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There's nothing people love more than lists, and Photoshop Top 40 offers a great one, highlighting the best features in Photoshop. Deke McClelland counts down to #1 with a new video each week, detailing one great feature after another in this popular digital imaging application. The videos cover tools, commands, and concepts, emphasizing what's really important in Photoshop.
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(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! Feature #19 is Luminance Blending, and this is one of those uber geek features inside of Photoshop that once you discover it, because it's fairly hard to find. Once you have find out it's there, you will be taking advantage of it ad infinitum. It's an incredible function. And what it allows you to do is blend the active layer with the layers below, according to the luminance levels, throughout the image that is the brightness values from black to white.
I'll show you how it works inside of this video. I'm putting together a banner for one of my audio-only podcast, one of the episodes of Martini Hour here. You can see in the background, I've got this Martini glass. It's opened by itself down here at the bottom of the screen, and it features this martini with a little bit of blue flame coming off of it, comes to us from the photographer Alex Bramwell. My feeling was even though we've got all these glows coming of both the glass and the letters, and incidentally the glows around the letters, here is the Martini Hour logo inside the Layers palette.
It's the function of a couple of different effects. We'll go ahead and turn them off for a moment, so you can see that's the original Zapfino text right there. And then when I turn on the Stroke, that thickens up the letters. So the Stroke effect here. And then I added an Outer Glow for this sort of ambient glow effect. But it's still a little bit synthetic for my taste. I wanted to add a splash of brightness to this image so it has more of a nightclub feel. The only way to achieve that effect was to take advantage of Luminance Blending. But before I actually apply the effect, I'm going to show you how Luminance Blending works.
So right here at the top of my Layers palette is a layer called gradient test. I'll turn it on and you can see it's a black-to-white-to-black gradient. I'm going to go ahead and double-click on the layer. So you want to double-click on an empty portion of the layer, or if you're working on a pixel-based layer like I am, you can double-click on the thumbnail. Either way, that's going to bring up the Layer Style dialog box right there. And down here at the bottom, you'll see this area that appears to be called Blend If. Blend If only applies to this pop-up menu here. These sliders are part of the Luminance Blending functions inside of Photoshop.
So this first guy right here, This layer allows you to drop out luminance levels inside of the active layer. For example, if I drag the black slider triangle over to the right, then I'm saying, at this point, anything that has a luminance level of 129, which is approximately medium gray or darker is going to drop out and become invisible, temporarily invisible. We can always change our minds later. So this is an entirely parametric nondestructive effect. But you can see that everything that's dark becomes transparent. Everything that's light remains opaque. I'll go ahead and move this triangle back into place.
You can achieve the opposite effect by dragging the white slider triangle over to the left. And as you do so, you're going to make your highlights or your light colors disappear and reveal the layers in the background. Now, the problem of course is that you get this harsh transition between the opaque pixels and the transparent pixels. If you want to soften that transition, notice that there is a tiny little cleft in the middle of this triangle. You can actually drag this triangle apart by pressing the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and then if you drag one half of the triangle other other, you're going to move those two halves apart.
And now at this point, I've created a soft transition in between these two luminance levels. So where this effect is concerned, I'm saying anything with a luminance level of 0, which is black, up to 156 is going to be opaque. Anything from 228, which is very light, up to 255, which is white will be transparent and anything in between will slope off gradually as we're seeing right here. All right, I'm going to return this slider triangle to one white triangle all the way on the right-hand side. Underlying Layer forces through luminance levels from the layer below the active layer.
If I drag, for example, the black triangle over to the right, we're forcing through the darkest colors. I'll go ahead and put that back, and if I drag the white triangle over to the left, we're forcing through the lightest colors. And then of course once again, if you want to create a soft transition, then you press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and drag that triangle in twain. So we're splitting it apart , as we can see right there. All right, I'm going to cancel out. That is not the effect I want to achieve. Go ahead and turn that gradient test off. That was just a test. So you can see how the function works. Let's switch to this graphic at bottom, which is a variant of this banner in progress, as you can see.
And notice here that I've got this layer called splash. I'll go ahead and turn it on, and it looks like this, which is to say fairly garbage-y. It doesn't look like a nice splash effect. But what it is, it's a natural splash that I created by firing a strobe that is a flash on a little digital camera into a mirror, sort of at an angle. Then I went ahead and captured that guy using feature #24, the Color Range command, to drop out the darkest colors. Just kept the highlights, added a Lens Flare which by the way, if I go ahead and click on this layer to make it active. The Lens Flare filter is under the Filter menu, Render and it's this guy right there Lens Flare.
Now, it's something of a synthetic effect. It results in these circles and these starbursts here. However, mixed with the natural strobe reflection, it creates a pretty cool effect. Right now, it doesn't look right, because it's not blended properly with the other layer. So how do we go about blending it? We'll first, I added in Inner Glow. I'll go ahead and turn on that Inner Glow and that Inner Glow effect is a big inner glow, ended up filling out some of these edges with highlights. Next, I wanted to go ahead and drop out some of these sort of light grays right here so that we're blending the highlights along with the background graphic, and I can do that using a blend mode.
I'll change the Mode setting from Normal to Screen right there so that we universally brighten the image. Now, that's still not exactly what I wanted. I want to be able to drop out some of these middling grays so that we have a much brighter effect out of this layer. And I'm going to achieve this effect using Luminance Blending. So I'll go ahead and double-click in his empty region to the right of the layer name, the best way to work. That goes ahead and brings up the Layer Style dialog box. And then, I can either drop out colors in this layer or force through luminance levels underneath from the Underlying layers.
In my case, we're more interested in affecting this layer. However, if you want to check it out, you can. At any point in time, you can just mess around with these settings to see what in the world you get. So if I drag this black slider triangle over to the right for Underlying layer, then I'm going to force through the darkest luminance levels underneath the active layer. All right, that's not what I want at all. Instead, I'm going to move this black slider triangle pretty far over to the right, to about 190. So at this point, I'm saying anything with the luminance level of 190 or darker is dropping out to transparency.
We end up getting this jagged effect right there. In order to soften it up, I press the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac, and I'll drag the right side of this triangle to pull it apart. Notice on screen, we're now achieving a nice soft transition. And I'll move this all the way over to 255. So I'm keeping opaque just the whites inside of this layer. Everything else is fading away to some extent. I could now move the slider triangle right here, this half of a black slider triangle, I can either move it over to the left in order to bring back some of those middling colors, those midtones, or I can drag it back over to the right to hide them.
And this is the effect I want right there. So 190 or darker becomes transparent. 255 is opaque. Anything between 255 and 190 is disappearing incrementally. Now, we'll go ahead and click OK in order to accept the effect. I'll reduce the opacity value actually to 60% just by pressing the 6 key and I get this effect. It looks pretty darn nice. It looks even better when I add in all the other elements that are associated with this composition. So just to give you a sense of what we were able to achieve, this is the banner up at top without the splash affect.
This is the banner down here at the bottom with this nice organic splash effect that I captured naturally by firing a flash once again into a mirror. All thanks to the power of Luminance Blending inside Photoshop.
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