Step 6: Paint Layer Mask

If you watched closely as the points were set in the Curves dialog box, you notice how the white feathers have become horribly posterized. The background does not look as good as it did before, either. But the

feathers look awesome! Now we use the best parts of "before" and "now!"

■ Click the Dark Feathers layer in the Layers palette to make it the active layer. When you create an adjustment layer, you also automatically create a layer mask, which is indicated by the white boxes that are just to the right of the Levels and Curves layer icons in the Layers palette. We now use the layer mask for the Levels layer.

■ Reset Default Foreground and Background Colors (D) by clicking the icon in the Tools palette. Switch Foreground and Background Colors (X) by clicking the icon in the Tools palette. Black should now be the foreground color.

■ Click the Brush tool (B) in the Tools palette. Click the Brush Preset Picker (the second box from the left in the Options box) to get the Brush palette shown in Figure 8.14. If you get a different palette, click the menu button in the Brush palette and choose Reset Brushes from the pop-up menu. Click OK to replace the current brushes with the default brushes.

■ Click the Soft Round 300 Pixels brush.

■ Make sure that the Options bar shows Mode set to Normal, and Opacity and Flow to 100%.

■ Click and paint over the entire image, except for the dark feathers. As you paint, you are masking out the effects of the Curves command and revealing the rest of the image as it was before Curves was applied. You now have the best of the dark and white feathers!

■ If you decide that you want to remove some of the mask, Switch Foreground and Background Colors (X) by clicking the icon in the Tools palette. White should now be the foreground color and as you paint, you remove the mask.

If you are not sure how much we have improved the image, click the eye icon in the left column of the Dark Feathers layer in the Layers palette to turn the layer on and off. You should see some dramatic improvement in the dark feathers. Just make sure you turn the Dark Feathers layer back on after you finish examining the changes.

■ Choose Layer >- New Adjustment Layer >-Hue/Saturation to get the New Layer dialog box. Click OK to get the Hue Saturation dialog box shown in Figure 8.15. I'm kind of a deeply saturated image kind of a guy, so I set Saturation to +8.

■ Click OK to apply the settings. The Layers palette should now look like the one shown in Figure 8.16.

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