Thursday, January 1, 2015

Masking In Lightroom

Click image to enlarge
What's that you say?  Masking in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR)?  Heresy!  Everyone knows LR doesn't do Masks.  Or does it?  Of course it does.  That's how the Adjustment Brush, the Gradient Tool, the Spot Healing Brush and the others work.  Today's image was done using both Adobe Photoshop (PS) and LR.  The former was for the "big stuff" and the later for the fine detail.  To find out what each was, hit the "Read More".

In the original image the young lady had a galvanized pipe coming out of her head.  The open "tent" she was standing just inside of was a garish yellow Bedouin setup that distracted from her fine features.  It had to go.  Because of the hard line of her head covering, taking out the background using just about any tool in PS would be able to do the trick.  So, insert your favorite masking tool here.  

Since LR can't replace a sky, that work was done in PS.  A blank Layer filled with a "sky blue" was put under the image.  Then, on separate Layers, sets of cloud Brushes (B) were used to create an "out of focus" soft background.  Making brushes from images of clouds is pretty easy.  I did a post about it a while back.  Check it out if you're so inclined.

While in PS I went to the Liquify Filter and opened her eyes just a little.  Once in the Liquify Filter, choose the Blot Tool.  Set the radius slightly bigger than the eye (side to side, not up and down).  Tap once.  Typically anything more starts to give the eye a distorted look.  I'll use this trick on almost every face I retouch.

It was then back over to LR.  Once there the clouds were still a little too sharp for my taste.  Instead of going back to PS I figured I'd take care of it right in LR.

First thing was to grab the Adjustment Brush and turn off Auto Masking (that should give you a hint that LR uses Masks).  Using a large Brush (it doesn't matter if it's soft or hard, I painted over the entire image.  I brought the Brush's Clarity and Sharpness as far negative as possible.  Everything was pretty soft at that point.  Next I "erased" the areas of the image that needed to be sharp.  All the usual suspects (the eyes, nose, mouth and any of her face decorations/markings.  Additionally her earrings, and chains were "unsoftened".  The "trick" is that now you can adjust the skin softness to any degree you like.  The woman in today's image was very good looking, with properly done makeup, so there wasn't a whole lot of softening needed.  That advantage of doing the softening this way is that you won't lose any of the skin texture.  Usually a dead giveaway that someone doesn't know good retouching techniques,