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Advanced Blending is the second installment in Deke McClelland's series on making photorealistic compositions in Photoshop. The course explores blending options and shows how to use them to create sophisticated effects and seamless compositions, often without masking. Beginning with the basics of blending layered images, the course sheds light on the formulas behind the Photoshop blend modes and shows how to comp scanned line art, create double-exposure effects, correct skin tones, and work with the luminance sliders.
In this exercise, I am going to show you how to work with that Blend If Option, that's located just above the slider bars. What it does is, it allows you to employ the slider bars based on the contents of specific color channels, which gives you more control over what you're doing, but it's little hard to wrap your mind around the results. I will walk you through it here. The idea let's say, is that I'm pretty happy with what I've been able to achieve here in this file that I'm now calling Electric storm.psd. However, I can't did get beyond the fact that we've got these kind of sort of peach colored halos around each one of the lighting bolts.
It's great that they're nice and fuzzy. But why are they peach colored? Except for the fact, they're coming out of kind of a peachy cloud that just doesn't really make that much sense. What I prefer to do is create a cleaner effect like this one here, where the lighting bolts are more colored neutral. I can do that with a little bit of more work, using that Blend If option. But we are going to have to start over to do it. Let's go and return to Electric storm here. I will zoom back out. And I am going to right-click on an empty portion of the lighting layer and then drop-down to this option right there, Clear Layer Style.
If you choose that, you will clear away not only any layer effects that are applied, but also any of the blending setting. So I got rid of the screen mode for example and I also reset those slider bar values. And I am doing this so we can get a sense of what's going on inside these two images. So I am going to switchover to the Channels Panel. And you may recall the Red Channel very bright where this lighting is concerned. The Green channel much darker, but the green channel also has a lot of flair associated with each one of the bolts of lightning. If you switch to the Blue channel, you'll notice that even though it's a pretty clunky channel, it has sharper contrast where the bolts of lightning are concerned.
So that's the channel that we are going to use to blend the image. Now we are using the contents of that channel, but we are going to be blending the composite layer. And you will see what that looks like in a moment. I am going to switch back to the RGB image, turn off the lighting layer so that we can check out the Background image. We need to get a sense of what's going on with it as well because after all it is the Underlying Layer. So I am going to switch back to the Channels Panel and if you take a look at the Blue channel, let's start with the bottom this time. You will see that we just don't have much contrast going on here at all.
The green channel has a lot better contrast. The Red channel has an incredible amount of contrast in fact, in fact the cloud is almost entirely white and the blue behind the cloud is very dark. What we are going to do we are going to use the Blue channel as our this layer of control and we will use the Red channel as our Underlying Layer control. So let's switch back to the Layers Panel, click on the lighting layer to make it active, turn it on, switch the Blend Mode from Normal to Screen. And then go ahead and double-click on an empty portion of that layer to bring up the Layer Style dialog box and then switch to Blend If.
So now normally, it's Gray. Meaning, it's not turned on at all. We are not paying attention to specific color channels. We are just using the Luminance Exclusion slider bars by themselves. However, if you switch it to a specific channel for example we want Blue where this layer is concerned, than the slider bars actually turned that color to show you that you're working from that channel. Again, you are just using the information in that channel to blend the entire layer. And now, let's go ahead and drop away the dark colors from that sky, by taking this black slider triangle for This Layer up to 55 and then press the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac and drag the right- half of that slider triangle all the way up to 200.
And notice, now that we lose that sort of peach colored fringing, around the bolts of lightning and we have crisper contrast as well. Now let's switch Blend If from Blue to Red because after all that's where the underlying cloud is brightest. And now I am going to drag the white slider triangle for the Underlying Layer slider down to 195. Press the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac and take the right-half of that white slider up to 230. And notice by the way, that we have a wider fuzziness range for both Underlying Layer and for that This Layer slider, that's associated with the blue channel.
Thanks to the fact that we were working from a single channel of information. And so what that means is two things. First of all we have better control; secondly we get better results, smoother result because we have that wider fuzziness range to work with. Now I will go ahead and click OK in order to accept that result. Press the F key a couple of times in order to fill the screen with the image and go ahead and zoom on in and that is the final effect with these nice, clean, sharp tendrils of lightning, coming out of this cloud.
Thanks to the power of the Luminance Exclusion slider bars and the Blend If option, that gives you channel by channel control, here inside Photoshop.
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