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Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals

Selecting and replacing a background


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Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals

with Deke McClelland

Video: Selecting and replacing a background

In this exercise we're going to select that black background behind the frog and we are going to turn it into a kind of blue sky complete with this lens flare effect, and we are going to do so once again using the Magic Wand tool, and hopefully along the way you'll get a clearer sense for how to use that Tolerance setting. I've saved my progress as Golden frog skin.psd. I am going to go ahead and click on the original frog layer once again, and now with the Magic Wand active, I'll go ahead and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to highlight the Tolerance value and I'll change it to 0, so that we're selecting one and only one Luminance level.
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  1. 15m 25s
    1. Welcome
      1m 12s
    2. Loading my custom dekeKeys shortcuts
      3m 45s
    3. Adjusting the color settings
      4m 29s
    4. Setting up a power workspace
      5m 59s
  2. 1h 0m
    1. The channel is the origin of masking
      1m 54s
    2. The Masks and Channels panels
      4m 48s
    3. How color channels work
      7m 7s
    4. Viewing channels in color
      3m 24s
    5. How RGB works
      4m 12s
    6. Single-channel grayscale
      5m 12s
    7. Mixing a custom "fourth" channel
      5m 15s
    8. The other three-channel mode: Lab
      5m 45s
    9. A practical application of Lab
      4m 55s
    10. The final color mode: CMYK
      7m 5s
    11. Introducing the Multichannel mode
      5m 56s
    12. Creating a unique multichannel effect
      5m 18s
  3. 44m 27s
    1. The alpha channel is home to the mask
      1m 40s
    2. The origins of the alpha channel
      3m 40s
    3. How a mask works
      7m 10s
    4. Making an alpha channel
      4m 2s
    5. Using the new channel icons
      6m 27s
    6. Saving an image with alpha channels
      4m 23s
    7. Loading a selection from a channel
      4m 7s
    8. Putting a mask into play
      3m 55s
    9. Loading a selection from a layer
      4m 27s
    10. Loading a selection from another image
      4m 36s
  4. 1h 0m
    1. The mask meets the composition
      1m 8s
    2. Viewing a mask as a rubylith overlay
      6m 13s
    3. Changing a mask's overlay color
      5m 34s
    4. Painting inside a mask
      6m 3s
    5. Cleaning up and confirming
      5m 18s
    6. Combining masks
      5m 10s
    7. Painting behind and inside a layer
      5m 27s
    8. Blending image elements
      6m 1s
    9. What to do when layers go wrong
      6m 3s
    10. Hiding layer effects with a mask
      4m 22s
    11. Introducing clipping masks
      5m 29s
    12. Unclipping and masking a shadow
      3m 50s
  5. 1h 35m
    1. The seven selection soldiers
      52s
    2. The marquee tools
      6m 31s
    3. The single-pixel tools (plus tool tricks)
      6m 48s
    4. Turning a destructive edit into a layer
      5m 34s
    5. Making shapes of specific sizes
      7m 7s
    6. The lasso tools
      5m 49s
    7. Working with the Magnetic Lasso tool
      7m 19s
    8. The Quick Selection tool
      8m 13s
    9. Combining Quick Selection and Smudge
      4m 52s
    10. The Magic Wand and the Tolerance value
      6m 55s
    11. Contiguous and Anti-aliased selections
      6m 58s
    12. Making a good selection with the Magic Wand
      6m 34s
    13. Selecting and replacing a background
      6m 55s
    14. Resolving edges with layer effects
      7m 52s
    15. Adding lines of brilliant gold type
      7m 28s
  6. 1h 11m
    1. Selections reign supreme
      55s
    2. Introducing "selection calculations"
      4m 19s
    3. Combining two different tools
      7m 29s
    4. Selections and transparency masks
      5m 17s
    5. Selecting an eye
      7m 1s
    6. Masking and blending a texture into skin
      5m 1s
    7. Painting a texture into an eye
      4m 19s
    8. Combining layers, masks, channels, and paths
      4m 54s
    9. Moving selection outlines vs. selected pixels
      5m 36s
    10. Transforming and warping a selection outline
      7m 45s
    11. Pasting an image inside a selection
      7m 26s
    12. Adding volumetric shadows and highlights
      6m 54s
    13. Converting an image into a mask
      4m 42s
  7. 1h 5m
    1. The best selection tools are commands
      1m 5s
    2. Introducing the Color Range command
      5m 59s
    3. Working in the Color Range dialog box
      7m 7s
    4. Primary colors and luminance ranges
      4m 12s
    5. A terrific use for Color Range
      4m 57s
    6. Introducing the Quick Mask mode
      7m 43s
    7. Moving a selection into a new background
      5m 43s
    8. Smoothing the mask, recreating the corners
      8m 43s
    9. Integrating foreground and background
      4m 44s
    10. Creating a cast shadow from a layer
      2m 51s
    11. Releasing and masking layer effects
      3m 11s
    12. Creating a synthetic rainbow effect
      4m 30s
    13. Masking and compositing your rainbow
      4m 46s
  8. 1h 17m
    1. The ultimate in masking automation
      1m 6s
    2. Introducing the Refine Mask command
      6m 58s
    3. Automated edge detection
      8m 23s
    4. Turning garbage into gold
      6m 19s
    5. Starting with an accurate selection
      7m 11s
    6. Selection outline in, layer mask out
      7m 48s
    7. Matching a scene with Smart Filters
      4m 29s
    8. Cooling a face, reflecting inside eyes
      4m 45s
    9. Creating a layer of ghoulish skin
      4m 28s
    10. Adding dark circles around the eyes
      5m 20s
    11. Creating a fake blood effect
      5m 38s
    12. Establishing trails of blood
      7m 40s
    13. Integrating the blood into the scene
      7m 3s
  9. 1h 48m
    1. Using the image to select itself
      1m 37s
    2. Choosing the ideal base channel
      5m 7s
    3. Converting a channel into a mask
      6m 34s
    4. Painting with the Overlay mode
      7m 27s
    5. Painting with the Soft Light mode
      5m 55s
    6. Mask, composite, refine, and blend
      4m 40s
    7. Creating a more aggressive mask
      7m 2s
    8. Blending differently masked layers
      7m 0s
    9. Creating a hair-only mask
      6m 0s
    10. Using history to regain a lost mask
      3m 42s
    11. Separating flesh tones from hair
      8m 28s
    12. Adjusting a model's color temperature
      4m 30s
    13. Introducing the Calculations command
      7m 22s
    14. Extracting a mask from a Smart Object
      6m 34s
    15. Integrating a bird into a new sky
      5m 40s
    16. Creating synthetic rays of light
      6m 4s
    17. Masking and compositing light
      7m 39s
    18. Introducing a brilliant light source
      7m 5s
  10. 1h 34m
    1. The synthesis of masking and compositing
      1m 36s
    2. White reveals, black conceals
      6m 45s
    3. Layer masking tips and tricks
      5m 8s
    4. Generating a layer mask with Color Range
      5m 38s
    5. The Masks panel's bad options
      5m 18s
    6. The Masks panel's good options
      3m 50s
    7. Creating and feathering a vector mask
      3m 42s
    8. Combining pixel and vector masks
      3m 50s
    9. Working with path outlines
      7m 10s
    10. Combining paths into a single vector mask
      7m 52s
    11. Sharpening detail, reducing color noise
      4m 27s
    12. Recreating missing details
      8m 49s
    13. Masking glass
      5m 50s
    14. Refining a jagged Magic Wand mask
      5m 53s
    15. Masking multiple layers at one time
      5m 15s
    16. Establishing a knockout layer
      6m 6s
    17. Clipping and compositing tricks
      7m 37s
  11. 1m 17s
    1. Next steps
      1m 17s

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Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals
11h 35m Intermediate Nov 04, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Setting up a workspace
  • Working with the seven key selection tools
  • Using the Color Range command
  • Automating masking
  • Matching a scene with Smart Filters
  • Choosing the ideal base channel
  • Converting a channel to a mask
  • Painting with the Overlay and Soft Light modes
  • Using History to regain a lost mask
  • Working with the Calculations command
  • Extracting a mask from a Smart Object
  • Masking and compositing light
  • Masking with black and white
  • Working with path outlines
  • Combining pixel and vector masks
  • Creating and feathering a vector mask
Subjects:
Design Masking + Compositing
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Deke McClelland

Selecting and replacing a background

In this exercise we're going to select that black background behind the frog and we are going to turn it into a kind of blue sky complete with this lens flare effect, and we are going to do so once again using the Magic Wand tool, and hopefully along the way you'll get a clearer sense for how to use that Tolerance setting. I've saved my progress as Golden frog skin.psd. I am going to go ahead and click on the original frog layer once again, and now with the Magic Wand active, I'll go ahead and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to highlight the Tolerance value and I'll change it to 0, so that we're selecting one and only one Luminance level.

Then I'll click in the background, and amazingly I'll go ahead and zoom out here a little bit so that we can see. Amazingly, I've managed to select the entire thing and that's because where this image is concerned the entire background has been reduced to black. Now I imagine what happened in this case was that the photographer actually captured this tree frog against a dark background and then used either the Levels or Curves command or something along those lines to get that background absolutely jet-black and eliminate all noise and so forth.

Well that does us a tremendous favor obviously because it means that we can easily select the darn thing with a single click. However, I want to show you what this selection looks like. Let's go and switchover to the Channels panel once again and I'm going to Alt+Click or Option+Click on the Save Selection icon down there at the bottom of the panel, and I'll go ahead and call this guy tolerance 0, and then I'll click OK. All right, now let's rerun that same selection with a different Tolerance value by pressing Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac in order to deselect the image.

Then I'll press the Enter key or the Return key in order to highlight the Tolerance value and I'll change it to the default setting of 32 and then press Enter or Return to accept that setting. All right, now I'll click once again anywhere inside that black background and it looks as if we've pretty much got the exact same selection we had before. After all, the background is entirely black so we've managed to select it. Well it actually looks quite different. I'll once again press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and click on that Save Selection icon and let's call this guy tolerance 32 and then click OK.

And now let's go ahead and compare the two by pressing Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac to hide the selection, we want to keep it active, and I'm going to zoom in on this frog so I can see him at, at least 100% for now. And then I'll switch to tolerance 0, and notice that we have some pretty ratty edges going on, because what we told Photoshop to do was select just those blacks nothing else and then do its best to resolve the edges. And you can see that it's tracing around a bunch of JPEG compression artifacts, because this file started off as a JPEG image.

Whereas, if I switch to tolerance 32, we have a much smoother Selection Outline by virtue of the fact that Photoshop was able to leak that selection into those compression artifacts and then smooth off the results. So a higher Tolerance value often helps you to achieve a more smooth selection. All right, I am going to switch back to my RGB image, switch back over to the Layers panel as well, press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac to bring back my Selection Outline. Then I'll zoom out and let's go ahead and add a gradient layer, by pressing the Alt or Option key and clicking the black- white icon at the bottom of the panel and then choose the Gradient command located toward the top of the list and I'm going to call this guy blue sky and then click OK.

Now notice the Selection Outline is automatically converted to a layer Mask. I am going to click this Down Pointing Arrowhead next to the Gradient Bar, then click the Right Pointing Arrowhead and choose the Load Gradients command, navigate your way to be the 04_select folder and you'll find this gradient called Blue sky.grd, go ahead and click the Load button in order to load it up. Notice we have a very basic dark blue to light blue gradient at the end of the list. Go ahead and click on that thumbnail to load it up. Then click off the list in order to hide it and change that Angle value to -90.

The Style should be Linear, the Scale should be 100 and so forth. Then go ahead and click OK to create that layer. All right, the next thing we want to do is soften off those edges. So let's bring up the Masks panel once again and I'll do that by clicking on the word Masks. Now apparently my layer Mask is not selected. However, I know the layer is selected so here's what you can do. You can just click on that little layer Mask icon in order to select the pixel Mask, that is, it's a pixel-based layer Mask. Then select the Feather value and press the Up Arrow key and notice as you do you're gradually softening the edges around the frog.

I am going to take the Feather value all the way up to 5 pixels and then hide the Masks panel once again. All right, finally let's go ahead and add that lens flare and we are going to add it as an independent layer. So press Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+ Shift+N on the Mac and let's call this new layer lens flare. And then I want you to turn on Use Previous layer to Create Clipping Mask, that way the lens flare will appear exclusively inside that masked background. Now click OK and we've got a new empty layer as you can see. I want you to fill it with black, just so that we have a neutral background on which to build the lens flare effect.

Black is currently my foreground color, so I'll press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete to fill that later with black. Now this may seem crazy since we started with a black background in the first place. But you'll see that there is a method to my madness. Now just so that we have the option of applying an editable smart filter, let's go ahead and convert this layer to a smart object by going up to Layers panel flyout menu and choosing Convert to Smart Object or if you loaded dekeKeys you can press Ctrl+Comma, Command+Comma on the Mac. Then go up to the Filter menu, choose Render and choose lens flare and these are the values I am looking for.

Make sure Lens Type is set to its default which is 50 to 300 millimeter zoom, increase the Brightness value to 150 and you want to click right there at that point inside this tiny little wee preview in order to set the center of the effect. Then go ahead and click OK in order to create that lens flare effect in the background. Now at this point we don't need the Filter Mask, so let's avoid some clutter by right-clicking on that Filter Mask thumbnail and choosing Delete Filter Mask. Now at this point we want to drop out the dark portions of the layer. We want to keep the bright lens flare effect.

So with the lens flare layer active go up to the Blend mode pop-up menu there and change it from Normal to Screen and we achieve this effect. Now, you'll notice if you've been working along with me that we have this kind of halo surrounding the frog, I don't want that, and it's caused by the fact that this gold skin layer is interacting with the sky. So what we need to do to avoid the effect is grab the gold skin layer and drag it below the blue sky layer like so and that gets rid of the halos as you can see. And that friends, is how you go about selecting and replacing a very basic background using the Magic Wand.

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