Find out how to stylise architectural images using commercial techniques in Raw and Photoshop
As you can see, the balcony pillars are covered in some kind of see-through material, which we don’t want. Use the Pen tool to draw around a clean pillar. Open your Path palette and Ctrl/right-click your path to create a selection. Now hit Select>Modify>Feather and add a 0.5 pixel radius. Copy and paste the selected pillar, placing it over a textured pillar, and use Free Transform to map the shape of the covered pillar. Repeat this technique for every pillar and then merge all of these layers together.
Create a new layer underneath the pillars layer. We need to clone out the remaining see-through material from the rest of the balcony. Having the pillars on a separate layer above means we don’t have to be as precise with our cloning. Sample an area close to where you are cloning, preserving the tonality of the area. Follow the lines of the existing structure. Be careful when cloning not to create repeating patterns, as these are tell-tale signs of poor retouching. Merge your layers to the top of your stack.
We are going to use channel calculations to help us create a great mask of our sky. This allows us to blend channels together using blend modes. Select Image>Calculations and then set Source 1 and Source 2 to the blue channel; this one has the highest contrast between the sky and the foreground. Set Result to New Channel and click OK. Press Cmd/Ctrl+L to activate and adjust Levels, and then exaggerate this contrast further by moving the black and white sliders towards the middle.
Paint in black over all the foreground areas that were not blackened during the Levels and channel calculations. Select the Magic Wand tool and click anywhere in the black area. Press Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I to invert the selection then paint the sky white. Use the Pen tool to draw around balcony windows that are currently white. Make a selection from your paths, like we did in step 10, and paint to it with a 50% black brush. Press Cmd/Ctrl+D to deselect your selection then press Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert the channel mask.
Cmd/Ctrl-click the Alpha 1 channel to load your mask selection. Click on your image in the Layers palette and add a layer mask. Import the supplied ‘Sunset1.psd’ and place this beneath your masked layer. Resize it and move it behind the building, then use a Curves adjustment to darken the image slightly and change this adjustment layer’s Opacity to 65%. Import the supplied ‘Sunset 2.psd’, place it above this layer and move the sunset behind the building. Change this layer’s blend mode to Hard Light.
Add a Color Balance adjustment layer and clip this to the foreground layer. Set Tone to Highlights, then set Red at 0, Green at -13 and Blue at -25. For Midtones, Red: 29, Green: 0, Blue: -26. Shadows are last with Red: -12, Green: -8, Blue: -2. Make a new layer above and, using a bright yellow brush (colour pick from the sunset), paint where the sky meets the foreground. Select Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and set it to 80. Change the blend mode to Soft Light and drop Opacity to 30%.
Open ‘BlurredCarLights.psd’ and draw around the red strobe lights. Copy and paste these into our image. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T then select the Warp tool. Use the controls to adjust the lights so that they follow the curve of the road. Use Levels to enhance highlights and shadows, tweaking the options sliders until you get the right look. We set the Shadow slider at 60 and Highlight at 197. Change this layer’s blend mode to Screen. Add a mask and paint with black, leaving only the light streaks on the road.
Merge all layers to the top (Cmd/Ctrl +Opt/Alt+Shift+E). Using the techniques you’ve just learned, remove anything that catches your eye and distracts from the scene. We removed and cleaned walls, cloned out cracks in tarmac, cloned in paving and cloned out road signs. This is where your image starts to shine. We also added embellishments, like turning on the street lamp. We applied Motion Blur to blur out pedestrians and also added a soft yellow brush set with a Hard Light blend mode to add a flare above the trees.