Flight Lessons… Overlays in PS!

Hello everyone! I hope that you all have had a fantastic week, and welcome back for another edition of Flight Lessons! This week, my tutorial is all about how to get that ‘faded’ photo look in Photoshop when doing a layout. Now, I need to forewarn you all that I wrote this tutorial originally for a signature board, so the background paper isn’t layout size. Let’s all just pretend that it’s layout size for our purposes, shall we? ;o) This is another VERY detailed tutorial. Just follow along step by step, and as always, you can skip past the parts that are already familiar to you. :o) Let’s get started!

My friend Whitney gave me permission to use her adorable photos for this example. Thanks Whit! :o)

The first thing that you want to do is open your program and open all of your necessary items for your layout. In this case, I have quite a few photos to choose from, so I open those as well as the items that I think I might want to use (elements, papers, etc). I’ve chosen a paper that I think will look cool behind the photo, I like to pick one with an interesting texture to it as opposed to a pattern, because sometimes the patterns can look a little funky to me. It’s all a matter of preference though, so if you like the look of a pattern, go for it! :o) Obviously you can open more items later if you’d decide that you’d like to use them, but I like to open practically an entire kit at once and go from there. LOL.

Wow that’s a lot of stuff. I’ll minimize all of those windows so that they aren’t in my way, keeping just the photo that I want to fade fully open, as well as my paper possiblities.

Now I’m going to open a new workspace. In this case, I opened a canvas that’s 700×500 pixels at 72dpi, but for making a full size layout it would be 3600×3600 pixels at 72 dpi or 12×12 inches at 300dpi. :o)

Now we want to choose a paper, and add it to our workspace. Keep in mind that this tutorial was written using a cropped paper, but when making a layout, you obviously wouldn’t be cropping a full size paper. Just keep that in mind during the next few steps. :o)

Now lets go to the photo. Crop out any unnecessary space above and below your person/dog/cow whatever you want to use as the focal point of the image. In this case it’s sweet little Wesley. :o) I’m cropping the extra space off of the top and bottom of the photo, but NOT cropping the sides. It’s easier when your photo fits the size of your paper better, so in my case I want the photo as wide as possible.

Now that we’re cropped, I need to change the size of the photo. Since my paper is 231px high, that’s the number that I want to use to base the size change on. I want the photo to be exactly the same height as my paper in this case. So I change the size, and move it over to my workspace, on top of the paper. (Remember that with a full-sized layout, your photo will obviously be much larger than that. This version was small because I was making something different, as well as the fact that I need my screen shots to fit here. ;o) )

You’ll see that the photo isn’t the same width as the paper, which is fine, we don’t care about that right now. What I do care about however is the fact that I want Wesley to be on the side of my paper, with nothing else next to him. So I’ll reduce the opacity of the photo just enough that I can see behind him, and then move the photo to where I want it on my paper. Then use your BLOCK eraser tool to get rid of the excess photo. (tip: when using the eraser, if you want a straight line, click on the point that you want to start and hold down the shift key while you drag).

Change the opacity of the photo…

And now you can see the paper behind the photo…

Then move the photo to where you want it and erase the edges so that it’s no wider than the paper…

Now you can bring the opacity back up to 100% on the photo, because you have it where you want it and you’ve gotten rid of the excess.

Next step, we’re going to duplicate the photo layer, so that there are two copies. In PS, you can use the shortcut which is ctrl+j, or you can right click on the layer in the palette and select duplicate layer, or you can go up top to the layers drop down and select duplicate layer. LOL! A million ways to do one thing. :o) I’ve named my layers for the purposes of the tutorial, but you don’t have to do that. It does make it easier to keep track of things though if you have a billion layers going on. :o)

Now we want to turn off the eyeball on the duplicate layer that we just made, so that only the original photo layer is visible. So now my layers palette looks like this instead:

Click on the original photo layer (the one with the eyeball that’s still on) so that you are now controlling it and it’s highlighted in the palette. Then go to the little drop down menu right above the layers palette, and we’re going to select ‘overlay’. This makes that photo layer turn into something completely different! Check it out…

Pretty cool, huh? But I don’t want those hard edges of the photo to be quite so visible on my paper, so I’m going to select a big round, soft eraser, and go over the edge of the photo to get rid of them.

Now we want to go back to the layers palette, and select the copy of the photo that we made, and turn the eyeball back on. Then we’re going to use another eraser (or a layer mask, see my tut on cutouts using masks) to erase everything except for Wesley.

Turn the photo copy layer back on…

And erase (or mask) everything but Wesley…

PHEW! Looks pretty cool now, right? You can see the background that was in the photo still behind Wesley, the beautiful beach and ocean, and the sand that he’s sitting on. But Wesley has now become the whole focus of our page. Now that we have that out of the way, I usually will do some basic photo editing, like altering the curves and levels. I usually save my reduce noise and sharpening until after I’ve resized the image at the end, because those things can get a little funky if you do them before you resize. If you aren’t resizing, feel free to do whatever edits you want now. :o) So here’s Wesley’s photo after I’ve done some curves and levels adjustments:

Now we want to reduce the opacity of this layer, so that it blends in more with the background paper and you can see the texture through it. Just go to the opacity meter and slide it down. I reduced this one to 45%, and you can always go back later and change it. :o)***Modified to add: If your background paper doesn’t show through or if you don’t think it’s blended enough, turn the opacity down more. 45% worked well for this particular photo and background paper, but it will vary depending on the coloring of the photo and the amount of texture/pattern on your paper. Play around with it to get the effect that you want. :o)***

WOOHOO! Now we’re done with that part, and I’m going to add all of the other items that I want to my page. I’m adding another photo of Wesley and daddy, and all kinds of other goodies. :o)

And now I’m done with everything except for the photoediting (see my previous tutorials for editing tips!). Remember to only do it on the copy of Wesley that’s NOT an overlay. I don’t need to do anything to the overlay, it just… exists. :o)

I know it seems like a lot of steps, but I was only really detailed in case there were some beginners out there. Once you’ve done this a couple of times, it’s really easy!

So here’s a quick review: 2 copies of the photo layer, bottom layer turns into an overlay, top layer reduce opacity and erase/mask around subject. That’s it!

Thanks so much for joining me this week for another edition of Flight Lessons, and I hope to see you all next week!

Signing off for now,
Heather (heatherbird)

***all elements and papers used for this tutorial from ‘Sea Stories’ by Kasia Designs.***

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