Soft brushes & layers...

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rip18

Senior Member
Had a question about the ibis pic - and it didn't come from our favorite mounted cowboy...

I took the picture at 3:16 in the afternoon - way too much hard light for the sensor to capture blacks & whites well (usually anyway...). I adjusted levels to get the majority of the picture to look "right", but I still didn't like the pale color of the feet & beak, so I added a layer.

I added a levels adjustment layer & adjusted the image so the colors of the beak & feet were "real."

Then I used the black paint bucket to block the effect of the levels adjustment from the whole image, and then a soft white brush to reveal the layer only on the feet & beak. Note that somehow when adding this layer & then blocking it, that I created the (unwanted in this case) halo around the whole bird.

Okay, so then I went back & did an example for this post....

Layers are a very versatile tool in Photoshop. They can be used to do a LOT of different things. Think of layers like layers of clear overlay material that you write/spray different things onto - like a map or old flip chart.

Once you do something to a layer, you can block the effect by coloring the area you want blocked with black paint. You can reveal the effect by painting with white paint. BLACK BLOCKS/WHITE REVEALS. You can use any tool to apply the color - including the paint bucket, brushes of any style, etc. You can paint & repaint & repaint - blocking and revealing until you get what you want. You aren't changing the data in the image at ALL, just how you SEE it.

I used the exact same adjustment layer (because I had saved a "master" copy with all the adjustments in Photoshop format). I then used a black brush to block the effect from the left half of the image, so that you can see what the levels adjustment layer was doing.

Then instead of choosing an appropriate brush to "fix" the details on the beak, I used 4 different brushes to swipe down the image so that you can see what the brushes do. I used a small "soft" brush, then a larger "soft" brush, then a small "hard" brush, and then a larger "hard" brush. Soft brushes just mean they have a fuzzy or "soft" edge. I use a soft brush so there is a gradual transition between where I want the effect and where I don't (kind of like feathering the edge of a selection area). I'd use a brush size & "soft" amount appropriate to the thing that I am "painting".

Hope that description & the illustration help folks understand a little about layers & some of the ways they can be used...
 

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leo

Retired Woody's Mod 7/01-12/09
Thanks for the explanation

and the tutorial :biggrin3:

See Smokey you aren't the only one that ask questions:bounce:

I do no use layers much and need to start trying to get more familiar with them so any info helps:)
 
Nice tutorial Rip.
One other thing you can do to take advantage of the Power of Layers is:
Use Opacity settings.
You can do this a couple of different ways.
1. As you are using your brushes, you can adjust their opacity at the top of the screen by lowering the percentage.
This comes in real handy when the adjustment you are making is too strong. You can lower the opacity and have control over how intense the adjustment is.
2. You can also adjust the opacity of the whole layer by going to the layers pallette and typing in the opacity percetage, or you
can use the slider.
When using the slider you can actually watch the effect in real time on your image.
Heres an example:

When I get ready to sharpen my photos, I create a duplicate layer by typing Cmd J, That would be Ctrl J on a windows machine.
I then apply my sharpening.
Sometimes when sharpening, certain parts of the image look great and other parts look oversharpened.
Since I have done my sharpening on the duplicate layer, I can now
go back and use the eraser tool and erase over the parts that look over sharpened.

Then all you have to do is flatten the image.
 

jason308

Senior Member
Nice explanation Rip!!!! Now if I could remember to use stuff like this....:banginghe
 

FERAL ONE

Shutter Mushin' Mod
thanks for the help yall. i am lost as a duck in the desert when it comes to layers. if it ain't plainly laid out in scott kelbys book. i don't have a clue !!! looks like i need to do some more learnin' !!!!
 

BOWHUNTER!

Senior Member
Nice tutorial Rip.
One other thing you can do to take advantage of the Power of Layers is:
Use Opacity settings.
You can do this a couple of different ways.
1. As you are using your brushes, you can adjust their opacity at the top of the screen by lowering the percentage.
This comes in real handy when the adjustment you are making is too strong. You can lower the opacity and have control over how intense the adjustment is.
2. You can also adjust the opacity of the whole layer by going to the layers pallette and typing in the opacity percetage, or you
can use the slider.
When using the slider you can actually watch the effect in real time on your image.
Heres an example:

When I get ready to sharpen my photos, I create a duplicate layer by typing Cmd J, That would be Ctrl J on a windows machine.
I then apply my sharpening.
Sometimes when sharpening, certain parts of the image look great and other parts look oversharpened.
Since I have done my sharpening on the duplicate layer, I can now
go back and use the eraser tool and erase over the parts that look over sharpened.

Then all you have to do is flatten the image.
Yeah..what he said..:confused::p
 

Hoss

Moderator
I believe we have the newest edition of the Photo Tricks of the Trade sticky here. Thanks for the post Rip and the followup DRB.

Hoss
 
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