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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.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how and why you might apply the Advanced settings from the Smart Sharpen dialog box, but first, I made a big mistake in the last exercise. Do you know what it is? So, here I was working inside the Rodents in love.jpg file. I've made some changes to it. So, I went ahead and jumped the image to a new layer, turned that layer off, applied some settings, using the Smart Sharpen filter, but see, I didn't follow it up with the Fade command. And if you zoom in on these squirrels, you'll see that we have all kinds of weird colors now, going on inside the fur.
Notice these little purples and these greens and so on. So, if you've been working along with me, and Smart Sharpen was the last thing you did, you should be able to go up to the Edit menu and choose Fade Smart Sharpen, just as I'm doing right now. We'll press Ctrl+Shift+F, Command+Shift+F on the Mac, and watch these little weird colors inside the fur. As soon as I change the mode from Normal to Luminosity, they go away and we focus our sharpening efforts just on the luminance information inside of that image, and we leave the color alone. All right, now click OK in order to accept that affect.
I'll go and zoom back out, so that we see more of the squirrels at a time. And now I'll turn on my Advanced settings layer that I created in the previous exercise, I'll click on it in order to make it active, this is the original version of those squirrels before I sharpen them. All right, let's press Ctrl+Alt+F or Command+Option+F on the Mac to bring back up the Smart Sharpen dialog box, and I want you to click on the Advanced option right there. Now, here is the idea. This is something I want you to note about sharpening inside of Photoshop in general because you're tracing these bright halos on the bright side of an edge, and the dark halos on the dark side of the edge, you're exaggerating the contrast in the image, and you're running the risk of clipping your highlights and shadows.
Now, you're not clipping the highlights and shadows in big, huge areas, the way you might say using the Levels command or the Curves command, if you're not careful. However, you're clipping little, tiny strips of highlights and shadows, allover the place, especially when you're applying high Amount values and high Radius values. So, the idea behind these advanced settings, notice when I turned on the Advanced radio button, I got two more panels of settings here, named Shadow and Highlight. So, before we didn't those tabs, notice with Basic as selected, we don't have any tabs there.
As soon as I turn on Advance, we get the tabs and what they allow you to do is mitigate the clipping in the shadow detail and the highlight detail. All right, so I'm going to switch to shadows first, and generally speaking, because I don't have a lot of patience for these options. I just recommend you set them to the exact same darn thing and I'll show you what those settings are. First of all notice that the Fade Amount is set to 0%. So, at 0%, you're leaving all of the clipping intact. You're not making any changes to the clipping, you're not reining in it, in other words.
So, I suggest, if you're going to go to the trouble of reining in that clipping to any degree whatsoever, you can finesse this value if you like, you can sit there and play with it, and try to keep track of what's happening here inside the preview, but what I tend to do is just max it out. Just say, you know what, I want to rein in my clipping to 100%. That's still actually not the most significant modification in the world. So, you're just easing it back to the point that all of your halos fall inside that visible spectrum. Tonal Width controls what's shadows and what's highlights.
So, at this point, you're saying 50% of the luminance range falls inside the shadows and this is tapering off, by the way. So, Black is an absolute shadow. We taper away to 50% gray. So, it's not that kind of harsh transition we were looking at with the Threshold options, for example. It's not an on or off proposition. I recommend you leave this guy set as is, 50% is just fine. Now, Radius, I'll be darned, if you can tell the difference in most images where radius is concerned. I'll go ahead and zoom in on this eye. That's me, by the way, hunkered down looking at the squirrels, inside of this particular squirrel's eye, but notice, if I take the Fade amount down to 0%, notice how the edges of that eye brighten up right there.
If I take it all the way up to 100%, we're limiting those highlights of all things. Even though, we're mitigating the shadows, we're limiting the highlights inside of that eye. Well, if you want to rule out some of those details, you can bring the Radius value up, so that you're not scrubbing inside of that eye, for example, to the same extent. So, when you bring Radius down to one pixel, which is the default setting, you're fitting your changes into small crevices inside the image. If you don't want that to happen, you can raise that value to 100 pixels, for example and notice that recovers a little bit of the highlight edge inside of the eye, but I have to go all the way from one pixel to 100 pixels to see any kind of difference going on whatsoever.
My suggestion to you is when in doubt, unless you really want to sit there, and figure out exactly what's going on inside each and every image that you edit, I recommend that you just leave Radius set to 1. In that way, you're digging into all sorts of crevices and you're making sure that you're mitigating the shadows and highlights all over the place. Now, I suggest you replicate these exact same settings for the highlight options and that means just making one change, i. e. you're changing the Fade Amount from 0% to 100% and that's all you're doing.
Now, here is where things get very important. Don't click the OK button because if you do that, you will replace your active Settings option right there. So Print defaults is going to get completely messed up with these new shadow and highlight settings, even if I switch back to Basic now. They're still at work, which I think is highly confusing. So, what I suggest you do is go ahead and turn out Advance once again, so you can keep track of what in the world you're doing and then go ahead and save out your new settings. I'll click on my little floppy disk, and for starters, I'll just call this Advanced settings and I can always come back to this later on, if I want to create some variations on my advanced settings.
For now, this will be the only advanced settings I have. Click OK, and then, of course, very important, after you get done saving, you have to choose them. So, you have to now choose Advanced settings from this Settings pop-up menu, and then click OK and that just goes ahead and protects the other settings that you have. Now then, let's get a sense of what kind of difference this makes. I'll go ahead and zoom in on my scroll, so we can see them at a 100% view size. If I turn off Advance settings, you can see these are the original settings I applied. So, a fairly over-the-top application of Smart Sharpen with some fairly obvious clipped highlights and shadows inside the fur.
In fact, it almost looks like these guys have had their tips bleached or something along those lines. Now, I'll turn Advanced settings back on and you can see that those highlights and shadows are mitigated, not only inside the fur, but in the whiskers as well. Now, of course, the final thing I would do is that first thing I did at the beginning of the exercise, with Advanced settings active, that Advanced settings layer, go up to the Edit menu, choose Fade Smart Sharpen, Ctrl+Shift+F, Command+Shift+F on the Mac, and switch your mode from Normal to Luminosity, notice that all my weird colors went away there.
If you decide after this point that you've applied too much sharpening, you can go ahead and back off that Opacity value to take it down to something more reasonable, like 50%. So, if you ever want to see, by the way, the before version of the image, before you start modifying it, you can take Opacity down to 0%. So, these are the before sharpening squirrels right there, and then if I take this Opacity value up to, let's say, 70%, these are the nicely sharpened versions of the squirrels, thanks to a combination of Advanced settings that I saved out inside the Smart Sharpen dialog box, and, of course, the good old Fade dialog box that allows me to focus my sharpening energies on the luminance information inside the image.
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