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Masking a softly focused model


Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques

with Deke McClelland

Video: Masking a softly focused model

This exercise marks the beginning of the third and final project of this chapter. In case you are sitting there going, what were the first two projects, well, we have that overarching almost Blue project, obviously, the one that we just finished up a couple of exercises ago. Inside of that we have that meta project with the lightning inside of the clouds. So that's why I am calling this the third project, and obviously it involves still more advanced blending inside of Photoshop. This time we are using the blending in order to match images that really don't go together. So we are going to be taking this image right here that's called PhotoSpin girl.tif, named for the PhotoSpin image library.
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  1. 2h 12m
    1. The Odyssey Continues
      2m 39s
    2. Mapping one image onto another
      7m 12s
    3. Making a custom contrast mode
      7m 9s
    4. Luminance blending
      8m 39s
    5. Forcing the visibility of underlying layers
      4m 3s
    6. Adjusting the appearance of clipped layers
      4m 33s
    7. Selecting a Blend If channel
      6m 11s
    8. Enhancing highlights by hiding them
      5m 8s
    9. Smart Object first, layer mask second
      7m 22s
    10. The Fill Opacity Eight
      4m 30s
    11. Blending Smart Filters
      7m 24s
    12. Cleaning up edges
      7m 38s
    13. More fun with luminance blending
      6m 22s
    14. A first peek at the Calculations command
      12m 11s
    15. Masking a softly focused model
      11m 46s
    16. Moving layers and masks between images
      7m 34s
    17. Matching colors
      9m 12s
    18. Building transitional blended layers
      6m 33s
    19. Restoring normal colors
      6m 49s
  2. 2h 32m
    1. Layer masks, clipping masks, and knockouts
      1m 20s
    2. Rotating and stretching
      7m 54s
    3. A jet of motion blur
      9m 17s
    4. Keyboard tricks
      5m 4s
    5. Merging sky and landscape
      6m 2s
    6. Masking an adjustment layer
      6m 37s
    7. Creating two windows into an image
      7m 42s
    8. Whitening teeth and adding other highlights
      3m 46s
    9. Mapping a texture onto an image
      4m 0s
    10. Isolating a texture with a layer mask
      6m 44s
    11. Welcome to the glass composition
      3m 18s
    12. Balancing shadows and highlights
      5m 51s
    13. Masking the glass
      7m 24s
    14. Masking the text
      9m 23s
    15. Adding and blending the goldfish
      8m 44s
    16. Assembling the perfect group photo
      5m 12s
    17. Aligning photographs automatically
      5m 26s
    18. Masking in each person's best shot
      5m 18s
    19. Masking densely packed people
      6m 17s
    20. Crafting the perfect final poster
      5m 15s
    21. From the improbable to the impossible
      1m 56s
    22. The fantastical "world of clones" effect
      10m 0s
    23. Upsampling and blurring a background
      8m 39s
    24. Adding a knockout mask
      8m 3s
    25. Choking edges with Gaussian Blur and Levels
      3m 46s
  3. 2h 26m
    1. The corrective power of masking
      1m 6s
    2. The amazing luminance mask
      7m 21s
    3. Brightening and neutralizing the eyes
      8m 21s
    4. Adjusting a nondestructive composition
      5m 52s
    5. Creating a corrective mask
      6m 3s
    6. Averaging away irregular flesh tones
      3m 52s
    7. Modifying specific colors
      7m 46s
    8. Initiating the color mask
      5m 59s
    9. Refining the color mask
      6m 39s
    10. Adjusting the edges around fabric
      7m 55s
    11. Perfecting hair
      9m 34s
    12. Sharpening with a High Pass layer
      10m 12s
    13. The also-amazing density mask
      4m 47s
    14. Adjusting the knockout depth
      8m 48s
    15. Fashioning a depth map
      6m 12s
    16. Invoking a depth mask from Lens Blur
      6m 38s
    17. The perfect depth-of-field effect
      6m 25s
    18. Sharpening an archival photograph
      7m 7s
    19. Creating an edge mask
      8m 29s
    20. Making a High Pass sandwich
      7m 45s
    21. Applying the edge mask
      6m 1s
    22. Customizing your sharpening effect
      4m 6s
  4. 2h 3m
    1. Channel Mixer, I am your father!
      1m 39s
    2. Three ways to gray
      7m 48s
    3. Meet the Channel Mixer
      8m 26s
    4. Mixing a custom black-and-white image
      7m 9s
    5. Creating a professional-level sepia tone
      5m 36s
    6. Employing the Black & White command
      8m 0s
    7. Extreme channel mixing
      4m 50s
    8. The infrared photography effect
      6m 42s
    9. Taking shadows to the brink of black
      3m 56s
    10. Elevating highlights, leeching saturation
      5m 58s
    11. Deepening a black-and-white sky
      5m 49s
    12. Infusing luminance levels with color
      5m 43s
    13. Creating an opposing colorization scheme
      4m 58s
    14. Bolstering contrast with the Green channel
      5m 37s
    15. A tiny improvement to a terrific technique
      7m 38s
    16. The simple (but wrong) approach to red-eye correction
      6m 39s
    17. Channel-mixing red pupils
      9m 17s
    18. The expert approach to red-eye correction
      5m 20s
    19. Fixing problem coronas (pupil edges)
      8m 8s
    20. Making pupils match
      4m 7s
  5. 2h 33m
    1. Chops are dead; long live maskops
      1m 36s
    2. The Calculations command
      8m 16s
    3. Blue Screen blending
      7m 40s
    4. Refining the Blue Screen mask
      5m 53s
    5. Brushing away color fringing
      7m 24s
    6. Locking the transparency of a layer
      6m 21s
    7. Nondestructive layer painting
      7m 36s
    8. How the Add blend mode works
      8m 40s
    9. How the Subtract blend mode works
      6m 43s
    10. Focus, noise, and other masking challenges
      5m 32s
    11. The Add mode in action
      7m 51s
    12. The Subtract mode in action
      8m 24s
    13. Comparing two channels with Difference
      5m 23s
    14. Enhancing the contrast with Curves
      9m 10s
    15. Gathering details with Apply Image
      9m 43s
    16. Dodge highlights, burn shadows
      6m 6s
    17. Dodge and Burn in action
      8m 24s
    18. Painting in the scalp
      10m 0s
    19. Painting away the face and chin
      4m 52s
    20. Compositing complementary images
      4m 13s
    21. Multiply, Minimum, Blur, and Apply Image
      6m 40s
    22. Crafting the final composition
      7m 7s
  6. 1h 57m
    1. Mark of the Pen tool
      1m 34s
    2. The big paths project overview
      6m 51s
    3. How to make a path
      8m 24s
    4. Corner points and freeform polygons
      8m 6s
    5. Editing paths with the arrow tools
      5m 2s
    6. Adding and deleting endpoints
      5m 14s
    7. Adding and deleting interior points
      6m 6s
    8. Converting a path to a selection
      3m 35s
    9. Converting a path to a mask
      6m 38s
    10. Smooth points and control handles
      8m 57s
    11. Making cusp points
      5m 59s
    12. Combining paths in a vector mask
      7m 54s
    13. Turning a path into a shape layer
      8m 57s
    14. Combining paths to make a layer mask
      7m 52s
    15. Mixing layer and vector masks
      10m 14s
    16. Editing character outlines as paths
      8m 39s
    17. Using the Convert Point tool
      7m 8s
  7. 3h 17m
    1. Where there's a will, there's a way
      1m 18s
    2. Masking natural cast shadows
      4m 9s
    3. Applying the cast show
      4m 2s
    4. Creating a difference mask
      3m 7s
    5. Applying an arbitrary map
      3m 50s
    6. Making the flesh mask
      7m 16s
    7. Roughing in an object mask
      6m 48s
    8. Drawing missing details with the Lasso tool
      4m 7s
    9. Combining flesh and object masks
      3m 52s
    10. Amplifying the cast shadow
      4m 10s
    11. Selectively choking edges
      3m 58s
    12. Power duplication in Photoshop
      7m 8s
    13. Masking blond hair
      5m 48s
    14. Using Levels to mask iterations
      3m 14s
    15. Drawing an iteration boundary
      4m 54s
    16. Merging the best of two Levels iterations
      4m 4s
    17. More fun with Dodge and Burn
      6m 14s
    18. Fixing edges with the Pen and Stamp tools
      7m 28s
    19. Pulling from another file with Apply Image
      4m 52s
    20. Blending clipped layers independently
      5m 42s
    21. Building the flame mask
      9m 21s
    22. Amplifying the flame
      3m 52s
    23. Masking an image against a busy background
      5m 15s
    24. The Freeform and Magnetic Pen tools
      6m 52s
    25. Masking with arbitrary maps
      9m 32s
    26. A more deliberate approach to arb maps
      10m 51s
    27. Combining arb maps with paths
      9m 28s
    28. Masking with the help of the History brush
      11m 38s
    29. Creating a High Pass mask
      7m 24s
    30. Coloring in the outlines
      8m 31s
    31. Mastering Calculations
      7m 28s
    32. Subtracting and merging the beak
      11m 5s
  8. 1h 33m
    1. The meaning of bit depth (and why you care)
      2m 49s
    2. Scanning line art in 8-bit and 16-bit
      5m 8s
    3. Measuring the 16-bit difference
      8m 8s
    4. Correcting 8-bit images in the 16-bit space
      9m 31s
    5. Opening a raw image directly in 16-bit
      6m 12s
    6. Editing in Camera Raw, opening in 16-bit
      8m 21s
    7. 16-Bit/channel vs. 32-bit/channel (HDR)
      8m 17s
    8. Working with auto-bracketed photographs
      5m 6s
    9. Using the Merge to HDR command
      5m 59s
    10. Adjusting the HDR preview
      6m 0s
    11. Building a 32-bit sky mask
      6m 29s
    12. Properly exposing land and sky
      4m 24s
    13. Modifying a layer mask in 32-bit
      4m 56s
    14. Converting to and correcting in 16-bit Lab
      12m 7s
  9. 2h 8m
    1. Photoshop flirts with the third dimension
      1m 13s
    2. The displacement map
      8m 24s
    3. Making custom waves
      7m 14s
    4. Creating a Gaussian distribution
      4m 31s
    5. Using a two-channel displacement map
      6m 27s
    6. Creating a rustic edge effect
      8m 21s
    7. Distorting and shading with a DMap
      6m 33s
    8. Moonlight reflecting off water
      8m 48s
    9. Mapping the reflection onto the water
      7m 3s
    10. Dipping the moon into the water
      6m 18s
    11. Turning flesh into stone
      7m 55s
    12. Wrapping the stone around the face
      7m 27s
    13. Softening a displacement map
      8m 4s
    14. Making a repeating watermark pattern
      9m 21s
    15. 3D embossing with Lighting Effects
      10m 47s
    16. The amazing credit card type effect
      6m 56s
    17. Lightening the credit card letters
      6m 16s
    18. Wrapping the background around the text
      6m 27s
  10. 1m 43s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 43s

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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques
20h 48m Advanced Nov 21, 2007

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

The elusive alpha channel remains one of the most misunderstood yet powerful tools in Photoshop. Alpha channels are collections of luminance data that control the transparency of an image, and they inform just about every aspect of Photoshop. As he builds transitional blended layers, fashions a depth map, makes edge adjustments, and takes on extreme channel mixing, Omni Award-winning expert Deke McClelland teaches Photoshop users that where there's a will, there's a way. Photoshop CS3 Channels and Masks: Advanced Techniques covers mapping texture on an image, turning flesh into stone, using vector masks, working with all different channels, creating a rustic edge effect, and much more. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.

Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts for Channels and Masks from the Exercise Files tab."

Topics include:
  • Distorting and shading with a DMap
  • Understanding bits and channels
  • Creating paths with the Pen tool
  • Using blend modes and the Dodge and Burn feature
  • Understanding channel mixing
  • Using layer masks, clipping masks, and knockouts
  • Applying Smart Filters
Design Photography
Deke McClelland

Masking a softly focused model

This exercise marks the beginning of the third and final project of this chapter. In case you are sitting there going, what were the first two projects, well, we have that overarching almost Blue project, obviously, the one that we just finished up a couple of exercises ago. Inside of that we have that meta project with the lightning inside of the clouds. So that's why I am calling this the third project, and obviously it involves still more advanced blending inside of Photoshop. This time we are using the blending in order to match images that really don't go together. So we are going to be taking this image right here that's called PhotoSpin girl.tif, named for the PhotoSpin image library.

She hails form this library called PhotoSpin and you can find out more information about PhotoSpin by going to, lots of wonderful images from wonderful people. We are going to take this very, very cool image, that is to say, it has a lot of cool colors going on, so a lot of cool greens and blues and violets. She is even lit with cool lighting so that we have some blue showing up inside of her eyes right there. We are going to take this image and we are going to composite it against a very warm background filled with yellows, and reds and oranges and these warm shades of green as well.

Also this background, which is called by the way, Backyard blur.jpg from no image library, it comes form my own backyard. I just stepped out on my deck and shot this image. And I shot it out of focus, that's why it appears out of focus. It's an optical, a true optical blur effect. So there is a lot of differences going on. This image is obviously naturally lit, it's an outdoor photograph. This image right here is an indoor photograph. It's like a night club. It has sort of a night club disco feel to it. She is generally in focus, although, she has some out of focus edges going on, thanks to a strobe coupled with a long exposure. Whereas, this image is of course completely out of focus, so we are having to do a lot of reconciling in both the edge and the coloring territory as you will see.

But I think that we would start things off with a look at how I created the mask. So just as we ended the previous project with a look at the mask, we are going to begin this project with a look at the mask. I should say, this is a purely optional exercise. I am not really going to be communicating all that much new information. I provide just by way of yet another means for you to gain more practical experience with masking inside of Photoshop. So if you go to the Channels palette, and once again, I am inside of this image called PhotoSpin girl.tif, inside the 10_advanced_blend folder. If you go to the Channels palette, you will see that there is a list of channels, a list of the color-bearing channels, of course, the RGB channels culminating in this alpha channel right here that's called final and that's the mask that we are going for. So here is how I got it.

First of all, I peruse the channels, of course, to see which channel was going to serve as the best base channel. Here is the right channel, not too good, not a whole heck of lot of contrast going on. She and her background pretty well match each other. We are losing a lot of the hair detail around the edges. Here is the Green channel, better, definitely a better channel and then here is the Blue channel which is the best of them all, contains a ton of contrast. So we are going to start with Blue. I am just going to go ahead and drag the Blue channel down to that little page icon at the bottom of the Channels palette and I am going to rename this channel mask or something along those lines. Now naturally she needs to be white against the black background, so I could invert her, but I am going to pass along another way to invert an image inside the Levels dialog box.

So as you are increasing the contrast of the image you can invert it as well, by pressing Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac. Then here is what you do. See these Output Levels options down here at the bottom of the dialog box. Just go ahead and take the black triangle and the white triangle and switch places with them. Or you can change the first value to 255 and the second value to zero. That's going to map black to white and white to black and just like that, Bob's your Uncle, you have got an inverted image, that's all it takes. Now you could adjust the levels traditionally in order to increase the contrast. The one difference is that now white is black and black is white. So if I adjust this white slider triangle here, I am actually making the blacks darker, because white has been remapped to black right over here. So I am going to go ahead and change this value, this third Input Levels value here for the white point or the black point, now of course to 170. Then I am going to change the black point cum white point to 60 in order to lighten up the whites a little bit. Having sort of inverted my brain enough at this point, I am going to go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification.

Now she is looking a lot worse for the wear at the this point and I just kind of want to let you know, this is by way of a warning to those of you who like to work with Photoshop while your models are peeking over your shoulders. Don't mask in front of your models, don't be doing this because masking can bring out the worst in people, especially, when you are in the intermediate zones of a mask. I mean, she is a beautiful young lady, but not looking so good inside of the alpha channel at this point. Now, I am just going to go ahead and get my Lasso tool, because there is a pretty good margin between the stuff on the inside of the image and the stuff on the outside. So I am going to use the Lasso tool to Alt+Click or Option+Click around the edges like so of the stuff that I kind want to just get rid of, right off the bat here. I am working pretty broadly here. Tat is a good enough selection at this point. So I did that by Alt+Clicking or Option+Clicking with the Lasso once again. Now I am going to fill that area with white by pressing Alt+ Backspace or Option+Delete on the Mac.

Now you can bring your model back in the room and they can watch you mask some more, okay. Now it's all right because the gruesomeness is over. Now I went ahead and deselected the image clicking outside of the selection. I am now going to switch over to the Paintbrush tool and I am going to start by painting with white, just because I want to make sure that we retain as much of the edges of our hair and so forth as we can, and I am going to, of course, switch the mode to Overlay by pressing Shift +Alt+O or Shift+Option+O on the Mac. The Opacity is a 100%, Flow is a 100%, that's fine. I have got a pretty big brush going but I might make it even bigger. Then I am just going to sort of give a paint around the edges of the hair a little bit just to make sure that we have -- if any anything selected more hair than we need, because again we are going to be doing so much blending that is better to select too much than too little. So quite by contrast to the advice that I gave you a couple of chapters ago.

Now let's press the X key in order to switch the foreground color to black and I am going to paint pretty aggressively around the shoulders to get rid of some of that light area that was down in the lower left region of the image. Same with the lower right hand portion of the image, I need to go ahead and get rid of those light grays as well. Now I am just going to paint the rest of the light grays away in order to make sure that we have some nice blacks to work with and I am going to go ahead and zoom in to this region of the hair. Notice this little bit of hole in her hair that is we are seeing through to the background, whatever background that maybe. I am going to click once in order to darken it a little bit. Then I am going to press the 5 key to reduce the Opacity value to 50% and I am going to click again.

So just a little bit of darkening of that hole, just to make sure that it shows up. I think that will make the image look a lot better and make the final composition look better. Next, I need to check my work. I need to see how much of the image I have really, truly made white, and how much, I have really, truly made black. I am going to enlist the help of the Magic Wand tool for this. This is a really great use for the Magic Wand incidentally. I am going to go ahead and select the tool and I am going to change the Tolerance value, notice up here, to zero and I am going to turn off Anti-alias. Now you have Contiguous turned on and now I am going to click inside of the model's head to see if I have gotten everything that I need to select selected.

I have selected most of what I need to select. I do have a few little schnibbles here and there around the edges. So I am going to go get my Lasso tool and I am going to Shift+Drag around these areas that I also want to send to white. The reason I am Shift+Dragging around these areas as opposed to just creating a new selection is because those marching ants. If I Shift+Drag then I can keep an eye on those marching ants as I add to the selection. That's really going to be essential, because I really can't see the grays all that well. So the marching ants are really my friends in this case. I might just go ahead and be pretty aggressive about this and grab some of these areas.

So by Shift+Dragging around these areas, by adding them to the selection I am saying, these areas are going to turn white as well. I am going to change those areas, I am going to fill these areas with white too. So I will go ahead and select these pixels. I think that's good enough, I think I have got about everything selected that I need to. There is a few other little guys here and there around the edges that I am not necessarily too terribly concerned about, but even though I say I am not concerned, I am still selecting them, what's that about. All right, so anyway, I have got enough stuff selected. I am now going to press, what would it be? I have got, let's see, the background color is now set to white, so I will press Ctrl+Backspace or Command+Delete on the Mac in order to fill those areas with white. Then if I feel like I need to do a little extra work, because if I zoom in toward the top of her hair, the deal is this. Let's go back to the RGB image for a moment.

She has got a ton of these Blue highlights going on in her hair and you can see some of these blue highlights are very light indeed. If we don't take care of them, if we don't get rid of them, it's going to basically make it look like she has got these just weird holes in her hair out of nowhere. The thing is her hair is not really wild. It does have a few little hairs popping off here and there, but she is obviously taking the time to comb her hair. It's supposed to be nicely manicured. There is some probably some hair spray going on as well. So we don't want a really sort of free- for-all hair look where this image is concerned. I'm going to manicure things here inside of the mask by switching back to my Brush tool here. I'm going to reduce the size of my brush a little bit. I am going to switch to the Normal mode by pressing Shift+Alt+N or Shift+Option+N on the Mac and you can see that the mode is now Normal.

I am going to press the X key or whatever I need to do to get white as my foreground color and then I am just going to paint these areas away. Actually, I am painting with 50% Opacity, let's go ahead and take the Opacity up to a 100% by pressing the 0 key. Then I will just paint those little sort of black areas away just so that they are not interfering with the final composited effect that will run into later. All right, that looks pretty good now. There is an area over by her shoulder that needs a little bit of work as well. We are over here on the right side of the image. This is her left shoulder, of course, in case that makes any difference to you. I am going to switch back to the Overlay mode by pressing Shift+Alt+O or Shift+Option+O on the Mac and then I will just go ahead and take a pass at this shoulder in order to make it nice and light. Then I will press the X key to switch to black and I will paint in the background just a little bit. I need to get in that corner a little bit as we can see there, in order to make that darker as well.

That's pretty much it folks. If you switch to the final version of the mask, there are some differences going on. There will be differences for you as well, but that's essentially the approach I took in order to get that final version of the mask. Now you can work with either one you want. You can either work with the mask you created or you can work with the final version of the mask, the one that I created for you. I am going to go ahead and actually save up this image, so you can choose to work with this final, final version of the mask that I just created. Whatever mask you work with, we are going to make it work. We are going to make the composition work, by taking advantage or a few more advanced blending techniques in Photoshop as we will begin to see in the very next exercise.

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Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

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Terms and conditions of use

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