Deke’s Techniques 012: Creating a High Key, High Contrast Effect

Hey gang,

As seems to occur every Tuesday, I have a new free Deke's Techniques video for you, produced by lynda.com. And it's a zinger! (Am I allowed to say "zinger" over the Internet?) In just 9 minutes, I show you how to turn an untreated studio photograph--generously provided by Jason Stitt of the Fotolia image library--into a high key, high contrast image, with ultra-black shadows but not so much as a single clipped highlight.

Here's the official description:

In this week's free video technique, Deke shares his recipe for taking an ordinary portrait and turning it into something visually striking by adding a high key, high contrast effect. The tools are reasonably simple: a color adjustment layer, a few passes with the dodge and burn tools, a roughly drawn layer mask, and a gradient to finish the effect off. But the result is sophisticated and compelling. I've seen plenty of high key treatments that render images flat and jarring, but with Deke's thoughtful approach, you can crank up the highlights, increase the contrast, and yet still maintain volume in the detail. Take a look at the before and after images:

High key before and after from Photoshop CS5

Every week, Deke shares a new free technique with everyone here on the blog. Meanwhile, lynda.com members have access to exclusive Deke's Techniques videos inside the Online Training Library. In about ten minutes, Deke shares his particular approach to Photoshop and Illustrator effects that you put to use in your own projects. Deke's Techniques is a quick way to add to your graphics repertoire. And if you need more in-depth training, you can rely on Deke's in-depth One-on-One courses to provide the background and deep-dive information you need.

Just look at how the fleshtones in the high key image maintain their original natural coloring, even as selective details such as the hair and sweater go jet black. It's all proof that there's no such thing as race--not in tiresome, dated, and frankly idiotic black or white terms, anyway. We're all just shades of orange.

Next week: The secret world of subpixel rendering.

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Comments

Art of 3D illusions

I really do appreciate the 3D Saturn and the detailed illustration of making it.
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3D illusion is an art

I really do appreciate the 3D Saturn and the detailed illustration of making it.
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Also good for masking?

It seems that when you get about half way into this - you get a result with a perfect white background, without the blue transients between the hair and the background - which again makes it easy to selct the white background and mask it. Cool!

Just what I needed

A lot of the techniques in this video will be really helpful with my portrait shots in the future, thanks a lot for sharing!