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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 are going to take care of this guy's shiny forehead and it's actually much worse than shiny, by the way,. If you zoom in on it you can see that we've got this blown highlight right here in the top corner, but it's surrounded by all these low saturation posterized pixels and it's just not acceptable. So we have a little bit of work ahead of us. But this will give you a sense for how to reconstruct details inside of your photographic images, in case things go wrong. All right, I am going to go ahead and zoom back out. We want to start with a good forehead and the good forehead in this image belongs to the woman over here in the left-hand side.
So go ahead and draw a generous selection around that forehead, using the rectangle marquee tool, we will be masking it in the place, so you don't need a terribly accurate selection to start with. Then make sure the couple layer is selected at the bottom of the stack and press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac in order to jump that selection and name it as well, I am going to call the layer Texture and click OK. Now let's move the copy of our forehead, more or less on to his and I did that by Ctrl+Dragging or Command+ Dragging here inside the image window.
And we want to use her forehead to darken his. So we are going to change the Blend mode from Normal to Multiply, like so. Alright, next what I want you to do is rotate and position the image in place. So go up to the Edit menu and choose the Free Transform command and I found that a Rotation value of 19 degrees ended up working the best. Now I will go ahead and drag the forehead to about this location here, you want to match the arc of her forehead to the arc of his.
And then press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to accept that transformation. Now let's go ahead and zoom in a little bit and we want to paint her forehead over his and we are going to do that using a layer Mask. So drop down to the Add layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. Now we don't want very much of her forehead. So most of the layer Mask needs to be black and you can create a black layer mask by pressing the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and clicking on that Add layer Mask icon. So that temporarily hides her forehead.
Now go ahead and grab the Brush tool and right-click inside the image window. Notice I've got the Hardness value set to 0%, the Size is maybe a little big, at 250 pixels, I will take it down a 200 pixels, like so. And we are going to want to paint with white, so make sure that white is your foreground color, as it is in my case, if it isn't for you just press the D key for the default mask colors. And then paint that forehead into place like so, that's probably a little too much forehead. So I will press X key in order to make black the foreground color, reduce the size of my cursor and paint it back just a little bit, actually I need more than that so I will press X key again and paint some more forehead in the place.
Don't worry about the fact that you're covering up some of his hair or that you're leaking outside the forehead, that's just fine because we are going to keep this effect in the forehead using a vector mask. So let's go ahead and add a vector mask by dropping down to that Add layer Mask icon, but notice now it's called Add vector mask. You don't have to Ctrl+Click on it this time, because the only kind of mask you can add at this point, you can't have two pixel-based layer masks. So the second mask has to be a vector mask. So just go ahead and click on it to add that vector mask, and then you want to select the Ellipse tool, here inside the toolbox.
And make sure that the second icon in is selected Paths and that'll automatically add this path outline to the existing vector mask. And begin drawing a big huge ellipse like so and align it into place using the spacebar and about right there, looks like it's going to work pretty good for me even though I keep invoking a slight auto scroll here which I don't want. Well let's go ahead and drop the mask at that location. Now looks like I clipped away some of his head, so I will grab my Black arrow tool, click on the path outline and let's lift it up into place a little bit, I might nudge it as well, you can nudge these things from the keyboard as much as you want, and I am doing that by pressing the arrow keys on the keyboard.
All right now bring up the Masks panel and I want to add just a little bit of softness to this path outline. So I am going to take the Feather value up to one pixel, like so. Looking good, even though that's hard to believe at this point, but it is looking away I want it to. Now I am going to go ahead and hide the Mask panel and I'll hide the Vector mask as well, because I don't need to see it and I'll do that by clicking on that Vector mask thumbnail. Okay the next stepped, by-the-by is to get his hair out of the picture. So to force through the darkest details from the underlying layer and we will do that using Blending options.
Right now, there is not an empty portion of the layer to double-click on, so right-click inside the image window and choose the Blending Options command, if we have loaded D keys, I have given you a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Shift+O or Command+Shift+O on the Mac, O being for options. Now, go down to the underlying layer slider, and drag that black slider triangle, up to 50 and that's going to force through some of the darkest hair and then press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and drag the right half of that black slider triangle all the way up to 200, like so.
And that's going to create a soft transition around that hairline. All right, now obviously we've got a problem. First of all her skin is darker than his. Secondly, we are multiplying her skin in the place, so it's getting even darker still. So what we need to do is modify the color of this patch and we are going to do that by adding a color overlay effect. So click on Color Overlay here on the left-hand list. And then go ahead and click on the Color Swatch. Now there's a very good chance that the layer mask is selected.
I will click here in the image window and sure enough I'm lifting black, so that's not doing me any good. However, had I prepared in advance and made sure that the layer mask was not selected I would be able lift a color and I already found the color that's going to work for us. We want the Hue value to be 35 degrees which is a shade of orange, and then I'm going to take a Saturation value up to 25% and we will raise the Brightness value to 80%, like so. Then click OK. Now that applies a flat swath of color, just as if we'd taken a paint brush and slapped it on his head there, that's not what we want.
So to get some interaction, let's change a Blend mode from Normal to Screen and that'll go ahead and screen that color in the place, that's too bright so take the Opacity value down to 66% and click OK. Now that's a pretty good patch, but it's not an exact match by any means as you can see. And I figured out, that has to do with this skin tones layer right there, if you click on the skin tones layer and then Alt+Click or Option+Click on his layer mask, notice that the forehead was kind of removed from the equation.
And as a result it's not getting the attention of this Adjustment layer. So in order to paint that forehead back in the place, we are going to mask our modifications, by Ctrl+Clicking or Command+Clicking on that vector mask for that Texture layer and that will load that vector mask as a pixel-based selection outline. So there is a lot of versatility built into the things here inside Photoshop. And now I will grab my Brush tool and I will make sure that my foreground color is white, which it is, and then I will just go ahead and paint that forehead back in a place, like so.
Once you've done that don't worry about the softness, when we're working inside layer Mask you have a lot more flexibility than you do when you are trying to build Alpha channels. Press Ctrl+D or Command+D on a Mac to deselect the image. And then Alt+Click or Option+Click once again on that layer mask in order to return to the full color RGB image and you can see that now we have got a pretty darn good match. We have a little bit of hue wandering, this portion of his forehead is a little bit red, but this portion of his forehead is naturally a little bit yellow.
So I wreck in the actual color of this neighborhood at the top of his forehead, we would run a little bit yellowish, anyway you could play with that Color Overlay effect to apply different colors if you want, but I am pretty happy with what I've got. So I will press Ctrl+0 or Command+0 on the Mac to zoom out. And let's get a sense of what we have been able to accomplish throughout this entire project, if I Alt+Click or Option+Click on the eyeball in front of the couple layer, this is more or less the original image with the exception of the fact that we have a couple smart filters applied.
And if I Alt+Click or Option+Click on that eyeball again, this is the refurbished version of the image. Thanks to the power of layer Masks and Vector Masks as wells as small dash of the Density and Feather values inside the Masks panel, here inside Photoshop.
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