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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 create a pair of glows inside the black regions of the goggles and we are going to do so by loading up that eyes alpha channel as the selection. I'm still working in the image called Masked man.tif. Now there are different ways to work with alpha channels inside Photoshop. But you typically have to somehow put the Alpha channel in play. By which I mean, the mask can't just be sitting around inside of an alpha channel. You either have to convert it to a selection outline or a layer mask or something that can be used inside the Layers panel.
In our case we're going to go ahead and load up the eyes as a selection, and I'll do so using my favorite technique, which is to press the Ctrl key or the Command key on a Mac, and click on that eyes channel, and now we've got our selection outline reinstated. Now I'll switch to the Layers panel, we want to really jump these guys to a new layer and you can do that by going up to the layer menu, choosing New and then choosing layer via Copy. But the better alternative is to get in the habit of pressing the keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+J or Command+J for jump.
But there's an even better one. If you go ahead and add the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac, you can name the layer as you create it. So I'll press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on a Mac to bring up the new layer dialog box. I'll call my layer eyes, and click OK. And now we have a copy of those black faces of the goggles isolated on an independent layer. We are going to create the glow using an Inner Glow layer effect. So drop down to the fx icon and choose Inner Glow and then let's go ahead and dial a new color here.
I'll click on this little yellow color swatch, and I'm looking for a shade of orange. So I'll dial in a Hue value of 30 degrees. I'll take the saturation value up to 75%, and then I'll increase the Brightness value to 100%. Then click OK. I'll also take that Opacity value all the way up to 100% and I am going to increase the Size value to 70 pixels and that results in these huge glows around the outsides of the goggles. I want the glows to be coming out from the inside.
So I am going to switch the source from edge to center, like so, and that's the effect I'm looking for. Now I'll click OK. All right now, in the next exercise we'll be creating the effect of rays blasting out of this guy's eyes. To do so, we'll be using the Radial Blur Filter. But here's the thing, we need to somehow integrate the effect of these inner glows into that filter. You can pull that off if you want to, using a smart object, makes things very, very complicated however.
I prefer to use Smart Objects when they make life simpler, not when they make life harder. So we'll be better off applying Radial Blur as a static effect. But that means that we need to go ahead and merge these two layers together. Now I could merge the layers together by going up to the layer menu and choosing the Merge Down command. Notice we also have a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+E or Command+E on the Mac, that will become important in a moment. I'll go ahead and choose the command for now though. Notice that gets rid of the layer, it gets rid of the layer effect and it flattens the whole image so that we have no option to change our mind in the future, definitely not the most flexible approach.
So I'll press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on a Mac to undo that. The more flexible approach is to merge the contents of these two visible layers on a new layer and you do that using a variation on that keyboard shortcut that I just showed you, Ctrl+E or Command+E on a Mac. You just add a bunch of modifier keys. So you press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E on the PC or Command+Shift+Option+E on the Mac. So basically mash your fist on the modifier keys, press the E key and you end up getting a merged copy of those other two layers on a new layer.
Now let's go ahead and rename that layer, fused image, and that will be the layer that we'll work on in the very next exercise.
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