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Photoshop mastery can be elusive, but in Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery, best-selling author and video trainer Deke McClelland teaches the most powerful, unconventional, and flexible features of the program. In this third and final installment of the popular and comprehensive series, Deke delves into the strongest features that Photoshop has to offer, including scalable vector graphics, Smart Objects, and Photomerge. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, both part of the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
Now something you'll notice more and more as you're compositing foreground images against different backgrounds inside of Photoshop. You'll come to recognize that a good mask is not enough. This is a perfect example. I mean this could not be a better mask. Check out the level of detail we have. We've got these holes inside the skeletal frame there and every single bone is selected with impeccable care, even this little weird tooth that's hanging down there. This is a kind of selection we would have never been able to craft using the Lasso tool or the Magic Wand tool or the Quick Selection tool and yet it was pretty easy work using the Color Range command and the Mask Edge function here from the Masks palette.
But that's not good enough. Just because these edges are absolutely impeccable does not mean that I believe in this composition. If you're with me for the Advanced portion of this series, then you know that this is Emperor Scratch. I've gone ahead and saved my changes thus far as a composition called Splendid edges.psd and this composition is going to serve as our prequel. Emperor of Scratch here has happened upon earth and he envies it. We need to establish a frame in this particular storyline, let's say. So here in the Layers palette I want you to turn on a couple of groups. First, we have the caption group that tells you how he envies it and how he is going to attack earth at dawn. Then we've got this features group. I'll go ahead and turn it on. It's these hyper-realistic hands down here at the bottom of the composition along with his eye. All right, he's missing his teeth. I didn't bother; he doesn't have those inside of this composition. That's okay; he's still going to be very menacing.
Now the problem is even after all these tweaks, the lighting is all wrong. It's just so brightly lit. It's like where is this light coming from and what I want to do is create a sinister cast shadow on Emperor Scratch. Now we're not going to do with the Drop Shadow. That makes the Emperor look like he is in front of a poster. That would totally ruin the affect. Instead, and I've mentioned this before, when you want to cast shadow, a real quick and dirty cast shadow, you want the Gradient Overlay effect. So here's what we're going to do. Make sure the duckbill layer is active. It doesn't matter if the layer mask or the image itself is active. Go down to the fx icon, click on it and choose Gradient Overlay and that will bring up the Gradient Overlay dialog box right here. Now you should see a black to white shadow like this. Looks totally wrong at this point. That's okay. If you don't though, you need to switch your gradient by clicking this down pointing arrowhead. Either switch it to this foreground to background gradient or if you have something other than black and white setup as your foreground and background colors, then switch to this guy, Black to White. That's fine to you.
I'll just go ahead and switch to Black, White. Why not? Then we want to change the angle of the gradient but first of all, I want to change the blend mode. We want the shadows to show up very nicely here but we want the highlights to drop out. We want the whites to go away. So I'm going to change the blend mode from Normal to this guy right here, Multiply, and we get this stunning effect right there. But the shadow is now being cast upon his neck and jaw and his head is in light. I want the opposite effect. I want the shadow becoming down from the top of his head and declining in this direction.
So I'm going to change the Angle value to something like let's say -146 looks pretty good to me and that is sinister indeed. As you can see it's too dark, let's reduce the Opacity value to 70% and then I'm going to drag the shadow back and forth. Notice you can drag the shadow around. I'm going to drag it just a little bit to the right, like so. Then I'm going to click OK. Just to give you a sense of what a difference that very simple layer effect makes. This is before. No, don't buy it; it's not happening. This is after. Oh! It works beautifully; it's looking really sharp against this new background. So bear in mind though that you can't rely on the mask by itself in order to provide you with a credible composition. Sometimes you need to come in with some compositional effects; some blend modes, some layer effects and that kind of thing. I go into elaborate detail, in case you're curious, in my Photoshop CS3 Channels and Masks series which tells you everything you ever wanted to know about masking inside of Photoshop.
In the exercise, I'm going to tell you just a little bit more about what's going on. I'll go ahead and click on this layer mask icon right here. We haven't seen two additional slider bars here inside the Mask palette and I want to show you how they work. Density and Feather coming right up.
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