Friday, January 15, 2021

Creating a Waving Flag

I have from time to time wanted to make an object, like a flag appear to be waving or otherwise in motion.  I recently bumped into an online tutorial aimed at exactly this task.  So, I of course wanted to try it out and figured I should post about the process for future reference.

The tutorial is on YouTube -- Photoshop Tutorial: How to Make Your Own Waving Flag

I'll be keeping my notes on the process on this posting. 

The video uses two PSD files as a starting point.  Links to his samples follow:

I will be following the steps of the OP, except those dealing with the content of the flag.  Instead, I will be using an image created by u/SheriffRoost and posted on Reddit. for a flat flag, that looks like this:

Ultimately, I want to be able to show the flag, blowing in the wind against a cloudy sky appropriate for the joyless land of Barovia.  

Modifying Flag Template   

My first change is to delete the layers provided by the OP for creating the flag.  I'll not need them as I am using the image shown above instead as my flag design. 

I'll delete the following layers and ignore the OP's references to them. 

  • Layer 11
  • Layer 6
Then I copy in a layer with just my flag image and adjust its size to match the sample.  

Saving the Displacement Map

I followed the steps listed by the OP to save the Displacement layer.
  1. Make DISPLACEMENT layer visible (click on the eye icon),
  2. Click on the thumbnail to make it the active layer,
  3. Save the layer: File, Save As..., and name it DISPLACEMENT.psd
Now, hide the Displacement layer.

Skip OP's Text Creation

The OP gave nice information on creating some word art that I simply don't need.

Apply a Texture Effect to the Flag Graphic

  1. Hide all the layers except those that define the flag image
  2. If more than one layer defines the flag, combine them by selecting them all and using Cmd-Shift-Opt-E to create a flattened composite of the visible layers.
  3. Go to Filter, Filter Gallery, Texture and pick Texturizer
  4. Adjust filter as desired.  Settings I used: Texture - Canvas, Scaling - 50%, Relief - 2, Light - Top
  5. Commit the change with an OK.
The flag should now have a subtle texture that might be mistaken for a canvas flag.

Add Displacement Effect

Next, the displacement map will be used to make the flag appear to be rippling in the wind.
  1. Select Filter, Distort, Displace...
  2. Set Horizontal and Vertical scales to 5, Displacement Map - Stretch to Fit, Undefined Areas - Repeat Edge Pixels
  3. Click OK
  4. Select the DISPLACEMENT PSD file created earlier and accept it.
  5. Make the hidden Displacement layer visible and active
  6. CMD Click on the thumbnail of the distorted flag to make a selection of its shape
  7. Make a layer mask on the displacement layer from the selection (click the mask icon)
  8. Click on the thumbnail of the DISPLACEMENT layer to make it active
  9. Change the blend mode from Normal to Hard Light
  10. Decrease opacity to taste, maybe 67%
  11. Make a composite snapshot of the flag and displacement layers (Cmd-Shift-Opt-E), feel free to hide the other layers.
At this point my image looks like a flag waving in a vacuum.

Hang Flag on Flagpole

The image needs to be added to the pole, resized, and distorted a bit to simulate gravity's effect.
  1. Copy the image layer to the flag pole image using technique of your choice
  2. Make sure the Pole layer is above the flag layer
  3. Make sure your flag layer is open and use the Free Transform (⌘T) tool to resize the flag layer so that the corners nearest the flag pole are in the right place.
  4. Now, and this will seem silly, flip the flag by clicking: Edit, Transform, Rotate 180 degrees, finally hit return to accept the change.
  5. Distort the flag by clicking: Filter, Distort, Wave...
  6. Set the Wave menu options as desired.  I used (selections unlikely  to be useful to change in bold): Number of Generators - 1, Wavelength - Min 10 & Max 298, Amplitude - Min 5, Max 35, Scale 100%, Type - Sine, Undefined Areas - Repeat Edge Pixels
  7. Click OK to accept wavey flag
  8. Flip the flag again: Edit, Transform, Rotate 180 degrees, hit return to accept the change.

Add A Bit of Droop (Optional)

Optionally, the end away from the flag pole can be pulled down a bit with an Edit, Transform Skew and dragging the right middle selector box down a bit.

Reduce the Opacity of the Flag 

Reduce the opacity of the flag to allow some of the background light to pass through. Less opacity equates to a thinner flag material.

Add a bit of Apparent Thickness to the Flag

  1. Double click on the Flag's thumbnail to open its Layer Style dialog
  2. Click Bevel & Emboss
  3. Set the size to 1 pixel, Highlight mode to Soft Light, Shadow Opacity to 30%
  4. Click OK to apply the effect.

Add Some Perspective

Add some distortion to make it seem that we are looking up at the flag on the pole.
  1. Select the Pole, Flag and any other layers.
  2. Click on: Edit, Transform, Perspective...
  3. Drag a bottom corner out (e.g. left corner to the right) to add perspective effect

Final Touches

For my final step, I changed the sky to something much cloudier and more appropriate to Barovia.  My final result...

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