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- Adjusting the color settings in Photoshop
- Placing and blending Smart Objects in a scene
- Transforming and warping vector objects
- Correcting for lens distortion
- Mitigating halos and enhancing contrast with Shadows/Highlights
- Adding and editing points on a curve
- Editing multiple images in Camera Raw
- Creating a pro-quality sepia tone or quadtone
- Colorizing with blend modes and opacity
- Reducing and smoothing over noise
- Creating depth-of-field effects with blur
- Selecting with Color Range and Quick Mask
- Perfecting a mask with Refine Edge
- Drawing paths with the Pen tool
- Converting path outlines to vector masks
Skill Level Advanced
All right! So, starting out from where we left off a couple of movies ago, our layer mask is in pretty darn good shape. However, it still needs some help, especially along the front of this guy's face. So we're going to be manually enhancing the mask using a special overlay painting trick that's really great for retouching masks in general, and I'll also pass along a few keyboard tricks for switching between the full color composition and the layer mask. Now, in my case, the layer mask is active here inside the Layers panel. I want to view it by itself, and you can do that by Alt+Clicking or Option+Clicking on the layer mask thumbnail.
Then if you zoom in on this guy's nose, and lips, and chin, you can see that we've got a lot of gray pixels, and some rough edges remain as well. So I am going to firm those up by switching over to the Brush tool, which you can get by pressing the B key, and then I will right-click inside my image, and as opposed to painting with a Hardness of 100%, I'll crank that Hardness value down to 0%, and then I will press the Enter key, or the Return key on the Mac. Now let's say I want to make those dark edges nice and jet black. I'll press the X key so that my foreground color is black, and then if I start painting, you will see that I paint in a fuzzy brushstroke, which is no good.
I don't want that. So I will press Control+Z, or Command+Z on a Mac. What I want to do is limit my brushstroke to just the darkest details, and I can do that by changing the blend mode assigned to the stroke. The best blend mode for this kind of thing is Overlay. So I will go ahead and choose Overlay, and notice now, if I apply that same brushstroke -- I'm just brushing in along that edge, along the dark side of the edge -- notice that I'm darkening up the darkest pixels, and I'm leaving the white area alone. If I paint inside of white with black, I do nothing when working in the Overlay mode.
Then if I want to bolster the bright details on the other side, I'd press the X key to make my foreground color white, and I paint along the front of the nose, for example, in order to achieve this effect here. And I will paint down into the lip as well, and maybe into the chin too, maybe down here just a little bit; just give it a click. Now I will press the X key in order to switch back to black, and I will paint along the front of the glasses, and up into the forehead. Then I will press the X key to switch back to white, and I will paint down on the other side of the forehead. That gets us to about 50% of the way there.
Now I want to show you some tricks for working with layer masks. If you switch over to the Channels panel, you'll see that the layer mask turns up as a temporary alpha channel, and we can see that it's selected, and only that alpha channel is visible; the RGB image is hidden. We've got some keyboard shortcuts. So you've got Control+backslash or Command+backslash to switch to the layer mask. If I press Command+2 or Control+2, then I switch back to the full color composite. Notice that switches things in the Layers panel as well. So now the layer mask thumbnail is active, because I pressed Command+2 or Control+2.
If I press Command+backslash or Control+backslash, then I switch over to layer mask, so I'm editing it. You can also control the visibility of the mask by pressing the backslash key on its own. And notice now that I'm seeing the layer mask as a rubylith overlay, just as I do when working in the Quick Mask mode. If I want to change the color of that overlay, I'd switch over to the Channels panel, and double-click on that layer mask thumbnail there, and then I could click on the color swatch, and dial in something more complementary, such as a Hue value of 180 degrees, click OK, then click OK again, and that changes the color of that overlay.
If I now want to hide the image, and view the mask by itself, I press the Tilde key; that same keyboard trick that works in the Quick Mask mode. Then to switch back to the composite image, I'd press the Tilde key again to see both the image and the mask at the same time, and then I'd press the backslash key, so that I'm no longer seeing the mask, and you can see that that controls the visibility of the various channels here inside the Channels panel. So the layer mask is still active, but we're seeing the RGB image by itself. What that allows me to do is clean up some of these bad details right there.
So I am going to increase the Hardness of my brush to 100% by right-clicking inside the image window and cranking up that Hardness value. Then I will press the Enter key, or the Return key on a Mac, to hide the panel, and I'll switch the blend mode up here back to Normal by pressing Shift+Alt+N, or Shift+Option+N on the Mac. And then, with white as my foreground color, I'll just go ahead and paint like this, because this is a very ratty edge indeed that I want to paint away, and then I will press the X key to make black my foreground color, and I'll just go ahead and click inside this region here a few times in order to reinstate a better edge for that nose.
I might also press the L key to switch to Lasso tool, press and hold the Alt key, or the Option key on a Mac, and then dig my way into that corner inside the lips, and press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete to fill it with black. And I might need to do something similar down here. I will press Control+D, or Command+D on a Mac, to deselect the image, then Alt+Click around this region to select it, press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete, and then press Control+D, or Command+D on a Mac, to go ahead and add in a nice sharp corner. We've got a little weirdness going right there in that chin, so I am going to press the backslash key to view the layer mask, and press the Tilde key to hide the image, so I can see the mask by itself.
I will press the B key to switch back to my Brush tool, press the X key to switch the foreground color to white, and then click in that chin in order to get rid of that bad edge right there. We need to do some work on these glasses as well. That's what I am looking at in this region. And I might go ahead and press the X key to switch my foreground color to black, and paint into the glasses, like so. I am just going to paint up and over them. And now let's go ahead and switch back to the full color image by pressing the Tilde key to view the image, and then pressing the backslash key so that I can see the full color image by itself.
Actually, if I press the backslash key again, pressing it to turn the layer mask on and off, it looks like I'm doing a pretty good job, actually, of selecting the image at this point. That's because, if I switch back to Layers panel, I'd have to Shift+Click on the layer mask to see what the image looks like unmasked. So Shift+Clicking on that layer mask thumbnail turns it off. I know these are a bunch of keyboard shortcuts, but they're really darn useful if you can remember them. I am going to press the L key in order to switch to the Lasso tool, and then press and hold the Alt key, or the Option key on a Mac, and click around this area of the sunglasses like so in order to select them.
Then I'll go ahead and smooth that selection. I could do that using the Refine Edge command, but I am just going to go up to the Select menu, choose Modify, and choose Smooth, and then I will enter a Sample Radius value of 2 pixels here. And you can see, there's no preview; I just have to hope for the best, and click OK. That's probably going to end up working out nicely. I will Shift+Click on the layer mask to turn it back on, so we can see the results of that mask, and I will press Control+Backspace, or Command+ Delete on the Mac, to fill the selection with the background color, which is white for me. And then I will press Control+Shift+I or Command+Shift+I, as long as I am working with keyboard shortcuts, to reverse the selection.
So I've got the area outside of the marching ants selected. I will press and hold the Shift and Alt keys, or the Shift and Option keys on the Mac, and I will drag around this little area right there in order to select that region, and I will press Alt+Backspace, or Option+Delete on the Mac, to fill it with black, so that the sunglasses are in better shape. And I should probably just go ahead and select this region at the top of the nose as well, like so, and I am Alt+Clicking or Option+Clicking with the Lasso tool to, draw that polygonal selection outline and I will press Alt+Backspace, or Option+Delete on the Mac, to fill it with black, and we have a better edge there.
All right, let's check out what else we've got to work with here. I will Alt+Click or Option+Click on the layer mask thumbnail to view the layer mask independently of the image. It looks like we need to firm up that stuff. So I will press the B key in order to switch to my Brush tool, right-click inside the image, crank the Hardness value down to 0%, press the Enter or Return key to hide that panel. And this time, I'm going to switch to the Soft Light mode. So if you find the Overlay mode is too much, don't reduce the Opacity value; instead, switch to Soft Light, so you can make more subtle modifications.
Then I will go ahead and paint in that region in order to paint it away. Let's try out a few more adjustments. So I will go ahead and press Control+0, or Command+0 on a Mac, to zoom out from the image. I will Alt+Click or Option+Click on the layer mask thumbnail, so I can see the image at the same time as the mask. I am still editing the mask, however, and I am going to press the X key to switch my foreground color to white, and I am going to paint back in some of his hair. So I am just painting along the back of the hair, like so. Then finally, we've got these weird edges right there inside the hair, and I will Alt+Click or Option+Click on the layer mask, so you can see what I am talking about. A bunch of weird little sort of snivels that are showing up here in front of his 'do.
So I will right-click inside the image window. I am going to take that Hardness value up to 75%, press the Enter key, or the Return key on a Mac, to hide that panel. Then I will press Shift+Alt+N, or Shift+Option+N on the Mac, to switch back to the Normal blend mode. I will reduce the size of my cursor, and paint some of this stuff away, like so. Now, that may have kind of messed up the mask a little bit. So I will Alt+Click or Option+Click on that layer mask thumbnail again, and sure enough, I am bringing back some of that bad background. So I am going to press Control+Alt+R, or Command+Option+R on a Mac, to bring up the Refine Mask dialog box.
And this time, I am just going to paint in a little bit of edge detection using that Refine Radius tool, which is selected automatically, and I will just paint in this region, like so, and release, and that goes ahead and restores the blue background. Then I will click OK in order to accept that change. Now let's just take a tour of things. I will Alt+Click or Option+Click on the layer mask thumbnail, so that we can view the layer mask independently of the image, and then I'll just kind of tour around the edges to make sure we got everything. This looks pretty good.
We can probably make that edge a little better, but I'm not too worried about it. If you end up with some overly sharp edges, by the way, such as in this area, here is what you do; Alt+Click or Option+Click on the layer mask thumbnail, so you can see the image at the same time, and switch to the Blur tool. And you can get the Blur tool from this flyout menu right there. If you loaded my dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts, it's also available by pressing the N key. I will reduce the size of my cursor a little bit, and then I will go ahead and paint along the lips, like so, and I will paint down his chin as well.
We end up with what I consider to be some more naturalistic, organic transitions right there. Paint along the top of his nose as well. Otherwise, I think we're in pretty good shape. I might paint along the top of his forehead. It's really just the front of his face that was in kind of rough shape. And be sure, by the way, very important that you're painting inside the layer mask, not inside the image, otherwise you will end up blurring the details inside the photographic image, which is definitely not something you want. That's how you make manual modifications to a layer mask by overlay painting with the Brush tool; that is, setting the Brush tool to either the Overlay or Soft Light blend modes, as well as how you view the image and the layer mask, either independently, or at the same time here inside Photoshop.
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