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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 finesse that layer mask around the eye. We're also going to add a couple of adjustment layers to enhance the overall effect. I've saved my progress as Flesh with map .psd, and I'm going to start things off by clicking on the layer Mask thumbnail here inside the Layers panel. And note that our mask is just too sharp is the problem, it doesn't match the natural softness of the image. One way to do that would be to go the Window menu and choose the Masks command to bring up the Masks panel, and then I can go ahead and increase that Feather value and I'm increasing the value incrementally from the keyboard by pressing the up-arrow key and notice that about 4, we get some pretty nice, soft edges going.
The problem is while edge softness matches some portions of the eye, doesn't match the softness of other areas, so we've got different levels of focus going on. And I want to be able to accommodate those different levels independently, so I need to make a selective modification, as opposed to a uniform modification around the entire perimeter of the mask. So I'll go ahead and reset that Feather value to 0 pixels, I'm going to collapse the Mask panel. Make sure, by the way, that your layer mask remains selected, because we're about to smudge it, and if you grab that smudge tool and you start painting inside the layer itself, of course, you're going to end up smearing the Map, and that's not what we want.
Anyway, go ahead and select this Smudge tool and then if I right-click inside the Image window, I can show you that I've taken the size of my brush up to 200 pixels, the Hardness is 0%, I'll go ahead and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to accept those settings and now I'll drag along the edges of the eye, and I'm actually going to take my cursor even larger here by pressing the right bracket key a couple of times. And notice what I'm doing is dragging back and forth. I really don't want to move the edge to a different location, I just want to blur it a little, I could use the Blur tool, which is available on the same flyout menu.
However, I find that I get this work done more quickly and with better results if I just smudge back and forth, because I can see the blur happened on the fly that way and I can modify it to any degree and like. All right I'm going to drag up and down on the top here, so you can see if you just wiggle back and forth, you're adding more and more blur each time you move that brush. All right, I'm going to reduce the size of my cursor by pressing the left bracket key and smear down in this case into the eyelashes, because where the eyelashes are concerned, I do have to actually move the edge.
And then finally, I'm going to smear this little bit of flesh as well, and you may find that you need to smear back and forth, or you may find that you just need to smear inward or outward a little bit. It's totally a subjective modification and it's completely up to you at this point. All right, so I think we've got a decent mask going, I'll go ahead and center my zoom by pressing Ctrl+0, Command+0 on the Mac. And now what I want to do is I want to add some green to the darkest portions of this image, and I'm going to do that using an adjustment layer.
So I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, dropdown to this black-white icon at the bottom of Layers panel and I'll choose Hue/Saturation. If you loaded my DekeKeys, you can also press a keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+U or Command+Shift+U on the Mac, which goes ahead and brings up the New layer dialog box automatically, and I'm going to call this layer greenness, then I'll turn on the Use Previous layer to Create Clipping Mask check box, because I do want this adjustment to affect the Map and nothing else, then I'll go ahead and click OK. And inside the Adjustments panel, I'll turn on the colorize check box, and I'll change the Hue value to 120 in order to achieve this effect, and that's not quite what I'm looking for.
So I'll go ahead and hide the Adjustments panel, let's modify the effect a little bit by changing the Blend mode for this Adjustment layer from Normal to Hue and that way we're keeping the original luminance levels and the original saturation values from the Map layer. So I'll go ahead and choose Hue, that bumps up the colors fairly radically. Now as I was saying, I want these green colors to be limited to the shadows inside the Map, so I'm going to double-click on an empty portion of this greeness layer in order to bring up the layer Style dialog box, and then I'll drop down to the Underlying layer slider right there and I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and drag the left half of that white slider triangle all the way down to 50, so you can see 50 right there before the slash, then you can release the Alt or Option key and drag the right half of that white triangle down to 200.
So we've got a value of 50 before the slash, a value of 200 afterward. What that's saying is anything with a luminance level of 200 or brighter is going invisible; anything with luminance level of 50 or darker is staying visible in the adjustment layer, and anything in between is gradually tapering off. We'll see more about how these sliders work, when we discuss advanced blending in another course. All right, I'll go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification. All right that's good for now. In the next exercise we'll finish off this project by balancing out the luminance levels and painting the Map into the iris.
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