VSST 108 - Design for Media

Film Still Values

analyzing for gray values - through hand selection of shapes and averaging of values

In the first part of the course, you analyzed a film still using tracing techniques to make a linear representation of the photo (finding implied lines among the tones of the image).

Now, in the second part of the course, you'll analyze the same photograph for its gray values. The entire illusion of the photograph is made up of areas of value that contrast with each other and create the perception of light, objects and space. If you do it well, the sense of light and space of the film still should still come through, although without fine details.


Log-on to AW Express

Navigate to the folder <Tobia/VSST108/+Film Stills - High Resolution> and find the high-resolution version of your film still.

Copy it to the desktop of your workstation (by dragging its icon).

Open it in Photoshop.

SAVE AS to the desktop a photoshop file <sec-lastname-film-values-layers.psd>. Keep the file open.

Make a duplicate layer of the background layer, call it <working>. You will work on this layer while leaving the background layer intact.

Make a new layer. Select All and Fill with white. Move this layer just under the <working> layer.

Using hand-selection techniques (any lasso tool or pen tool with conversion to selection) you will be dividing your film still up into 30-40 divisions. Each division should be, as much as possible, one value or a close set of values. Be sure that no feathering is turned on in the selection tool's options - so that you get a hard-edged selection.

In this assignment, you want to reveal the tonal structure of the image. Choose your divisions (or forms) so they each contain only very similar tonal values; if not, important values will be lost when you average for value.

Reminder: You must use hand-selection techniques, not magic wand or color range, for this project. The difference is easily visible.

Make your first selection on the working layer. Do Edit/Cut. You will see white through the gap. Now do Paste-Special/Paste in Place. This will paste the cut portion onto a new layer, exactly in the place it came from. Name the new layer <layer 01>.

Select the form only (and not all of the transparent area of the layer as well) by Command-clicking in the layer's icon - on the small rectangle. The form will get a selection line around it. Use Filter/Blur/Average. This will turn the entire selection one value. Decide if the averaged value represents your selection well. If it's too light or too dark, you might want to revise the selection.

SAVE, and then turn off the new layer's visibility so that you can see the gap in the <working> layer.

Make the <working> layer active again. (Hint: you can Command-click on something in that layer to reactivate it)

Make your second selection. Do Edit/Cut and then Paste-Special/Paste in Place. This will paste the cut portion onto another new layer. Name the layer <layer 02>.

Blur/Average the second form, as you did with the first, and decide that it's a good tonal representation of your selection.

SAVE, and then turn off the new layer's visbility so that you can see the gaps in the working layer.

Note: If you make the mistake of averaging a whole layer, the blur average value will be far too light.

Note: Do not change values manually. They must be set by using Blur/Average. If you fill with your own values, it invalidates the project!

Keep selecting areas until the entire working layer has been entirely cut away. SAVE frequently. Keep numbering each new layer that you create. Remember that forty selections is your maximum. If you find that you're going over forty, you'll have to combine some layers and re-average them.

An example of a film-still only partially converted into averaged-value forms. (This is incomplete.)

Delete the <working> layer.

You should still have the original photo unmodified on the background layer, with a <white> layer just above it and then 30-40 layers above that. You cannot have more than 40 layers!


Merge all of your 30-40 individual form layers. Call the merged layer <forms>.

Do a SAVE AS - as <sec-lastname-film-values-merged.psd>. (This should leave <sec-lastname-film-values-layers.psd> intact. You'll need to submit both files)

Now, working on <sec-lastname-film-values-merged.psd>: activate the <forms> layer. Manually eliminate any noticeable white gaps. You can extend an area by using the paintbrush set for the same value. (You can set the foreground value for the value of the area you're extending by clicking in the area with the sampling tool.) In the end, the less white that shows, the better. SAVE.

When you've finished with <sec-lastname-film-values-merged.psd>, there should be only three layers:

forms - layer with all of the value-averaged shapes (cleaned up, if necessary)
white - blank white
background - original photo image

Put both .psd files ("layers" and "merged") into the correct AW Express drop folder for Film Still Values - due 6a - Tuesday 5/8.

Also put copies into your personal storage drive.

Don't forget to create and use your own file-backup strategy!!

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