Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Creative Effects Using a Layer Mask

Last week I posted the image "Loner" and had a few people ask me how it was processed.  While it is possible to pull off this effect entirely in Lightroom (See "Fun with Bamboo"), the detail work involved in revealing the green needles of the pine tree was easier to accomplish in PhotoShop. 

Here's how it was done:
  1. First, the image was processed in Lightroom as a black and white (See the section "Converting to B&W")
  2. A virtual copy was made of the image and processed in color.
  3. Both the black and white and color copies were opened in PhotoShop as layers.  Black and white on the top, color on the bottom.
  4. From the Layers menu, I added a Reveal All Layer Mask to the top black and white layer.
  5. Using a "grass" type brush, I selected the layer mask, set my brush color to black, 100% opacity and set to work maticulously painting the needles of the pine tree.  This allowed the green of the second color layer to show through the black and white top layer.
  6. When completed, I imported the image back into Lightroom, made a few additional adjustments and then cropped the image for the final result.
Again, there are various ways to complete this effect with just Lightroom, Lightroom and 3rd party plugins like On One's Perfect Layers, or the grand daddy of them all, PhotoShop.  Whichever tools you use, the effect is always fun to try and usually leads to pretty unique images.

Until next time, keep click'n.


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