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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
Hey gang! This is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques. This week we're going to take this woman here who you may recall from such movies as "Blending a texture onto a face" and "Rendering a face as a cave painting" and we're going to select our shadows and highlights independently and then merge her against this background. Now, this is a great demonstration of some quick and dirty masking techniques inside of Photoshop, plus as an added bonus I'll show you how to use a Color Range command, not only to generate a selection outline, but also to directly generate a layer mask.
Here, let me show you how it works. In this movie, I'm going to show you a quick and dirty way that happens to work great for isolating highlights and shadows in a person's face for example, and then merging those details with an underlying image. And in our case what we're going to do is we're going to take this portrait shot from Jason Stead, and we're going to merge the highlights and shadows into the sand dune background from Vladimir Wrangel--both with the Fotolia Image Library-- and we're going to end up achieving this effect right here with the dunes cutting through her eyes, as you can see.
So it's almost as if a bright highlight as being cast on to her eyes, and then we have these dunes over here on the left-hand side. We also have this wonderful interaction, in my opinion anyway, of highlights and shadows over here on the right side of the image. So we're getting some very dark, lustrous details. And that's a function of having two different layers, one of which is set to Highlights, the other set to Shadows, with different layer masks applied that we'll be creating using the Color Range command. So let's get to it. I'm going to switch over to my original image here. I'm going to go ahead and turn on this Portrait layer, and I'm going to rename it Highlights because that's the purpose it will serve.
Then I'll press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac to bring up the New Layer dialog box, and I'll call this new layer Shadows and then click OK in order to jump the image to a new layer. Now I'm going to turn off the Shadows layer. Click back on Highlights. Let's go ahead and isolate some of those highlights using the Color Range command. So I'll go up to the Select menu and choose Color Range, and that brings up this Color Range dialog box right here. Now by default, this the way you should see things. You should have Selection turned on like so, and then the Selection Preview option should be set to None so that you're seeing the full-color image out here in the background.
Now the first thing I'm going to do is click somewhere on her cheek in order to lift the key color--that is, a color upon which the entire selection will be based. Now, you can see that I'm selecting some of those bright colors in the skin region here inside of this inset mask. And wherever the mask appears black, that's where the image will be deselected. Because we're going to convert this selection to a layer mask, wherever we're seeing white will reveal the layer, wherever we see black will conceal the layer. I want to go ahead and open up this mask a little bit, so I'm going to increase the Fuzziness value. And notice as I do, I'm expanding the area that gets selected inside the image.
So in my case, I'm going to take that Fuzziness value up to 90 luminance levels, so the selection is drifting away from that key color, 90 luminance levels brighter, 90 luminance levels darker as well. And it's tapering across that region of luminous level, so we're getting that nice organic natural transition. Now, I'll click OK. Make sure your Invert check box is turned off, by the way, and then click OK in order to generate a selection outline. Now to convert that selection outline to a layer mask, drop down to the bottom of the Layers panel and click on the Add Layer Mask icon. And now we've managed to mask some of the brighter highlights inside the image.
Notice I didn't get the whites of the eyes entirely, because I wanted to dim them away just a little bit. The great thing about Color Range is you don't have to keep all of the brightest highlights or all of the darkest shadows; you can choose some highlights or shadows in between. Now, because I want to merge these highlights with the background and keep them nice and bright, I'm going to go up to the Blend mode pop-up menu, and I'm going to choose the when-in-doubt brightening mode, which is Screen, and I'll end up getting this affect here. So it's almost as if I put the two images in different projectors and I'm shining them at the same screen.
That's the kind of brightening effect I'm achieving here. I'm going to go ahead and turn on the Shadows layer. Click on it to make it active as well. The thing about working with the Color Range command the way we did just a moment ago where you choose Color Range and then you start clicking around is, you're kind of working blind because you have no idea how your selection outline is really going to manifest itself as a layer mask. If you want to get an idea, here's what you do. Cancel out. Create your layer mask in advance. So with that Shadows layer active, I'll drop down to the Add Layer Mask icon and click on it here inside the Layers panel.
I'm also going to assign the blend mode that I eventually want to use, which is going to be the ultimate darkening mode. I'll go up to the Blend mode pop-up menu and choose it. It's Linear Burn. So we're really going to burn the heck out of those shadows. However, I don't want to keep this much of the image. I don't want to burn the entire thing into that background, so I am going to create a layer mask. But the beauty of working this way is whereas Color Range is normally a Composite Selection tool--so it looks that the Composite View of the image-- when you have layer mask selected, it only looks at the active layer and that's it.
So I'm going to go up to the Select menu, choose the Color Range command again, and this time now notice that it's automatically masking an area and it's showing me the result of that mask. So instead of delivering a selection outline this time around, it will deliver layer mask, which is totally awesome. I'm going to click inside that iris, which currently looks like a bright area because of that sand dune highlight that's running through it. But in the original image on that one layer it's actually a very dark color. So as soon as I click on it, you'll see that I'm selecting just the darkest colors inside the image, and they're showing up as white inside of this layer mask preview.
I'm now going to increase my Fuzziness value to, let's say, 130 works out pretty well for this effect, and that's it. Now, you can add more key colors if you want to. You can go ahead, and Shift+Click on colors if you like, Shift+Drag inside the image in order to lift multiple colors at a time. Of course, that lifts way too many colors in my case, so I'm going to reset things by just clicking in that iris once again. Actually, that's more like the pupil. I'll click out here in the iris a little bit to grab that. Then I'll click OK in order, not to create a Selection Outline, but in order to automatically generate a layer mask.
Now, of course you can edit those layer masks to any degree you like, but in my case I'm done. I'm going to turn on my text layers that I've created in advance here, press the F key a couple of times in order to switch to the Full Screen mode, and that is the quick and dirty, but elegant and highly automated way to select and isolate highlights and shadows inside an image.
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