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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, I'll give you a sense for a practical and unique application for the lab color mode. Specifically, we'll dramatically enhance the saturation of the colors inside this image. I've gone ahead and saved out this file as Lab variation.tif and note that even though this image contains no layers, I went ahead and saved it out as a TIFF file instead of a JPEG, because lab is not compatible with JPEG. Also worth noting, I still have my mask you can save masks along with the TIFF file, but you cannot save them with JPEGs.
All right, I'm going to switch over to the Layers panel and press and hold the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac and then click that Black White icon at the bottom of the panel and choose the Levels command. If you loaded my Deke keys, I've also given you a shortcut for creating a new levels adjustment layer which is Ctrl+ Shift+L, or Command+Shift+L on the Mac. And I'm going to call this layer saturation boost and click OK. Now notice, here inside the Adjustments panel that is opposed to modifying all of the luminance levels across all channels the way you do by default when working with an RGB image.
I can only modify the contents of one channel at a time and by default, it's that Lightness channel, but what I want to do is enhance the saturation levels and you do that by modifying the contents of the a and b channels. So I'll go ahead and switch to a then I'll click in this black point value right there, the very first numerical value in the panel and I'll press Shift+Up Arrow three times in a row and notice, because I'm darkening the contents of the a channel, I'm dramatically enhancing the intensity of those greens.
Now press the Tab key twice to advance to the white point value and I'll press Shift+Down Arrow three times in a row and now I'm dramatically enhancing the intensity of the reds which are largely reliant on those pinks that I was showing you in the previous exercise. Note that I've been very careful to make sure that I increase the black point value and decrease the white point value by exactly the same amount. That way I'm not throwing off the color balance of the image. Now switch from a to b and I'll click in this black point value and press Shift+Up Arrow three times in a row.
Again, I want to adjust the values by that exact same amount in order to make sure I don't harm the color balance. And because darkness inside the b channel represents blue that brings out the blues in the background. Now I'll bring out the yellows by clicking in that white point value and pressing Shift+Down Arrow three times in a row and that really makes those yellows leap off the screen. Now I should say thanks to the way that we compress our videos, you may not see a huge amount of difference in these images as you watch the video.
However, if you're working along with me, then you'll definitely see the enhancement. So here it is. This is the way that you can look before by no means, desaturated this is a very colorful creature and this is the way that the image looks now. Thanks to that enhancement I applied using the Levels command. Now let's go ahead and compare that modification to what we might do inside of the RGB image. I've gone ahead and switched over to that file called B&W adjustment.psd and now I'm going to scroll up the list and click on that Swatches layer and now we have the option of increasing the saturation values in one of two ways, I could either Create a Hue/Saturation layer and increase the Saturation value there that would be a big mistake.
Because as we increase the saturation we would end up bringing out all kinds of problems in the image. The better way to work is to Create a Vibrance layer. So I'll go ahead and click in that first icon in the second row the one that looks like a V in order to Create a Vibrance layer. And I'm going to take that Vibrance value and just crank it all the way to 100, and then I'll take the Saturation value up as well to let's say about 20. I don't want to go too high with that, because that would start messing up the image as well, but Vibrance does a decent job even when you take it through the roof of maintaining the clarity of detail inside the image.
And yet we are having some details that are beginning to fall apart. We've got some sharp edges that are showing up here in addition to our admittedly garish colors. So let's compare the two I'll go ahead and switch back to the Lab variation the colors are pretty similar, but the details are smoother inside this image. And again you may have problem seeing that in the video, but it's something you should be able to make out if you're working along with me. Here is the area of most obvious difference. Down here in the middle of the bird's crest we still have some light highlight showing up inside the lab image whereas, in that RGB image, those highlights have totally disappeared and the entire crest is turned yellow.
Alright, so there you have it a practical application of the Lab Color mode. In the next exercise we'll take the look at CMYK.
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