photoshop creative

Get creative with layers and masks

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
March 23, 2016

Create a dramatic composition using simple adjustment layers and mask techniques, and combine two generations


1. Prepare the stage


Hit Cmd/Ctrl+N and name the file ‘Ageing person’. Set Width to 230mm, Height to 310mm, Resolution to 300 pixels/ inch and hit OK. Now grab the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) and draw a small selection. Go to Filter>Render>Cloud. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+T and scale the image.

2. Place the first image


Place your image of the child. On the tool option bar, set Horizontal/ Vertical scale to 110%, and hit Return/Enter. Now go to Layer>Rasterize>Smart Object. Add a layer mask. Go to Layer>Layer Mask> Reveal All. Grab the Brush tool (B). Set the Foreground colour to black and start painting around the hair.

3. Insert guides


Go to View>Ruler. Grab the Move tool (V). Drag a guide from the vertical ruler to the centre of the nose. Repeat to place a guide to the centre of the eyes. Place a horizontal guide running across both eyes and also under the nose.

4. Place your elderly woman


Go to File>Place ‘Elderly.jpg’. Hold Shift and drag the corner handles to scale the image and hit Return/Enter (use the guides to match the proportions). Grab the Lasso tool (L), set the Feather to 1 pixel, and draw a selection around the hair.

5. Use Refine Edge


On the tool option bar click Refine Edge. Check the Smart Radius box, set the Radius to 2 pixels. Grab the Refine Radius tool (E) and brush over the hair to add fine details and then hit OK.

6. Create a transition


Hit Cmd/Ctrl+H to hide the guides. Grab a large soft tip brush (B), make sure the Foreground colour is set to black, and gently start painting over the mask to hide the bottom part of the image, creating a seamless transition between the layers.

7. Add an adjustment layer


Now duplicate the Child layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J). Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Set Radius to 5 pixels and hit OK. Add an adjustment layer. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels. Check ‘Use previous layer to create a clipping mask’ and hit OK. Set Input Levels to 0, 0.58, 255.

8. Make more adjustments


Now click on the Elderly layer. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer> Vibrance, and set Vibrance to +35 and Saturation to -20. Add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment, Brightness: 14 and Contrast: 6. Add a Photo Filter adjustment, choose Filter: Cyan, Density: 25%.

9. Use the Gradient tool


Create a new layer. Grab the Rectangular Marquee tool and draw a selection on the bottom half. Grab the Gradient tool (G). Open the Gradient Editor and set the colours to #31EAFF and #00435C. Change to Radial and fill the selection. Set the blending mode to Multiply, Opacity to 75%.

10. Add splashes


Insert an image of the edge of some water. Grab the Magic Wand tool (W). Set Tolerance to 50, check Contiguous and select the white area. Hit Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert the selection and then go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal Selection. Hit Cmd/ Ctrl+U and set the Saturation to -30.

11. Place the bubbles


Place some bubbles. Change the blend mode to Screen. Go to Filter>Blur>GaussianBlur. Set Radius to 5 pixels and hit OK. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Set Hue: 195, Saturation: 50 and Lightness: -40. Add a layer mask and hide unwanted parts.

12. Hide the underwater area


Let’s add another adjustment layer on the top of the layer stack. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Color Lookup. Check 3DLUT File and choose HorrorBlue.3DL. Set the Fill to 30%. Grab the Brush tool (B) and paint over the mask to hide the underwater area.

13. Add shadows and highlights


Create a new layer, name it Shadows and Highlights. Change the blend mode to Soft Light. Set the default Foreground/Background colour (hit ‘D’). Grab a soft Brush (B) and start enhancing the shadows using black and highlights using white. Focus around the hair and the eyes.

14. Sharpen


Let’s sharpen the image. First create a snapshot. Click Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+E. Now duplicate the ‘snapshot’ layer and change the blending mode to Overlay. Go to Filter>Other>High Pass. Set Radius to 5 pixels and then click OK. Create a layer mask and hide the area underwater to keep it out of focus.