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Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, updated for CS5, 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 CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
I've saved my progress as Two-filter group.psd, found inside the 17_shads_hilites folder, so called because I have two filters; GBlur and High Pass, inside of a group to which I've applied a Luminance Mask. But it's not quite right so far; I'm looking at the scene, thinking, okay, his face is really striking, volumetric detail, totally coming at you, all kinds of depth going on. This guy is rich with information. The sea is also very interesting.
The ground, whatever it's the ground, his shirt is so boring at this point. What can we do? I have brightened it up, but it still doesn't have sort of the sense of dimension as the rest of the scene. Also, I mean I have to say, part of the problem is he is wearing a polo-shirt. That was a bad idea given what we decided to do this image. It's kind of a dull shirt. But that's what we got to work with. So how do we rich in it up a little bit? Well, let's say, we want to fool around with the idea of putting the Shadows/Highlights layer inside the folder so that it's affected by Luminance Mask as well so that we're seeing all the way down to the final Background layer.
How might we go about doing that? Well, if you drag Shadows/Highlights, you can drag it into the group, like so, and if you drop it right there, above High Pass, it will appear at the top of the stack, which is going to ruin everything, and then you'd have to drag it back down the stack which makes for a difficult operation if you want to be able to do a before-and-after comparison because then you'd can't just press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on a Mac to go back and forth because you'll have two operations to work your way through. So I'm going to press Ctrl+Z right now to undo that modification because it's wrong modification.
If you just want to throw a layer at the bottom of the group and this may seem strange that it works this way, you grab that layer and you just drag it on to the folder. As soon as you drop it on to the folder then it goes right to the bottom of the stack. That's just the way it works. My guess is it works that way because that's the most difficult place to put it manually. So you can easily drop it in any other location, but to put it at the bottom of the stack, the easiest thing to do is just drop it on the folder. Anyway, now we can see the difference that putting Shadows/Highlights inside of this Filter set folder means to the image, I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z. So this is before, Command+Z on the Mac, Ctrl+Z or Command+Z again, this is after.
So we are bringing out even more information inside the shirt, shirt is also getting that much more boring in my opinion. So how do we sort of bring it back into the scene a little bit? Well, the idea is to back off of my layer mask. So I am going to go ahead and click on the layer mask. So I could increase the contrast of the layer mask, by the way, by clicking on this layer mask thumbnail, pressing Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac to bring up the Levels command. And then I could increase that contrast, like so, so that I am saying anything in the mask that has a Brightness value, a Luminance level of 120 or darker is going to become black, and that means we're going to have absolute concealment at that point.
We are concealing the filters so we'd be revealing the image down below and we're going to attract more attention to the shirt than ever before. And then of course, we could reveal more details as well by dragging this white point over to the left, but you can see, we are getting exactly the opposite effect of what I want. So my point is the Levels command allows you to exaggerate the mask, what if you want to back off of the mask however? Well, you could use these Output Levels values if you wanted to, but there's a better way to work.
I am going to cancel out of this dialog box and I'm going to bring up a panel that we haven't seen so far. Go to the Window menu and choose Masks. If you loaded dekeKeys that has a keyboard shortcut of Alt+F10 or Option+F10 on the Mac; kind of an ancillary panel I should say. It's not your primary masking panel as we'll see. The area where you get most of your masking work done is either inside the Layers panel or inside the Channels panel, and that's why we've been working back and forth between Channels and layers when creating our layer masks.
However, the Masks panel allows you to tweak your masks, and one of the ways you can tweak them is to feather them which will blur them on-the-fly, by the way, so this is a parametric modification, meaning you can come back and modify it anytime you like, just like an Adjustment layer. What I want though is density. The Density value if you back it off from a 100% allows you to back off the mask; we're not backing off the effects of the filters here. That would be what would happen if you change the Opacity value.
That would lower the opacity of these filters, make them translucent and reveal the Background layer. We're doing exactly the opposite; we're backing off the mask so that we're adding punch to the contents of this Filter set folder so we are seeing more of the Filter layers inside. Anyway, you can take this Density value all the way down to 0 at which point you are going to totally lose the contents of your layer mask. It's going to turn absolutely white and therefore reveal everything so we are just seeing the filtered images.
Notice by the way that I can now do something else. I could sort of play around with the Background layer, do whatever I want to, switch the order of these layers, go to another image, take a coffee break, whatever, then go back to my layer mask, it's still there. It's just that for the moment, I've chosen to hide it. I could come back to my Masks panel just by clicking on the little mask icon in my column of icons right there. Then I could change that Density value again to bring the mask back because it's still there; I just want you to notice, its density value is forever editable.
I am going to change the Density value to 70% so that we're just slightly 30% backing off of that mask and revealing the layers inside of the folder, then hide that Masks panel and there we are, that's our final effect. So just to compare what we've managed to do here; I'll press the F12 key and that will restore the saved version of the Two-filter group.psd with the darkest shirt that's a little bit boring. Press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to show what we've done so far.
Shirt is actually a little darker now than it was before, but it's also I think a little more in keeping with the rest of the scene and we have what amounts to a very nicely corrected image in my opinion. This is the original if I Alt+Click or Option+Click on the eyeball in front of the Background layer and this is the modified view of the scene. Actually, let me go ahead and switch to the Full Screen view here. I am pressing Shift+F and zooming in and now I will once again show you here is, of course, the original version of the image; here is the modified view of that image.
Thanks to a combination of Shadows/Highlights, Gaussian Blur, High Pass, collected together inside of a folder to which we applied a Luminance Mask and we then backed off its density inside of the Masks panel. In the next exercise, we're going to switch to a different project in which I will show you new applications for Shadows/Highlights and High Pass. Stay tuned!
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