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In this movie, I'll show you yet another method for blending layers inside Photoshop. And that's what are commonly known as the Blend If slider bars, but they are better referred to by their function, which is luminance exclusion. So the idea is this: using the luminance exclusion sliders, you can drop out pixels on the active layer, or force through pixels from layers below, based on their luminance values. And along the way, we are going to transform this blue moon into this absolute lunar explosion.
So let me start by showing you how the sliders work. We'll turn on this gradient layer, and click on it as well to make it active. You can see that it's a black to white to black gradient. So white in the center; black on the sides. I will double-click in an empty portion of layer to bring up the Layer Style dialog box. and you can see these two sliders down here at the bottom. This Layer controls the active layer. Underlying Layer controls the composite view of the underlying layers, plural. So notice, if I go up to the This Layer slider, and I drag its white triangle over to left, then I'm revealing the center portion of the gradient.
So in my case, I'm saying anything with the Luminance level of 110 or brighter, going all the way up to 255 for white, will become transparent. And anything that's 110 or darker will remain opaque, subject to the Blend Mode, and Opacity and Fill settings. I can also drop out dark colors by dragging this black triangle over to the right, and you so you can see how those dark colors are dropping off on both the left and right sides of the gradient. And so now we're left with a very small range of Luminance levels; only those pixels between 70 and 110 are going to be visible.
All right, I will go ahead and reset those triangles. Now let me show you how Underlying Layer works. I will drag this white triangle, let's say, all the way down the 50. Now I am saying, any pixels that have a Luminance level of 50 or brighter on the underlying layers -- plural, once again -- are going to force their way through, regardless of the other blend settings. And if I do the opposite here, I will go ahead and return the white triangle to 255, and take the black triangle up to, say, something like 70, then I'm saying anything with a Luminance level of 70 or darker is forcing its way through.
Now you may look at this and say, all right; I guess that's pretty interesting, but here I am revealing a hole in the center of this gradient. That's fine, but we've got this continuous gradient, and this very hard edge. So it's an immediate transition from opacity to transparency. Well, if you take a close look at these triangles, you can see that there's a slit down the center of each one. And what that's telling you is, if you press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, you can drag one half of the triangle away from the other in order to create smooth transitions.
So now I'm saying any pixels on the active layer that have Luminance levels between zero and 110 are opaque. Any pixels from 110 to 255 are growing progressively translucent until they ultimately disappear at white. All right, I am going to go ahead and click the OK button, so that you can see one more thing; here in CS6 you have this little indicator that's telling you that you've applied advanced blending options, just so that you know what's going on with the layer, because it can be confusing, since those options are otherwise concealed from us.
All right, now I am going to press the Backspace key to get rid of that gradient, and I'll show you how I put together my composition. I started by creating a new layer called blackness, and I went ahead and brushed in some black blobs there. And that's because I wanted this lightning from the lightning ball layer to shine through. Right now we are not seeing any sort of interaction between the layers, so I will click on lightning ball, and I will press Shift+Alt+S, or Shift+Option+ S on the Mac, in order to apply the Screen mode. Now that turns black, absolutely transparent, but the other dark colors are adding brightness to the image.
So I need to drop some of those dark colors out by double-clicking on an empty portion of this layer to bring up the Layer Style dialog box. I will tuck it over to the side here, so we can see what we are doing. And I am going to drag this black, this layer triangle all the way up to 235. And you have to do so manually, by the way; you can't enter numerical values, which is too bad, frankly, but that's the way it works. And so I am saying anything 235 or darker is now transparent. I want to create some fuzziness there, some smooth transitions, so I will press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, and drag the left half of this black triangle to the left until I take that first value down to 140.
Now I want to force through the brightest pixels on the moon layer, and I'll do that by pressing the Alt key right off the bat, the Option key on the Mac, and dragging the left half of that white triangle all the way down to 20. All right, now I will click OK to accept that change. We need to bring back some more of the moon, so I will click on the background, and press Control+Alt+J, or Command+Option+J on the Mac, name this new layer moon, and click OK. And then I will drag it on top of lightning ball, like so. I want to start things off by masking away everything outside the moon, and I am going to do so using a vector mask.
So I will drop down to the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of Layers panel, and I will Control+Click here on the PC; that would be a Command+Click on the Mac. Then click on the Vector mask thumbnail to select it, and drop down to the Shape tool flyout menu, and select the Ellipse tool, and then change this first setting up here in the Options bar from Shape to Path, and then you need to go over here to the Path operations icon, and change this setting to Combine Shapes. That way the moon will appear inside whatever ellipse you draw. So we will go ahead and draw this big ellipse around the entire moon, like so, and I am using the spacebar, of course, in order to register the ellipse around the moon.
And I might tuck things in just a little bit, so that I don't do too much of a dark edge. And I will end up with is effect. Now I want to add a little bit of feathering, so I will double-click on the Vector mask thumbnail here inside the Layers panel to bring up the Properties panel, but that also ends up deselecting the vector mask, so I have to click on it again. And now I will take the other Feather value up to 10 pixels, and press the Enter key, and hide the Properties panel. All right, now let's force through some of the tendrils of lightning by double-clicking on an empty portion of the moon layer in order to bring up the Layer Style dialog box, and I am going to press the Alt key, the Option key on the Mac, and drag the left half of this white triangle associated with the Underlying Layers slider to 218 is what I am fishing around here for.
I finally got it. That looks good. Now I will go ahead and click OK in order to accept that effect. All right, now if you're working along with me, you will see that I have created this layer called lens flare, go ahead and turn it on, and select it as well. And what it is is it's a layer of black that I turned into a Smart Object, and then I applied the Lens Flare filter, which is located, by the way, under the Filter menu; go to Render, and its right there Lens Flare. And you can check out my settings just by double-clicking on the words Lens Flare; that will bring up the Lens Flare panel. So I position the center of the effect right about there; very dinky preview inside this dialog box.
And I cranked up the Brightness value to 165%. Go ahead and cancel out of there, because that's done. I also created a gradient map layer that is clipped to the lens flare layer, and it's colorizing the Lens Flare effect blue. All right, the first thing we need to do to create some interaction here is press Shift+Alt+S, or Shift+Option+S on the Mac, in order to switch to the Screen mode. Then I will go and double-click on an empty portion of the layer. You do not click on the thumbnail, by the way, because that would open the Smart Object. And I want you to press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, and drag the right half of the black of This Layer triangle all the way up to 205, so right there.
And that drops away a huge range of dark pixels on this layer. Then go ahead and click OK, and the final thing I did was to Shift+Click on blue map, so both of these layers are selected, and then I dragged them down, and dropped them below the moon layer in order to achieve this final effect. All right, I am going to go ahead and press Shift+F in order to switch to full screen mode, and zoom in on my artwork as well. And that, friends, is how you take advantage of the most advanced blending options there are inside Photoshop: the luminance exclusion slider bars.
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