Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Four micro mask adjustments, part of Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced.
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In this final exercise, we are going take a look at four micro problems with our layer mask. So these little problems that remain, we have to zoom in to even see them, and we are going to take care of each one of the problems using a different solution. But the solution share this in common, first of all, they are manual solutions. Secondly, they are old school, and they don't require any newfangled CS5 options that are semi-impossible to understand, so that's cool! And I've gone ahead and saved my progress as Last remaining issues.pst.
Anyway, I am going to go ahead and zoom in on my image, and I've pressed the L key in order to select my lasso tool here. And notice we just finished fixing up this region, that's currently lasso. Let's go ahead and click off the selection to deselect it. Notice when I am zoomed into 200% here, I can see this slight halo on the right side of the knuckles, and if I wanted to fill in this area, well, first of all, I would make sure my layer mask is active. That's very important. Click on it here inside of the Layers panel, and we were working on the refinement layer, because the original Sunny layer is currently turned off.
I am going to select this general region like so, up and down the knuckles, down into the intersection of the sweater and back up. And then I will grab my Rectangular Marquee tool right here, and I will press the Alt key and the Option key on the Mac, and I will scalp away the top of that lasso down to the Horizon line between the ocean and the sky. And so, this area is selected nothing more. Now with the layer mask selected, here's what you do. Assuming that we're working with the selection tool, you press Ctrl+Alt+Left Arrow; that's Command+Option+Left Arrow on the Mac, and what we just did was, by virtue of the fact we had the control or command key down, we nudged that selected region.
By virtue of the fact we also had Alt or Option key down, we cloned it as we nudged it, so we moved a clone of the image over one pixel to left by virtue of the fact we pressed the left arrow keys. All right, now let's check out the shoulder region. This is kind of a mess actually. Let's go and zoom in on it once again and Alt+Click or Option+Click on the layer mask thumbnail, so you can see what's going on here. This is the shoulder. Notice how we have this region of light graze right along the shoulder detail, and this was a detail that was added by the Refined Mass command and what it's doing is it's making portions of the sweater translucent, so wherever we are seeing the slightest gray, we are introducing a bit of translucency to that sweater.
And so this is what we need to do in order to fix the problem. I am going to go ahead and scroll over just a little bit, so I can see the far right side of my image, and I am going to go ahead and draw a lasso outline like this, right into the intersection of the sweater along with her knuckles. That's what that detail is there. Having done then make sure you select his general region there. I want to go onto the select menu, and I want to choose modify and choose the feather. Now in this case we are modifying the selection outline, not the mask, and the reason we are feathering the selection outline to the tune of two pixels is so that we soften this transition between the area that we're affecting in the sweater in the area that we're not affecting with the knuckles.
So we just want a fairly soft transition at this point. Now I want you to firm up these details here. We can't really use on sure mess this time around. If we did, we'd have to apply a really high amount value on them, and I am worried we'd kind of destroy some detail around here. The better solution is to increase the contrast of this region just using the levels command. So I am going to go up to the image menu, choose adjustments and choose the Levels command. Or else you can just press Ctrl+L, Command+L on a Mac, and then I'll make the shadow detail darker by increasing that black point to 30.
So we are grabbing all this area of darkness here and making it black, and that firms up the dark side of that sweater, couldn't really see any problems there, but apparently we do have a fair amount of very dark pixels that ought to be black. Now then, let's go ahead and drag the white point down in order to brighten up the light graze on the inside edge of the sweater, and I am going to take that value down to let's say 185, in order to make anything that currently has a luminance level of 185 or brighter white.
And that's going to firm up that edge like crazy, click OK. And let's take a look at the full color composite by Alt+Clicking or Option+Clicking on that layer mask once again, so this is the before version of the sweater. Notice how soft those transitions are and how much blurriness we have and translucency, and this is the after version, thanks to that firmed up mask. You may see this little white edge right there. That's an original detail inside of her sweater. All right, let's click off the selection; we have a nice transition there between the areas we edited on the shoulder and the areas we modified on the knuckles.
Let's go ahead and zoom out. Let's scroll over to this side of the image right there her neck. I'm going to grab this region like so with a lasso tool work fairly quickly this time around I don't want a harm any hairs, because when things that Refined Mass command really got right was the hair detail. Let's go ahead and feather the transition once again by choosing a feather command under the modify submenu, under the select menu, and a two pixel radius works great. Click OK. That'll just make sure we have a soft transition right at that point, and I want to firm up this edge by going up to the Filter menu, sure enough, Under Mask is my last used filter, and an amount value of 200% is fine, radius of two pixels is fine, threshold of zero, deal. That's great.
Click OK. That actually helps that area out a lot, and then if we are at all concerned that we still have a little bit of light edge, we could take advantage of that trick once again, where you pressed Ctrl+Alt here on the PC, or Command+Option on the Mac at the same time as an arrow key, so I can press Ctrl+Alt+Right Arrow key - that would be Command+Option+Right Arrow key on the Mac - in order to scoot that portion on the mask over. All right, the final problem with this mask, in so far as I'm concerned, you may find other issues, but this is the area that's bugging me.
On the inside edge of the index finger right next to the woman's cheek, we have got just this horrible little triangle of detail, and if I Alt click or Option Click on the layer mask in order to reveal what the mask looks like at that location. It's still a surprise. It looks awful, because what is that blob right there? Let's go and just get rid of it. Select that region with a lasso tool and White happens to be my foreground color, as you can see. So I am going to press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete to fill that area with white, great! It's no longer masked.
I still need to mask it away, so I am going to Alt+Click or Option+Click on the layer mask in order to return my view to the RGB composite, but my layer mask is still active, very important. Now look inside of here, not only do we have this sort of blue triangle which is the expose blue from her original background, but we also have this weird brownish halo that was created by the decontaminated color check box inside the refined mass dialog box so that was its contribution to this detail, well, it all needs to go away. You know what? It's a triangle.
I am not going to try to apply any fancy masking techniques, so I am just going to make sure that I've got the lasso tool selected, nothing inside the image is selected. I can confirm that by pressing Control+D, Command+D on the Mac, and then I can press the Alt key or the Option key. So press and hold Alt or Option, keep that key down, and that will give you access to the polygonal lasso function like so, and notice that I'm just setting corners in this little triangular area, and once I have selected it, I am going to confirm that my layer mask is active, which it is. My background colors black, because I want mass that area way, I want to fill it up with black, so I am going to the press Control+Backspace or Command+Delete on a Mac and click off of it.
That's a great mask. My goodness, so I have a little bit of bright edge right there, who's going to see that unless it's zoomed in at 400%, the way I am. As soon as I zoom out, the composition and ends up looking absolutely hunky-dory. So moral of the story, nothing against the newfangled automation features, I will go on record as saying, the edge detection functions, including the radius value, and the Smart radius check box, and the refined radius tool are all excellent enhancements to CS5. However, you can only push them so far, and once you've done as much as you can do with those features, you sometimes need to bring in the old-school techniques just as we did here.
So a blend of new school and old school ends up generating the perfect layer mask here inside Photoshop CS5.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
- Using blend modes, adjustment layers, and layer styles
- Organizing a layered composition so it is fluid and editable
- Creating and editing type in Photoshop
- Using blur effectively
- Using adjustment layers to add color
- Combining layers into a clipping mask
- Working with Camera Raw