In this lesson we will discuss how to turn the left photo into the dramatic monochrome one on the right using Photoshop (R)
The first goal is to crop away all of the extraneous and distracting items in the image. I chose just at the tip of the left building to just at the tip of the right building. The top of the image was the tip of the middle skyscraper eliminating most of the distracting sky and just above the billboards eliminating that distraction as well. This as many of the processes I will discuss can be done in many ways. I chose to use the selection tool, the one that looks like a rectangular hash marking. To do this pick the top left of the area you want to choose and while holding down the mouse drag it until the bottom right of the selection you want. Some will choose to use a tablet, Others might use the crop tool. Like I said, there are many ways to do this.
The easiest way to proceed with the crop is then to hit the button on the top called image then hit the crop button and hit enter. This will yield the following cropped image:
Now hit image adjustments black and white and then hitting enter will result in the image as such:
However, this image needs some help. Before you hit enter you see some sliding bars to the right of the panel.
Before you hit ok and just get the picture above you can use the sliders to get dramatic effects as such:
However, the method we will use will give us much more control on the overall image, and allow us more flexibility.
Another option is to use the Nick Collection Tools which as of the writing of this blog was a freeware developed by Google (R) as a plugin that can used for example in a program like Photoshop (R).There are many options listed on the left panel and you can choose from a host of light and shadow characters and choices. The collection I use is Silver Effects Pro 2 for images such as this.
We will still use another method of image selection and exposure control that allows choosing specific areas and controlling the exposure of each.
For this method we will first use the polygonal lasso tool. In PC’s it is found in the left selection area 3rd from the top. It looks like this:
If you see anything else, like the magnetic or regular lasso tool click on the arrow at the lower right of the square to choose the polygonal lasso. You will need to draw from the outside so hitting control and the minus (-) key will zoom out, or hit view zoom out to achieve the same effect. Now select the little middle building by clicking first then again at the end of the edge and continue around until a circle appears. At that click it will close and you will have selected the building. You can always reverse any action by clicking the ctrl alt and z keys to back up. The ctrl shift and z keys redo the action. Keep playing around until you become proficient at this. Note whenever I say ctrl on a PC it is command on a Mac.
The resultant image will be as follows. I have colored it red to see it clearly.
We will be doing this many times so we need to save each selection for future use. Hit select at the top bar, then save selection. A bar will appear to type in “Small Middle Building”.
Now there is a distracting white band at the top of the left building, so we are going to cut that out as follows: Using the polygonal lasso toll select the left building but only the grey area as follows:
Next we will select the right building, but this is going to be a bit trickier. Choosing only the dark overhang and the bottom of the building, select as follows:
Now with the section still active hit ctrl J. This will copy the selection to a new layer. The by hitting ctrl T it transforms into a stretchable box. The handles at the ends of this box allows you to cover up the distracting white thing and the protrusions on the roof. So the new selection will look like this:
Now you should save this enlarge building by hitting select save selection “Right Building” as before.
You can at this point hit flatten image by right clicking on the layers panel and hit flatten image. Remember if you make a mistake you can always hit ctrl alt z to step backward. By the way ctrl D deselects a selection and ctrl shift d reselects it.
Now we select the large middle building. Although the left of the building is rounded, you don’t have to be too precise as you will see later and you can miss a bit on the left and go through the right building because we are going to mask everything later. Save the selection as Large Miiddle Building.
Now with nothing selected we are going to copy the entire background layer by hitting ctrl J. This will make a copy of the original. I usually do this again so I have a reference of where we started so three layers is ok by hitting ctrl j again.
Now we are going to go to the top layer by selecting that in the layers panel. One by one we are going to delete the selections form the copied image. Hit the select load selection bar and choose each selection one by one, then deleting the selection. You should have this: I put a red background to see what is left.
Now we will make the sky a monochrome grey. It doesn’t matter where you choose a color because we are gong to change it anyway, so using the eyedropper tool pick a grey from the top sky. Now choosing that layer only, use the magic wand and choose the area that has no sky where the buildings were deleted. You might have to use the shift bar to select the left area and add it to it. The using the select inverse key it will select the sky. It is not a bad idea to save this selection as sky for future use. Now there are many ways to accomplish the next task. One way is to paint in the color throughout the sky selection another quick way is to hit x to reverse the order of the paint selections and then hit ctrl delete to fill the selection with the background color. I like the latter because it is quick.
See all the distracting stuff is now history.
While you have this selection let’s do some cosmetic tricks. First unclick the view of the sky layer and choose the copy of the original. Use the zoom tool to go to the half heart shape on the right facade of the middle building. Using the polygonal; selection tool draw a close selection on that area and hit the edit fill content aware fill and get an approximate fill.
Then redrawing a smaller selection finish it off with the clone tool.
Do the same by selecting the annoyingly white window on the left building and hit the tiny square with content aware. You can play around with other areas like this if they bother you. For now, let’s continue.
My own preference is to make the right building dark, the middle light and the left neutral.. This is a personal preference and you can see you have total control at your end with this method.
Select the left building and with the image adjustment brightness and contrast play with it until you like it. Alternatively you will have greater power with the curves and levels as an adjustment layer. With those you can use masks to gain amazing control of the end result, but we do not need that here. With brightness to -87 and contrast to +16 you get this:
Now do the same with the right building but this time hit -150 twice then minus 44 on the brightness and -40 on the contrast to get:
Copy this last layer then remove the sky and the other two buildings. This just leaves the middle building. I did the same now by increasing the brightness to 75 leaving this image:
Now for the final touches. Reselect the sky. Reduce it to -150 twice or fill it with a very dark grey. Hitting d then x you will select black and white as the pallete and make whit the front color. Now changing the brush to a very soft one, and 25% on both opacity and flow 1200 size, touch the mouse quickly and move side to side to give it a middle glow. You can alternatively use the gradient tools but these are much harder to master. It will come out something like this:
Hit the very top of the left building ever so gently. I did 4 soft clicks.
Select the inverse of this layer and hit x changing black to the foreground brush, Reduce the brush to 400 increase flow and transparency to 50% and darken the white pillars.
The final image is as follows:
So as mentioned before the final image can be touched up using the adjustment tools. The first was the levels adjustment tool: The right building was reselected and a mask was placed over the adjustment tool so that it would not effect the right building. IN this case the left slider was brought slightly to the right to give it some more contrast.
The curves adjustment tool was used to increase the contrast again almost imperceptibly it gave a glow on the middle of the middle building. Finally an empty layer was created and black was brushed in to the right building, Then the layer was changed to overlay to further mask the pillars.
This is the final image. I hope you learned a lot of techniques in this demo. Search out what you thought were so-so pictures and try this selection technique to bring the best out of the pictures.