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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.
In this movie, I am going to show you one of several possible creative applications for those image stacking modes that are available to you inside Photoshop Extended. So, bear in mind that you need the Extended version of Photoshop to pull off this effect. I'm working in the Adobe Bridge, and I have selected a handful of images. I will press the spacebar so that we can see these images in the full-screen mode. This is Piazza San Marco in Venice with the Grand Canal in the background. And I happened to capture this image in the winter when there is relatively few people. In the summer, this place is just packed.
However, I still want to be able to get rid of those people to the greatest extent possible. So, I captured a few different shots. I have got this one here. Here is this one. You can see I moved a little bit, so the registration is worth beans. But we will still be able to align the scene quite nicely in Photoshop. Here is the third image, and then here's the final version of the composition. I have gone ahead and created a weathered look by blending a paper texture against the image. But more to the point, I took two swings to those statistical analysis tools, which were ultimately designed for scientists, and yet you and I as regular people are able to make good use of them.
First of all, I went ahead and wiped out all the differences in the scene. And where there are no differences, where things are stationary, the scene appears normal, so we just have the standard grayscale luminance data. And then I took all the differences and rendered them out as these white ghost people here, including this ghost vaporetto in the background with these trail of white wakes coming off of it. So, you can pull off some pretty amazing effects here. All right, so let's see how I did it. I will go ahead and escape out of the preview, click on the first image, Shift+Click on the last one. And then I'll go up to the Tools menu-- once again, I stress I'm working inside the Bridge-- I'll choose Photoshop, and then I'll choose Load Files into Photoshop Layers.
Now, that's strictly a convenience feature that goes ahead and plops all of these images onto layers here inside the Layers panel, so that I can then turn around and blend these images together. Now, once Photoshop goes ahead and populates the Layers panel with all three images, I will click on the first, Shift+ Click on the last to select all of the layers inside the panel. And I am going to go ahead and zoom in as well, so we can take in more detail. And I will go up to the Edit menu and choose Auto Align Layers. As before, that is in the previous movie. I will just select the Auto Projection option, then click OK, and let Photoshop do its thing. And once again, it's looking for similar pixels with which to align these three layers.
To see how we have done, I will click on rear layer, Alt+Click or Option+Click on its eyeball so that we can see this layer by itself, and now I am going to zoom in even farther so that we can take in some of the smaller details here. And I'll press Alt+Right Bracket, or Option+Right Bracket on the Mac, in order to view each of the images independently. Now, you can see that we've got some pretty great alignment going on between the images, which is flat-out amazing given the ratty job that I did when I was shooting them. However, we also have people sticking at certain locations. So what I am really saying is even though one person may move out of a location, another person moves in. So check out this area right there.
I will go ahead and select it, and then I'll press Alt+Right Bracket again, Option+Right Bracket on the Mac, to cycle from one layer to another. Alt+Right Bracket again Alt+Right Bracket again. So you can see right there at this location in particular, we've always got somebody in the way, and so that's going to present a problem when we ask Photoshop to resolve away those differences. All right, anyway, I will go ahead and deselect the image, turn everybody back on, click on the first layer, Shift+Click on the last one so everything is selected, go up to the Layers panel flyout menu, and choose Convert to Smart Object in order to combine all those layers into a single Smart Object, which I will go ahead and rename, as long as I'm here, San Marco.
All right, so now the next step is to go up to Layer menu, choose Smart Objects, which is dimmed because I deselected the layer, so I will go ahead and click on it to select it. Now back up to Layer, choose Smart Objects, choose Stack mode--only available inside Photoshop Extended--and then choose, you may recall from the previous movie, I was telling you that Median is your way of getting rid of the different information between these various images. So, I will choose the Median command, but it doesn't work out so well. Notice this guy that I was just pointing to a moment ago, the guy who was sort of bending over, or bending his knees anyway. He's become part of a strange amalgam of people.
We have got some ghost people up here in the left area, and then we've got this sort of collection of people and pigeons down here around the stand. And so this is not turning out to work out well at all. And it's totally the fault of the photographers. It's my fault because I never did catch these details without somebody in front of them, so I'll go ahead and zoom out. Consider the scene for a moment. All is not lost because if you take a look at way things are working out, everything that moves is darker than everything that remains stationary.
So, if I wanted to call attention to all the stuff that's moving, I would go up to Layer menu, choose Smart Objects, choose Stack Mode, and then choose Minimum because that's going to keep the minimum luminance levels, which is the darkest information, and what we are going to do is hyper-populate the square. We are going to take everybody in every location they were in all three images and bring them to life. If we want exactly the opposite effect, we choose the opposite mode by going to Layer, choosing Smart Objects, choosing Stack Mode and this time choosing Maximum, which keeps the maximum luminance levels, that is to say the brightest details.
And we end up cleaning up that square amazingly well, and we get rid of most of those ratty pigeons, too. If I press Ctrl+Z, or Command+Z on the Mac, this is the minimum version with all of these little pigeons all over the place. And then if I press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z again, they go away. Yay! Who likes pigeons anyway? All right, the next step is to go ahead and bring in that paper texture. But this is a grayscale image, and I want to bring in some color, so I am going to go up to the Image menu, choose Mode and choose RGB Color, and I will get this ridiculous error message in which Photoshop suggests I go ahead and rasterize the information.
That would be the death of this composition. Don't do it. Click Don't Rasterize. And nothing goes wrong. It's all fine, so there's no reason to rasterize in the first place. Then I will switch over to this paper texture from the Fotolia image library that I have open. I will go to the Layers panel, click the flyout menu icon, choose Duplicate layer, and let's go ahead and put this layer inside Untitled 1, which is the name of my composition in progress. Click OK, switch back to that image, like so. My paper texture is too small. That's not a problem. I'll go ahead and rename it, though.
I will go ahead and call it 'paper' instead of Background, and then I will go up to the Edit menu, choose Free Transform, or press Ctrl+T, Command+T on the Mac, and then go ahead and Shift+Alt+drag, Shift+Option+drag one of those corner handles in order to scale proportionally out from the center. Press the Enter key, or the Return key on the Mac, in order to apply that modification. Go to the Blend Mode menu right here in the upper-left corner of the Layers panel and change it from Normal to Multiply. That ends up giving us that weathered look--very easy to pull off.
It's a little too dark, however, so I am going to press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, click this Black & White icon, and choose Brightness/Contrast. Because I had Alt or Option down, I can go ahead and name this layer. I will call it brighten, click OK, and then I will take that Brightness value up to 20. That's all I need. I will press the Enter key, or the Return key on the Mac, and hide the Adjustments panel. Now, the next step is to go ahead and crop this image, and so I will grab my Crop tool from the toolbox-- I can get it by pressing the C key--and I will drag around the portion of the scene that I want to keep.
I sort of want a panoramic effect, so I don't want it to be too tall. And I need to go ahead and rotate this crop boundary ever so slightly, maybe to about there, and I am doing that by dragging outside the bounding box. This looks like a pretty good crop to me. Check up here in the options bar that Hide is selected, very important, so you don't throw away any detail. In particular, we would end up cropping away some of the paper texture if we were to not select that option. Looks like I need to tuck this edge in a little bit, so I will do so, and then press the Enter key, or the Return key on the Mac, in order to apply that crop.
All right, so now we've wiped out most of the people in the scene. There are some drifty details, a little bit of ghosting going on. However, let's now bring in the ghost people, and we will do that by clicking on the Smart Object, to which if I click the down-pointing arrowhead, I have applied the maximum stack mode. All right, I am going to press Ctrl+J, or Command+J on the Mac, in order to jump a copy of that layer. I will move it above paper, and then in order to try out a different effect here, I will go up to Layer menu, choose Smart Objects, choose Stack Mode and then choose Range, which is going to find the differences between the minimum and maximum information, and we end up getting--ta-da!--these ghost people.
So, everything that's moving is turning into these ghosts, which is awesome. All right, now I want to exaggerate the contrast just a little bit here, so we have some brighter ghost people going on and so I get rid of some of this dark information in the upper-right corner, and I'll do that by pressing the Alt key, Option key on the Mac, clicking the Black & White icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, choosing Levels, and I will go ahead and call this new layer 'contrast', and I will turn on this Use Previous layer to Create Clipping Mask check box so that we are only affecting this one Smart Object layer.
Click OK and I am going to take this black point value up to 30, so the first value up to 30. I am going to reduce the white point value to 160, so that brightens up those people significantly. That's it, go ahead and close this panel, click on the San Marco layer to make it active, and then we want to drop out all the black stuff, keep all of the light stuff and so I am going to change the blend mode from Normal to Screen. Now, that works out amazingly well. It's just that we've got a little bit of a problem here. If I zoom in, you can see that we have these white tips around the gondolas, and this is a big problem when you're shooting in Venice and you're trying to merge your various shots together, because the gondolas are constantly wiggling back and forth in the water, especially when a vaporetto goes by.
So, what we need to do is mask away that information. I will click on this Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and then I will just grab my Brush tool, either by clicking on it or pressing the B key. My foreground color is black, so I am ready to go. I am going to reduce the size of my cursor, however, a little bit by pressing the left bracket key a few times. I am working with a relatively soft brush, by the way. If I right-click inside the image window, you can see I have the Hardness value set to 50%. Size is 90, but I am going to vary that as I work along here. Now, I'll paint along the gondolas to make them go away.
You may paint some peoples heads off, but I won't worry about that too much because I am not really concerned whether we have people with heads. They're ghost people after all. They can live whether they've got heads or not. I will go ahead and paint away those areas as well, that region, maybe paint along the top of the statues because they have got a little bit of extra highlight going on. Notice these three boats in the background. It's really just one boat that moved to different locations across the three images. Let's go ahead and paint that away. I want to keep that vaporetto; he is very cool. And then I will zoom out because we have got those highlights up here at the top of this building.
I will increase the size of my cursor by pressing the Right Bracket key. Paint that information away, drop down a little bit. For some reason, I have got some movement going on inside of these chairs, probably because there's some alignment problems between the images. Then I will go ahead and paint away these highlight details right there, like so. And then because who in the right mind would be a fan of pigeons, I am going to paint away these pigeons over here, just to do a public service for the Piazza and wipe them all out. All right, and that's it. Press the F key a couple of times in order to fill the screen with the image.
I will press Ctrl+0 or Command+0 as well. That is the final version of my composition, thanks to those statistical analysis tools, which I remind you were designed for scientists, but are also useful for everyday people like you and me here inside Photoshop Extended.
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