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Putting together composite images is a great way to exercise your creativity, and in this course Tim Grey shares his tips for getting great results when you do so. After introducing the basic concepts and looking at some automated methods of creating a composite, Tim covers a wide variety of nifty techniques, from creating composites based on a gradient, to painting on a mask, to using a selection as the basis of a mask. Plus, learn how to clean up and improve the overall quality of your layer masks, apply adjustments to specific elements of a composite, add creative effects, work with layer groups, and much more.
There are a variety of ways that you can focus adjustments on a particular area of an image, or in the context of a composite image, on a specific image layer. You can use a clipping group, for example, in order to have an adjustment only affect a specific layer. In this case though, I actually have two layers that I would like to apply the exact same effect to. And that's because I have a Strawberry layer, where I had a series of strawberries, and I created a layer mask so that there were only one strawberry visible. And then I made a copy of that Strawberry layer in order to create a little bit of a Motion Blur effect for this admittedly zany composite image, where a strawberry is flying toward a brown Pelican with its mouth wide open.
The strawberry however, is a little too saturated and I'd like to apply some adjustments in order to improve its appearance. But since I have two straberry layers, I can't really use a clipping group without duplicating the adjustment and I'd rather avoid that. But what I can do is create a layer group, so that I can constrain the effect of my adjust layers. So that they only affect the Image layers that are inside that layer group. Let's start by placing my two Strawberry layers into a layer group. I'll click on the top Strawberry layer, and then hold the Shift key and click on the Strawberry Blur layer.
And then, I'll click on the panel Popup menu, at the top right of the Layers panel, and choose New Group from Layers. I'll give the layer groups a name, I'll just call this Strawberry. And then I can click OK, to create that layer group. Note by the way that I'm skipping an important setting, but we're going to come back to that in just a moment. I'lI go ahead and click OK, and you can see that I now have a Strawberry Layer group. And if I click on the triangle to the left of the layer group icon, you'll see that inside are both of my Strawberry layers: the strawberry and the strawberry blur.
I'll then click on the topmost layer inside my layer group, that's the Strawberry layer, and then I'm going to add an Adjustment layer. I'll go ahead and click on the Add Adjustment Layer button, and then choose Hue Saturation from that Popup menu. And I'll just reduce the saturation for those strawberries, so for both the strawberry itself and the strawberry blur. It looks like the color might be just a little bit off as well, so I'll add a color balance adjustment. So, once again, clicking on the Add Adjustment Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel. I'll now choose Color Balance from that popup.
I want to shift things a little bit further toward red, and maybe get a little bit of the magenta out of there by shifting slightly toward green. But as I'm working, you might notice that I'm also affecting the Pelican. Even though I have my Strawberry layers inside of a layer group, and I also have my Adjustment layers inside of that layer group, I'm affecting the Brown Pelican layer that is not in that layer group. And that's because by default, a layer group is set to the Pass Through Blend mode. That means that anything inside the layer group, meaning adjustments, can pass through to other layers that are outside of the layer group.
But if I want my adjustment layers that are inside the layer group to only affect the images that are below those adjustment layers, but inside the layer group. I can simply change the blend mode from the default of Pass Through for the layer group to Normal. And that will cause all adjustments that are inside the layer group, to only affect the image layers that are also inside the layer group and below those adjustments. So now, I will return to my Hue Saturation adjustment, and I'll simply shift the hue back and forth in order to see that only the Strawberry layers are being affected by that adjustment. Of course, I don't want to shift the hue in this case, so I'll make sure that I leave that hue value set to zero.
But I could continue adding additional adjustments if need be, in order to optimize the overall effect. So once again, by using a layer group and placing Image and Adjustment layers inside of that layer group, but changing the blend mode to Normal rather than the default of Pass Through. I am able to constrain a set of adjustments so they only affect specific layers.
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