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Photoshop elements 11 tutorial

How to make transparent water heater using photoshop elements 11

Photoshop tutorial
To use this page, read both the written words on right side, and the written words on each image

Final Image shows how to remove water heater from attic
How to remove water heater from attic
Useful for folks facing problem of water heater in attic.

Image is re-creation of actual event. I was in attic, and wife was on floor below with rope.
Loop rope through hole drilled in rafter.
The hole creates friction on rope, making it easy to control 75-100 Lb weight of empty water heater.
Person in attic moves water heater into position.
Person on floor below holds end of rope and lowers water heater down from attic.
Wood frame keeps water heater in straight line down the attic stairs.


Stick-people were drawn on paper, scanned into .jpg format, then added to photoshop workspace to explain water heater project.
If you can cut-and-paste, you can do photoshop.
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Read information printed on each image for more detail.

Each image on this page is made from a screen grab of Photoshop work space.
Click 'print-screen' on keyboard. In Photoshop, click Ctrl+N to create new layer, click Ctrl+V to paste screen grab into Photoshop

Working with photoshop on regular basis requires collection of interesting images.

The 2x4 images were made in Turbocad drawing program, then saved in .jpg format under the name '2x4' for easy location.

Two different types of wood make good contrast. One wood is yellow pine, and other wood (with greenish tint) is treated yellow pine.

Different types of wood illustrate that people use whatever wood is on hand.

Drag and drop image of 2x4 into photoshop. Then go to Layer > duplicate layer, and you have 2 2x4s. Each 2x4 will be on different layer. Use move tool to move or rotate 2x4.
Hover mouse over tools to see name of each tool.

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Water heater image below was loaded into photoshop; drag and drop images into Photoshop.
Each new image can be copied, and then pasted onto another image. This will create a new layer. Use marquee tool, or lasso tool to select area you want to copy, and then go to Edit > copy. Then open another image, go to Edit > paste.
If you have selected part of an image with marquee or lasso, and then want to end the selection, go to Select > deselect

Top of water heater image was selected with lasso tool, then copied, pasted into workspace, and rotated into position.

Pasting into workspace automatically creates new layer.

When working with photoshop, use separate layers for everything. Go to File > New > Blank file.

To visually see the layers in photoshop workspace: Go to Windows > click Layers.
Layers are like a transparent overlay. Or you can create new layer and add solid color using bucket tool.
Layers are key to working with Photoshop.
Notice that the oval is tipped at angle slightly more than angle of boards.
The oval is NOT perpendicular to the 2x4's.

This is done to create action and so final image of water heater appears to be moving downward on 2x4 rails.

Action makes the image more dynamic.

Think of a cartoon when illustrating.
In cartoon-world, if water heater was sliding down the 2x4's then the bottom edge of water heater would be held by friction against the boards, while the upper edge of water heater would be wanting to move faster because it is not slowed by friction.
So the cartoonist would exaggerate using similar method shown here.

When looking at the final image, the oval looks fairly natural. But it also appears that the water heater is moving downward, almost like it is going to fall off the 2x4s.

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Oval on far left can be made using photoshop cookie cutter tool.
Or use pencil tool or paint brush to make circle, then resize circle and rotate using move tool.

Using the stock photo of water heater is easier than making an oval from scratch, since the stock photo had ready-made rim with shadows to give round shape.

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Zoom close when using lasso tools.
Hover mouse over tool icon to see which tool is available.

Lasso tool takes practice.
The lasso must connect back to starting point before selection area is ready.
If you cannot make it all the way around without the lasso connecting itself, then slow down the mouse on your computer: Control panel > Mouse

Once the polygon shape is selected, you can cut, copy, or fill the selected area.

Hold down space bar and use mouse to move work space while using lasso tool.

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Once pologon shape is completed, it can be filled using bucket tool, paint brush, or pencil.

There are several settings and options available with each tool.
In this example a solid blue color was used since many water heaters have blue tops.
Blue also contrasts with yellow wood, and darker blues contrast with surrounding light colors.
Dark grey-blue was chosen because the bottom of objects are generally darker shade.

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Water heater has two ends.
For easy illustration, both ends are the same.
Make duplicate layer: go to Layer > duplicate. Then use move tool to move new layer.
Use a 2x4 to help line up the ovals.

Find the easiest way to tell the story


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Tank body requires white rectangle.
Other colors can be used, for example light beige water heaters are common.
Working with colors is fun, but problems occur. For example color can distract from meaning.

In this case, a gradient will be added to the white rectangle.
If the rectangle is white, then a black gradient is realistic. Black and white can tell a story without distraction.
If the rectangle is beige, then a brownish-grey gradient is needed, but which brownish-grey?
The exact color becomes a complicated artistic issue.
In this case black and white were easiest.

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Notice that layers show on right side of image. Remaining images on this page show the actual layers when doing original Photoshop.
Put everything on a separate layer so each layer can be moved and shaped individually.
Go to Layer > Duplicate layers. Use the eyeball in front of each layer to turn the layer on and off.

Make duplicate layers as work goes along. Duplicate layers are handy start-over point if something goes sour.

Or use Edit > Undo to retreat to previous point. I find it easier to make duplicate layers, and turn off eyeball in front of duplicate layer so it remains invisible unless needed.

When many layers are present, it is difficult to identify layers. Double-click on name of layer to re-name the layer.
To easily identify contents of layer, hold down Ctrl key and click on the layer. This will select contents of the layer so they can be seen in workspace.

Save work frequently. Title work carefully.

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Read information printed on each image for more detail.


Gradients create illusion of shadows on round objects, and help create depth and realism.

To make gradient: First make new transparent layer, then click on Adjustment icon at top of layers, and then select Gradient.
Or go to Layer > New adjustment layer > Gradient.

Gradients can be any color.
Click on color selector located on left below tools.


Once gradient is made, it can be changed with different options.
For example, gradients can be rotated.
Double-click the gradient layer, and box opens with options.

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To create water heater tank, the gradient is confined to shape of white rectangle.
Hold down Ctrl key and click on the white rectangle layer. This selects area within the rectangle.
(Hold down Ctrl key. Then Click on the visible part of layer. Do not click on the object.)

Complex layers can be simplified by right-clicking layer and select simplify.
This applies to typed words, and gradients.

First, the gradient was made, then a duplicate layer of the gradient was made, and then the duplicate layer was simplified.
Once layer is simplified, it can be moved.

To create cylinder, the simplified gradient layer is compressed to the right edge of the white rectangle.

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Simplified gradient layer was moved to the right side to create a shadow effect

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Here, the second side of the white rectangle receives a similar gradient as shown in steps above.

Note the left and right side gradients are different.
Left side was not compressed as far left, and left layer was made less transparent than the gradient on right side.
The gradients create illusion of round tank.

The water heater tank is going to lay on its right side, so the right side needs darker shadows. 

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The white rectangle and gradient layers need to be merged to make the final tank.

It's also important to preserve previous work so you have easy start-over point.

Solution is to select the white rectangle, and then copy all layers within the selection.
Hold down Ctrl key and click white layer. This selects everything inside the rectangle.
Go to Edit > Copy-merged (Be sure to select Copy-merged instead of Copy so all layers inside the selection are copied)

Edit > Paste and the rectangle and gradient layers are now one solid tank on a new layer that can be moved.


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Make duplicate layers of everything for easy start-over point.
Turn off eyeballs in front of previous layers.

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Use move tool to rotate layer and resize until size matches with top and bottom parts of tank.

Complete the full move and resize and make final adjustments before clicking onto another layer.

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Tank is lined up.

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Opacity slider is located above layers on right side.
New layers start at 100% opacity, which means the layer is not transparent.
As opacity is reduced, the layer becomes more transparent.

Opacity also lets you adjust colors so that colors and patterns on layers below show through.

Here the 2x4's show through water heater.
The viewer sees the whole water heater project without obstruction.

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Zoom in when work needs to be accurate.

Before erasing any part of layer, make a duplicate layer, and use eyeball to turn off visibility of unused layer.

Another way to remove excess ends of water heater:
- Merge water heater bottom and bottom oval into one layer.
-- Highlight one layer and then hold down shift key and click other layer so both are highlighted
-- Right-click on layer, and select 'merge layers' > do not select merge visible
-- At any point, a step can be reversed by going to Edit > and select Undo in drop-down menu.
-- Then hold down Ctrl key and click directly on image-part of layer
-- This action will select contents of layer
-- Go to Select at top of photoshop, and in drop-down menu, select Inverse
-- Highlight layer with transparent white tank, and  use eraser to remove unwanted part
-- Repeat same for top of tank

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Ends of water heater are erased so just the oval and rim remain.

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Here is the final transparent water heater and 2x4's

Use lasso tool to trace around all the objects together, then go to Edit > Copy-merged, and completed object can be pasted into any other photo, and rotated to give illusion of steep angle consistant with removing water heater from attic.

Save the .psd file as resource for later projects.

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