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Advanced Blending is the second installment in Deke McClelland's series on making photorealistic compositions in Photoshop. The course explores blending options and shows how to use them to create sophisticated effects and seamless compositions, often without masking. Beginning with the basics of blending layered images, the course sheds light on the formulas behind the Photoshop blend modes and shows how to comp scanned line art, create double-exposure effects, correct skin tones, and work with the luminance sliders.
In this exercise I am going to show you how to colorize a photograph or a piece of artwork using independent layers combined with the Color Mode. We'll start things off inside the file Assyrian & sea.psd found inside the 08_component folder. I am going to make a copy of this Assyrian layer by pressing Ctrl+J or Command+J on the Mac and then I'll turn it off for a moment. Return to the original Assyrian layer and let's go ahead and switch it to that ultimate contrast mode which is Linear Light, by selecting Linear Light here from the Blend Mode pop-up menu, and that goes ahead and integrates the texture of the background and the foreground for that matter with the photograph of the sea, but it's a little too much I think.
So I am going to press the Escape key to deactivate the Blend Mode here on the PC and then I'll press Shift+33 in order to change the Fill value to 33%. Now let's turn on the original Assyrian layer because I want to reinstate him. If you switch over to the Channels Panel, you will see that I have created three alpha channels in advance for you; one that selects the entire guy, another that just selects the eye, and then finally one that selects the hair. You note that the masks are pretty rough, frankly.
I created all of them because we don't really have that much to work with here in the way of color detail or anything like that. When you are selecting something along the lines of the monochrome carving, you're pretty much at the disposal of the Selection tools. So I ended up working with of all tools, the Quick Selection Tool, actually it worked pretty well for this, as well as the Elliptical Marquee and the Lasso Tool. Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and load up the big guy channel by Ctrl+Clicking or Command+Clicking on it. Then I'll switch back over to the Layers Panel, and with that top Assyrian layer selected, I will drop down to the Add Layer Mask icon and click on it.
Now we've got the carving set against the sea, but I want to give him let's say a little bit of color and I'm going to draw that color from this brown layer right here, but if I just colorize him with a flat shade of brown like this, he's going to look pretty darn flat. So I wanted to introduce some variation, and here is how I went about that. First, I pressed Ctrl+J or Command+J on the Mac in order to create a copy of that brown layer. Turn it off, we'll come back to it in a moment. Select the original brown layer. Then press the D key just to make sure your foreground and background colors are at their defaults, black and white.
Then go up to the Filter menu, choose Render and notice in addition to Clouds, you have Difference Clouds. Clouds in case you don't know, applies a random fractal noise pattern that happens to look something like clouds I suppose, and this is the kind of effect you get. Every time you'll apply the filter, you get something different. I am going to press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo that change. Just below the Clouds Filter is a filter called Difference Clouds and what it does is it applies the Clouds Filter once again randomly, subject to the Difference Blend Mode.
So it goes ahead and blends the Clouds with the current color that's brown, using that same Difference Mode that we saw on the previous chapter. So I'll go ahead and choose the command and we end up getting this effect here. Your results may vary. And then if I press Ctrl+F or Command +F on the Mac to repeat the filter, we apply Difference Clouds again and that goes ahead and reinverts the color pattern. I'll press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac. We change the image to predominately blue because any place where white was assigned, in the fractal noise pattern, we ended up inverting the brown and that changed it to blue.
If I press Ctrl+F or Command+F to repeat the filter, we reinvert all over the place and we're introducing all kinds of new colors. Now you can keep doing that over- and-over again, if you like, but two applications of Difference Clouds is enough to get the result we're looking for. I'm now going to turn the original brown layer back on and I am going to reduce its Opacity value to 70% by pressing the 7 key. Then, I'm going to merge these two layers together by either going up to the Layer Menu and choosing the Merge Down command or you can just press Ctrl+E or Command+E on the Mac and that goes ahead and gives us this sort of variable brown color.
Now I am going to press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and click that horizontal line between brown and the layer below, so that we're clipping the brown inside of that Assyrian layer. Now I am going to return to the Channels Panel, lift that eye channel right there by Ctrl+Clicking on it or Command +Clicking on it on the Mac, return to the Layers Panel and dropdown to the Add Layer Mask icon and Alt+Click or Option+Click on it. That way we're masking away the eye. I am going to press Shift+Alt+C or Shift+Option+C on the Mac to switch this layer to the Color Mode and that goes ahead and colorizes this entire guy with the exception of his eye, that's the only thing that's not getting colorized here.
Alright now I want to colorize his hair using this rainbow layer that I created, using the Gradient Tool of course, and I'm going to go ahead and click on it to select it and then I'll go up to the Channels Panel and let's load the hair channel by Ctrl+Clicking on it or Command +Clicking on it on the Mac, switch back to the Layers Panel, dropdown to the Add Layer Mask icon and click on it in order to mask that crazy gradient inside of his hair. Now of course we want to colorize the image using that layer, so press Shift+Alt+C or Shift+Option+C on the Mac to once again switch to the Color Mode.
So notice how that works by the way. If I turn that layer off, we had already colorized that area using the layer below, that doesn't matter. You can colorize over-and-over again. You can heap all kinds of color layers on top of each other because they're all burning through essentially to the original luminance data and so each layer of color ends up replacing the one below. At this point I felt like the composition would benefit if his eye was brighter. I start off by going over to the Channels Panel and loading that eye channel once again by Ctrl+Clicking on it or Command+Clicking on the Mac and then switch back to the Layers Panel, drop down to the black/white icon, press the Alt or Option key and click on it and then choose Brightness/Contrast.
I was originally thinking this was going to work as a dummy layer so I just called it dummy and then clicked OK. I'll go ahead and collapse the Color Panel for a moment here and expand the Layers Panel and then I changed this layer to the Screen Mode in order to brighten up that eye, but that didn't end up giving me the brightness I was looking for. So I went ahead and changed the values associated with the adjustment itself. I took the Brightness value up to 50 and I took the Contrast value up to 100. So you can add values along with blend modes to your adjustment layers to create a higher impact effect if you want to.
Now I am going to collapse the Adjustments Panel. Notice that my Layer Mask is still selected. I am going to switch over to the Brush Tool and then I'll right-click inside the Image Window. Notice my Size is 90 pixels, my Hardness is 0%, my foreground color is black, so what I am going to do here is paint away the shading below the eye like so, just along the bottom eyelid and that's it and that is the final effect. I'll go ahead and press the F key a couple of times and zoom in. That is one way anyway to colorize a photograph or a piece of artwork, if you like, using the Color Blend Mode here inside Photoshop.
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