How to Create Masks of Transparent Elements in Photoshop

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Selections are an essential part of any photo editing workflow, but often, selections aren't as straight-forward as they might seem. In this tutorial we will explain how to make a selection of a glass that includes transparent elements. Let's get started!

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial.

Step 1

Selections are an essential part of the image editing process in Photoshop. The process of making a selection is easy but sometimes transparent areas can make the process a bit more complicated. For these types of project, the pen tool is not sufficient. To select areas with a variable level of transparency we need a tool or command which will let us manipulate the brightness information of the color channels of that image. Because we are not only interested in creating a simple cut-out, rather we are more interested in creating a mask, where we can store variable level of brightness information for defining that complex level of transparency. As a channel is just a grayscale image we can use that channel effectively to create a mask, because a mask also uses grayscale (pure white=100% opaque and pure black= 100% transparent) to store transparency information.

Step 2

One of the major advantages of having access to the separate channels in Photoshop is the ability to make selections. You can use individual channels to make different selections in the image. When you want to select a specific item in the image, use the color channels that provide the greatest contrast around the edges of that item. So let’s start the initial planning phase.

Step 3

This is the original image. Though this is a CMYK image, same process will work in case of an RGB image. Only difference will be in the Channels panel. Instead of four color channels and one composite channel, there will be three color channels and one composite channel in the RGB image. The objective of this tutorial is to remove the black portion but to keep the glass, water, bubbles and the reflection below the glass. So we can use it on any other background (Solid color or photo). For this tutorial we will use Apply Image command (Image > Apply Image).

Step 4

The Apply Image command lets you blend one image’s layer and channel with a layer and channel of the active image. But remember the pixel dimensions of the images must match for image names to appear in the Apply Image dialog box. But here we are not using two images. We are blending the black channel copy with the black channel copy itself. But the power of the Apply Image is hiding within the Target section. Here you can specify a blend mode or blending type which you want to use during the Apply Image blend.

Step 5

Open the file in Photoshop. Then in the Channels panel examine the channels for a channel with good contrast. Finding a channel with good contrast is essential for good selection.

Step 6

Here the black channel is showing good contrast between the glass and the background.

Step 7

Duplicate the black channel by dragging it over the ‘create new channel’ icon below the Channels Panel. You can also right click on the black channel and select duplicate channel.

Step 8

Then select the black channel copy and Image > Apply Image.

Step 9

First blend one time with Multiply mode to increase black and in this process convert from the background any area to black which is gray. But reduce the opacity (within the Target section) amount to 50% to create a blend which is not too strong. Otherwise we might remove some white areas, as they are not pure white.

Step 10

The Multiply blend mode looks at the color information in each channel and multiplies the base color by the blend color. The resultant color is always a darker color. Multiplying any color with black produces black. By using the Multiply blend mode we are removing any grey portion from the background.

Step 11

Then blend two times with Overlay blend to increase white. Now we can easily select the white area. Our goal here is to create an effective, fast and acceptable mask with this process. This time use 100% Opacity in the blending area.

Step 12

The Overlay blend mode multiplies or screens the colors, depending on the base color. The base color is not replaced, but mixed with the blend color to reflect the lightness or darkness of the original color. White areas become brighter and black areas become darker. By using the Overlay blend mode we are increasing the strength of the white portion as we want to keep the white portion but mask out the black portion in the final image.

Step 13

You can still tweak the black channel copy by using a brush and paint with white or black color. Paint with white to keep image areas and paint with black to remove or mask out portion. White denotes opaqueness and black denotes transparency within a channel.

Step 14

Load the black channel copy as a selection by either Command/Ctrl-click on the channel or click the first button below the channels panel, which is load channel as a selection.

Step 15

Then go to the Layers panel and duplicate the background layer by dragging it over the create new layer button below the layers panel. You can also right click on the background layer and select Duplicate Layer.

Step 16

Then target the new layer (Background copy) by left clicking on it once. Selection still active, click on mask icon below the Layers panel to create a mask.

Step 17

Now create a new blank layer below and fill it with either red or blue. Now check the quality of the mask. You will find that within the mask there are few grey areas.

Step 18

There are two processes to remove this unwanted grey area. Although first process described below will give you the best output, but still let’s explore both of them.

Step 19

Process 1: Change the blend mode of background copy layer to Lighten in order to remove grey area.

Step 20

Lighten blend mode looks at the color information in each channel and pixels darker than the blend colors are replaced, and pixels lighter than the blend color do not change. As a result dark grey pixels removed.

Step 21

Process 2: Command/Ctrl-click on the background copy mask thumbnail to load the mask as a selection. You can also load the selection from the black channel copy.

Step 22

Then click on the Adjustment layer icon below the Layers panel.

Step 23

This will create a new Levels Adjustment layer.

Step 24

Then in the levels dialogue box first drag the midtone input slider (middle one) and then the highlight input slider (right one) towards left to remove grey area or rather converts grey into white.

Step 25

After applying Lighten blend mode, if you check closely you will find that there are a few broken portions within the white area. You can use the Clone Stamp Tool to fix these areas.

Step 26

That’s it. You can use the same technique to select complex objects with variable level of transparency. Below is the before and after version.

Final Image

This is the final version.
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Cool Water Colour Effect Tutorial in Photoshop

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Preview

Step 1

Create a new document and a new layer. Rename the layer to "texture" and fill it with white. Make sure that the foreground is white and the background is black. Then go to Filter>Texture>Texturizer, and use Canvas for the Texture, 80% Scaling, and 2 for the Relief.
Watercolor Effects in Photoshop

Step 2

Place an image in your document. The one used in this tutorial can be downloaded at this link. Then delete the background. You can use the Path Tool (P) or the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L). Tip: It doesn't need to be perfect because we will apply some filters in the next step.
Watercolor Effects in Photoshop

Step 3

Select the layer of the girl and go to Image>Adjustments>Levels. We want to increase the whites here. Then go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation, and change the Saturation to -65.
Watercolor Effects in Photoshop

Step 4

Now go to Filter>Artistic>Watercolor. Use the following settings: Brush Detail 9, Shadow Intensity 0, and Texture 1.
Watercolor Effects in Photoshop

Step 5

With the girl's layer selected, go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All. Then select the Brush Tool (B), with black for the color, and mask the body of the girl.
Watercolor Effects in Photoshop

Step 6

We need the Bittbox Watercolor Brushes 2 that you can download at this link.
Next we create a new layer. Then with the Brush Tool (B) selected, choose the seventh brush from the BB Watercolor Brushes. Use black for the color. Then reduce its size to fit the document. After that, rotate and resize the layer. The idea is to create watercolor-style hair for the girl using the brush.
Watercolor Effects in Photoshop

Step 7

Now go to Layer>Layer Style>Blending Options. Change the Fill Opacity to 0. Then select the Color Overlay option. Use red for the color and Multiply for the blend mode. For the Opacity use 70%. Then select the Satin option. Use Hard Light for the blend mode, purple (#5d085c) for the color, 20º for the Angle, Distance 4px, and Size 12px.
Watercolor Effects in Photoshop

Step 8

Create a new layer. Then select another brush with the Brush Tool(B). I used the 17th Bittbox Brush. The concept we're using is to design different creative-looking hairstyles. So let's continue with that. On a new layer, paint some brush strokes in the middle of the screen. Then resize and rotate them until they look good. You should achieve a stylized hair look, as in the image below.
Watercolor Effects in Photoshop

Step 9

Go to Layer>Layer Style>Blending Options. Set the Fill Options to 0. Then add a Color Overlay. Use Overlay for the blend mode, Blue (#002cec) for the color, and set it to 50% Opacity. Then select Satin. Then use the following settings: a slightly darker blue (#065795) color, a Linear Burn for the blend mode, a 100% Opacity, a 19º Angle, an 11px Distance, and a 14px Size.
Watercolor Effects in Photoshop

Step 10

Let's brush in some more hair. This time we'll use green. Create a new layer, and select the Brush Tool(B). Then select another brush from the watercolor set. Select the last one, reduce its size, and paint more hair. Use just one click when brushing. After that you can resize and rotate it.
Now go to Layer>Layer Style>Blending Options. Again set the Fill Options to 0. Then add a Color Overlay, use Multiply for the blend mode, Green (#18ff00) for the color, and 100% for the Opacity. Then select Satin. Use the following settings: darker green (#0b9600), Darken for the blend mode, 100% Opacity, 19º Angle, 4px Distance, and 7px Size.
Watercolor Effects in Photoshop

Step 11

Next we repeat the process one more time. Create a new layer. Then select the Brush Tool(B). Select another brush, reduce its size, and paint more hair. Adjust it by resizing and rotating it until it looks good.
Again, go to Layer>Layer Style>Blending Options. Change the Fill Options to 0. Then add a Color Overlay, use Hard Light for the blend mode, yellow (#ffe400) for the color, and 100% for the Opacity. Then select Satin. Use the following settings: darker yellow (#a2a406), Color Burn for the blend mode, 100% Opacity, 19º Angle, 17px Distance, and 73px Size.
Watercolor Effects in Photoshop

Step 12

Now select the layer with the girl's face. Change the blend mode to Screen. Then make some adjustments, like fixing the neck using a regular brush with a white color.
Watercolor Effects in Photoshop

Step 13

Type the text you want; I typed Psdtuts+. Then go to Layer>Layer Style>Gradient Overlay. Create a gradient using Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue. Use 180º for the angle and Normal for the blend mode.
Create another layer, and make sure that the text is on top of this new layer. Then with the Rectangular Marquee Tool, create a rectangle selection and fill it with white. Next we merge these two layers (the text with the white rectangle). This is necessary to add some text effects; otherwise the filters wouldn't work well.
Watercolor Effects in Photoshop
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Step 14

Now we apply some filters to the text. First go to Filter>Brush Strokes>Sprayed Strokes. Use Stroke Length 17, Spray Radius 0, and Stroke Direction Vertical. After that go to Filter>Artistic>Watercolor. Use the following settings: Brush Detail 11, Shadow Intensity 0, and texture 1. That will create a nice text effect, or you could experiment with different filters until you achieve optimal results.
Watercolor Effects in Photoshop

Conclusion

This tutorial presents a quick and easy way to create a nice design. We achieved this by mixing a photo with watercolor effects. We used some watercolor brushes and played with blend modes. Keep in mind though, if you can paint it for real, you will be able to create very original artwork, like the designers I mentioned before.
Watercolor Effects in Photoshop
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Dramatic Photo-manipulation Tutorial by DreamiTouch

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

This tutorial will teach in fast and easy steps how to combine various elements and textures to design a dramatic and epic photo montage. Learn the basics on how to use the gradient tool and blending options to work the lighting and overall tones. Plus how to use light flares, smoke and water splash brushes. With simple steps learn how to obtain mind blowing effects.

Final result preview


Stock used

Step 1

Start off by opening the background image and the main model we will be using. (File > Open or Ctrl + O)
With the pen tool or other tool you prefer, remove the background of the main model image. Copy the clean model image and place her over the background image layer.(Ctrl + A, Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V) Name the model layer as ‘Model’.
For this tutorial we will be using the actual size of our original background image. (3888 x 4009 px)

Step 2

Place the ‘Model’ and re dimension her to fit the background properly. (Ctrl + T) After we have placed the model in the proper place, click twice on the model layer to change the Layer Style.
Set the ‘Model’ Layer Style as in the image Bellow. This will add a slight tone to match the overall background colors.

Step 3

On the model layer, click the add layer mask option and remove some of the bottom part of the boot. This will give a slight effect that the boot is partially underwater.
Now create a new layer above the model layer and name it ‘model shadow’ and set the blending mode to Soft Light.
With a large soft brush set at about 30% opacity and black color. Pass the brush starting at the model’s feet towards the bottom of the image. Go adding this shadow to simulate the soft shadow cast from the main model.

Step 4

Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer in between the background and model layers. Name this layer ‘Fog’. Select a large soft white brush at 100% opacity. Make a large line across the background where the sky meets the water line.
Now go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius Blur to 125 pixels than press OK. This will blur our in a uniformed way the white line we added previously. You will notice the white line now had a fog aspect.

Step 5

Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer in between the Model and Model Shadow layers. Name this layer ‘Water Splash’.
Select the water splash brush (662) at a large enough pixel size to cover each foot. Set the brush color to #c1e8ff at 100% opacity. Add the brush on each foot as in the image example.

Step 6

Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer in between the Fog and Model layers. Name this layer ‘Rope’.
Select the rope .png image and duplicate it many times to make it long and thin. Place this long rope behind the Model figure. Select the Puppet warp tool (Edit > Puppet Warp) and shape the rope a little so it doesn’t look stiff and straight.

Step 7

Now click twice on the rope layer to open the Layer Style.
Set the layer styles as in the image example. For the Inner Shadow you will use the #000000 color and for the Inner Glow select the transparent gradient and set the color at #6093b2. This will add a 3D volume to the rope and also follow the overall image tones.

Step 8

Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer above all layers. Name this layer ‘shoot flair’.
Open the light flair image and cut out the 3rd from top to bottom.
Place this light flair on the ‘shoot flair’ layer we have just created.
Re size the light flair to a larger scale. (Ctrl + T – free transform).
Set the blending mode of this layer to Screen.

Step 9

Following the same methods as in step 8 we will be adding more light flairs to the image.
You can name these as ‘Shot Flair 1’ (2, 3,…)
After you have added all the desired light flairs, you can group them all together (select all and press Ctrl + G) to avoid getting the layer pallet to busy and hard to mess around with.

Step 10

Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer above all layers. Name this layer ‘Smoke’.
Select White 100% opacity smoke brush and apply it to the point of the gun.
Set the blending mode to ‘Overlay’

Step 11

If you don’t think the splashes on the women’s foot looks believable, you can add other effects to make the splash larger and more natural as if she had just jumped off a helicopter or something similar.
Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer above Water Splash layer. Name this new layer ‘Water Splash 2’.
Open the image of the lollypop being shattered and cut out only the shattered bits.
Place this image in the layer we have just created and change the blending mode to Screen.
Erase parts of the lollypop that shouldn’t be in the image.
Do this with both feet.

Step 12

Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer above Smoke Layer. Name this new layer ‘Fire.
Set the Blending mode of this layer to Screen.
Select the fire sparks image and apply it as in the position of the example image.

Step 13

Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer above ‘Fire’. Name this new layer ‘Snow’.
Place the snow texture on the show layer and using the transform tool, stretch it out to fill the entire image. (Ctrl + T)
Now change the blending mode of this layer to Screen. This will eliminate the black and only leave the white dots.

Step 14

Now with the Snow layer selected, go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur.
Set the Angle to 55 and Distance of 80 pixels.
We now have a snow that actually looks like it’s falling with motion and everything.
Note: you can reduce the layer opacity to about 50% if you think the snow is too strong.

Step 15

Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer above ‘Snow’. Name this new layer ‘Blue Radial’.
Select the Gradient Tool (G), pick the Radial Option. Select the Transparent Gradient tool. The color we will be using is #006b6f.
Add this radial gradient to the overall image. (Center Transparent, borders #006b6f) Now change the blending mode to Multiply and lower the opacity to 50%.

Step 16

Go to the Adjustments Panel and select the Gradient Map. Set the gradient colors to #003d43 and #ff7c00. Now change the blending mode to Soft Light and reduce the Opacity to 50%.

Step 17

We are already on the final touches of the image.
To add a surreal and dramatic touch to the image, Select all the layers worked on until now, duplicate all layers, merge all the selected (only the ones we duplicated) layers.
You will now have the entire image on one single layer.
Now go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the blur to 1,6 pixels than press ok. Change this layers blending mode to Lighten. Make sure this layer is above all the layers we have worked on until now. You can name this layer ‘Soft Blur’.
You can notice now that the white areas in the image are glowing. This also avoids overly sharp borders.
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