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The blend modes in Photoshop offer incredible creative options for designers and photographers wanting to enhance images. In Photoshop Blend Mode Magic, Michael Ninness shows Photoshop users how to access and apply blend modes efficiently to achieve an aesthetic vision. He explains the building blocks of layer blending and demonstrates how blend modes can be used for color correction, sharpening, blending images together, adding dramatic glow, applying custom edge treatments, and many other creative effects. Michael also introduces advanced blending options for more experienced Photoshop users. Most of all, he demystifies this essential feature in plain, easy-to-understand terms and inspires photographers to use blend modes in ways they may have never considered before. Exercise files accompany the course.
So a pretty common request I get is how do you drop out a sky, because I want to put a different sky behind the scene. Here's a good example of that. I have got an image here where I like the foreground but the sky is a little bit blown out, it's a little bit cyan, the cloud detail is all gone. So I think a better sky would be this other image. I'm going to turn off the Original Sky layer here, and you can see I have got a lot more cloud detail there, it's prettier blue. So I want to drop out the sky of the Original Sky layer so that I can see the New Sky layer underneath, okay. For now we are going to turn off the New Sky layer just to kind of isolate it by itself. And yes, I could try to figure out how we'll make a selection of here.
I can use the Magic Wand tool, I can use Color Range or whatever. But again I want to take advantage of the fact that every layer in Photoshop has a built-in layer mask. To get it, you just double click on the image thumbnail. That brings up the Layer Style dialog box. And again our friend, the Advanced Blending sliders. You will see it's defaulted to Blend if Gray. So if I take this white slider and drag it to the left, it kind of does what I'm looking for but it's also getting other areas of the image that I don't necessarily want. It turns out that you can actually change the Blend if sliders to individual color channels. You can change it from Gray to Red, Green, or Blue.
Now, what color is the sky? It's primarily blue. So I'm going to change this to blue. And now I have got a black to blue slider instead of a black to white slider. So now when I drag the triangle here at the end of the blue slider, it's going to only drop out the blues of the image. All right, so I'm going to drag this to the left a little bit. Again, you just want to make sure you get a nice transition zone. So I'm going to hold down the Option key or the Alt key on Windows, and split the slider so I don't get such a harsh edge. Now you will notice that there is some blue in the water here and that's getting dropped out of transparency as well.
That's okay. We'll deal with that in just a second. I'm going to go ahead and click OK. And then if I turn on the bottom layer you can see that I have come kind of close to where I want to go. I have still got some issues to deal with, primarily here in the water. So let's go deal with that. What I'm going to do is duplicate this Original Sky layer. I'm going to do Command+J and what I want to do is mask off this area here, all right, so that it doesn't get clipped by the layer underneath. So I'm going to add a layer mask to this by clicking the Add Layer Mask button. I'm going to go ahead and undo the Blend if sliders on this top layer. I'm going to go ahead and double click on that and take these sliders back to their starting point here. So now the water is completely opaque now but I have unfortunately brought the original sky back. So that's really easy to fix though.
We are just going to do a really crude mask on the top layer. We are going to get our Lasso tool, L for Lasso. I'm going to switch to my Polygonal Lasso tool. It's just a little bit easier to deal with. And I'm just going to make a rough selection just underneath the sky around the outside edge here and just click at the beginning here. I'm going to fill that selection on the layer mask, I'm clicking on the layer mask here. I'm going to fill that with black. Black is my current background color, so I'll just do Command+Delete or Ctrl+Backspace and I have knocked out this top layer overlapping the masked area, the layer down below. So I get that nice tree mask here. And then I can turn on the bottom layer and see my resulting sky.
Now if I need to fine-tune it, there is a little halo there on the edge of those trees. So I just double click on the Original Sky layer again and I just adjust the sliders a little bit. Drag that down, drag the right slider down until I drop out the little white fringe on the halo there, and click OK. So there I have it. There is my new sky without actually having to paint each individual leaf by hand. Just using the Advanced Blend sliders, switch it from its default Gray to Blue and you are all good to go.
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