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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.
All right, by now if nothing else, you probably have a sense that the Quick Selection tool isn't all that quick, as witnessed by the length of the previous video. However, there are times where you can get halfway decent work done with it, and that's what we're going to try to do inside of this exercise. I've saved my progress as Three frog foot masks.psd, and even though I've already got these mask that I could work with, I'm going to regenerate the selection by switching back to the Layers panel. Let's go ahead and click on the original Frog layer to make sure it's active, and then grab the Quick Selection tool from the toolbox.
Now note, if I click the down pointing arrowhead that my Hardness is still set to 0%, which is not a default setting, by the way, by default that Hardness is 100%. So let's go ahead and reset the defaults by right-clicking on that tool icon on the far left-side of the options bar and then choose Reset tool, and that would turn Auto Enhance off, I'll turn it back on, because that gives us way better results. Notice however, I'll click the down pointing arrowhead, that even though the Size value has been reinstated to 30 pixels, the Hardness value is left alone.
I just want to make it clear that you're going have the reset that value manually. So I'll go ahead and take it back up to 100% and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to accept that change. Then I'll zoom in on this forward foot, and I'll paint into each one of the toes in order to paint in that selection and I'll take it up a little bit as well, like so. Next, I'll Alt+Drag or Option+Drag inside of that shadow in order to deselect this region and I want to take it in just a little farther. It looks like I went too far, so I will click with the tool, in order to grow the selection slightly, and then finally, notice that little corner right there.
I'll Alt+Click or Option+Click on it in order to deselect it. All right, let's say I want to give this frog kind of a hot foot, so I'm going to make the foot red by pressing the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, clicking on that black-white icon, down there at the bottom of the Layers panel, and I'll choose Hue/Saturation, and I'll call this layer hot foot, and then click OK. Photoshop automatically converts the selection outline to a layer mask for this adjustment. Now I'm going to turn on the colorized check box and we'll end up getting this low saturation red.
I want a significantly higher saturation value, so I'll take it up to 50, and then I'll change the Hue value to 5, just to introduce a little bit of scarlet. And now that I'm done with the Adjustments panel, I'll go ahead and collapse it by double-clicking to the right of the word Masks, and I will change the Blend mode from this layer, from Normal to Multiply, in order to achieve this darker, richer, and more colorful effect. And now you can see that we've got some pretty clumsy edges going here. Well, there's another Brush tool that does a splendid job of manually correcting the problems created by the Quick Selection tool, and that's this tool right there.
Go ahead and click and hold on the Blur tool icon if you see it, and select the Smudge tool from the flyout menu. And I'm going to go ahead and increase the size of this brush cursor by pressing the right bracket key a few times. You do, by the way, want to be working with a reduced hardness value. So if you right-click inside the Image window, you should see a Hardness value of 0%, if not, set it to 0% and then press the Enter key to hide that panel. And now I'll go ahead and drag inside of the image in order to touch up those edges, and I'm going to drag a little bit in, and then a little bit out as well.
It's going to take a fair amount of work to get the results you're looking for and I'm going to reduce the size of my cursor, by pressing the left bracket key, then I'll again increase the size of the cursor by pressing the right bracket key, and what we're allowed to do with this tool is nudge these edges of the mask around in order to achieve better and more credible results. So right about there I think I need a smaller brush and I'm going to brush this area down as well a little bit, and so you want to just keep working your way around the mask. Now this is not a quick process either, a sort of mocking the Quick Selection tool, because it's not all that quick, and you can see here, it didn't generate very good results.
And the Smudge tool, even though it's given us some pretty interesting results here, it's not quick either, but it doesn't say it's quick. It's not called the Quick Smudge tool and it definitely allows us to achieve some better results here. All right, so after a while I imagine I might grow comfortable with these toes here. Assuming you reach a point of rough contentment. Then go and increase the size of that cursor once again, and drag up and down inside of this region of the foot in order to smooth those transitions. So you can see in addition to nudging the edges around, the Smooth tool also allows you to introduce some softness.
All right, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that that looks great, but it looks pretty good. So I'll press the M key to switchback to my Go To tool, the Rectangular Marquee, then I'll press Ctrl+0 or Command+0 on the Mac to zoom out, and we end up with this effect here, created in large part using the Quick Selection tool, but I would argue, even in larger part. Thanks to the older more manual Smudge tool here inside Photoshop.
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