PI7 Video Box

I love leafing through PhotoShop books at the bookstore, and trying to "translate" PS techniques into PI. This fun way to turn a favorite photo into a 3D video box in PI7 was inspired by Scott Kelby's, Photoshop 7 Down & Dirty Tricks, a very cool book filled with great image effects.

3D Video Box

Open up an image in the work space. Make a tall, narrow selection for the front of the box. I've made a selection from a photo of our Welsh Terrier puppy, Taffy. My daughter had dressed him up in a swimming cap and goggles.

make a selection

Select the Path Drawing tool. Click Shape in the Attributes toolbar and select Rectangle. Make a black 2D rectangle to fit the top of the box. Right click, Duplicate, and edit the color of the duplicate so that it harmonizes with the photo. Select the Transform tool, Resize Option, to make the duplicate rectangle slightly smaller than the black rectangle. Center it over the black rectangle object.

center boxes at top

Choose the Text tool. Use a font, size and color of your choice to make the large text for the front of the box. I've used Impact, which is a very bold, compact font, in a highly contrasting color. Here's a hint for making text stand out from a busy background: Add a very small, sharp black shadow to it with these values.

add shadow

Here's the front of the box, so far. When you're done making it, select any object, then right click, Select All Objects. Right click, Merge as Single Object.

front of box

Now to make the side of the box. Select the Path Drawing tool. The Rectangle shape should still be selected. Draw a tall, narrow 2D rectangle object exactly as tall as the front of the box. You can make the side any color you like. Right click, Duplicate. Edit the duplicate's color to black. Select the Transform tool, Resize option, and make it small enough to cover only the bottom part of the side object.

side of box

Click on the side object to make it active, then right click, Duplicate. Edit the color of the Duplicate object. Select the Transform tool, Resize option, and resize this object to fit the top third (or so) of the side object.

add top object to side

Select the Text tool. Using a font, size and color of your choice, make the text for the side of the box. You'll probably want to make the VHS text in white, so it contrasts with the black band at the bottom of the box's side. After you create the text for the middle and top of the side, switch to the Transform tool. While each Text object is active, rotate 90 degrees counterclockwise.

rotate text

Here's the side of the box, with Text objects centered vertically. Select any side object, then Shift+Click the other objects comprising the side of the box. Right click, Merge as Single Object.

side of box with text added

Now we have to distort the side of the box to create a 3D look. First, use the Pick tool to drag the side so that it lines up against the left side of the front object.

line side up with front

Select the Transform tool, then click on the side object to make it active. In the Attributes toolbar, select the Distort option.

Drag a very teensy bit downward on the top left control point, then drag a teensy bit upward on the bottom left control point. This will make the left side of the object less tall. Be careful not to overdo it, you only want to distort the side object slightly.

distorted side object

You may wonder why I recommend that you use the Transform tool's Distort option for this task, rather than the Perspective option, which would affect both the top and bottom left control points simultaneously. In a word, experience. The Distort option requires you to tweak a little more, but it results in less blurring of the text after Transforming. Try it both ways and you may agree. We'll deal with this Text distortion problem a little later on.

To darken the color values in the side object, while it's still active go to your Tool Panel's Quick Color Control's and click the Brightness (sun) key's minus (-) sign one or two times to darken the object.

darken object

Let's distort the front object next. With the Transform tool selected, click on the front object. In the Attributes toolbar, the Distort option should still be active. Drag very slightly downward on the top right control point, and very slightly upward on the bottom right control point. As you can see in the screen shot below, you don't have to drag the control points very far to get a perspective effect.

distort front of box

While the front object is active, Shift+Click the side object, so that both objects are selected at the same time. Right click, Merge as Single Object (be sure you don't merge the object with the base image).

Now let's Sharpen the object detail a bit with Unsharp Mask. This nifty little command can be very helpful in restoring detail, especially for very large images which have been made significantly smaller. In this case, though, we're going to use it to combat the slight blurring which occurred during the Distort transformations. Unsharp Mask sharpens detail via a complicated mathematical formula based on altering contrast by subtracting average pixel value.

Choose Effect, Blur & Sharpen, Unsharp Mask. When the Unsharp Mask dialog box opens, skip the thumbnails and click the Options button to open a secondary dialog box.

unsharp mask dialog box

You'll get a secondary Options dialog box with two editable values: Sharpen factor (higher values strengthen contrast) and Aperture radius (lower values reduce pixel values). The default values are too high for most images, resulting in a "bleached out" look from too much contrast. In general, you'll likely find that a very low Aperture radius (in the 1 to 10 range) yields good results, and that the best Sharpen factor will usually be relatively low as well (somewhere below 50). However, you will have to experiment with each image to find the best settings.

In this case, I've used a Sharpen factor of 5, and an Aperture radius of 25. You may have to use different values, depending on your object. Click the Preview button to see the edits applied to your image. If it doesn't look right, click Continue to return to the Unsharp Mask dialog box. When you're satisfied that you've sharpened up the detail sufficiently, click OK.

The final step in making your video box is to add a shadow. You could add a terrific perspective shadow just by using PI7's Shadow dialog box. But it's good to learn to make things yourself, so here's something new to try. Select the Airbrush Paint tool. In the Attributes toolbar, click in the Color box and select black. Edit the brush Size to 25, Transparency=55, Soft edge=50. Click Mode in the Attributes toolbar to enter Paint as Object Mode. Paint a shadow (arrow) just underneath the box front and side.

airbrush a shadow

After airbrushing the shadow, click Mode in the Attributes toolbar. You will leave Paint as Object Mode and the paint will be an image object. Select the Pick took, right click, Arrange, Send to Back. This will position the shadow behind the box, so that it just peeps out from the bottom of the box. If you don't like the shadow, Delete it and try again. When you're satisfied, right click and Merge All.

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