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Add Special Effects

Lesson 12 from: Compositing for Commercial Photography

Lisa Carney

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Lesson Info

12. Add Special Effects

Lesson Info

Add Special Effects

So here's what I have. I have the base image, I have a hue saturation to try to fight that lime. I tried to fight with the top lime, I didn't fight too badly. I'd still go with the stock. Do you guys see this? I've basically done a targeted, I'm going to show you how to do this real quick, we're going to talk about color correction real quick. I have basically two lime or time and what I've done is a color correction so each one of these is going to correct something in the center. Let me show you how I did that. I took the marquee tool just for giggles and I made a color correction. I'm just going to talk about color correction for a second and I did hue saturation. Do you remember I said earlier you might want to label your adjustment layers? This is where it comes in handy. So I'm going to put a fix lime and I pick the hue saturation tool, right, so what I want to be, I want to be on the code and I want to be on the eyedropper. Please don't let this go by you. I want to be on the co...

de which is that, that's the code that's the mask and that's the eyedropper and I'm a select my lime. Hands off the computer, what have I done? I said hey Grasaba what color is that? And what I did is I grabbed the, it's yellow, it's not green, it's yellow and now I'm in the hue saturation and I can shift that to whatever color I need. Do you see that? And it's targeted so, it's targeted, what does that mean? It's only affecting yellows. So I might not have to mask this out too tight, I might not have to mask this out. So, anyway, let's go back to the top lime and let's look at the code I have. Do you remember I used that eyedropper? And I clicked on the lime? But I just double-clicked on this code and I'm on Master. Wait, what? When you use targeted hue saturation and you want to go back later and fix it it's not going to show you where you're at, you're going to have to remember what you clicked. So rather than calling it two lime, do you think I should've said adjusted yellows? Because you have to remember to go in there and go oh what did I move? Oh yeah it's the yellows, then you can see it. So that's a production technique especially if you're saving, cause if I gave this the file to Christina's re-toucher and they looked at that hue saturation they have to go through every single one of those to find out what I did. Pain in the butt, cool? Alright, so then I color corrected the bottom lime. Only this time I used a curve cause I was being fancy. Alright, and then I color corrected the rind. I'm kind of plowing through this stuff a little quickly because there's a lot to talk about still. I hope you understand it's basic color correction, I'm just telling you what to look for so hue saturation, bottom lime, masked out loosely goosy, bottom lime not quite there, top lime getting closer color correct the rind oh you know what I did, I did a double correction. Did I say don't do a double correction? I did let's throw that bottom one away. There's the rind, now, why am I doing all these colors? If I have to color correct it, how do I know what colors to do? Do you remember at the beginning you guys we picked out a lime? I'm going to drag this in just on top. When you guys are doing color correction for compositing I really suggest you stick a sample on top. Now, I'm going to try my darndest in all honesty to use that lime. It just looks much better but if the client won't let you, what you want to do is put that reference file on top. Do you remember I dragged and dropped it in? I said don't ever do that. It's just a sample, I'm going to use it as a reference and I'm going to throw it away. So I can drag and drop it in that situation. Cool? Alright. White rind, and a little paint. What? A little paint, do this all the time. I find retoucher spends so much time it's not masked out here, so don't worry. So much time trying to be perfect getting a color and sometimes all you need to do is grab paint and put it on color mode. And then you're good, do you see that? Just paint. Again I know this is a little neon because I haven't replaced lime. (sigh) don't you feel better with that lime? Doesn't it feel that much better? And so why I want to re-illustrate this is how much time did I spend even talking about what I did? That wasn't even me figuring out how to color correct it, just grab a stock shot and stick it in. Right? So much easier and they're inexpensive. Alright, so, what else do I want to talk about? I want to talk about the mask for the base cause I think this might be a little confusing. So here's my shot, in fact let's go back to the original so you can see the background through it. Here's the shot and here's this so while I masked it out you gotta have that translucent right? If you want some of the lightness and the glow so the base mask ends up being just this then the multiply is that, do you guys all understand the multiply? I feel like that's really important. Now, when Christina was shooting this set, that's why we did the Black Card and why we do the White Card cause you can just put a file on multiply. If this had all the, the background in it you can't put it on multiply. I'm going to say that again, if you have all the background in this shot you can't put it on multiply because all of the scene is going to show through. Do you understand? So that's why you have to use these Black Cards. Now, the key is that if you shoot the scene, you want to put that in for filler for detail in the filler. Alright, now I want to talk about something that's the extra special on top and that's the white detail. So what I like to do with these kind of files is I put white detail to bring it up to make it pop. Now I know a lot of people do adjustment layer to try to get this. Do you remember the shadow? I pulled the shadow out to keep it separate. This is the exact opposite, I want to put the highlight on to keep it separate. So how I do that is again it's a channel pull. So, let's go back to the base, when you have the base and when I do this, you guys, I have all the extra color corrections off, it's just for the base. So you guys with me I'm going to take my hands off the computer for a second let's talk about what we're looking at. We are just looking at the base shot, okay? Turn everything else off and what you want to do is go to your channels and you want to find a channel that gives you decent highlights. There's a blue channel, there's the green, there's the red, it's kind of all highlights, right, it's a little hard to see. So what I did was I grabbed the red channel again I really want to talk about how this stuff is not easy. When you guys are home or in your other studio and you're doing this you're going to have this kind of problem and I want to be in your heads right now. Well, what do I do? Okay, I grab a copy, did you hear me say I do a channel pull, do a channel pull, so what that means is I grab one of the channels that I've selected and I pull it down to make a copy, right here. That's why it's called a channel pull. It's very old-fashioned. And I'm going to do levels move. Lisa says do levels command L. Lisa says do levels and hear me out hear me clear, cause I know there's some people probably out on the Internet going what is she doing? What am I doing? We want whites, we want white highlights, right, channels are stored selections. I'm going to have Photoshop help me make a selection, so I'm pulling the red channel, bear with me I'm going to repeat this you're going to get it I promise. And now I'm going to do levels move because I don't want darks I want highlights. So I'm just saying hey can I have some highlights? And bada-bing I now have some highlights, you guys understanding? I know it's very old-fashioned but it's a great technique and what it means is I don't have to mask this out so much either. So I grab the red channel, I made a copy, I did a levels move and I'm going to say OK. Don't freak out I'm going to repeat this and you're going to understand it. So, just for ease-of-viewing I'm going to close this stuff up, I'm going to go on the top do you remember I said do everything on top? I'm going to make a new layer, new layer for highlights. And if you really want to help yourself, and everybody who works with you red channel write where you got it, write down where you got it, trust me in a week you're gonna want to know where you got it. You may not today, I'm going to put a gray layer in the bottom just so you can see so what are we looking at? Hands off the computer what are we looking at? I have a gray layer visible, I have a blank paint layer, nothing on it, I've got a channel pulled called red copy two. I'm going to load the selection for that stored channel you can do it four or five different ways, I'm only going to show you two. You can grab it by its name and drag it to the load selection icon, look at them beautiful marching ants, or my favorite way of doing it is I'm going to hold the command or control key put my cursor over the icon for that channel and hit click, alright? Now what am I doing? Hands off the computer, what am I doing? I have highlights, I want highlights, what color are highlights? Come on, highlights. Give me a guess just say it, white, I love you all. So, my background color is white, do you see it? My background color is white the commanders are chickens they're in the back command delete. That was probably so controversial I can't believe I just said that, command delete, commanders are in the back, they send the troops forward, command delete, background fill, alright? I now have a white highlight, I know I'm going to get fired I can just feel it, I shouldn't have said it. So, wow that's pretty decent, that's an alright fill, it's a little harsh though right? So why don't we mask it? Put a black mask on it option delete. And now you have control over your highlights. Now I want to talk a little bit about how harsh it is. It's a pretty sharp highlight. That harshness that you see there is controlled by that levels move, do you remember I did command L Lisa said levels and I pulled it all the way over? If I don't pull it quite so heavily over I'm a little more gentle I'll get something like this. I will tell you on your notes you want to write chances are you're going to be hand-fisted at first, so the first time you do it, you're going to do it too hard, almost everyone does, ain't no thing. Why is it no thing? Because you are master channel pullers, you throw that away you don't care, you throw that layer away you made, you don't care. You look at the file and you say what am I doing? I want to pull highlights, well in order to have highlights I need to only have the base showing option click on the eyeball, turn your mask off, shift click to turn your mask off you feeling brave, shall we do a channel pull? Let's do a channel pull all of my compositing has channel pulls in it. Every single one of my jobs, I promise you. So what do I have? I've got the original, no color corrections, no nothing just the original. I'm going to pull a channel, in this case, because it's such a neutral image, in all honesty it's probably not going to matter red, green or blue they're all the same. But, let's stick with a good thing. Pull the channel, command L, Lisa says levels, next step, Lisa says levels. And bring it back. You guys feeling alright? Feeling good? Alright, here's the other thing you can do, you can also change the mid-tone so if you want more white you can slide the mid-tone slider over or if you want less in the mid-tones you slide the mid-tone slider. Sounds like a dance, doesn't it, the Mid-Tone Slider? You can slide the mid-tone slider over to have a little less. So now I'm going to fill this one instead because I think it looks better. New improved red channel pull. Seriously, for highlights, for highlights, I said there's two different ways to load your selection you can command click on it or you can click and drag to the load selection icon. Okay, take your hands off the computer, what do you have showing? Well you have all this stuff turned off you're not going to see the effect. So while the selection's active, no big deal, let's turn your layers back on. Go back to your top layer and fill with white. Those commanders are in the back, aren't they? Command delete because I got my white is my background color. Now, whew that's looking pretty good, a little painterly, way too much, cause I've lost control so let's mask it. And paint it in as much or as little as you'd like. Now, let's talk about how you can control how much you have. First control how hard you pro pull your channel or how soft that's density. Layer, how much opacity you choose to use? Layer mode, do you want to put it on screen Do you want to put it on soft light? Soft light's nice, see, so four different ways in addition to control it. Now that you are master channel controller channel pullers, I'm going to throw that away and I'm going to put what I did. So what I originally did is I have it on soft light, I'm going to put it on gray so you can see it, bear with me one second, my lovelies. That's what I did. I masked it. Do you remember that path I did at the beginning, that pain in the ass path? Aren't you glad you got it now? Because now you can get to the edges. Can I say ass? I don't know if I can say that. So, that's why you do the path the very first thing you do is the path because you use it all through the piece and I assure you when you are at this stage you do not want to be driving drawing a path. Because when you're at the end, your client is calling and hurry up and oh you know we decided we're doing seven of these, can you do seven of these? Ahh. So, you want to do the path at the beginning it's good foundation work. So, what I did is I did two, I did the white channel pull and I did a second one because I wanted a little more density just on the edges. You guys cool with that? Alright, so let's take a look at this, and in fact, just for giggles, I don't know if you guys do this, I will often go back in my history palette and reset everything if I've changed too much and I think today I've changed too much. So let's go back and look at the end here. I'm going to throw that alt background out. I really feel like what might be a bit confusing at this point is this stuff right here. Would you guys agree? Like how the masking is? So, I'm gonna copy my base mask here just so I have it so I don't have to redo it and I'm gonna look at this as if I started the job from scratch. So if I started the job from scratch, what I told you guys at the beginning, I'm going to start this job is you gotta layout and frame, right? That's your first part of the job. The second part of the job is you're going to drag a background in, and you're going to put it in position. That is the second part of the job, cool? Phew, breathing, everything's good? Third part of the job is you're going to bring your file in. So for me it's a stacked image. And I'm going to bring it in. Ope, we've got that raw thing going on, you want the raw, please always keep the raw even if you choose to keep it buried and you stick it under a background keep the raw in there please so you can go back. I'm going to hit go ahead and place it, just going to hit the return key. I'm gonna put the M for Marquee, I'm going to put it on 50 percent opacity. And I'm going to put it in position. Okay, now what I would do also at this stage that we didn't do in the demo is the White Card one and the Black Card one would all go in here in the exact same position. You guys clear? All three all right now, all three all right now. And then once I've done that, I'll get a cup of coffee I'll put the smooth move move music on and I will draw. What the hell was that? That was a bad path. I will draw a path. Well that's embarrassing I didn't save my path for this document so that that might've been a martini I had instead of a cup of coffee cause that path is all out of position. So what I would do is draw the path. Now this is a really important point, and this happens all the time, when I first built this job, I just started with that image right, the base image, I moved it, I moved the original. If you move the original your path isn't going to stay with it. What you can do is you can make your path into a shape and put it in the folder so if you move it, it goes with it. I'm going to say that again, you can make your path into a shape layer and put it in the folder. Let me see if I can demo that without making a total silly girl out of myself. New fill layer, for example, this is I actually like it as fill color cause I could see it. And do you see how it goes to the path that I have. This is a little, little behind the scenes I put it on fill zero. I put it on fill zero. I put it on fill zero. I stick it in a folder with that and it stays and it never moves. Do you understand that? If you guys are working with other people you guys are working in a shop with other people I beg of you please do it, don't leave your path stored over here. How many people have paths actually showing on your desktop? Like, it's part of your layer palette. Almost nobody I know has their paths showing. So what happens if you're working coordination with other people you're not going to see it? Cool, awesome. So, let me close that out, we'll get rid of that, we'll get rid of this and we'll go back to it. So, I will put my base in, I'll probably turn out turn my layer off. I will mask my base out, and then I will mask my base out on a double layer. So please, these are just color corrections, don't freak out let's put them in a folder called CC. What do I have here? Hands off the computer. I have a background, fully layered. I have a base image, some color correction on it and I have a new mask that I can now go ohh how much of it oh, no we want to see through it don't we? Would it help if my file's in the folder? Yes it would. Alright, I'm just masking it out real loosely. Then, what I do is I put a copy of it underneath on multiply, put a copy of the entire picture on multiply. Remember the white one, right, so there it is, all white. What do I have? I have a multiply base, I have the top, and in fact because I already painted this out let me go ahead and put the mask back on. I have a lime and I have some white detail going on. Do you guys kind of see how this is all coming together? And there's the top. And let me move that color correction out. Remember we talked about the color correction? Alright, I know this is a little confusing. It's complicated but it is complicated. This kind of work is complicated. I think what happens with demos that everyone's like oh we just do this and it's perfect, no, it's not perfect. Things flow and ebb, this file is a hundred percent flexible the only thing that's not put back in here are the reflections of the background that they might want in here. Remember that markup that I had at the beginning and they circled the arches? That would be the only thing left to paint in. And you can paint it loose, it's on that base layer, you just paint it loose with the background in it. So, I think this is kind of counterintuitive to most of you. Wouldn't most of you have been arguing with that bottle and tried to mask out that bottle as perfectly as you could? And then mask out the inside? Can I tell you how much time that would take? So by pathing it out first and getting rid of almost everything, then dropping the shadows in, the multiply in and the highlights on top, you have flexibility and I bet you a million dollars a photographer like Christina would have no idea this is what the file looks like. Would you honey? You would think it's just the bottle, and this is kind of the magic behind and the real production stuff that ends up happening and why? Because that shot, for as hard as she worked, and as great as that was, that background was too dingy, they're gonna want it brighter, how fast can I lighten it up? It's hard, it's hard to lighten up through a bottle. It's not hard to lighten up a separate file. Do you understand? Now if your client has no money and you're stuck with it and you can't throw all that retouching time, you have it, you're covered. But by simply putting a Black Card or a White Card or a Gray Card behind the exact same shoot I have a hundred percent flexibility. I know it's kind of a bizarre thought, isn't it, it's almost like you remove everything and put stuff back in but you're more flexible and it might have to go under the title of trust me, trust me, this is, because do you remember I talked earlier about the breakdowns? Like the breakdowns are where all the money is, well the breakdowns can't happen unless you have file flexibility. Could you imagine trying to extend that floor out perfectly and exactly match the grain to the one that was in the bottle. No, it'd be a nightmare, get rid of the floor. Just get rid of it and if they needed a horizontal one go to iStock and get a horizontal or AdobeStock excuse me and do a horizontal one it's okay. I could change that floor at any moment. I could go in and say oh they want a different floor. And, because I did those shadows on multiply, I did the shadows on multiply I don't have to redraw the shadows because it's there, it's not a hundred percent opaque picture it's a paint layer full of white, black excuse me. So if multiply works on whites, which one works on blacks? Multiply will show your darks, oh white screen, screen. So if you want white detail, and you make a black background well it's not one hundred percent cause it's screen, um, how do I explain this? Screen, the mode of screen on black, okay, I'm going to do a demo here's what I'm going to show you, cause I don't want to say this wrong. Soft light, you can't see anything, right? Screen you can see. This is really important. Soft light on black you can see nothing. Screen you can see it but why is this on soft light and that is a really good question because I want it to actually interact with the background. So, you look at this and you see I've got highlights and it's on top of the bottle, it's actually not really on top of the bottle, it's actually on top of the background, cause the bottle is painted out isn't it? Do you see that? So this is the bottle. This is the bottle on multiply. And there's the real bottle. And the real bottle, the big illusion in all this, that's all you got. Yeah, you cool with it? Make sense, you think so? I know this is hard to wrap most people's heads out, this is where I'm not kind of your traditional retoucher because I'm definitely trying to show you production techniques that will get you farther than what it would be if you just did the, did the job the way most people did and the only difference between this job and what most people do, which is to plainly, plainly shoot this. Alright, this is really good, I think you guys are going to get this. Do you see these tonal variations? If you had the actual bottle with the background and you had to like dodge and burn and try to match this, can you're chasing your tail. You can feel it right? So if instead you isolate out the shadows, and the highlights and make your background on the bottom, you are free to paint and change so the key to this entire assignment, this glass bottle which can be kind of difficult to shoot, pathing it out. You path it out right from the beginning. You shoot smart. How do you shoot smart? You shoot with a Black Card, a White Card, and frankly a Gray Card, and you ask your photographer to do this. No one is going to tell you this, I'm telling you, this is totally like the what? I mean how many times do your retouchers ask you to do this Christina? Yeah. And if you do that you save so much time a little more time on the front end. Okay, how long would it take you to path out a bottle? Fifteen minutes? Fifteen minutes that's not too bad. If you have your shots all in smart objects you can everything's going to line up exactly in position so you can put your black, your white, your gray and your original all in one file. Wait, what? You can put your black, white, and gray in one file. Can I demo that real quick? Do I have a minute? Excellent, alright. I'm going to open up this stack. Smart object, there it is. Okay, that's my original. Command J, command J is actually gonna be an illusion. I'm going to pretend this is the shot on white. Christina did a shot, she did the original. She put the White Card, drag that file into this one. Christina did a shot, she did it on a Black Card. Just ignore my layers, we're gonna call it black. I'm going to rasterize it. I have three shots in one. What if I was radical? Hear me out, I know you're tired. And I made all that into a smart object? Uh, scratch disk is full, that sucks, alright. I'm going to close that original. See if I can do it now. Okay, three-in-one, three-in-one. Bear with me it's gonna be good. Alright, we're starting from scratch right. We're just starting the job. Okay, she did a great job doing this. I'm going to drag it over. I'm going to put it in position. It's perfectly in position, I like it. Save, just saying. Gonna close this back one out, don't need that anymore. Got two files open, got my comp with my smart object position, I have my smart object open and expanded turning all the layers off. I'm hitting command S. It's going to save that smart object. Okay, original, cool? Go back to your comp. Original, I'm going to put, make a copy of it, call it original just going to shift-click these together and merge it. There's my original, let's turn that off for a second. Let's go back to that smart object, it was still open, two files open, still open, let's do the white. Command save. There's the white one. Make a copy of it, make a new layer white. Misspell it because that always looks good on a demo. Turn it off, go back to the original. Black, save it. Smart objects, I have all three files in exact position, put them in a folder. Mask away. Oh, I have to do the highlight, the channel pull. Channel pull. There's my highlights. Oh I need to do my shadow. Channel pull. I just want the shadows. You guys I'm not a quick trip person, I'm trying to get you think like the like the program, I want you to know how to drive the car. There are my shadows. Call it shadows. Ope, I want the original again. It's all in one folder. It's never gonna, you move it, it moves together. Right, it's all-in-one, it's one smart object. Um, earlier, you mentioned shift click and control click for your eye. Oh, sorry, yeah I probably do it without thinking But I was just could you explain that? If you hold the option key down, you can turn all of the layers off and on. Option key turns all the layers off and on, if you hold the control key, you can hide everything but one layer or two show this layer and if you have a mask, so let's say I hid all this, and I hold the shift key I can turn that mask temporarily off so I can see. Why are you doing that? And that's a great question when you're doing those channel pulls, you need to have that whole bottle showing. Cool? So again look you guys I get it, this is kind of complicated stuff but I'm hoping what you pull from this is how to think differently. I am forever saying this in Photoshop, think differently. So for this job, most people think you shoot the bottle and you have the bottle and most of the bottle is there and you're only adding to it. No. Most of the bottle is gone, you do channel pulls for the shadows, you do highlight channel pulls for the highlight, and you just paint in a little bit of the bottle. I know, it's crazy, but it's not crazy if you think about it, I assure you. You'd be amazed at how easy this can be. Seriously. And then, the key to the way I build, is, I build cause I do not answer to anybody, I mean I'm not answering to myself, I have to answer to you, and you, and you and fifteen other people up the food chain and they all have a different idea. I can change this file so fast. You know we want it on brick, you want it on brick, it's on brick I don't have to repaint the shadows, I don't have to repaint the highlights, it's on brick. You want it in a rainy sea in from Thailand, no problem, rainy scene in Thailand, rain on the top. So, again, I know it looks like front end heavy work, but it's back end light. Can I have a t-shirt that says that? Sure. Wouldn't that be nice, anyway. (silence)

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Compositing Companion Handout
Delivery Worksheet
Estimating Shoot Worksheet
Retouch Checklist 1
Retouch Checklist 2
Solar-Curves Action

Ratings and Reviews


Super Lisa is the best teacher. She makes learning Photoshop fun. Great course. Lisa has a great teaching style. She mixes in a great speech cadence, great voice up and down and pausing, jokes, and is extremely knowledgeable and fun to watch. Awesome course. Learned a lot from the course.

Anne Dougherty

I love Lisa Carney’s classes! She is casual yet precise, and she thinks like I do! The workflow logic of her process is brilliant. Really brilliant. I started working in PS version 1.something, as the publisher I worked for was just computerizing their department, and I was a total novice. But right from our first day working digitally, we had to create images and files that our novice printers could successfully print from. Lisa’s logic/approach is so familiar! Making things work on a deadline is an incredible way to learn time-saving techniques, and I wish I’d had Lisa crunching solutions with me. I am new to the newest PSCC, but all off her process made sense to me. She moves fast, so it might be a little tough for a total beginner, but she stops and explains things very clearly once she’s gone through it a time or two on a file, so, hopefully everyone can get things solidified for themselves. Now that I am retired and doing my photo work just for myself, her compositing techniques are helping me get to my end results much more quickly. I wish I had a Lisa sitting alongside me, with a glass of wine, while I’m experimenting with my creative composited work. Thank you so much for having her as a CreativeLive instructor/mentor.


I took advantage of Photoshop Week and caught this class live - and loved it! I own other CreativeLive food photography courses, but I really liked the way Lisa and Christina taught the image shoot segment in this one. They show us a little glimpse of how the retoucher and photographer work together, in real time, on the set and I like that. Lisa and Christina are also very giving with their knowledge of how things work behind the scenes as well. Though, the main reason I bought this course was for the info Lisa shared about file naming and file version organization. There are a lot of video's on how to perform functions in Photoshop, but almost none about correctly naming, and organizing your versions. Now, I've got a real base to start from. Thanks :)

Student Work