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Here is an example where I started with kind of a plain-Jane image that wasn't all that great in terms of composition, exposure and whatnot, but I wanted to turn it into something interesting and I really like the photograph and I want to make it kind of cool. So let's begin by showing you what this looked like at the start. I'm going to hold on the Option key or Alt on Windows and click on the eye of the Background layer. So that's kind of where I started from. You can see it's got some pretty bad color and now I just want to spruce it up a bit. So I created a series of layers and I duplicated this layer, I blurred it a little bit, I set its blend mode to Overlay. I duplicated that to double-up the effect.
I did a little of a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer just to take off some of the red that the Overlay was doing. The blend mode was making the reds too red. I added some Film Grain by creating that layer filled with gray and running the Noise filter on it and setting the blend mode to Overlay there. And then as a final step, I added a Black & White adjustment layer and lowered its Opacity to about 60%, so that I get a mixture of Black & White and Color. So I'm pretty happy where this is all ending up, but one thing that's bugging me is the eyes. They're really filled in and darkened. Let me show you the before and after again. Option-click or Alt-click on the eye of the Background layer and you can see there is tiny little detail there and it's just as sparkling with the blue eyes there and I want to bring some of that detail back.
Oh! I've got a problem here. I've got one, two, three, four, five different layers that are adding to this effect. So to bring back the original detail of the eyes in the Background layer, normally, what I used to do is create a layer mask on every single layer and paint in on the eyes of the girl here, on every single layer mask and that's just too much work. So instead, what you can do is. I'm going to group these layers. I want to put these layers that make up this overall effect into a group, Command+G or Ctrl+G, and if you know this already, this is just a nice organizational feature to get yourself to have a more sane Layers panel. Then with one click, I can just turn the eye on for the group to see that before and after. But what a lot of people don't realize is the group itself can have a layer mask applied to it.
So if you look down at the bottom of the Layers panel, there is a Layer Mask button and it's lit up even when I have the group selected. So I'm going to click on that icon and sure enough, it adds a layer mask to the group. Now what's going to happen, when I press B for my Brush tool and I've got Black as my Foreground color and just as to build this up slowly, I've got my Opacity set to 50% for the Brush. When I paint -let's zoom in, Command+ Plus, Ctrl+Plus- I'm actually going to be masking every layer in that group at the same time. So that just makes that job a whole heck of a lot easier.
I'm punching a hole through the entire stack of layers because I have masked the group level, so that's pretty fine and pretty exciting and you'll be surprised that how often that comes in handy for you. So put your layers in a group, add a layer mask to the group and mask away.
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