Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Darkening the background and fine-tuning the color in Photoshop, part of Photoshop for Photographers: Lighting Effects.
In this movie, I wanted to provide you with yet another example of how we can use a technique where we create a new layer and change that layer blending mode to soft light and then paint with a bright or dark color or tone in order to influence those areas of the photograph. This is a portrait of Angus Stone, a famous Australian musician. And in this portrait what I want to do is I want to darken the outer edges in order to create a more expressive portrait that I captured here. In order to do that we'll be creating two different layers.
Let's create our first layer by clicking on the New Layer icon. And let's go ahead and name this new layer soft light, just to remind us what the blending mode is there, and we'll select from the blending mode pull-down menu, Soft Light. Next we'll grab the brush tool by pressing the B key or by clicking on the brush tool icon. Then we want to paint what's black in order to darken things up here a little bit, we'll start off just with black and then we'll add some color in a second. I'm going to increase the brush size pretty significantly here, and then for our opacity, I'm going to bring this up, as well.
I'm going to bring this above 50%, and the reason is, is I want to start to darken the background, and the background's pretty bright, so we're going to really need to add a lot to that area. So I'm just going to paint over that area here to darken that up. Then next, I'll decrease my opacity, maybe down to about 30% or so, and I'll work on the lower portion of the photograph, and I'm just painting a few brush strokes back and forth, looking to add a little bit more maybe drama or density to this photograph. All right, well, I think that's looking pretty good so far.
Here it is, our before, and then now, the after. All right, well we have darkened or burned down those areas next I want to work on the color, to do that, let's create another layer. Here we'll click on the new layer icon, this time we'll name this one Soft Light and then we'll put dash and color because we're going to paint some color on this one. Here we'll take the blending mode to Soft Light. We'll work with our brush tool again. But rather than painting with black, this time let's select a hue here. I'll choose a nice dark brown perhaps.
And, maybe a little more red or orange in it might look nice. Click OK. Let's take up the opacity here. This will help us to darken this area more and as you're starting to see. Build out a little bit of color in the background, so we're not only just darkening that, we're kind of adding to the overall look but we're adding a bit of a hue shift in that area. Then I'll decrease the opacity, do the same thing as we did before, and paint a little bit on the face here because I want to darken up those cheeks a little bit. And then also add a little bit of hue to some of these areas down below.
And, build this up and we can create at multiple layers if we wanted to. And kind of keep going with it. Here if we click on the eye icon on this layer you can see this is the before and then the after of how this color is influencing the overall photograph. This underline layer is the one which is darkens it. It doesn't really effect the color that much. And it's these two together which allowed us to build up this particular look or effect. Let me zoom in a little bit on the portrait so we can see those details a bit better. Now if we get to this stage in any project.
Whether its darkening or brightning. As we've seen before. We can always further customize this color in the layer by creating a new hue saturation adjustment layer. So click on the hue saturation adjustment layer icon just to get practice doing this one more time then click on the icon which allows you to create a layer clipping mask, this requires that this layer will only affect the underlying layer. So that if I make an adjustment here it's only going to effect that color layer which I have below.
So I can change the color. We could change it to something which is more red or more blue, or you can kind of see how we can customize that. We can even desaturate it, too, if we don't like the color, or increase the saturation if we want a little bit more. Let me minimize that so you can kind of see how this layer is affecting the image. It's a subtle effect but I'm just bringing out the colors a little bit more, making it a bit more vivid or saturated, so that we have that particular color effect, modifying the overall look in the photograph. And sometimes as you start to work with this technique, what you'll do is you'll realize, you know what? All I need to do is paint with black and that's just fine.
That's it. Other times, you may decide that you want to paint with a color and not black at all. And just use that color to have that slight darkening effect and shift. Or you could also stack all of this up as we've done here and you could stack it up with other adjustments as well in order to create an overall look or feel. Now before I wrap this project up I should also highlight that a lot of people I know who are really good at Photoshop will apply adjustments like this. Then they'll apply one more, say one more hue saturation adjustment.
And they'll just desaturate the overall image. And what this will do is it will give them that precise control of just sort of taking back some of the colors, or maybe they'll go into a specific color here, like the blues channel, and they'll just desaturate the blues. So we're removing all of that color that we had there in that hat so it isn't quite as strong as it was before or we can shift the color in the hat as well a little bit. And the whole point of this is that as you start to work with and modify color just keep in mind the techniques that we're using here.
We can always integrate in with the other techniques which we have as well. So here might be one sort of muted version of this photograph which would work good for an album cover, or perhaps we like the more vivid and saturated colors that we have in this picture. Really when it comes to color choices, it's up to you. Color and light, they're so expressive and what you want to do is learn how you can use all of these different techniques in order to create more expressive and more interesting photographs.
- Creating a more expressive photograph with Camera Raw
- Correcting under- and overexposure
- Improving light in certain areas of an image with masks and the Radial Filter
- Painting in brightness with Curves and masking
- Correcting exposure with a gradient mask
- Brightening and darkening with blend modes
- Working with the Burn and Dodge tools
- Adding light and multiple colors with the Lighting Effects filter
- Creating a realistic glow