Discover how to enhance the reflectivity of an object to match the ambience of its environment in this week’s Deke’s Techniques. Deke shows how to enhance the sunglasses of a model posed in White Sands National Monument, New Mexico, using Adobe Photoshop paths, masks, and layer effects.
1. Open the exercise file, Colleen of the sands.jpg, or open your own image in Photoshop. Choose the Rectangle Marquee tool and draw a bounding box around the sunglasses. Press Ctrl+Alt+J or Cmd+Option+J to jump the selection to a new layer. Name the new layer glasses.
2. Switch to the Paths panel to examine the paths Deke has drawn with the Pen tool. (Note that if you’re working with your own photograph, you’ll have to draw your paths by hand.) You’ll need to create a new mask from these paths.
2a. Shift-clicking the lenses and edge & nose paths in the panel, and then marquee-select the path outlines in the image window with the Direct Selection tool.
2b. Return to the Layers panel, select the glasses layer, and Cmd- or Ctrl-click on the Add layer mask icon at the bottom of the panel.
Tip: Adding the Cmd or Ctrl key loads the selected paths as a vector mask.
3. The paths aren’t interacting the way we want. To fix this, first turn off the visibility of the Background layer to see your paths better. Shift-click the nose and ellipse in the image window, go to the Options bar, click Path operations, and change it to Subtract Front Shape.
4. Now turn the visibility of the background back on and press M to return to the Rectangular Marquee tool.
5. To brighten the sunglasses, you’ll add a layer effect. Click the fx icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose Color Overlay. Click the color swatch in the dialog that appears and choose white from the Color Picker. Change the Blend Mode to Overlay and click OK.
6. To relieve some of the harsh outlines around the model’s nose, you’ll need to re-mask it. Make sure the vector mask icon is selected in the Layers panel. Choose the Direction Selection tool and Shift-click the ellipse in the image window to deselect it. Only the nose path should be selected. Press Backspace or Delete to remove it.
7. Now click the Add layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. Choose the Brush tool and press the D key to load the default foreground (white) and background (black) colors. Then press the X key to swap the colors.
8. Right-click in the image window to reveal the brush options. Change the Size to 125 pixels and Hardness to 100%. Press Enter or Return to hide the panel.
9. Click on the tip of the nose to add that part to the mask. To add the rest of the nose, you need a special command.
10. Choose Window > Brush to open the Brush panel. Change Spacing to 10% and then close the panel. Now Shift-click at the top of the bridge of the nose to extend the mask.
11. Double-click the layer mask thumbnail to open the Properties panel. Change Feather to 2 pixels and hide the panel.
12. To make the mask even more exact, choose the Smudge tool (available from the Blur tool flyout menu) and click and drag around the nose outline to minimize that dark halo on the edge.
13. Switch to the Brush tool and click along the edge of the nose to get rid of any extra brightness you might have introduced in the last step.
14. To reduce noise in the glasses themselves, click the lenses layer thumbnail and choose Filter > Noise > Reduce Noise. When the dialog box opens, make the following adjustments and then click OK:
- Increase Strength to 10
- Decrease Preserve Details to 5%
- Increase Reduce Color Noise to 50%
- Decrease Sharpen Details to 0%
16. To add a gradient to the lenses, click the fx icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose Gradient Overlay. Change the Style to Reflected, the Blend Mode to Linear Dodge (Add), the Opacity to 50%, and the Angle to 100. Before you click OK to accept the changes, go to the image window and drag the gradient up so it bisects the lenses.
Now zoom out and check out your results. With the application of just a couple of layer effects, you can enhance the reflective surfaces in your images and create an immediate, dramatic impact. In the follow-up movie, accessible to lynda.com members, Deke shows you how to warm the tone and heightens the drama of this photograph to create an image worthy of a fashion editorial.
If you’re interested in more layer effects, next week’s free video teaches you how to take flat, vector-based layers and transform them into volumetric artwork with layer effects.
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