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2.2 Levels, Lighting, and Balancing Colours

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to use adjustment layers to match the levels, lighting, and colors between our subject and the scene. We'll cover layer masks, color grading in Photoshop, photo compositing, lighting effects in Photoshop, and more.

2.2 Levels, Lighting, and Balancing Colours

Hey there, welcome back to the course. So in this lesson, we're going to take a look at levels, lighting, and color balance. So we'll jump back into Photoshop now, and we'll carry on with our composite. Okay, so this is where we left off. We've actually still got these images open up here. So we can just close these down now, we don't need those anymore. I'm just gonna go to File > Save. Save often, just in case something happens, it's always good to save. And I'm just gonna take my robot and my shadow. I may move him up a little bit, and just scale him up a tiny bit more, so he kind of sits in the middle of the scene. So something like this, there we go, okay, so that's cool. Next, what I'm gonna do is, I'm gonna click on my robot layer. Go to the bottom of the Layers panel, and click on the adjustment icon. Now we've got a lot of different adjustment layers that we can add here. These are incredibly important in blending the image of our robot with our scene. So first of all, I'm gonna go to Hue & Saturation. And what this allows me to do is just bring the saturation down a bit. Now, you can see at the moment, it's affecting the entire image. That's no good, we want this to only affect the robot. So if we click this icon down here, what this does is, you can see, it adds an arrow to the layer below, and underlines that layer. So this adjustment layer is only affecting the layer below it, which is our robot. So we can adjust the color of the robot without affecting the background. So I could bring this down to -40, -39, I can click the eye here, turn this off and on. And you can see, it just brings a little bit of that blue from the armor out. I could even bring this down a touch more, we'll go for -51, there we go. Next one I'm going to do is, I'm going to add another adjustment layer, this one is going to be Levels. So you can see here, I can adjust the shadows, the midtones, and the highlights, and I can just drag this around. Again, we're affecting the entire image, so we just go down to the bottom of this panel, and click on the Clipping Mask icon. Now, we're just adjusting the robot alone. So I'm gonna bring this down, he's a little bit bright and vibrant for this scene, so I'm just gonna bring the midtones here. And then I'm just gonna grab the whites, and just bring those down a little bit as well. Not too far, unless you're going for black armor, or something really cool like that, so it maybe just a little bit here. Now, if I turn this off and on, you can see the difference there, we've made that a lot darker. Now, when you're creating composes like this is important to understand where the lighting is coming from. Because where the light is coming from in an image is gonna affect your subject within your scene. So, what we need to do now is, we need to add another levels adjustment layer, so we can bring back some of the light that you can see coming in from the windows. So we've got our levels one here, we could even name this, let's call it Levels Darken. I'm going to add another one here, so another levels adjustments layer. Now, another way of making this a clipping mask is right-clicking, and then selecting Create Clipping Mask. And what I'm gonna do is bring the highlights up on this one. [MUSIC] And you can adjust the midpoint as well, if you want to. Now, this is applied on top of our darkened one, so we've kind of undone what we've started with. But if we actually set the mask for this one, and press Cmd or Ctrl+I on the keyboard? What it will do is it will completely hide everything on that adjustment layer. So remember with using masks, black hides, white reveals. So I'm just gonna call this Levels Highlights, just so I don't get confused. In fact, it probably makes more sense to call this Shadows, instead of Darken. So if I select the Highlights one, I'm gonna grab my brush tool over here. Just pick one of Photoshop's soft round pressure opacity brushes, it's always a mouthful to say that. And make sure white over here is my foreground color. [MUSIC] And then what I can do is, where I brush, it will bring back through that levels layer. Now, I don't want to do this all over, I'm going to zoom in, [MUSIC] Just undo what I did there, make sure the mask is selected. Zoom in, and with a smaller brush, just brush a round area, so we have a light source up here. So this does take a lot of practice. The more you understand about lighting, the easier this is gonna be. So I'm just brushing this along here, get a little bit of glow around the edge there. Maybe the back of the foot and the inside leg, tiny bit on the chest there, and you can spend a lot longer doing this. We can turn that off and on, and you can see, it's very subtle. But compositing is all about lots of subtle things, that all add up to a much more effective end result. It's all about that big picture. So what I can do, now I've done those highlights is, I can actually double-click on the thumbnail for my shadows, and I can make that darker. But you can see how those highlights become even more accentuated. So that's the great thing with adjustment layers is, you can do a lot of backwards and forwards, switch between these. I could bring the highlights up even more. [MUSIC] And then what I can do is, I can actually turn off all of these adjustment layers by clicking the eye in the Layers panel. You can see, we've come quite a long way. That's where we started, and we've done this. So yeah, we're doing all right, we're doing all right so far. The only problem is, we've actually desaturated the blue in the eyes. Now, in a later lesson, I'm actually going to add a glow to these. So I'm just gonna click on that Hue & Saturation adjustment Layer. Now, I want to use black on this, because the layer is already white. So you can press X on the keyboard, that's the shortcut key to swap your foreground and background color. So if you're masking, and using black and white, you can just switch between them. And I'll bring the brush down in size, and then I'm just gonna brush gently over this. Now, you can see that I'm doing this with a graphics tablet. You don't have to do it, but it does make it a lot easier, because you can control things like pen pressure. So I'm just gently brushing over this, bringing back some of that color that was lost. And I could even do that on the Shadows layer as well. You can see there, I darkened a lot of it, so I'm just gonna bring that back in. Because, as I say, we'll be adding a glow to that in a later video. Okay, so we're nearly done, we've just got one more adjustment there that we're going to add. So we'll click at the top, we want this right at the top. And we'll click the Adjustment icon, go to Color Balance. And what we can do here is, we can adjust the cyan, magenta, yellow, red, green, and blue, all within the shadows, midtones and highlights. So I could make the shadows in my image more blue, I could make the highlights more yellow. This is a very, very powerful adjustment layer. And as I say, it's another one that just makes combining one image with a different image. Especially when they've been shot under different lighting conditions, it makes that much, much more seamless. So I'm going to go with the shadows, and maybe bring in a little bit of red. Again, it's adjusting the whole image, so I need to add that clipping mask, [MUSIC] With the midtones, just a little bit red. So kind of this brick, this orange, reddish, rusted metal, we're kind of bringing some of that onto the subject. Highlights, there we go, so I'm making very subtle changes here. I don't wanna do anything like that, [LAUGH], I could do. You could change the entire color of the robot if you wanted, but I am just doing something really subtle. So if I turn this off and on, you can see, subtle, but it really does make a difference. Okay, so there we go, that wraps up the second lesson. In the next lesson, we're going to look at adding some distressed texture to our robot.

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