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3.6 Lighting Effects in Photoshop

In this lesson, you will learn how to how to match lighting in photoshop to make the scene look realistic. We'll look at how to light and shade a person or object to better fit their environment using adjustment layers, layer masks, and layer modes. You will also learn how to blend shadows and lighting using Photoshop's Blend If settings.

3.6 Lighting Effects in Photoshop

Welcome back to Introduction to photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop. In this lesson we will be covering the shading and the lighting using adjustment layers, layer mask and layer modes. This is when having a drawing tablet comes in a bit handy. It doesn't need to be big, fancy, or name brand. Any drawing tablet will be better than none. However, if you don't have one, that doesn't mean you can't paint, so do not worry. I'll be giving some non-tablet tips and tricks as we go. So first, let's start by lighting our subject's hair. I'm going to create and clip a new layer into the model here, setting the layer to Overlay and placing it above our grass layers. Now with a tiny two pixel brush, I'm going to paint white on the outermost hairs, as well as the highlights of the hair. When painting hair at this stage, you want to keep your flow rate low, sometimes as low as 1%. But typically, anywhere from 10% to 40% is the sweet spot. All the outermost hairs and flyaway should end up being basically pure white. Go ahead and keep your brush nice and soft most of the time, and you can go ahead and increase the size to add any larger blooms of light, always keeping the environment in mind. For instance, she is more lit on her right side than her left. So let's focus the lighting a bit more here. Once we are happy with the first layer of light, we are going to repeat that step. Only this time on a new layer set to normal. We're going to paint a solid it then white hair strands using her natural hair as a kind of guide. The reason a drawing tablet helps so much in these two steps is because of its ability to apply pressure sensitivity which is what is giving us these tapered edges here. There are a couple of ways to get these without a tablet however, my favorite being using the smudge tool. Here, we have painted a line using just a mouse, so it's blunt with harsh edges, not too terribly hair like. Let's select the smudge tool and crank it up to around 55%. Now, let's smudge out both ends of the brush stroke. The only downside of this method being that it won't be as quick compared to just being able to swish and flick with a pen on a tablet, but it will absolutely get the job done. Now on to our first Curves Adjustment, clipping it into our model. Curves layer works by placing points along the diagonal line here and then pulling either up or down. Pulling down will darken while pulling up will lighten. For this curve, we want to just slightly lighten our subject. So let's place a point right about here and drag up just a tiny bit. Now, let's fill the layer mask with black by selecting it and hitting control I. Which is inverting the white to black. Now, let's use a soft round brush to mask back in the light just around the edges of the subject. Being careful not to let the light go too inwards but still keeping a smooth gradient. Next, to the shading. For shading, I like to use a mix of brightness contrast, and a curve adjustment layers along with a layer set to multiply for more advanced shading. For this piece, let's stick with a brightness contrast and curves layered for now. Create and clip a brightness contrast layer to the subject. We are setting it to a negative 32 brightness and a negative 17 contrast. We're going to use this layer to darken the back of our model giving her more dynamic lighting. Click on the layer mask and hit Control I to invert it. Using a soft, round brush, let's mask in the adjustment layer, focusing on the middle of the subjects back here and also the head and the legs. Finally, we can finish up at the woman for now by creating and clipping a new soft light layer inside her and using a black soft round brush to deepen her shadows even further. Remember, keep that flow rate and nice and low, so you can build up those shadows. You guessed it, slowly, around 5 to 10% should do and if the shadow ends up being too deep or dark, you know, go ahead and bring the layer capacity down a notch. Now on to the stones. While the stones will require what seems like a million layers, we will be using the same general techniques and tools we did for our model. So let's create an clip a brightness contrast layer and to the stones bringing the brightness down to a negative 100 and the contrast down to negative 150. Now, zoom in nice and close on the rocks and using a semi hard round brush, mask the face of the stone and only the face here. We want the shading to be located only on the sides of the boulders. You can also use the shadow to shape your rocks a small amount, keeping in mind what areas the sun would and wouldn't be hitting. So when we are all done with our shading, we can now do some color correction. In my mind, I wanted these rocks to be much more stylized, and a colder grey color. We are going to achieve that look with just three adjustment layers. First a black to white gradient map which is also my preferred way to grayscale most things. Second, a brightness contrast layer with a brightness of negative 26 and a contrast of negative 49. And thirdly, a curve layer, bringing up the shadows, recreating a curve similar to what you see here. Now we can add in some more detailed lighting. Focus on bringing in a bit more texture and dimension on to our rocks, as right now they're feeling a bit flat. Let's start by creating and clipping a new curve layer into the stones, bringing up just the highlights and inverting the mask with Ctrl+I. Now, using a brush with varying hardnesses and sizes, we want to start carving out some shapes in the rocks, adding in areas where the sun might be hitting extra hard. Don't be afraid to let your highlights bleed into the shadows just a little bit as there would be some ambient lighting bouncing around. We can now create and clip two new layers into the stones. Setting one to Soft Light and the other to Overlay. Just like we did with the hair, we want to paint varying layers of light bringing out detail. Also keeping in mind the lighting of the environment so we can replicate it on our stones. Don't be afraid to create more than just two layers. When lighting and shading subjects, I can easily use five, 10, 15 layers and not even bat an eye. Using multiple layers will help you build up a light slowly and give the lighting more dimension. So again, right now we're just using a whole lot of Overlay and Soft Light layers and adding light to any areas that just might need it. And once we are happy with our lighting, we can add some quick shadows to the grass surrounding all the subjects. As I mentioned earlier, one of the better layer modes to use for shading is multiply. Let's create a new layer above the subjects and all of their clip layers, setting that layer to a multiply. Now, we want to color grab from the shadows of the area we are going to be painting on. In this case, it's the grass. To quickly color grab, you can hold all while the brush tool is active. We're going to use a screen to create some quick shadows right under the stones and a stretching to the left of our subject. You want to keep the brush flow low and the hardness soft this time around. Though when painting shadows like with our boulders, don't be afraid of harder edges as shadows tend to have a shape and structure a majority of the time. Right now, we just want to lay down some quick and dirty shadows as we will be adding in some last blades of grass later on. And we might end up adjusting our shadows afterwards anyway. Finally, I can introduce you to my favorite tool, Photoshop hence offer. And at the very least is one of the most underrated tools. Blend If, you can do so many cool things with Blend If. And I highly recommend playing with it in your spare time. However for now, we are just going to help our shadows feel less like giant blobs of dark green. Double click on your shadow layers icon, opening up at the Layer Style panel. Look towards the bottom and you will see Blend If. I always have such a hard time explaining Blend If, so instead, I will just show it. I usually choose the underlying layer option. Here, you can hold Alt and click on the toggles to separate them. Pulling the right toggles to the left will remove the layer from the highlights of the layers underneath. The closer the two toggles are to each other, the starker the effect will be. Which is not a bad thing, sometimes you might end up wanting that, it all just depends. The shadows work precisely the same, only you will want to use the toggles on the left. For now, we just want to slide the toggles here to about the middle, giving our grass a nice bit of highlight, no painting needed. And there you have it, some quick lighting tricks that you can apply to most, if not all, photo manipulations. And next up, we are moving on to the smaller details and almost finishing touches next time in Introduction to Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop.

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