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2.6 Shadow Focal Point

Light and shadow can be used not only to manipulate the perception of depth, but also to direct a viewer’s focus. In this lesson we present a handful of tricks in Photoshop to accentuate the focal point of an image.

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2.6 Shadow Focal Point

Hello everybody and welcome back to Mastering Light and Shadow in Photoshop. This is lesson number 7, where I'm going to go over some Photoshop tricks. These are just a few features in Photoshop that I find are helpful when you're trying to adjust light and shadow within an image. We'll start with this image of this toy car, and what I wanna talk about is using light and shadow and a couple other techniques to help direct a viewer's focus within an image. Now, admittedly, this image already has a pretty strong focus. As in, you look at this image and you immediately wanna look at this car. The background doesn't really compete for it much, but I want to use this as just an example and use the tools and techniques to even exaggerate that even more. So that it really grabs the viewer's attention and says hey, look at me. And one of the first tools I want to go over to do that is called the Lighting Effects filter. Now, with any of these type of filters, I usually like to create a copy of the Background layer first and then turn that into a smart object. That way we can run this filter as a smart filter, which means we can come back and readjust it later if we want. And then the Lighting Effects filter is found under the Filter menu, not surprisingly, but it's in the Render subset. So Filter > Render > Lighting Effects. Now, there's several options within the lighting effects filter that we can work with. And right now, I've just got a single spotlight as it's called. And it's almost facing directly out from our viewpoint. And its center point is underneath the center of the car here, so we get a nice fade out of the lighting around here. I would encourage you to get to know the different types of lights that are available within this filter. For instance, the infinite light has some pretty neat effects to it as well. I'm gonna turn off that spotlight that I originally had and work on just this infinite light. What's good about this is Photoshop has implemented the 3D widgets from the 3D feature set to use within this light. There's also a point light, which is really, tends to feel a little bit more like a simple gradient, but has a lot more capabilities than just adding the hot gradient to it. Cuz as we move this light up, the shadows actually deepen down here. It actually calculates out a way of creating shadowing in areas that the light is not showing, which is a pretty neat effect. But regardless, let's go back to the original spot that I had. I chose to add one in here as I said before, directly underneath this car. I've got this outside circle just to intersect with the outside of the frame here. Intensity is up at 27. And I've included a slight colorization to it as well, cuz I found the light that was currently in the scene to be a little bit on the warm side. So by adding a slight cool tone to it, I help balance out the color cast within the scene. Let's go ahead and apply that. Now, the effect I'm kind of going for here, is to make it look like there's a spotlight showing on this little toy car and it's not being shot in super broad daylight, so that everything else is lit up. We want to almost create a hero shot of this toy and really make it stand out as far as visual focus. And so adding that lighting effect already does a lot of that. You can see the difference as I toggle that layer on and off. But let's see what else we can do. Well one technique that's not necessarily a lighting and shadows technique is to work with the color. We know if we really want to draw attention to something, making it bright red is a pretty good way of doing that. So I just wanna do to that real quick too. I'm gonna create a very quick selection around the vehicle. And I used that Refined Edge command to give it some smoothness, a touch of feathering and pull that edge in just a little bit. So I just want a good selection completely around it. And now, I am going to add a Hue Saturation Adjustmen Layer and use the on screen Adjustment tool to adjust this color. Now, the first time we click and drag, we can see Photoshop detects that you're working with the cyans, but it's adjusting the saturation of it. And I want to adjust the hue. Try sliding the Hue slider around. I like that blue, that's really pretty. Let's go over here and add it to the far right side to get a nice bright red out of it. Now, it's not picking up all of the cyan colors, so we use this little plus eye dropper and add those to it. So that adds just a nice bright red tone to further draw attention to this little toy. Now, if this were actually a spotlight showing down on this, we're still seeing a little too much illumination in this background. But that's not at all what we would expect to see if the spotlight was focused directly here. Cuz we're seeing a long way into that background and that spotlight wouldn't be illuminating back there. So let's force a bit of shadowing in the back by using a gradient. Gonna use a linear gradient, set to Foreground to Transparent and make sure that that's set to full black. Now, start at the top and just drag it down, so that that background gets really nice and dark back there. Now, the thing is we don't want this model car to be shaded in by this gradient at all. But we've already created a selection here. So I'm gonna Ctrl+click on that selection that's created form that mask and then I'm going to invert it. Because if we use the current selection as a mask, it would only apply to the car. We need it to apply to not the car. You can do that either by going to Select > Inverse or when you add the mask to this gradient layer, you can just hold down the Alt or the Option key and it automatically inverts it. And then let's change that blending mode to Multiply and pull that Opacity down just a little bit. Things are looking really good at this point. But there's one more tool that I wanna show you that I often use when it comes to adjusting light and shadow and directing focus within my images in Photoshop, and that's the Camera Raw filter. Before I go there, I wanna create a merged layer of all the layers that we have here. And I do that by holding down the Alt or the Option key and going to Layer menu and Merge Visible. And once again, I wanna create a smart object from this by right-clicking on the thumbnail and say Convert to Smart Object because I want to run the Camera Raw filter as a smart filter. Camera Raw filter is found in just the top level of the Filter menu. Now, within the Camera Raw filter, there's a couple of different adjustments here that work really well for dealing with the lighting. Exposure and Contrast are really big ones. Especially if the images are over or under exposed, and that's what this feature is actually designed for. Now, these are big move features that will create a lot of differences. If you don't have to make adjustments to those, don't. But, if you really need some additional contrast, which does help out quite a bit here, or if the exposure is not set well, those are the sliders you want to use, but those are really big guns. You don't want to overdo it with those sliders. Then we have the Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks, which sound like they would adjust the same type of things, but not really. The highlights'll hit the areas of high luminosity within the image. So if you really wanna tweak up those bright points, adjust that Highlight slider. Whereas opposed the whites actually tries to find the white areas. Not necessarily the high luminous points, likewise with the shadows and the blacks. The shadows will have a greater range, and pull in additional colors. Whereas the blacks won't, blacks will deal just with the ones that Photoshop detects as actual black within the image. The Clarity slider is the one that I use a lot. Because not only does it add some additional coloring to the image, but it also gives a bit of sharpening to it as well. So I really do like increasing that. And you can see how it just adds another almost HDR type of effect to the image. Something you may notice though is that these sliders effect the image on a global basis. So this clarity is adding color and sharpness to the entire thing, even the background. Not exactly what we want. So I'm gonna pull that back down because I wanna focus that clarity effect on just the car. We do that using the Adjustment brush. So I grab this brush and just loosely paint an area over this car. And now, over in the settings we can see it's targeted at the Adjustment Brush. I'd increase the exposure a little bit. I'm gonna pull that down just a little. But as long as this adjustment brush stroke, so to speak, is selected, so this is live, we can adjust the clarity on only that. We don't want to overdo it because it does often introduce a bit of a grainy effect in there. I've got mine set just at about 30 or so. Then we apply that. And my final trick that I like to do with that then, is actually turn the Blending mode of this merged layer to Soft Light. And often that makes it a very dramatic effect, but I wanna pull down the opacity then to back it off just a little bit. So let's look in comparison, here was the image we started with, really good, it looks great. But now, that little car just screams look at me, it demands attention within the scene. It's almost difficult to focus elsewhere on the image because there's just so much attention drawn to this little toy car. And that's exactly what you wanna try and do using light and shadow and other techniques within Photoshop is direct the viewer's focus to be exactly where you want it to be. And that'll bring lesson 7 on Photoshop tricks to a close. There's only one more video in this course and that's the concluding lesson where I just share some final thoughts with you.

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