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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 are going to finish off the composition, using a clipping mask as well as a handful of other compositing tricks. I have saved my progress as more flexible glassware.psd, found inside the 09_layermask folder. So I was reviewing the composition figure and you know what, I want these highlights to be brighter, but I want them to be in exactly the same shape they appear here inside the layer Mask. So to do that you need to load up the layer mask as a selection, by Ctrl+Clicking on it or Command+ Clicking on that layer mask thumbnail, the one associate with the Knockout layer, they're inside Layers panel.
And that goes ahead and selects the white area and deselect the black area of the mask. So we need to reverse the selection, by going up to the Select menu and choosing the Inverse command are pressing Ctrl+ Shift+I or Command+Shift+I on the Mac. Now drop down to the soft light layer right there and press Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N in order to bring up the New layer dialog box and let's call this new layer highlights and then click OK. All right I want to fill the selected brushstrokes with white, white is my background color, which means I will press Ctrl+Backspace or Command+Delete on the Mac in order to fill the selection, press Ctrld+D or Command+D on a Mac in order to deselect the image.
It now looks like we have these kind of white light sabers coming out of the glasses, I don't want that, they should be clipped inside the contours of the glass, you can clip one layer inside of another, in a variety of different ways one option is to go onto the layer panel and choose Create Clipping mask, you also have that keyboard shortcut Ctrl+ Alt+G or Command+Option+G on the Mac. My favorite way however, is to press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and hover your cursor over the horizontal line between Highlights layer and the Soft light layer and click.
And that goes ahead and clips the highlights inside the soft light later, like so. Now the problem with clipping is that the clipped layer not only fits inside, for example, the layer mask that's associated with the soft light layer, the layer that's clipping it, but also you end up assuming the same Opacity and Blend mode settings that are associated with the Clipping layers. So in this case you can see the Opacity value is set to 50%. Let's go ahead and crank it back to 100 % by pressing the 0 key and that does a little bit for the highlights, but not all that much.
Notice, if I turn the Highlights off, and then I turn it back on, it's as if they barely make any difference whatsoever. Here is what you do, if you run into a situation like that. Go ahead and right-click inside the image window in our case and choose Blending options or once again if you loaded D keys, you can press Ctrl+Shift+O or Command+Shift+O on the Mac, to bring up the Blending Options dialog box and notice this check box right there, Blend Clipped layers as Group. Right now, that's what's happening. Photoshop is combining the two layers into one, and then it's applying the Soft Light mode to the layers together.
That's not what we want, so turn the check box off and that'll go ahead and apply the Soft Light mode to the layer first and then add the white clipped layer on top of it and we end up getting these very bright highlights indeed. All right now click OK in order to except that modification. Now I wanted to add a couple of additional highlights along the outside of the glass and I will do that from the knockout layer. So I will go ahead and click on the layer mask thumbnail, for that Knockout layer I'm going to go ahead and grab my Brush tool once again and it's still the same size as it ever was I think, actually it's bigger for some reason, it should be a hundred pixels and the Hardness should be 0%.
Once you have right-clicked and established that those are indeed your settings, then I want you to press the 5 key to reduce the Opacity value to 50% make sure black is your foreground color as it is in my case. Click right about there in the bubbles on right-hand glass and Shift+Click above and beyond the top of the glass, then do the same thing over here on the left-hand side of the left glass, click down there inside the liquid and Shift+Click above the top of the glass. Now we want to reduce the size of the cursor.
I am going to right-click inside the image window and take the Size value down by half to 50 pixels. And then I will press the 0 key to restore the Opacity value to 100% and I will click right about there in the center of the previous brush stroke essentially, Shift+Click up above, do the same thing over your right-hand side, click and then Shift+Click in order to draw a straight line of highlight. That is very nearly the final effect we are looking for. The only thing that's bugging me at this point is that the background is uniformly in focus and I think we'll get a more dramatic composition, if we let the sunset drift out of focus as the water resides away from this.
So click on that Beach layer down there the bottom of the stack. We might as well right-click on it this time and choose Convert to Smart Object, again you have got the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+, on the PC or Command+, on the Mac. Go up to the Filter menu, choose Blur and I want you to choose Gaussian blur and go ahead and take the Radius value up to 5 pixels, then click OK. This time we are going to take advantage of the filter mask, go ahead and click on the white filter next of the word Smart Filters.
Go ahead and select the Gradient tool which of course you can get by pressing the G key. Right now, my foreground color is black and I'll be creating a Black to Transparent gradient, that's just fine. And now I am going to drag from the bottom of the waves here between the two glasses upward while pressing the Shift key until I arrive at the horizon line, which is the intersection in this case of the ocean and the sky. I will go ahead and release and now you can see that the background is fading into focus as it comes toward us.
I realized that I forgot to go back and reinstate the Screen mode, if you click on that layer, that's called Screen 50 %, it still set to the Normal mode which is when I set it to when I was creating that layer mask in the first place. So what we need to do is switch it out to the Screen mode, the great thing about Blend modes and other parametric modifications inside of Photoshop is you can switch them around anytime you like. So if you make a mistake like I did, all you have to do is go up to that Blend mode pop-up menu and reinstate the Screen mode as in this case here and we end up with a final effect.
There is one more thing I want to do, I am going to switch to the Highlights layer right there, the one that's clipped inside the Soft Light layer and I notice that my highlights are kind of abruptly ending inside of the liquid portion of the glasses. Let's go ahead and mask them as well. I will grab my Brush tool, I am going to increase the size of the brush, fairly dramatically by pressing ] key. Drop down to the Add layer mask icon at the bottom of Layers panel and click on it. With black as a foreground color, I am going to paint underneath that rim of bubbles right there, like so.
So that the highlight extends from the top the glass into those dark bubbles, but not any farther down and that is my final effect folks, I am going to press the F key a couple times, zoom in on the image as well. That is one of the many ways that you can mass glass inside of Photoshop, in this case using a combination of a layer group, a knockout layer, a clipping mask and a bunch of other compositing tricks, here inside Photoshop.
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