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I've saved my progress as Tenuous planet.psd, found inside the 28_blending folder. Now because every modification we've made so far, hinges on making luminance levels either transparent or forcing through other ones, any future changes that we make to the luminance levels of these layers will affect their Transparency or Opacity as well. So, let's say, for example, that we want to go ahead and firm up some the edges around the sparks on this lightning ball layer. Now you may recall that we went ahead and instructed Photoshop to make the darkest colors on this layer, transparent using the This layer settings right there.
So if we make the layer darker still, we're going to drop out more colors. I'll do so using a static adjustment just because I don't feel like dealing with an Adjustment layer here. So I'll press Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac and that brings up the Levels dialog box and you can see that this lightning ball layer is quite light, there is a ton of highlights over here on the right-hand side, there's a bunch of midtones, really no shadows at all. So I am going to go ahead and drag this black point up to 30 and notice as I do, I am dropping out more of lightning ball layers.
So I am forcing more pixels to transparency, and I'm also going to reduce the Gamma value here, I am going to take that down to 0.7. Now, this is a static adjustment; quite by contrast is the parametric adjustments that we applied in the previous exercise. However, I am comfortable with it. I am going to click OK in order to accept that change and now, I'll show you; this is the before, we applied levels, this is the after. So we're revealing more blackness, we're tightening up those details; I think it's a better effect. Now then, I was telling you that I want to get rid of this weird edge along the moon.
That shouldn't be there. So I am going to click on the Background layer. This time I am going to paint with black, in order to paint that edge away. However, I'm not going to paint directly on the Background layer. I am not feeling that cavalier. So I'll press Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N on the Mac and I'll go ahead and name this layer, blackness, and then I'll click OK in order to accept the new layer. Let's grab the Brush tool which you can get, of course, by pressing the B key and I've got a pretty big brush going. Notice that the Size is 400 pixels, the Hardness, by the way, is 0% that's important for this effect.
I want to paint with black, so for some reason right now, my foreground color is white. I'll press the X key to make it black and I don't want to see the CMYK slider bars anymore. So I'll switch them back to HSB here in the Color panel. I'll paint like so, just go ahead and paint along this edge here. Nothing is happening because I've left my mode set to Clear. That's no good. So I'll undo that modification; I'll press Shift+Alt+N or Shift+Option+N on the Mac to change the mode to Normal, and then I'll paint again, like so.
Notice as I'm painting, I am not getting rid of the edge of the moon. I'm just allowing those tendrils of lightning or sparks or whatever they are, to fly through this region. Now, how in the world does that make any sense? Here I am painting black on the moon. You would think I'd be wiping out moon details. Well, I am, where there not this upper moon layer as well. So if I turn off upper moon then I suppose I would reveal that blackness if only I could see it, it's getting just wildly covered up by the lightning ball layer.
If I turn it off then you can see that's the big area that I've cleaved out of the moon, temporarily, of course, because it's an independent layer. But that's the damage that I've done. But thanks to all this luminance mixing, it ends up going pretty well unnoticed here. So this blackness layer is just serving as a kind of masking layer. So this is what the composition looks like without it; notice how we are seeing this edge right there, cut through the tendrils of lightening and this is what the composition looks like with it, which I would say, is better.
Anyway, I want to paint a little more right there, I think, to draw forth even more lightening and that ends up working out pretty nicely for me. All right, a couple of other things; I am not too happy with here, for one, I don't think this black area of the upper moon layer should be covering up as much as it is. If I turn off upper moon, you can see there're all sorts of glow details here that are getting covered up by the moon. I don't want that to happen; I just want the interior area to be covered up by this moon layer. So I'm going to turn that layer back on, upper moon that is.
I am going to the click on it to make it active and I am going to drop down to this Add layer mask icon and I'm going to Ctrl+click on it or Command+click on it on the Mac. What I've done is I've added a vector mask to this layer. Now, I'm going to grab my Ellipse tool right here, and I'm going to draw a vector into that mask. So I'll just go ahead and surround the moon like so and I'll press the Shift key because this moon turns out to be pretty darn circular, so that will help me out. I am using the Spacebar to adjust the positioning of my marquee, and now I am making a bigger and now we have a shape that looks like it surrounds the moon quite accurately.
I'll release and look at that. Now that's what I'm talking about. I think this looks a lot better. Now, I want a little bit of softness; I'll press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac so I can evaluate these edges. They look a little sharp to me. To soften them up, I'll bring up my Mask panel, and my vector mask is selected, so I can increase the Feather value and I'm going to take that Feather value up to 10 pixels, let's say, in order to soften the edge of the moon. All right, that looks good to me. I'll go and hide that Mask panel now. Now then, problem; I'll go ahead and zoom in here so I can show it to you.
This edge of the moon is just no good; it should cover up the tendrils of lightening, it shouldn't slightly reveal them like that. So I need to mask this lightening ball layer just a little bit and here's what I'm going to do. I'll select the lightening ball layer; I'll Ctrl-click or Command-click on that vector mask in order to load that circle as a selection outline. So you can double purpose masks like this inside Photoshop very easily. Next, I'll go ahead and get my Lasso tool by pressing the L key and I'll press the Shift and Alt keys at the same time.
This would be Shift and Option on the Mac and I'll drag around this edge, like so. This is the area that I want to mask out and I just have a little bit of a sliver of an edge. We're not trying to be accurate on the right-hand side, just the left-hand side. Now with the lightning ball layer active, yet another keyboard trick folks; bear in mind, we want to mask away the area inside the selection and keep everything outside the selection. That's exactly the opposite way that converting a selection outline to a layer mask usually works, because if I just click on Add layer mask, we're going to just keep that area inside the selection. That's no good.
So I'll undo that modification; Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. To exclude the selection from layer mask, Alt+click or Option+click on that Add layer mask icon and we'll get this effect right here, which makes that edge once again opaque. All right, we're almost done; I'll go ahead and zoom out here, so that we can center the image. The one last effect I want to apply here is such a fudge. This is the drop shadow of space effects and that's a Lens Flare, but what we going to do it anyway. So I'll select the upper moon layer here and I am going to create a new layer of black by pressing Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N on the Mac, and we'll call this lens flare because that's what it will ultimately be.
Click OK, and then fill it with black. Black is my foreground color, so I'll press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete on the Mac to just fill the entire layer with black, that's it. All right, now I'll go up to the Filter menu, choose Render and choose Lens Flare and Lens Flare allows you to apply a variety of different lens type. So basically, the idea is light is entering the lens elements and bouncing around and you get this hideous effect right here which everybody tries to avoid in real photography. But when we are creating space effects, we add it right back in.
I've gone ahead and click to this location here; you have this tiny little itsy-bitsy preview that really isn't the least bit satisfactory at all. The way you want to do to set the center of the effect is click. So I want you to click where you see that cross. I have raised the Brightness to 165%, my Lens Type is 50 to 300 mm zoom, whatever, click OK and we end up getting this effect right here. Of course, it doesn't look right at all. So, I'll go up the Image menu, I want to get rid of all this weird color. I'll choose Adjustments and I'll choose Desaturate.
So we just have Gray values. I've also got this nice gradient map layer that I've created for you in advance. So go ahead and turn it on, and I want you to Alt-click or Option-click on the horizontal line between the two layers in order to clip this gradient map adjustment layer to the lens flare layer below so it's only effecting the lens flare layer. And then finally, I am going to set the Blend mode to once again Screen because we're dropping out the blackness and we end up getting this effect here. Now one last thing I am going to do is just go ahead and drop out some of the darker colors here, and I'll do that by double-clicking on that lens flare layer to bring up for the final time the layer Style dialog box, at least the final time in this chapter, and then I'm going to go ahead in drag.
Notice that, not this side. That is completely the wrong thing to do because when I am dragging the white slider triangle, I am making a hole in the Lens Flare effect. I am going to go ahead and reset that back to where it was. This is the guy I want to drag back like so, and I am going to drag it up pretty high. So I am dragging the black slider triangle over to the right, and I am going to release when I see a value of 205. So anything darker than 205 is currently opaque and then I'll Alt-drag or Option-drag the left half of that slider triangle way back to 0, so that we are creating a very soft transition from transparency to opacity here and then I'll go ahead and click OK.
That is my final effect, folks, with the moon just blown apart, accomplished almost entirely, using luminance blending inside of Photoshop, just a tiny bit of masking here and there; nothing complicated at all. It's just proof that there is an amazing amount of power in blending inside a Photoshop.
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