Embarrassing question CS5

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I've just started using CS5 owing to the frequent and interminable crashing of NX2. I have an image where I want to reduce saturation of one corner. I've spent the better part of two days in CS5 help (hopeless), Kelby's CS5 book (probably much better but I can't get it), and several Youtube PS tutorials trying to figure out layer masks. I read or I watch and I nod with seeming understanding, trying to do click by click zombie-like rote repetition but it doesn't turn out like the examples.

I just can't get it. I could do it in NX2 in five seconds if NX2 would stay stable, but I can't make the transition to CS5. This is the main reason I chose NX over PS: the learning curve.

Does someone have a link to learning layer masks for those whose fondest wish is rise to the level of a Dummy? Thanks.
 
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Here's my first thought. Create a HSL (Hue, Saturation, Luminance) layer. Drop the Saturation to the lowest point desired. Then edit the layer mask using a White to Black (White reveals, Black conceals) gradient as desired.
 

Growltiger

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An easy approach is:
Duplicate the background layer
Change the saturation of the new layer
Add a layer mask so the original shows.
Paint in the corner of the mask so the desaturated layer is shown in that corner
(note that you can paint shades of gray to make it blend in, or use a gradient)
Flatten
Finished

If that isn't clear, I suggest you upload the image here in low resolution, 1024 across, jpg and I'll take it, add the layer mask in PS and let you have the PS file containing the layers and mask etc. One you have the file in PS you will get the hang of altering it and everything will become obvious to you. Reading tutorials isn't an easy way to learn, better to see it on your own image.

Then you can do the same with your own high quality image.
 
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Not an embarrassing question at all. There is nothing intuitive about layers, but once you understand them, they are very easy to use and very powerful. This is a little introductory tutorial aimed at beginners.

http://www.larry-bolch.com/introduction-to-layers/

I hope this will help. An alternative would be to use the lasso tool to "rope" in the area you want to de-saturate if it is an odd shape.

It is highly worth while becoming fluent with layers and layer masks. Use the brush tool with black, and you erase as you paint, showing the background layer. Use white to paint it back and refine your edges.
 
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Or you could use either the Adjustment brush or Gradient tool in ACR or Lightroom. Both tools will do what you want easily.
 
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Thank you all. There are hints in all of your suggestions. Here are my main sticking points:

I can create an adjustment layer; but I can't adjust just part of the layer, only the whole layer. I can select a portion of the image, but I can't do anything with the selection. So, I can either create a layer and adjust only the whole layer, or I can select part of an image but not do anything with it. I am missing the bridge, so to speak, between selection and adjusting the selection. I know that the solution is a layer mask. However, the inner workings of those alien things is what I can't seem to get.

It feels like there's a secret handshake that I wasn't let in on.
 
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Is it that you don't know how to add the mask to a layer or how to work with the mask once its in the layer, or how to turn a selection in to a mask?
 
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I fear I sent you to the wrong tutorial. http://www.larry-bolch.com/mask-intro/ is correct.

At the bottom of the layers palette, there is a little icon—a white disc over a grey rectangle—click on it.


Image5.jpg
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You will see a white thumbnail rectangle beside the upper layer.

Image6.jpg
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Select this. Now you should be able to paint with black for transparency and white for opacity. You paint with the brush tool on the actual image, but you will see it reflected in the mask thumbnail.

That is as close as it gets to the secret handshake.
 
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Now you should be able to paint with black for transparency and white for opacity. You paint with the brush tool on the actual image, but you will see it reflected in the mask thumbnail.

And shades of gray will let some of the underlying image through, so if you want a smooth transition you can use a gradient that goes from black to white.

If there are several other layers over/under the layer with the mask, you might want to turn them off (click the eye box on the left side of the layer information) so that all you see is the layer with the mask while you are working on it.

One last thing..... make sure the layer with the mask is selected AND the mask is highlighted or else you'll be painting in to some other layer or the image rather than the mask. Been there, done that, thank heaven for the history list :biggrin:
 
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I guess this is where I show my even more profound ignorance. In Larry's post above there is, what I assume a duplicate layer? Then add the mask with the icon at the bottom. Now, here's where I get lost. I 'paint' with black for transparency, right? Transparent what? Do I adjust the whole duplicate layer and then paint?

This is my sticking point. All the tutorials I've seen start somewhere between one and three steps beyond where I am, assuming, correctly, that no one could be this ignorant that they don't know what's happened up until now.

Or is it an adjustment layer, over which I paint black or white? I've tried both and I get strange results. Actually there is no effect with the duplicate layer. There's no way I can figure out how to adjust it.

With the adjustment layer I decreased saturation and the whole layer decreased. Then I painted with what I assumed to be black but which was, in actuality, nothing, and nothing happened. Yes, the Hue/Saturation layer was highlighted in blue and was visible.

I then reversed the black/white thing and painted and I erased the decreased saturation in the selection, this actually increasing the saturation of the selection I wished to be muted.

Clear history for the fourth time. This time another duplicate layer, add a mask, click on the thumbnail, paint in black. All I get is a section of black. Flatten the image, according the tutorial and I get a flattened image with a black corner.

I know that what I am missing is small, stupid, and obvious, but it still escapes me.

I sure hope NX3 is stable when it comes out. This is even more torture.
 
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I guess this is where I show my even more profound ignorance. In Larry's post above there is, what I assume a duplicate layer? Then add the mask with the icon at the bottom. Now, here's where I get lost. I 'paint' with black for transparency, right? Transparent what? Do I adjust the whole duplicate layer and then paint?

Check the tutorial at the URL http://www.larry-bolch.com/mask-intro/ You will see that this was the first step. How to get a layer mask. From there, I went on to desaturate the layer, and use black to bring back one tomato in full colour. As I painted on the mask, the coloured layer below was revealed. Please follow the text below the illustrations.

This is my sticking point. All the tutorials I've seen start somewhere between one and three steps beyond where I am, assuming, correctly, that no one could be this ignorant that they don't know what's happened up until now.

Or is it an adjustment layer, over which I paint black or white? I've tried both and I get strange results. Actually there is no effect with the duplicate layer. There's no way I can figure out how to adjust it.

Try something similar to what I show in the tutorial. Get a feel for how it works with something like a saturated and completely desaturated layer, so you can clearly see the effect of the mask. Depending upon settings, an adjustment layer could be rather subtle.

With the adjustment layer I decreased saturation and the whole layer decreased.

That is what would be expected.

Then I painted with what I assumed to be black but which was, in actuality, nothing, and nothing happened. Yes, the Hue/Saturation layer was highlighted in blue and was visible.

Again referring to the tutorial. As you can see there is a black area in the mask thumbnail where I painted with black, and as a result, the tomato showed through from the background layer. If you do not see the black show up on the thumbnail, then it is not selected. You must click on the white thumbnail prior to painting.

Image9.jpg
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I then reversed the black/white thing and painted and I erased the decreased saturation in the selection, this actually increasing the saturation of the selection I wished to be muted.

A screen-shot or two would really help here.

Clear history for the fourth time. This time another duplicate layer, add a mask, click on the thumbnail, paint in black. All I get is a section of black. Flatten the image, according the tutorial and I get a flattened image with a black corner.

I know that what I am missing is small, stupid, and obvious, but it still escapes me.

I sure hope NX3 is stable when it comes out. This is even more torture.

Again start with something simple and obvious—even two different images to be clear. Or like in the tutorial a monochrome layer and a colour layer. When you click on the the icon to generate the thumbnail of the mask, it should be selected by default, but click on it anyway just to be sure. When you use the brush to paint with black, that black will show up on the thumbnail as you paint.

Indeed it is something small and not obvious. If I were looking over your shoulder, I would see it immediately. I strongly suspect that somehow you have chosen the image rather than the layer, which would most certainly give odd results. You do paint on the image, not the thumbnail. The thumbnails select which will be getting the black paint.

None the less, you appear to be painting on the image itself. By selecting the mask thumbnail, the paint is redirected to the mask. At that point the image is serving as a guide. Again, as you paint, the paint will be shown in the thumbnail as well. If it is not, then the thumbnail is not selected.

At the moment, I feel your discouragement. It is worth working through, starting with something obvious. Actually do my tutorial step by step.

Layers are the key to Photoshop's greatest power and are very easy to use once you get past this point.
 
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Thank you for your patience, Larry. One of the problems is my failure to adequately describe what I want and what I am doing.

What I want: the lower right corner of the image should be less saturated than the rest of the image.

What I did: I followed the tutorial step by step by making a duplicate layer, decreases saturation using Image/Hue-Saturation (which decreased saturation on the entire duplicate layer, added a mask, clicked on the mask icon to the right of the second layer's thumbnail, painted the lower right corner of the duplicate layer with black.

What I got: An image that had decreased saturation over the whole of the image excepting the lower right corner, which had increased saturation (the previous saturation from the Background layer, now showing through).

I believe this is what the tutorial was meant to convey. However, it is precisely the reverse of what I wanted to do, which was: retain the original saturation over the image except for the lower right corner where I wanted decreased saturation.

Is there such a thing as a negative brush? Can I paint a lowered saturation over part of the image? How do layer masks work for this?

I know I'm asking a lot. I am very appreciative of those who have stuck around to help me. And I seem to have learned at least something about layers and masks. Thank you.
 
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Thank you for your patience, Larry. One of the problems is my failure to adequately describe what I want and what I am doing.

What I want: the lower right corner of the image should be less saturated than the rest of the image.

What I did: I followed the tutorial step by step by making a duplicate layer, decreases saturation using Image/Hue-Saturation (which decreased saturation on the entire duplicate layer, added a mask, clicked on the mask icon to the right of the second layer's thumbnail, painted the lower right corner of the duplicate layer with black.

What I got: An image that had decreased saturation over the whole of the image excepting the lower right corner, which had increased saturation (the previous saturation from the Background layer, now showing through).

I believe this is what the tutorial was meant to convey. However, it is precisely the reverse of what I wanted to do, which was: retain the original saturation over the image except for the lower right corner where I wanted decreased saturation.

OK! You are getting very close! Painting with black reveals whatever is beneath it in the background layer. If the background layer is more saturated, you get more saturation by revealing it.

Had you desaturated the background layer instead of the duplicate layer, it would have worked. The top layer is naturally opaque until you paint with transparency. The key is to open the top layer to show the bits of the background layer you want blended with it.

Is there such a thing as a negative brush? Can I paint a lowered saturation over part of the image? How do layer masks work for this?

Certainly. Remember that white is always opaque and black is always transparent. If you fill the mask with black, you will reveal all of the background layer—the top layer will be totally transparent.

Now use white for opacity and paint back the lower right hand corner. By painting with white, you are blocking the background layer and revealing the top layer. It works as well in reverse with white on black as in normal black on white.

Black reveals—white conceals.

In fact, if you have your last attempt still intact, by selecting the mask and choosing Image->Adjust->Invert or [Ctrl+I], you will create a negative of your mask, and it should be correct or nearly so. Perhaps a bit of editing will make it perfect.

I suggest you use a very soft edge brush and vary the brush size to match the fineness of detail. A really big brush works great for large areas. If you need to say exclude a tree trunk, go to a smaller diameter brush that fits. If you over-paint, you can correct easily with the opposite colour.

I know I'm asking a lot. I am very appreciative of those who have stuck around to help me. And I seem to have learned at least something about layers and masks. Thank you.

If this installment is clear, you now are in command!

Wonderful things can be done with layers. I frequently find myself shooting in mixed light with the D700—say a mix of daylight through a window and a mix of fluorescent and incandescent in the room. I can open the image in Adobe Camera RAW(ACR) and do a balance for daylight and open it as the background layer. Then I reopen it and do an incandescent balance, using it as the top layer, blend them together and merge them into the new background layer. Finally I do the fluorescent white balance, blend it in and I have a nicely white balanced image with excellent skin tones wherever in the room the people may be.

With uneven lighting, I can adjust the level of brightness on each person in the room. On a hazy day, I can use the HSL tab in ACR to get the maximum blue in the sky without worrying about anything else in the image and use layers to make the sky much more attractive.

On a picture with delicate and important highlight information, I can use Select->Colour Range to select only the highlights with the drop-down menu. Now I click invert and it selects all but the highlights—which are now protected.

Feather the selection for smooth transitions, and click the icon to generate the layer mask—which it does automatically based upon my selection. Change the layer mode from Normal to Screen and shadow and mid-tone detail is revealed. Use the proportional slider to get just the right amount.

The applications are truly endless and a very high percentage of my images are done with layers and masks. Time spent playing with this feature and becoming fluent with it is time very well spent.
 
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Larry - thank you, again. I had to go out of town on business and when I got back I had just enough time to try some of your suggestions on inversion. I think I get it, but it will take more practice. I'm feeling like I see the path through the foggy forest.

Geoff - I'm below beginner level in LR. When I get this down a bit more I might look at LR. Thanks for your help and suggestions.
 
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Stilson, the tool I am referring you to is in both ACR (which is where raw files are opened in PS) and Lightroom.
I can show you a very easy way to do selective colour with the Adjustment Brush if you like!
 
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Thanks, Geoff, I'd like that. I'm out of town this weekend but I'll PM you when I return. I have very fond memories of NZ, though it's been decades since I've been there.
 
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Do an adjustment layer. make the adjustment which will cover the whole image. Click the split circle icon to add a mask. Click on the mask and a picture frame will appear around it. Ctrl and i will invert the mask to black hiding the adjustment. Paint with a white brush on the mask using the image on screen and the adjustment will appear where you paint.

Use a soft or hard edge brush as necessary to make a feathered adjustment or sharp line transition as required. Or use a white to black gradient.

Start with a a duplicate layer, CTRL and j
 
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