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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, we will explore a couple filtering effects that rely on the Darken Blend mode. I have restored the same version of Darken demo.psd found inside the 04_darken folder, and I am going to turn off the model layer and click on the water layer to select it. Now notice that the water is pretty bright and I actually brightened it up a bit using a layer effect. To see that effect, go ahead and click the down pointing arrow head to expand the effects and then double-click on Color Overlay to bring up the Layer style dialog box. And you'll see all it is, is a white overlay. That's it.
So if I was to change the Opacity to 100%, the entire layer would turn white, which is why I reduce the Opacity to 35% and that just ended up boosting all the colors. Reason I did that was to keep things nice and bright so I could better demonstrate how those darken modes work. Anyway, it's just another way to brighten the layer. I am going to cancel out of that dialog box and I am going to turn off that effect because I don't want it for this demo. And then I'm going to click of the fly-out menu icon and choose Convert to Smart Object. In order to turn this into a smart object, so I can apply smart filters.
Now let's say what I want to do is I want to fill in some of the whites in the water here. And I want to do so using a Blur effect, so we get kind of color softness going on. However, I don't want to lose the detail in the water. Well, I'd go up to the Filter menu, choose Blur and then choose Gaussian Blur. And in this case, I decided to take the Radius up to 10 pixels, but you can play around with out to see what works. Then click OK and next, drop down to this little slider icon right there, double-click on it in order to bring up the Blending Options dialog box.
Smart filters are another instance where you have access to the entire list of those same 27 blend modes that are available to you in the Layers panel. And I am going to go ahead and choose Darken, in order to keep those blurred pixels that are darker than the original pixels. So in other words, if the blurred pixels are darker, we are seeing them; if the original pixels are darker, we are seeing them instead. Now as a result, we are seeing an awful lot of detail inside of this water. I will go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification. And so that's just one example; you can try that out all kinds of different images.
It tends to be quite useful for diffusion effects, especially on backgrounds. All right! Let's check out another one. I am going to go ahead and turn on the model layer and click on it to make it active. Let's convert it to a smart object as well by clicking on the fly-out menu icon and choosing Convert to Smart Object or if you've loaded dekeKeys, you can press Ctrl+Comma or Command+Comma on the Mac. And now I am going to go up to the Filter menu, choose Pixelate and choose a filter that I don't use very often, Mosaic. And if you know anything about this filter, what it does is exactly what you're seeing. It pixelates the image which can be useful on a practical basis, if you're trying to make somebody in the background unrecognizable, for example, you don't have a model release on somebody that you photographed.
There's a behind some people that you do have model releases for. So you just go ahead and pixelate their eyes or their facial features that second kind of thing and Mosaic is the way to pull that off. I have set the Cell Size to 32 square. What that means is 32 pixels by 32 pixels square, for each one of these big pixels and then I'll click OK in order to accept that effect. Now in this case, I do want this to be an effect, I want the detail from the model to show through. So I'll go ahead and double-click on the slider icon in order to bring up the Blending Options dialog box and once again, change the mode from Normal to Darken and we end up with this effect here, which I think is pretty becoming.
I will go ahead and click OK. Now imagine at this point, I will go ahead and zoom in here a little. I want to achieve some scalloped edges around the square. So I want these squares to have a little bit of roundness associated with them. So I will go back up to the Filter menu, choose the Noise command this time and then choose Medium. And I ended up arriving at a Radius value that is one quarter the value I entered into the Mosaic dialog box. So I entered 32 before, this time around I change the radius to 32 divided by 8 pixels.
The math doesn't really matter that much, but I ended up liking the effect. So I will go ahead and click OK in order to apply the command. And then once again, we don't want to rub out all the detail in the underlying originals. So double-click on the slider icon to bring up the Blending Options dialog box and switch the mode from Normal to Darken in order to bring that detail back. Click OK. Now at this point, I figured she was sort of this computer rendering. So I ought to introduce some circuit board green and I did that by dropping down to the fx icon and choosing Color Overlay and not surprisingly, I decide change the Blend Mode for this effect to Darken and by default, you are going to get this highly saturated very bright red effect.
Click on the right color swatch to bring up the Color Picker dialog box and then change the Hue value to 90 degrees like so. And then click OK and click OK again and we arrive at this final effect, which given the small amount of work we put into it, I think it's quite successful. And what's more amazing is it relies on two smart filters and a layer effect all of which are set to the Darken blend mode.
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