This week we had a presentation from our own Jo, who aimed to explain about using “Layers” in Photoshop to create composite images.
Jo explained to those novices in the group, that Layers are a very useful tool within Photoshop and can play an important role in post production. They are used to allow you to work on individual parts of an image while not affecting other parts. They allow you to modify your image, add text, change colour, put two or more pictures on the same page and more without modifying your original photo. As you get more experienced in using this powerful tool you can rearrange each layer, group them together, link them together and remove them.
The Layers panel will appear on the left hand side of the image you are working on and build up as you go along. It is a good idea, especially when starting out, to label each layer so that you know what it is doing.
Layer masks allow you to selectively modify the opacity (transparency) of the layer they belong to. Layer masks use only white, black and grey to control the transparency of a layer. White in a layer mask means 100% visible, black means 100% transparent. This allows you to select part of an image, apply a layer mask and essentially “cut it out” enabling you to add this as a composite to another image, hence creating a layer. Another good use of layer masks is if you want to blur part of an image you can use a mask to cover the bit that you don’t want blurred.
The Quick Selection tool can be used to mark the part of the image you want to cut out. This works best if there is good contrast between the background and the part of the image you want to use. Another good tool is the Channel tool, which is a much more accurate way of selecting parts of the image you want to use to create a layer mask.
Adjustments layers are also important. These include curves, contrast, brightness etc. If you adjust these using the adjustment layer you don’t affect the image itself, only the layer, so that this layer can be switched off or only applied to part of the image.
After the break Jo went on to show us how she created her example composite image.
Always begin by making a duplicate of your original image, which will hide as a background layer and be locked so that you don’t make any adjustment to the original. You create your layer mask of the cut out of other images and drag and drop into position on the main image. Using the adjustment layer you add hue and saturation and then using the levels adjustment layer make it very dark then invert and use the mask to darken parts, thus creating shadows - this then blends the composite image in so that it doesn’t look stuck on. You may have spend quite a bit of time working on this, gradually blending in layers until you are satisfied with the end result.
If any inexperienced Photoshop users want to have a go Jeff suggested using YouTube tutorials to take you through a task step by step or if you don’t like using YouTube follow one of the many written step by step guides. Start small and simple to gradually build up experience. The main thing is to give it a go. If enough members are interested we may be able to run some small group sessions so that we can tap into the expertise of the experienced users.
We all thanked Jo for her demonstration and for the tutorial - I’m sure some of us will be clicking away over the next few days while all the tips are in our heads!
Here is he finished composite from the night.
At the start of the evening Jeff announced that we had come joint 30th out 41 clubs in the Pixels competition. Not too bad considering the calibre of some of the clubs from across the country.
Next week we have a presentation from Ian Ledgar entitled Stars and Galaxies.