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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.
All right, now we are going to employ the Refine Edge command in order to create a real project. And we are going to do so starting inside this file, it's called Man on moon.psd, it's found inside the 07_refine folder. And it's so called because we've got this image of this guy set against this dark sky background. And both of these images incidentally come to us from the Fotolia Image Library about which you can learn more, and, by the way, get a special deal at fotolia.com/deke. And we are going to combine these images in order to create this base composition.
The name of the file, by the way, is Vampire comp.psd; it contains a handful of layer comps. After I get done masking the model against the new background, I figured I might as well integrate the two images by cooling down his skin tones and also adding some reflectivity to the irises. Then I figured, since he's prowling around at night, he might as well look little bit ghoulish and finally, I went ahead and added some blood trickling out of his lips and down onto his chin. So that's where you have look forward to. I am going to go ahead and switch back to my starter file.
You can use Refine Edge in order to take a garbage selection and turn it into something reasonably good. But you are even better off if you start with a good selection in the first place. So we are going to take Photoshop's best selection tool, which is the Color Range command, and combine it with the best selection adjustment tool, which is Refine Edge. So let's start things off by going up to the Select menu and choosing the Color Range command, and then starting with the default Fuzziness value of 40. Go-ahead and click someplace in the background in order to initiate the selection and then Shift+Drag a little bit inside of this blue area, go ahead and Shift+Click inside some of these dark blues.
And you want to take it easy, you don't want to just start Shift+ Dragging all over the place where this image is concerned. Let's go ahead and Shift+Click right about there, and then finally, I want to Shift+Click inside the bright region, like so. And that's going to go ahead and select some highlights inside of his face. Once your selection preview looks something like mine, and to give you a better sense of what that is, I'll go ahead and change my selection preview to Grayscale. So we do have some garbage going on inside of his face. You could Alt+Click or Option+Click in order to deselect some of these regions like so, but that means you're going to have to go back and revisit this white stripe manually, which is actually not such a bad thing to do.
I'll go ahead and click the OK button in order to accept that selection. Now let's clean this selection up a little bit, and the reason we need to do this is because, notice, we have all these marching ants inside of his eyes and they are out here in the background as well. Even though the Refine Edge command is brilliant at modifying your selection, it bases its refinements on your existing edges. So it's good that we have the selection edge along the left side of his face. But we are going to end up refining the selection inside of his eyes, and over here on the left-hand side as well.
Press the Q key in order to switch to the Quick Mask mode, and then press the tilde key in order to hide the RGB image, so we are just seeing a mask. I want you now to go ahead and select the Brush tool, which you can get from the toolbox or by pressing the B key, right- click inside the image window and crank the Hardness value up to 100%, a size of 250 pixels woks pretty good. Then I'll press the Enter key or the Return key on a Mac to hide the panel, and I'm going to press the X key, so my foreground color is black, and then, I'll just go ahead and paint away those eyes, I'll paint over here in order to get rid of some of this garbage that's going on.
Paint near to the edge in order to just sort of clean up some of these regions. Now it doesn't matter if you introduce some hard edges here and there. Those will be resolved by Refine Edge. Press the X key now in order to switch the foreground color to white. And I am going to zoom out and then just paint this thing away. Now to make sure that we've got everything selected the way that we want, we don't have any little bits of dark gray over here in the black area or light gray over here in the white area. Go ahead and select the Magic Wand tool, and then I want you to set your Tolerance value to 0 and turn off the Anti-alias check box.
Now click inside the white region to see what's white and what's not. We need to clean up all this nonwhite stuff. So let's go ahead and zoom in, grab the Rectangular Marquee tool and then Shift+Drag around any selections that need to go away. So I am Shift+Dragging all over the place here as you can see. You don't want to Shift+Drag too close to the edges, but you do want to get in there. Just make sure you have a little bit of a margin left over. And we've got a lot of garbage down here. Of course, your results will vary if you're working along with me.
But you want to make sure that you have no tiny areas of selection left over, because those will cause us problems later. Looks like I've got everything selected that I need. There is this little region right there and actually as soon as I zoom in to 100% I see I have some more problems. So I am going to Shift+Drag around this region, Shift+Drag around these guys, these guys as well. Just scroll around a little in order to make sure I've got everything. I have some more problems down here than I need to resolve, so I'll go ahead and Shift+Drag around these regions. It's okay if you have a few little sort of bits of garbage there right next to the edge of the selection, you just don't want have them too far out.
That's good enough, now I'll go ahead and center my zoom by pressing Ctrl+0 or Command+0 on the Mac. My foreground color is white, so I'll press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete to fill that entire selected region with white. Let's run that same test over in the black area. I'll press the W key to switch to the Magic Wand tool, click inside the black area, got the usual big problems here. Go ahead and grab my Rectangular Marquee tool, once again, Shift+Drag around the biggest offenders that are out here in the wider region of the image, right around that area as well.
And I'll go ahead and zoom in here to 100 % might as well, just to make sure that I am seeing everything. And I'll Shift+Drag around this sort of peninsula that I've created. And finally, let's go ahead and check elsewhere inside the image. It looks like I've got some problems right there, that will Shift+Drag around, Shift+Drag around that guy. It's those little tiny selections in the middle of nowhere that are going to end up causing you problems later. Again, you're going to see different stuff as you work through your image. Be as patient as possible, don't you know? I am trying to get rid of this stuff even thought its mind numbingly boring.
All right, let's go ahead and grab that area, you know I am just going to Shift+Drag through this region, even though I was telling you to avoid the edges. But again, we will take care of those using Refine Edge and it looks like I've done a pretty good job. We'll go ahead and press Ctrl+0, or Command+0 on the Mac to zoom out. My background color is black, so I'll press Ctrl+Backspace here on the PC or Command+Delete on the Mac to fill that selected region with black. We really want to select the guy and deselect the background. So let's invert the mask by pressing Ctrl+I or Command+I on a Mac, and then you can press the Q key in order to exit the Quick Mask mode and generate that selection outline.
Now at this point we need to refine the selection using the Refine Edge command and I'll show you what that looks like in the next exercise.
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