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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'll show you a couple of really great filtering effects that you can pull off using Overlay and a couple of the other contrast modes. Now the first thing I'm going to do is duplicate this layer. Press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac, and I'll call this layer portrait and then click OK. And now, just so that we have as much flexibility where the filtering process is concerned as possible, let's convert this layer to smart object by going up to the Layers panel fly-out menu and choosing the Convert to Smart Object command, and now let's say we want to apply a kind of sharpening effect.
I'll go up to the Filter menu and then I'll choose the High Pass command, and because of the way it's build High Pass does a better job of eliminating clipped highlights and shadows in this Smart Sharpen command does, which often makes it a better tool for sharpening portraits, so I'll go ahead and choose that Command. Now initially if I were to set the Radius to something like 3 pixels let's say, the effect is not going to look too good. We're sending most of the image to gray, and we're just keeping a little bit of shadow and highlight detail around the edges, but that's the whole point.
The beauty of this is gray is neutral when you apply Contrast modes, so you can make all that grayness go away. So I'll click OK in order to accept that affect. I'm going to right-click inside of that Filter mask and choose Delete Filter Mask to get rid of it, and then I'll double click on a little slider icon to bring up the Blending Options dialog box, and I'm going to switch the mode to Overlay. and we end up with this sharpening effect right here. Now I'll go ahead and click OK in order to accept the change. I'll zoom in a little bit as well, so that we can see her eye a little more closely, and I'll turn off the effect for a moment.
This is the before version of the image, and this is the after version. So it's pretty subtle right now, and it might be a little too subtle for your taste. In which, case double-click on the slider icon again, and now let's go ahead and switch the mode not to Soft Light, because we don't want to reduce the effect, although if we did, that would be a great mode. Not to Hard Light, because we're not going to get a different affect, because it is the same darned images. Vivid Light isn't really what we're looking for this effect. If you wanted to bump it up, then you'd go for Linear Light and that's going to give you the most heightened effect possible.
There's something to note about this Opacity value, you can go ahead and reduce it, but it's not Opacity, it's Fill Opacity. Let me show you that that's the way it works. I'm going to switch to Hard Mix for a moment here, so you can see just how ridiculously over-the-top the effect is. If I reduce it to 50%, notice how well it merges, that's not a standard 50% Opacity, that's the 50% Fill Opacity and so not only does this opacity value behave as Fill Opacity here inside the Blending Options dialog box, but it behaves that way when you apply layer effects as well.
So bear that in mind, and by the way, it's not something to watch out for, it's strictly great news. Anyway, I'm going to switch this back to Linear Light, and I'm going to crank the Opacity value back up to 100% for now, so I can show you, if I zoom out here, you can pretty clearly now see the effects of the sharpening, this is the original version of the image, if I turn the effect off, and this is what it's look like now. Let's say though you're not really looking for sharpening, you're looking for clarity, which is to say a little bit of edge contrast, but something with a wider diameter, then double-click on where it's High Pass to bring back up the High Pass filter dialog box, and let's crank the Radius value up to a 100 pixels now, and click OK.
Obviously, that's too big of an effect, so then you double-click on the slider icon and take that opacity value down to say 20% or so and click OK, and because it's Fill Opacity, we end up getting this pretty darn subtle effect, this is what the image looked like before, and this is what it looks like now. So the result is a subtle application of clarity. Thanks to this very flexible application of the High Pass filter subject to Overlay and Linear Light.
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