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Preparing the ground

From: Photoshop CS5 Smart Objects Workshop

Video: Preparing the ground

One of the great strengths of Smart Object is their ability to use Smart Filters. Normally, when we apply a Photoshop filter to a layer, we can't change it after it has been applied. With Smart Objects, however, it's a very different story. So, we'll start by turning this photograph of an Egyptian desert into the surface of a distant planet. So, here's our scene. It's taken on a bright sunny day and the first thing we need to do is to get rid of that sky, and we can replace it with this photograph of some stars that I took earlier.

Preparing the ground

One of the great strengths of Smart Object is their ability to use Smart Filters. Normally, when we apply a Photoshop filter to a layer, we can't change it after it has been applied. With Smart Objects, however, it's a very different story. So, we'll start by turning this photograph of an Egyptian desert into the surface of a distant planet. So, here's our scene. It's taken on a bright sunny day and the first thing we need to do is to get rid of that sky, and we can replace it with this photograph of some stars that I took earlier.

We want the stars to match the sky area exactly, so let's begin by selecting that sky. And we could do that easily using the Magic Wand tool. When we click at the top, we can see that because our tolerance is set to 32, it reaches about half way down and not quite to the very top. We can extend the range by holding the Shift key down to click at the top and lower down, and lower down still. So now, the entire sky is selected. Well, there are several ways that we could work with this.

What I'm going to do, is to make a new layer from this sky. So, we'll choose Layer > New Layer via Copy. And if we hold the Alt key down on a PC, Option on a Mac, as we do this, we can give a name to our layer, and we'll call it Sky mask. Now, what's good about this is that when we reveal the stars, we can limit the visibility of the stars to the area taken up by the mask by making the mask into a clipping mask. And the way to do that is select the Stars layer and go to Layer > and Create Clipping Mask.

There's a keyboard shortcut for this. In fact, there are several ways of doing this and we can look at those later. So now, our stars are only visible where they overlap with the sky mask beneath. And you can see, if we move the stars around, that's indeed the case. Now, there's a very slight fringe at the top of the hills. And that's often the case when you choose the Magic Wand to make a selection. We can get rid of that by selecting our Sky mask, we can choose Select All and hold the Alt key down to leave a copy, as we nudge this down. Once we start nudging, the selection snaps to the edges of the layer, and let's nudge it once more.

And we can deselect, and now that's got rid of the fringe. So, the trouble is our background layer now looks still like an Egyptian desert lit by a bright blue sky and doesn't match this background of stars at all. So, let's fix that. We can use curves to make the change. So, you can use Image > Adjustment > and curves. I'll move this out to the side. Well, the first thing we want to do here is to reduce the brightness, so let's drag that down.

That's looking better. But we want this to look more like the surface of a planet like Mars. So, let's take out some of the green. We can do that with the green channel. And some of the blue, we could do that with the blue channel. And that leaves us with a very, very strong reddish effect. It doesn't quite match the stars behind so let's go to the green channel again and put a little of that back in.

And we can say OK to that. We've now got a fairly good match between the colors of the foreground and the color of the stars in the night sky behind. We can now view our crew and here they are. It is a photograph of a couple of girls taken at a science fiction convention showing off the uniforms they made themselves, and this image is available for you on Flickr. Now that we've placed our crew members on the planet's surface, we are ready to make them look as if they are just arriving there.

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Photoshop CS5 Smart Objects Workshop

34 video lessons · 855 viewers

Steve Caplin
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