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Advanced Blending is the second installment in Deke McClelland's series on making photorealistic compositions in Photoshop. The course explores blending options and shows how to use them to create sophisticated effects and seamless compositions, often without masking. Beginning with the basics of blending layered images, the course sheds light on the formulas behind the Photoshop blend modes and shows how to comp scanned line art, create double-exposure effects, correct skin tones, and work with the luminance sliders.
In this exercise I'll show you one way to create a masked composition with the help of a Lighten Blend Mode. Specifically we'll be taking these two layers over here in the Layers Panel. I got a speculator layer in front with this model against this kind of grunge wall background. If I turn it off you can see that we have this 3D data layer in the background. I want to merge them together in order to create this final effect here. So it's not only a bright interaction between the two layers but I've gone ahead and masked the model as well so that he is mostly opaque, not entirely because we can see some of the lines up here in the shoulders, but he is generally an opaque image element.
Now the first thing I'm going to do is turn on that speculator layer and jump it by pressing Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option +J on the Mac and I'll call the copy of the layer normal and click OK. Now I'm going to turn it off and by the way these layers are currently set to the Normal Blend Mode. I'm going to turn that one off. Click on the speculator layer to make it active and I'm going to switch from Normal to Linear Dodge in order to create this bright interaction. That's a little bit too much, you can see how we are clipping some of the highlights along the right half of his face.
So I'm going to back off the effect by pressing Shift+5 in order to reduce the Fill value to 50%. Now let's turn the normal layer back on and now the task that confronts us, now he presents one of those classic problems inside Photoshop where one side of him is darker than his background, the other side is sometimes darker but often brighter than the background, and in many cases there is very little in the way of distinction between the foreground elements and those of the background. So there is a few different ways we could approach this.
We did try out some calculations. It would actually take multiple calculations in order to select this guy. We could try multiple passes of the Color Range command. But I discovered that this is one of those lucky images that just happens to be perfectly suited to the Quick Selection Tool. So go ahead and grab the Quick Selection Tool there inside the Toolbox and make sure that the Auto- Enhance checkbox is turned on. I have my Brush cursor set to 30 pixels and I'm going to go ahead and paint in certain portions of the image like so.
So I'm starting off with the head, I want to make sure to paint inside of the hair as well, so I can select as much of that as possible. The Quick Selection Tool is not going to do very good job of selecting into the tendrils of hair, however, we are going to follow this up with an application of Refine Edge. Now let's go down the dark side of his body over here on the left-hand side and that ends up miraculously selecting almost everything without jumping out of the image as the Quick Selection Tool is generally so fond of doing. All right, I'm going to paint up here into his shoulder as well.
Your selection may end up varying, so we'll just see how things work out here. I'm painting inside of his knuckles, then into his thumb and that looks like I've pretty much got everything selected except for his collar. So I'll just click in there in order to select that. This is a fairly clumsy selection so far, but we have managed to create a selection outline around the figure of this man without selecting into the background, so that's a big bonus. All right! I'm going to switch back to the Rectangular Marquee Tool and then I'm going to go up to the Select menu and choose the Refine Edge command or you can press Ctrl+Alt+R or Command+Option+R on the Mac.
Let's go ahead and zoom in to this guy so we can see what we are doing. I have my View options set to On White so I'm seeing the guy gets a white background which makes perfect sense because he is so dark in the first place. And then as opposed to applying a general amount of Edge Detection, I'm going to use my Refine Radius Tool to paint inside of the hair. So I'm just going to paint around the hair like so and he is got a lot of hair going into that background. It's very difficult to see where the hair begins and ends. That's actually kind of an advantage for us, because it gives us a little wiggle room during the compositing phase.
Anyway, I'm going to paint up here over the top of his hair as well, maybe a little bit down on the left-hand side, and that looks like of course an absolute mess. But it's going to resolve better once we merge the layers together. Now I'm going to press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and drag along the top of the hair like so in order to bring back some of that opacity, apparently I lost the detail right there, so I'll click on it in order to add to Photoshop's recalculations. And then I'm going to paint ever so slightly down his face. Notice I'm just painting a little bit outside of the face line right there, because we had a harsh line in the first place.
And I think that's going to do us pretty well. We have some other problems here and there but we can solve them manually. So I'll go ahead and click OK in order to accept the modification to the selection outline. Now we need to convert the selection into a layer mask and I'll do that by dropping down to the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel and clicking on it, which is not bad. Now I wouldn't go so far as to say it's altogether acceptable, which is why we need to spend a few minutes manually refining the mask as well as applying some blending modifications as we will do in the next exercise.
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