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Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals is the introductory installment of Deke McClelland's four-part series on making photorealistic compositions in Photoshop. The course shows how to make selections, refine the selections with masks, and then combine them in new ways, using layer effects, blend modes, and other techniques to create a single seamless piece of artwork. Deke introduces the Channels panel and the alpha channel, the key to masking and transparency in Photoshop; reviews the selection tools, including the Color Range tool , Quick Mask mode, and the Refine Edge command; and shows how to blend masked images so they interact naturally.
In this exercise, we are going to reinstate that Gradient and the Hard Light blend mode and the layer effects, and then I'll show you how to cut through the layer effects using a layer mask. I've saved my changes as Big-layer nameplate.psd and I call it big layer because that's how Adobe refers to layers that are bigger than the canvas. All right! Let's go ahead and rerun through a few steps here. I'll grab the Gradient tool, which you can also get by pressing the G key. Unless you've done something else with this tool recently you should see that same Wikked grad gradient selected up here in the Options bar.
Assuming it is then go ahead and drag for left side of the image to the right side and that'll go ahead and fill in the entire layer. So obviously, I forgot a step there. I'll press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac. I need to lock down the transparency and I'll do that by clicking on that little checkerboard grid to the right of the word Lock there inside the Layers panel, and then I'll drag again from the far left side to the far right side and pressing the Shift key as I drag, go ahead and release and I fill the nameplate with the gradient. All right! Now let's change the blend mode back to Hard Light by clicking on the word Normal in the upper-left corner of Layers panel and choosing the Hard Light mode.
That will go ahead and blend the logo with a background, like so. I'm going to go ahead and zoom- in on my image a little bit here. Scroll it upward as well so that we can keep track of that right edge. All right! Now what you want to do is either drag that fx from the nameplate layer and drop it onto the newplate layer like so and that'll go ahead and move both the layer effects from one layer to the other if you would prefer to copy them instead. So you still have the effects assigned to the nameplate layer and press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac, to undo that change and press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac as you drag that fx icon.
Then drop them onto the new layer and you'll create a duplicate. All right! I'm going to go ahead and collapse the effects for the nameplate layer by clicking on that triangle on the right-hand side. And now notice that one of our problems has been resolved. We are no longer seeing an Inner Glow over here on the far right side of the nameplate and if I go ahead and scroll over to the left, you'll notice there's no Inner Glow on the left-hand side either and that's because we managed to extend the nameplate out beyond the edges of the campus. So we can't see the return of the Inner Glow over there on the left-hand and right-hand sides. All right! I'm going to scroll back over to the right.
Now we need to cut away that boot and we're going to do that by creating a layer mask. So what I want you to do is go to the Channels panel, scroll down the list and Ctrl+click or Command+click on the boot channel to load it as the selection outline. Now let's switch back to the Layers panel with the newplate layer selected, drop down to the Add layer mask icon and go ahead and click on it that will add a layer mask thumbnail to the existing layer and you should be able to see that it looks like a little white boot against the black background. But what that does is it masks the nameplate inside the boot, which is the opposite of what we want.
So everything that's black inside the layer mask turns transparent and everything that's white remains opaque. So we want to reverse the equation, which you do by making sure that the layer mask thumbnail is active and you can tell because it will have a double border. Assuming that it is then go up to the Image menu, choose Adjustments, and choose the Invert command or better yet, just press Ctrl+I or Command+I on the Mac and that goes ahead and inverts the mask. Now you may be looking at this, saying hey, we still have the same darn problem we had before.
We went through all this additional work and we are still tracing around the boot, what gives. Well, that is true by default. However, because we've separated the nameplate from the boot mask we've got a lot more flexibility. You just need to know where to find it. And in our case what you do is you double-click in the thumbnail for this newplate later in order to bring up the layer Style dialog box. I'm going to move it over to the left- hand side so we can see what we're doing. Now watch the strokes around the boot. As soon as I turn on this check box layer mask hides effects then those effects go ahead and disappear and the reason they disappeared is because now both the layer and the layer effects are being massed away by that layer mask.
So remember this check box when you end up getting into this kind of situation. All right! Click OK in order to accept that modification. In the next exercise, we'll reinstate that brushed glow as well as the shadow behind the boot using independent layers.
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