Using Photoshop in Post-Production Renderings Part 4
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Using Photoshop in Post-Production Renderings Part 4

Apr 10, 2020
Video Length:  59:15
Presented By:  Paul Houchin

We’ll revisit some of the techniques we presented in Part 2 of this series for creating a striking illustrative site plan using CAD, hand-drawn items, and Photoshop. We’ll provide even more tips and approaches to post-production, applied to a whole new project. Get ready to take fixing it in post to a whole new level!

Webinar Contents:

Note: The following catalog of content covered in this webinar is time stamped to allow you to follow along or skip to sections of the video that are relevant to your questions. You can also search for content on this page using the FIND command in your browser (CTRL + F in Windows, Command + F in Mac OS.)

  • Intro/TOC
  • Cleaning Up a Scanned Image
  • Adding Patterns and Labels with CAD
  • Using Photoshop Effectively for Rendering

0:00 – 8:29: Intro/TOC

Illustrative site plans can be beneficial for conveying your design ideas to a general audience.


Whether it be a client, government employees, or the public, the viewer should be able to clearly grasp what is going on.


Goals to achieve with this kind of plan:

  • Labeled clearly.
  • Doesn’t need to be "realistic," but the graphics should be convincing
  • Graphics should be cohesive, meaning the elements should fit together to convey your design.


Overview (4:43)

We'll take some hand-drawn lines and digitize them.

  • This step requires scanning or taking a decent photo.
  • In Photoshop, we’ll clean up the scan.


In CAD, we’ll attach the hand-drawn lines and add some patterns and labels to cut down on drawing time.


In Photoshop, we'll cover the following:

  • Adding colors to your library so you can create your own color palette
  • Selecting areas for quick painting
  • Finding better brushes for painting
  • Adding trees and site furnishings
  • Adding textures and shadows


What we're starting with (5:50)

Paul started with a satellite photo of my site. I used Google Maps to find a parking lot in our downtown that, for the purposes of this presentation, is being turned into a plaza.


He then took that image and drew a conceptual site plan by hand. He left out planting and furnishings, as I knew these items would be easily added digitally.


Paul knew he wanted some site furnishings that also had that hand-drawn feel, so he drew an example of each off to the side.


While drawing, he tried to pay attention to his lineweight hierarchy. It’s important that objects meant to be perceived as closer to the viewer have heavier lineweights.


Buildings are the site’s tallest elements. Therefore, they get the heaviest (or thickest) lines.


The ground plane gets the lightest weights, and walls are heavier to convey that they are not on the same plane.

Once finished with this step, he scanned the image on trace.

8:30 – 13:09: Cleaning Up a Scanned Image

Cropping out unnecessary items with the Crop tool (8:55)


Copying the current layer and desaturating it (10:00)


Turning all gray items white (10:20)


Ensuring that all linework is black (11:30)


Cleaning up any remaining splotches of gray (12:10)


Saving the file as an image file – we recommend PNG, which doesn't compress the saved image (12:40)

13:10 – 24:29: Adding Patterns and Labels with CAD

Setting the drawing units and plot scale (13:30)


Bringing in the saved image as an Xref and placing it in the drawing (14:10)


Establishing a known distance and scaling the image (14:40)


Zooming to extents (15:30)


Placing a boundary for a hatch and setting up a layer (16:05)


Trimming elements out of the boundary (17:30)


Creating a cut-out area (18:15)


Cutting out an area for a building (18:50)


Placing a hatch within the boundary and using the interior area option to exclude objects inside the hatched area (19:00)


Placing text or leaders with text to call out items in the drawing (19:50)


Creating a layout and giving it a paper size and plot style (21:45)


Creating and scaling a viewport, then setting it as active (22:07)


Exporting each layer to use in Photoshop (22:40)

24:30 – end: Using Photoshop Effectively for Rendering

Bringing the exported layers into Photoshop (24:30)

Take care to select the option to Crop to the media box when bringing in the PDFs.


Hiding the layers with the labels and patterns (26:10)


Making selections using the Magic Wand tool (26:30)


Creating a new base layer and giving it a fill with the Paint Bucket tool (27:00)


Setting the drawing to RGB color (27:35)


Correcting the tolerance to allow smaller areas to be filled in (28:00)


Using the Expand Selection option, setting it to 1 pixel, which will allow the fill to go closer to the edges of the hatched areas (28:45)


Grouping base layers (30:20)


Painting areas (30:45)


Grabbing colors from a color library (31:25)


Selecting a brush tool (33:00)


Adding more brush shapes from the Adobe website (33:30)


Dropping the brush Mode to Normal and Opacity to about 15% (34:40)


Making the brush larger or smaller (34:55)


Blending colors (35:20)


Using the Multiply option to turn all white pixels into transparencies (38:00)


Selecting and painting a hatched area (38:35)


Example of what an image looks like after painting (41:30)


Adding plants (42:10)


Adding a mask to the tree canopy layer and making the canopy translucent (44:09)


Merging the tree layers (45:30)


Adding a plant to your library (45:40)


Placing plants and changing their opacity (46:25)


Adding a shadow (47:00)

When creating shadows in any drawing, they should be cool colors – typically blue.


Bringing in site amenities and adding them to your library (49:08)


Adding title text and a touch-up layer (52:00)


Adding the labels (52:20)


Adding a fill and dropping the opacity (53:00)


Adding shadows to the buildings (53:18)


Question: Where did you get the tree PNGs? (54:30)



Overview of setting the opacity of the trees (55:55)

The Photoshop opacity slider tends to make trees look a bit too ghostly.

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