Ever since I read Tony Kuyper’s wonderful in-depth tutorials on luminosity masks, I’ve been intrigued by the concept. Luminosity masks in Photoshop allow you to target a specific tonal range for adjustments – just the highlights or just the shadows, for instance (or any tonal range for that matter). Click around his site and blog, and look at the rollovers of his landscapes! It’s so amazing what you can do with these masks! Anyways, I just wanted to give you a little history if you are interested in further reading like my nerdy-self is. :)
My free Kick it Up action/tutorial uses a luminosity mask to apply the adjustment to just the shadows while leaving the highlights alone.
For the style in this tutorial, I wanted to create a light, creamy look without losing too much contrast. To accomplish this, we are going to use a luminosity mask to make the brights brighter with a Solid Color layer applied to just the highlights. Then we are going to add a bit of depth to just the shadows. Finally we will punch up the color a bit. Here we go!!
Here is our Before:
1. Create a luminosity selection – Select the highlights of the image by going to the Channels palette and clicking the dotted circle. Alternately, you can use the shortcut Cmd/ctrl + alt + shift + 2 (some versions use the tilde (~) instead of a 2).
Your image will have the highlights selected, indicated by marching ants:
2. With the highlights selected, create a new Solid Color adjustment layer.
3. Choose a color. For this example, I chose #FFF4E5 (a bright, creamy color).
Because we had the highlights selected, Photoshop will automatically create a mask based on our luminosity selection for us. Here is what the mask looks like up close – remember with masking: white reveals, black conceals. So the solid color we chose will only show through the brighter areas of our mask:
This is what our Layers palette looks like:
4. I then reduced the opacity of the Solid Color layer to 70%. Here is what the image looks like now. You can see because of the mask, the adjustment affected mostly the skin and background and left the darker areas mostly unchanged:
5. Next we are going to select the shadows so we can add some depth. Create a luminosity selection again as in Step 1 (Cmd/Ctrl + Alt + Shift + 2). This will select the highlights. To select the shadows, we need the inverse. So now hit Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + i for the inverse.
6. With the shadows selected, we are going to add some depth with a Soft Light layer. Create a new adjustment layer (I chose Curves, but the type of adjustment layer is irrelevant since we are only using it to change the blending mode), and change the blending mode to Soft Light. I reduced the opacity of the layer to 50% for this image. We’ve punched up the darks a tad!
Now faces look a little scary when I do this, but I want to show you what we’ve done! Here is a close-up of the mask that was created when we just selected the shadows. Using this mask, we are able to target only the darker tones in the image (hair, eyelashes, etc.) in order to add some depth with our Soft Light layer.
Here’s what the Layers palette looks like:
7. Next, we are going to add back in some of the color that the Solid Color layer took away. Simply create a new Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and increase the saturation. For this image, I set the Saturation to +25.
Here is my final image (rollover for before):
That’s it!! Play around with the opacity and color of the Solid Color layer and with the settings of the Soft Light and Hue/Saturation layer.
I’ve made these steps into an action (at the bottom of this tutorial), and I’ve included several different color options for the Solid Color layer. I’ve named them Creamy (the color from this tutorial), Clean (white), Blushed (a light pink), and Peachy (you guessed it – light peach!). But play with the colors as you wish, those are just there to give you a starting point!
When the action runs, by default the Creamy layer is selected for color. But you can turn the eyeball on or off for each solid color layer – choose one color or combine them at different opacities. Increase the opacity of the Depth layer, or turn it off entirely. It’s your choice! The layers are all completely adjustable.
Here are some other plays with this action…
With only the ‘Clean’ layer turned on for color:
With just the ‘Blushed’ layer turned on for color:
With Peachy at 56%, Clean at 21%, and Depth turned up to 100%:
The link to Polished Picture’s free Creamy Light action is here. I would love love love to see your plays with this method! If you feel so inclined, please post them on the Facebook page! Thanks for coming by!