Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tutorial: Layers and Overlay Blending

I'm slowly starting to use Photoshop more and more -- not because I want to create a whole bunch of fake looking images but simply because photographer is two parts: the part behind the camera and the part in the darkroom. Digital has meant that the darkroom has shifted from a place of acrid smells and eery glows to monitor glows and sterile air.

Here's a tip for changing how light falls in an image.

Consider this image:

This lighting is flat and despite the foreground face being the most important element, our eyes are drawn to the guy in the background because he has a white shirt and is lighter than the overall tone of the image.

So in Photoshop, we create a layer above the image and paint the layer like so:

Then we set the layer to blending mode overlay and change the opacity to taste (in this case 30%).

This gives us this image:

The effect is subtle but keeps our eyes on the foreground face as we've changed the tonality so that now it's a gradient from light in the foreground going to dark in the background (which is what we generally expect to see).

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