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3.1 Image Compositing in Photoshop

In this lesson, you will learn how to extract landscapes with greenery. You will also learn how to mask in Photoshop using the Refine Mask settings.

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3.1 Image Compositing in Photoshop

Welcome back to Introduction to Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop. As I said, the one thing our landscape seems to be missing is some land. So let's drag and drop a full mountain range onto our canvas and learn the basics of image compositing. One of my favorite tools for extracting landscapes is the Magnetic Lasso tool, as it retains a nice bit of texture to the edge. If you zoom in close, you will see all the bumps and textures that you really, really, really want to try and keep. So let's set up our Magnetic Lasso tool settings. The width will determine how far the pass will jump to a new area. Let's set it to three pixels, so the path will never go further than three pixels away from our mouse. Next, the contrast, let's just set it to 25% for now. And finally, the frequency is simply how often a point in the path will be created. We'll go ahead and set that to 30. Feel free to tinker and experiment with these settings as I'm not personally married to any of them. I don't pay too much attention to my Magnetic Lasso tool settings as later we'll be refining this edge anyway. Next, making sure the mountainscape layer is selected. Click at the very edge of the landscape, right where the land meets the sky. Now drag your mouse over the edge of the landscape. This does not have to be perfect, we are just getting a kind of rough selection for now. Once you hit the end of the canvas, just swing the path around and connect to the very first point. Bam, you have a selection, as unpretty as it might be. Add a layer mask to the mountains. The mask will automatically take the shape of the selection. And hit Ctrl+I to invert the layer mask if needed. We can then go ahead and clean up any large chunks of sky we may have missed with a sizable black, round brush. Now for the real black magic, also known as the Refine Edge tool. Double-click the lands layer mask, bringing up the Properties panel. And then click Select and Mask. First thing's first is that you want to make sure the Refine Edge Brush Tool is selected, found here on the left. Second, you'll want to check smart radius. Bringing the radius to around 3 pixels. That number may change image to image, but I find 3 to 6 pixels works well most of the time. You would also use the bracket keys to adjust your brush size. Now paint along the edges of your masked area. If you find you have brought back too much of the masked-out background, you can hold down Alt to change the brush from add to subtract. Continue to add and subtract until you have something you are decently happy with. Because now it's on to the global refinements. I'll start by setting the shift edge to -55, which will bring in the edge, getting rid of some of these left over white areas. Next, a feather of 0.5 pixels and a contrast of 15%, which will help our edges look less chappy and sharp. This looks good for now, so let's hit OK. Next, it's the third and final round of refining. Because at the end of the day, no AI can truly beat out the human eye. As you can see here, we have a few areas that the refine tool went a little too hard on. Let's take a semi round brush, set to white, and mask the areas back in. Let's take a close look at all the edges, making sure they get some touching up. If you see an area that was supposed to be masked but wasn't, you can go ahead and change the brush's color to black, masking it out yourself. Let's finish blending of the landscape by clipping two new layers into the mountains. You can clip a layer into another by holding Alt and clicking on the line separating the two layers. A clip layer is restricted to the boundaries set by the layer it is clipped into. For instance, this area of the land isn't quite blending well with its new background. We can see that first the area is too light. And secondly, the area is too green compared to this bluish area here. So let's fix the color, first by setting one of our clipped layers to color. Painting a darker muted blue color with a soft round brush and then bringing the layer's opacity down to 45%. Next, we can fix the lighting issue by changing the second clipped layer to soft light. Painting black on the lighter areas of the landscape, adjusting the opacity as needed. You will always want to make sure color, lighting, and contrast all match, and everything blends seamlessly. So it's always a good idea to spot treat like this. And the more time you spend on any single area, the better it will end up being in the end. But for now, this will do just fine. Finally, let's wrap this landscape up by filling in the empty bottom gap and adding a bit more depth at the same time. I'm going to duplicate the landscape image and delete its layer mask. Next I'm going to enlarge it substantially. Go ahead and zoom out and give a big tug on both sides of the image. Next, horizontally squish the image using the transform anchors, holding Shift so you keep it the original height of the image, we are only affecting the width here. Now we're going to click on the transform anchors here and then enter work mode. And we're going to push and drag the grass into what I can only describe as a wooshing shape. Finally, mask the top three fourths of the canvas, leaving only enlarged grass covering the empty area from earlier. This is not an exact science. I will enlarge, shrink, push, and pull and mask this area over and over until I like how it looks. I think techniques like this are important to not only share but show, most things aren't done in a step one, two, three format. It's done through trial, error, and maybe a few extra cups of coffee and a tad bit of frustration now and then. At the end of it, all we want is some swooshy enlarged grass at the front of our canvas. And with that, we can group all of our current layers and name that group Landscape. Now onto a personal favorite of mine, extracting and compositing people. See you in the next video, an Introduction to Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop.

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