I've recently learned a pretty cool technique of how to check your blending of objects and how to figure out what's wrong when things don't look quite right. Blending things into a composition can be a ***** sometimes, and this one has helped me quite a lot, so I thought I'd share it.
(Looking at it now that it's finished, it may be a little advanced.)
It works as following: Pixel are made up of 3 values, which are Hue, Saturation and Brightness. These three values play together, but can also be distracting when focusing on one specific.
For example, your perception of brightness can be distorted by the image's colors, and vice versa can the perception of colors be distorted by the brightness.
Getting to the point, the technique I'm about to show you disables one or two of the three values and therefore gets rid of distractions when working on one specific value.
Let's create the quick check:
- Create a group
- Add a Hue/Saturation layer, turn the saturation all the way down. Name it Brightness.
- Create a new layer, fill it with ff0000. Name it Saturation. Put the layer blending mode to Hue.
- Create another layer, fill it with ff0000. Name it Hue. Put the layer blending mode on Luminosity.
- Create a Hue/Saturation layer, put Saturation to +50. Name it Boost.
- Create a Threshold layer. Name it Highlight/Shadow.
- Disable each layer.
Now you simply enable the layer of the value you want to work on, for example the Brightness layer when working the brightness.
To clarify how to use it, let's say you've placed a rock into your composition, but it doesn't look like it belongs there. The old fashioned way would be to play around with a few adjustment layers and hope it looks better, which often takes long or doesn't work at all. The method shown above gives you the ability to break down the rock image (or more specific, it's pixels) into it's three base values, which are like said Hue, Saturation and Brightness. By breaking the image down, you gain the ability to view each value seperately, which allows for objectively judging if the values of the rock match those of the rest.
So, in practice:
We would first turn on the Brightness layer to get rid of the Hue and Saturation, so we can have a clean look at the brightness of the rock. If it is different from the rest of the composition, change it.
Then we disable the Brightness layer and enable the Highlight/Shadow layer. By moving the slider like said below we can find out if the lights and darks of our rock are differently than the rest. If the, let's say, lights of the rock pop up before everything else, we can deduce that it has lighter areas than the rest of the composition, which can be the cause of it not blending in well. (If you didn't get how a Threshold layer works, its best to watch a tutorial).
Moving on, now that we took care of the brightness, let's check the Hue. Activate the Hue layer and the boost layer. This gets rid of the Brightness and leaves us the Hue and (boosted) saturation. We can now have a clear look at only the colors of the rock, which allows for a way better judgement. Let's say the rock we pasted in has an orange tint while the other rocks/elements have a blue tint. The Hue layer in combination with the Boost layer will make this difference very noticeable, and helps you change it to the right hue as well.
And finally, let's take care of the saturation. Disable every layer of the Quick Check group, and enable the Hue layer and Saturation layer. The image will look similar to with only the Hue layer active, but with the difference that all colors are now uniform (red). The image will look like a colored High Pass filter. This essentially disabled both the hue and brightness and shows us the relative saturation. Red represents the color, gray the absence of it. So, if our rock has a stronger red than the rest of the image we can tell it is too saturated, and turn it down.
Aaand, that's it. We've now taken care of each value individually. The rock should now blend in way better.
Brightness layer: Eliminates Hue and Saturation, leaves you just with the brightness
Saturation layer: Eliminates Hue and leaves you with Saturation and Brightness.
Hue Layer: Eliminates Brightness and leaves you with Hue and Saturation.
Boost Layer: Is optional, should be used in combination with either Hue or Saturation layer. Can be used to make hardly visible colors more visible.
Hue layer + Saturation layer: Can be combined to show relative saturation, eliminates Hue and Brightness, leaves you with pure saturation.
Treshold layer: Is used to check if the highlights/shadows are on the same level. Open the layer's properties, move the slider to the right. Everything should be black now. By moving the slider slowly to the left, some white areas should appear. The white represents the lightest parts of the image. Same thing with moving the slider from the left to the right, only it is completely white and black areas appear, representing the shadows.
This can be useful, because you can figure out if an object in your composition has too bright lights or too dark shadows.
(I didn't bother cutting the guy out good. Yes I know that some star wars desert people creature makes no sense on a beach, but ponies.)
Brightness layer on: The guy is obviously too dark.
Saturation layer on: He's a little too saturated.
Hue layer + Boost layer on: He got a rather strong orange tint, which doesn't blend well with a bright sun on the beach)
Hue and Saturation layer on: Showing the relative saturation, it's even more visible that he's too saturated. (taking reference from the straw rooftop/sand)
Treshold layer on: Focusing on highlights, taking the straw rooftop as reference again, he has too dark highlights.
Well and that's about it. I know it doesn't look like a "Quick Check", but it really just looks complicated. Once you understand how to use the technique properly it is indeed quick and can save quite some time.
Hope this helps anyone!
Edit #1: Further explanation
Edited by Neromid, 13 August 2014 - 10:54 AM.