Sean Duggan shows how to use the Quick Selection tool in Photoshop to make a selection based on color or tonal differences and how to modify a selection. He shows how to add a layer mask based on the active selection, flip a layer to match the main image's light direction, and turn a layer into a Smart Object for maximum editing flexibility. He shows how to edit a layer mask with the Brush tool, blend the new layer into the background, and use a layer clipping mask.
- [Voiceover] In this demo, we're going to add this stone lion into this desert landscape, and integrate it into the scene using a layer mask, an adjustment layer, and a texture layer. Since many compositing projects start with a selection, our first stop will be the quick selection tool. Alright, I'll come over here and I'll grab my quick selection tool. I have the lion layer active, so I'm just gonna make my brush a little bigger by tapping the right bracket key. And the quick selection tool is really ideal to use for subjects where there is a clear tonal or color separation between what you wanna select and what you don't wanna select, which is certainly the case here.
Just gonna drag over the front of the lion to start my selection. And let me just zoom up close here to add in the areas that I missed first time around. I'm gonna make my brush a lot smaller here. With quick selection tool, using a smaller brush tends to make it a lot more accurate and discerning in how it adds in the areas you wanna add. On the side here, I'm gonna subtract this part by holding down option on the mac or alt on windows as I drag over the area I don't want.
And I'm not really worried about what's going on down here in the back of the lion or on the base of the lion, because I'm only gonna be using the lion's head and his mane so I'm not gonna worry about any of that. That looks good I'm gonna now turn this into a layer mask, I'll click on the add layer mask button in the bottom of the layers panel. And now that I can see the lion in relation to the landscape, I'm noticing that the direction of light is not the same for each of these images. With the lion it's coming up here from the upper left, and in the landscape, you can from the shadows it's coming from the upper right.
So what's I'm gonna do is just flip this. I'm gonna get my free-transform tool, command+t or ctrl+t, and then right click inside that bounding box and just choose flip horizontal, and then press enter to apply that. Next what I want to do is scale the lion smaller, but I wanna do this non-destructively in case I decide later on to make it bigger again. So I'm gonna right click on the lion layer here in the layers panel, and choose convert to smart object. Now you'll notice that my layer mask seems to have disappeared, but it's not actually gone.
It's just embedded in the smart object. If I double click on the thumbnail for the lion smart object here, you can see that that layer mask is indeed still there. I'm just gonna close that by choosing command+w or ctrl+w on windows, and now what I'm gonna do is lower the opacity a bit so I can see the lion in relation to the landscape, and I'm gonna get my free-transform tool, command+t or ctrl+t, and I'll just grab on a corner handle and hold the shift key down as I do that to constrain the aspect ratio.
And I'm gonna bring it down maybe about 80%, or to about 80%. That looks pretty good, something like that. Tap enter or return and let's also tap 0 on the keyboard to bring my opacity back to 100%. Alright, I'm going to add another layer mask here to my lion layer. I'll click on my layer mask button. Lemme get my brush tool and I'm gonna paint with black at 100% opacity. I have a nice soft-edge brush here, so I'm just gonna be getting rid of most of the lion there, just keeping the head and the mane.
And that's looking good so far. So one thing to mention before I get too much further into this is that obviously if there really was this giant stone lion here in the desert, we would have, you know, a shadow being cast from it. So I'm not actually gonna be taking the time to create a shadow for that in this demo, but I am gonna try to sort of take advantage of the fact that there is a shadow here from this rock formation. And if I'm placing the lion here, you know, it's possibly somewhat plausible that some of the shadow could be coming from the lion, so that's my shadow workaround there.
Alright, the next thing I'm gonna do is kind of integrate this a little bit better into the landscape. And whenever I do that I always like to look at the landscape and see if there's anything in there that I can take advantage of. And one thing I'm noticing here is that there's this really nice kind of sharp knife edge to the rock formation there. I'm gonna select that, I'll click on the background layer to make it active, Get my quick selection tool and just drag over that kind of thin of the rock there just to build a quick selection of that.
Make my brush smaller just to get a little bit more of that there. There we go, that's all I need. And now that I have that selected, I'm going to make the lion layer visible again and I'll click on its layer mask. Now I currently have black in my foreground swatch down here in my tool panel, so with the mask active I can just use the shortcut of option+delete on a mac or alt+delete on windows to fill that selection with black and modify the mask.
And now it looks a lot better and more convincing that that lion really is a little bit more part of the landscape. Alright, so next what I'm gonna do is get my brush tool and do some more work on the layer mask. I'm going to paint with black, maybe lower my opacity down to about 20%, I did that just by tapping the number 2 on the keyboard, and I'm just going to kind of brush away here on the lion to just make it look like it's just kind of eroding out of the landscape.
And I just like to do this with varying sizes of a brush just to kind of blend that in a little bit more of a convincing way. There we go, that's looking pretty good. I really like how the rock forms here kind of, you know, these ribs here, in the rock forms look like they're lining up with the lion's mane. It's just very satisfying when stuff like that happens in a compositing project. Alright, so I think what I need to do now is maybe add some texture in, because right now the lion just looks like, you know, a cheap concrete lion, which is what it was, and we wanna make it look like a grandiose lion that maybe was, you know, worthy of the pharaohs.
So I'm gonna get my lasso tool and make my background layer active here, And I'm gonna actually copy some actual texture from the landscape. That is always gonna work the best if you can get away with it. So I'll just get a big lasso selection like that, I'm gonna float that onto a new layer by choosing command+j, or ctrl+j on windows, let's call that textures, and I'll drag that up on top of the lion layer, I'll move it into position here over the lion and I'll change the blend mode on that to overlay.
Now I obviously don't want the texture showing up on the sky so easy fix here is to create a clipping group, I'll option or alt click on the border between the two layers here and that is gonna clip it to the lion layer. So essentially, the shape of the lion layer is determining the visibility of the texture and that really goes a long way to making this look more convincing. It's maybe a bit too bright, so I'm gonna lower the opacity down to about 80%, something like that.
And I'm gonna add a layer mask to that layer because there's kind of a hard edge here where the texture ends, so I'll just get my brush tool and maybe paint here at about 30% opacity on that mask just to sort of camouflage that harder edge down there. Alright, that looks good. Almost done. One more thing I'm gonna do is copy some of the color from the background layer, so I'll get my eyedropper tool, tap i for that, just sample some of that sandstone color I'll click on the texture layer and I'm gonna hold down the option key on mac, or the alt key on windows, and click on the add adjustment layer button and choose solid color.
Now clicking on option or alt when you do that brings up this dialogue which allows me to create a clipping mask as I create this, and also set a blend mode for the layer. So I'll set that blend mode to color, and now you can see that that color has been added in here and that is also helping to make it look more like a part of the landscape, but again, I'm gonna lower the opacity down to about maybe about, I dunno, 70%-65%. And that looks a lot better right there.
So there you have it. Traces of an ancient civilization deep in the desert. The combination of the quick selection tool, along with simple layer masks, layer clipping groups, and textures, helped us to integrate our subject from one photograph into a completely different landscape.
Skill Level Intermediate
Q: This course was updated on 01/11/2018. What changed?
A: The following topic was updated: smart selections. In addition, new videos were added that cover combining a precise mask with a gradient, and using blend modes to create a composite.