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This course 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 Deke's Techniques. This week, I'm going to show you how to remove Camera Raw "clarity halos." Now, of course you're wondering what I'm talking about because I did make up that term. But it's a good one because you see them all the time. Notice the tree over here on the right-hand side of the photograph that we developed last week. Do you see how it has all that white stuff around it? That's not part of the actual scene. That's a function of cranking up the clarity value in either Camera Raw or Lightroom.
What we want is this more natural effect right here, and I'm going to show you how to achieve that effect in the next few minutes. All right; here we are, zoomed in on that tree on the far left side of the image. And you can see that we have these unnaturally bright halos at work inside of the branches. Compare that to the effect that we'll achieve by the end of this movie, where we have these nice, natural sky colors behind the tree. Now, I want to emphasize that this is a very common problem that's associated with the clarity value inside Camera Raw.
And let me show you what that looks like. I'll go ahead and double-click on the thumbnail for this Camera Raw smart object here inside the Layers panel in order to bring up Camera Raw. I'll wait a moment for my preview to update, and then I'll go ahead and marquee this region right here with my zoom tool in order to zoom in on it. And you can see those bright halos. That's a function of clarity. Notice if I take that clarity value that's currently 75, if I take it down to zero, those halos largely disappear. Not entirely, but largely disappear.
And if I take the clarity value down still further, we get rid of the halos entirely. I'm not saying that this is a good effect, but we don't have halos. And that's because clarity is ultimately a big radius sharpening option. So as you increase the clarity value, you're going to create halos around the edges. That is to say, around areas of rapid luminance transition. So, in our case, we've got these dark branches set against a bright background. And, as a result, as we increase the clarity, we're magnifying the brightness of the background.
So we are creating bright halos. What do you do about it? Well, this is where we bring in Photoshop's ability to apply selective corrections. I'm just going to cancel out of Camera Raw. I'm going to zoom out a little bit, so that we can take in slightly more of the image. And then, what you want to do is, grab your eyedropper tool, and then you want to click on a sample bit of sky in order to lift that color. And then take a look at those color values here inside the color panel.
My color panel's in the upper right-hand corner of the screen; yours should be, too. If you can't see it, you can go up to the Window menu and choose the Color command. And then what you want to do, at least if you're taking my advice, you want to go ahead and switch over to the HSB sliders, which you can select from the fly-out menu. I just find these values to be the easiest ones to use when trying to approximate colors inside of Photoshop. Now, I happen to know that I want a shade of blue. Your best go-to sky blue has a hue value of 210 degrees because, if you go any lower than that, the blue starts to become a little bit too cyan.
And if you go any higher than that, you end up getting these kind of purplish blues. Then what you want to do is, anticipate the next effect. We're going to be creating a new layer and multiplying it into place because we want to get rid of these bright halos, which means that we want to take the natural saturation and brightness values of the sky and we want to reduce the saturation and increase the brightness. I'm going to go ahead and crank the brightness value up to 100 percent. And again, the reason we're doing this is because we're going to be multiplying this blue into place.
So we need to start with too light of a color. It also needs to be undersaturated. So I'll click inside the saturation value and press shift + down arrow in order to reduce it to 33 percent, so a little bit less saturation, a lot brighter, and we end up with this shade of baby blue right here. All right; now I'm going to grab my rectangular marquee tool and I'll select a big area, all around this top area of the tree. That includes all the halos and a little more. Now I'll create a new layer by pressing ctrl + shift + n, or cmd + shift + n on a Mac.
I'll call this layer Blue and I'll click Okay. Now you want to fill the selection with your foreground color by pressing alt + backspace, or opt + delete on the Mac. And we now get this big blue rectangle. All right; now you can click off of the rectangle to deselect it. As I was saying, we want to burn that blue into place so that it darkens up those halos in the background. And you do that by turning the layer back on, of course, and changing its blend mode to Multiply.
And we end up with this effect here. You can see that it's looking pretty darn good, as long as, of course, you avert your eyes from the fact that we have a big rectangle. This blue stuff inside of the branches is looking all right. Now what you want to do is double-click on an empty portion of this blue layer to bring up the layer style dialog box. That'll allow us to use this underlying layer slider right here to cover up just the bright halos and nothing more. So you want to go ahead and drag this black slider triangle over to, in the case of this image -- of course, different images will require different amounts of correction -- but I'm going to take this triangle over to 100, which is saying that anywhere where the underlying layer, the layer below, has a luminance level of 100 or darker, which is very dark, as you can see here in this gradient ramp, those colors will show through.
Those dark colors will force their way through the blue. That results in a very jagged transition, as you can see up in this region up here. So what we need to do is press the alt key, or the option key in the Mac, and drag the right half of this black slider triangle over to about 200, is going to do us. You can see this value, 200, right there. And that, now, is instructing Photoshop to create a drop-off between luminance levels of 100 and 200. So at 100, those dark colors are forcing through.
At 200 and brighter, they're getting covered up. And between the two, they're getting covered up to varying degrees. Now all you need to do is click Okay in order to accept that change. Now that's still not quite exactly what we want, because you can see that we've got these edges of the rectangle that are still visible. So go ahead and drop down to the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. I want you to alt-click on it, or option-click on it on a Mac, in order to create a new layer mask that's filled with black so that everything's hidden.
Then we're going to paint things back in by switching to the brush tool. You want to tap the d key, just to make sure you've got your default foreground and background colors. That means the foreground color is white, in the case of the mask. Then I'll press the right bracket key a few times to increase the size of my brush. I'm also going to right-click inside the image window, just to confirm that the hardness is zero percent, which it is. That's what you want. Size can be anything you like. Then I'm going to zoom in just a little bit more here, and I'm going to paint inside of the tree, like so, to paint away the halos.
This way, you can paint away as many halos as you like and you can apply multiple passes. You don't have to do it all in one brushstroke. In fact, it's often a good idea to take advantage of multiple brushstrokes so that you don't overdo it and have to undo a big brushstroke all at once. So that's looking pretty darn good, I think. I'll go ahead and turn this layer off for a moment so we can see what it looked like before. This is the before version, with the bad bright halos, and this is the after version that's looking quite a bit better.
Now, problem is that we start getting into some subjective optics. Take a look at this region right here. What you may want to do -- and I'm being very frank about this -- you may want to pause the video and take a look at a different image, which is a way of sort of cleansing your visual palate, which you need to do oftentimes when you're working on an image like this because that way, you can come back and go, "Oh, yeah, this doesn't look right," which happens all the time. So if you decide to pause, come back, take a look now, I'm guessing you'll see, kind of, this weird dark region right here, in the upper right portion of the tree.
We have a little weird darkness up here, as well. That's part of the original image. If I turn off this blue layer, you can see that we haven't made any modifications up in this region. So that area is the same color it ever was. So if I turn the blue back on, well, gosh, it just doesn't look right. It looks like it's too dark. If you run into a situation like that, here's what I recommend you do. Go ahead and switch back to the rectangular marquee tool. What we're going to do is, we're going to dodge and burn this area using the Dodge and Burn tools.
But before we can do that, we've got to create a static layer because the Dodge and Burn tools down here, they only work with static pixels. In other words, they're not going to work with a smart object. Go ahead and select your rectangular marquee tool, and then marquee a big area, more than you need, like so. And I'm invoking an autoscroll for a moment there. But you can see, we've got this big region selected. And then go up to the Edit menu and choose Copy Merged. That way you can copy the results of both layers working together.
You've got a keyboard shortcut of ctrl + shift + c, or cmd + shift + c on a Mac, which I believe is worth remembering because I use that one all the time. Then, go back up to the Edit menu and choose the standard Paste command, which, of course, is ctrl + v, or cmd + v on a Mac, in order to paste that guy right there into place. I'm going to go ahead and rename this layer Tonal Repairs, let's say, because I'll be using what are known as the tonal tools, Dodge, Burn, and Sponge. That's why they've got keyboard shortcuts of o, for the second letter in tonal.
All right; now I'll select the Dodge tool from this fly-out menu right there. I'll increase the size of my cursor. You'll want to confirm, by right-clicking, that you've got a hardness value of zero percent. That's what you always want with the Dodge tool. You can drag inside the image, but notice that you'll, in all likelihood, you're going to apply too much brightening. So I'll go ahead and press ctrl + z, or cmd + z in a Mac, to undo that change. I'll zoom in, as well. And I'm going to press the 2 key to reduce the exposure value up here to 20 percent. You probably want Protect Tones turned on, but you might want to experiment with that option.
You don't always want it on when working with the Dodge tool. You do want the range set to mid-tones. Then, just go ahead and paint in. You probably just want to paint little bits and pieces here and there, so just paint a little bit at a time. If you ever feel like you've gone too far, which will undoubtedly occur, by the way ... You're going to end up wanting to go back and forth with these modifications. Notice that I'm still painting away. Then, at your earliest convenience -- you don't want this to go on too long -- you want to go up to the Window menu and choose the History command in order to bring up the History panel.
And I may have blown it, actually. Oh, phew! I didn't. Notice all these occurrences of the Dodge tool, all these various states here. We want to be able to go back to the name change state, that is, the state right before we started painting with the Dodge tool, and you want to click in front of it in order to make that your source state for this guy right here, the History Brush, which is a really great tool. Make sure you select that guy, name change, if you renamed the layer along with me. And then hide the History panel.
Then go ahead and select that History Brush tool. And then increase the size of your cursor by pressing the right bracket key, right-click, and just confirm you have a hardness value of zero percent. We want some nice, soft transitions. And actually, I'll reduce the size of my cursor a little bit by pressing the left bracket key. And then you can just paint away. But notice, if you do, you're going to, basically, restore everything. You're going to go right back to where you were before you started dodging. Instead, what you want to do is, press ctrl + z, in my case, or cmd + z in a Mac, and you want to reduce the opacity value.
And what I like for this is to press the 3 key to reduce the opacity value to 30 percent. That way, you can just click in order to go back incrementally, like so. In other words, you have to be a little patient, you're going to kind of go back and forth here, dodge a little bit and then sort of restore some of the original details. And you can even burn, if you want to, in which case you would go ahead and switch from the Dodge tool to the Burn tool. For the sake of reference, the Dodge tool brightens the images you paint and over it.
The Burn tool darkens. Think of burning a piece of toast; you're darkening it. I'll go ahead and select the Burn tool, increase the size of my cursor by pressing the right bracket key, right-click, confirm that the hardness value is zero percent, and, of course, reduce the exposure value by pressing the 2 key, for 20 percent. And then you can just kind of burn details all you want. I might burn some areas inside the tree, I might burn the sky inside the tree just a little bit, as well, in case things aren't dark enough in there.
And then, if you feel like you go too far at any one point, then go ahead and switch back to the History Brush, which has a keyboard shortcut of y, the last letter in history, and you can just kind of click in order to brighten things up a little bit. And that's going to, of course, undo the effects of the burning because, if you go to the History panel, right here in my case, you'll see that that state, name change, refuses to roll off the panel. Because you've specified that it's the source for the History Brush, it has to remain intact.
Now, check this out, this region right there. Doesn't it look way too bright? Again, that's just part of the original photograph, but, if you don't like it, why, then go ahead and switch to the Burn tool once again and increase the size of your cursor, potentially, just kind of paint there, maybe click a few times there in order to darken things up. I believe in baby steps where dodging and burning is concerned because it's easy to go too far. And you never really just want to paint a big old brushstroke because you'll end up seeing it in the final image.
You'll see that brushstroke. And, whereas other people might not notice when they look at your image, you will because you'll remember doing it. Now I'm going to go ahead and zoom out here in order to check things out. If the colors start to look too saturated, which is very, very possible, then switch to the final tonal tool, which is the Sponge tool. It is set to desaturate by default. That's what you want. Make sure the vibrance check box is turned on. Let's go ahead and take that flow value down by pressing the 2 key once again to decrease the flow value to 20 percent.
I'll increase the size of my cursor by pressing the right bracket key, right-click inside the image, confirm that the hardness value's zero percent so that we have nice, soft transitions. Then just go ahead and paint here and there in order to reduce the saturation and see what you come up with. That, I think, looks pretty good. I might just go back here to the Dodge tool, so you can go back and forth between the Dodge and Burn tools, if you like, and click a few times in this area just to brighten things up because I think it went a little bit too far.
And now I'll go ahead and zoom out in order to take in the image. Looks like I need some more burning right in this region there. I figure that that's pretty good-looking. So, just to confirm that we've done the right thing here, I'll go ahead and alt-click, or option-click, on the eye in front of that Environment layer there, which represents, by the way, this landscape photograph, so that we can see what the image looked like, what the tree looked like, at the outset of this movie. So this is the before version of the image, quite obviously, and then, if I alt- or option-click on the eye again, this is the after version, thanks to our ability to correct for a perhaps over-enthusiastic application of the clarity option inside of Camera Raw using an independent multiplied layer along with the tonal tools, including Dodge, Burn and Sponge, here inside Photoshop.
Now, if you're a member of the lynda.com online training library, I have a follow-up movie in which I show you how to selectively sharpen a stressed photograph. And the idea is, we've done a lot to this image, but we still want to bring out the detail without getting any crunchy edges, don't you know? If you're waiting for next week's free movie, oh, we're getting into Halloween, which is why I'm going to show you how to take this perfectly innocent teenager and turn him into a foreboding, dark elf.
(ghoulish laugh) Deke's Techniques, each and every week. Keep watching.
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