Tuesday, 19 October 2010

PP Tips 6 - Using Layers

This is part of a 'How To' series on post process work.

After posting my tip about not using layers, I received a request to post something about using layers. Well, that's a logical request.

So, this post is Photoshop specific, and it is only a basic, and very simple, explanation about layers, and how/when to use them.

The first thing to understand about a 'layer', for the purposes of this exercise, is that it is a duplicate of the original image, which is in a 'stack' above the original. That duplicate can then be blended with the original, and it can be blended in many different ways.

There are other layering techniques, where a duplicate is not made of the original, such as when we wish to make a solid colour layer, or a 'gradient' layer, etc. They are for another post though.

You can still make superb images without using layers. However, there are occasions where using them will make a world of difference.

One such occasion is when we wish to boost the colour of an image. There are different ways to improve the colour in an image, the simplest being to adjust the saturation, or contrast. The associated problems with using this approach, can be that we will also increase inherent noise, and increase the risk of our colours becoming 'posterised'.

To keep this simple, I will just go through the process steps for making one layer, and using it to adjust colour.

This is the image I wish to adjust. It was shot today (191010) and so the scene is still very fresh in my mind. As it was shot indoors and only with daylight filtering from the side, it looks 'flatter' than it actually was.

So, what I want to do is to give the colour a small amount of 'boost', and also without doing such that noise would be increased.

Step 1
With the image open in Photoshop, I have selected Layer/Duplicate Layer.

Step 2
Once Duplicate Layer is selected, a dialogue box will open. Here a name can be given to the layer. This is useful when working with many different layers, but here I will just use the default and click OK.

Step 3
With my image now duplicated as a separate layer, I have selected Image/Adjustments/Hue Saturation.

Note : It is now the layer I am working on. My original is intact below this

Step 4
Once I have selected Hue/Saturation, a dialogue box opens with adjustment sliders.

Here I have adjusted Master (not shown) to +40 Saturation. Then, using the drop-down menu, I have selected Reds and reduced Saturation to -15 and Lightness to -5.

Note : In this step, it is always better to go a little beyond what we may consider normal. In other words, over adjust a little. The reason is that in our coming blending step, we will lose some of the effect

Step 5
With that done, I now wish to 'blend' my layer with my original image.

Here, I have selected Layer/Layer Style/Blending Options.

Step 6
Once Blending Options is selected, a dialogue box will appear with options. Here, I have simply clicked Blend Mode/Color.

Note : What this will do is simply to 'blend' the color, without changing any detail

Step 7
In the previous step, I did not adjust the Opacity slider. I simply left it at 100%. The reason for this is that the dialogue box was covering a large part of the image.

With that out of the way, I have now opened my Layers 'pane' to adjust the Opacity. Here, I have adjusted it to Opacity 80%.

Note : If not already open, the Layers window is opened by clicking Window/Layers from the menu at the top of the Photoshop screen

Step 8
Well, I'm done !

The layer can be left open if desired, and the image saved as a *.PSD file. That way I can always come back and readjust the layer.

However, for the purpose of this exercise, I have selected Layer/Flatten Image and then saved the new image as a *.Jpeg file.

Note : Don't overwrite your original files. When I have saved this, I have called it (file name) 1a. That way I know it is my adjusted image, version 1. 

I usually also add the date at the end. So, this particuar file would end up as DSCF6114 1a_1010

A comparison between the two images.

The original.

The adjusted image.


Other posts in this series - Click here for the index page.


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