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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.
Next what I want to do is start to work on the overall image in order to make it better, and also work on some of the details. So, let's zoom in. One of the things that I notice when I zoom in is that there's a little bit of noise on the pants. We can see some color artifacting. I want to clean that up. I want to get those details looking good. So, I'm going to click in my guy layer, and I'm going to copy it by pressing Command+J or Ctrl+J. I'm just going to call this clean up, because there are few things that we might want to do here. We'll go ahead and navigate to our Filter pull-down menu, then choose Noise.
Here I want to choose Reduce Noise. I'm most interested in trying to reduce the color noise that I am seeing here in the pants. So, I'm just going to go ahead and increase my noise values here. I want a little bit of texture there, but actually, it doesn't look too bad. It's smoothing that out just a bit, little bit of detail there, and modify the Strength just so we can get this to the right spot. Then click on the Preview button, before and after. Again, in this case, it's looking just a ton better. Click OK. Now, the problem with this is that we've reduced the noise in some of the other areas, in the shirt, in the face.
We don't necessarily want to do that. So, click on the Option key on a Mac, Alt key on Windows, and then click on the Add Layer Mask icon to conceal all of our noise reduction. Then press the B key, and select white as your color in the color picker. Choose a nice high opacity here, somewhere close to 100%. Then go ahead and with a nice soft edge brush, just start to paint over those areas where you want to reduce that noise. Again, it was just some artifacting that I notice that was taking place there.
Perhaps that happened as a result of the exposure or who knows? As I'm doing this, one of the things I'm noticing is that the feet obviously are just way too sharp. So I'm going to go ahead and reduce the noise on the feet, which in turn will make them a little bit more blurry. It will take off some of the details there, so that they fit a little bit closer into that background. I'm also noticing that it looks like the feet are floating. They're not connected to the background. So, we need to add some shadows desperately to this area. A lot of different ways that we can do this. One technique that we've seen before is we can click in this layer where we have a good mask, or in this case, a good selection.
And we can go to Layer Style effects. We can do so by double-clicking the layer, and here we'll choose Drop Shadow. Now, the type of drop shadow that we want is one that's pointing down. We want to change and modify its size and its spread so that it's a pretty tight shadow. It's just a little point of contact shadow, adding to the believability of this content. Now, you may want to experiment a little bit with the Distance, see how far off it is. If it's too far off, it will look like he is floating on the ground. You want to bring that in pretty tight and then click OK.
Next, we need to go to Layer, choose Layer Style, and then go almost all the way down and choose Create Layer. This will put this Drop Shadow on its own layer, and in this case, yeah, we know that some of these don't work very well. This one will. So we click OK. And there you have it. We have the Drop Shadow on its own layer. Well, now that we have this on its own layer, we need to mask this into particular areas, because we need it near the feet. We definitely don't want it on the back. That doesn't make sense. There's nothing behind the character. So, what we'll do is we'll click in this Drop Shadow layer.
Then we'll click on the Add Layer Mask icon, but we'll do so while holding down Option on the Mac, Alt on Windows. That in turn will create a layer mask filled with black, concealing the entirety of that little shadow. Let's go ahead and grab our Brush tool. Here, we'll paint with white. What we'll do is we'll start to paint with white where we want the shadow to show up. I definitely want it under his feet and under his toes there. I want to bring that in, so it really looks like his feet are touching the ground. They are part of this. We also may want to bring this in along the pant leg, because that edge is just a little bit too sharp.
It's just going to soften that edge, and it's also going to make it feel like it's kind of in front of the book there. It blends in along the top part of the pants. Of course, the inner edge there as well. We want to bring some of that in. Anywhere where we feel like it just should kind of separate a little bit from the background. Then press the X key if you make any mistakes. Of course, click on your eye icon to look at your before and after. If we zoom in a bit, what we should see is that it really makes all the difference in the world. It really helps the subject to not have such a harsh edge.
It softens it up and it kind of plants those feet in this context. Now, we need to do some other shadows as well, right? One of the problems with this is yeah, we now have the point of contact, but we should have some shadows that are occurring on the book behind the legs. So, let's create those. In this case, we'll create a new layer by clicking on the New Layer icon. We'll change our blending mode to Soft Light, which works great for burning down detail, darkening detail, or brightening that as well. But in this case we want to darken it.
We'll go ahead and name this shadow. Again, grab our Brush tool, again paint with black, this time lower opacity, nice soft edge brush. If your brush isn't soft, you'll want one without any hardness. Go ahead and take that down, nice big brush size. Then go ahead and just start to paint, really subtly darkening up some of these areas. In this case, my opacity is too high so I want to drop it down, somewhere to the teens, maybe 15 or so, and just start to bring down some of the detail that we're seeing around here, especially behind the legs here, kind of getting some shadows to fall into this area.
When we're doing this, as I've mentioned previously, you really want to feel like not a lot's happening here. You're just starting to darken things up. You're also taking a look at some of the other shadows that you have around, and you're accentuating those or bringing some of those out, kind of tying this into the image. You could work on darkening up some of the image as well, in regards to the background. So, we're kind of bringing down some of the image. So, here's that before and after, kind of getting that to be a little bit more dark there. All right, well, I think that's working really well.
I want to do another of these layers. We'll do this above the guy, so we'll click on our top guy layer, and now we'll click on the New Layer icon. Once again go to Soft Light, and once again with this brush, painting with black with a nice low opacity, we'll just start to darken things up. In this case, I'm just going to darken up the pant legs. Again, just kind of tying it into the type of shadows that we're having here and trying to bring in some of the qualities of light that we have in the surrounding areas. Now, one of the things that I'm noticing as I'm darkening up these shadows is that a couple of my drop shadows that I painted aren't looking very good.
So, I'm going to go back down to that layer. This was the layer where I added those drop shadows around the legs. What I find is up here in this area of the legs, it's just not looking very compelling. So, I need to correct that, increase the opacity of this mask. I'm just going to take those off a little bit, in some of these areas. I kind of feel like there's a little bit too much on the pant legs up there. I want to take that, so that the point of contact looks a little bit stronger. I realize I got little bit overambitious with that brush stroke. A lot of times that happens, right? As you add more to the image, you soon discover more problems or more issues that you need to solve.
All right, well, we're doing pretty good with this. There, of course, are a number of other things we want to do with this image. So, let's continue to work on this file and we'll do so in the next movie.
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