Composite Photography Basics


Lesson Info

Modifying Mask Edges

Now, there's other ways to kind of extract different areas as well. So let's say that you have an edge here, right? And maybe you want to modify that edge. Let's say that you have... Let me save this. I think that would be a really smart idea. So let's say you have an edge that you kind of want to modify. So maybe the edge is too sharp, there's still a little bit of background showing, and you want to tweak that. There's a couple of really fun ways to do it, and I say fun because it's probably the easiest part about the whole process. And, the first thing is that we want to make sure that we identify what we're doing, 'cause not always will you need to modify the mask. It's only when it's useful. So, if there's a really unique problem that you're seeing, A. The edges are too sharp, B. Background's showing through, and this is why this background there is so important, 'cause you can see all your flaws and details. But the important thing is, do not get caught up in things that don't ma...

tter. Like, if you're going to be putting this on a bright backdrop, don't try and put this to, like, completely black. And even if I did, you notice that it still holds up really well, right? Which is a testament to the techniques. But, realistically, only be concerned with your final output. So let's say that we want to tweak our mask, and, like maybe over here. You could see some of the background showing, 'cause I was so bad at this. So, I'm gonna click on my mask, and there's a few things we can do. Number one is, we can actually push the mask in a little bit. We can nudge it in, which is really cool. So there's a smudge tool option. The smudge tool itself allows you to push and pull the mask. So the smudge tool, by default, is a really useless tool. I say that because it takes, I'm sorry. (laughter) Adobe's like, "What are you doing to our program?" Okay, so the smudge tool, I don't really use it very much, unless it's for masking, and, the reason why it's great for masking is I can push and pull things of a mask and simultaneously blur it just a little bit. 'Cause every time you have to push a mask in a little bit, it always is really sharp. I don't know that happens, it just is. Okay? So what I'll do here, I'll click on my smudge tool, and I'll say, make sure you don't say sample all layers, it's just the mask. Let's put the strength to, actually, maybe something low like 10 percent. And I go in here, and just like magic, the edge just falls in place. So you don't have to try and re-mask anything. You simply go around and modify what you need to. You see? Isn't that nice? It's like sham wow, it's just soaking up the edges. Okay, that's my last joke, I'm sorry. They're gonna kick me out of here. Death by cheesy jokes. Alright, yeah. This is why I like composing, so I can just smudge everything in there. This edge was because of the backlight coming in, but, it softens it up at least, which is really nice. Another thing that is really great is when you look at this again, you see that the edges fit whatever you are trying to do, and it fits everything else. Now, the other option is, maybe the edge is perfect, except it's too sharp. Well, you simply need to go into the blur tool, 'cause the blur tool itself, again, it's one of those tools I don't really use too much, aside from just working on edges, like this. So it kind of fades in any areas that are too pixelated. Right? But you can do it selectively. That's really nice. You can do it selectively, and make sure that it's not too intense. So same goes for pretty much anything that you want to do. The other thing is that you have different options in terms of doing globally. So you can actually apply filters directly to a mask. You don't have to apply to the image. So, if you feel like the whole mask is a little bit too crunchy, you can go into Filter, Blur, and then do a little bit of Gaussian Blur. And then, obviously, you wouldn't do that here because we've done a really good job. But normally you put to like, less than one pixel and apply it, and it softens up the edges of the mask just a little bit. Yeah? Cool. So aside from doing that, there's another feature that I wanna talk about because we were mentioning earlier that there's certain areas that we're trying to bring up exposure or decrease exposure. But what if you could do that without actually doing hand masking? What if you could actually increase or decrease exposures in certain areas just by clicking a button? That would be amazing. And I'm gonna talk about that next. So, let's say that, you know, we have a particular region of this image that we're trying to bring up the exposure on. We could do that with a selective color range. Selective color range? The color range feature as well. So if I go into Select, and Color Range, instead of selecting a specific color, you could select certain regions. So if you decide that you want to select just the highlights, you're able to select just highlights, and you get a range option as well. You can see the range of highlights you want to select. So you can decide how soft you want the transitions, as well as the range of highlights. So, if you're like, you know what, I like selecting the most intense highlights, and keep it at that, I'm going to say okay, I'm sorry, the shadows, and then let's go into curves. And what happens is you notice that the area that is of that specific total value is increased or decreased. And the same thing happens for pretty much anything. So even if this image has a lot of color involved, you can select things based on different areas. So, gonna Select, Color Range, and then, instead of saying you know what you wanna do, let's actually make sure it's not inverted this time. We're actually selecting the highlights, or the shadows, or the Midtones. So I'll even say maybe Midtones. The Midtones is great, because you can say, well, let's select not just the Midtones, but maybe a little bit into the highlights. And then I can increase the feathering. Then I can say okay, and then when I add a curve, you're able to decide what you wanna do. It's really handy, especially if you're doing anything color tone related, or maybe even extracting certain areas, like, maybe you have a sky that's only blown out, and you want to select that sky, you can quickly select highlights and then do it that way. It's really useful. A lot of people also don't know that aside from having one mask, you can have two masks. You have mask inception, right? You can have two masks. You can put a folder, you can put this layer inside that folder. So let's say we did this and we don't like the fact that maybe it also brightened up her face. Maybe we just wanted to do the body. Obviously we can come here and start painting, you know. We can come in here and take a black brush and simply start painting. But the problem is, if 10 steps down the line, you want to go back and undo that, it's really difficult because now you've just drawn a black smudge over it and you can't get that precision back. If you wanna like, in a way save the mask, in that sense, and build on it, you can add a folder, and in this folder, we're gonna simply take this layer, drag it in there, and you'll know it's in there because it'll be subset inside the folder. It's not, you know, in line with everything else. And then on this layer, I can add a mask, And this mask will override the one inside of it. So now, everything is as it is because it's just white, nothing's happened yet. But, if I start brushing on the face, you notice, if I turn my mask on and off, it only impacts that face and anything else that I've brushed. And the reason why this is important is because if I'm like, wait a second, I want that richness back in just those specific regions, I'm gonna switch over by hitting X to white brush, and then just go over it again. And what happens is, this mask is still saved, because you've kept everything there and you haven't touched it. And sometimes I do this quite often, where I think I like a general selection. Maybe I'm bringing over elements from another picture. But I want to temporarily hide something, 'cause a client's like, "Can you show me what it looks like if you hide just these parts of that thing that you did?" Or like, you know, the trees, whatever. And then if they say "No, no, bring it back," I don't have to go through the whole process of Select, Color Range, and then re-mask it in again. So that's kind of how that works. Now there's other options as well when it comes to very similar processes. But I think the color range feature is pretty straightforward in that sense, you know? All you have to do is go to Select, Color Range, and then decide what gamut you want based on what it's showing you. The only downside to this is sometimes the feathering is not really the best. You know, it's kind of really jaggedy, you know? There's other options in Photoshop as well that kind of do the same thing, like you have things like blended modes. You just control what areas are active in the layer. But ultimately, I think this does a pretty decent job for the most part, as long as you have a really refined range and you know what fuzziness you want.

Compositing is a part of the process that allows people to tell a story and accomplish their vision. It can be quite tricky, but with this tutorial, Pratik Naik shows you the basic tools and techniques needed to create advanced results. You’ll be able to extract people or objects from backdrops and place them into anything you can imagine.



  • I think the course was not named properly. I'm a big fan of Pratik's work. This was not a class for doing Composite Basics, it was a class for doing Photoshop Selections and Masks. Agreed that that is one small part of doing composite work.... but the name of the class is misleading.