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In Photoshop CS5: Creative Compositing, Chris Orwig demonstrates how to take photographs to the next creative level by combining images in Photoshop. This course covers multiple compositing scenarios, including portraits and architecture photos, from selecting the images, to blending photos with layer masks and blend modes, and resizing and sharpening the results. Chris also covers tips and tricks design to inspire and increase the drama and interest of photographs. Exercise files are included with this course.
At this stage, we're ready to work on the overall color and tone of this image. Yet, before we do that, let's organize our Layers panel a bit. We're going to click in this top eye adjustment layer, hold down the Shift key, then click in the bottom eye adjustment layer, and press Command or Ctrl+G for group. Command+G on a Mac, Ctrl+G on Windows. We'll name this eyes. Again, this just keeps things really simple and easy to focus on. Next, we'll click in our top layer here right underneath the border. What we want to do is start to modify the color and brightness, and overall tone of this photograph.
Well, one of the things that I want to do is bring in some contrast down into this area. So one interesting way to do that is to click on the Adjustment Layer icon and choose Hue/Saturation. Now, with Hue/Saturation, we're going to desaturate and then change the blending mode to Soft Light. What this does is it gives us contrast and kind of a muted tone. Well, the problem here of course is if we zoom out, we notice the top of the image has just become too black. To fix that, let's grab the Gradient tool. We're going to make sure we're painting in this case with black and white.
Then we can go ahead and click- and-drag across the photograph. Now as we do that, we can create this transitional area or that you can see what's happening is it primarily affecting the lower portion of the image. If I zoom in, you can see we're building up that definition or that contrast there. All right, well, so far so good. The next thing I want to do is work on tone. I want to add a lot of tone to this. So in order do that I'll click on my Adjustment Layer icon and choose Color Balance. Here I'm going straight to my Highlights. In the highlights, I want to brighten this up.
I want to add a lot of yellows. I'll go to the Mid-tones. I'm going to add a ton of red here and a ton of yellow. Again, just looking to try to really illuminate this photograph in some interesting ways. All right! Well, once we've done this, we can start to see how the color is really taking on a whole new shape, a whole new life. What's intriguing is that we have some of the original color in the image. It's just a little bit buried underneath this. Now if ever we want to modify this further, we can always go ahead and modify some of the values here by changing let's say the reds, lowering those a bit, or changing the overall yellows, and just mixing this together until we come up with a color combination that we think looks best.
But this adjustment layer really just brightens the image up, gives it that interesting and distinct look. Well, now that we've made these color adjustments, what we need to do is then go back to some of our other adjustments, like with these eyes layers. Let's open up that group and let's click these on and off. Here we can evaluate. Okay, there is really the brightness in the color of the eyes. That's too strong, isn't it? So I'll click in that adjustment layer, and then we'll just lower the opacity. We'll bring this down for perhaps a bit more of a natural look. We'll click in the sharpening layer.
We'll bring that down as well. We need to do this here at this final stage because this is where we're determining the overall contrast, the brightness, and the overall visual aesthetic of the image. We can also do this with that contrast layer as well. Again, just backing this off, so that the eyes still have that nice snap, but they're a little bit more subdued. All right! Well, once we've done that, we may also want to go in to the Graphics folder. Here it might be fun to go to that tree layer and just experiment with what would happen if we were to brighten that up, and bring a bit more of that tree in.
In this case, I kind of like that accent. I like the way it adds something different to the photograph. What about the grass there? Let's increase the opacity on that as well. Again, we want to modify this once we've made these adjustments. The last thing I want to do here is go ahead and go all the way back to the top here. In the top, I want to make one more adjustment. This time, Hue/Saturation. We'll click on the Adjustment Layer icon, choose Hue/Saturation. I'm going to go into the Reds. I just want to bring those Reds down.
In this case, we have a little bit more of this muted color palette. Here we can see what happens as we bring those down. We can either saturate them, or take them back a touch. I kind of like that. I like those reds just pulled back just a little bit more. adding a little bit more of an even tone to this photograph. All right! We'll let's look at the before and after there. Here is before, and then after. Now that I see that, I want to do one more adjustment. I want to work on the lips. So in this case, I'll click on my Adjustment Layer icon. Choose Curves.
I go into the Red channel, bring the reds up, go into the Green/Magenta channel, bring the little bit of magenta into the mix, and back to the reds there, a little bit more. In the RGB composite, I'm just going to darken those up there a little bit. Then I'll invert the mask, Command+I, grab my Brush tool, paint with white, and then lower the opacity. Now, a lot of times near the end, you come up with little things like this that can help out a bit. Here all I'm going to do is just start to paint in this adjustment.
Let's bring the opacity up here a little bit higher so we can see this. I'm just going to bring back some red into the lips and also a little bit of density there, just adding a bit more in that area the photograph. I'm going to do the same thing on the cheeks here a little bit too, adding a bit of this tone across the face, and then I'll lower the opacity to bring this in. It's a small little adjustment. Sometimes those subtle adjustments can make all the difference. All right! Well now that we've done that, let's evaluate our overall progress with this image.
In order to do that, let's press F to go to the Full Screen View mode, press Tab to hide the Photoshop interface, and then, press the F7 key to bring back our Layers panel. Now, what we can do now is we can click through these layers to see how we've done. Remember, we started off with this portrait. Initially, we worked on the eyes, adding a bit of sparkle and interest there. Then we looked at blending in these different graphics, and also a photograph into the frame. Next, we worked on the color and tone building up some contrast in this area. We made a Color Balance adjustment, which really illuminated everything.
We modified that adjustment with Hue/ Saturation, just taking back some of those reds, and then we also worked a little bit on the lip color, and the cheeks there just a touch, and finally of course we have that border. There it is, our overall before and then after. Let me zoom-in a bit more, so you can see that at an even closer view. Here we have this project, our overall before and then after.
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