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Whats the deal with the 50% gray background?

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  #1  
Old 12-30-2007, 07:52 AM
abdul10000 abdul10000 is offline
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Question Whats the deal with the 50% gray background?

I read so much about 50% gray background in this forum, but for whatever reason cannot understand its exact purpose.


It seems people use it with blend modes like soft light, overlay, etc for some special effects. For example, I can't understand how its applied to D&B instead of the traditional black and white mask. Can someone help me understand how 50% gray background is used with D&B?


Also, how do you apply such background? Do you select Gray as color when starting a new adjustment layer for example?


Thanks in advance!
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  #2  
Old 12-30-2007, 08:03 AM
morpheus1870 morpheus1870 is offline
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Re: Whats the deal with the 50% gray background?

First to create your grey layer above your original image:

Ctrl shift + N
Select the mode to soft light or overlay
Check the box "fill with overlay neutral colour (50% grey)"

Now select a brush and paint with either black to burn your image (working on the new grey layer) or use white to dodge your image (still working on the new grey layer)

By changing your brush size, hardness (usally 0% hardness) flow and opacity you have more control when lightening or darkening your image. This technique can be used in conjunction with the more traditional dodge and burn tools.

Hope that kinda helps.

Example below of using this technique on a mono image.
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File Type: jpg Retouch model 5.jpg (90.3 KB, 313 views)
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  #3  
Old 12-30-2007, 08:12 AM
abdul10000 abdul10000 is offline
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Re: Whats the deal with the 50% gray background?

Quote:
Originally Posted by morpheus1870 View Post
First to create your grey layer above your original image:

Ctrl shift + N
Select the mode to soft light or overlay
Check the box "fill with overlay neutral colour (50% grey)"

Now select a brush and paint with either black to burn your image (working on the new grey layer) or use white to dodge your image (still working on the new grey layer)

By changing your brush size, hardness (usally 0% hardness) flow and opacity you have more control when lightening or darkening your image. This technique can be used in conjunction with the more traditional dodge and burn tools.

Hope that kinda helps.

Example below of using this technique on a mono image.

Wow that was fast, thanks!

I see how to make it now. Is this technique used in D&B instead of making two curves (lighten, darken), and for what advantage?
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  #4  
Old 12-30-2007, 09:28 AM
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Swampy Swampy is offline
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Re: Whats the deal with the 50% gray background?

50% gray is a magic thing. Depending on what is above it or below it and what blend modes are involved it does some marvelous things. It all has to do with luminosity. Take any photo, duplicate it, desaturate that copy and set the blend mode to Overlay, Softlight, Color Burn Color Dodge and watch what happens to the underlying layer. Adjust the opacity - more fun things happen. Reverse the order and put the gray layer below. Walk through the blend modes on the color layer and see what happens. Just play!
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Old 12-30-2007, 09:41 AM
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Daviskw Daviskw is offline
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Re: Whats the deal with the 50% gray background?

Hi there


No expert here but I think I know a few different reasons for using 50 percent gray.

Some filters, such as lens flare, will not work on an empty layer. You can isolate these filters on a blank layer by filling with 50 percent gray then changing the layer mode to one that uses 50 percent gray as a neutral color…such as overlay or soft light. Neutral color of a blend mode will be transparent on that layer.

Sometimes the gray is not truly required but allows you to see the result of a filter before you change the mode. I often fill a layer with gray before adding noise and blur then when satisfied I change the mode to reveal the picture below.

If using a layer for dodging and burning the gray is not necessary, if the mode is set correctly, but the gray will allow you to see on the layer pallet where you have applied your brush. You can also apply 50 percent gray to remove the effect.

Some procedures may want you to actually see different parts of your picture. Say you want to see the colors in your picture but not the luminosity. You can do this by duplicating a layer…changing its layer mode to color. Then below this layer insert a blank layer filled with 50 percent gray. You will then see and manipulate just the colors because the math is combining the color with a neutral gray. This will also allow you to see just luminosity if needed.

I am sure there are many more uses… I am drawing a blank just now… others may correct me or contribute more.

Butch
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Old 12-30-2007, 10:34 AM
abdul10000 abdul10000 is offline
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Re: Whats the deal with the 50% gray background?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swampy View Post
50% gray is a magic thing. Depending on what is above it or below it and what blend modes are involved it does some marvelous things. It all has to do with luminosity. Take any photo, duplicate it, desaturate that copy and set the blend mode to Overlay, Softlight, Color Burn Color Dodge and watch what happens to the underlying layer. Adjust the opacity - more fun things happen. Reverse the order and put the gray layer below. Walk through the blend modes on the color layer and see what happens. Just play!

haha I am actually having fun!

Now I see how some of the common high contrast desaturated portraits are made. Blending using Overlay or Hardlight, and then tweaking the blend if and opacity produces such interesting effects.

thanks

Last edited by abdul10000; 12-30-2007 at 10:41 AM.
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  #7  
Old 12-30-2007, 10:39 AM
abdul10000 abdul10000 is offline
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Re: Whats the deal with the 50% gray background?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daviskw View Post
Hi there


If using a layer for dodging and burning the gray is not necessary, if the mode is set correctly, but the gray will allow you to see on the layer pallet where you have applied your brush. You can also apply 50 percent gray to remove the effect.


Butch
Overall interesting information.

Do you mean that the only advantage to gray in this case is to help you better see your brush strokes?

Thanks
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  #8  
Old 12-30-2007, 04:54 PM
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Dave.Cox Dave.Cox is offline
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Re: Whats the deal with the 50% gray background?

Much of it has to do with the way that several of the filters in photoshop are used. 50% gray is the middle of the spectrum For instance when using overlay mode, pixels are lightened if they are whiter than 50% gray, and darkened if they are darker than 50% gray. You can add a layer that if filled with 50% gray, and set the mode to overlay, and the layer is in effect ignored, because the 50% gray pixels do not lighten or darken, as this is the mid point. It in fact, appears to disappear.

Try this as and experiment, and you will see what I mean. Pick any photo, and add a blank layer. In the new layer, add three boxes. One white, one 50% gray, and one black. Now set the layer mode to overlay, and see what you see.

Or you can view these examples where I have done this for you.
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File Type: jpg 50pct.jpg (51.7 KB, 223 views)
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  #9  
Old 01-01-2008, 06:44 AM
abdul10000 abdul10000 is offline
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Re: Whats the deal with the 50% gray background?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave.Cox View Post
Much of it has to do with the way that several of the filters in photoshop are used. 50% gray is the middle of the spectrum For instance when using overlay mode, pixels are lightened if they are whiter than 50% gray, and darkened if they are darker than 50% gray. You can add a layer that if filled with 50% gray, and set the mode to overlay, and the layer is in effect ignored, because the 50% gray pixels do not lighten or darken, as this is the mid point. It in fact, appears to disappear.

Try this as and experiment, and you will see what I mean. Pick any photo, and add a blank layer. In the new layer, add three boxes. One white, one 50% gray, and one black. Now set the layer mode to overlay, and see what you see.

Or you can view these examples where I have done this for you.
This puts things in perspective now. Thanks
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  #10  
Old 01-01-2008, 07:01 AM
abdul10000 abdul10000 is offline
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Question Re: Whats the deal with the 50% gray background?

One last question. How does soft mode D&B differ from the dodge and burn method presented by videosean's tutorial?

http://retouchpro.com/tutorials/?m=show&id=272


I am asking because after reading cricket1961's blog titled Dodge and Burn Confusion, I got the impression that Chris does not use two curves (one lighten, one darken).

http://www.retouchpro.com/forums/blo...confusion.html

Instead, it seems, he makes one new layer (shift+ctrl+N), sets the blend mode to soft light, and enables 50% gray. From there he uses the brush to paint on the gray mask either black (to darken) or white (to lighten).

So all of his dodging and burning is done on one layer and no curves are used? Is this what Chris does or did I get it wrong?

Thanks
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