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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.
In this exercise, I'm going to introduce you to what has to be the sexiest new feature in Photoshop CS4. Note that I'm calling it the sexiest feature, not the best feature because the best feature is just about anything else actually. This one is just really cool is what it comes down to. And when it works, it works brilliantly and when it doesn't work, it fails miserably, and I'll show you work around where that kind of stuff is concerned. It's not necessarily the kind of command that you are going to be using on a regular basis, but you definitely want to have it as part of your arsenal and you will see why in just a moment.
If you have never seen it before, just prepare to have your socks and mittens blown off your body. Even if you have seen it before, I think you are going to be terribly impressed by this example. It's as if this image was born to be Content Aware Scaled. Anyway, here is the idea. I have got this image called Tomales Bay, and it comes to us from a photographer named S. Greg Panosian of istockphoto.com. Now, let's say that we want to take this image which is currently a vertically formatted image. We want to turn it into a landscape. So I want to make it wider than it is tall. So let's say I were to do that just the standard image size where I were to just squish it. Why then I would duplicate the image first of course by going up to the Image menu and choosing the Duplicate command. And I'll just go ahead and call this Squishy or something like that, and then click OK. We have got a copy of the image.
Now, go up to the Image menu, choose Image Size, Ctrl+Alt+I, Command+Option+I on the Mac, and let's go ahead and change the size of this image. Notice that I have Constrain Proportions turned off, that check box right there. I want you to turn it off as well if you are working along with me, and then change the Width value to 2000 and the Height value to a mere 1000 pixels. So we'll make an image that's 2000 pixels wide, 1000 pixels tall, totally different than it is now and click OK. So now it becomes a landscape image just like that. Well, this looks terrible, and it looks like exactly what it is which is an image that's been totally squished.
Even the hills in the background look like they have been stretched and this tree looks stretched and this tree looks stretched, and everything looks totally wrong, and the post underneath this dock here, they look squished as well. And so it looks like an image that's being displayed at the wrong proportions, and you would never want this. This is not the effect you would want at all. Anyway, I'm going to return to the Tomales Bay.jpg image. Let's say what we want to do is we want to change it into a horizontally formatted landscape image. That looks good. That's credible, and the dock basically stays the same and the tree stays the same, and the hills stay more or less the same.
How would we accomplish that? What miracle tool would we use? Well, it would be Content Aware Scale. So let's see how that works. First of all, I'm going to have you convert this flat image into a layer, which is a very important step. Content-Aware Scale is dimmed by default. If you go up to the Edit menu, you will see, totally dimmed, because you either need a selection or you better yet, you need a layer. So we'll work with a layer. Go over to the Layers palette, double- click on the Background layer, and call it Dock or something along those lines and click OK. All right, now we have a floating independent layer.
Now I'm going to give myself some room to work by going up to the Image menu and choosing the Canvas Size command or pressing Ctrl+Alt+C, Command+Option+C on the Mac. I'm going to make the image 2000 pixels wide. We are going to change it to exactly the same physical size as that squished image we saw a moment ago. I will click on one of these left side chicklets here. We are not going to change the Height value for now. We'll come back to that. Click OK, and now we have got some room to work. Now, go up to the Edit menu and choose Content-Aware Scale and notice that it takes you into the special mode where you really can't do anything else inside the program. You can't even switch to Free Transform.
So it's not part of the Free Transform group, it's its own thing. I'll go ahead and turn this guy off. It's very important that for this example, Protect Skin Tones is turned off. Protect should be set to None as well, and everything else you just can ignore safely. I am going to reduce the height of this image, and notice as I do the dock is moving downward a little bit and that's because its reflection is getting a little bit truncated. But mostly what we are doing is reducing the size of this area of lake here in the middle, and the mountains on top, and notice now that we have these clouds, this fog is now rolling over this tree.
Where before, you can see that it was leaping over the tree just slightly. However, once we start making the image shorter like so, Photoshop is doing everything in its power not to squish that tree, and as a result, it's squishing the fog on top of the tree, which is pretty amazing. I actually have created a guideline, and let me see if I can go ahead and show it here by choosing the Guides command and sure enough there it is, awesome. And I'll go ahead and make this image just that high. That is the 1000 pixel mark inside of this image. So I wanted to mark it, so that we make the image the exact same height as the squished image that we saw in just a moment ago.
So we have lost almost none of the dock. Now, we have truncated the tree a little bit. It is shorter than it used to be. The mountains are definitely getting squished, but who would know. This fog is rolling in an unusual manner over that tree, it's definitely sticking over the tree. But I think maybe we can get away with that one. Now, I'm going to make the image wider as well. Now, watch what happens to the post on this dock. They move apart from each other as you can see, but the integrity of the dock itself remains intact.
So I'm just going to keep dragging this and hope that it keeps up with me, and hope that eventually goes in and redraws things on screen. This is a very computationally intense operation that we are performing here. So we can expect a few delays as we are working through this but check that out. I am going to go ahead and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to accept this transformation and it's very possible that you are going to see a progress bar that takes a while to complete. I'm not seeing a progress bar, I'm just seeing this darn useless little sort of equivalent of the beach ball of death over here under Windows, just not as colorful. But look at what we have managed to do here.
Now, I'm going to press Ctrl+Semicolon or Command+Semicolon on the Mac to hide that guideline. I'm going to go up to the Image menu, and I'm going to choose the Trim command which allows you to automatically trim away excess stuff. And it's set to automatically Trim Away Transparent Pixels, which is great. That's what we want to get rid of. So that we are just seeing the image like this and now, let's go ahead and Shift+Tab away those palettes. Let's go ahead and zoom in on this image. This is the Content-Aware Scale version of it. This is the squished version according to the Image Size command. The Image Size command rendered this completely redonkulous scene right here. I mean it's not the least bit credible.
Whereas, Content-Aware Scale gives us this. So we have fairly miraculously transformed what used to be a vertically formatted image into a horizontally formatted image. Amazing, what you can do with this command. But I'll tell you what, not everything is perfect. In the next exercise, we'll inspect what hasn't gone completely right. There are a few mistakes inside of this image, and how we go about correcting them.
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