Cloning layers enable you to dip your paintbrush into a photograph and paint with it like wet paint. But how do you know where to place your brush on the canvas in order to paint the image? With the reference layer, of course. In this video we'll take a look at this special layer and how to get the most out of it. So I've got my project image opened, which is available from the Exercise folder for Chapter 7, and I'm going to quickly go through the process of creating a set of cloning layers. So I'll click on my John's Cloning Layer Action, and we get this typical warnings here, but we know that we're not going to do anything wrong and we've now got our layers and the Reference layer is at top of everything, and if we click on it you'll see it's actually a layer-- and I'm going to unlock it temporally-- set to 50% opacity and that's why we're seeing it transparently.
Now I want to talk a little bit about this lock. You normally want this lock on at all times. You may want to turn it off, so that you can go in and adjust the opacity, which is typically why you would unlock it. So if you want to make it more or less opaque, you can. I set it at 50% by default, because that way it's neither too dark or too light, but when you're done, be sure to lock it, because if you don't, you can easily do this. I can go and get my cloning brush. I've adjusted something and now I forget that I'm not on one of my cloning layers, and I go on and I start to paint and this is the one instance of where this is destructive.
I'm actually painting on the reference, and I'm destroying what is there to help me know where things are, so you don't want to paint on the Reference layer and that's why it's wise to always keep it locked. Only unlock it when you want to make an opacity adjustment, and I'll show you in a moment one other reason you want to do it. Let's go ahead and relock it and that basically is what the Reference layer is doing then. It's giving me the compositional information to know where to paint. Now the other thing you can do is use the layer Visibility icon and click on it to turn it on and off.
There are times when you're painting, you know, let's say we've taken our brush here on an Underpainting layer and I'm now painting just the cab. I might want to get this car next to it or maybe I want to get the fire hydrant, and when I turn this off, I get a much clearer idea of what's happening with my brush. If I just paint like this, you'll see it is very painterly strokes, but I don't really know where I'm doing anything. So you need this on in order to be able to intelligently place your strokes while creating your Underpainting layer, in this case.
Now there is one little trick I'll show you and that is I do have the hide and show Reference layer toggles, so rather than interrupting my workflow from painting, stop, go up here and turn this on, turn it back off. I can be painting on the image and using my two keys here, F14 in this case, to turn this off. This lets me see if I need to keep painting I can, then use F15. I'll turn it back on. So using this pair of keys is a great way to adjust the visibility on the fly, and I find it very useful.
If you don't like the F14/F15 keyboard assignments, what I'd need to do here is I'll just go out of button mode, so it looks this way. That way I can select or highlight one of these and the I could just go in and go to Action Options, and you can see right now the function key is assigned to F14. I could select any of the function keys and I could additionally use additional modifiers if for some reason a keyboard shortcut is already assigned that I don't want to lose. So you do have the control over exactly what key and what modifiers you can assign to the hide/show reference toggles.
Finally, while this is unlocked, I'm going to show you another thing I just figured out recently. I have it in a normal mode, and I see all these colors, which is good most of the time. See, now there I'm glad I did this. There's a case of where I just painted on the Reference layer when it was unlocked, and you don't want to do that. What I wanted to do and where I'll go back to is the Underpainting layer, and I'm going to paint here, and sometimes the fact of the colors are under it makes it a little bit hard to know for sure is my brush painting the correct colors? And the trick I found is to go to the Reference layer while it's unlocked and switch to Luminosity mode, and I found I like it down more closer like 20% or so.
Be sure to lock that back up and I'm going to go back here. Now I can paint on this and I can see the color in my brush a little more clearly, because I'm not competing with the color information already in the Reference layer, and so I find sometimes that this setting is just a little bit easier to keep track of what your brush is painting, while still having an access to reference information. To finish up, I just want to say that the Reference layer offers you visual feedback that provides a working knowledge of exactly where image elements are located.
Knowing this, you can precisely apply your cloning brushes to reveal these elements. Just remember, keep the Reference layer locked or you may inadvertently paint on the reference itself, something you definitely do not want to do.
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