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Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals is the introductory installment of Deke McClelland's four-part series on making photorealistic compositions in Photoshop. The course shows how to make selections, refine the selections with masks, and then combine them in new ways, using layer effects, blend modes, and other techniques to create a single seamless piece of artwork. Deke introduces the Channels panel and the alpha channel, the key to masking and transparency in Photoshop; reviews the selection tools, including the Color Range tool , Quick Mask mode, and the Refine Edge command; and shows how to blend masked images so they interact naturally.
In this exercise, we're going to add the dark circles around this guy's eyes, and we're also going to create some darkness under his lip that will help support the blood effect later. I've saved my progress as My friend the ghoul.psd, found inside the 07_refine folder. If you switch over to the Channels panel, you'll see that I've created this channel for you called shading. Go ahead and click on it to make it active. Now, it's nothing to write home about, which is why I've created this mask in advance. Notice that I've gone ahead and clipped away his eyes, so that we don't darken the interior of the eyes, that is. And then I've created these vague blobs around the eyes, and those represent the dark circles.
And I painted those in using a white brush, by the way. Then I reduced the brush opacity to 50%, and traced over the forehead, and around the cheeks. Then I painted a few times down here along the lower lip. Now, this is nothing more than a starting point for this mask, as you'll see. We're going to refine it a little bit in just a moment. But for now, I'd like you to Control+click, or Command+click, on the shading channel in order to convert it to a selection, and next, return to the RGB image. Switch back to the Layers panel.
Make sure that ghoul layer is selected, which should be the second to top layer in the stack, and I want you to dial in some new color values. This time we're going to go for a very dark red. So change the Hue value to 0 degrees. We'll take the Saturation value up to 50%, and then dial in a Brightness value of just 10%. Next, press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, click the Black/White icon down here at the bottom of the Layers panel, and choose the Solid Color command. I'm just going to call this layer shading, and click OK.
Photoshop will automatically transfer the foreground color settings into the Color Picker dialog box. Now go ahead and click OK. The result is pretty darn gruesome, which is why we need to make some blending modifications. I'd like you to change the Blend mode from Normal to Overlay in order to create this creepy effect right here. And then press the Escape key here on the PC, so the Blend mode option is no longer active. My Rectangular Marquee tool is selected, so I'll press the 8 key in order to reduce the Opacity value to 80%. All right! Now, I don't want to darken anything outside of the guy's face.
So I'm once again going to clip this layer by pressing the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, and clicking that horizontal line between the shading layer and the ghoul layer, both of which have truncated names in my case. All right! Now at this point, I was looking at the image and thinking that it would be nice to go ahead and integrate some of this red coloring into the shadow detail inside the image. So I need to select that shadow detail using the Color Range command. Make sure the layer mask is not active here inside the Layers panel. If it ends up being active, like so, then go ahead and click on the Color Swatch thumbnail there on the left in order to make it active, and deselect that layer mask.
Next, I want you to press the D key in order to establish the default colors, so that black is the foreground color and white is the background color. That way the Color Range command will automatically use black as the key color. Then go up to the Select menu, and choose Color Range. I want you to take the Fuzziness value down to 100, and that's all you have to do. You don't have to click anywhere inside the image, because you're already selecting the shadow details. Click OK in order to generate a selection outline. Now at this point, I do want you to go ahead and click on the layer mask thumbnail in order to make it active.
Let's press Control+H, or Command+H on the Mac, to hide the selection outlines. And, assuming your foreground color is white, as it is by default, press Alt+Backspace, or Option+Delete, in order to fill the mask with White, which is going to darken up that shadow detail. Now, it goes a little bit too far, in my opinion. So I want you to go up to the Edit menu and choose Fade Fill, or you can press Control+Shift+F, or Command+Shift+F on the Mac. Make sure you do that as your very next step, because if you do anything else in the meantime, that command will disappear.
Now, take the Opacity value down to 50%, and then click OK in order to create a 50-50 mix of that white fill, with the original luminance levels inside the mask. I wanted to bring out some of the brighter details in the underlying layers. Go ahead and press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, and double-click on that Color Swatch thumbnail there inside the Layers panel. Notice that your Blend mode is set to Overlay; your Opacity is set to 80%. I want you to press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, and drag the left half of this white slider triangle until the value before the slash reads 200.
So what we're saying here is, anything with a Luminance Level of 200, all the way down to 0 for black, will be covered up by these dark details on the shading layer. And anything on the underlying layers, by the way, with a Luminance Level of 200 up to 255 will slowly make its way to the surface, and become opaque. All right! I'm going to go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification. That is one exhausted looking ghoul. However, what I'm ultimately looking for is some blood coming out of his mouth, and I'm going to show you how to create that blood beginning in the next exercise.
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