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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.
If masks aren't the solution, what in the world is the solution? Well, the solution that I have had the most luck with is incremental modifications. So scale bits at a time, which goes against the grain, right. Normally, if we are applying standard scaling using the Free Transform command and we weren't working with the Smart Object, then I would never recommend that you scale 50% here and then scale back to 80% and then down the 20% or some lunacy like that, because you would make a mess of your image.
Whereas with Content-Aware Scaling, it turns out to work out pretty nicely and it has everything to do with the intelligence that's built into the command and to the fact that there really isn't all that much interpolation going on in the first place. And that brings a question by the way. You may wonder, well, if you are going to go that route, if you are going to scale a little bit at a time and if that works for you, why not go ahead and take this dock layer which by the way appears inside of this image called Bay with mask.psd? I have gone ahead and just reverted the image back to its previous appearance here. Why not go ahead and convert this layer to a Smart Object. That would be a great idea, right.
So go ahead and choose Convert to Smart Object from the Layer palette fly-out menu and then go over to the Edit menu and notice Content-Aware Scale is not an option. You cannot apply Content-Aware Scale to a Smart Object in Photoshop. So that's off limits and if you think about it wouldn't really do you any good either because it would just go ahead and concatenate your modifications which would ruin the effect that I'm about to show you. Go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo the creation of that Smart Object if you are working with me and then what I recommend you do is go up to the Edit menu, choose Content- Aware Scale and let's go ahead and make the image less tall like so. So shorter also is an option in terms of what I could add to my vocabulary and let's go ahead and make the dock wider. And you want to take it until you start seeing problems and notice right about here I see that this support is getting a jag in it.
I have gone ahead and created some guides for you inside of this image. I'll go up to the View menu, choose Show and choose Guides and you can see in addition to the 1000 pixel guideline right there which marks how tall I want the image to be. We have also got the vertical guideline at 1400 pixels and how do I know it's 1400 pixels? Because if I were to bring up my rulers by pressing Ctrl+R or Command+R on the Mac, there it is at 1400 and there is another one at 1800 and I'm going to go ahead and use them. I am going to go ahead and back off the width of the image to 1400 pixels.
So I'm not actually scaling it that much in that first round. I think it used to be about this wide or something along those lines. So I'm just making it slightly wider and that's because, I'm applying all of the vertical transformation in this round. So might as well take it easy on the horizontal transformation and that of course, also make sure that all of my details are holding up nicely inside the dock. There is my update. So this is how the image looks subject to Content- Aware Scale, which is not bad. We are having some issues with this cord right here that's hanging down from the dock but those are real. That's the way the thing looked in the first place. It was pretty choppy and the other choppy areas in the wood, those are natural as well. So we are not having any unnatural problems. Just the stuff that came with the image, which is just fine of course.
So I'm going to go ahead and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to accept that modification and notice, Protect is set to None. There is no sense in even bothering with those masks because they just really make a mess with things. All right, I'm going to go ahead and zoom out here and then I'm going to move over a little bit like so. Actually let's Shift+Tab away the palette, so I have more room to work and then I'll go back up to the Edit menu and choose Content-Aware Scale again. So I'm heaping one scaling on top of another. It is a destructive modification.
There is no kidding around that. And I'm the first guy to advocate a Non-Destructive Workflow, you've heard me do it for chapter after chapter and sing the praises of parametric modifications, but if they don't work, they don't work. If this is the better way to go, then this is the better way to go. All right, so I'm going to go ahead and stretch this guy to the next guideline at 1800 pixels and the dock is still holding up at that point. Too much farther than that and things start falling apart again. So press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac and of course, I came up with these guidelines through trial and error. I just try things out, saw it worked and then set it up, so that I could perform it for you.
All right, now I'll go up to the Edit menu, choose Content-Aware Scale for a third and final time and then go ahead and make the image the full width of my canvas. Press the Enter or Return key in order to accept that modification. Let's go ahead and hide those guidelines by pressing Ctrl+Semicolon or Command+Semicolon on the Mac. Hide the rulers by pressing Command+R or Ctrl+R, then I'm going to go up to the Image menu and choose Trim to get rid of that transparency at the top of the image. And now let's go ahead and zoom in and then just to make sure that all of my three images that I have opened here. Stretched dock.psd, and Squishy.jpg, those images that are also found inside the 29_new_tech folder. So make sure that they are all panned to the same location, because I want to see the bird that I'm missing over here on the left hand side.
I am going to press Shift+Spacebar at the same time and move the image over, so that I'm scaling all three open images at once. Even though I'm not seeing them, I'm scaling them altogether because I have that Shift key down. All right, there is our bird. We want to be able to see that guy. So let's look at the images in opposite order. Squishy right here, opposite order meaning the opposite order of the tabs up here at the top of the window. This is Squishy, which I created with the Image Size command. It's obviously not what we want. This is Stretched dock right here, which is the image that we created using one application of Content-Aware Scale and resulted in these wiggly supports and these strange undulations inside of the Xs and all these other weird striations that we are seeing here, the stressed out pixels.
Then finally here is the much better version of the dock where we don't really have any problems whatsoever whether the dock is concerned or the birds or this tree back here in the background or really with any of the detail. So all of the high contrast stuff is holding up beautifully. Now you may notice problems. If you look closely here, you will notice problems in the water on both sides of this post, things are getting pretty stretched out here. You may notice some strange undulations in the landscape. But otherwise things are holding up very, very nicely and I'm inclined to think that given the amount of work that I've put into this image, which is not much.
If we just look at this exercise on its own, I'm inclined to think that I can live with these patterning problems inside of the water and if I can't, I could use some cloning. There is a lot of different techniques that I can take advantage of. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to protect skin tones when working with Content-Aware Scale.
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