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One thing you can do in Photoshop that you can't do in Lightroom is make photo composites. So if you interested in doing that and you're managing your assets in Lightroom, then you will need Photoshop. I'd like to show how I use Lightroom and Photoshop together, when I am making photo composites. I think this is a great art form, and something I really urge you to try. So here I am in my Lightroom Library, I have three photos. I'm going to select them all, pressing Cmd+A or Ctrl+A on my keyboard. And then I'll go to the Photo menu and I'll choose Edit In, Open as Layers in Photoshop.
And that step really saves me time. I don't have to start a new file, it's done for me automatically in Photoshop, and the images I've selected are added to that new file, each as a separate layer. I am going to start by turning off the visibility of the top layer and working with the second layer, which is the statue. Below that is a layer with the clouds. I would like to hide a part of the statue layer, this part on the left, to see down through that area to the clouds below. I'll use a layer mask to do that. First I'll click on the statue layer to select it, and then I'll go down to the bottom of the Layers panel and I will click the Add layer mask icon there, the one that looks like a rectangle with a circle in it.
That adds a white layer mask. When a layer mask is white, it's not really doing any thing. A white layer mask reveals the content of the layer to which it is attached, in this case the statue. When you add black paint to a layer mask, that hides the content on that layer. So you can see down through to the layer below. So I could get the Brush tool, and then come up to the options bar and change the Opacity of the brush to 100% if it's not there already. Make sure I have black as my foreground color, and then with that layer mask thumbnail selected on the statue layer, start painting.
And wherever I paint with black on that layer mask, I am hiding the content of the statue layer, so that the content of the cloud layer below shows through. You can see the layer mask over here in the thumbnail in the Layers panel. And where the black is there corresponds to the area here where we're looking down through the statue to the clouds. Instead of just painting, sometimes it's quicker to select an area and fill it with black. To do that, I might get the Quick Selection tool, and I'll click and drag. And because there is a good high contrast edge where the statue meets the background, it just takes a second to select that.
I still have the layer mask thumbnail selected in the Layers panel, and I'm going to fill with the foreground color. The shortcut for that is Option+Delete on the Mac. That's Alt+Backspace on the PC. Or you could go up to the Edit menu to the Fill command, and do that from the command. Now I'll press Cmd+D, that's Ctrl+D on the PC, to deselect. If I double-click the zoom tool to zoom it to 100%, you can see that there is a line there, so what I would like to do is open my Properties panel, which is right here, and if yours isn't there, you can go to the Window menu and select Properties.
And with the layer mask icon selected, the Properties in this panel are Mask properties. I could try feathering the mask, but I get even more control over that edge if I click Mask Edge. And that opens the Refine Mask dialog, which is pretty much the same as the Refine Edge dialog that you get when you are working with selections, because the under the hood Masks and Selections are the same thing. Now here what I want to do is shift the edge of the mask over toward the statue, so I am going to click on the Shift Edge slider, and move slightly to the left.
And as I do, that dark line goes away as the mask moves closer to the statue. It's also kind of rough over here, so I'll move the Smooth slider over toward to the right, and I might even feather just the tiniest bit to blend the two together. I think that looks great, so I'll click OK. And I'll collapse the Properties panel. Now if you want to see that mask, at any time you are going to hold the Option key, the Alt key on a PC, and click right on the layer mask thumbnail to look at the mask in your document window.
Where the mask is white, it's showing the content of the statue layer. Where it's black, it's hiding the content of the statue layer, and in between there is a small line of gray that's blending the two parts together. I'll Option+Click or Alt+Click again on that mask to go back to the image. So that's the beginning of a composite. Now I do have another image that I want to add to the composite on the top layer. So I'll turn that layer on by clicking its eye icon. I am going to add a layer mask to this book layer too, so I'll select the book layer and then go down to the Add layer mask icon and click that, and that again brings in a white mask that right now is not hiding anything.
Instead of just painting on this mask, I am going to draw a black to white gradient on the mask to get a gradual blend between the content of the book layer and the layers below. I'll select the Gradient tool here in the toolbox, and I'll make sure that I have black as my foreground and white as my background color at the bottom of the toolbox. That by default will give me a black to white gradient. If you don't see that in your Gradient options bar, click on the bar, and make sure you have the first preset selected, and then click OK. So I am going to click and drag from left to right, and the result that I get depends on where I start clicking, how long the line is that I drag, and which direction I drag.
So you can just do this over and over until you like the result. And I am finding that, with this image, if I click inside of this statue's face and drag just about to the edge there, I'm getting the look that I want. So now let's take a look at that layer mask, and you can see that it's black, which is hiding the book, white, showing the book, and gray, partially revealing the pages of the book in between, Option+Click or Alt+Click again on the layer mask. Now I want to refine this, so I'll get my Brush tool, and with black, I'm going to paint over this part of the layer mask, hiding the book wherever I paint.
I have a big soft brush to do this, so that I blends nicely, right along the edge of where I'm painting. And the other thing that I'd like to do is maybe blend that book in a little bit more with the statue. So to do that, I'll go back to the Layers panel, and I am going to select one of the Layer Blend modes. Normally the way that I work with these is I make sure that I have the Move tool selected, pressing V on my keyboard for that, and then I'll hold Shift key and press the + key and that will cycle through the blend modes, until I see one that I like.
In this case, I like Lighten, like the way that's blending the book pages and the words in with the statue. And so I am going to leave it that for now, there's obviously a lot more that you could do with a composite like this, but I think that gives you an idea of a couple of the important tools that you can use when you are compositing in Photoshop, Layer Masks, and Blend modes. Now I want to let Lightroom know what I have done. So I'll save this composite image, pressing Cmd+S on the Ma, Ctrl+S on the PC, and I'll close the image in Photoshop, and go back to Lightroom.
And there in Lightroom is my composite image along with the three components that I put together to make that photo art. Now if in the future I want to go back in and work more with the layers, then I'll select the TIFF that was just made for me, and I'll go up to the Photo menu, and down to Edit In, and this time I'll choose Edit in Adobe Photoshop. And because this is a TIFF, a pixel-based image, I'll get the Edit Photo dialog box that we have seen in many other movies. Here I'll choose Edit Original in order to be able to access the original layers in the file.
And yes, there they are in Photoshop, and ready for me to work on them again and save again, with Lightroom keeping track of the file all the way along.
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