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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.
In this exercise, we're going to paste the guy's head into the selected egg, and then we're going to distort his head, once again using a combination of Free Transform and that Warp mode just as we did the selection outline. I've saved off a version of this image called Egg masks.psd found inside the 05_combine folder, and the reason is if you go over to the Channels panel, you'll see that I went ahead and saved my current selection outline as the new egg and my previous one as the old egg, because what I found is they both have slight problems, and they both cut ever so slightly into the edge of the egg, and I don't want that.
So what I am going to do? And you may want to do this as well if you want to get exactly the same result, is I went ahead and Ctrl+Clicked or Command+Clicked on the channel called the new egg in order to load it up as the selection outline, and then I added the old egg by Ctrl+Shift+Clicking on it, or Command+Shift+Clicking on the Mac. All right. Now, let's switch back to the Layers panel. You can see that the Background layer is active. I want you to open up that Crazy man.jpg file and we need to copy this guy to the clipboard. But, if you go to the Edit menu, you'll notice that the Copy command is dimmed, and the reason is Photoshop requires a selection to copy.
So go to the Select menu and choose the All Command or just press Ctrl+A or Command+A on the Mac, and then go to the Edit menu and choose Copy or just press Ctrl+C or Command+C on the Mac and that puts a copy of the guy in the clipboard. Then, go ahead and switch to your egg image whatever it maybe, and go up to the Edit menu, choose Paste Special, and then choose the Paste Into command, or you've got that big keyboard shortcut, mash your fist V, so Ctrl+Shift+Alt+V or Command+Shift+Option+V on the Mac and that goes ahead and paste the guy into the egg selection.
What it really does is paste the guy in a new layer and convert the selection outline to a layer Mask. Let's go ahead and rename this layer man, and notice, by the way, that he and his mask are not linked to each other, so they move independently. So in other words, I could go ahead and Ctrl+Drag, or Command+Drag him to move him inside of the egg. Now, the next steps that we have to perform are Free Transform, and then we're also going to apply the Spherize Filter. We're going to get the best results and we're going to have the most flexibility if we go ahead and convert this guy to a Smart Object, because that way we'll apply a nondestructive transformation and we can edit the Filter Settings later if we need to.
However, we don't want to convert him to a Smart Object with his layer Mask intact. That would be a big mistake because then the two would no longer be unlinked from each other. So what we need to do and this is a little bit of busy work, but it's good busy work, Ctrl+Click or Command+Click on that layer Mask to return it to a Selection Outline, and then right-click on the layer Mask and choose Delete layer Mask in order to get rid of it, and that will restore the unmasked guy as you see here. Now, I want you to go to the Layers panel flyout menu, click on it, and then choose Convert to Smart Object or if you've loaded dekeKeys you can press Ctrl+Comma, Command+Comma on the Mac.
Now we need to reassign his layer Mask by dropping down to that Add layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and clicking on it, and you end up getting a masked Smart Object rather than putting the mask inside the Smart Object. Now, the thing is we do not want the Smart Object and layer Mask to be linked to each other, so turn off the Chain icon and then click on the Smart Object thumbnail, that is, his face in order to select him. Now that is out of the way, let's go ahead and distort this guy by going up to the Edit menu and choosing Free Transform, or you can press Ctrl+T or Command+T key on the Mac and I am going to start things off by linking the Width and Height value, so I apply a proportional scaling, and I am going to take the Scale value down to 60%.
Now, that's kind of seem way too low, but it's going to compensate for the next effect we apply. Go over here to the Warp icon on the right side of the options bar and click on it, and next, you can't start dragging around if you want to. You can drag up on that top edge if you want to, you can drag on the sides, you can even drag inside the image like so in order to stretch it apart, or you can apply one of the predefined Warp Settings. I am going to go ahead and click on this down-pointing arrowhead and choose Inflate which will inflate his face outward, and I am going to take that Bend value up to 80%, like so.
Now, that's a good starting place. That's not where I want to end, I want to customize this effect. Notice if you start dragging the one and only handle inside the Image Window, then you will change the Bend value as you see happening in the options bar up there at the top of the screen. All right. I am going to reinstate a Bend value of 80. If you want to customize the effect, then you go ahead and switch from Inflate back to Custom, and Photoshop will keep the effect, but it will give you back your handles. Now, I'm going to drag down on the top of his head like so and I am going to drag down until this top inner line here, this top horizontal line is almost straight, and that looks pretty good to me. All right.
Now, I will go ahead and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to accept that effect. Now, the problem is that he looks less distorted than shrunken. So if I press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on a Mac, there he is big, and then if I press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z again, there he is smaller. I want him to look more spherized than that, so I will go ahead and apply the Spherize Filter by going up to the Filter menu, choosing Distort, and then choosing the Spherize command. Now, you're not going to get a sense for this in dialog box preview when you're this far zoomed in.
So go ahead and click the minus button a couple of times to zoom out and then move him over a little bit. The default value is 100 which is over the top especially for this subtle composition that we're trying to create here. So I am going to reduce the Amount value to 50%, and then click OK, and that does a pretty good job of getting him in the right position. I will Ctrl+Drag or Command+Drag him over just a little bit, like so. The thing is he is sort of slightly leaning to the left. Now, because I converted this guy to a Smart Object, that's no problem. I can apply a second transformation, a third, I can transform this guy as many times as I want without permanently damaging the pixels.
So what I am going to do is go back to the Edit menu and choose the Free Transform command or press Ctrl+T, Command+T on the Mac. You may get an Alert message from Photoshop telling you that you're not going to be able to see the filters as you apply the Transform Effect. That's actually a big drag, but that's the way it is. So click OK. All of a sudden he is not spherized anymore. Now, press the Ctrl and Shift keys or the Command and Shift keys on the Mac and drag this top handle a little bit over to the right as you see me doing here, about this far should serve us well, and then press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac to not only slant the guy, but also reapply that Spherize Filter.
I'm going to once again Ctrl+Drag this guy over, that would be a Command+Drag on the Mac until he's more or less centered inside the egg, like so. And just one more modification, I'm going to nudge him down, and I am going to do so by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Down Arrow or Command+Shift+Down Arrow on the Mac. The fact that I have the Ctrl or Command key down allows me to move the layer, the fact that I have the Shift key down moves the layer in 10 pixel increments. All right. The final thing to do is to clean up the Layers panel by right-clicking on this empty Filter Mask and choosing the Delete Filter Mask command because we don't need it.
All right, he's looking pretty good to me. In the next exercise, we're going to blend and shade this guy, so he looks like he's actually trapped inside an egg.
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