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In the all-new Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final installment of the popular series, join industry expert and award-winning author Deke McClelland for an in-depth tour of the most powerful and empowering features of Photoshop CS5. Discover the vast possibilities of traditional tools, such as masking and blend modes, and then delve into Smart Objects, Photomerge, as well as the new Puppet Warp, Mixer Brush, and HDR features. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced.
I say my new composition as Model against sky.psd found inside the 26 masking folder, and as you may recall I went ahead and assigned the final mask channel as a layer mask to this Model layer and I composited her against this vivid cloudy blue sky. Now the effect doesn't look half bad I have to say, but half bad is not the same as all the way good and we do have a few problems here. For example, if I go ahead and zoom in on some of these details, you can see this grey fringing, which is not really my favorite effect here, that's surrounding each one of the hairs and that's because we are seeing that fringing is a function of the former background of the image showing through.
So we did select a little bit of that former background and you might think ooh, we need to work on the mask, something's wrong with it. Well that's not true. No matter what you do you are always going to get color fringing along with the mask. That's just the way it is because the foreground is informed by its background. That's true of every single photograph. So unless we had captured her against the blue background in the first place and then brought her into a new blue background, then the fringing isn't going to match. Now it happens to look even worse over here on the left-hand side where we have these very tiny delicate hairs, what do we do about it? Well now we bring into play our compositional skills and specifically we are going to apply a few blend modes.
So I am going to start things off by zooming out from the image at first just so that we can take in more of it at a time. I am going to change the zoom ratio to 40% because that happens to fit on-screen for me, then I will go over to the blend mode option here in the Layers panel and I will change it from Normal to Multiply. Now I am specifically using Multiply because this is a dark-haired person and what we want is for the dark hair to darken up the background colors here so that they mix together. If she were a light haired person, specifically a blond, then we would probably go with something like Screen, if we have a variety of different hair colors going on, light and dark, then you might have to drop down to one of these contrast modes such as Overlay or Hard Light or what have you.
Anyway I am going to apply Multiply, the darken will give us a very unfortunate effect. All right now that looks pretty good except we have some obvious problems. First of all the hair wouldn't get this dark. It wouldn't just turn inky against this background, and then secondly she wouldn't disappear to this extent either, now she looks like she's tattooed against the sky so that's wrong, what we need to do is apply a second blend mode. Well you can't combine multiple blend modes on a single layer so what you have to do is create a duplicate of the layer and try a different blend mode on it.
So I will press the Escape key in order to deactivate my blend mode there and I will press Ctrl+Alt+J or Cmd+Option+J on a Mac to jump a copy of the layer and I am going to call this one Luminosity because that is the blend mode we are going to use this time around, I will click OK and I will change that mode from Multiply to Luminosity like so and we get this effect. Just look at the hair for right now, don't pay attention to her body because that is obviously a problem. I am going to go ahead and zoom in on these hairs and notice now that that grey fringing is gone and it's replaced by whatever color Photoshop finds inside of the background layer, so in other words, we are integrating the new background in to that fringing which is exactly the way it ought to be.
All right but we do have the fairly obvious problem, I think, of her skin colors going awry here, and they are in sort of good shape right there in the cheek, everything looks okay. And the reason for that is we have a little bit of cloud coverage that's allowing the Multiply layer to burn in the original colors. Otherwise however the skin looks just plain wrong. Now if you want a special effect like this, by all means you can go ahead and accept it. However what I would had like to do is bring in that mask that we created a couple of exercises ago, the one that's just masking the flesh and the dress.
So I am going to switch back to my Alpha channels abound.psd file. I haven't saved an updated version of this file by the way, so you will have to have to been working along with me. I am going to right-click on that layer mask right there and I am going to choose Delete Layer Mask, and that will go ahead and get rid of the mask, you can also drag it down to the Trash can icon but if you do that, here's my problem with working that way, you will get this error message so you drag it to the trash can and then Photoshop comes up and says, hey do you want to apply this mask or delete it, and the Wrong button is highlighted, you should never apply a layer mask in this method because that will just get rid of those transparent pixels, you do not want to do that.
You would want to click on the Delete button in order to delete the layer mask because after all, all of our masks are backed up here inside the Channels panel. All right this time I am going to load the flesh & dress mask by Ctrl+clicking on this thumbnail or Cmd+clicking on it on the Mac and then I will switch back to the Layers panel with the Model layer selected once again. I will click on the Add layer mask icon and there is the effect. Now it doesn't look all that good. Normally, people don't have all kinds of holes inside of their hair for example. We are not concerned about that because we already have the hair mapped out pretty nicely.
What we are concerned about is the flesh and the dress. So this should work quite well. I am going to take advantage of that same compositing trick where I Alt+drag or Option+drag the layer onto the little page icon, release, up comes the Duplicate Layer dialog box. I will switch my document from Alpha channels abound to Model against sky.psd. Click OK, I remain inside of this composition only to switch over to the other one and there it is with the new layer in place, a new Model layer, and you can see how great the final effect looks, thanks to the repetition of this one layer subject to different blend modes and different layer masks as well.
Now there is just one issue that I have, I could work inside the hair for a little while actually if I wanted to get the colors exactly right, although I'm pretty darn happy with what I am seeing. The problem is right there in the neck, do you see that little bit of blue that's showing up there, we need to paint that away so with this top Model layer active, and you know what, I am going to go ahead and change the bottom Model layer to Multiply since it has a special blend mode assigned. Now I will go back to the Model layer, which I could call Normal if I wanted to, just so I can keep track of what modes are assigned where.
All right, and now I will click in the layer mask to make it active, very important, because we are about to paint inside of that layer mask, and I will get my brush tool this time around and I want to work with a soft brush, so I am going to press Shift+Left Bracket four times in a row just to make sure the hardness value goes down to zero, and white is my foreground color, so I am going to be painting in white. The mode is set to normal, the opacity is 100% and I am going to paint in this soft brush stroke here. Now you may say Hey Deke, you just told us a couple of exercises ago or something that you are not supposed to use the brush tool along with the normal mode and a soft brush.
In that case, you would want to use a hard brush, right, that's what you said, and that's true when you are working inside of an Alpha channel, when you're trying to get the Alpha channel exactly right, but here we are inside of a layer mask and we are just trying to make this particular composition look good, why then in that case a soft brush is entirely acceptable. All right then I am going to reduce the size of my brush a little more and paint like so along these hairs just so that I get rid of some of that blue in the central portion of the hair like so, and then I will zoom back out, take in the effect, decide what I think. As I said, you can introduce some more hairs in some other locations if you want to, totally up to you how you decide to work there.
But this is for all intents and purposes the final version of the effect, I am going to go ahead and press Shift+F to fill the screen with the image and there you see, friends, the power of masking fully revealed before you, here inside Photoshop.
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