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Tips and Tricks and Q&A

Lesson 9 from: Essential Compositing Tips & Techniques In Photoshop

Jesús Ramirez

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Lesson Info

9. Tips and Tricks and Q&A

Lesson Info

Tips and Tricks and Q&A

Okay so what I'm gonna show you now is just a few compositing tips and tricks. These are gonna be a little quicker than the ones we've been seeing so far. The first trick that I'm gonna show you is this tractor. We wanna composite that tractor into that scene. And sort of like I talked about earlier, always my first instinct is to go for the Quick Selection tool and make a selection and then usually it works pretty good. But for something like this, you always have to think about what's the best tool for the job? I'm not a big fan of techniques, I'm a big fan of results. So, for something like this, a tool that you may wanna use that people probably tell you never to use is the Magic Wand tool. We have a solid, white background. It's really simple to go with the Magic Wand tool and just look at the tolerance. You can think of this as how close to the pixel that I click on am I going to select. So we set it to one and we click then I'm only going to select the pixels that are exactly th...

at color. And if we start increasing this value then it's no longer the pixels that are that specific color, it's the pixels that are similar colors until we get to essentially all the pixels. So you can set it to a low tolerance, maybe five or less when you're looking at an image that has a completely white background. This is something that you would get like at a stock photo, this is specifically from Adobe Stock and they have a lot of images that are isolated with white backgrounds usually and the easiest way to mask something like this out is by clicking in the Magic Wand tool, setting the tolerance to five and then clicking on any of the white areas and then holding option and clicking in the layer mask thumbnail and the job is almost done. You don't have to do too much work. If you double click on the layer mask here it should bring up the properties panel and you can make sure you increase the edge detection and notice as soon as I do that the mask gets better and I can also increase the contrast a little bit and I can shift the edge in the negative value so that it shifts in and we get rid of any white pixels around the edge there and then I'm going to press okay. So just by making those quick adjustments we were able to mask this tractor out and if we wanted to take this scene further we would of course have to add shadows, lighting and all that sort of stuff. So to sort of tie this to the previous thing we were talking about, brushes, we have this grass here. Notice how if we add grass now it looks like the tractor's actually sitting on that grass. And all I did there, just to show you another example of how brushes can help you in your compositing is by using a brush that comes with Photoshop. This grass brush here. This was designed by one of my favorite Photoshop artists, Burtman Roy, who designed the brushes here. So he designed this brush, it's now in Photoshop, and you can essentially paint grass. But you could also use the clone stamp tool and then select that brush and then you can clone grass using grass as reference. And if you click on the brushes panel here you can disable the transfer because I don't want any transfer going on. I just want everything to be 100 percent opacity and no transfer on that. So then I can create a new layer and I can hold the space bar so I can pan, I can hold option to select the target to sample from, so I'll sample from here and then I can start painting. Obviously those grass blades are too tall so I can do that and use the left and right brackets on the keyboard to adjust the size of my brush and I can start painting some grass in there and make it look as if the tractor is sitting there. So another example of how you can use brushes to help you with your composites. So this one is how to take advantage of blend modes so that you can composite something with crazy hair like this. In this case I actually will use the Quick Selection tool because it works really good in this case. So I'm going to select the Quick Selection tool. Just select her as quick as I can and then click on the layer mask icon to create a layer mask. Double click on the layer mask there to bring up the selected mask workspace. I can increase the edge detection radius to make a better selection and then with this little tool right here, this refine edge tool, I can click and drag on the hair here to remove more of that background. And by the way if you're shooting your own photos for compositing I really like using gray. Gray's my favorite color to use because in my opinion it's easier to mask than other colors and also you can take advantage of blending modes, which is what I'm going to show you now. So the masking job is not terrible, it's not great, it's okay, but we can take it further by taking advantage of how blend modes work in Photoshop. So in Photoshop you'll notice, you've probably seen this list a million times, but you probably never really thought about what these little dividers mean. And these little dividers tell you that these are sets of blending modes and you can use them in different ways. So these first ones, for example you're probably familiar with multiply, so anything in this divider here and this divider here will keep the dark pixels and get rid of the light pixels. Screen does the opposite. You keep the bright pixels and you delete the dark ones. Overlay you keep both except 50 percent gray. So anything that's 50 percent gray becomes invisible. So we're going to take advantage of that and we're gonna create a better mask out of this. So that's what 50 percent gray looks like and if I disable the layer mask you'll notice that the background is not quite 50 percent gray. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to select the layer of our model here and with the lasso took I'm just going to make a quick selection right around here cause I know there's some stray hairs there that I know I want to keep for my composite. And actually I missed some right out there so I'm going to click and drag and add to my selection and I'm going to do this in pieces just because even though the background is gray it's not the same gray all throughout the image. There's shadows and colors and things like that. There's even some of that ambient color that I was talking about earlier. You can sort of see it here and here. But anyways, so I've selected this portion of the hair. With that layer selected I can press command J to duplicate and that's going to create a new layer just based on that selection. I'm going to click and drag that layer below my model layer and what I'm going to do now is I want to match the 50 percent gray of the background to this circle here. So I'm just going to go, with that layer selected, I'm going to go into image, adjustment, levels and I'm just going to match, oops let me make sure I disable this layer so we can see it. The reason we couldn't see it is because the original layer was hiding this layer here. So I'm going to go back into image, adjustment, levels and I'm going to match it as best as I can. It's not going to be perfect, but I can get close enough. So that seems to be close enough. If there's a color cast in your image you can just click on this middle eye dropper here and just click on the gray. It sort of removes it. It may match it a little bit better, but anyway we're going to press okay and that's close enough for this so I'm going to disable this 50 percent gray ellipse and I'm just going to change the blend mode to hard light and then I'm going to enable this layer here and I'm going to enable the layer mask. Hold shift and click to enable it again. So notice that we got a whole lot more detail, but there is some problems. You can still see some of that background, but if we bring the opacity down just a little bit and then we also add a layer mask and with a soft brush paint on the edges, and let me increase the flow and the opacity more just so I can go a little bit quicker here. Oops, I got to paint with black, sorry. I can start erasing some of those edges, make sure there's no harsh lines, hard lines and that's before and that's after. So you can come in here and just use the brush tool to try to get more of the stray hairs in there and the image is going to look just a little bit better. To be frank with you I probably could have done a little bit better of matching the 50 percent gray, but even at this zoom level things look pretty good and what you will do at this point is go back and look at what other areas you would want to bring in some of those stray hairs by using that same technique. What I'm going to do now is show you how you can create shadows by using the exposure adjustment layer. So this is the same bear scene that I created and what I'm going to do is I'm simply going to create a exposure adjustment layer. Usually people think of shadows as them being black, but they're really not, they have color. If you just look around and put your hand over something you look at a shadow it's not really black, it has color. And one of the easiest ways to not even think about that is by creating an exposure adjustment layer, making the image just a little bit darker, like so, and then inverting the layer mask, command I, control I on the PC, so now it's invisible and I can just come in here and paint with white on the layer mask and simply paint in that shadow. Obviously this is not 100 percent realistic just because I'm doing it quickly here, but you obviously want to match the shape of the bear and how it's bending around the log there, but essentially that's the bear's shadow and I can control that again by using the exposure adjustment layer to adjust it accordingly. So this is a good way of creating shadows without thinking about what color to make them. Um, this is not really compositing, but it's a tip that I wanted to show you just because I like it so much and it deals with using adjustment layers and blend modes and I'm a big fan of the two just because you can create so many things just by knowing how blend modes work and how layer adjustments work. So one of my favorite adjustment layers is the black and white adjustment layer which turns everything black and white and you can use the sliders to adjust luminesce values of specific colors, so notice here the reds to make the reds darker. If I disable the layer you'll see that there's some red here, she's wearing a red shirt, so you can make the red's darker and brighter. Same for the yellows and same for all the other colors. What you can do is if you take advantage of blending modes is you can go into luminosity so now this adjustment layer is not gonna take away the color, it's only going to adjust the luminesce values. So if I want my reds to be darker I can click and drag this over to the left, reds are darker. I can do the same for the yellows, greens and since this is an adjustment layer we have a layer mask so we can create targeted selections. So maybe we don't want our adjustment to affect the green so we can paint with black on the green. Obviously I'm going fairly quickly here, but I think you get the idea. Targeted selections, adjustment layers and blend modes, just a combination of those could help you create some really interesting effects with images. And the last thing that I'm going to show you is Photoshop has what I like to call eight special blend modes, blending modes, and these are here highlighted in yellow. They're color burn, linear burn, color dodge, linear dodge, vivid light, linear light, hard mix and difference. And all blend modes except for these eight act the same when two things happen, when you adjust the fill and opacity, or the opacity and fill, except for these and when you check a special check box that I'm going to show you in a moment. So I'm going to enable my bear again and we're going to work with this image here. I'm going to create a blank layer on top of everything. I'm going to paint with white and there we go. And if we change the blend mode to a linear dodge (add) nothing is going to happen, but if you double click on the side of the layer here and uncheck transparency shapes layer watch what happens with that layer there. See how it becomes hotter and brighter, see that? And the other thing that I talked about is opacity and fill work the same with all blend modes, except for the eight that I just mentioned. This is one of those eight. Watch what happens when I bring down the opacity to say 50 percent, or 49, see that. Now watch what happens when I bring down the fill opacity. It's still hot, still bright. So this technique here is really good if you want to create bright highlights, specular highlights. I mean maybe this bear has got like this really bright light shining on him. You know what that may be too bright. Let's bring down the brightness of that light. Instead of adjusting the opacity you would adjust the fill and it still looks as he had a light shining on him, but it's not as bright. So if I clip that to the bear it looks a little bit more realistic. So just remember those eight blend modes. Here they are again. They work differently when you adjust the fill, the opacity and they blend differently when you uncheck transparency shapes layer. One of our students, Laurienne Davy, wanted to know, had a question about regarding the break dancer image that you did. Yeah. And wanted to know could you use the average filter to get the overall tint of the background for a color blend? Yes, yeah and I don't know if I should show this to the people in the audience so they can see. I believe she's talking about the blur average, average blur, which essentially takes all the colors in an image and just averages them out to a single color and the short answer to that question is yes. The reason I didn't do that for that specific image is because if you recall there was some graffiti in the background. There was some blues and greens and I wanted those blues and greens to reflect the sweater that she was wearing, but yeah you could definitely do the average if it's just one single color.

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Ratings and Reviews

Arlette Hatcher

A great course full of useful information and helpful tips. I would really recommend this course to anyone interested in compositing in photoshop. Will look for more like it in Creative Live. Thank you.


Jesus is amazing a true guru of PS and an fabulous instructor very clear in his instruction method and details ... been watching him for years and he's improved 10 fold.

Jo Moolenschot

This short course is packed full of incredibly useful tips! I've been working with Photoshop for years and I did not know some of these excellent techniques. I highly recommend this course to anyone interested in refining their compositing techniques, understanding why things work the way they do with compositing or simply refreshing their technical compositing knowledge. Thank you Jesus, much appreciated!

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