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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.
As photographers one of the things that we need to decide quite often is what to expose for, and in this case you can see that I decide to expose for the foreground and the subject. As a result these big highway clouds are completely over-exposed. There is really no detail there at all. We also notice it's a bright day, the sun is close to the horizon, and so what I want to do here is have some fun with looking at a way that we can bring in some clouds into this sky, and also we will explore how we can convert this to black-and-white and then add a creative color effect.
All right, well the first up we will take is to double-click the background layer and we will do that so that we can rename this, and as we do that you will notice the layer is now unlocked. Next, we need to move this layer to the top of our layer stack. You can do that by clicking-and- dragging or on a Mac press Command, on Windows press Ctrl, and then in addition press the Bracket key. So Command+Right Bracket on a Mac, Ctrl+Right Bracket on Windows. That will move that layer to the top of the stack.
Next step, let's go ahead and click on the Add Layer Mask icon, and from here we need to then create this layer mask. Let's do so by using Color Range. Now with Color Range what we can do is we can click in an area, and as I click in an area you notice that it's selecting this. It's showing me the sky there. Well, if I decrease my range you are going to notice it's just going to limit what I am selecting to a smaller area. We can also change the overall Fuzziness. And you can see how that's working. It's also bringing in more or less of the background.
It creates a softer or harder edge. So in this case we want a pretty high Fuzziness, a lower percent for our Range. Next we will hold down the Shift key and we will just click-and-drag through the image. As we do that, we will slowly build up this selection of the sky here and Shift+Click-and-drag throughout the image, and then we may want to go back and just make sure that these settings are good. We can control that Fuzziness amount. We can also decrease the Range if we have too much of the foreground selected and we can get this exactly where we want it and then Shift+Click around, just make sure you have everything and then finally click OK.
All right, well now that we have done that we can see that we have the exact opposite of what we want. We don't want the sky; we want the foreground. So here we will simply click Invert or press Command or Ctrl+I. Now at first glance this actually looks pretty good. We have this on this transparent background, we have removed that white sky, so let's turn on the visibility of our clouds layer. Now when we do that all of a sudden it reveals we have problems, and the problem is that we have this white fringe along this edge.
Now I am zooming way into this image and here we can see even at this pixel level we have this problem. We can see those jagged white edges. To fix that all we need to do is to go to Mask Edge. Next we will go to Decontaminate Colors and as I increase the slider, you are going to notice that that edge is going to disappear and let's take this perhaps even a little bit further. Here is the before and now the after. That's already looking a ton better. Next we may want to smooth out some of those edges just a bit there, perhaps add a touch of contrast as well. Here is that before and then after.
Well that now looks really good and here we have our output to a new layer with a layer mask. Click OK there, and what we can do is we can compare these two. Here is the original one, you can see the fringing there, and then here is that new one, and you can see how that just takes off that edge. All right, well we obviously don't need this underlying layer anymore. So we can go ahead and trash this one because it's not needed. Next, I am going to click in my mask and I am going to press the B key to grab my Brush tool. I am going to paint with a really small brush, 1 or 2 pixels maybe, and then I just want to bring in some detail on the hat there. So I will paint with white, and in this case I am just going to go ahead paint over this, just bringing a little bit more of the hat that I lost when I softened up those edges.
Hit the X key just to paint away anything that we don't want here and I will just paint away a few little areas in this portion of the image. All right, well I think that looks good, just sweetening that up just a bit more so we don't have any problems there. All right well let's zoom out. Really we need to evaluate this at this zoomed out state, and here this looks really good. Next thing I want to do is click in the clouds layer, and the clouds layer we can then use the Move tool. We can drag this around and change these clouds. We could even bring a little bit of the mountains in that we can see there in the bottom.
Now we can make this decision really subjectively, how we want to bring in this texture here or this detail on the background. Next step, let's click in the topmost layer and then click on the Adjustment Layer icon and choose Black & White, and here I simply want to convert this image to black-and-white. With the Target Adjustment tool we can brighten up a few areas based on the color or tone, and again just create a nice black-and-white conversion. All right, well now that we have done that, the last thing that I want to do is just have a bit of fun with color. So here we will click on the adjustment layer icon, we will choose Color Balance, and we will bring in a lot of reds and yellows and really just go for this over-the-top kind of a surreal type of a look there, and then change that blending mode to Soft Light.
What that Soft Light blending mode will do is just add this hue over the entirety of the image and then we will modify that tone until we get just the right look that we are going for. I want something that has some color in it but perhaps not too much. I think that's kind of nice. I will just lower this till I get a good aesthetic in regards to this image. All right, well that wraps up our work on this image.
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