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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.
So at this point, we have our model beautifully masked, as well as composited, against this new background. Just one little thing that's still bugging me, and this is pretty common, by the way. Especially, if you're taking an image that was captured using studio lights, and placing that image into an exterior environment. We have got a mismatch between the lighting. And I don't mean the direction of the lighting, because there is not really much we can do about that, except select images that are lit from the same direction in the first place.
Rather, our problem is that she's extremely warm, and the background is cool by comparison. So here is the simplest way to solve that problem. With the fleshtones layer selected, because, after all, it's the fleshtones more than anything else that we have to reconcile. Drop down to the fX icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and go ahead and choose the Color Overlay command. That's going to make her totally red by default. That's not what we want, of course, so go ahead and click on the Color Swatch. And you can lift a color from the image, if you like, by clicking inside the sky, for example. And assuming that it's the image layer, and not the layer mask, that's selected, you will lift a shade of blue.
Here is the shade I ultimately came up with. I set the Hue value to 210, the Saturation value to 50, and the Brightness value to 65. Then go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification. Now, at this point you want to change the Blend mode, and you have a couple of different options that are available to you. You could switch the Blend mode to Color, and that means that you will go ahead and entirely colorize all masked portions of her face in blue, while at the same time, retaining the luminance levels from the underlying layers.
Now as a result, by the way, you end up seeing these pretty harsh transitions along the hairline. Well bear in mind, of course, we aren't going to keep the Opacity value set to 100%. We don't want it to look like a big blueberry. I'm just showing you this mode for the sake of demonstration. Now the problem, of course, is that we are colorizing her eyes, and her teeth, both of which had very little saturation in the first place. We're really just interested in cooling down her skin tones; not the portions of the image that were otherwise neutral.
And so, in that case, what you want to do is you want to split Color into its two core components, which are Hue and Saturation, Hue being the color itself, and Saturation being how vivid or drab that color is. If you switch to Hue, then you will keep the blue, but you will mix it with the saturation and luminance levels of the underlying layers, which means you will subtract the blue from the low saturation details, which include her teeth, and the white of her eyes. So go ahead and choose Hue, and notice the difference you achieve.
We also take the blue out of some of those highlight details, although notice we add blue to the lips, because after all, the lips were highly saturated in the first place. Now it becomes a matter of deciding what the Opacity value should be, and I arrived at an Opacity value of 10%. So go ahead and reduce that Opacity value accordingly, click OK, and you end up with a much more naturalistic result. So it's pretty subtle, but this is what the image looked like before we applied the Color Overlay.
Notice that we have some very warm colors going on inside those skin tones. If we had actually captured the model outdoors, then her environment would have informed her coloring, it would have also informed the white balance, and as a result, we would've got a cooler sheen. And by turning on Color Overlay, you see that we incrementally cool down the model. Now, the thing to bear in mind, of course, is we just affected her flesh tones, because after all, her hair is masked away on this specific layer. If you decided you wanted to cool down that hair as well, then you would press the Alt key, or the Option key on a Mac, and you would drag that Color Overlay effect, and then drop it on the next layer down, which is a layer that's set to the Normal Blend mode.
And now it would similarly affect the hair coloring. However, that's a really super subtle effect. If you press Control+Z, or Command+Z on a Mac, to undo that change, you'll see that the hair barely changes at all. So between you and me, where this image is concerned, I don't recommend that modification. I just want you to know it is an option when approaching these kinds of color temperature challenges inside of your own compositions. 2
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