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In Photoshop CS5: Creative Compositing, Chris Orwig demonstrates how to take photographs to the next creative level by combining images in Photoshop. This course covers multiple compositing scenarios, including portraits and architecture photos, from selecting the images, to blending photos with layer masks and blend modes, and resizing and sharpening the results. Chris also covers tips and tricks design to inspire and increase the drama and interest of photographs. Exercise files are included with this course.
With this photograph, we're going to experiment and have some fun with blending and there are so many different things that you can do with portraits. In a way, think of this movie as a bonus movie and as simply a way to practice how we can blend different photographs together. Well, if you look at the Layers panel, you'll notice that we have two layers here. We have the original file as photograph, then we have the retouch version of the image. Now the retouching here was actually demonstrated and taught in one of my other training titles on portrait retouching.
Yet here what we want to do is rather than focus on the retouching, we want to take what we've done somewhere else, and take a look at how we can combine this image with other photographs. Well, what photographs will we be using? Well, here you can see, I brought in some different images. Photograph of a sunrise, of mountains, of a parachute, and also this interesting photograph of all of these bats at sunset. Well, how then can we blend these together with our image? Well, what we want to do is click in the retouched version of the file and we want to duplicate that layer.
To do that, let's simply click-and- drag this to the New Layer icon and then let's rename this layer portrait. Next, let's bring this to the top of our layer stack. Now, how can we blend this in? Now, a lot of times what we try is blending modes. For example, let's try Soft Light. When we try Soft Light and zoom-out so we can see this, we can see that we can come up with some pretty interesting results. Yet this isn't going to work with every type of image, and here we're seeing that certain images are okay, while other images aren't quite working so well.
In addition, it's almost like there's no connection with the background, rather just almost like it has a lower opacity or something like that. So let's take this back to a Normal blending mode. How else can we experiment? Well, another great place to experiment is with Advanced Blending. Now, here it's not going to work very well, but let's give it a try anyway. In order to access Advanced Blending, you can double-click your layer. This will then pull up these controls where you can blend brightness values. If we bring down our whites, what we can do is allow some of the background image to come through in the brighter areas of the image.
The next step with Advanced Blending is to hold down Option or Alt and then to click on your sliders here and split those to create a bit more of a transition. Now, this creates an okay effect, but again, it's not really exactly what we're looking for. It's kind of falling apart too much in the eyes and we can't control this with the precision that we need. So here, let's cancel out of this. Well, another way that we can come up with an interesting result is simply by building a mask based on color range. Well, let's explore how we can do that.
We'll go ahead and simply click on the Add Layer Mask icon. Next step, we'll choose Color Range. This will open up our Color Range dialog and here we'll just click on a sample area of skin, and then hold down the Shift key and you can click-and-drag across your image, adding more and more to the selection. Here, you can see we're just building this up little by little. What's interesting about this is we now have primarily the skin. So if we click OK, what's going to happen is we now have the skin sitting on top of this image.
Now, here as we click through these options, we'll see that with certain images it looks okay, but with others, not so much. Well, how else can we modify this? Well, what we could do is actually invert the mask, so that the underlying image is just coming through that skin area. We'll click on Invert, and all of a sudden we have something that's getting to be a little bit more interesting. A great thing about this is you can click and paint in your mask. For example, we'll grab that Brush tool and here what we're going to do is go ahead and paint with white, and make the brush a little bit smaller.
I'm just going to paint in bit more of the eyes here. I want to have all the eyes in here. and you can see I'm just adding this detail. I can control this mask either by painting on it or by refining its edge, I can work on my eyebrows, bringing in a little bit more of those, and I can just continually modify this however I see fit. I'll press 4 on the keyboard to go to 40%, and add a bit more down here, a little bit bigger brush, and you can see I'm just bringing in more of that, press the X key and then I can go the other direction which in this case is bringing in more of that background.
We can do this in some really interesting and creative ways. So here I'll just go through these edges and just look to modify them a bit with a nice big brush, and I'm just going to move quickly here. The whole point is that we can modify this and we can get really creative in regards to how our mask is allowing this content to come through. We can also control these edges a number of different ways. All right! Well, so far, so good. We have this effect now coming into the image. We can have really precise control over how it's affecting the photograph.
We can also explore with how this looks with different photos. In this case, when I go down to the parachute, all of a sudden I have something completely distinct and different. Let me work on my edges a little bit here, and in this particular image, we kind of have this interesting look of this parachute coming across the face, but it's too strong. Well, to change that, just lower the density of the mask, and as we lower that, it allow us less and less of that image to come through. Another fun thing to do is of course to modify these layers.
For example, let's go to Image > Adjustments, and Desaturate. Now, by removing the color, we just have a distinct or different look. We can also grab our Move tool. We can reposition this, we can change this, and we can have different types of looks. We can combine images together in ways that really we would have thought would have been impossible. Simply by using a mask and allowing an image to come through in a certain area, we can come up with some interesting results. All right! Well, let's look at this mountains layer for example.
Well here, I'm going to go ahead and bring back more of the image by increasing the density. On this mountains layer, sometimes what we can discover is that we can reposition layers or combine these together, and have two different layers which together give us a distinct look. Of course, we can then click on the Add Layer Mask icon, grab a brush. We can mask away certain areas of our photograph. In this case, I'm just going to soften the edge there of that area of the image, or I can make the nose kind of come up a little bit more in here. Again, the sky is the limit.
What else we can do is change the blending mode of these layers, try different blending modes, lower opacities. So we can do everything that we can do with blending here with these layers in combination with this technique here. All right! Well the fun with this of course is just experimenting, just having some fun and seeing how these different layers might look. Lastly, what I want to do is simply lower the opacity and bring this down a bit. Sometimes what you'll discover is that you'll find perhaps a sweet spot for an image. The trick maybe just getting it exactly where you want it, having that blending come in, having a little bit of that background image, and in this case, I'm just going to go ahead and try to find something that I think might work here with this photograph, and I think that's pretty good.
Well, the next thing that we might want to do then is merge this to the top. so click in your top layer, press Shift+Option+Command+E on a Mac, Shift+Alt+Ctrl+E on Windows. Next, we can turn off the visibility of those underlying layers, so we have this on a layer of its own. Then click on the Add Layer Mask icon, and what you can then do is you can mask this adjustment in wherever you want it. So if I go ahead and limit this perhaps on the face a little bit, so it's just trailing off down there below.
We now have this kind of a nice tapered sunrise look down below. Here's before and then after. Then we're able to accomplish that simply by working with these different layers and simply by blending these images together, and changing the overall look, feel, and aesthetic of this photograph.
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