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FREELessons: 18Length: 2 hours

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4.6 Final Touches

Our scene doesn’t have much visible ground—instead there’s a vast field of puffy clouds. In this lesson we explore techniques for creating a field of clouds out of multiple images and layers to provide depth to our scene.

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4.6 Final Touches

Hello everybody, and welcome back to Advanced Photoshop Techniques. We are going to finish off our project in this lesson. This is lesson 4.6 for the final touches. Here's where we last left our project in the previous lesson after adding some lighting effects. Now if we remember back in the sketch portion of this, we did have some planes flying in and there is a couple of reasons that I wanted to add those. One, it just adds to the general sense of hugeness of this tortoise in the fact that there is a city on its back. And the city is thriving so there's even planes flying in and out of this turtle shell city. Also, it adds a nice foreground element here. Whenever you're trying to composite a large scene like this, it's always helpful to have visual interest in all three planes, pardon the pun there. You want to have a background that's visually interesting, a middle ground which would probably be the primary interest area, and then a foreground just to help establish that depth. So that's one of the things we're gonna focus on in this lesson is adding in those extra elements. And of course, just like before, there's additional stock images in the course files that we can use for this. Now you can pull them from the course files or there's a link in the lesson description to where you can download them from their original source. And the techniques to get these back into our composition is the same as what we've done before. And I've gone ahead and added those elements in but hidden most of them just so that we can quickly walk through the process that I took. We'll begin with this foreground plane here. That was a pretty easy extraction from its source image and that the sky was all a single color and made it really nice and easy to pull that out. Also, I added a motion blur to that because this front plane here should have a little bit of blur to it, in that you don't want it to be sharp, and draw focus away from this city element, and it also indicates the fact that it's moving quite quickly. And because it was a smart object, it was a simple motion blur smart filter that I used, I used an angle of 16 and a distance of 16 as well. Now, these are not magic numbers. You need to make sure that the angle tends to match up to however you decide to rotate this plane, and then you just adjust the distance to what looks good. I did feel that it needed a curves adjustment lighter click to it to help lighten the contrast on that a little bit, and so I pulled up those dark areas, pulled in the light areas, and then dipped down that midpoint so it just contributes to the feeling that there's no focus on this. Below that I added some contrails. The contrails also were fairly easy to pull out. Now this was like the technique that we used before where we simply grab them with a simple selection, and de-saturated it. And then used a levels command and the burn tool, to make sure that it's nice and dark outside it but the white contrails are nice and bright. That way, we can use the screen blending mode to further make sure that this looks appropriate in here. And then a slight Gaussian blur. Just to make it match up with the plane that it's on. There's an additional step that I did include with this. Because I wanted this to match up with the lighting effects that we have here, so I thought this yellowish orange light would be showing some on the plane. So, I added a new layer directly above these curves. Clip that in, and used a soft brush sampling that orange-ish yellowish color that's in there to just very softly add some of that lighting effect to the plane. And a lot of times, painting directly like this will cover over detail, so the thing to do is to change it from normal to a blended mode of color. And that helps a lot, it's a little too intense so I'm going to pull down that opacity. And then using those same techniques I added in the other planes as well. You can see this plane 2 here along with its contrails, and then there's another plane just over here behind the city to add more visual depth to it. So at this point we're almost done. Something that I like to do as almost a final step on just about every single image that I do is I like to create a merged layer and run it through Camera Raw just to increase that clarity a little bit, add a little bit more vibrancy to the colors and a touch of sharpening too. So let's do that. I'm making sure I'm on the topmost visible layer. Holding down the Alt key, we'll go into Layer, Merge Visible to create my final merged layer here. Turn that into a smart object. And I'm gonna run the camera raw filter, that's found through filter, camera raw filter. And the settings you choose to use, may be different from what I'm choosing here. But I'll show you the ones that I ended up with. I increased the contrast to plus 11, clarity to plus 22, the vibrance to plus 18. These two particularly I always go to when I'm finishing off a piece, because I like the way the vibrance tweaks the colors and the clarity does a little bit of tweaking with the colors and adds a bit of sharpening to it as well. And then I often will go over to the effects tab and add a post crop vignetting. Just a very slight and subtle one so we get a very subtle darkening around those corners. And once that's applied you can see the difference that that makes. It just kind of gives a final polish to that image. Now, I don't like the way it necessarily made this sun area very, very orange-ish. So, I'm gonna use the smart filter mask and just add a quick gradient there to mask that out. Using a radial gradient from foreground to transparent and just pulling it out very slightly from that area. Now, there’s one more subtle tiny detail Detail that I wanted to add before we completely finish off with this piece. I was thinking that if this truly was an early morning shot like this, we would see some lights from these planes and even the city. Because it's early morning, some lights would still be turned on. It hasn't dawned on fully day quite yet. So I wanted to add a new layer here, this is just for those little lights. And this is really a simple thing to do, I just use my brush tool very soft but small and go in and add some of these colored lights to these general areas. First of all we'll start with some yellowish ones to put on the plane. And then continue adding a couple other small ones on the other planes in city too. And so I added some lights to that background plane and also a couple spots within the buildings on the city and on the ferris wheel over here. And once I just have several of those spots in there, I'm gonna turn this to screen and if you think they're a little bit too bright, too intense, you can just run a slight Gaussian blur on those. So, filter blur, Gaussian blur, we'll just use a pixel value of .5 to soften them just so slightly. Like I said that's a very subtle detail but I think it helps a lot. Well, congratulations, guys. We are done with this project. And so that does it for the last lesson of the last production chapter within this course. We've finished off this project. I hope yours came out looking great. I've only got one more video in this course, and that's the conclusion where I share a few final thoughts.

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