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4.2 Selections and Masks

With our primary elements roughed in and put in place, it’s time to turn our attention to crafting better selections and masks so everything looks as if it fits together in one cohesive scene.

4.2 Selections and Masks

Hello everybody welcome back to Advanced Photoshop Techniques. We are pushing forward with out project here, and we find ourselves on lesson 4.2, where we take a look at selections, compositing, and masking. Here's where we last left off with our project, now in the previous chapter we were merely roughing things in but now I think we've got the elements where we want them, we've got them all positioned, and it's time to spend some additional effort and some time to work on better selection edges and better masking techniques, so that this is all composited well and looks like it's a single, unified coherent piece. The first one that sticks out most to me is that selection around that turtle's head, that clearly needs a little bit more work. It's not working well like that and let's go ahead and work on that. Now if you remember, the turtle head is within it's own smart object. So let's open that back up, and work on creating a selection completely around where the outline of his head is. A good way to start with this is with the quick selection tool. And just try to have this detect the edge as much as you can. If it jumps to areas that you don't want to select you simply hold down the Alt or the Option key and brush over those areas to pull out that selection tool. This tool does have some smart technology in it, in that it does try to learn what you do and do not want to select as you go through. And then when the selection is about to where it looks rather appropriate, it's always a good idea to use the refine edge because that reveals some areas that didn't really come through the way you think they should have. A lot of times it's good to increase that radius a little bit and a little bit of feather on that too. You don't want it to be too soft on the edges, but you don't want it to appear grainy or pixel-y either. We get the settings about as you like them. Just go ahead an output that to the layer mask. And then we can always go in and retouch some of these areas. Like it really didn't grab this nostril area in a way that I liked. So I like to paint directly on the mask with a regular brush to touch that up. It's not hard to do but it does take a little bit of training for your eye to catch those areas. So let's go ahead and close this smart object, it will save it out. And we can see how that easily becomes a much better selection there. But it doesn't quite look great just yet. There's still more that we need to do so let's add a mask to the turtle head, and work on some of the edges here too. Now I know that this head should be going underneath this shell so I am going to mask out this area here. So it looks like the shell is over this flesh of the neck. I also think that this edge is a little bit too abrupt there so I am going to very gently add a softening to the edge on the underside of the neck too. And then, with a much larger brush, fade out this area here, so it does fade into the flesh we see of the body underneath the shell. Now, we're getting a little bit of a seam, there. But I think we're gonna end up covering that up with some of the clouds. In fact let's look at how that would work. Gonna add a new layer in the foreground cloud area. And let's get our cloud brush that we created last time. Set it to white and I'm actually going to even pull down the opacity on this so it's very subtle. And we can start adding a little bit of subtle cloud cover to help composite in some of those areas. So they're blended in a little bit more than what they were previously. And that's generally the basic technique, it seems a little bit redundant to go through and show you that for every single element within this image, so I'm gonna pause the recording, finish up a lot of the selections and masking elements within our scene and then we'll explore through the decisions I made for each of them. So here's where I ended up after a season of working with the different masks within the various elements within this scene and I wanna go through and show you the different ones that I adjusted and the decisions I made there. We'll start with our foreground clouds, now this element here is the cloud brush, that we created. You can see as I move that around how that ended up looking. And I really like the way that adds a sort of mist, or light cloud area that's wrapping around the turtle there. And the main selection work that I did is on this turtles group. I did add a misty area in here too. And that was using that grunge brush we created last lesson. You can see how that looked there. And I used it first with a whitish type of paint, and then a little bit darker paint underneath it. And the point of that is to help ease that transition from the city area into the shell. So that it doesn't look so abrupt, and it looks like it has its own little bit of cloudiness that's a part of that too. If we look into the city you can see how I cleaned up a little bit of this mask as well. This bottom area here I did use that grunge brush on to sort of add a little bit of grunge and inconsistency to it there so that it doesn't look nearly as perfect and sort of digitally painted in. It adds a much more believable transition when we do that. I also cleaned up some of the building shapes simply using the polygonal lasso tool so that I could have nicecrisp borders between some of those buildings. Then also on the city smart object, I added a mask there with a little bit more of that grunge brush being used on that mask. The turtle head that we dealt with earlier, I did treat again with a little bit more work of just a regular soft brush, just so that it faded in just right, I felt. Then on the turtle's shell, I found I really needed to softly adjust the bottom transition of that shell, so that it wasn't showing through the clouds as much, and the clouds even appeared a little bit more opaque without having to pull up the opacity of the clouds as much. Working a transition from both directions like that often provides a much better result. On that back turtle there, the way I decided to use that mask was to first create a selection based completely around that masked out turtle which had a bottom part to it here. And when that selection was made I used it as the mask on the smart object and added a gradient to the bottom of it to help blend him more into the surrounding clouds. Then I also touched up some of the masks on the mountains, look at this back mountainous area here, and we look directly at that mask. By the way, if you're wondering how I'm showing the mask directly, I'm alt-clicking, or option-clicking on the mask thumbnail, so we can see it directly. You can see I used that grunge brush on the transition for that back mountain, too. And that give it's beautiful transition to the cloudy areas that's in front of it. Now my file here is available for you within the course files. I encourage you to open it up and look through each of the masks for the various elements and see the solutions that I made on how to mask those out so that they would fit seamlessly into our composition here. All right I know that dealing with these selections and masks and doing small tweaks on lots of masked edges and on lots of elements within the scene can seem somewhat tedious and it can be a lot of work. And the temptation is to try to rush through it and just say oh well, that seems good enough. My encouragement to you would be to take your time with this part. Because if you have edges that don't blend well, it's immediately going to betray your piece as not a good composite. It's already going to work against the realism and believability of the final scene. Next up is Lesson 4.3, where we apply some filters and adjustments to our scene.

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