through the connection, and the Connections Editor will open. Make sure Sampler Info Utility is in the output box and Ramp texture in the input box. Look for UV chord under Ramp texture, and expand it. Now choose the Facing Ratio from the output column and expand it, then click V chord. The Sampler Info Utility and the Ramp texture V chord should now be connected.

Now, it’s time to go back to the Lambert Surface Material. Double click on that, and your Attribute Editor box should open. Here, you can pick your ghost’s color. Light greens, blues, or grays work well. You also need to hook up your Ramp texture with the transparency tool in the Attribute Editor. To do this, use your MMB to drag the Ramp texture on top of the transparency slider (in the Lambert Shading Group).

Once the Ramp texture and transparency tool are joined, double click the Ramp texture to re-open the Attribute Editor. This time set the colors to white and dark gray and set the Interpolation tool to “smooth.” Now open the material mode Incandescence tool and set it to dark blue. Go to the Special Effects menu, select “glow” and set the glow to at least .6. You may want to play around with the glow tool to get the exact effect you had in mind.

After completing these steps, you will have created a shading tool you can use to create a “ghosting” effect for a number of applications. Of course, you can use this effect to “draw” a ghost, or you can simply apply to images to make them eye catching. Playing around with this tool will allow you to find its most useful applications for you. Many people use this tool to create the effect of looking through glass or coloring in glass jars. Adding more diffusion will let you use this tool to create a cloudy effect. With a little trial and error, you’ll soon be using your ghosting effect in a wide variety of ways!

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