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Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced
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Applying custom Levels adjustments


From:

Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced

with Deke McClelland

Video: Applying custom Levels adjustments

In this exercise, I'll show you how to apply a custom levels adjustment to the composite image. Then in later exercises, we'll see how to adjust each channel independently. I'm working inside an image called Blended sundials.psd, found inside the 14_levels_curves folder. This is that image that that I shot in San Remy, complete with the three layers of Auto adjustment that I blended together to create what was supposedly the ideal color correction. We're actually going to do better than that this time around. So what I'd like you to do is click on the bottom Auto layer, Shift+click on the top one, and let's go ahead and combine them into a group by going to the Layers panel flyout menu and choosing New Group from layers.
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  1. 40m 2s
    1. Welcome
      2m 1s
    2. Making Photoshop your default image editor
      7m 43s
    3. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      8m 10s
    4. Remapping OS shortcuts
      7m 37s
    5. Installing the Best Workflow color settings
      4m 31s
    6. The color settings explained
      6m 54s
    7. Loading the CS5 color settings in Bridge
      3m 6s
  2. 1h 5m
    1. What you can do with Photoshop
      1m 46s
    2. The mission-critical eyes
      2m 44s
    3. Copy Merged and Paste in Place
      6m 52s
    4. Sharpening details to match
      4m 34s
    5. Masking eyes
      9m 22s
    6. Working with clipping-mask layers
      9m 5s
    7. Shading with layer effects
      8m 10s
    8. Color and highlight effects
      4m 2s
    9. Refining layer masks
      5m 43s
    10. Fabricating the highlights in the pupils
      7m 33s
    11. Using a merged copy to sharpen
      5m 34s
  3. 2h 14m
    1. Highlights, shadows, and midtones
      1m 16s
    2. Introducing the Auto commands
      7m 23s
    3. Adjusting Cache Level settings
      6m 8s
    4. Reading a channel-by-channel histogram
      6m 21s
    5. How the Auto commands work
      5m 22s
    6. Auto Tone, Auto Contrast, and Auto Color
      7m 7s
    7. Blending the Auto results
      4m 4s
    8. Introducing the Levels command
      6m 15s
    9. Using Levels as an adjustment layer
      3m 12s
    10. Applying custom Levels adjustments
      6m 8s
    11. Understanding the gamma value
      7m 39s
    12. The futility of Output Levels
      2m 56s
    13. Selections and adjustment layers
      5m 48s
    14. Opening up the shadows
      3m 40s
    15. Previewing clipped pixels
      4m 51s
    16. The black, white, and gray eyedroppers
      5m 7s
    17. Gray card tips and tricks
      6m 5s
    18. Making channel-by-channel adjustments
      7m 29s
    19. Introducing the Curves command
      7m 44s
    20. Curves dialog box tricks
      7m 16s
    21. Curves adjustment layer tricks
      5m 45s
    22. Correcting an image with Curves
      5m 32s
    23. Filling in the highlights
      5m 42s
    24. Neutralizing casts and smoothing transitions
      5m 37s
  4. 1h 46m
    1. The art of enhancing edges
      1m 26s
    2. How sharpening works
      6m 2s
    3. The single-shot sharpeners
      6m 7s
    4. Introducing Unsharp Mask
      6m 19s
    5. Radius and Threshold
      6m 24s
    6. Sharpening colors vs. luminosity
      5m 56s
    7. Gauging the ideal settings
      8m 59s
    8. Unsharp Mask vs. Smart Sharpen
      7m 1s
    9. Using the Remove settings
      9m 30s
    10. The More Accurate checkbox
      6m 8s
    11. Saving your Smart Filter settings
      5m 31s
    12. The Advanced sharpening settings
      7m 52s
    13. Accounting for camera shake
      6m 18s
    14. Sharpening with the Emboss filter
      6m 43s
    15. Sharpening with High Pass
      9m 23s
    16. The new and improved Sharpen tool
      6m 22s
  5. 1h 34m
    1. Edge's evil twin: noise
      1m 12s
    2. Color vs. luminance noise
      7m 21s
    3. Reducing color noise
      7m 45s
    4. Reducing luminance noise
      4m 59s
    5. Relegating an effect to the shadows
      6m 27s
    6. Switching between layer and mask
      6m 59s
    7. The Dust & Scratches filter
      4m 56s
    8. Adjusting shadow saturation
      5m 52s
    9. Combining High Pass with Lens Blur
      6m 57s
    10. Masking a layer of Lens Blur
      7m 34s
    11. Painting away High Pass sharpening
      8m 22s
    12. Building up a noise pattern
      6m 40s
    13. Converting noise to texture
      4m 24s
    14. Bleeding colors into paper
      6m 16s
    15. Matching different noise levels
      8m 31s
  6. 1h 32m
    1. We are the stuff of light
      1m 24s
    2. Applying automatic lens correction
      5m 53s
    3. Introducing Shadows/Highlights
      3m 44s
    4. Shadows/Highlights in depth
      7m 59s
    5. Creating a "bounce" with Gaussian Blur
      4m 43s
    6. Sharpening on top of blur
      7m 3s
    7. Sharpening the merged composition
      6m 16s
    8. Grouping and masking layers
      5m 40s
    9. Adjusting the density of a mask
      7m 14s
    10. Creating a Shadows/Highlights shortcut
      5m 47s
    11. Restoring detail with Shadows/Highlights
      6m 23s
    12. Changing the Shadows/Highlights defaults
      6m 21s
    13. Smoothing skin details with Gaussian Blur
      3m 56s
    14. Smoothing with High Pass
      5m 44s
    15. Lowering contrast with Gaussian Blur
      7m 4s
    16. Inverting a sharpening effect
      7m 5s
  7. 2h 32m
    1. Color becomes monochrome
      1m 31s
    2. Converting an image to grayscale
      6m 49s
    3. Extracting luminance information
      7m 37s
    4. Introducing the Channel Mixer
      10m 23s
    5. Aggressive channel mixing
      9m 42s
    6. Proofing CMYK colors
      7m 49s
    7. Color settings and intent
      7m 6s
    8. Practical Channel Mixer variations
      4m 30s
    9. Saving variations as layer comps
      7m 57s
    10. The default grayscale recipe
      8m 55s
    11. Creating a custom black-and-white mix
      6m 59s
    12. Shadows/Highlights in black and white
      4m 58s
    13. Introducing the Black & White command
      5m 55s
    14. Adjusting Black & White settings
      9m 39s
    15. Mixing a Black & White portrait
      6m 32s
    16. Black & White vs. Channel Mixer
      9m 21s
    17. Adding tint and color
      8m 0s
    18. Introducing the Gradient Map
      7m 10s
    19. Loading custom gradients
      4m 32s
    20. Editing gradient color stops
      9m 58s
    21. Colorizing with blend modes and Opacity
      7m 13s
  8. 2h 10m
    1. Two great commands working great together
      1m 18s
    2. Introducing the Color Range command
      5m 13s
    3. Setting key colors and Fuzziness
      5m 38s
    4. Predefined vs. sampled colors
      3m 57s
    5. The Localized Color Clusters option
      5m 41s
    6. Defining a selection with care
      4m 44s
    7. Introducing the Quick Mask mode
      5m 20s
    8. Testing edges with the Magic Wand
      5m 14s
    9. Hand-brushing a selection
      5m 39s
    10. Saving and loading an alpha channel
      4m 35s
    11. Converting a selection to a layer mask
      2m 46s
    12. Switching between an image and a layer mask
      6m 58s
    13. Protecting elements with a layer mask
      8m 5s
    14. Duplicating and editing a layer mask
      7m 34s
    15. Introducing the Refine Edge command
      4m 46s
    16. Accessing the various Refine Edge options
      5m 35s
    17. Refine Edge's preview options
      6m 21s
    18. The Adjust Edge values
      4m 11s
    19. Edge Detection and Smart Radius
      6m 5s
    20. Using the Refine Radius tool
      8m 8s
    21. Using the Decontaminate Colors option
      7m 30s
    22. Old-school masking adjustments
      7m 7s
    23. Four micro mask adjustments
      8m 33s
  9. 3h 13m
    1. Photoshop's vector exceptions
      1m 11s
    2. Making text in Photoshop
      6m 18s
    3. Creating and editing a text layer
      6m 56s
    4. Font and type style
      7m 35s
    5. Type size and color
      7m 52s
    6. Combining layer effects and type
      10m 57s
    7. Drawing a custom shape layer
      8m 34s
    8. Side bearing, kerning, and tracking
      10m 36s
    9. Point text vs. area text
      8m 26s
    10. Selecting and formatting a paragraph
      5m 19s
    11. Copying and pasting unformatted text
      7m 45s
    12. Creating text inside a custom path
      6m 26s
    13. Creating text along a path
      8m 13s
    14. Adjusting baseline shift
      6m 16s
    15. Drawing a fading arrowhead
      7m 29s
    16. Fading a shadow with a layer
      5m 32s
    17. Logo creation and Fill Opacity
      7m 44s
    18. Stretching a background element
      6m 9s
    19. Drawing with shape outlines
      6m 18s
    20. Combining vector-based shapes
      6m 42s
    21. Masking vector-based shape layers
      6m 7s
    22. Correcting spacing problems
      7m 44s
    23. Drawing the ultimate specular sparkle
      8m 45s
    24. Preparing text for commercial output
      5m 9s
    25. Saving a high-resolution PDF file
      7m 11s
    26. Inspecting the final PDF document
      7m 8s
    27. Saving large poster art
      9m 32s
  10. 2h 36m
    1. What filters ought to be
      1m 25s
    2. Layer effects vs. filters
      6m 14s
    3. Carving with an Inner Shadow effect
      7m 45s
    4. Selling an effect with Drop Shadow
      7m 17s
    5. Creating blurry shadow type
      5m 30s
    6. Saving custom default settings
      6m 22s
    7. Creating a custom contour
      7m 3s
    8. Introducing Bevel and Emboss
      7m 35s
    9. Adjusting Angle and Altitude
      7m 8s
    10. Exploiting global light
      8m 11s
    11. Gloss and edge contour
      5m 8s
    12. Applying and creating layer styles
      6m 45s
    13. Loading, saving, and merging styles
      6m 17s
    14. Creating a textured bevel effect
      6m 56s
    15. Using shadows as highlights
      7m 39s
    16. Combining filters and effects
      6m 58s
    17. Working with random effects
      6m 55s
    18. Smoothing with Gaussian Blur and Levels
      6m 13s
    19. Masking blacks from whites
      4m 37s
    20. Applying liquid styles
      4m 36s
    21. Simulating liquid reflections
      8m 12s
    22. Finessing and cropping a liquid effect
      7m 25s
    23. Initiating a displacement map
      6m 17s
    24. Applying a displacement map
      7m 37s
  11. 1h 12m
    1. Two words: Free Transform
      34s
    2. Scale, rotate, and constrain
      6m 30s
    3. Using the transformation origin
      7m 42s
    4. Applying a slant (aka skew)
      3m 37s
    5. The four-point "perspective" distortion
      7m 51s
    6. Two ways to make gradient text
      5m 59s
    7. Building complexity from a simple shape
      4m 42s
    8. Duplicating a series of transformations
      6m 3s
    9. Rasterizing a layer with its effects
      6m 41s
    10. Applying a custom warp
      7m 24s
    11. Blending and softening a warped layer
      4m 39s
    12. Creating spherical highlights
      6m 30s
    13. Using a center-source inner glow
      3m 51s
  12. 2h 42m
    1. Distorting reality
      1m 33s
    2. Extracting a foreground element
      6m 45s
    3. Introducing the Puppet Warp command
      7m 20s
    4. Setting and manipulating pins
      7m 48s
    5. Rotating pins and switching warp modes
      6m 41s
    6. Expanding and contracting the mesh
      6m 11s
    7. Changing the Density setting
      8m 0s
    8. Adjusting the pin depth
      5m 18s
    9. Winding an image into a pretzel
      6m 2s
    10. Applying Puppet Warp to type
      6m 30s
    11. Warping single characters
      6m 25s
    12. Editing puppet-warped text
      8m 24s
    13. Extending an image with Free Transform
      8m 46s
    14. Extracting from a white background
      10m 5s
    15. Tracing a shape with Puppet Warp
      9m 1s
    16. Introducing the Liquify command
      5m 4s
    17. Warp, Twirl, Pucker, and Bloat
      8m 53s
    18. Saving and loading a mesh
      5m 59s
    19. Push, Mirror, and Turbulence
      11m 49s
    20. Lifting and slimming details
      8m 22s
    21. Warping fabric, arms, and legs
      7m 1s
    22. Masking and finessing the results
      10m 8s
  13. 3h 3m
    1. Welcome to the digital darkroom
      1m 44s
    2. Introducing Camera Raw
      7m 40s
    3. Adjusting white balance
      7m 0s
    4. Selecting and synchronizing images
      6m 9s
    5. Making automatic adjustments and saving changes
      7m 19s
    6. Creating and managing snapshots
      8m 23s
    7. Adjusting the Exposure value
      6m 24s
    8. Working with clipping warnings
      5m 5s
    9. Adjusting Brightness and Contrast
      7m 35s
    10. Vibrance, Saturation, and Clarity
      9m 25s
    11. Recovery and Fill Light
      6m 57s
    12. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      7m 2s
    13. Painting edits with the Adjustment Brush
      9m 44s
    14. Straighten, crop, and geometric distortions
      7m 49s
    15. Applying manual lens corrections
      7m 19s
    16. Vignette and chromatic aberrations
      6m 21s
    17. Introducing the Tone Curves
      6m 9s
    18. Parametric curves and targeted adjustments
      6m 26s
    19. Correcting a low-noise photograph
      7m 35s
    20. Sharpening and high-noise photos
      8m 25s
    21. Selective Hue/Saturation adjustments
      5m 34s
    22. Selective Luminance adjustments
      5m 39s
    23. Adding grain and vignetting effects
      5m 23s
    24. Mixing a subjective black-and-white image
      7m 53s
    25. Colorizing with the Split Toning options
      4m 29s
    26. Opening a raw image as a Smart Object
      5m 39s
    27. Camera Raw wrap-up
      8m 38s
  14. 55s
    1. Until next time
      55s

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Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced
26h 24m Intermediate Aug 13, 2010 Updated Aug 31, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Using blend modes, adjustment layers, and layer styles
  • Organizing a layered composition so it is fluid and editable
  • Creating and editing type in Photoshop
  • Using blur effectively
  • Using adjustment layers to add color
  • Combining layers into a clipping mask
  • Working with Camera Raw
Subjects:
Design Photography
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Deke McClelland

Applying custom Levels adjustments

In this exercise, I'll show you how to apply a custom levels adjustment to the composite image. Then in later exercises, we'll see how to adjust each channel independently. I'm working inside an image called Blended sundials.psd, found inside the 14_levels_curves folder. This is that image that that I shot in San Remy, complete with the three layers of Auto adjustment that I blended together to create what was supposedly the ideal color correction. We're actually going to do better than that this time around. So what I'd like you to do is click on the bottom Auto layer, Shift+click on the top one, and let's go ahead and combine them into a group by going to the Layers panel flyout menu and choosing New Group from layers.

I'm going to call them the auto adjustments, like so, and then click OK. Then I'm going to turn that group off. So what we're doing is we're returning to the original dim photograph. Now I'll go ahead and click on the Background layer to make it active. The easiest way to create a new Adjustment layer is, if you loaded my dekeKeys, just press Ctrl+Shift+L or Command+Shift+L on the Mac. But for those of you who declined to load dekeKeys or couldn't load it for whatever reason, let me show you how to create that keyboard shortcut on your own, because I think you will find it incredibly useful.

Go up to the Edit menu and choose the Keyboard Shortcuts command. Then your Set would probably be something like Photoshop Defaults or something else that you've created. Next, go ahead and change your Shortcuts For option to panel menus. That's the simplest way to work. Twirl open the Adjustments item right there and scroll your way down until you see these items, Levels and Curves and so on. What I recommend for Levels is Ctrl+Shift+L, Command+Shift+L on the Mac. Now, you'll get a warning that says, this is already in use for Image > Auto Tone.

What I would suggest you do is say, who cares, click on the Accept button and you've changed that keyboard shortcut, because after all a customizable adjustment layer is much more valuable to you than the Auto Tone command. Then go ahead and click on Curves, if you want to follow my advice here, and press Ctrl+Shift+M, Command+Shift+M on the Mac, because Ctrl+M or Command+M is the standard keyboard shortcut for the Curves command, adding Shift will get you the Adjustment layer. Then let's scroll down a little farther here. I'll take it down so that we can see Hue/Saturation. What I recommend for this command, and it's also going to provoke an alert message, is Ctrl+Shift+U or Command+Shift+U, because Ctrl+U or Command+U is Hue/Saturation, Add Shift for the Adjustment layer.

That's going to remove that shortcut from the Desaturate command. Again, big deal, when you need that command, because it is a static adjustment, you can go ahead and choose it manually. Then finally, for Black & White here, I recommend yet another keyboard shortcut. This time press Ctrl+Shift+B or Command+Shift+B on the Mac, and you'll be warned that you're going to swipe this keyboard shortcut from the Auto Color command. Yea! That sounds great to me. I'll go ahead and click on the Accept button. Then you would go ahead and click on the little floppy disk in order to save your custom keyboard shortcuts.

Anyway, I'm just going to Cancel out, because I've already selected dekeKeys in the past. Now, I'll press Ctrl+Shift+L, Command+Shift+L on the Mac. That reveals the Adjustments panel. It goes ahead and clicks automatically for me on the Levels icon, and it brings up the New layer dialog box, which I'm going to call custom levels , like so. Then I'll click OK in order to create the New layer. Now notice what we have here. We've got the big old Histogram, which stretches, as you may recall from our discussion of the Histogram back in Chapter 7, of the Fundamentals portion of this series, it stretches from black over here in the far left side, to white, over here in the far right side.

So your Shadows are in this general region, your Highlights are over in this general region, and your Midtones are in between. Now, notice we also have three slider triangles here; one for the black point, one for the white point, and one for the so-called gamma value in between. We'll investigate what gamma means in the next exercise, but for now we're going to adjust these black and white points. Now, if you take this black point over to the right, what you're doing, and notice that value is tracked numerically inside this first field, what that does is it says, any luminance level from this point to the left is going to be clipped to black and the rest of the Histogram is going to be stretched out in between.

So in my case I'm saying, any luminance value of 46 or lower, and remember that 0 is black, 255 is white, anything with a luminance level of 46 or lower is going to be clipped to black. Well, in our case we really don't want to clip anything to black, because we already had good Shadows, as witnessed by this Histogram here. It already touches the left hand side of the graph. So we must be in pretty good shape. Now, I could go ahead and clip just a few of those Shadows, if we wanted to punch the Shadow detail inside the image, but our Shadows are currently a little bit overly dark, because of this bright light source and also this shallow awning that's casting a very dark shadow.

So I would go ahead and leave the black point value set to 0. The adjustment that this image really needs is a white point adjustment. So notice that this Histogram there ends right at about this location. Well, that's where the white point ought to be. So go ahead and drag that white point over to the end of the mountain range is what I'd suggest. I recommend you even take it in a little farther, so just a little bit into the foot of that mountain right there. I'm looking for a value, if you're following along with me, of 194.

So in that case, I'm saying anything with the luminance level of 194 or brighter becomes white inside of this image. What I just applied, by the way, is identical to an Auto Contrast adjustment. This is what Auto Contrast would do. It would go ahead and yank the black point over to the beginning of the Histogram and then yank the white point over to the end of the Histogram, and that's all it does. It doesn't do anything else. So what we're seeing here is our own handcrafted Auto Contrast adjustment, which may seem like a colossal waste of time, because we could have just chosen the Auto Contrast command.

Well, in the next exercise, you'll see how it's an ideal starting point as we further modify the brightness of the image using the gamma value.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced.


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Q: The instructions for installing the dekeKeys don't work on my computer (which is running Mac OS X Lion). Is there an update to these?
A: The dekeKeys distributed with this course will still work for Lion. You just need to add them to a slightly different folder than in previous versions of OS X.

Open a new Finder window and choose Go > Go to Folder. Type the following file path exactly as written below. Copying and pasting may result in an error.

~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Presets/Keyboard Shortcuts

Move and/or copy/paste the dekeKeys to this folder and follow the rest of the instructions as outlined in the video, "Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts."
 
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