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Compositing for Digital Scrapbookers

Lesson 6 of 20

Self Blend a Photo Two Ways


Compositing for Digital Scrapbookers

Lesson 6 of 20

Self Blend a Photo Two Ways


Lesson Info

Self Blend a Photo Two Ways

We're gonna jump into Photoshop now and look at our examples so if you're following along in our book we're starting with page 11, and we're gonna start with the first practice exercise which is self blend a photo in two different ways, and we're gonna talk about self blending. So I'm gonna put my little thing here aside, I'm gonna open up our first file, and we're gonna start right at the top by comparing the files, we're gonna go to file, open, and navigate to our practice files and if you've downloaded all of the stuff, they should be right in here and you're gonna look for a folder or a .zip file that says blending practice files. So click on that, and we're gonna start with the flower. I know in the notes I think I wrote selfblend.jpg, and I think I left it as self blend, but I ended up changing it at some point so it's the flower, that's the example that we are using. And it's a .jpeg and you're gonna click open, and that's a flower I found on someones desk at some point in life ...

and took a picture of and I really loved it. And this is a very good example for blending, we're gonna show interior blending right now, okay? So there's two ways to interior blend. We haven't talked about it, haven't discussed it yet, but there's two ways, the first way is jumping the background layer, the other way is by creating a dummy layer. I actually did show you guys already how to do this, I just never talked about it. So just we're gonna get deep down and dirty with it, so you understand the difference and why one is more important than the other, okay? So first things first, whenever you open a photo and you wanna do some blending, you need to blend something into something else. At this point, you have a background layer, and I'm gonna double click the background layer, just so it's not locked, you know, a background layer. So if you've never seen that before, I can't apply a blend mode to a background layer, okay? You can't because there's nothing behind it to blend, but let's say for example you double click it, it will create a new layer, you don't have to layer it any, name it anything, just leave it at layer zero, it's gonna say okay. It's not something you have to do, but if you apply a blend mode now, well there's nothing behind it so it's not gonna blend. So really, to self blend anything it has to be blended into itself. So we're gonna use shortcut keys. Shortcuts keys command-J on the PC, or command-J on the Mac, and now we can self blend because we at least need two layers to self blend. Not if we were working in a layout, I might create a clipping mask so that at least that layer was gonna blend into that single layer, and not that entire lay out. But since we're only working in this example, I don't need a clipping mask. Now we can choose a blend mode. Now, the blend modes are found at the top of the layers panel for both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop elements. It doesn't say blend modes, it says normal. So if you click on normal, then you can apply a blend mode. Now blend modes, it can be whatever you want it to be, in this example I'm not here to show you, oh this is what multiply is gonna do and this is what screen is gonna do. We're gonna get to all of that but, this photo does have a lot of things that you can do with it and get a couple of different looks. So for example, multiply is going to make it darker, right? Screen is going to make it lighter. Contrast modes like overlay is gonna make some parts darker and some parts lighter, and make it look good. We talked about the cancellation modes, like I said if you have two photos on top of one another, then it's going to make it black, it's gonna cancel it out. Still there, just gonna cancel it out because it's comparing one photo to another. However if you move it, this is the image that you're gonna get, okay. So remember when I said I like to compare two photos and make sure they are the right size? When you're using a blend mode that's a cancellation mode or an inversion mode, that's what you're gonna get. But if you always saw it as black, it's really not black, that's not what's happening. And then of course you have things like hue, saturation, they're not gonna come up really well because I'm not focused on a specific result, okay? Now self blending of course is exterior blending. So you can do all of these wonderful things by just switching blend modes and seeing how they compare with one another, how the pixels are going to act, when they react to each other, but it also has a lot to do with layer masks. And we talked about layer masks so for example, on this top layer that I'm going to self blend, I'm gonna add a layers mask, okay? And I'm not gonna make a reverse concealed layers mask, we're just gonna click on the add layer mask icon, which is step two, letter C, add layers mask, and now I have a layers mask. And right now it's white, so its revealing everything on my photo, and if I want to conceal parts of a blend, then I would need to paint with black in my foreground color. So lets select the brush tool, which is shortcut B on your keyboard, but it's also this tool in our layers panel right here, we're gonna select the brush tool, and then in our brush picker, in the contact sensitive menu, we're gonna select a soft round brush, which I already have one, and I'm gonna reduce the size a little bit. And I want my cursor to be kinda big, so I'm going to use my right bracket to increase the size because I am going to do a little bit with the flower. Now here's the thing, this is just for practice so you guys at home who have access to the files just have fun with it and see some of the results that you're gonna create, okay? We're just having fun here, okay. Now I'm going to, I have to paint with black so I need to get black in my foreground color so the quickest way to do that is to use shortcut key D on the keyboard. Actually I already have it so let me switch it, and X to get black into the foreground color, okay? And then I can conceal portion of my blend. So which blend do I want to use? Okay well, let's say I wanted to go darker. Let's just make everything darker right now. So my photo, what happens, if you take a comparative look, this is the original without the blend mode and now my photo has gotten darker, the wood has gotten darker, you can see more of the flower though, that's kind of why I love this look because if I get really into the beautiful flowers you can see more definition, you can see more contrast, there's more shadows popping out of that flower, okay? However, I don't like the fact that this table has gotten really dark, right? So with my mask, I can now conceal portions of the table by using the soft round brush and getting kind of close to the flowers, it's okay, and I can even increase the size of my brush and just start concealing portions of the table that got a little bit too dark. Now this is very simple blending types of things, okay? And now, I got a table that looks pretty nice, and walnutty or whatever color it is, and I've also got some flowers that got some stronger contrast, okay? So is this a photo I might use in a page? Yes, is this a technique I might use, yes. Because I want those flowers to be more strongly exposed, and the table to be exposed the exact way that it was. That's how blend modes can work for you, okay? Now because we created a duplicate, this is called jumping the background layer. It's a self blend, an interior blend, because we're not worried about the edges, we're just worried about the interior parts of the photo, but we are jumping the background. Jumping the background is great, there's nothing wrong with that, especially if you need to use the mask, it helps you see things better, the problem with jumping the background layer is that it increases your file size. Every time you jump the background layer you duplicate a photo, and then add a layers mask and stuff, you're adding more information to your layout, so you're just increasing your file size. So there's nothing wrong with that, but that's what happens. Let's talk about the visibility, which is the last letter in this step. Let's do something a little bit different, okay? Now, you can create a self blend using a dummy layer, which is also an adjustment layer. There are a few adjustment layers that you can create, that don't no anything, there's exposure levels, brightness, and contrast and vibrance. Adjustments layers that are pattern and gradient, as soon as you apply them, they change something, so those are not dummy layers. But other ones will, and the cool thing about dummy layers is they don't increase your file size, so that's why we use them that way. So if you click on the create, I come back to my original layer, I turned off the visibility of mine, jumping the background layer, and then I'm going to click on my create new fill or adjustment layer icon, and let's just pick one, it doesn't matter we're gonna pick levels. We played around with the mid tone grades, and we played around with highlights. We're not gonna play anything with this panel, we just want a mask okay? And we want the option to now blend it. So we can use a blend mode, again, like we used overlay for example, or multiply, and now, we've changed this layer using a dummy layer. And we have not increased our file size. We also have the mask available to us still, we didn't have to add a mask it's already there. So you can inverse it if you want, and this is step three, letter C, I've changed the blend mode and now I'm going to target the dummy layers, in the layers panel in the layers mask, and I'm gonna reverse it so it's in conceal mode, and that's gonna be shortcut key control-I on the PC or command-I on the Mac. I can inverse it, and with the same brush, my soft round brush, and with white as my foreground color, change it to white using the shortcut X, I can now basically go the other way, you know? So here's my multiply, or I can come back and say let me screen that, make it lighter, or let me give it an overlay. Okay, so here I had a multiply, let's match it so here's a multiply, and then let me inverse this, so there you go. You have more options, okay? So here I'm going to make it darker, and now my photos are still the same way, they're lighter, looks pretty good I think right? So, that's the genius behind either one, you can go either way, you have to work in the opposite direction if you're going in the self blend mode via dummy layer, or the opposite direction using jumping the background, but that's the way that you wanna do it. I don't prefer one over the other, I don't mind my file size being really big, it doesn't really bother me if it's going to be really big, I just need to know, hey if I'm going to self blend, am I going to use levels? Because I wanna use highlights and mid tones and those types of things, that's good. But if you're worried about file size, then definitely do a dummy layer, there is nothing wrong with that, and you can always reduce opacity and whatnot to get the looks you want to create. Okay, you can also mix and match these. You can say hey, I wanna create something like this where you know, the background is really dark, the background is darker, and then I want to specifically make more contrast into the photos, so here basically I made, from my beginning layer, I've made the background darker, but I'm singling out the photos, I haven't changed anything with the flowers, and then I've specifically added more contrast to the flowers, okay? So you can mix and match your self blends, all the time, I do it always. So there is that last step when I say, toggle on the visibility of the self blended layer and note the results, okay? Any questions in the audience so far? It's a very easy example, just get in the mood of blending, Yahnee? Do you ever flatten your files to reduce your file size? To print yes, to save, no. I like to go back in later points in life and do something with my layouts. For photos, I don't blend photos in their own original files, I will always usually drag it in, and then once I'm done with a photo, I close it and I'm done with it. But for my layouts, I don't save space, and that's probably why I have three external hard drives. (laughs)

Class Description

Scrapbooking is the experience of pulling together disparate elements of your life and creating stories that could never otherwise exist. And yet scrapbooking in the physical medium still limits your creative scope to what exists in the real world. Digital scrapbooking removes that barrier. By mastering the practice of compositing your personal photos, you can build fantastical, entirely impossible scenes around your favorite subject material.

Join Tiffany Tillman-Emanuel for this intermediate-level class, and you’ll learn:

  • How to develop and digitally sketch a theme for the page.
  • How to find and gather complementary photos for the fantasy theme.
  • How to use graphic design principles to improve the overall aesthetic of the final page.

Fantasy composites are difficult digital effects to create, and require the confident use of a photo editor. Tiffany will walk you through implementing the right kinds of blend modes and adjustment layers for different compositing results. You’ll learn her tips and techniques for creating quality selections and extractions, and applying them to your composited photos. Add new dimensions to your scrapbooking practice. Transform the things you love, and send them into worlds that exist only in your imagination.

Purchase to get the in-depth Compositing for Digital Scrapbookers workbook. The workbook includes step-by-step instructions on digitizing media, altering elements in Photoshop, and so much more!



I was in Tiffany's Mixed Media class and was also lucky enough to be in this class. Tiffany is an AWESOME instructor and well organized. Her Mixed Media class was a great building block for this class. The class is well worth the money--well organized workbook and other great bonuses. If you want to take your scrapbooking to the next artistic level, I highly recommend Tiffany's two classes at CreativeLivel.

a Creativelive Student

Great course with easy to understand ways of blending more than one photo together for a great composite layout. Excellent materials and workbooks.. Thanks Tiffany for a wonderful class! - Christa (cfile)

E.L. Bl/Du

I think Tiffany is good at explaining it so those who arent pro photgraphers can start at the basics to learn photoshop. I really liked watching this even tho my vision is in another direction, I like how she explains how to get there in photoshop. She makes it not so scary to jump in. She is clever mom too, every parent wants their own kids to be a star and she surely did that. What a neat thing to "scrapbook" the photos. I liked learning adjustment layers, would like more in curves too. But great place to start out in ps. I recommend if your lost in PS.