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FREELessons: 18Length: 2 hours

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3.3 Mountain Peaks

To help establish the height and scale of the image, we need something recognizable to anchor the viewer’s perception. To do this, we will use some mountain peaks jutting out through the clouds.

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3.3 Mountain Peaks

Hello everybody. Welcome back to Advanced Photoshop Techniques. We find ourselves now on lesson 3.3, where we add some mountain peaks to this vast cloud blanket area of our project. If you remember, here's where we last left off with our vast field of clouds and if we remember our sketches, we wanna have some mountain peaks poking up. Now, the idea there is that this would indicate the height of these clouds and make it so it doesn't look like it's simply a ground fog, because mountain tips do indicate height, and it's a visual communicator of what this scene actually is. Before we start adding in some mountaintops, I'm going to group the previous layers together, and this is the cloud group. In the course files for this lesson there should be four different mountain top images. Each of these can be used within this to look like they're just little pieces of mountain sticking out through those clouds. And for each of these, I use basically the same technique and I'm just going to show it to you once and how to do it, and then I'll show the end result with all four of them already included. One of the first things I like to do is just add a very, very rough selection, as in squarish, even, over these. So I just use the rectangular marquee tool, a very rough selection here, Ctrl+C for copy, head back over here to my file, Ctrl+V to paste. And then at this point, I turn it into a smart object. Because I want to maintain the pixels within here. I know I'm gonna be scaling this down because I know it's big, but I don't wanna throw away pixel information. Now we didn't do this with clouds, because clouds are actually pretty forgiving and it's really easy to just throw some more clouds in there. But with hard details like mountaintops, we wanna be a little bit more careful. So Ctrl+T to transform this down. Position it back there maybe around where that back peak is. All right, and then I want to create a selection in a mask from it. I hide my sketch layer, use my quick selection tool. That made a decent selection, right there right along the edge. Maybe I want to refine that edge. A little just a touch of a feather and add the mask. There's a bit of a halo but we can deal with that by going to the properties panel. This is the layer mask we can go back to that mask edge, refine mask tool and we can pull in that shift edge. It's hard to see with this view mode like this, so you might want to change it to on black. Then we can see that edge along there. Let's add a bit of feather to it, and pull that edge in some. And that looks a little bit better like that, but the bottom of it doesn't look great, or this other side over here. But that's easy enough to change, with again a very soft brush, so that we can blend this cloud areas into where these mountains are. Now at this point we are just kind of roughing things in, I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time making sure that this mask is perfect, because I may end up moving this element later on. And if so I don't want to lose all that work that I did with that mask, or I should say, I don't want to waste all that work I previously did and having to redo it again if I end up moving it. Now the coloring of the mountain doesn't really seem to match up very well either, does it? So let's add a hue saturation adjustment layer. When I add this, I'm gonna hold down the Alt key while I click on that icon, so I get this new layer dialog box up and it lets me click the Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask. Essentially, it just means it automatically clips it right there to it. I usually like to start with the saturation, especially if I'm helping to blend something in. And after that, I often times will go right to the lightness, because we want this to be a little bit brighter. And then, I'll end up doing the hue. Something about there seems to be working all right. But yet still, it doesn't really blend perfectly, so let's add a curves adjustment layer too. And then for the curves, if we adjust this bottom one here, this actually changes the value of the dark pixels. So if we just pull it up a little bit, it makes the whole thing a little bit lighter. And then a bit of a curve in there too to do the same type of thing. Because this is in the distance, we would expect it to be a little bit blurry too. Right now it is very sharp, and that's in contrast to the blurriness and fuzziness we see in the clouds around it. So back to our mountain layer here, which is really what this should be called, and we'll go to filter, blur, we'll add a Gaussian blur to this one. That is way too much, so let's pull it down just a little bit over 1 pixel, about 1.2. And the beauty of that being a smart filter is that we can easily go back and re-address it if we need to. That will be sufficient for now. Again, there will be time later on to make sure that that is synced in and composited convincingly. Right now it looks okay, but again, we're just roughing things in at this point. So I've used those same techniques to To just rough in all four of these mountain images. And I put them in the four quadrants just as a place to put them for right now. They may end up moving around or shifting some later on, but this is just a good spot to keep them while we work on the rest of the composition. One thing particular of note is this mountain range in the back right. This original image was facing the other way, that's this one here. So when I pulled it in, I was certain to flip it horizontally because of where I know our light source is going to be coming from. And I wanted it to agree, we remember, in our sketch our light source is over here on the far left and in looking at those mountains they're lit from the left. So you always wanna make sure that you're trying to align the lighting of the stock images the best you can. And that shows also one of the benefits of doing this sketch work and establishing the light source before you begin with the project. Other than that I also felt that some of these cloud layers shouldn't be sitting behind these mountains. Let's take this one here on the left and move it up above our mountain layers and even turn this to screen. And possibly even pull down that opacity a little bit. So it's just a very faint cloud mist type of thing that's floating over on top of that ridge. And I did that with a couple of the other cloud layers as well and put them in another group for the foreground clouds. So, at this point, our project looks like this. We've got four groups. We've got our main cloud layers that's comprising just the almost ground of this image, we've got the mountaintops that are sticking through it, we've got the foreground clouds that are obscuring some of these front mountaintops, and we've got our sketch layer that we just keep for reference. And that concludes the lesson on adding those mountain peaks in there, which is 3.3. Next lesson, 3.4, we add a giant turtle.

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