Saturday, April 12, 2014

Eyeline Layer in Photoshop

I wanted to expand on one of the steps in the workflow snapshot of my "Life On The Farm" photo. I've been adding what I call an 'eyeline' layer to all of my recent photo processing and plan to keep using in the future. The layer is designed to add extra support to where I intend the eye to travel over the composition. It's intended to adjust the grouping of objects across the canvas (as opposed to local adjustments to separate nearby objects like blades of grass).

Before Eyeline Layer:

Copyright Laura A Knauth, All rights reserved.
No Eyeline Layer
After Eyeline Layer:

Copyright Laura A Knauth, All rights reserved.
Finished Image with Eyeline Layer
It's a subtle effect, but I find the final image has a more 'set' or 'complete' sense about it. The effect is definitely noticeable when toggling the two layers back to back.

To construct the 'eyeline' layer:
* Add a "Levels Adjustment Layer" in Photoshop (that's the half light, half dark circle icon at the bottom of the layers window; and select "Levels").

* I don't actually touch the levels curve, I've done this entirely so I can subsequently paint on the mask (default is a white rectangle) attached to the layer.

* Change the Layer Mode from "Normal" to "Multiply"
   This will apply "Multiply" to the entire image which will darken everything initially (notice the increased color saturation as well).

* Now for emphasizing the eyeline: Grab the Paintbrush, set the paint color to black, and start painting the path you intend for the eye to follow through your composition.

Using the full 100% opacity, this effect will appear rather extreme, but I start here to block in the main concept. From this point, I add secondary darker or lighter areas as supporting 'eyelines', and I back off the layer opacity as needed (for this example, I set the opacity of the Eyeline layer back to 45%).

For reference, here's the Eyeline Layer Mask I used for this image:
Eyeline Layer Mask for "Life On The Farm"

I've been really enjoying the effect of emphasizing specific areas of the composition using this method, and hope you find this technique useful too!

Blog Post by Laura A Knauth

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