Free-hand Blending in Photoshop

Blending selective adjustments into an image in Photoshop is one of the key skills you need to master. But what are the tools and techniques you need to really control the area and the intensity of an adjustment you blend in?

In this video tutorial, I am going to show you a simple and yet powerful technique to gently blend in any adjustment layer and give it just the right strength. I am going to use a Quick Selection and the Brush tool to brush in a Curves layer in a very controlled way.

In a Nutshell…

I will brighten the door in the original image without affecting the surrounding wall or even the brick work around the door.

free-hand-blending-original-imageFirst, I am adding the actual Curves adjustment layer that I am going to be masking later. While the door is nicely brightened, the surrounding parts of the building are now hopelessly blown-out.

free-hand-blending-curves-adjustmentNext, I am choosing a big and soft brush. I set the Flow value to about 5% to make sure that only very little of the Curves effect is applied with each brush stroke I make.

free-hand-blending-brush-tipI create a rough selection of the door with the Quick Selection tool to avoid that any of the adjustment is spilling outside the door area. The active selection will confine any brush stroke to its inside only.

free-hand-blending-selectionI am adjusting the brush size quickly as I go along. To do this, I am holding down the Ctrl and Alt keys while I click and drag with my right mouse button.

free-hand-blending-brush-size-hardnessFinally, I am slowly brushing the Curves adjustment into the image.

free-hand-blending-creating-the-maskWith this method, you are able to control exactly which parts of the door are how bright. This allows you to even add some interesting structure to the textures in your image that may not have been there in the first place. Since this is completely non-destructive, you can always go back later and change the mask that you created in this way.

This is an excerpt of the Mask It Like a Pro! video course.

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