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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 unclip that shadow layer and mask it so that it casts a uniform shadow across all portions of the nameplate. I'll save my progress as Bad shadow bad glow.psd. Now, the problem is that Photoshop is calculating the clipping of the shadow layer into that new plate layer and then tracing the inner shadow around both elements. Now sometimes there is a way around that. What you can do and this is a little bit confusing and a little bit obscure, but I'm going to show it to you anyway because you may find it of use in the future and I will reemphasize these options in later chapters as well.
But one of the things you might be able to do, doesn't turn out to work in our case, but you might be able to double- click on the thumbnail for that clipping layer that is the layer that's called new plate and that will bring up the layer Style dialog box. And then you've got these check boxes right here; Blend Interior Effects as Group and Blend Clipped layers as Group which allows you to change how Photoshop calculates the interaction of the clip layers and the blend modes. It's not always predictable though. So what you typically do is you just try every single permutation of these two check boxes.
For example, I'll start by turning off Blend Clipped layers as Group, and that changes the way that that bright orange brushstroke interacts with the new plate layer, so that the Hard Light mode that's assigned to the new plate layer is not being added to the effects of the brushstroke layer. I know that's sort of hard to track but that's what's going on and as a result, we get a very different effect onscreen. Then you can try and turning on Blend Interior Effects as Group which goes ahead and supposedly calculates that inner glow effect before adding the shadow.
However, while the shadow does get cast over the inner glow now pretty evenly, we also have a very different inner glow effect going on around the entire nameplate. Then just for larfs, you can turn back on Blend Clip layers as Group and see if that resolves our problem and as you can see onscreen, it doesn't. So we've tried every single permutation now; both off, both on, one on, the other off, and so forth. What that means is these check boxes, even though they can be very helpful at times, are not the solution, in our case. So I click the Cancel button in order to leave the dialog box.
Let's try something different instead. I'll go ahead and click on the shadow layer in order to make it active, and then I'll go up to the layer menu and choose the Release Clipping Mask command and that will go ahead and unclip the shadow. That does indeed cast the shadow onto the inner glow, but it also casts the shadow on to the boot so it doesn't look right at all. All right! Then what we need to do is mask that shadow inside the nameplate, which means going back to the Channels panel. So click on Channels in order to switch back there, press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac and click on that nameplate layer in order to load it up as a selection and now we need to subtract the boot.
So I'll press the Ctrl and Alt keys or the Command and Option keys in the Mac and click on the Boot layer in order to carve that boot out of the nameplate. Now switch back to the Layers panel, make sure the shadow layer is active. Drop-down to the Add layer mask icon at the bottom of the panel and click on it and that ends up doing the trick. We've now clipped the shadow inside of the nameplate and it successfully covers up the inner glow as well to the extent that it should. We should be able to see a little bit of inner glow, but the shadow should be cast onto the glow and now it is.
All right folks, and that is our final effect, I'm going to go ahead and press the F key a couple of times in order to fill the screen with the image and pan it over a little bit as well, so that we can see the final version of the nameplate complete with brushed highlight and the shadow being cast by the boot; thanks to the endless power of masking and compositing here inside Photoshop.
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