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In Fireworks CS5 Essential Training, author Jim Babbage gives a detailed overview of Fireworks CS5, Adobe's software for creating and optimizing web graphics and interactive prototypes. This course includes a detailed tour of the interface, the enhanced PNG format, and the image editing toolset in Fireworks. Critical concepts, such as prototyping for HTML applications and working with symbols, the heart of an efficient workflow in Fireworks, are covered in detail. Exercise files are included with this course.
Sometimes your job won't be designing the latest and greatest interface. Instead, it might be to fix images, which have been sent to you by the client. Sometimes these images are too dark or too bright. Sometimes there is too much contrast or they may display a strange color shift. We can address a variety of these concerns using the Levels dialog box, and Fireworks allow us to do this in both a permanent or in an editable manner. The first thing I'm going to show you is the permanent way of making a change. By permanent, I mean you'll also hear the term destructive. We're permanently changing the pixel values in the image.
So I want to make sure, first of all, that my image is selected. I'm just going to scroll down a little bit on my image, so we can see more of it. I'll go up to my Filters menu and go to Adjust Color. I have an option down here at the bottom called Levels. Now we've looked at the Levels dialog box briefly in other lessons, but I just want to go over this in a bit more detail this time. Levels dialog box gives you control over the range of brightness in your scene. If you take a look in the middle here, we have this chart.
Now there is not too much going on with the chart at the moment, but down below that little hill or bump that you see in the Histogram, you'll see three sliders: a black slider, a gray slider and a white slider. The black slider controls the distribution of dark tones, gray slider controls the midtones, and the white slider controls the highlights. Now we can alter these settings in a couple of different ways. We can literally drag the sliders, sort of to eyeball our settings. We can also apply values into the Input levels above.
Now I'd like to do this visually, so I'm going to work with the sliders. I'm going to grab my Shadow slider here and drag it in. As I'm dragging it in, I get to the point where I start to see some information show up in our little chart, or histogram, I'll let go over the slider, and you notice an instant change to the image overall. All of a sudden, it's got contrast again. It's got some punch to it. That's just by redistributing the Midtones into more of a Shadow area. So we end up with a little more contrast in the image.
Then you might also have noticed that as I was dragging that black slider, that the gray slider moves at the same time. The Midtones slider will move in conjunction with the Highlight or the Shadow sliders. So I'll just bring that back in there a bit. I'm going to go over to my Highlights and to be honest, I don't really need to do much with the Highlights. The Highlights really, in this case, are the sky. It's a bright white sky; I don't need it to be any whiter than it already is. So I don't need to worry about changing the Highlights settings, but I will do though is take a look at my Midtones.
Notice what happens as I drag that Midtones slider towards the Highlights. If I let go, you'll see, we're getting a bit more contrast, a bit more density. If I drag it towards the Shadow side, we reduce the contrast, which in this case, doesn't look all that good. So we're going to go back a little bit towards the Highlights a bit. There we go. That gives me a significantly better quality image. Now if I deselect the Preview for a second, that's the original image. That's where we started with.
Just by making those two changes to the Shadow and Midtones sliders, we've got a significantly more visually appealing image. I'm going to click OK. And I mentioned a minute ago, that this was a destructive tool and what I meant by that is that we've permanently changed the image. We've permanently altered the pixels. So if I was to save this file right now, and close it, and reopen it, what you see on the screen at the moment is what you get when you reopen the file. I can't undo the changes to the file, once I've saved it.
I can, however, undo them right now while it's still open. So I'm going to press Ctrl+Z or Command+ Z on the Mac. That brings me back to my Original. And the reason I want to go back to the original is I want to show you a more editable and less destructive way of doing the same kind of thing, and that's by using Live Filters. Now if you take a look down in the Properties panel, you'll see two Live Filters are already set in place. Well, they're having X beside them, which means they are currently turned off. This is what I mean about the great thing about Live Filters. These were applied previously, and they've just been turned off, so that the effect is hidden from view.
So I can do what I want. I can save the file. These Filters are kept as part of the actual file, and I can turn them on, turn them off, or edit them as I please. So let's see what's going on with these two things, and we'll take a look at how we got them applied. I'm going to click on the first little x. This application of the Levels filter is doing the same thing that out permanent filter had done. We're basically beefing up the contrast. Now the other thing I noticed with the image was it was a little off color, overcast day and so on. So I also used the Levels to adjust the overall color balance.
We'll see what that effect looks like, and then we'll walk through the process of doing it. By activating that secondary filter, you can see the color has shifted a little bit as well, and it probably shifted a little bit too far in one direction, but that's fine. We're going to be making our own changes here. But those two Filters basically gave me the ability to control the overall look of the image. So I'm going to turn them off again, and we're going to apply them ourselves. I'm going to click on the Plus sign for adding a new filter. We'll go to Adjust Color, and choose Levels, and we see basically the same thing that we saw before.
I'm just going to move that dialog box out of the way a bit, and I'm going to drag my black slider to where my Histogram begins. I'll drag my Midtones slider a bit towards the Highlights to get the result that I want and click OK. Now if I take a look down in my Properties panel, you'll see, there at the bottom of my Filters list, that recently applied Levels, okay, so it's still turned on. We're going to add one more, and I'll show you how to do some color correction with it.
Click on the Plus sign again, and choose Adjust Color, and choose Levels yet again. This time rather than experimenting with the contrast and saturation of the image, I want to play around with the color. So again, I'm going to move this in a dialog box a little bit out of the way, so I can see my image, and I'm going to go into the Channels. One of the things I think that's wrong with this is it might be a little bit too blue, a little bit too cold. So I'm going to go to my Blue Channel, and I still see the same set of sliders, but now I am going to be affecting the two complementary colors, blue and yellow.
If I drag my black slider in, I'm essentially adding more yellow. You might notice that I might have to make it a little extreme to be obvious. So I'll just go really heavy. You can see now I'm getting a much yellow-er image. So I think I'll drag that back out a bit, somewhere in that range there. The white slider actually represents the Blue tones. So if I drag the white slider in, I'll actually be adding Blue, and you can notice it's mostly up in the background, in the highlights, and in the dirt areas of the landscape.
Now that really is not helping things at all. So I'm going to bring that back to where it was. The Midtones slider, we'll just sort of play with the balance of blue versus yellow. There we go, and I think that looks a heck of a lot better. I'm going to hide the effect. There is the Original. It's a subtle change, but it just looks much more inviting with that little bit of extra yellow added in there. Click OK, and those two filters are now part of our image. I can save this file.
I'll be saving it as a Fireworks PNG file to maintain the editability of those filters. But the great thing is I can come back to them later on and edit them anytime I like. So never assume that a photograph can't be made a bit better. Even if it looks good to begin with, and granted this one didn't look great to begin with, but even if it looks good to begin with, using tools like Levels may improve things noticeably, and it's quick to try out and especially with the Live Filters versions, you have no worry of permanently affecting the image, so you can experiment as much as you want to get comfortable with, improving the color and the saturation, the richness of your images without any worry of actually permanently affecting the final image.
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