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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.
The next thing I want to do here is add a bit of a vignette. I want to darken up some of the bottom area of the image. There are a lot of ways to do this. One really easy way is to go back to our adjustment layer icons and click on the Curves adjustment icon, and then simply darken the image with the darkening Curve adjustment here. Now, once we've done that, we want to invert the mask. You can invert a mask by pressing Command+I or Ctrl+I or you can go to the Mask panel and simply click on the Invert button here.
Once you've done that, you want to select your Brush tool. With your Brush tool, you want to start with a relatively low opacity, somewhere below 50%. Then you want to just start to paint across the area that you want to darken. In this case, I think the bottom portion of the image has just become too bright down there. I want to darken it up and then I'll go ahead and make my brush a little bit smaller, and just work on some of these outer edges, just darkening this up a bit. Again, adding to a bit more of the overall style of the photograph. Now once we've done this, we can start to have quite a bit of fun with the overall color and tone.
One of the ways that we could do that is with another Curves adjustment. Let's experiment a bit with curves and have some fun here. So, here, I'll go ahead and click on my Curves adjustment layer icon and I'll select Curves. Then I'm going to go ahead and I'm going to brighten this up just a little bit here, and then I'll go into the red curve. On the red curve, I'm just going to bring up some of these reds. I'll go into the green-magenta channel there, bring up some of the greens there, and then also go to this blue-yellow channel. On the blue-yellow channel, I'm going to get a little bit creative, see what would happen if we were to work with this in a different way.
Maybe adding some creative tone in here, giving it a little bit more of a cross-processed almost type of a look. What we can do is we can modify these adjustments and go back and forth and just see how it would look, perhaps a little bit more warm, or little bit more green and yellow, and find a fun way to process this particular image. When you're creating a photograph like this, which really is about this kind of style and that aesthetic, it's going to be a key that you do some interesting toning to the image. A lot of times the toning not only acts to bring the image to another place.
But what it can also do is connect the overall two images or connect the overall project, give it a sense of identity. Here I'm just modifying these points while we're talking, just to try to find a nice spot for this image. Let's take a look at the before and after. Here's before and then after. Again, just adding a bit of the cool tones down below and a little bit of those muted tones up top. Another way that you could work with color would be to turn off this layer, and then to create a new adjustment layer, say like Color Balance.
Color Balance gives you quick and easy ways to modify color and tone. We can add some yellows or some reds there to the midtones. We can go in the shadows if we wanted to. Qe can cool off those shadows making them a bit more cyan and a bit more blue. Then perhaps in our highlights we could add some of that yellow and maybe perhaps a little bit of red there. Now, at this point, I think the image is too dark and dense so click on Curves and then go ahead and brighten that up. That will change the overall color palette but again, you see you get kind of that interesting cross-process type of a look.
Now, whenever you work with color in this way, it's always fun to lower opacity. Just see what would happen if you made a little bit more nuance color shift, not quite so dramatic. Perhaps something a little bit less prominent there, just to give it a little bit of that subtle shift, to make it a little bit more dream-like, and a lot of times these final creative color layers that really help an image come together. Well, in order to organize my layers, what I want to do is double-click the Adjustments tab, and these top two layers are one color option for the image.
So, I'll click in one, hold down the Shift key and click in another, then press Command+G for Group, and I'll call this color treatment 2. Next, I'll click on the eye icon there to turn that off. I'll click in the Curves adjustment here which was another color option for this image. I'll click in this layer, and even though, it's one layer, I'll still press Command+G here and I'll simply call this one color treatment 1. If you're on a Mac, it's Command+G. If you're on a PC, that's Ctrl+G. All right, well, now we have two different color treatments, and we have those top layers.
Well what about all of these other layers? How can we organize those? Let's turn off the visibility of all those layers and go all the way back down to the bottom, our original file. Well, here we have the original file, then we added a bit of light in the background. We did that by bringing in a bit of color. It would make sense to bring these together as background modifications. So, we'll click in the top layer, hold down the Shift key, click in the bottom layer, press Command+G for group. We will go ahead and just name this bg for background. This is where we did our background style and customization.
Next, we have a few layers where we worked on shadows and also where we brought in our subject. So, it makes sense to keep those perhaps together, and here we also have the light and tone layers, and working on darkening these few areas and brightening some other areas, and really a lot of these layers were all about getting the subject to fit into the frame. So, just to keep things simple, let's group all of these together, even though they're not all exactly the same. They kind of belong together, I think. We'll click in one of those, hold on the Shift key, click in another, then press Command+G on a Mac, Ctrl+G on Windows, and we'll name this model.
All right, well, here we have a nice way to view our work. Let's zoom in a little bit so that we can evaluate it and also let's minimize Photoshop here. We'll press Tab to get rid of everything. I've to go to Full Screen View mode. Then next, we'll press the F7 key. The F7 key will bring up our Layers panel. Here we can quickly and easily evaluate our progress. We have the background. We have the subject there on the books. We can turn the background on and off, really see how that light source behind this works quite well.
Then we can work on our color treatment. see which one we really like, or print out one version of the image, this way, or we can print out another version of the image, this way. Another thing that I like to do is, once I have accomplished a composite like this is I like to hold down the Option key on Mac, Alt key on Windows, and then click on the background layer in order to view the before and the after. By viewing that, it gives me a sense of this overall project and you know, we've really accomplished something here. We've taken a subject that was in another environment, another context.
We've extracted her. Then successfully brought her into a new environment. We've had this vision to kind of this create this Alice in Wonderland, imaginative type of photograph, and in order to execute that, we of course need to go through some masking and work on our shadows, but we also needed to add a bit of style with color and tone in order to create this overall cohesive and intriguing composite.
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