Working with adjustment layers
Video: Working with adjustment layersThe key behind non-destructive layer painting is to provide a safety net that enables you to experiment without fear of losing critical creative activity. This concept is expanded further through the use of Adjustment Layers in concert with the Cloning layers. By adding an Adjustment Layer, you're provided with greater edibility. And in the parlance of Martha Stewart, that's a good thing. So, I quickly sketched out a little section of our painting just to have an example here so I could show you how in concert with each of the three layers, the Underpainting, Intermediate, and the Detailed layer, the Hue-Saturation Adjustment Layer works with each one of these.
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Learn to think like a painter and render images that look like they were created with oils or acrylics, using the latest digital artist's tools. Author and artist John Derry introduces the process of interpreting a photograph into a painted work of art. He begins by explaining his system of visual vocabularies, which describe how to replace the visual characteristics of a photograph with that of expressive painting, and also shares the custom brush sets and actions he uses to achieve these results in Adobe Photoshop. The course also covers working with filters, layers, effects, and more to add further detail and texture.
- Setting up a Wacom tablet
- Removing lens distortions
- Correcting distracting image elements
- Making shadow and highlight adjustments
- Simplifying details with filters and Smart Blur
- Modifying color
- Cloning layers
- Using a traditional paint color swatch set
- Using custom actions
- Working with canvas texture
- Creating physical surface texture effects
- Painting with custom brushes
Working with adjustment layers
The key behind non-destructive layer painting is to provide a safety net that enables you to experiment without fear of losing critical creative activity. This concept is expanded further through the use of Adjustment Layers in concert with the Cloning layers. By adding an Adjustment Layer, you're provided with greater edibility. And in the parlance of Martha Stewart, that's a good thing. So, I quickly sketched out a little section of our painting just to have an example here so I could show you how in concert with each of the three layers, the Underpainting, Intermediate, and the Detailed layer, the Hue-Saturation Adjustment Layer works with each one of these.
So, lets take a look at, first of all, what we have. So, I've got the Background Layer, and actually, I want to show you this this way. I just went in and smeared around really quickly. If we turn on the reference there, yes, there is a tricycle there, but by stroking and just kind of basically eliminating the tricycle more or less, I was able to largely describe more what is the background and not so much be delineating or describing the tricycle that actually is in that scene. So, all I did was I started painting, picking up the color outside of the tricycle, and just smeared it across where the tricycle was.
But it continues to basically use the colors that it picked up at the start of that stroke, and in effect, it lets you essentially paint out the tricycle on that layer. And then, the next layer was the Intermediate strokes. I've lowered the size of the brush down, I am painting in the basic areas of the trike, and then finally, the Detail Layers are right there. And so, at each level, the brush strokes get smaller and start delineating less and less of the area. If you turn this off the other way, you can see there's really very little to the Detail strokes, but if they are not there, it is noticeable.
So, each of these layers contributes to the totality of the finished image. But now, I want to play around with this a little bit more. Because each one now is in its native setting of, you know, how the Saturation came out of the brush, I want to enhance that and change it and I played with this a little bit earlier, but it is worth looking at a couple of times, just so it sinks in how this works. I want to take that Background Layer and I'm going to desaturate it a little bit. And, in fact, see the more I desaturate it, because color comes forward, it becomes more important when it's against a background that isn't as saturated as the foreground.
Now, I'm overattenuating it here, I wouldn't want to do this to the entire Background Layer of this image. But if this was the only image I was working on, I do probably want to lower it down a little bit. And then, the next area I would go to actually would probably be the Highlight area. So, I'm going to go there and make sure it's turned on. And I'm going to increase the lightness of this and I may really overemphasize it just to see where it is. But you can see how that really adds to the quality of reflection and the little highlights on it.
And then finally, I can go to the Intermediate Layer, I may or may not want to do anything to that. One thing you could do, not that you always want to do this, but since most of the color information is on there, I could play with Hue in this case. See how I can start to change completely the color of the bike if I wanted to. Now, I normally won't use it that aggressively, but there are times where I've found just slightly changing the hue from what was the original colors picked up off the layer and just even moved by a couple points or two can be just enough to change the character of that image in the way that it reads.
So sometimes just playing with hue on a layer works. So, each of these layers contributes to the overall total image and the fact that these are all in layers means that this is a total non-destructive environment. We haven't altered at all the original image, it still exists, and you can always get back to it if you need to. But in this environment, it not only gives you that safety net so that you're encouraged to try things out. The other thing that it does is, like we just saw here, after the fact, I may come back an hour or a day later and look at it and realize, you know what, like right now, let's say I look at this and I'd say, you know, I kind of dulled up that background quite a bit.
I'm going to go the Underpainting Layer and maybe I want to bring back a little saturation, or maybe a lightening it up a little bit. There, see now that pulls it forward and it's not as desaturated. So, these are totally adjustable and they're not one-time adjustments. You'll see, when we get to the end of our painting before we drop the layers, we'll probably take great advantage of the fact that we can go in and tweak these as we want to. Now, the one last thing I want to tell you about, and this really doesn't belong in this particular video but it's important to note that you cannot erase a Cloning Layer.
If you erase from it, you are eliminating the alpha and everything from it and so it cannot be brought back. So, how do you get around that? Well, let's go to my Intermediate Layer, and I erased this out. As long as I have enough Undos to get back, I can always return to it. If however, you did something and then ten minutes later after dozens of brushstrokes, you can't get back to it, the only recourse you have is to create another Cloning Layer and Redo that area of the image.
That's the one Gotcha about these Cloning Layers is because of the special way they are created, erasing from them does cause a destruction of the image. So, I am just letting you know that that is something that can happen, and in fact, when I am painting the image, I will probably do it again on purpose just to reiterate to you that erasing is a no no, basically. You can, as long as you know you have the ability to Undo, in case you do want to get back to where you were before you did some erasures.
So, just letting you know in advance, that is a hot portion of the oven you do not want to put your hand on.
Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Digital Painting: Architecture .
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- Q: I'm unable to install the custom Wacom settings included with the exercise files. Any advice on how to load them?
- A: After the course was recorded, we discovered that the Wacom preference files are not cross-platform and are specific to the machine that created them, which limits their use. However, in the exercise files you'll find a PDF labeled Intuos4 Mapping_PS_CS5.pdf; using this document, you can manually enter the settings in the Wacom control panel. Also, please note that the settings are not necessary to complete the course.
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