Deke’s Techniques 011: Masking Highlights and Shadows

This week's 7-minute video shows you how to isolate the highlights and shadows from one image and blend them with those of another. It's quick, it's easy, it's effective.

Here's the official description:

This week’s free technique gives you one of Deke McClelland’s many Photoshop tips for “using an image to select itself,” specifically isolating the highlights and shadows of a photograph to select the light and dark areas painlessly using the underrated Color Range command. By using the image’s own details to create the mask, you don’t have to rely on the unreliable quick selection or magic wand tool. And you can fine-tune your mask to add areas to it. Another hidden benefit of using Color Range is that you can either generate a selection (working blind, as Deke likes to call it) or you can directly create a layer mask, and thus see what you’re doing as you do it. (Content Manager’s note: I love Color Range, and will use this movie to perpetuate my own evangelism of this elegant, automated feature.)

For members, Deke has an exclusive movie in the Online Training Library that shows you how to use this same basic technique to actually mask glass (yes glass), against a sunset. Want to know more about masking in Photoshop, check out Chapter 26, “Masking Essentials,” of Deke’s Photoshop CS5 One-on-One Mastery  course.

Stop back by again next week for another free technique from Deke!

If this seems a bit arcane, bear in mind two things: A) independently blending highlights and shadows (using Screen and Multiply) gives you more control than relying on a contrast mode such as Overlay or Hard Light, and B) this is how you mask glass. Check out the following examples from the members-only video, fittingly titled "Masking Glass." Here's the original glass art from the Fotolia image library:

Deke’s Techniques: The glasses before masking

And here are those same glasses after independently masking and blending the highlights and shadows into the sunset background:

Deke’s Techniques: The glasses after masking

To learn how this technique works, check out the full and ever-growing Deke's Techniques course at

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It’s cool and very dramatic; the shadow from the sunlight in the glass gives life to the subject.

great job..

Great job, and I love your training videos