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Photoshop is one of the world’s most powerful image editors, and it can be daunting to try to use skillfully. Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
All right gang, all we have done so far is open The escape.psd file, and we took this Badlands layer, and we moved it down 200 pixels, end of story, that's all we did. In this exciting exercise, because remember this is the final result we are going for right here Bronco and me.psd. All right, so I'm going to switch back to escape.psd. Then next exciting step is to apply a layer mask to the Badlands right here, because I want to get rid of the old sky and expose the new really cool sky, because the old sky was really dull and boring, and a new sky as you can see is really exciting. It has lots of clouds, and highlights, and wonderfulness like that.
So I'm going to turn the Badlands back on. What we are going to do is we are going to assign a layer mask, and we are actually Edit the layer mask, and layer masking is such an important technique to understand inside of Photoshop, because it allows you to temporarily erase sections of a layer. And then paint them right back in if you need to, if you make a mistake. All right, so here's what you do. I want you to start things off. I have already created a mask for you to begin with. And we'll explore masking of course in greater detail in a future chapter. But I'm going to go over to the Channels palette right here. And I have got this extra channel right here. It's an alpha channel, and its called planet arc right there. And it's the arc of the planet earth is the idea. Because one of the interesting things here, and in case if you have ever wondered is the earth flat or round, you just have to look at this photograph and you can actually see the curvature of the earth.
All right, I'm going to go ahead and click on planet arc right here. We need to make sure that we are seeing the arc of the planet. And we are going to assign this mask as a layer mask as follows. Here's what I want you to do. Go back to the RGB image, just for the heck of it, go back to Layers, and make sure Badlands is selected, that's very important. Now go back to the Channel's palette, and you can press and hold the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac. And notice that your cursor changes from just a plain pointing finger to, when Control or Command is down you get a little marquee in front of the hand, and that means if you click. So that's Command+Click on the Mac, Ctrl+ Click on the PC, you load this mask as a selection outline.
Now what does that mean? Well, if we go back to the mask for a moment, white in a mask indicates the selected region, and black indicates the deselected region. And Gray indicates some sort of feathering in between, and that can be like natural anti-aliasing or blurry feathering or what have you. We have a little tiny bit of feathering going on. All right, if I go back to the RGB image now. Go to the Layers palette, so I have got this selection active right here. You should see your animated marching ants on screen. Go to the Badlands layer, make sure it's active, and then you come down here to the bottom of the Layers palette, and click on Add Layer Mask, on that icon down there. And that goes in, and converts that selection outline to a layer mask. What does the layer mask mean? Now you can see by the way from the thumbnail, if I go to the Channels palette, look at its thumbnail. There is the thumbnail for the original alpha channel for planet arc. And there is the thumbnail for the Badlands mask, which is now active. And they are identical to each other, because we just took this channel and put it inside of this channel, as effectively what's going on.
So it's exactly the same. This is a non- destructive transformation. So when you go from a mask to a selection outline to a mask, back to a selection outline, back to a mask, over and over again, you never lose anything, and that's because when you create a selection outline, any old selection outline inside of Photoshop, Photoshop is calculating it as an 8 bit mask. Assuming that you are working inside of an 8 bit per channel image, which is how we are working right now. So how does the mask work when you assign it to a layer? So I'll go ahead and Alt+Click or Option+Click on this mask thumbnail here inside the Layers palette, so we can look at it. So before I was telling you white represents the selected area, and black represents the deselected area. And just so as you know, I would really want you to know bear in mind, we are going to be discussing masking in big detail in the later chapter. So I don't let you get too overrode about this. But you should have a basic understanding what's going on.
So white selected, black is deselected. When we are working with the layer though, we don't have any selection outline going on right now. So white represents opaque, and black represents transparent. So white reveals, black conceals, as they say. And then the gray is sort of the blurry edge in between. All right, so I'm going to go ahead and Alt+Click or Option+Click on that mask again to switch our View back to the RGB image, but notice it's the mask that's selected right now. It's very important when you start editing the mask or editing the layer, that you have the right item selected. So if we were to click on the layer, and then we were to paint inside of it for example like so.
I'll just grab the Brush tool and paint. You can see that I'm now painting inside the layer. I can't paint into the transparent area, I actually am painting into that transparent area. It's just hidden by the mask. If I were to Shift+Click on the mask to turn it off, notice that I did paint into this transparent area. It's just hidden. Shift+Click again, and it goes away. Now of course, I don't want that painting. So I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Alt+Z a couple of times, so it's Command+Option+Z a couple of times on the Mac. Whereas if I click on the mask right there, click on the layer mask, and then paint on it, notice that I'm painting inside the mask and right now I'm painting in transparency.
All right, so I'm going to undo that modification. Now that all went by fairly quickly, which is why we have another extra size on layer masking, coming right up, in which we take this existing mask, the one we have been applying so far to the Badlands, and we modify it, so that we have a more naturalistic transition between the mountains here and the sky.
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