photoshop creative

How to create dynamic compositions using layers and filters in Photoshop, part 2

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
December 8, 2013

Continued… Enjoy this tutorial for turning a dull image into a stunning composition with these clever techniques

Follow part 1 of this tutorial


Duplicate the Background layer by dragging it onto the Create a New Layer button. Move this duplicated layer to the top of the palette. Go into the Channels palette and Ctrl/Cmd-click on the channel containing the car’s selection that was saved. This will reactivate the area.


Add a layer mask to the duplicated Background. Notice how the active selection is applied to the mask. Change the blend mode of this layer to Soft Light. This will make the car’s lighting more dramatic, for both its body and the windows.


Ctrl/Cmd-click on the layer mask just made to reactivate it as a selection. Add the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer using the small icon at the base of the Layers palette. The car outline will be applied instantly to the adjustment’s mask. Change the blend mode of the adjustment to Color.


Inside the Hue/Saturation adjustment, tick the Colorize box. You’ll notice that the entire car will be given a single hue. Set the Hue slider to 222 and the Saturation slider to 36. This gives a blue tint to the car and replaces its grey original colour.



Notice how the windows have been affected by the new colour. Go to the layer containing the darkened windows and Ctrl/Cmd-click on its thumbnail to activate it as a selection. Now click on the mask of the Hue/Saturation adjustment, and press Alt/Opt+Backspace (Foreground colour must be black).


We need to use the Pen tool to make a path around the headlamps. First, hide all layers apart from the Background by clicking on their eye symbols. Form a path around one of the headlamps using the Pen tool. Ctrl/right-click and choose Make Selection when complete to turn this into a selection.


Click on the eye of the Hue/Saturation adjustment, and then click on its mask. Press Alt/Opt+Backspace to remove the selected headlamp from the adjustment. Repeat this process of selecting and removing from the mask of the adjustment so that the original colour of each headlamp shows.


To tint the whole image and alter the mood, add the Gradient Map adjustment from inside the Layers palette. Click on the gradient’s adjustment to change its colour. Choose the Red, Green preset from the Gradient Editor menu and hit OK.


With no blend mode applied, the Gradient Map adjustment replaces colours with pure green and red. Set the blend mode to Soft Light and lower the layer’s Opacity to 50%. This will reduce its effect. For stronger colour, increase this opacity setting.


To increase the brightness of the background, Ctrl/Cmd-click on the layer mask of Background Copy made earlier. This will activate the selection around the car again. Add the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer to the image and press Ctrl/Cmd+I to invert the adjustment’s mask.


In the Brightness/Contrast adjustment, boost Brightness up to 25 and set Contrast to 10. The car should remain the same as it’s been masked out, but everything else will become brighter and more vivid.