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In the all-new Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final installment of the popular series, join industry expert and award-winning author Deke McClelland for an in-depth tour of the most powerful and empowering features of Photoshop CS5. Discover the vast possibilities of traditional tools, such as masking and blend modes, and then delve into Smart Objects, Photomerge, as well as the new Puppet Warp, Mixer Brush, and HDR features. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced.
All right kids, in this exercise we're going to use those Luminance-exclusion slider bars in order to create a special effect. Basically we're going to make this lightning ball right here appear to burst out of the center of the moon. We're going to do so without much in the way of masking, just little tiny masks here and there, but mostly it's going to be blending tricks as you'll see. So I've gone ahead and restored the saved version of Lunar madness.psd. I'm going to turn on the lightning ball layer right there, and I'm going to click on it.
Now, I want to keep the light stuff and I want the dark stuff to drop away. So the most logical blend mode to use is going to be Screen because it's your when in doubt lightening mode. So I'll go ahead and choose it and we get this effect here. So already looking pretty darn good; now, I want to be able to identify those tendrils of lightning there a little more accurately. So I want to drop out the darks where this layer is concerned and I'll do so by double-clicking on the empty portion of that layer to bring up once again the Blending Options panel of that layer Style dialog box.
Because I want to drop out the darkest colors, I'm going to move this Black slider in the This layer slider bar over to the right and I'm probably going to take it pretty high. I might take it as high as let's say 235 for example. You just have to watch the values here. You can't numerically adjust the values which is kind of a drag actually. I see no reason for that but that's the way it is. Now, that results in some very jagged transitions as you can see there. So let's Alt+Drag or Option+Drag the left half of that triangle back and I'm going to take it down to let's say about 140 this time around and we'll get this effect here.
So just to give you a sense of what we've done, I'll turn off the Preview check box. So this is what the layer look like before we apply these settings. This is what the layer looks like now. So it's quite a powerful tool, allows you to examine a layer completely based on its luminance levels without any need for masking; it's altogether temporary by the way. So these are parametric adjustments. I could go ahead and click OK, and then I could double-click on the layer again to bring back up the dialog box and I could make further adjustments because my settings are preserved.
I do also want to reveal some of the moon in the background based on its luminance level. So the idea here is that I want these bits of lightning to be bursting out of the center of the moon and the center of the moon, we can't see it right now but the center area, this area that I'm tracing here is the darkest area of the moon, and then the top-left region right there is the lightest area. So I'd like to make the lightest color show through so that we're covering up the darkest colors, which will make it look like the lightning is coming out of the moon to an extent.
So I'm going to drag this White slider triangle for the Underlying layer slider over to the left and I'm going to take it way over to left for starters. I'm going to take it over to 20 as we're seeing there. The only pixels that Photoshop is allowing to be covered with sparks are those with luminance levels from 0 to 20; so very small region; some very dark pixels indeed. Anyway, let's go ahead and open things up because once again we have very harsh transitions. I'll Alt+Drag or Option+Drag the right half of this triangle over to the right side and I'm going to take it all the way back to 255 like so, so that we have this big area of drop off and the reason we need it, the reason we need this much slope is check it out.
If I start dragging this back, and this back like so, we have some pretty harsh transitions inside of those highlights and that's because the highlights in this moon image are pretty darn fragile. So in order to keep something resembling smooth transitions we need a big huge range. Now, that of course doesn't look all that great but that will be a good first step. I'll go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification. All right! Now what I want to do is take another copy of the moon layer and put it on top of the sparks, so that we can contain some of the sparks with some darkness here because everything's turning out to be so bright at this point.
I'll select the moon layer which is the Background layer there and I'll press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac to jump it and I'll go ahead and call this guy upper moon and then press the Enter or Return key. I'm going to drag this guy on top of lightning ball now and it's opaque of course, it's covering up everything and we need to change that. Now, I'm not going to change the Blend mode quite yet because I don't know if I want to. I'm just going to go ahead and double-click on the empty portion of the layer to bring up the layer Style dialog box. And this time, I'm going to change the Underlying layer slider only; we're not going to change anything about This layer.
I'm just going to force through those lightest colors and they're going to automatically appear in the dark region of the moon because that's where the lightest spark colors happen to reside. Now, I don't want to reveal too many luminance levels in this case. So I'm going to take this guy down to 218 is what I ended up coming up with. Then I'm going to Alt+Drag or Option+Drag the right half all the way back to 255, so we end up with this effect here. Then I'll go ahead and click OK in order to accept the changes. Now, this I think looks pretty darn good.
You could experiment with the Blend mode after this point if you wanted to. For example, if I press Shift+Alt+O or Shift+Option+O on the Mac in order to choose the Overlay mode, I get a pretty interesting effect. This is without that layer and this is with that layer. So it does help to contain the effect a little. I could also experiment with Shift+Alt+H or Shift+Option+H on the Mac for the Hard Light mode, but what I like about Normal is that it's dark and it has a certain way to associate with it that I find to be very attractive. All right! There are some unattractive elements of this effect however such as this little slim edge right there and try as I might, I can't get rid of that using the Luminance-exclusion sliders there.
So I am going to have to apply a little bit of masking but this is going to be a kind of masking that we don't normally apply. Basically, I'm going to create a new layer and I'm going to paint some blackness onto it and the reason this is going to work is because these other layers are shown and hidden based on the luminance level of the layer behind them, and I'll show you how the effect works in the next exercise.
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