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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.
Now I am pretty happy with the way the image looks, however by virtue of the fact, that we've integrated these Iris and Map layers. We have ended up brightening the image so it's a little bit washed out. I want to darken it up so that we have some nice rich shadows. I also want to increase the contrast. And then finally, we are going to integrate the map texture into the iris. I have saved my progress as Blended texture.psd with that greenness layer selected that is the top adjustment layer there. I want you to press the Alt key or the Option key and a Mac, drop down to that black one icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose Brightness/Contrast which is going to be the best tool for this job.
And I am going to go ahead and call this layer B/C because it's a standard Brightness/Contrast layer. I just like to control my layer names as I move through a composition. Make sure Use Previous layer to Create Clipping Mask is turned off, because we want this layer to affect all the layers below it, so go ahead click OK. Then, I'm going to take this Brightness value down to negative 25 and you can see that darkens the image pretty nicely. And then I will take the Contrast level up to positive 25. Make sure, by the way, that the Use Legacy check box is turned off, that way we won't clip any highlights or shadows.
Alright, now I will hide the Adjustments panel because we are done with it and now I am going to drop down to the Map layer and I am going to click on it's layer mask to make it active. All right, so as I was saying, I want to integrate that map texture into the iris, I could go ahead and select the iris using the Elliptical Marquee tool but there's a better way in this case. Once we have got a layer mask active, it's just as easy to use the brush tool. So go ahead and select the Brush tool which you can get by pressing the B key and then right-click inside the image window and take that Size value where this specific effect is concerned up to 500 pixels and then take the Hardness value up to 50%.
And of course, you could figure that out on your own, but I went ahead and determined those values in advance. I will go ahead and press the Enter key or the Return key a couple of times in order to hide that panel, and now watch this. You need to make sure that your foreground color is white, if it isn't, go ahead and press the D key for the default masking colors, and then, just click make sure also that the layer mask is active. We need all of our ducks in a row here. Then go ahead and click on that iris in order to paint the map into it. That's all it takes. One click and you're done. So as you can see, the Brush tool is a pretty awesome tool when working inside of a layer mask.
All right, I am also going to click way over here like this, just to introduce little bit of edge softening on that bit of flash there, that's inside the eye, so one click should do it. And then, I am going to switch back to my elliptical marquee tool. Now, at this point, I decided that, that iris layer was brightening things too much. If you turn iris layer off, you will see that we have a darker iris, turn it back on, it's much too bright, however I think it's too dark when the iris layer is off. So let's put the difference by turning it back on and double-clicking in an empty portion of this layer, to bring up the layer Style dialog box, and we are going to once again take advantage of that Underlying layer slider.
What I want you to do is press the Alt key, or the Option key on a Mac and drag the right half of that black triangle all the way up to 150, so the value should read 0 / 150 and then 255 over here. What this is saying is anything with the Luminance level inside the image of 150 and 255, is being covered up essentially by that bright iris effect. Anything between 0 and 150, starting at 150 and going down to 0 which is black, is becoming progressively more opaque and forcing its way through.
Anyway, the end result is that we have a darker iris. So I will go ahead and click OK to accept that effect. As I say, we'll be looking at those sliders in all kinds of detail, in my Advanced Blending course. But for now, just go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on a Mac to see the before version, then press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on a Mac to see the after version. And just so you have a sense for the contribution of this iris layer, go and turn it off you can see that the iris is darker now, turn it back on and the iris is brighter. And that finishes the effect.
I am going to go ahead and press the F key, a couple of times and Zoom on in and this gives you a sense for the amazing, absolute power, of combining selection outlines here inside Photoshop.
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