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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're going to add a couple of layer effects onto our shark and we're also going to add an adjustment layer. And the whole idea is we want to better integrate the shark into its new environment, so that it feels like its right at home. I've saved my progress as Smooth shark perimeter.psd it's found inside the 06_color_range folder and the first thing you want to do is make sure that the Effects are turned on, so there should be an eyeball in front of the word Effects, you also want to make sure it's the layer, not the layer mask that's active, because we're going to want to be able to eyedrop colors from the layer itself.
Now our first challenge will be to color this shark, so we matches his background, that is maybe make the top of the shark a little bluer, and then definitely add a little bit of green to his belly, which is presumably reflecting the grass, and I'll do that by dropping down to the fx icon and choosing Gradient Overlay and that should go and fill the shark with this black to white gradient. If that's not what you see, then click the down pointing arrowhead next to the Gradient bar and choose this third option in, which is Black, White. Next what I want you to do is click on the Gradient bar itself to bring up the Gradient Editor and then double-click on the first color stop to bring up the color picker dialog box, move your eyedropper into the scene, and click, in order to figure out what shade of blue we should be working with.
Now I ultimately came up with the following values. I used a Hue value of 210 degrees, then I change the Saturation to 70% and the Brightness to 70% as well, and then I clicked OK. All right now double-click on the white color swatch in order to once again bring up the color picker dialog box, move your cursor into the grass and click. Now this happens to be synthetic grass, if you take a close look at it, they are not real grass blades, and we can tell that, because the Hue value is much too green for grass.
However, we're going to green it up even more by changing the Hue value to 90 degrees, and then I'm going to change the Saturation value to 85%, and the Brightness value to 70%, and then click OK in order to accept that modification, click OK inside the Gradient Editor to go back to the layer Style dialog box. Now the gradient is going at exactly the wrong angle, so change that angle value to negative 90 degrees to flip upside down. I'm also going to reduce my Scale value to 35%, so that we have a tighter gradient and I'm going to drag it down a little bit, so that the green is closer to the belly and I'm going to change the Blend mode from Normal to Hue, so that we maintain the original saturation values inside the animal.
as well as the luminance levels. Now at this point I was thinking it would be nice if there was a kind of reflection on the top of him, so he feels a little more rounded and so I decided to apply an inner shadow, so go ahead and click on Inner Shadow in order to select it. The Angle value is already set up to what I want, which is 90 degrees, and that the function of the global light setting that's associated with this particular file. Now I want to turn this shadow into a highlight, so I'm going to dial in a lighter color by clicking on the color swatch and changing the Brightness value to 50%, so both Hue and Saturation should be set to 0, then click OK, and now change the Blend mode from Multiply to the brightest of the modes, Linear Dodge in parentheses (Add).
That gives us a little too much highlight, so I'm going to dial back the Opacity value to 50% and I'm going to take the Distance value up to 25 pixels, I'll take the Size value up to 25 pixels as well. And then so we get a bounce sort of further into the animal, I'm going to change the Contour from Linear to the second one in, which his Cone, and then click off, and let's increase the Noise value to 10%, just so that we have a little bit of noise there. All right that's good, click OK in order to accept that modification. Now we've managed to blow a few highlights here, notice that I have this kind of Specular highlight in the tail, we've got some awfully bright highlights along the top of the animal as well, we'll solve that problem later, but for now I just want you to note that it's there.
Next, I wanted to darken up the entire scene. The whole thing seems pretty washed out to me, so I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and click that Black, White icon at the bottom of the panel, and choose the Levels command, or if you loaded DekeKeys you can press Ctrl+Shift+L or Command+Shift+L on the Mac and I'm going to go ahead and call this layer, deepen, and then click OK. And next, I want you to take the Black point value up to 10, and then tab to that midpoint, so-called Gamma value, and take it down to 0.55, in order to darken those midtones considerably, as you see here on screen.
All right now I'm going to double- click to the right of the word Masks in order to collapse the Adjustment panel, and that I'm willing to say is a nicely integrated shark. In the next exercise, I'll show you how to give this floating shark a shadow.
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