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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.
All right gang, I've gone ahead and saved a couple of variations on that file, one is called Damaged frog layer.psd, and it includes the damaged version of the frog of one layer and the original version of the frog on another, so that you can, if you want to, follow along with that difference technique in the previous movie. Now I wasn't able to provide this file to you then, because the technique relied on history, and history is not something I can save along with a file. I've also saved the final version of the image as Nondestructive edit.psd. You can see that we have the lines relegated to an independent layer.
And one of the really great things about this, if I zoom in here, you'll see that we have these single pixel lines which are extremely precarious. It's unlikely, for example, that they are going to hold up, if we print this image at a high-resolution. However, now that we've got the lines on their own layer, we can thicken them up as much as we want, by dropping down to the fx icon and choosing Stroke, and then I'll change the color by clicking on that little color swatch there and I'll go ahead and dial in white here in the Color Picker, click OK, and then I can make these lines any size I like.
So I can go ahead and thicken them up to 4 pixels or even 10 pixels, whatever you like, and we'll still retain the smooth results. And we've got a modifiable attribute, so we can change the thickness of that stroke anytime we like. I am going to go ahead and take this guy down to let's say 3, the default setting, and then click OK. All right, I'll go ahead and zoom back out here by pressing Ctrl+0, Command+0 on a Mac. Now the last thing I want to show you where the Marquee tools are concerned is how you can draw shapes with specific ratios or sizes. So, for example, I am going to go ahead and switch to the Rectangular Marquee tool.
These first icons allow you to combine selections together and we'll see how these selection calculations work in the next chapter. Then there is the Feather value. Now I am not a big fan of this value, because it's a static modification that's applied to the next selection you draw and it becomes a permanent attribute of that selection outline. If you're going to feather a selection that is soften the edges, then you're better off doing it after you draw the selection and I'll show you how that works in an upcoming exercise, but my recommendation is to leave this feather value set to 0. Now notice we have this Style option.
Normal means unconstrained, so you are going to draw an unconstrained rectangle. However, these other options draw shapes with specific ratios or sizes. We'll start with the Ratio. Let's say, for example, that I want to draw a rectangle that's twice as wide as it is tall. Then I'll go ahead and dial in 2 for the width value, leave the height value set to 1 and I'll drag with the tool, and notice that I have a constrained shape. So it doesn't matter if I press the Shift key or not, I am going to get that same constraint, that is a rectangle that has a ratio of 2:1, where the width and height are concerned.
All right, now let's say I want to precisely or as precisely as possible, select and recolor the frog's eye. So the first thing I am going to do is press Ctrl+D or Command+D on a Mac to deselect the image and I'm going to figure out how big that eye is. By dropping down to the eyedropper, clicking and holding on it and then choosing the Ruler tool. And now I'll go ahead and drag across the eye, like so, while pressing the Shift key, so I am constraining the angle of my drag to exactly horizontal. And I'll release about there, and I find out that the length of the line as indicated by this L1 item up here in the Options bar is 272 pixels.
All right, so duly noted, now I am going to drag down across the eye and I'll press the Shift key once again to draw an exactly vertical line and after I release, in my case anyway, I find out that the length of this line is 260 pixels. So the frog's eye is 260?272, fair enough, I'll go ahead and switch from the Rectangular Marquee tool to the Elliptical Marquee, and I'll change the Style from Normal to Fixed Size, and I'll go ahead and dial in those values, 260, and then I'll press tab to get the Height value and enter 272, and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac.
But I've made a mistake; it's actually the other way around. The Width value should be to 272 and the Height should be 260. Fortunately, I can switch them by clicking on this Swap icon between the Width and Height values here in the Options bar. All right, now that I have my values in place, you just click in order to draw the selection. You don't have to drag. If you do drag, then you'll move this selection to a different location, as I'm doing here. So I am going to try to align that marquee as well as I can with the frog's eye, and this looks pretty darn good to me, or at least as good as it's going to get.
And now having made that modification, I could scoot this selection round, by the way, from the keyboard. So if you press one of the arrow keys, then you'll go ahead and nudge that marquee to a different location. I'll press the right arrow key a couple times to nudge it a couple of pixels to the right. You can also press Shift along with an arrow tool to nudge that selection in 10 pixel increments. The thing to bear in mind about that nudging is when you press an arrow key just itself; you're going to nudge in screen pixels. So in other words, you'll nudge one pixel at a time here at the 100% view size, but you'll nudge two pixels at a time at the 50% view size, because one screen pixel will equal, two image pixels.
Whereas, when you press Shift along with an arrow key, you always nudge in 10 pixel increments, regardless of the zoom ratio. All right, I'm going to go ahead and nudge that guy back into alignment, and then, this time let's not mess up the image by making a static modification. I'll go ahead and click on the original frog layer to make it active, and then I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and click the black-white icon down here at the bottom of Layers panel, and then I'll choose Hue Saturation, because let's say, I want to change the color of the frogs eye. And because I had Alt or Option down, that brings up the new layer dialog box, I'll go ahead and call this layer eye color, and then I'll click OK.
Let's collapse the Color panel and expand the layer's panel, so we can see what's going on here. And if I scroll down, you can see that I've got a new adjustment layer with the eye selection now expressed as a layer mask. And now I can drag this Hue slider triangle in order to change the color of that eye on the fly and rotate it around to any other color I like. Now I ended up coming up with a Hue value of 15 degrees, you can try something else out. But what that got me was a kind of match, between the eye color and the frogs orange flippers.
All right, now I'll go ahead and collapse the Adjustment panel, so I have more room for the layers. Now the thing that gets confusing about the Style option is that it's sticky. Another words, if I said I am using Elliptical Marquee tool and I am hoping to draw an unconstrained shape, I won't be able to do it, until I change that Style option back to Normal. So here's a trick you may find useful. If you right-click on the tool icon on the far left side of the Options bar, you'll get this little menu that allows you to reset the current tool or reset all tools.
In my case, because I want to reset both the rectangular and Elliptical Marquee tools, I'll go ahead and choose Reset All tools, and then when Photoshop ask me if I really want to do this, I'll click OK. And now I can once again draw an unconstrained ellipse. All right, I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+D, Command+D on a Mac in order to deselect the image. That's how you use the Marquee tools folks. In the next exercise, I'll acquaint you with the fundamentals of the Lasso tools.
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