Photoshop can do a lot of things. Some of them are fairly straightforward and need to get done, while others are more creative and probably should get done, if you want to jazz things up. Whatever the task though, there are usually many methods of going about it. Almost everyone you ask will have something new to add.
In this post, I’m going to combine a few of my previous posts and offer you a really neat way to add some distinct character to your photos. This is definitely one post you don’t want to miss, so be sure to read on down below.
By the way, I just mentioned that I’m going to reference a few of my previous posts. If you’re curious as to which they are, here’s a short list:
If you browse through the above, you’ll gain some insight into what I’m about to discuss below.
Today, I’ll be working with a fairly unique photograph. The reason I chose this photo is because the areas I’d like to alter are clearly distinct from their surroundings. While what I’m going to cover today can be used with any type of photo (with a bit of cleverness), it’s much easier to explain with images like this.
Selecting the Smoke
Although this photo is pretty cool the way it is, I’ve been thinking that I want to explore some different colors for the smoke. Right now, it’s a whitish blue, which is nice, but I’m wondering if it would look good as something else. Let’s see how this can be done.
I know I’ve already discussed how to use the Rectangular Marquee tool to make a selection in Photoshop, but unfortunately, that tool isn’t going to work in this case. Since the smoke is wildly shaped, as opposed to a rectangle, we’ll need to find something else. Let’s look at the Magic Wand Tool.
There are a few things going on in the above screenshot. First, I clicked on the Magic Wand Tool in the left vertical toolbar. After that, I went up to the options bar and typed in the value of 200 in the Tolerance field. This field controls how much similar data this tool will select when something is clicked on. For example, if I set the Tolerance to 1, the tool would probably only select a few pixels in this image. If the image was a completely solid color, it would select the entire thing. As you raise the tolerance value, the tool lessens its restriction to gradients and moves more and more outward from a single point. The best way to understand this is to play around with it. Open a photo and use the tool with varying values for Tolerance. You’ll see exactly how it works.
Lastly, I brought the Magic Wand Tool over to the smoke and clicked around a bit. I finally found a spot that selected a good sized area. An area that I could work with.
I had to enlarge the screenshot a bit, so it’s blurry. You can clearly see the selected area though.
Creating an Adjustment Layer
Since I want to alter the color of the smoke, I’m going to head over to the Adjustments panel and click on the Hue/Saturation button.
The moment I clicked that button in the Adjustments panel, the appropriate Properties box popped open and an adjustment layer was created in the Layers panel. Also, the marching ants (selected area) disappeared.
From here, I’ll move the Hue slider to the left to alter the blue color to red. After that, I’ll increase the saturation a bit, by moving the Saturation slider to the right, so it really pops out and you can see the difference.
I’m sure you’re beginning to see the possibilities of exploring and working with these tools.
Now that my smoke looks pretty good, I was thinking that I’d like to really isolate it by changing, or removing the saturation from, the lower portion of the photo. Right now, it’s sort of green. I’d like to strip it of any color so the viewer’s eye goes straight to the smoke. For this, I’ll be sure my image layer is selected and then use my Rectangular Marquee Tool to select the entire area.
Now that the lower area is selected and highlighted, I can head back over to the Adjustments panel again and click on the Hue/Saturation button once more. I’ll move the Saturation slider all the way to the left so the color disappears from that area only. Also, you’ll notice that another adjustment layer was created in the Layers panel to handle this specific selected area.
Remember, when working with adjustment layers like I just did above, you can turn your edits off and on. You don’t need to fear making changes because you can always go back to the original image by simply deleting the adjustment layers. And finally, I just made adjustments to the hue and saturation of this image. I could just as easily have selected an area and clicked the Brightness/Contrast or Levels (or any other) buttons. After making a selection, you can get as creative as you want with which adjustments you choose.
Check out the before and after shots.
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