Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Luminance blending, part of Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
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I've saved my progress this far as Violet Beauregarde.psd. Now we have done a great job of making this girl's skin blue just by rotating the skin tones around. But we've got blue hair as well, and the bigger problem at this point is that the image is so very washed out. So we need to burn the shadows in, in order to create richer, more volumetric forms. So here's how we're going to do that. We're going to use another Adjustment layer incidentally. So make sure the blueness layer is active, then go up to the Adjustments panel.
And in order to see all the color adjustments that are available to us, you've got to click on this left pointing arrow head, and that will return to the adjustment list like so, and then I want you to create a new Brightness/Contrast layer, and that happens to be the very first icon in the upper-left corner. Now if you want to name the layer as you make it, which I suggest, then you press and hold the Alt or Option key. Once again, it forces a dialog box if one otherwise doesn't come up. So Alt or Option-click on that icon to display the New Layer dialog box, and let's go ahead and call this new layer deepen.
And I want you to turn on this check box right there. Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask. That way we're only deepening the skin tones. That is, the area that's selected by this layer mask right here. We're not going to affect the grass in the background. And then click OK, and you can see that now this deepen layer is indented with this tiny little arrow icon telling you that you'll only see the effects of this layer inside of this layer below it. And we'll be coming back to clipping masks a few times over the course of this chapter.
Now I'm going to reduce the Brightness value here inside the Adjustments panel to -70, then I'm going to press the Tab key to advance to the Contrast value and take this up to a hundred. Do not turn on Use Legacy. That makes Brightness/Contrast behave like it used to back in the Photoshop CS2 in earlier days, which is to say abysmally. It did not behave itself worth beans back then. It used to clip colors. Now it does actually a great job. Now we've gone too far, but we're going to back off the effect, so -70 and a hundred.
Go ahead and close the Adjustments panel. Then what I want to do is I want you to notice that we have some weird colors inside the eyes, and we've got to clean up those areas, and we're going to do that by zooming in on the image. So I press Ctrl+Plus or Cmd+Plus, a few times. Look at that bad scrappy area on her brow as well. And then I'm going to press the Spacebar and drag the image over little so I can see those eyes, and I need to modify this layer mask right there, and I'm going to do that in order to see the layer mask independently of everything else around it.
Once again, you Alt-click, or you Option-click. So Alt-click or Option-click on that layer mask thumbnail. And you will see the layer mask onscreen, and now you'll notice how certain areas like that scrape are colored black inside of the layer mask, meaning that they're making those areas of this blue layer transparent and allowing the orangish skin tones to show from below. So now what I want you to do is grab the Lasso tool. You can also get by pressing the L key if you like, and I just want you to drag around this area.
You don't have to be too careful, drag around this right eye, her left, of course, and then take a look at your foreground and background colors. In my case, the background color is white. So you just press the Backspace key or the Delete key to fill that area with white, just to delete it and get rid of it. Then I'm going to press the Spacebar and drag the image down a little bit, so that I can see this left-hand eye, her right, of course. And I'll drag around this region in order to select it and press Backspace or Delete again, and if white isn't your background color, remember you can reverse the two by clicking on the Switch icon or pressing the X Key.
Now I'm going to click off the selection, deselect it, and I'm going to zoom out by pressing Ctrl+Minus or Cmd+Minus a couple of times, and let's see if there are a few other areas that need work. Like, for example, there's a little bit of nose, there's some neck area, there's this mouth right here, all of which need to go completely white. So I'll select them and press the Backspace key once again, or the Delete key on the Mac. Now we can return back to the image and you do that by Alt-clicking or Option- clicking on that layer Mask thumbnail there inside the layers palette again, and that will take you back to the image at hand, and you can see now that these eyes no longer have the weird colors inside of them, at least not the jagged color transitions.
We still have this interesting gold and violet and blue, of course. But we don't have the jagged transitions between one color and another. Now let's go back to the deepen layer. I don't want to darken her quite this much. I want to just sync the shadows in, that is make the shadows darker, which are the darkest colors, by the way, the shadows are. And then I want the highlights, which are the lightest colors to basically be left alone. And I can get that effect using this thing called Luminance Blending inside of Photoshop, and to get to the Luminance Blending options you make sure that the deepen layer is active.
Go up to the layer panel menu icon right there and click on it, in order to bring up this menu, and then choose Blending Options, or if you loaded dekeKeys, you can press Ctrl+Shift+O or Cmd+Shift+O on the Mac, and that'll bring up this big Layer Style dialog box. Then drop down to this Underlying Layer slider right there, which allows you to force colors through from the underlying image based on their luminance levels. That is, how dark or light they are. So, for example, if you want to force through the darkest colors so that we are seeing those colors instead of the adjusted modification.
Then you would drag this black slider triangle over to the right. Now obviously we don't want to do that, that looks terrible. So I'm going to move that black slider triangle back to the left, and instead, I'm going to reveal the light areas by dragging this white slider triangle to the left, and now anything with the luminance level of 150, which is pretty bright, or lighter, will force through the adjustment. However, we're getting some jagged transitions as you can see right here, and so notice if you look very carefully at this triangle it has a cleft in the middle of it.
That tells you that there's actually two triangles glued together right there. And if you want to separate them, guess what key you press? You press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac. You're always pressing that key in this program. So Alt or Option-drag the right side of that white triangle all the way back to the beginning so that that top value says 255. So your values should read 0, 150/255 for Underlying Layer. Leave this layer alone, and then click on the OK button in order to accept your modification.
And now I'll zoom out so that we can take in the effect, and it looks pretty great. This is before. This is how the image looked at the outset of this exercise, very washed out and here are the richer, more volumetric shadows. Thanks to a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment layer with a little bit of Luminance Blending.
Download Deke's free dekeKeys and color settings from the Exercise Files tab.
- Assembling photorealistic compositions
- Understanding image size and resolution
- Correcting the brightness and color of images
- Creating accurate selection outlines
- Retouching and healing photos
- Mastering layers and effects
- Printing and exporting to the web