Friday, January 1, 1982

Luminosity Masks Part I

I n t r o d u c t i o n
by © Tony Kuyper
The first I heard of luminosity masks was in a spam email I received several years ago inviting me to sign up for a Photoshop seminar. Since I had little inclination to attend the pricey seminar, Google provided me with a general idea of what a luminosity mask was and how to create it. In the months and years that followed, I created several different versions of these masks that made them more useful. I'm now at the point that I use luminosity masks in every image I work on in Photoshop. (Note: Information on other Photoshop techniques I frequently use have also been added to this website: Saturation Masks, Digital Scheimpflug, and Cloning Color, Retaining Texture.)
Luminosity masks are an excellent way to help define a personal vision of a scene. They have the ability to overcome shortcomings in the tonal values that were captured by the camera or film and to correct tones that shifted during image manipulation. While luminosity masks are created in Photoshop, they aren't available from the drop-down menus and can't be created with tools in Photoshop's Tools palette. The two primary masks, "Lights" and "Darks", are very easy to create. From there, however, it becomes more complex as the various selections are intersected and subtracted. But don't worry. This tutorial will tell you how to do all the necessary steps to create a wide array of very useful masks. In addition, the last page of this tutorial will tell you how to get the set of Photoshop actions I use to create the masks. The actions greatly simplify the process of generating the masks; a couple of clicks and you're done. Once you know the necessary steps, you can create your own actions or use mine There are also plug-ins and actions that you can find and download from the Internet if you're so inclined.
Before going too far, I should mention that I work on a Windows-based computer using Photoshop CS. The instructions in this tutorial will be given with those parameters in mind. Some facility with Photoshop will be assumed. While the details of the processes will be explained, I won't attempt to provide definitions of every Photoshop term or how to perform common steps. There are many reference guides to Photoshop that can help you, including the User Guide and the embedded "Help" menu in Photoshop, but if you've worked (or played) with Photoshop, you're probably familiar enough with the program to do the necessary steps. Additionally, I prefer to use Photoshop shortcut keys whenever possible. These are a combination of the Shift, Ctrl, and/or Alt keys being held down at the same time and, while continuing to hold them down, hitting a letter, number, or symbol on the key board. The ones I list will be the defaults that come programmed into Photoshop. If you've altered your shortcut keys to change the defaults, it's assumed you're smart enough to know what your corresponding shortcut is or can at least restore the defaults. Mac users will hopefully know or can look up the corresponding key combinations for their computers. There are usually drop-down menu commands that correspond to the shortcut keys, but these often become more complex than the shortcut keys, so I generally don't use them. I also like the classic Windows look to my programs with neutral gray colors, so the screen captures might look a little old-fashioned.


YOU ARE HERE — Introduction!!!
NEXT—The Basic Mask—"Lights"
Understanding Masks
Using the "Lights" Mask
Different Masks for Different Tones
Experimentation is the Key
Getting the Actions
Link: by © Tony Kuyper
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