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Part 2
more PD Pro tutorials

Now let's take a look at a bunch of filter effects we might want to use on this picture.
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  part 1 < prev part 2 next > part 3 - part 4 

First and foremost, you may want to adjust brightness, contrast, gamma and similar aspects of the image. Use

   menu: Filter > Adjust > Value...

One the coolest filters for images like these is Mystic vision, part of the Blur filters:

menu: Filter > Blur > Mystic vision

It's a bit like the Zoom blur but it is selective. It applies to bright pixels only.  (in the Animation menu, its counter part exsts too: shadow vision, useful for casting rays of apparent volumetric shadows)

Here's an idea of what Mystic vision does: those few bright areas in the dark cloud appear to cast rays of light. In this case the hotspot is near the center of the dark cloud blob. Light rays appear to emanate from there in all directions.

You can change the position of the 'hotspot' for the filter. That can be used for a more top-down sunrays effect.  The hotspot is placed near the top right border. You can even drag it way higher and away, above or anywhere outside of the image for very long rays.

Alpha Channel for selection

You could also use it to generate a set of rays just from one sub-area of the image, namely the brightest areas. This could be done by using a mask in the alpha channel to prevent the filter's effect from applying in the remote areas or in the wrong side and direction.

You can use the Lasso selection tool (one of the 4 selection tools for alpha masking in the Tools panel below the first row of tools). You could for example start by selecting the general area around the cloud.


   menu: Alpha > Blur alpha...

in order to avoid a sudden transition in the mask from selected (within) to not selected (outside of selection)

Set the Blur factor to the max.

Apply it once, two or three times even.

It's a god idea to store the alpha channel content (the mask as a grey scale image). You could do this before bluring, then again after blurring.

Here's an example of the stored alpha buffer, before blurring. Notice the very crisp, sudden transition from black to white. Black is outside of the selection, i.e. non-selected. White indicates a set of pixels that are selected.

Here's another saved alpha buffer, after blurring the alpha.

You can see now that the white region gradually transitions through greys before turning into the black area.

Well, it looks close to white, and black, but with enough blurring it may actually have faded a little, and be off-white and off-black.

You may thus want to adjust brightness, contrast etc... to enhance the dynamic range of the alpha buffer.

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You could thus adjust alpha:

   menu: Alpha > Adjust alpha...

This is somewhat equivalent to Filter>Adjust>Value...

The alpha channel turns into a greyscale image, and shows the familiar control sliders to adjust value, brightness, contrast and gamma.

When you click OK or Cancel, the modified greyscale disappears, and is loaded into the new alpha channel.

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