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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'll show you how to correct color modeled skin tones using the Hue Mode. I am working inside of a file that's called Average hue.tif. It's found inside the 08_component folder. This is a photograph that I shot of my son Max. You can see how his skin tones waver from oranges and pinks into this sort of yellow region up here, and in this particular case, it's because the camera misread the actual colors. However, you might run into situations where you're looking at a person who has modeled skin tones and you want to correct for them and here's how.
First thing you want to do is mask the subject of your image and in the case of this photo, it's pretty easy. I am going to switch over to the Channels Panel here. Notice that I've created a mask in advance, but we are going to create it together using a slightly different technique than we had in the past. If you take a look at the independent color channels, you will see that we don't have much contrast going on where Max's face is concerned, in the Blue channel. We have an awful lot of weirdness going on in the Green channel, that's part of the reason that we're having the color modeling in the first place is there is so much variation inside of his face.
And then if you switch over to the Red channel, you'll notice that his face is incredibly bright inside of this channel, another reason we're having the problem. I am going to go ahead and make a copy of that Red channel because that is where we have the most contrast and I'll just go ahead and rename it mask, and then we need to enhance the contrast of the image, but instead of doing so using the Levels command, I am going to use Curves instead which will give me a little bit more control. So I am going to choose Image> Adjustments>Curves or you can press Ctrl+M or Command+M on the Mac in order to bring up the Curves dialog box.
Now if you are working along with me, you want to click on this double-pointing arrowhead right there to make sure you can see your Curve Display Options and make sure Show Amount of is set to Light as opposed to Pigment. Then, go ahead and take that bottom left point and drag it over to the right until the Input value changes to 64. Now if you miss the mark a little bit, you can dial-in and input 64 or you can also nudge the point from the keyboard. So I've pressed the Left Arrow key a couple of times in order to nudge it back to 64.
So Output should be 0, Input 64. Then go ahead and click somewhere along this line in order to set a point. What we are looking for this time around, I am going to press Shift+Left Arrow a few times here. I'm ultimately looking for the Input value to be 115 and then the Output value needs to be 140 and by the way we are talking at luminance levels here. So we are remapping what was formerly a luminance level of 115 to 1 of 140. So we're brightening the center of that curve.
So we are starting off by clipping a ton of dark colors to black and then we are brightening the mid-tones. Once your curve looks like mine, go ahead and click OK in order to accept the results. Now we are just getting us Lasso Tool to more or less encompass Max's face. So I am going to press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and click along here and I am keeping that Option or Alt key down, so that I can take advantage of the polygonal Lasso Tool here and I'm going to dip close to his ear. Notice as usual I am not getting right next to the stuff I want to keep, I am trying to stay inside of this, sort of black alley here.
This area right there underneath his chin is a little bit of neck showing up and then we have some neck down here toward the top of the zipper area, so go ahead and select around there and then finally complete the selection like so. Then, you go up to the Select Menu and choose the Inverse command so that we're selecting the background instead of his face. My foreground color happens to be black, so I am going to press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete on the Mac to fill that selected region with black, and then press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac to deselect the image.
Now we have managed to mostly select all the skin details, but we have selected more than that, I've selected into his teeth for example and into his eyebrows as well. Not a concern. Let's just go ahead and load at this mask by Ctrl+Clicking or Command+Clicking on it, they are in the Channels Panel. Then I'll switch back to the RGB image, switch over to the Layers Panel. I am going to convert Max to a Smart Object and the reason I am doing this is because we're going to be applying this mask as a Filter Mask in just a moment and we need a Smart Filter to pull that off.
So go up to the fly-out menu, choose Convert to Smart Object. Then we might as well go ahead and rename this layer Max. I'll go up to the Filter Menu, choose Blur and choose a command that you've probably never used in your life, it's Average, and what it does is it finds the one and only average color in the entire image and it goes ahead and fills the entire image with it, like so. So notice because we had a selection active, it just went ahead and filled up Max's face, but we've changed his entire face to this weird sort of brownish gray color.
That's exactly it turns out what we want. However, we need to change the Blend Mode for the Filter. So double click on the Slider icon to bring up the Blending Options dialog box. Initially, I expected the Color Mode was going to do the job for me, but notice what happens, we ended up creating this sort of gray flesh, that's not what we're looking for. I switch to Hue instead which is the way I suggest you work as well. If Color doesn't give you the desired results, see if Hue might do you better, and as soon as I chose Hue, notice that, completely fixes the image.
It's amazing, and then I went ahead and reduced the Opacity value to 70%, click OK. And so just to give you an idea of what kind of difference is made, this is the original image with all those weird sort of yellows and pinks competing for attention there and this is the filtered version of the image. Not only do the flesh tones improved dramatically, but his teeth remain nice and white because they are low saturation teeth in the first place. Thanks to the Hue Blend Mode here inside Photoshop.
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