You can render to layered Photoshop files with Electric Image. This means you can set up layers to represent different material attributes and shading and be able to modify them after you're done rendering. So, for instance, if you wanted to increase the reflections in a scene, you can now do that with layers in the Render Settings. This sure beats the old method of having to render out separate passes for each attribute. To render out to layered Photoshop files, go to the Layer Tab in the Render Settings, make sure Enable Layers is turned on and you have the default All Object turned On in the Layer Sets. Now, you can make your own selection sets and render separate passes even of layered Photoshop files if you want, but All Objects is the default and probably the way you'll work the most frequently. Then you need to add a Shader to the Layers Panel here. Just click Add, navigate through EI Shader Folder and select the EILayer.shl file. Double click the Layer Shader to open its controls. You have default layers, which you can turn on or off with the enable dots or you can add more layers with the Add Button below. Let me explain some of the default choices. Most of these choices duplicate material attributes. If you set up the materials for your model, know if they're reflective or not. This spaceship definitely ahs reflections, so I want to click this button or do on. But it doesn't have Raytrace Transparency, so I don't need refractions so I can leave this off. I also don't have any Luminance Effects aside from the glowing grill object at the front of the ship here. Glows are handled separately and will appear in their own grouped layer. I have a specular channel for this model so that goes on and the Diffuse Pack is on because that's the base color in shading. The other layer is Shadows, which is not a material attribute but it is a layer option as well. So I can dial up and down the shadow effects as well. Let's look at some of the other choices. Just click the Add Button and we have several more layer possibilities. Anything from Raytrace Reflections to Fog Effects. There is one more layer I'd like to add, which is the Final Render. I'll select that and I'll drag it to the top of the Layers List and I'll set its Blend Mode to Normal. This Final Render Layer is the image that EI would normally generate if I wasn't rendering layers, like if I was rendering a snapshot. The Transfer or Color Blend Modes for the layers are displayed on the right. You can change the reflection to Screen Mode instead if you'd like. I'll stick with Linear Dot as it's closest to the Add Blend Mode in After Effects. Of course, I can change any of these Transfer Modes later in Photoshop or After Effects. Now let's look at the top of the controls. With the Auto Name Pop-Up, you can add a prefix or a suffix to your render name if you'd like. I usually ignore this. Phong Transparency Pass; this is an option for creating a special transparency layer but I recommend creating a special set of just your transparent objects with its own layer shader and masks. And below that is checked on the Create Layers Group Mask which is important. Although these layers are turned into a Photoshop Layer Group with a mask for that group, the individual layers are not masked themselves. This keeps the edges of the objects clean for compositing later, which is what we're going to do. So leave this checked on. OK. We're all set. Just hit the Go Button and EI will do all the work and render us some nice PSD files. Because these are individual frames, we can check on how the render looks as soon as the first frame is rendered. Here's one. Let's drag it into Photoshop and look at it. There are two groups; one for glows, and I'll change its mode to Linear Dodge and the second group called All Objects, which is the name of our layer set. At the top is my final render layer, so this what all the layers below should combine together to look like. So let's turn off all the layers in the All Objects Group and then turn them on bottom upwards. The Diffuse Pack and Specular and Reflections, looking very nice. And finally Shadows. I'll toggle on and off the final render layer to compare. That's pretty close. When the entire animation of Photoshop images is finished rendering, you can import the frames into After Effects as a Photoshop Sequence. There are no layer styles so you can just click OK. Open up this comp, which has two nested comps, based on the two Photoshop groups. The top one is glows, so I'll set its transfer mode to Add. Option double click on the All Objects nested comp and you will see all of its layers. Let's turn off Final Render. Now you can adjust opacity, the specular layer or the reflection layer or the shadows. There's a bit of white fringing in the shadows pass so the added benefit of rendering the final render layer is that I can do a track mat with it and get rid of the fringing of the shadow layer. There. Being able to render Photoshop layers out of Electric Image gives you a whole lot more creative options. Now you have the ability to really massage your 3D scene in your final composite.
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