Final Product What You'll Be Creating
Actions are a powerful tool in Photoshop. They can be used to automate all sorts of tasks. In this tutorial we will explain how to use actions to create a 3D soda can. Let’s get started!
Action in Use
The video below will show you how the final action will work.
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial.
The following tutorial walks the reader through the steps required to recreate a product photo as a Photoshop Action.
Before jumping in, lets quickly review the capture process which we should be aware of even though it’s slightly out-of-scope for this article. Creating Actions that exactly mimic the source material demands that the source material be as high quality as possible. You don’t need to be a photographer, but if you want great content then you will need a basic light box (search for Cubelite if you don’t think you can build your own), a digital camera with 10+ megapixels and 4 Flashpoint Spiral Fluorescent Bulbs 85 Watts. Once these three things are acquired we have a basic home studio in which we can capture thousands of product shots of anything we require – all without running afoul of someone else’s copyrights. Basic lighting setups and tripod positions can be derived from the many hundreds of hours of video tutorials on YouTube when searching for the term Cubelite.
During the photo session, it’s a good idea to capture the photograph at various ISO levels. This will help identify shadows and highlights, ideally there should be no reflections from outside a light-box. A good light-box will provide lighting from beneath the surface and make the product look as if it’s floating, this happens because the subsurface lighting cancels out any shadows the object is casting. When cast shadows disappear we have a perfect shot, in the sequence below our perfect shot happened between ISO 160 and ISO 200 (lighting and fabric around the light-box may affect individual results).
Our source material, unfettered by copyrights, is now ready to be used as a background template.
We also need a 2D design which we want to apply to the can. The image below is our 2D design and is supplied by stock vector provider Letterstock on the envato network
The dimensions of our can, in millimeters, is 207mm wide by 115mm high which is much too small a size to create a usable texture from. However, if we treat a millimeter as a pixel and multiply these dimensions by 24, a randomly chosen value, we arrive at a very workable 4968px x 2736px. Our base texture will be a green backdrop with a halftone pattern created from parts found in Letterstock’s soda label artwork above.
And here is what the final design will look like when the components are assembled together.
Step 1: Creating the Action Set
Lets begin by creating an Action set into which we will be saving our recored steps. Use the Window menu in Photoshop to open the Actions palette, once the palette is open click on the top right corner to access the Actions menu. Select New Set… and type Soda Can into the subsequent dialog box. Press Return on your keyboard and a folder icon labelled Soda Can now appears selected in our Actions palette.
This Action has 2 parts, part 1 will create a template for the designer to place their work. Part 2 will render the soda can and apply the artwork. Lets create part 1. With the Soda Can set highlighted, press on the Action menu…
Select New Action… from the menu and the New Action modal appears. Enter Render 2D Template into the field and press the Record button.
Step 4: Recording the Template (Part 1 of 2)
Notice that the RECORD button at the bottom of the Actions palette is now red, we are ready to begin recording our Action. Lets start by creating the canvas onto which the 2D soda can design will be placed. Under the File menu select New…
A modal appears asking us for the document specifics. The dimensions for the design come from the soda can which measures 207 millimeters wide by 115 millimeters high which is far too small to work with so we multiply those dimensions by 24 to get 4968 x 2736. This is more than large enough for publishing the results to the web or having them printed in a magazine or even presented in an HD video.
Step 6: Supply Instructions
We are recording the template onto which a designer will place their work. No matter how straightforward the process may look we should always supply some instructions for the designer to follow. Select the text tool and type PASTE YOUR DESIGN
OVER THIS TEXT directly in the center of the canvas. Use the Type menus to set the size of the text to something hard to miss such as 36pt with a leading of 34pt.
If we zoom out and look at the design it’s obvious that the dimensions of the document represent the entire can. However, only
50% of the can is actually visible after the final render so we need to place guidelines at 1242px and 3726px to mark-off the area that will be rendered. Do this now while still recording, the placement of the guides will be added to the recording.
Return to the Actions palette and click the Stop recording button at the bottom of the palette. We have just completed part 1 of this 2 part Action! If you want to see it work, simply select Render 2D Template and click the Play button at the bottom of the Actions palette. A new document will immediately be created that looks identical to the current canvas.
Step 9: Prepare the 2D Design
Whether or not we have a final design for the soda can is not important at this stage. However, to correctly map a 2D design to the soda can we will need something to simulate a 2D design during the creation of the Action. Fortunately we do have a final design for this tutorial. So for the next few minutes we will pretent that we are a designer placing their 2D artwork onto the canvas (we are not recording these steps). Simply place the design on our newly created canvas above the instructional text and scale it to fit the canvas entirely. Next, grab this grid texture and place it on top of the design. DO NOT SCALE IT. Set the layer effect of the grid to Multiply and the opacity of the grid layer to 30%.
Step 10: Create Final Render Action (Part 2 of 2)
Now that we have the design and grid properly placed it’s time to start recording part 2 of this Action. Return to the Action palette menu and choose New Action…. When the dialog appears type Render Final and press RECORD.
Step 11: Duplicate the Design Template
The document into which we placed and scaled our design is not used for part 2. We need to work in a new document where we can flatten the design and work with larger dimensions to draw the can. Go to the Image menu and select Duplicate…
When the Duplicate document modal appears simply press OK, do not give this duplicate document a name.
The design template is now duplicated into a new document, the number of layers and document dimensions exactly match the original.
Next we need to flatten this new document and reset the color swatches to their default Black and White state. Use the Action menu to flatten the document and then click on the reset swatches icon in the toolbox (remember, our Action palette is still in RECORD mode).
The document now has the correct dimensions required to create our can. Notice that the Layer palette only has a single layer name Background.
The Background layer is really our source design so lets rename that layer to source.
Now we need to modify the dimensions of this document to accommodate the soda can we want to create, choose Canvas Resize… from the Image menu. When the modal appears, enter a new width of 4000px and new height of 3600px. Click OK and dismiss the subsequent dialog that appears warning you that cropping will occur.
Now lets run through five quick steps which are represented as the series of highlighted items in the Actions palette below. Create a new layer above the source layer and name it background. Then, move background layer below the source layer. Finally, fill the entire background layer with white and select the layer source.
Step 19: Basic Shapes
If we think about the soda can for a moment, it’s really made up of just 2 basic shapes: The lid and the body. Everything else we see resides within those 2 shapes.
With the source layer still selected and recording still in effect, lets start with the can’s basic shape by creating a new group and naming it can shape mask followed by a new layer called can shape.
Step 21: STOP EVERYTHING
Ok, let’s stop recording. Press the stop button at the bottom of the Actions palette to halt recording. Before we continue we need to import our can photo which we prepared in the light-box at the beginning of this tutorial. The photo will serve as a guide that we can trace to ensure our Action will faithfully recreate the can from our photo. Paste the photo of the can just above the background layer, then hide the source layer so we can see the can while we trace shapes off it.
With the can photo layer selected, merge it down to the background layer. We do this to ensure that the soda can photo layer is not accidentally recorded into our Action, if it was recored it could led to layering issues for us later.
Step 23: Trace Our Can Shape
With the can photo securely in position, return to the can shape layer and RESUME RECORDING by clicking on the record button at the bottom of the Actions layer. Then, with the lasso tool selected, zoom into the photo to between 500% and 700% and begin tracing the can shape. A good way to work is to hold down the Option (Alt) key and choose a starting point to begin tracing by clicking the mouse, while continuing to hold down the Option (Alt) key simply continue to follow the outline of the can and clicking the mouse to increase the selection progressively as we go around the entire can.
With our trace complete and marque selection closed we fill the selected region with solid black.
With our filled selection we will now turn the selection into a mask for the shape of the can. In the layers palette, choose the can shape mask layer, then move the cursor to the bottom of the layers palette and click on the Add Vector Mask button. A mask is instantly generated for this group and the marque selection disappears.
Step 26: Trace Our Can Lid
The process for tracing the can lid is identical to the can shape. First, stop recording the Action by clicking the stop icon at the bottom of the Action palette. Then we hide the layer can shape so that the can below is clearly visible to us while tracing the can lid. Return to the layer group can shape mask and RESUME RECORDING.
Similar to the process we followed with the can shape, we will now create a new group called can rim mask with a layer called rim shape. Now carefully trace the can lid and fill it with the color black. Lastly, with the selection still active, select the layer can rim mask and click on the Add Vector Mask button at the bottom of the layer palette.
Step 28: Create the Pull-Tab Mask
The pull-tab is what’s used to break the seal of the can and allows the soda to flow out. The pull-tab is within the can rim mask group so we will create the group and shape layer for the pull-tab here. With the can rim mask group still selected (see previous step) we will select the layer rim shape before creating the new group. With the layer rim shape selected, create a new group named pull-tab mask then create a new layer called pull-tab shape.
Step 29: Creating the Pull-Tab
Next we select the lasso tool and select the shape of the pull-tab.
Fill the selection with black…
Now we need to cut out the holes in the pull-tab, this requires that we temporarily set the layer transparency to 50% so we can see through the pull-tab shape in order to select the negative areas of the pull-tab in the photo beneath.
Delete the selection and reset the layer to 100%.
The pull-tab has a base color onto which we will be layering several abstract shapes to create the rendering of this section of the can. Set the layer effects of the pull-tab shape layer to the values shown below.
The result is a near solid white fill.
Before we start adding layers to build up the definition of the pull-tab we need to create a mask for the group. While holding the Control-Key (Cmd) hover over the pull-tab shape thumbnail and click, this will highlight the pull-tab shape.
Next, select the layer pull-tab mask then click the Add Vector Mask button at the bottom of the layer palette. A mask for the pull-tab layer appears.
With the pull-tab shape layer hidden we can now clearly see the pull-tab in the photo. Looking at the pull-tab and deciding how to proceed can be a headache, many of the reflections and highlights are abstract shapes because the pull-tab was crudely formed from a thin piece of steel.
Step 36: Visualizing Shapes
The best way to figure out where to start is by squinting our eyes and visualizing the reflections and highlights as several clumpy shapes. Doing this allows us to break the pull-tab down to just a few components so we can get through this portion quickly and efficiently. Here’s what I see when I visualize something that appears complex…there are barely 7 shapes here, easy!
With the pull-tab shape layer still selected, create a new layer called tab edge. This new layer is going to represent the RED area we see in step 36. Once the layer is selected, choose the lasso tool and set the feather radius to 6px. This guarantees that the shapes we are about to create on the pull-tab have a diffuse appearance to them.
Make a selection around the backside of the negative space in the pull-tab and fill the area with black. Notice that our feather radius gives us a soft edge. Set the selection to none and open the layer style palette for this layer…
Set the Bevel and Emboss to the settings below…we get these values from continuously eyeballing the photo to see how close we are to mimicking what we see.
Now set the Gradient Overlay to the following values, these values come directly from the can itself. By using the eye-dropper tool we can set the gradient to exactly match what we see in the photo.
To view the result, toggle the visibility of the layer pull-tab shape on and off to compare the new gradient shapes with the photo – keep in mind that before you toggle the visibility of any layer to take a peak that you will need to stop recording otherwise the act of toggling the layers will be recorded into our Action.
Next, lets create a new layer called tab edge highlight. Using our visualized pull-tab from step 36 lets continue using the lasso with 6px feather to create the remaining shapes.
Set the Outer Glow of layer tab edge highlight to the following. This color comes from using the eyedropper tool to pick the color from the can photo in the background layer.
Next we’ll set the gradient of this layer to the following…
And the result.
Next we’ll create the shape on the leading edge of the pull-tab. First, start by creating a new layer called shape edge, then with the lasso tool still set to 6px feather we create the shape and set the fill to black.
Set the bevel and emboss to the following settings. What we’re trying to emulate is the soft drop-off in tone from the shape onto the pull-tab.
And lastly, set the gradient to the following values and use the eyedropper to pick the colors right from the photo.
And the result so far.
Next is a little specular highlight on top of the shape edge layer. First we need to create a new layer titled shape edge highlight and with the 6px feather lasso we’ll create the outline and fill it with black.
Now set the outer glow of the shape edge highlight to the values displayed below.
And next we’ll complete the specular highlight by setting the gradient for this layer to the following values.
And the result of our specular highlight.
Next we’re going to add some pure white specular highlights to multiple areas of the pull-tab. First, let’s start by creating a new layer called simply highlights. Next, with the lasso tool set to 6px feather, trace the outline of the whitest specular shapes on the pull-tab and fill the result with black. As with the previous steps, we will need to temporarily stop recording the Action in order to hide some layers so we can see the can photo on the background layer to trace our shapes. Once the layers are hidden do not forget to turn recording back on.
Set the layer effect for this shape to solid white color overlay as show in the image below.
And the result so far. We can finally see the pull-tab gaining some thickness.
Next we’re going to add a gradient base to the front end of the pull-tab. The pull-tab actually has a deformation due to a rivit which causes the metal flap to be lower than the rest of the pull-tab causing a situation where the pull-tab is casting a shadow onto itself.
Create a new layer called rivit slab gradient and trace out the area around the slab and fill it with black.
Stop the recording in the Actions menu and hide as many layers as required to properly see the enter can photo on the background layer. Then, set the layer Fill for layer rivit slab gradient to 0% to make the shape transparent while we set the layer styles. START RECORDING again and open the layer style palette, set the values to those shown below.
After setting the layer styles we need to turn RECORDING OFF to re-enable the hidden layers. The style for the layer is too dark so we need to set the layer opacity to 48%. And here’s the result.
START RECORDING. Next, lets create a new layer named dimple gradient and trace out the shape and filling it with black.
Next, set the layer effects for layer dimple gradient to the following. And if you’re wondering if you should stop recording and hide layers and set the Fill for the layer to 0%…yes.
And the result. We can continue adding more and more detail but there is a point at which that extra detail makes little difference, and we’ve reached it. The resolution of this object is so high that shapes and gradients will be nicely blended together when the absolute final result is scaled down to something usable in a TV ad spot, magazine or web article.
Step 47: Creating the Pull-Tab Rivit
Before we start creating the rivit it’s important that we ensure we are recording again. On a project such as this we can often forget to turn recording back on after pausing it. It’s good to have a neurotic sense of it otherwise you can find 20+ minutes of work just went unrecorded.
Now that we have confirmed we are still recording and that we didn’t capture any undesirable events such as toggling the visibility of layers we can continue with the task of creating the rivit shape. Lets start by creating a new layer named rivit shape and filling the selection with black.
Now we’re going to apply some layer effects, but this time, instead of hiding all the layers that are blocking our view of the can photo we’re simply going to stop recording and move the entire background layer out from under all the layers so we can see it. Then return to the rivit shape layer, start the recording again and proceed to setting the layer effects of the following settings.
Let’s start by using the eyedropper to choose the overall color of the rivit.
Next, we’ll find the best color that represents the tone of the shadow.
Now we need to fake the thickness of the rivit by setting the inner shadow with a slightly darker color than the base rivit color.
And finally we’ll add a bevel and emboss effect to give the rivit some extra depth.
And here’s the result with the background layer moved back into position.
Let’s finish the rivit by giving it a few highlights to make it look like polished metal. Start by creating a new layer named rivit highlights and fill the selection with black. Now, turn recording off and shift the photo out from under the layers so we can see the pull-tab so we can use the eyedropper tool. Don’t forget to return to layer rivit highlights and start recording again.
Choose the color directly off the photo which is the best representation of the highlight color.
And here’s the result.
Step 49: Adding the Rivit Relection
Without a reflection the rivit is ungrounded ans appears to float above the pull-tab. We can overcome this by adding a reflection of the rivit on the pull-tab. First, lets start by creating a group named rivit reflection. This group will act as a mask as well as contain the layers required to represent the reflection.
The pull-tab is not a very reflective metal, looking at one in the real-world we can see that there is a slight brushed appearance to it causing anything which is reflected to appear slightly blurred. We’re going to simulate a blur by simply creating a mask which has a feathered edge, this will cause anything within the mask to taper off gradually rather than leaving a high contrast edge.
With the lasso tool set to 3px feather we draw an oval, when the selection is complete, hit the Add Vector Mask button at the bottom of the layers palette. A mask of the shape is now applied to this group.
While holding down the Command Key (Command/Ctrl) click on the thumbnail of the rivit shape layer to get an outline selection of the rivit.
With the selection still active, lets return to the group rivit reflection.
Create a new layer named the reflection and fill the selection with black (you can do this while holding down the Option Key (Alt) and pressing delete on the keyboard).
Next we will flip the shape Vertically using the Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical menu.
Double-Click the layer to open the Layer Styles palette and set the color to these settings. The color was chosen by using the eyedropper tool to select a color directly rom the photo which was nearest the point of interest. Be sure to stop and restart recording in the Actions palette prior to, and after, shifting the background layer.
And the result.
Step 50: Adding the Shadow Reflection
The pull-tab is a reflective metal and as such is reflecting it’s own shadow off the surface of the can as well as the rim. So lets add the shadow and rim element in the form of a simple emboss effect along the bottom edge of the pull-tab. Start by selecting the pull-tab shape layer, then by holding down the Command Key (Command/Ctrl) and clicking on the thumbnail of the layer pull-tab shape.
Set the fill of the selection to black.
Set the layer styles of the current layer to the following. The background photo is momentarily turned to greyscale so we can avoid limiting the lid color to a specific color (more details will follow).
And the result.
Step 51: Add Reflective Color to Pull-tab
Lets start by creating a new layer named color spill. This layer will be how we apply the color of the reflected lid on the pull-tab. With the layer created, use the lasso tool with a 3px feather to create a freeform shape around the bottom edge of the pull-tab.
Fill the selection with black.
Double-click the layer to open the Layer Style palette and apply the following settings. Again, remember to stop, then restart the recording after shifting the background layer. To set the color, type the value as shown or pull the color from the can photo with the eyedropper tool.
And here’s the result.
Step 52: Creating the Can Lid
To begin working on the can lid we must reposition ourselves to the correct layer. Start by selecting the layer can rim mask…
Next, create a new layer named rim shape which will appear just under the can rim mask group, we must drag this new layer to the very bottom of the group can rim mask.
From this point on we’ll be creating gradient shapes that when combined as a series of layers will approximates what we see in the can photo. We can do this with the current photo as it exists, however, we would end up with a can lid with a very specific color applied to many gradients on many layers. Anyone using our completed action to create a can with a red, blue or green lid seen on popular energy drinks would have some work to do.
Therefore, we are going to stop recording, go to the background layer and desaturate the photo completely. We will add a single customizable layer for the lid color later in this tutorial.
Now lets create the shape of the entire lid, we can do this by using the lasso tool to trace out the shape again or simply get the selection from the mask we created for the can rim mask group by holding down the Command Key (Command/Ctrl) and clicking on the mask thumbnail of the group can rim mask. When done, fill the selection with black.
For the layer style, use the following inner shadow settings which will provide the appearance of depth to the lid shape.
The following gradient values are pulled directly from the can photo using the eyedropper tool.
And the result.
One annoying distraction to creating an action such as this is having to stop recording to turn layers off to see the source material below. Maintaining a consistent layer structure is crucial when creating an action, so we can’t continuously move the background layer to new positions in the layer palette. Therefore our only option is to stop recording, hide a layer (often immediately after creating it), and restarting the recording. Unfortunately, while the process is manageable during the recording of the action, it will be a distraction in this tutorial.
From Step 53 to step 67 the reader can safely assume that the author was consistently stopping the recording of the action to hiding blocking layers, restarting recording and continued to trace the content in the background layer and stop recording again to turn layers back on to view the result in context. Steps 53 to 67 will focus on this last part, viewing the process in context.
Step 53: Creating the Inner Rim
At this point the workspace is getting crowded, not only do we need to see what we are tracing but we need to pull color values from the can photo on the background layer. Pulling a color from the photo will be very hard to do with an active shape layer covering the area of interest, luckily we can fix this problem with some cloning. Let’s stop recording and go to the background layer where our photo is. With the lasso tool, trace out the lid of the can and clone it downward so that we now have 2 lids.
Return to the rim shape layer. START RECORDING again. Now lets create a new group named inner rim mask and hide the group pull-tab mask and layer rim shape so we can see the soda can photo. The inner can rim, highlighted in red in the image below, is the area we are focused on.
With a 3px feather value applied to either the oval or lasso tool, create and fill the selection with black on a new layer named inner rim within the group inner rim mask. Notice that although we are focused on the inner rim as highlighted in red in the previous image, we are actually creating a solid oval. Cutting out a crescent is pointless as all the layers we need to create above this particular layer makes the process of being exact moot.
If it’s going to be covered up or masked out don’t waste time fiddling with details.
Edit the layer styles for inner rim to the following settings.
Next, lets apply the following gradient to the inner rim. This image also illustrates why we had to clone the can lid, it makes the picking of colors from the photo much easier.
And the result.
Step 54: Creating the Interior Chamfered Rim Edge
Now that we have created a shape for layer inner rim, lets use that shape to set the mask for the group inner rim mask. Set the selection of layer inner rim to the shape we made by holding down the Command Key (Command/Ctrl) and clicking on the layer thumbnail. The selection is immediate as shown in the image below.
With the mask set, our next target is to draw the chamfered edge just below the inner rim (highlighted in yellow).
Lets select the shape on inner rim again.
With the selection ready, create a new layer named rim 07, then fill the selection with black. Finally, move the shape down into position.
From this point forward we’ll be creating several more layers to help define our rim, so our layer names will become less creative. Layer names only help us to keep track of extremely large Actions (several hundred recorded steps for this particular action) and prevent us from losing track of layers. By using numbers at the end of the layer name it lets us know that the layer is a subset of a base shape or group mask, doing this allows us to more quickly browse the layers palette and understand which layers are base shapes and which are responsible for adding definition.
Next, edit the layer styles for this layer and apply the following settings.
And the result.
Step 55: Building up the Lid Structure
As we continue to build up the lid we need to be mindful of how our shapes are interacting with each other. While we may be technically correct in our methods, things can still look like crap. In this case the edge where our two previous shapes meet are at angles from each other causing very slight shadows to appear on both surfaces. So we’re going to create those shadows…
Create a new layer named rim 10, fill it with black and set the FILL for layer rim 10 to 0% (highlighted in green).
Open the layer styles palette and enter the following Drop Shadow settings.
And the result.
Now we’re going to create the second shadow, the one caused by the inner rim and cast onto the rim 07 layer. Let’s create a new layer named rim 11 and with the exact same selection as the previous step fill the new shape with black. Although shown here in solid black, go ahead and set the FILL for this layer to 0%.
Edit the layer styles and apply the following settings.
And the result.
Step 57: Sprinkling of Specular
Now we’re going to add some specular highlights on the interior rim. Set the feather radius of the lasso tool to 3px and trace out the specular in the photo and fill the selection with black. Now we need to se the FILL opacity to 0% so that the layer style will look as intended. The red arrows below are highlighting the specular we are replicating.
Use the following settings to apply a gradient to the current layer.
And the result.
Repeat the exact same process on the right side on a new layer named specular highlight eight.
Step 58: Attention to Detail
Next is creating a tiny hairline crease that appears near the bottom of the chamfered edge and bends into a groove. The area, highlighted in green below, is a minor detail that could easily be ignored to save time, however, it’s the small details that make the end result look real. So lets start by creating a new layer named rim 08 and then making an oval selection with the crease as our guide. When the selection is complete, fill it with black.
Set the FILL opacity to 0%.
Now lets apply the following settings for this layer style.
And the result. What we are seeing is the shadow within the groove, we will create the highlight in the next step.
This next shape is identical to the previous step. So let’s create a new layer named rim 06 and replicate the selection and filling it with black.
Just a note, duplicating a layer can sometimes be an option, but when making an action, the process of duplicating a layer with a Layer Style already applied means we would need to record the process of deleting that layer style and creating a new one. Any layer style which is recorded, then modified while still recording will cause the Layer Style palette to appear every time the action is run. This is true even if the Action is explicitly set not to show the palette and will force the person using the Action to stay at their computer pressing “ok” several times during the playback. It’s much easier to work around this annoying behaviour by creating a new layer.
Now we need to apply some styles to this layer. Use the following setting to apply the drop shadow effect for this layer.
Next are the settings for an inner shadow.
And finally, the gradient to be applied on the inside portion of the shape.
And the result, a thin hairline crease around the inside of our can.
Step 60: Creating the Groove
The can lid has a deep groove on the surface of the lid, highlighted in turquoise below (the part that we’re always trying to suck the soda from when the can is empty). This shape presents a minor issue in that we cannot simply trace the shape directly, the issue is highlighted with the red arrows. The problem is that the feathered edge is significantly thinner along the top of the shape as compared to the sides.
Create a new layer named rim 00 and with the oval tool selected set the feather radius to 20px. Now draw a circle which is approximately the width of the area of interest and fill the selection with black. The result is a perfect circle with a uniform feathered edge. Note that the entire project is hidden in the next two images to better show the reader what is being done, we did not actually hide all the layers.
Using the transform tool, lets scale the new shape vertically until it perfectly matches the height of the groove. The following image has an exaggerated feathered radius to illustrate what we are trying to achieve – a thinner feather at the top of the shape compared to the sides.
Now we’ll apply the following gradient style to the layer.
And the result. The layer FILL should be set to 0%.
Step 61: Creating the Dome
Soda cans have 2 domes to protect against the internal pressures of the carbonated liquids inside. The top of the can has a positive dome while the underside has a more uniformly shaped inverse dome (which is not visible for this action). In this step we’re going to start building up the layers to create the dome on the top of the lid – create a new layer named rim 01 and trace out the dome shape using the oval tool which should have no feather radius. Fill the selection with black and set the layer FILL to 0%.
Lets add a base color to this part of the dome with the following value.
And the result.
Now we’re going to create the upper portion of the dome which is a near identical shape to step 61 expect that it will be slightly thinner on each side by a few pixels. Create a new layer named rim 02 and fill the selection with black and the layer FILL opacity to 0%.
Now we will apply the following layer style settings.
And the result. The dome is starting to take shape.
Now we’re going to add more definition to the dome by creating another layer with an identical shape to step 62. Name this new layer rim 04 and set the fill to black and the layer FILL opacity to 0%.
Now we apply the final styles to the dome with the following values.
And the result.
Step 64: Creating the Pull-tab Shadow
Now we need to create the shadow for our hidden pull-tab. The entire lid is semi-polished so that anything reflected in it is very blurry. We can replicate that by setting the feather radius of our lasso to 8px and applying some layer styles. Lets keep things tidy and create a new group named lid surface details and place a new layer named pull tab shadow within the new group. Now use the lasso tool to create the outline of the pull-tab shadow, obviously since the pull-tab is blocking the shadow in the photo we will have to take our best guess. We only need to punch out one hole because the second hole near the rivit is not visible in the photo so we’ll ignore it. Set the layer FILL opacity to 0%.
To complete the shadow effect we need to apply the following 4 layer styles.
And the result
Step 65: Creating Lid Perforation Lines
Next we’ll create the perforation lines that tear open when the pull-tab is peeled forward. Create a new layer named perforation one and use the photo to trace out the perforation shapes, then fill them with black and set the layer FILL opacity to 0%.
Apply the following layer style settings.
And the result.
The next element will be the final detail for the lid. Lets create a new layer named pressure and trace out the outline surrounding the pull-tab and perforation lines. When the selection is done fill the result with black and set the layer FILL opacity to 0%.
Now we’ll apply the following layer style settings.
And the result.
With the internal structure of our lid complete, we can stop recording and turn our pull-tab layers back on as well as the exterior rim layer name rim shape, shown in purple. With the layers now visible, restart the recording.
Step 67: Finalize Rim Details
The can lid looks pretty good but there are still a few items missing such as the flat portion of the rim. With the layer rim shape selected, create a new layer named rim edge and with the oval tool feather radius set to 4px we will trace out an oval that is just a few pixels wider than the layer inner rim. When the selection is complete, fill the result with black and set the layer FILL opacity to 0%.
Now lets apply the following gradient layer style using the following values.
And the result. Notice that the ends are dark but we have a slight highlight which has formed near the center edge. Overall we have given the rim some thickness which has so far been lacking.
Next we’re going to add some realism to the can to make the metal appear reflective. Create a new layer named specular highlight and trace out the wedge shaped highlight in the can photo with the lasso tool set to a 3px feather. When the selection is complete, fill the result with black and set the layer FILL opacity to 0%.
Now we will apply a radial gradient fill using the following values.
And the result. As with the inner rim highlight, a radial gradient provides a nice bright core at the center of our shape which tapers off in brightness towards the edges.
Using the exact process above, create a new layer named specular highlight two and create an opposite specular highlight for the other side of the rim.
Step 69: Colorizing the Lid
Next is the lid color. We want to create a layer that the end user of our action can easily access and change the color for whatever their needs are. Create a new layer named can lid color above the group inner rim mask. Trace out the shape of the can rim and fill the selection with black, then set the layer FILL opacity to 0%.
Now we are ready to apply the color overlay to our shape. However at this point we will need to stop recording and replace the photo in the background layer with the original can photo so we can pick a color from it. Once the photo is updated, resturn to the can lid color layer and restart the recording.
And the result. Anyone who needs to modify the yellow can lid can now do so in 2 layers, the layer we just created and the one inside the pull-tab.
Step 70: Prepare the Can Body
Next is the can body. Our source texture layer is currently hidden so we need to stop recording, turn on the layer visibility of both the source layer and the can shape layer. Doing this will obstruct our view of the can photo which is ok, we do not need to see the photo at this time. Now we’re going to apply a style to the can shape layer so we need to select it the layer and set the FILL opacity for that layer to 0%.
The shape of the can is under the design but a small part of the base of the can sticks out of the bottom of the final render. Lets add the following layer style to simulate the reflective aluminium at the base of the can with the following layer style settings.
And the result.
Step 71: Masking the Design
Next, we’re going to select the layer source and with the marquee tool select exactly the left half of the texture and cut it to the clipboard. Notice that we cut within the guidelines we provided at the template stage of this action.
Return to the can shape layer and set the selection to that of the can shape.
Using the Edit menu, choose Paste Into. Selecting Paste Into will instantly create a mask for us and place the clipboard contents within that mask. We can see in this image that the texture is masked near the bottom of the can. Name this new masked layer can design left and UNLINK the design from the mask.
Next, lets return to the source layer and repeat the process with the remaining half of the texture. The result should be both halves laying over each other perfectly. Name this new masked layer can design right and UNLINK the design from the mask.
Now we will go to the layer can design left and select Transform > Scale from the Edit menu. We are not scaling the texture but merely using the transformation tool to move the texture to the left until the right edge of the texture lines up with the center of the can. Press Enter on the keyboard to confirm the transformation. Next, go to the layer can design right and repeat the process and align the left edge with the center of the can. The grid texture we applied to the design will help to ensure everything is perfectly lined up.
Step 72: Transforming the Texture
Now we need to transform the texture to make it appear as if it really is wrapped around the can. Click on the layer can design left and select Transform > Warp from the Edit menu. Use the handles on the left side of the warp mesh to position the texture. If we manipulate any of the handles along the right edge we risk breaking the perfect alignment we have with the other half of the design. Do not try to warp the top of the texture yet, we will do this next.
Next, with the marquee tool, select the top quarter of the can design left layer and choose Transform > Warp from the Edit menu. Using the top-left node and handle, reposition the node closer to the top of the can rim. Use the handles to warp the texture to conform to the shape of the can – the grid is our guide to ensuring that our warping is correct.
Now we’ll repeat the process with the can design right. When completed, select the layers can design left and can design right and merge them together. This will bond the two layers together so that a seam does not appear down the center of the can between the two design halves when the file is scaled down.
To avoid Layer Style issues, it’s good practice to recommend to your end user to flatten all the layers before they scale their final results.
The final step is to resturn the the source layer and delete it. It is no longer needed.
Final Word and Render
And the final render. Many product shot actions come with a minimal amount of highlights and shadows with the expectation that users will modify the final result to cast a longer shadow or have a light source on just one side. Keep that in mind when you hand off your actions to end users, many of the users will want your action to do the grunt work but they may have other ideas for what the final result will look like. Therefore, if you choose to add these elements keep it to a minium so that a basic user has something but that an intermediate or expert user can easily remove or modify.
As you can see, creating an Action that closely replicates product photography can be time consuming, so why do it? As a photo with a resolution of 4000×3600, the can in this tutorial represents a 32MB uncompressed file (7.5MB LZW compressed tif). However, as an Action these can be as small as 60k making them much easier to provide to clients and users over the Internet or via email (imagine the saved bandwidth on hundreds of such Actions!). Another advantage is that Photoshop stores Actions internally in the Actions palette so you don’t have to manage a series of bloated documents on a hard drive, having them stored in the Actions palette also makes them easier to access for new Photoshop users not fully familiar with the tool (new kids every day!)
But why are the dimensions so large? The recording capabilities of Actions in Photoshop are quite limited – there are no complex vector tools in Photoshop as there are in Illustrator. And for backward compatibility for CS2 through CS6 and beyond, we have to use the marquee and lasso tool for creating shapes. These are not exactly high-fidelity tools to work with and scale upwards quite poorly. Therefore we start by creating massive documents that can easily be scaled down, and that’s a good thing because any errors we make are not multiplied when the final result is scaled down. Errors and imperfections are blended away, and hard edges become softer. Our final result simply looks better when it’s scaled down to something we want to use on a webpage or printed magazine (at these resolutions they would even look good in an HD commercial).