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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
Hey gang! This is Deke McClelland. Welcome to another very special Halloween edition of Deke's Techniques! This week we're going to take this guy right here who is not the least bit scary--actually, I take that back; he is scary. I would be scared to know him, but he is not scary in a Halloween sense, and we're going to turn him into this zombie image right here. Now, this is a two-part technique, two different movies. I need to start things off by creating a kind of faux-HDR effect, and this is it.
This is what I will show you in this very movie, by the way. Now, this is a big difference. You can see that. This is the original, not traditionally scary guy right there; and this is the much scarier version, because he looks like he has recently been set on fire. Now, a word of warning: there is an image in this movie that is legitimately disturbing. You'll see it once and it will haunt you for days. And that's because in order to get this effect right here we have to create a mask, and the mask, my friends, looks like this.
Here, let me show you exactly how it works. All right! So here's my guy, a very attractive man, from the Fotolia Image Library, by the way, about which you can learn more at fotolia.com/deke. The first step in creating a faux-HDR image is to convert it to the Lab Color mode. So go up to the Image menu, choose Mode, and then choose Lab Color. Photoshop at this point is going to threaten to flatten your image. Don't do it. Either click on the Don't Flatten button or press the D key.
Now we need to convert the image to a Smart Object. Make sure the background image is selected here inside the Layers panel, then go up to the panels flyout menu, and choose Convert to Smart Object. And I'll go ahead and rename his layer lunatic. Then I will go up to the Image menu, choose Adjustments, and notice you have just one command available to you: that's Shadows/Highlights--and that of course is the command we're looking for. You can apply it as a Smart Filter to a Smart Object because Shadows/Highlights is actually a filter inside the program. That will bring up the Shadows/Highlights dialog box.
Now, let's start things off by cranking the Highlights like crazy. There is a ton of highlights inside this image, so the Highlights value is going to have a huge impact. I am going to take it up to 85%. These are not magic values, by the way. Depending on your image, you will need to adjust these values to taste. This image doesn't have much in a way of shadows, so I need to take the Shadows value very high in order to see any kind of effect. Next, I am going to turn on the Show More Options check box-- you would definitely want to do that as well--because we need to access a few more values here, starting with the Radius values.
Let's go ahead and take the Shadows' Radius value up to 70. And the idea is we're trying to spread these effects out a little bit, so we don't end up with those really obvious halos. I'll go ahead and take the Highlights' Radius value up to 50 pixels, and I want to incorporate more luminance levels in the highlights, so I am going to go ahead and take that Tonal Width value up to 60%, like so. Now, we are getting something of an HDR effect at this point. We can amplify the effect like crazy by increasing the Midtone Contrast value. So I am going to go ahead and take that value up to 50.
Now, notice that that blows the Saturation values through to the roof, and part of that's because of this dumb Color Correction option. Don't worry about it, though. We're going to solve this problem in a different way. Go ahead and click OK after applying those settings. Then notice you have the Shadows/Highlights Smart Filter. Go ahead and double-click on this double slider icon in order to bring up the Blend Options dialog box and change mode from Normal to Luminosity, and that will get rid of those over-the-top Saturation values. Then click OK. All right! We have to apply the next steps back in the RGB mode, but if we were to go up at this point to the Image menu, choose Mode, and choose RGB Color, then you would end up losing a lot of the impact that you're seeing on screen right now.
So we need to keep this layer inside the Lab mode, and you do that by once again going up to Layers panel flyout menu and choosing Convert to Smart Object. So we're putting one Smart Object inside of another Smart Object. Go ahead and choose that command and that will protect that bottom layer. And if you want to, you can go ahead and rename this layer something like lab lunatic, so you're always aware it's sitting there in the Lab mode. All right! Now go up to the Image menu, choose Mode, and choose RGB Color. So we're changing the entire composition to RGB Color; however I emphasize, this layer will remain in Lab.
It's one of the amazing things about Smart Objects. So go ahead and choose the command. Now, at this point Photoshop really wants to do a number on your image. Again, don't go for it. Say Don't Rasterize and then say Don't Merge. So don't do anything that will endanger the layers inside that image. All right! Now, we need to go ahead and sink some of those midtones, and we're going to do that by applying a Levels Adjustment layer. But first, we need to select those midtones, and the specific midtones I'm interested in are the ones that appear very red, sort of these deep red midtones, around his ears and mouth and nostril and eyes.
We're going to select those reds by going up to the Select menu and choosing the Color Range command. Then I will move the dialog box over a little bit so I can see what I'm doing. Go ahead and click some place, inside of his ear is actually a really great place to start, and you'll want to Shift+Click on some of these reds as well, or Shift+Drag across them. If you're working along with me, don't Shift+Drag into the light reds. That will select way too much of the image. Now go ahead and Shift+Click inside the dark portions of the lips a few times. And let's increase that Fuzziness value to something that makes a little more sense for this image, somewhere in the neighborhood of about 100 is going to work for us.
We may want to Shift+Click inside the reds of the eyes as well. And once you get something resembling this very horrifying mask that we're seeing here inside the Color Range dialog box-- I will show it to you bigger, so you can compare it to your results on screen, by changing Selection Preview to Grayscale. My goodness, that is horrifying. Once you get that splendid effect, then go ahead and click OK in order to convert the mask to a selection outline. Now, at this point the guy's face is riddled with marching ants, probably why he is so angry.
Now we need to darken that selected area using a Levels Adjustment layer, by pressing and holding the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, click that Black/White icon down there at the bottom of the Layers panel, and choose Levels. By virtue of the fact that I had the Alt or Option key down, I see the New Layer dialog box. I will go ahead and call the new layer darken, click OK. The first thing I want you to do is take the second Output Levels value down from 255 to 170, and that goes ahead and darkens the highlights tremendously there. Now I am going to click in this Gamma value, the one that reads 1.00 by default, and let's press Shift+Down Arrow three times in a row to take it down to 0.7, and we end up with this effect here.
Now, if this is where you're going to stop-- in other words, you're just looking for a faux-HDR effect and you're not interested in going the full zombie route-- why then, you probably want to go ahead and add another Levels Adjustment layer just to brighten things up a little bit. So I will click on this left-pointing arrowhead there to return to my Adjustments list, and I will just go ahead and Alt+Click or Option+Click on that second icon in the first row in order to create yet another Levels Adjustment layer. And I'll call this one brighten this time, and then click OK. And I'll take that white point value, there under the histogram down to let's say 230 in order to brighten things up, and that way the image will just survive better in print. All right! Now I will double-click to the right of the Masks tab to collapse the Adjustments panel, and I will click on that Lab lunatic Smart Objects layer.
One more thing we need to do. If you really want a tactile faux-HDR effect, then you want to sharpen the image, by going up to the Filter menu, choosing Sharpen, and then choosing Smart Sharpen. There is no reason to be subtle where this effect is concerned, so I'm taking the Amount value up to 250%, I am taking the Radius value to 2 pixels, and I've set Remove to Lens Blur. Leave More Accurate turned off; even zombies don't need that kind of treatment. Then click OK in order to accept that effect. And then finally, go ahead and scroll down to the bottom of the Layers panel.
You'll see that double-slider icon to the right of the word Smart Sharpen. Go ahead and double-click on it to bring up the Blending Options dialog box and change the mode once again from Normal to Luminosity, so that you're not exaggerating any of the color noise inside the image, and then click OK in order to accept that effect. That is the final faux-HDR effect, achieved by applying the Shadows/Highlights filter inside the Lab mode, as well as adding a little bit of levels and sharpening, causing this guy in particular some real anguish.
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