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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'll take a look at the most basic of the Darken modes which are Darken and Darker Color. Now between you and me you are not going to be using these blend modes very often, however I do want you to understand how they work and I will be showing you a couple of filtering effects that work quite nicely with the Darken mode in the next exercise. I am looking at a file called Darken demo.psd found inside the 04_darken folder and notice below the model layer, we have a trio of background layers that we'll be taking a look at over the course of next few exercises.
We'll start things off by merging the model with this water layer in the background. All of these images by the way hail from the Fotolia Image Library about which you can learn more and get a discount at fotolia.com/deke. I am going to go ahead and turn that model layer back on, click on the Blend Mode pop-up menu and then choose Darken. Now this blend mode is extremely simple. Here's what it does. I am going to go ahead and zoom in here, so we can see things more closely. Darken evaluates every pixel on the active layer and compares it to the pixel directly behind it.
If the pixel on the active layer is darker, then you see that pixel. If the pixel behind it is darker, then you see the background pixel instead. So it's an on-off proposition, either you're seeing the active layer pixel or you're seeing the background pixel. Now if you take a look at this image that doesn't really reconcile. After all there are some portions of her face that are definitely opaque here in the shadow region along the right side of her cheek and down her neck as well, and some of the shadow details inside of her lips, and her eyelashes, and so forth.
And these other areas over here on the left hand side of the face that are giving way to the water in the background, but then we have some transitional areas where her skin ends up looking translucent to the point that emerges with the blue of the background in order to create these green shades. So what in the world is going on there? Well, that comparison I was telling you about, that on-off comparison, either you see the active pixel or you see the pixel behind it, is happening on a channel by channel basis. So if I switch to the Channels panel and click on the Red channel, you can see now that it is an on/off proposition, it maybe hard to tell in some of these semi-transitional areas here, but either we're seeing the red pixels from her face or we're seeing the red pixels from the water and that's it.
There is no merging of the pixels, there is no translucency going on. However, because the water is blue, it's not very bright inside of the Red channel, so the water is usually winning out. If I switch to the Green channel, we're seeing a lot more of her face this time around, because the water has a lot of green in it, meaning, that the water is very bright in the Green channel, and she's darkening up inside the Green channel, and then when we switch to the Blue channel, she wins every pixel I believe, because after all blue water is going to show up very bright in the Blue channel and as a result, she's relatively darken to Blue channel.
So the upshot is that these various channels intermix with each other and we end up with these transitional greens in between. Now if don't want that, if you want a strictly on/off proposition across the board, then you switch back to the Layers panel, click on that Blend Mode pop-up menu and select the last of the Darken modes. Now in my opinion, it ought to directly follow Darken, because Darker Color is a very similar mode, and it's not related to the three in between. However, you go ahead and choose Darker Color, and now what's happening is Photoshop is deciding whether a pixel is darker in the active layer or whether it's darker in the background on a composite basis.
So in other words, we are ready to switch back to the Channels panel, we are seeing those same pixels show up as opaque in the Red channel, the Green channel and the Blue channel. So, all three channels are showing the same opacity information. In other words, either, we're seeing a pixel from the active layer or a pixel from the background, and that's it. All right! I am going to go ahead and switch back out, zoom out as well in order to take in the image. So you can see that Darker Color might prove useful on occasion if you are trying to create the effect that one image is emerging from another image, as we see here, however, you do get very harsh jagged transitions as a result of this mode.
So Darker Color seeks out the darkest pixel on a composite basis, and Darken does so on a channel by channel basis. In the next exercise, I'll show you how to combine Darken along with Smart Filters to achieve a couple of special effects.
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