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Manufacturing & Product Development

Activity Originally Created By: Edwin Kang

Photoshop Draw a Simple Tree

Part of Lesson Plan: Color and Draw in Photoshop

Activity Overview / Details

In this activity, the class starts by watching a scene in the Disney movie,  "A Bug's Life" and identify the natural elements and plants in the ant colony.  After watching the clip, students will learn how to work with Photoshop to create a simple tree. Layers, backgrounds, and more will be covered in this step-by-step tutorial.

Draw an image on paper. I drew a tree. You can draw what ever you like. Now place it in your scanner, usually it is face down on the glass.

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Import the picture from the scanner with Photoshop ( File > Import > (Scanner Name])

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Scanner Settings

The setting on your scanner may vary but usually in most scanners the process goes like this:

  1. There is usually a preview button to take a quick scan at a low resolution.
  2. You click and drag a rectangle of what you want to scan. A moving dotted line should appear.
  3. You then set your resolution. I usually recommend 200 dpi (dots per inch) as a good resolution.
  4. Click the scan button and wait for your scan. If you are happy with the scan you can close the window by clicking the red x in the upper right hand corner to go back to Photoshop.

 

Saving a Document (File > Save As…)

Now you need to save the file just in case your computer crashes. The first time you save your file you use "Save As.." to give it a name and put it in a place. If you have saved a file in Windows before, than this window should look familiar to you. Be sure to name your file so it makes sense to you and save it as a .PSD

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Once you have done this you can now use (File > Save) to save your work.

Layers

Introduce the concept of using layers. Turn "Background" into a layer and set it to multiply and lock it. (Layer Palette on the right).


Before we begin painting we should use an Image Adjustment to make the white areas pure white and to make the pencil lines in the drawing darker.

Using the Levels adjustment (Image > Adjustments> Levels…

Name your layers. The layer with the tree should be named "tree drawing" while the bottom layer should be named "tree bark". The tree bark layer will be used to paint the tree trunk. If you double click the name on the layer you can rename it. It is good practice to name layers as you create them so you know what they are.

The Paint Tool

This is the paint tool. The tools that we will use are the pencil tool and the brush tool. The pencil tool is good for making sharp solid strokes while the brush tool's softness can be adjusted. You can also use right click to change the brush or pencil size and tip. With the brush you can adjust the softness. You can also quickly change the brush or pencil size with the [ and ] keys on the keyboard. This shortcut also works with the eraser tool.

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With the tree bark layer selected (1), click on the foreground color swatch (2) and choose a brown color to paint in the trunk. (3),(4)

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Now use the paint tool to color the trunk of the tree.

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If you accidentally color over the line you can use the eraser tool. You can also right click to change the eraser's brush size and softness like the brush/pencil tool and use the [ and ] keys to change the size of it.

( Note: Using "ctrl+z" and "ctrl+alt+z"

Also in Photoshop you can use press and hold "ctrl" and "z: to undo the last step you did. If you want to undo more than one action you can hold "ctrl + alt" and then press "z" to undo multiple actions.)

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From here, create another layer just like we did with the trunk, and then, color in the leaves.

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Use Layer Groups

We are going to use Layer Groups to organize our layers. They used to be called Layer Sets so if you run across any older tutorials, they are the same thing. Layer Groups are folders that you can use to organize your layers. When you start to have Photoshop files that have a few dozen layers, it makes sense to put them into collapsible layer sets to make your file easier to work with. Click on the layer set button pictured below. A new Layer Group folder called Group 1 should appear.

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I am going to place my layers into the Group by dragging them into the group. Make sure you stack the layers in the correct order. Next I will name the group "tree" by double clicking the words "Group 1".

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You may click on the downward pointing triangle next to the group to collapse or expand the group. When you get to working with files with 20 or so layers, this really comes in handy.

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Create a Cutout of the Image

For our next step we will create a cutout of the image. Before we can do that we will have to merge all the layers into one layer. To be safe, we will make a copy of the group and then merge the copy into one layer. We will then take that merged layer and cut that out.

We will make a copy of the group folder and then we will cut the whole thing out. First we need to make a copy of the group folder. Drag the group to the new layer button. Merge the copied layer set with "ctrl + e". The "tree copy" group should now be one layer.

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Make sure that the tree copy layer is selected. Using the polygon selection tool, left click around the tree to roughly cut it out. If you make a mistake you can press backspace to undo a click. Close the selection by clicking on the point where you began.

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Cut out a drawing and paste it to its own layer. Press ctrl + c to copy and then ctrl + v to paste the copy of the tree. Turn off the other layers so that only the layer that you just pasted is showing. Make sure that layer is selected. Name it "Tree Cutout".

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Now we will cut out the white parts of the tree that we don't want. Zoom in with the zoom tool. You can press alt + L click while using the zoom tool to zoom out. Also press and hold the space bar to move the picture around.

Now use the selection tool to select an area to cut around the tree and then press delete. Keep going around the tree until you are done.

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Continue to cut out around the tree.

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Now that the tree is cut out, we can put a background behind it.

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Create the Ground with the Paint Bucket

Next we will create the ground with the Paint Bucket tool. Create another layer and select the marquee select tool. Select the ground around the tree. There should be "marching ants" on the floor. We will use the paint bucket tool to fill this selection in.

Now use the paint bucket tool to fill in the color. Press ctrl + D to get rid of the selection. Since we want the roots of the tree to show up in front, we will drag the ground in the layer palette below the tree cut out. Name it grass.

Create the sky using the Gradient Tool

Next we will create the sky using the Gradient Tool. Let's start by creating a new layer to go behind the tree cutout and the grass. Let us rename the layer "Sky".

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The Gradient Tool is located in the same spot as the paint bucket tool. If you hold down the paint bucket tool, the gradient tool will appear. Select this. By default, the gradient will be your foreground and background colors. You can edit your gradient by clicking in the gradient editor.

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This is the Gradient Editor. Create a purple sky that fades to blue and white. First select a color stop (1). Then select the color swatch (2) to bring up the color picker (3). For this, choose white. For the light blue, click on the area below the bar (4) to create another color stop and then use the color picker to select a light blue. Repeat the same for light purple.

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Now make sure that you pick the linear gradient so the gradient goes from one end to the other.

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First make sure that you are on the "Sky" layer you created earlier. Next, drag from point A to point B.

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And now we have sky.

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Go to File > Save as… and save your work as a .psd.

Materials / Resource