The Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 3, Pt. 2 | 2 | WebReference

The Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 3, Pt. 2 | 2

The Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 3, Pt. 2.

Creating a Mask for Gradients

The selections outlined in this procedure are very much specific to this image. Your selections should be made on an image-to-image basis, according to the content you want to apply effects to. Begin this procedure by using the image from the previous procedure, with the contrast adjusted and tones altered. Then follow these steps:

1. Commit the grayscale changes by merging Gradient Map 1 with the Background layer.

2. Duplicate Gradient Map 2 and change the name of the duplicate layer to Sky Gradient.

3. Click and drag the lower-right corner of the image window to reveal the image matte, as shown in Figure 2.13. You may have to zoom out from the image if you are in close to make the image smaller before attempting to view the matte.

Figure 2.13 Clicking and dragging the corner of the image window reveals the image matte.

4. Choose the Polygonal Lasso tool; then select the Anti-Aliased option and change the Feathering to 2 pixels on the options bar.

5. Click the Lasso tool to the left of and just outside the image, right at the horizon line on the image matte.

6. Move the cursor to the right of the image and click just outside the image on the image matte, right at the horizon line. This should make a selection line along the horizon.

7. Complete the selection by clicking three more times: outside the image at the bottomright corner, at the bottom-left corner, and then back at the point of origin, as shown in Figure 2.14.

8. Change the foreground color to black.

9. Choose the Paint Bucket tool. Be sure the Sky Gradient layer is active, and click the Paint Bucket tool in the selected area on the image. The mask for the Gradient Map layer will fill with black in the selected area. This masks out (hides) the gradient effect on the sea for this layer; the layer effect applies only to the sky.

10. Select the inverse of the area that is currently selected (Select . Inverse).

11. Activate the Gradient Map 2 layer by clicking it. Change the name of the layer to Sea Gradient.

12. Fill the sky area of the mask by using the Paint Bucket tool. The fill will hide the gradient effect of this layer over the sky.

This will effectively mask the sky separately from the sea by using the same gradient map with two complementary masks, allowing a 2-pixel blend where the edges of the mask meet. After the masking has been completed, making adjustments to either of the gradient maps will affect the sky and sea separately. In the image used for this example, the masking provides an opportunity to use completely different gradient maps for the sky and sea, if desired. Changes can also be subtle, like removing any residual blue from the clouds in the sky without affecting the color of the sea. Try removing the dark blue stop (at the 25 percent location) from the Sky Gradient gradient map and raise the opacity of the layer to 65 percent. As the clouds would tend to be a warmer color (red to yellow), rather than a sea blue, this change will enhance the color of the clouds and intensify it.

Figure 2.14 Click points A, B, C, and D to complete the selection.

By using masking and multiple gradient layers to apply gradients, and by working with layer modes and opacity, you can achieve complex results. Of course, this example is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to applying color to tone. Combined with a variety of other tools you will use for enhancing and replacing color (which we will explore in later chapters), your ability to control the result is limitless.

A few points should be clear: The foundation for color application is tone. You must be able to control tone as a basis for image color. Targeting areas of change—with separation, layer properties, or masking—can help you confine your correction to specific areas or components of your images so you can achieve better results.

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Created: March 27 2003
Revised: December 27, 2004