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Blurring the layer mask

From: Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics

Video: Blurring the layer mask

Alright I have been throwing a ton of masking and compositing techniques your way it's almost done though and it's all for a good cause. We are trying to achieve the most realistic composition possible. And we are going to do just that in this exercise we are going to modify the selected portion of the layer mask in order to ensure that we have nice soft transitions down here in the low focus portion of the hair detail while retaining nice sharp transitions up here in the high focus areas.

Blurring the layer mask

Alright I have been throwing a ton of masking and compositing techniques your way it's almost done though and it's all for a good cause. We are trying to achieve the most realistic composition possible. And we are going to do just that in this exercise we are going to modify the selected portion of the layer mask in order to ensure that we have nice soft transitions down here in the low focus portion of the hair detail while retaining nice sharp transitions up here in the high focus areas.

Now you may recall we had just visited the Quick Mask mode and I am going to go ahead and press the Q key to reinsert ourselves into the Quick Mask mode here so that we are seeing the mask version of the selection outline and I had drawn a dark to light gradient here a black to white gradient inside the Quick Mask mode. Then when you press the Q key to escape that Quick Mask mode it converts it into a marching and style selection but we still have the soft transition at the top. Alright I want you to click on the Layer Mask thumbnail here inside the Layers palette.

Let us now set about softening the bottom portion of this Layer Mask. For starters I want you to go to the Filter menu I want you to choose the Blur command and I want you to choose this guy right here Gaussian Blur. Now I have already taken the time to enter the correct setting the setting I want you to enter which is a radius value of 30 pixels so we are going to do an whole lot of softening and go ahead once you have entered a radius of 30 you don't have to say 30 point like I have on screen just 30 is fine then click OK in order to apply that modification and notice the difference.

I am going to zoom in here a little bit. This is before we blurred that layer mask this is after and we have done a tremendous job of getting rid of those dark halos that edge fringing that we had a moment ago. But in its place we have somewhat I would say unnaturally soft edges because we can see this top of the desert this ridge here going into the translucent portion of the hair. Let's try to tighten that up just a little bit. We are not going to get to rid of all that translucency just a little bit of it by pressing Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac in order to bring up the level dialog box.

And I am going to increase the black level here to 50 so I am saying anything with a brightness level a 50 or darker inside the layer mask is going to go black. And that moves, notice that moves the edge inward a little bit so I will show you what's happening there. The more I drag the more we are moving that edge inward. And if I don't want to do that if I want to move it outward a little bit then I would drag the black slider triangle to the left instead I could also move the white triangle to the left in order to bolster that edge notice that.

But I don't want to take it that far because that reintroduces the dark fringing that we had a moment ago. So I will just take this value down ever so slightly just 10 luminance levels to 245 so I have got 50 for black 245 for white 1.0 for gamma I didn't change the gamma value and I clicked OK in order to accept that modification. So that takes care of the softening that I want to apply to the hair detail. There is one problem however you may notice in this composition I am going to go ahead and press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac to deselect that region of the image.

Isn't it peculiar that the hair at the top of the image is in high focus and in this large region of hair toward the bottom of the image is out of focus and then somehow the background is back in focus again? Cameras don't work that way. You can't have multiple levels of focus inside of an image. Now you can if you want to. I should say it's your art work you can do whatever the heck you want with it. You can violate any rule you like but if we are going for realism then this background also needs to be out of focus so I am going to click on the background layer at the bottom of the layer stack here then I am going to go up to the Filter menu.

I am going to choose Blur and this time instead of choosing Gaussian Blur which is a relatively simple blur function I am going to choose this more elaborate blur function which stimulates the effect you get when you are actually shooting an image out of focus and it's called Lens Blur. Go ahead and choose that command now there is a ton of sliders I am not going to walk you through how this command works right now. You can set your iris shape to anything you want to I don't care what you said blade curvature and rotation to. Brightness should be 0 threshold should be 255 noise should be set to 0 but the value I am really concerned about is this guy right here radius.

I want you to set the radius to 30 and then once you have done that go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification and we now have a blurry background combined with some blurry hair detail toward the bottom of this portrait shot and of course this high focus hair detail at the top of the shot. I am going to go and zoom in here so we can evaluate some of this information. Now we do have some nice soft edges toward the bottom of the hair a little bit of fringing going on in this region and this region too.

But we have to choose our battles when we are compositing one image against a new background, not everything is going to go totally right especially when the images were shot under such different conditions. But now I am going to scroll toward the top so we can see the just absolute wonderfulness of these individual strands of hair and let's see what a difference this middle lightness layer makes. This is without the middle lightness layer this is with it. Can you see what a difference that makes? How integral that lightness layer is to the entire composition? Just absolutely amazing the power of masks in compositing here inside Photoshop.

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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics
Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics

129 video lessons · 39091 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1h 15m
    1. Welcome to Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics
      2m 5s
    2. Selecting glass and water
      5m 23s
    3. Establishing a base layer
      4m 0s
    4. The Color Range command
      6m 45s
    5. Selecting sparkles
      3m 19s
    6. Setting sparkles to Screen
      4m 19s
    7. Selecting and compositing hair
      2m 59s
    8. When Color Range falls short
      7m 25s
    9. Selecting a base channel
      4m 25s
    10. Enhancing the channel's contrast
      4m 4s
    11. Dodging the highlights
      5m 55s
    12. Putting the mask in play
      3m 20s
    13. Reducing the edge fringes
      4m 21s
    14. Adding a layer mask
      4m 53s
    15. Creating a gradient quick mask
      5m 26s
    16. Blurring the layer mask
      5m 51s
    17. And that's just the beginning...
      1m 15s
  2. 1h 13m
    1. Edge-enhancement parlor tricks
      1m 30s
    2. The subterfuge of sharpness
      3m 14s
    3. The single-shot sharpness
      3m 47s
    4. Unsharp Mask
      5m 17s
    5. Understanding the Radius value
      4m 31s
    6. Gauging the best settings
      7m 14s
    7. Sharpening the luminance data
      8m 25s
    8. USM vs. Smart Sharpen
      6m 0s
    9. Smart Sharpen's Remove settings
      6m 23s
    10. High-resolution sharpening
      6m 4s
    11. Leave More Accurate off!
      2m 29s
    12. Turn More Accurate on
      2m 58s
    13. The Advanced options
      5m 17s
    14. Saving Smart Sharpen settings
      4m 18s
    15. Accounting for camera shake
      6m 0s
  3. 1h 24m
    1. Why the heck would you blur?
      1m 20s
    2. The "bell-shaped" Gaussian Blur
      7m 16s
    3. The Linear Box Blur
      2m 58s
    4. Median and its badly named progeny
      6m 3s
    5. Surface Blur and the rest
      5m 36s
    6. The Motion Blur filter
      3m 2s
    7. The Radial Blur variations: Spin and Zoom
      5m 55s
    8. The Captain Kirk-in-love effect
      6m 50s
    9. Averaging skin tones
      6m 2s
    10. Addressing the stubborn patches
      6m 0s
    11. Combining Gaussian Blur and Average
      4m 8s
    12. Blurring surface details
      7m 2s
    13. Smoothing blemishes while matching noise
      7m 52s
    14. Reducing digital noise
      8m 22s
    15. Smoothing out JPEG artifacts
      6m 1s
  4. 45m 28s
    1. Behold, the layered composition
      1m 13s
    2. The Layers palette
      5m 8s
    3. Enlarging the hand
      4m 40s
    4. Erasing with a layer mask
      6m 28s
    5. Moving a layer
      4m 3s
    6. Combining layers into a clipping mask
      4m 42s
    7. Hair and stacking order
      6m 12s
    8. Adding a frame and expanding the canvas
      6m 2s
    9. Adding a vignette
      7m 0s
  5. 42m 27s
    1. Organization: It sounds dull, but it rocks
      1m 8s
    2. The terrible battle
      3m 3s
    3. Assembling the base composition
      5m 46s
    4. Adding adjustment layers
      4m 55s
    5. Creating a layer group
      2m 24s
    6. Grouping selected layers
      3m 13s
    7. Making the TV lines
      4m 17s
    8. Introducing layer comps
      5m 52s
    9. Saving your own layer comps
      6m 40s
    10. Final footnotes
      5m 9s
  6. 1h 23m
    1. Parametric operations
      1m 4s
    2. The power of blend modes
      6m 44s
    3. Changing the Opacity value
      5m 35s
    4. Opacity vs. Fill Opacity
      4m 37s
    5. Meet the blend modes
      5m 38s
    6. Blend mode shortcuts
      5m 52s
    7. The darkening modes
      6m 12s
    8. Tempering a Burn effect with the Fill value
      3m 53s
    9. Saving a blended state
      2m 54s
    10. The lightening modes
      4m 55s
    11. The contrast modes
      7m 13s
    12. The comparative modes
      7m 25s
    13. The composite (HSL) modes
      6m 2s
    14. The brush-only modes
      8m 11s
    15. Blending groups
      7m 10s
  7. 1h 27m
    1. At this point, there is a great shift...
      59s
    2. Messing with the masters
      2m 28s
    3. Scaling a layer to fit a composition
      6m 39s
    4. Merging clock face and cardinal
      2m 2s
    5. Rotating the minute hand
      7m 42s
    6. Replaying the last transformation
      3m 50s
    7. Second hand and shadows
      5m 0s
    8. Series duplication
      3m 23s
    9. Skews and perspective-style distortions
      6m 43s
    10. The envelope-style Warp function
      7m 32s
    11. Introducing the Liquify command
      5m 9s
    12. Adjusting the brush settings
      4m 2s
    13. Viewing layers and the mesh
      4m 18s
    14. Incrementally undoing undesirable effects
      4m 5s
    15. Twirl, pucker, and bloat
      2m 2s
    16. Push, mirror, and turbulence
      4m 37s
    17. Protecting regions with a mask
      3m 41s
    18. Applying a digital facelift
      10m 53s
    19. Saving and loading mesh settings
      2m 31s
  8. 1h 18m
    1. Planes and perspective
      1m 7s
    2. The Blue Gallery
      2m 47s
    3. Introducing Vanishing Point 2.0
      5m 30s
    4. Drawing out perpendicular planes
      6m 54s
    5. Exporting the gridlines to a layer
      4m 45s
    6. Cloning an image from one plane to another
      7m 58s
    7. Blending the image into its new home
      6m 31s
    8. Healing away the sockets
      7m 48s
    9. Importing a new image
      6m 20s
    10. Masking and shading the image
      7m 27s
    11. Flat in, perspective out
      5m 57s
    12. Adding perspective type
      4m 50s
    13. Swinging planes to custom angles
      6m 2s
    14. Wrapping art around multiple surfaces
      4m 35s
  9. 1h 15m
    1. Type: The great imaging exception
      54s
    2. Creating an independent text layer
      6m 39s
    3. Editing vector-based text
      6m 38s
    4. Working with area text
      6m 15s
    5. Resizing the text frame
      6m 4s
    6. Obscure but important formatting options
      7m 25s
    7. Text editing tricks and shortcuts
      9m 38s
    8. Adding a ghostly cast shadow
      6m 19s
    9. Backlighting the text
      2m 48s
    10. Creating type on a path
      7m 37s
    11. Pasting text along the bottom of a circle
      3m 50s
    12. Flip and baseline shift
      3m 15s
    13. Warping text
      3m 58s
    14. Scaling the warped text to taste
      4m 18s
  10. 1m 11s
    1. See ya for now
      1m 11s

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