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Working with adjustment layers

From: Digital Painting: Architecture

Video: 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.

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.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Digital Painting: Architecture
Digital Painting: Architecture

49 video lessons · 12022 viewers

John Derry
Author

 
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  1. 26m 4s
    1. Introduction
      1m 3s
    2. Using the exercise files
      32s
    3. Installing custom content
      2m 46s
    4. Setting up Wacom express keys
      13m 32s
    5. Setting Wacom touch ring preferences
      2m 14s
    6. Setting Wacom stylus preferences
      3m 24s
    7. Division of labor: Image prep and painting
      2m 33s
  2. 19m 9s
    1. Visual vocabularies
      3m 49s
    2. The vocabulary of photography
      7m 38s
    3. The vocabulary of painting
      4m 59s
    4. Looking at reality through a mental painting filter
      2m 43s
  3. 38m 57s
    1. Removing lens distortion with the Adaptive Wide Angle filter
      6m 47s
    2. Removing distractions
      8m 7s
    3. Don't be a slave to the original photograph
      10m 51s
    4. Correcting image adjustments
      2m 58s
    5. Telling a story with added image elements
      10m 14s
  4. 25m 2s
    1. The eye has a better sensor than a camera
      3m 2s
    2. Adding natural shadows with Field Blur
      8m 47s
    3. Using the Shadow/Highlight adjustment filter
      7m 48s
    4. Using the HDR Toning filter
      5m 25s
  5. 39m 56s
    1. Resolution is in the brushstrokes
      3m 26s
    2. Using the Surface Blur filter
      6m 17s
    3. Using the Displacement filter to add imperfections
      6m 22s
    4. Using the Oil Paint filter
      11m 51s
    5. Making tonal and color corrections
      12m 0s
  6. 22m 40s
    1. Nondestructive layer painting (NDLP): Your creative safety net
      5m 54s
    2. Setting up the Mixer Brush cloning action
      7m 29s
    3. Using cloning layers
      2m 58s
    4. Working with adjustment layers
      6m 19s
  7. 20m 7s
    1. Using tool presets and not brushes
      3m 41s
    2. Categorizing and organizing brushes
      6m 14s
    3. Adding canvas texture
      4m 51s
    4. Using Sample All Layers
      5m 21s
  8. 14m 48s
    1. You must destroy detail
      2m 9s
    2. Establishing compositional structure
      3m 46s
    3. Determining a style and sticking to it
      7m 30s
    4. Painting in progress: Finishing the underpainting layer
      1m 23s
  9. 26m 40s
    1. Understanding simplified indication
      9m 9s
    2. Understanding color: Warm advances, cool retreats
      4m 9s
    3. Painting in progress: Introducing texture to the intermediate layer
      13m 22s
  10. 40m 19s
    1. The play's the thing
      5m 18s
    2. Focusing on the subject through detail
      4m 40s
    3. Using a traditional paint color swatch set
      4m 37s
    4. Painting in progress: Completing the detail layer
      16m 25s
    5. Adding surface texture effects
      9m 19s
  11. 12m 47s
    1. It pays to wait a day
      1m 55s
    2. Adjusting your importance hierarchy
      4m 49s
    3. You'll never paint the same thing twice
      2m 7s
    4. Helpful resources and inspiration
      3m 56s

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