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Photoshop CS4 offers an abundance of helpful shortcuts and hidden tricks that allow designers and photographers to get more done in less time. In Photoshop CS4 Power Shortcuts, Michael Ninness reveals hundreds of tips to boost productivity, including the top 20 power shortcuts every Photoshop user must know. He covers strategies for better document and panel management, and offers techniques for becoming quicker and more nimble when using layers, adjustment layers, and layer masks. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download the keyboard shortcut guide from the Exercise Files tab.
When you are making Levels or Curves adjustment in an image, it's often helpful to see where things are going to clip, meaning where the dark is going to go to absolute black and where the highlight is going to go to absolute white, where they are going to blow out, and you are going to lose detail. So they call that clipping preview. Let's go ahead and choose a Levels adjustment layer here, and that brings up the Levels adjustment in this panel. And you see, I have a black slider, a gray slider, and a white slider. If I move the black slider to where what we call the piles of tiles, where these tones actually begin in earnest here in any significant quantity. You can see the image is getting darker as I move that black slider to the right. But I may want to see where are pixels in the image going to absolute black.
To do that hold, down the Option key or the Alt key on Windows as you drag the slider. Now at first, everything goes completely white. As you drag to the right, you will see where pixels are starting to appear, those are going to black. If you see absolutely black pixels, that means in all three channels in RGB, their tonal value is now 0, 0, 0. If you only see specific colors like the yellow or the red or the cyan or whatever, those colors are only shifting in their particular channel but not all three. Same thing for the highlight preview. If I hold down Option or Alt and grab it, everything turns to black at first. So you can see I don't have a lot of detail in the legs in the red channel.
So if I slide this over to left, you will see in the red, those are going to go to absolute loss of detail there. Only the areas that are actually white against that black background are going to absolute white in all three channels. So if you look at the top of the image near her shorts, I'll let go off the Option key for a second, you can see there is a little highlight there from the sun on the bottom of her shorts. So you can see that's where that's clipping all the way to white. So this is just a way to get clipping preview as you make these adjustments. So you can back off a little bit, so you don't blow out detail where you want to keep it. Same thing for the Curves adjustment. Let's go ahead and delete that Levels adjustment. We'll create a Curves adjustment layer instead.
Again, I have got those same sliders. I guess I don't have that middle slider. I just have the black slider and the white slider as I saw in the Curves adjustment. Again, hold down Option or Alt, and you get the clipped preview as you drag the slider just like you saw in the Levels adjustment as well. So the same behavior. These shortcuts, the Option key or the Alt key, they work in the Levels and Curves dialog versions of these adjustments as well. So it's your choice whatever when you are using, you can get an accurate clipping preview by holding down Option or Alt as you drag those sliders.
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