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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.
All right, I have saved the result from the previous exercise as Saved selection.psd. It's found inside the 21_layer_FX folder and if you switch over to the Channels panel, you will see that we have a single channel called Alpha 1. In other words, all we have is an alpha channel separated from every other channel here inside of image. So just a floating alpha channel. What do we do with it? Well, it takes five steps to convert this image into a displacement map that we can use to distort the water droplets and here is how it works.
Step number one is to go up to the Image menu, choose mode, and choose Grayscale. Now this is not an essential step. It's just a really good idea. That converts this image from being an alpha channel which is fairly meaningless, an alpha channel by itself, to being a single channel grayscale image, and we saw a few examples of those back in chapter 18 when we were examining black and white and grayscale and all that jazz. So now this is a semi-normal image that we can save in a variety of different formats if we wanted to.
Step two is to expand the areas of black so that we are not distorting too much inside the image. So we are reducing the selected area and expanding the deselected area and you do that by going to the Filter menu, choosing Other, and choosing Minimum. So Minimum expands the regions covered by the minimum luminance level which is black. Maximum is the opposite. It expands regions covered by the maximum luminance level white. Anyway, notice Minimum, if you loaded DekeKeys, has a keyboard shortcut, because it's so darn useful for masking, of Shift+F12.
Anyway, I am going to go ahead and choose the command and here is the Radius value I want you to enter for this particular effect. It happens to work very well, 6 pixels. So we are just scooting the black areas outward by 6 pixels all the way around. Then click OK in order to accept that change. Now we need to create a blur between the black-and-white regions so that we have a soft transition right around the edges of the water. Remember how we want to refract that scene upward and over, and we want a little bit of curve around the edges? Well, a blur is going to help us achieve that curve.
So go up to the Filter menu once again, choose Blur, and choose Gaussian Blur, or If you loaded DekeKeys, you press Shift+F7. I think it's starting to make sense why I applied DekeKeys to the filters that I did. They are useful in a wide variety of different circumstances. The only one I've really missed come to think of it is Add Noise. That should one have a keyboard shortcut too. Maybe next time. Anyway, I want you to go ahead and enter a Radius value of 10 pixels. So almost twice as much as the value we assigned inside the Minimum filter.
So somewhere between one and half and twice as much. Anyway, for our purposes, 10 happens to work great, then click OK. Step number four is what we are on now. Go to the Image menu, choose Adjustments, and I want you to choose the Levels command, Ctrl+L, Cmd+L on the Mac. It's very important that you do not apply an adjustment layer. We need to be working with a static adjustment here. That way we are going to have a flat file. Photoshop's displace function as we will see likes a flat file. It requires one.
I want to take these black areas and turn them gray and leave the white areas white. So this is the rare use for Output Levels. Now I am going to change that black point value for Output Levels to 128, and I am going to leave everything else alone. So now we have these areas of gray that will not displace the pixels, that is, no distortion will occur. Then we have these areas of white that will displace the pixels. That is, distortion will occur. So having done that, that's all I am doing inside Levels dialog box, just changing that bottom left value here to 128.
Click OK, and we are now done. Go back to Layers panel, confirm that you just have one layer, very important. Go to File menu, choose Save As, or press Ctrl+Shift+S, Cmd+Shift+S on the Mac, and I am going to go ahead and call this guy Displacement map just so we can find it very easily. However, there will already be a file called displacement map inside the 21_layer_FX folder. So if you are working along with me, give your file a different name. Be sure to save it in a PSD format.
That's the only format that works. Even though I was telling you the great thing about grayscale is it's flexible with a lot of different file formats, the only one that works with what we are about to do is PSD, and otherwise, we don't care about these options. Make sure As a Copy is not on, but otherwise, we don't care. Then click Save, and you've now created a displacement map. Drum roll please! It's now time to apply our displacement map to the image at hand. Let's switch back to our image in progress. In my case, that's Alternative water.psd, and I am going to click on the surface layer right there, the bottom layer in the image, and I am going to press Ctrl+Alt+J or Cmd+Option+J in the Mac.
I am going to call this layer refraction, and I am going to click OK. So we are making a duplicate of that wood surface layer, calling it refraction. Without selecting anything, I am going to go up to the Filter menu, and I am going to choose Distort, and I am going to choose Displace, one of the wackiest, oldest filters inside of Photoshop. It brings up this wee little dialog box. It gives you no idea of what you are about to do. Horizontal Scale should be 0. That's very important for this effect, because we just want to distort the wood pattern upward.
You don't want to distort it to the left or to the right or anything like that. So Horizontal Scale, 0. Vertical Scale for this particular image should be 4. If your image is bigger than this, then you would want to raise the value. So you can experiment with it in order to get a sense, but we are basically going to distort the pixels upward as much as 4 pixels. So that would be the maximum. Then we want to Stretch To Fit, and we want to Repeat the Edge Pixels. Leave those guys alone. You don't need to change those options. So 0 and 4 is all we need to modify inside this dialog box.
Click OK, go ahead and navigate your way to the 21_layer_FX folder inside the Exercise Files folder. There you will find a file called Displacement map. I want you to go ahead and click on it. This tells Photoshop how much to displace the pixels. Click OK. Then wait a moment, and you will see the pixels inside the water droplets and only inside the water droplets pop upward. Let's go ahead and zoom in to 100% right here so you can see the difference. This is before, just a moment ago, and this is after.
Then notice that those drops move up. Now we still have a little bit of sloppiness where the pixels are distorting a little bit outside the water droplets. So what I am going to suggest is that you add a layer mask. You've already got the information you need to make it. Just Ctrl+Click or Cmd+Click on that droplets thumbnail right there in order to load this as a selection outline. Then make sure refraction is selected as it is, that refraction layer, drop down to the layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, click on it.
That will go ahead and settle down those areas outside of the water droplets. So you might have seen that little area inside of this non-droplet here, this revealed, go back downward to where it was before. Anyway, notice now, we have these little curling edges around the water droplets, flattens out on a top of the droplet and curls back downward again. Thanks to that Displacement map. That my friends, gives you a sense for the unbridled power of combining the good filters with the great layer effects here inside Photoshop.
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