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Lighting up the windows

From: Photoshop Artist in Action: Steve Caplin's Day for Night

Video: Lighting up the windows

In this montage, I've so far added an Adjustment layer to darken the buildings, and then removed the window area on the mask so that the windows remain unaffected. Let's now add some more light to those windows. We're going to use a new Adjustment layer to brighten up the windows. And the good news is, we don't need to select the windows again. They've already been selected when we took them out of the mask. And that allowed them to show through, hiding the Adjustment layer area. We can load that mask as a selection by holding Cmd on a Mac, Ctrl on a PC, and clicking on Thumbnail. And there you can see the windows loading as a selection. Now, when we load any mask or any channel as a selection in Photoshop, it creates the white areas of the selected areas and the black areas as unselected. And if we zoom out on this, you can see that's indeed the case here. The whole image is selected and those windows are de-selected. We want to inverse that so that we can go to the Select menu and choose Inverse, and now just the windows are selected.

Lighting up the windows

In this montage, I've so far added an Adjustment layer to darken the buildings, and then removed the window area on the mask so that the windows remain unaffected. Let's now add some more light to those windows. We're going to use a new Adjustment layer to brighten up the windows. And the good news is, we don't need to select the windows again. They've already been selected when we took them out of the mask. And that allowed them to show through, hiding the Adjustment layer area. We can load that mask as a selection by holding Cmd on a Mac, Ctrl on a PC, and clicking on Thumbnail. And there you can see the windows loading as a selection. Now, when we load any mask or any channel as a selection in Photoshop, it creates the white areas of the selected areas and the black areas as unselected. And if we zoom out on this, you can see that's indeed the case here. The whole image is selected and those windows are de-selected. We want to inverse that so that we can go to the Select menu and choose Inverse, and now just the windows are selected.

So let's zoom in again. To brighten this up, we want to add a new Adjustment layer. So we can go to our Adjustment Layers panel and open it up. Now, because the topmost layer in the document is already an Adjustment layer, that's what's opened up for us. We want to make a new one. So, we compress this arrow in the bottom left of the panel, and that takes us back to the dialog where we can choose a new Adjustment layer. Once again, let's choose Curves. As we do so, two things happen. The Curves Adjustment Layer appears with the Layer Mask, and our selection is automatically added to that Layer Mask.

You can see the Layer Mask here is almost entirely black. It's, in fact, the precise inverse of the mask for the previous Adjustment layer. The second thing is our marching ants have disappeared. That's because Photoshop correctly recognized that we wanted to turn that selection into a mask, and so it's hidden the selection for us. These are the three windows we know want to brighten up. So let's start by dragging on the curve. And we can drag upwards to make them brighter. And there's the third window beneath. Now, they may be a little brighter, but then it looked very warm. To warm these up, we really want to add a bit of yellow to the mix. So we go to our Channels, and we say, oh, well, there's red, green, and blue. But because we're working in RGB, there's of course no yellow. To create a yellow effect, we need to add both red and green. So, let's start with the red.

We can click in the middle of the curve, drag upwards, and we can see the red being added here to our three windows. If we go to the Green channel, we can do the same thing. Lift this up, and now they've gone green. That's a bit too much green so let's add a little more red to create our strong yellow effect. And there we go. Let's zoom out again. That's looking pretty good. When we look more closely though, we can see that although the windows are nicely yellow and lit up, the edges of the stonework have a pinkish tinge to them.

And that's due to the combination of the original color and the layer adjustment that we used to darken up the whole building. Let's see if we can make some of that yellow spill out onto the edge of the window. We'll use a Brush tool and switch to a Soft-edged brush. If we painted white on the Adjustment Layer mask, it'll reveal the effect. I can use low opacity here, around about 40%, and I'm using a graphics tablet. But if you're just using a regular mouse, you can change the opacity easily by pressing the number keys. Use 4 for 40%, 7 for 70%, all the way up to 0 to get back up to 100%. And you could have combinations of these.

Say if we want, say 45%, we can press 4 and 5 in rapid succession and that gives us 45% opacity. I'm now painting on the Layer Mask, and you can see how that lets the light spill out onto the edge of this window. Let's repeat this with the lower window. A much more convincing illumination effect. And the same with this window around the corner, so I can brighten up some of this brickwork.

The second Adjustment layer has really brightened up the windows considerably, giving them a much stronger, more luminous quality. Our night scene is already starting to look quite realistic.

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