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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.
At this stage, we're making some great progress with this photograph, yet one of the things that I'm noticing is that the feet are a little bit too sharp. While I like the shadows, the shadows also may be a little bit too strong, but most importantly, I'm noticing that I shouldn't have detail here, because this is out of focus. So, whenever you're creating a composite, you're trying to match your depth of field, match your focus, so that things really feel like they belong together. So, in order to fix that, what we need to do is we really need to figure out where are those feet. So, we need to organize things a bit. Well, in the last step here we created a layer where we darkened up some of the area of this image.
Let's go ahead and name this layer shadow - legs. Then let's clean up these layers by organizing them a bit. So, we'll turn off the visibility of all of our layers. First we have this little drop shadow underneath this, point of contact, we have another shadow there. These two shadows seem like they should be grouped together. We also have our guy photograph here, and then we have a little bit of work on the noise reduction on the guy's legs as well there. All right, well, we have some shadows on top of the legs that we've done. This really is all about the guy, these layers.
So, click on the topmost layer, hold down the Shift key, the bottommost layer, press Command+G, and we'll name this guy. Next, we have the thimble, so we'll go ahead and look at these thimble layers. We're going to have some shadows for the thimble. That looks a little too strong now that I'm looking that, lower opacity there, click on the top, hold down the Shift key, then click in the bottom layer, Command+G. Then we'll go ahead and name this thimble. All right! Well, now that we've done that, we can start to make some modifications. If we open up our guy folder, what we might want to do is just back off these shadows here just a bit.
So, I'm going to go ahead and take these shadows down on this and try some different blending modes like Soft Light works really well. With the Soft Light, it will take this a little bit up and it will look a little bit stronger there, just that point of contact. I think that that's going to be that best blending mode for that option there. Okay, well next, I'm going to hold down the Option or Alt key and click on this group here, the photograph of the guy. Well, now that I have him by himself, what I can do now that I've organized this, I'll click in that topmost layer, and I press the shortcut to merge all of these layers to top.
To do that, press Shift+Option+ Command+E. That will then merge all of the underlying layers to the topmost layer. Next, we'll go ahead and name this blur. Now what we want to do here on this layer is go to our Filter pull-down menu, choose Blur, and then select one of our blur options, say for example Lens Blur. We really want to focus in on the feet. We want to apply an amount of blur here to these feet. Now in this context, I can't really tell how much blur to add.
Yet what you want to do is you want to move your Blur Focal Distance to where you still have some detail, perhaps a little bit stronger than you think. So, I'm going to try to find a nice spot for this, just modifying this just a touch here, and then click OK to apply that. Now, of course, we don't want the blur everywhere and we don't want it at that intensity. So, what we need to do is to hold down Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows, and then click on the Add Layer Mask icon. Well, now when we do that, we want to turn on our background.
We want to turn on the thimble layer, and then we want to click in this mask here. This is our blur layer. Grab our brush. I'll go ahead and paint with white with a relatively low opacity, somewhere below 50%. Then we want to just slowly, with a nice small brush, start to hit some of the sharper details on the feet. Now, what this can do for us is just help us match some of the background detail that we have there, so that the feet just feel like they belong in that context a bit. Again, just by blurring those out, it's going to help us to accomplish that in a little bit more of an effective way, so that they're blurred similar to the background, so they're out of focus in the same type of way.
Now, sometimes, what will be helpful is once you've done that to then click in your topmost layer, to go all the way to the top of your layers stack, to merge to top one more time, Shift+ Option+Command+E on a Mac. We'll go ahead and name this blur one more time, go back to our Blur, Filter > Blur, and then choose Lens Blur. Now here what we can do is see the entirety of the image, and we can choose a Blur Focal Distance where we can have an amount of blur, which we're applying to those feet in that context. Here click OK.
Now because we've added blur on top of this and in the background, we can then begin to mask this and in this area. Hold down Option or Alt, same thing as before, click on the Add Layer Mask icon. Grab your Brush tool. Paint with white. What we're going to do is we're just going to paint over this. So, we're not only blurring just the toes, but we're blurring the shadows. We're blurring some of the area around this. We're adding this blur here. What that's doing is kind of bringing together these different elements, so that they start to belong together. Now, in this case, we really have to lose some of the detail here.
It would be nice if we didn't have to blur these out, because we'd have a really good shot. But the way that the book was captured, we just have to do that. We have to bring the focus back up to the face, so that they're not drawn to the feet as a sharp item in an out-of- focus shallow depth of field image. So, it's really important as you work on your own composites that you seek to match those different areas. Okay, well, let's take a look at our overall before and after. Here it is before, and then now after. In this last little layer, if we look at our before and after, it just adds a bit more softness to the feet, the toes, and the pants and whatnot, kind of matching the context or the environment.
All right, well, now that we've accomplished some work in regards to those small details, let's explore how we can modify the overall color and tone and finish this image off. We'll do that in the next movie.
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