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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.
This compositing project is going to be a ton of fun and what we're going to look at here is how we can take this photograph of this old vintage book and how we can remove the text and also remove the background and then blend in a few different graphic or design elements. Now, if we open up this folder, first turning on its visibility, you'll see that we have a number of different photographs here. These photographs were captured by one of my colleagues Ralph Clevenger. And this particular project stems from something that was real, where he had asked me to design this page for his website in order to have some information about himself and also a few interesting graphic elements.
So, here he took this photograph of this old book and what we want to do is extract this book from the background. So, in order to do that, let's close this little folder here and focus in on the background. Next thing we want to do is grab one of our Selection tools like the Quick Select tool and we'll start off by simply clicking-and-dragging across the image. Now, if ever we notice that the Quick Select makes a mistake, as it did over here, press Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows, and then click to paint that away. Paint it back in, make your brush a little bit smaller, and essentially teach Quick Select where the edge is and it's going to be tricky in order to get this just right, but eventually, you'll start to build this up so that you can have this just right.
Now, your brush size will determine how fine of detail this is. So, if you have a larger brush, you're going to discover that it won't be as good of a selection. All right, well here I'll hold down Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows, just subtract that and then add a little bit more there, and then make my brush nice and small, try to add that little piece, nice little design element of the book and just go through these edges, looking to try to build this out little by little. You can see here I am just single clicking as I move along and it's building up this nice edge.
Now, I'm holding down Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows and dragging along this edge, just trying to get a little bit of a better edge there. All right, go down here, make sure I have nice edge that extends all the way to the edge of the book itself, and sometimes this takes a little bit of tinkering, a little bit of back-and- forth work in order to get this going, and to get it in the right spot. The great thing about working with Quick Select is that it's fast. The downside is that the edges almost always are a bit jagged. So, here in this case I think we have a pretty good start.
We'll have to see how it actually looks, and we'll just add a few more little details into this, a little bit more up here, adding a little bit more of that shadow into the mix here, and then hold down Option or Alt. It looks like I brought in too much. I was so close, got a little bit too ambitious there with those shadows up top, and I think we'll have to paint that in a little bit better here in a minute. Okay well, we got all the details of this selection. What do we want to do next? Well, typically what you want to do is copy your background layer and I like to do that just in case I make a mistake or accidentally erase something.
Although we will work with a mask, it's just a nice safety net. Here I'll turn off the visibility of the background layer, and then I'll click on the Add Layer Mask icon. This will give me my first view of the image. Now, at first glance it looks okay, yet there are really some problem edges. So we need to fix this up. In order to fix this up though I also need a solid color background, whatever it's going to be, and in this case, it was for his web site so I want white in the background. In order to create a new layer filled with white, one easy way to do that is to click on the New Layer icon.
We'll go ahead and name this new layer white. We'll then press Shift+Delete. That will open up our Fill dialog and here we'll choose a color, we'll select White and click OK, and then of course we need to relocate this layer underneath our book layer. One way to do that is to simply click- and-drag this layer underneath, or if you're bit of a power user or you want to learn a shortcut, you can also press Command+Left bracket on a Mac, Ctrl+Left bracket on Windows.
Now, once I do that all of a sudden my edge looks even worse. So I need to fix it up. All right, well, let's zoom in a little bit and let's press the Spacebar key and just pan around the image and get familiar with our image. One of the things I'm noticing is there are some problem areas like this line is just kind of strange. So, I'll click in my mask, grab my Brush tool and here I'm going to paint with black. I'll make my brush a little bit more of a normal brush here, so I'm going to go ahead and choose a brush from this menu which is a little bit more straightforward, and then Left bracket key to change the size there.
I had used a creative brush previously, so it remembered that. I need to go back to something a bit more normal, and then I'm just going to go ahead and mask out some of these little problem areas that I am noticing that are a little bit more overt. Now of course we'll be using some of our other controls to fix this up in a minute, but for now again I just want to hit some of the most noticeable problem areas. So I'm just painting with black, kind of sweetening up the edge there a little bit. Here I'll press the X key, click once, hold down the Shift key, click again, just add that line there, just build that out a little bit more, and then over on this side I think for the most part that's okay.
Press X to paint with black, exchange those two colors. Okay, well how then can we make this even stronger? What we need to do is we need to go to our Mask panel and in the Mask panel, we're going to open up Mask Edge, and the great thing about Mask Edge at least in Photoshop CS5 is that we can refine this edge by using Edge Detection and Smart Radius. So, here we're going to go ahead and increase the Radius. As I do that, it starts to pay attention to those edges much more closely and here you can see it's already a much better edge.
I'll smooth it out a bit. I'll add a touch of Contrast. That will add more edge definition there, and this edge already just by doing just a few little small changes, it's already looking a ton better. Maybe just a little bit of Feather softening that, and you know what, I think we nailed it. That's really looking good. Here we have that before and then the after. This whole Refine Mask thing is reason enough to upgrade the Photoshop CS5. It is so incredibly strong.
All right, well, I think that looks pretty good. Let's click OK in order to apply that and we are now off to a really good start. We've extracted the book from its background. The next step of course is going to be to work on the contents inside of the book. We need to get rid of all of this copy, so that we have a blank slate so to speak, so that we can start to build out this particular composite.
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