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23. Color Range


Photoshop Top 40

with Deke McClelland

Video: 23. Color Range

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! Feature #23 is the Color Range command. Color Range at its heart is a much better version of the Magic Wand tool. So even though the Magic Wand is a very popular tool, Color Range has it beat up down and sideways. You ought to be using the Color Range command whenever you what to select luminance levels across the color channels inside of your image for two big reasons. One is Color Range is dynamic.
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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop Top 40
7h 13m Intermediate Dec 21, 2009

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There's nothing people love more than lists, and Photoshop Top 40 offers a great one, highlighting the best features in Photoshop. Deke McClelland counts down to #1, detailing one great feature after another in this popular digital imaging application. The videos cover tools, commands, and concepts, emphasizing what's really important in Photoshop.

Topics include:
  • Assembling multiple pieces of artwork with layer comps
  • Creating a black-and-white image from a color photograph
  • Merging multiple channels to create an alpha channel with calculations
  • Selecting images with the Pen tool
  • Masking images using the Brush tool
Design Photography
Deke McClelland

23. Color Range

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! Feature #23 is the Color Range command. Color Range at its heart is a much better version of the Magic Wand tool. So even though the Magic Wand is a very popular tool, Color Range has it beat up down and sideways. You ought to be using the Color Range command whenever you what to select luminance levels across the color channels inside of your image for two big reasons. One is Color Range is dynamic.

So you can modify your selection on the fly and see a preview right there inside of a dialog box. And then secondly, it's organic so that you're actually selecting the image based on its natural luminance levels. You're going to end up with just wonderful rich lovely looking selection outlines. Thanks to this command. So I'm looking at a photograph from Lunel, and I just love this image. However, here is what I want to do. I want to rotate the hues and increase the saturation values of these lips so that they are cherry red.

I want some very garish colors out of these lips. And then, I'm going to turn around and mask the lips. You can see that they're on this big lips layer here. I'm going to mask them against this black background. So first things first, we're going to start things off with feature #28 Hue/Saturation, because the Hue/ Saturation command is going to do the best job of turning these lips red in a very organic manner. But before I apply Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, I want to turn off the automatic layer mask that gets assigned to adjustment layers, and you can do that in one or two ways. In Photoshop CS3 and earlier, you go up to the Layers palette flyout menu and you choose this command, I believe it's called palette Options instead of Panel Options.

Go ahead and choose that Options command and then turn off this checkbox whatever it's called. In CS4, it might as well turned off too actually because it affects the Fill layers, but it doesn't affect adjustment layers. In CS3 and earlier, it affects Fill and adjustment layers. All right. I'll go ahead and click OK. Now in CS4, what you have to do is go to the Adjustments palette here. Make sure that you're seeing the list of the various Color Adjustments. Click on the Fly Out menu icon and turn off this command. Add Mask by Default, turn it off and now we won't have default masks. Now, you can always add masks later, not a problem.

It's just that you won't have those default masks in your face every single time, and it's a low easier for what we're going to do here if we don't have it in advance. All right, I'm going to press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and click on Hue/Saturation on this Hue/Saturation icon. If you're working in CS3 or earlier, you would go down to this Black/White icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. Click on it, choose Hue/Saturation and I'll call this New Layer cherry red because that's the purpose it's going to serve and I'll click OK. Now, I could try to change the lips independently of the skin and the teeth for example, using the Target Adjustment tool.

But now I am going to show you how that just doesn't work. The reason it doesn't work is because all of the colors inside of this image are right there at that same range of reds and oranges and yellows and so on. So the better thing to do is to just mask the lips, and we're going to do that by modifying the Master colors. That is the colors across the entire image. Watch the lips over here. I'm going to reduce the Hue value to -10 like so. I just press Shift+Down Arrow and that rend up the lips a little bit. Now, I'll tab down to the Saturation and I'll take it up to 80 and that gives us garish, radioactive red lips, which is what I want.

Believe me, it's going to look so good. Now, we need to mask out results here. I want to select the lips independently of the skin and the teeth and we're going to do that using the Color Range command. So we'll go up to the Select menu, choose Color Range. I gave it this keyboard shortcut. This is not a default keyboard shortcut. I assigned this Ctrl+Shift+Alt+O. I'm reading backwards because that's what I do. Command+Shift+Option+O on the Mac and you can assign keyboard shortcuts to any commands, as you like, using the Keyboard Shortcuts command under the Edit menu. Alight, so I'm going to go ahead and choose this command.

Now, this doesn't look anything like the Magic Wand at this point, right! Here is what we got. We got this little preview in the middle of the dialog box and that is a Mask Preview. So wherever we're seeing white that will end up being selected when we click the OK button, and wherever we see black, it will be deselected. So what we're going to do is move the cursor outside the dialog box and just pretend that the Eyedropper that you're seeing right here is the Magic Wand, because it works more or less the same. It's a little better actually. But you can do the same thing that you can do with the Magic Wand, which is you can click on a base color for your selection.

And as soon as you click, I'm clicking on the shadow details here inside the lips. As soon as you click, you'll see a modification inside of little preview here in the dialog box. So notice that we're seeing white for the selected areas and black for the deselected areas. All right, now I'm going to Shift+ Click in some other regions of the lips. Or here is a great thing you can do with the Color Range command. You can Shift+Drag across your luminance values like so, in order to add all the luminance levels that lie beneath your cursor. So you can add a lot of luminance levels at the same time, lot of different colors.

All right, so I'm going to Shift+Click here as well. Maybe Shift+Drag around this region. Ultimately, I want to make sure that we're selecting up to the edges of the lips because we're going to have to paint in those highlights. If I Shift+Click in the highlight, notice that we end up selecting the entire image practically, and then I could Alt+Drag if I wanted to like so, or Option+Drag to delete from the selection but things have gone pretty catawampus on us now. So I'm just going to start the selection over by clicking and then Shift+Clicking or Shift+ Dragging actually in my case. I am Shift+Dragging around, again, the shadow details inside these lips.

That's what ends up working the best. Now, you switch out the mask preview. You can view the mask if you want to in a larger image window by changing the Selection Preview option here to Grayscale, and then I could switch the full-color image here inside the dialog box by clicking on the Image radio button. So you can just switch things around if you want to. I'm going to also increase my Fuzziness value. Now, the Fuzziness value, it's a lot like tolerance for the Magic Wand tool, except that you can change it on-the-fly, check that out, so I can include more luminance levels, or I can include fewer luminance levels, and as I grow the luminance levels outward, what Photoshop is doing is it's incrementally selecting those other luminance levels as they are going farther and farther away from the key colors, the once that we clicked on.

That's great because that's the organic part. That nice soft drop-off is what gives you organic selections out of coloring, just something that the Magic Wand tool is totally incapable of doing. So this is a much better function here. I'm going to go ahead and reduce this value to 60. If you want to learn about Localized Color Clusters, that's the new one inside of CS4, you can check out my training series on Photoshop CS4. It's called Photoshop CS4 One-on-One, either in book or video form. I'm not going to discuss it right now because it's weird. But anyway we don't need in this case.

I'm going to go ahead and Shift+Click at a few other locations and see if I can just grow that selection little bit. If I go too far, I press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. You do have one level undo right there. Oops! I went too far again. I may not be able to get right to the edge the way I want to. See the thing is I'm going to have to paint in these highlights. So I want to give myself as much of a nice working edge as I can. Anyway, this looks pretty good to me. I'll click OK in order to accept that selection outline. We have now generated a selection using the Color Range command.

All right, I'm going to go ahead and collapse my Adjustments palette here. And working on that cheery red layer, that adjustment layer, I'm going to drop down to the bottom of the Layers palette and I'm going to click on Add Layer Mask in order to assign the layer mask to that Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. We are now limiting our adjustment to the lips and I'm not affecting the teeth, not nearly so much, and I'm not affecting the background, but I'm not affecting enough of the lips either. So I'm going to Alt+Click or Option+ Click on that layer mask thumbnail here inside the Layers palette so that I can view the mask independently of the rest of the image.

And then I'm going to get my Brush tool and noticed that I've gone with a pretty large brush, 200 pixels, and a Hardness of 100%, because I don't want to add any fuzziness to my selection here. I don't want it to get all blurry on me. So I'm going to keep the brush nice and hard. I'm painting with white. White is my Foreground Color. So I'll go ahead and click here and notice that I'm just dragging along the edge of the lips in order to paint them in. So I'm treating my existing mask as a kind of coloring book that I'm filling in at this point. Now, I'm also doing something that I'm not telling you about but I will.

I'm clicking and Shift+Clicking and when you click and Shift+Click with the Brush tool, you're painting straight lines. So your Shift+Click point gets connected to your previous click point with a straight line of paint stroke, which is really great. Awesome way to work. Anyway, I'm continuing to do this. Now, notice that I'm not being super duper careful. I'm trying to stay inside the lines because I don't want to paint outside the lips, because that will look bad. But if I'm ending up with some crunchy details around the lips, it is totally okay. Actually, I think this is going to end up looking pretty good.

I'll just go ahead. Actually, I'm not happy with those last two modifications. I want to stay farther inside. I wasn't being conservative enough. So sometimes, you have to go in there and modify the selection. That's not unusual, and especially when you're masking, that's the kind of stuff you do fairly regularly. All right. So there it is. That's looking great to me. Some more finessing maybe up there. But otherwise this is a good-looking mask where this adjustment layer is concerned. Let's go ahead and exit the layer mask now by Alt+Clicking or Option+Clicking, once again, on that layer mask thumbnail right there inside the Layers palette.

Now, I also want to mask the lips. But in the case of the lips, I'm going to actually include the teeth as well. I don't want to mask away the teeth for the adjustment layers. So I'm going to have to assign yet another layer mask to these lips, but I can base it on the one I already have. So I'll go ahead and press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and I'm going to drag that layer mask from one layer to the other and drop it. And by Alt+Dragging or Option+Dragging that layer mask from one layer to the other, I've gone ahead and duplicated it.

Now let's drop down to that layer mask for Big lips, so I'll make sure to click on the layer mask thumbnail for the Big lips layer, and I'll go back to my Brush tool, make sure it's still set to white, which it is, so the foreground color is white. I'll increase the size of my Brush by pressing the right bracket key a few times, and then I will just paint across the central portion of the mouth. I don't need to be looking at the layer mask this time because I know that the teeth are available for quick and dirty painting there, and we get this effect here. Now, thee lips are nicely floating in the black void of space. But I'll tell you what, I wish our transitions between the blackness and the lips themselves were a little softer, and I'm going to thick that softness.

I'm not going to change my mask at all. I'm going to add a little bit of softness in the form of a layer effect. So here is what we're going to do. With this layer active still, I'll go ahead and drop down to the fx icon. I want this effect to be omnidirectional, all the way around the lips. So even though I'm going to go for a dark effect here, I'm going to choose Inner Glow because the glow effects are omnidirectional, the Shadow effects are directional. So I'll choose Inner Glow. I'll click in the Color Swatch and set it to black and then click OK and then I'll change my blend mode to either Normal or Multiply, either is going to produce the exact same effect where black is concerned.

I'll go ahead and increase the opacity value to 100%. I'll tab my way down to the Size value and I'm going to take it up to 35 pixels in the case of this image right here, and then I'll click OK. That's the OK button right there. Click on it and we have these lips floating in space. They look so good, so gorgeous and so exactly right. Thanks to the impeccable perfection of feature #23 Color Range inside Photoshop.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop Top 40 .

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Q: Is there a way to batch convert an entire folder of photos from the RBG color mode to the CMYK color mode without having to open and convert each individual image?
A: In the Actions panel in Photoshop, create an action that converts an image from RGB to CMYK. Then link to that action from File > Automate > Batch inside Photoshop.
Next, in the Bridge, select a folder of images. Choose Tools > Photoshop > Batch. Select the action inside the ensuing dialog box.
Or, in Photoshop, select File > Automate > Batch, and select the action and the folder inside the dialog box.
See also: Photoshop CS2 Actions & Automation, Chapter 2 “Action Essentials.”
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