Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery
Illustration by

Assembling a layered ACR composition


Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery

with Deke McClelland

Video: Assembling a layered ACR composition

All right, so I have a few photographer friends of mine who will every once and while sort of suggest that Photoshop is becoming a little less useful. And particularly where something like Camera Raw Smart Objects are concerned. Why would you take advantage of those? Why would you bring a Camera Raw image into Photoshop and then still need access to Camera Raw? You would have divorced yourself from Camera Raw if you're coming into Photoshop or you would keep that lifeline to Camera Raw from the Bridge and I already showed you how useful that can be when we discussed Camera Raw at links in a previous chapter.
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 21m 20s
    1. Welcome
      1m 21s
    2. Installing the DekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      5m 38s
    3. Resetting the Function keys on a Mac
      3m 51s
    4. Installing the CS4 color settings
      4m 37s
    5. Setting up the CS4 color settings
      5m 53s
  2. 2h 31m
    1. Introduction to masking
    2. Introducing color range
      4m 22s
    3. Adding base colors and adjusting fuzziness
      4m 46s
    4. Localized color clusters
      6m 12s
    5. The Quick Mask mode
      7m 33s
    6. Viewing a quick mask by itself
      6m 40s
    7. Testing the quality of edges
      3m 55s
    8. Introducing the Masks palette
      7m 45s
    9. Editing a layer mask
      6m 18s
    10. Choking a mask with Gaussian Blur and Levels
      6m 44s
    11. Choking a mask with Mask Edge
      7m 43s
    12. Adding a Gradient Overlay shadow
      4m 23s
    13. Using live Density and Feather
      6m 12s
    14. Journeyman masking
      5m 44s
    15. Creating an alpha channel
      7m 6s
    16. Increasing contrast
      7m 15s
    17. Overlay painting
      8m 28s
    18. Cleaning up whites and blacks
      5m 48s
    19. Soft light painting
      5m 47s
    20. Selecting in style
      6m 55s
    21. Employing masks as selections
      5m 2s
    22. Scaling and compositing layers
      6m 30s
    23. Compositing glass
      5m 10s
    24. Selecting glass highlights
      8m 41s
    25. Working with found masks
      5m 46s
  3. 1h 34m
    1. Introduction to vector-based shapes
      1m 10s
    2. Vector-based type outlines
      7m 23s
    3. The benefits of vectors
      6m 27s
    4. Upsampling vs. nondestructive scaling
      7m 35s
    5. Vectors and effects
      8m 7s
    6. Fill Opacity and clipped layers
      4m 24s
    7. Basic shape creation
      3m 15s
    8. Drawing interacting shapes
      6m 21s
    9. Power-duplicating paths
      3m 12s
    10. Combining pixels and vector masks
      5m 19s
    11. Line tool and layer attributes
      7m 5s
    12. Copying and pasting path outlines
      3m 28s
    13. Drawing custom shapes
      3m 59s
    14. Drawing with the Pen tool
      7m 48s
    15. Creating cusp points
      7m 28s
    16. Defining a custom shape
      3m 34s
    17. Assigning a vector mask to an image
      2m 38s
    18. Adding a vector object to a composition
      5m 40s
  4. 1h 24m
    1. Introduction to Vanishing Point
      1m 11s
    2. Creating and saving the first plane
      8m 9s
    3. Creating perpendicular planes
      5m 16s
    4. Healing in perspective
      8m 47s
    5. Cloning and scaling in perspective
      8m 34s
    6. Patching an irregularly shaped area
      6m 59s
    7. Healing between planes
      3m 35s
    8. Importing an image into a 3D scene
      5m 46s
    9. Adding perspective type
      5m 37s
    10. Removing and matching perspective
      5m 36s
    11. Applying a reflection in perspective
      5m 1s
    12. Creating a perspective gradient
      6m 11s
    13. Converting a gradient to a mask
      2m 58s
    14. Swinging planes to custom angles
      4m 32s
    15. Wrapping art around multiple surfaces
      5m 49s
  5. 1h 15m
    1. Introduction to Smart Objects
    2. Placing a Smart Object
      5m 7s
    3. Saving a PDF-compatible AI file
      4m 27s
    4. Performing nondestructive transformations
      6m 8s
    5. Editing a Smart Object in Illustrator
      6m 50s
    6. Converting an image to a Smart Object
      6m 50s
    7. Cloning Smart Objects
      5m 24s
    8. Creating a multilayer Smart Object
      5m 51s
    9. Updating multiple instances at once
      2m 55s
    10. Creating a Camera Raw Smart Object
      4m 17s
    11. Editing a Camera Raw Smart Object
      3m 25s
    12. Assembling a layered ACR composition
      5m 55s
    13. Using an ACR Smart Object to effect
      3m 41s
    14. Blending multiple ACR portraits
      6m 56s
    15. Live type that inverts everything behind it
      6m 33s
  6. 1h 48m
    1. Introducing nondestructive Smart Filters
    2. Applying a Smart Filter
      4m 22s
    3. Adjusting filter and blend settings
      4m 25s
    4. Heaping on the Smart Filters
      5m 19s
    5. Smart Filter stacking order
      7m 23s
    6. Resolution and Smart Filter radius
      6m 12s
    7. Masking Smart Filters
      4m 42s
    8. Employing nested Smart Objects
      5m 5s
    9. Dragging and dropping Smart Filters
      6m 31s
    10. Using the Shadows/Highlights filter
      5m 53s
    11. Regaining access to the pixels
      7m 8s
    12. Parametric wonderland
      5m 52s
    13. Working with the Filter Gallery
      6m 28s
    14. Freeform filter jam
      5m 52s
    15. Swapping filters from the Filter Gallery
      3m 45s
    16. Mixing all varieties of parametric effects
      7m 30s
    17. Addressing a few Smart Filter bugs
      3m 11s
    18. Applying a Smart Filter to live type
      5m 30s
    19. Choking letters with Maximum
      3m 7s
    20. Duplicating a Smart Filter
      2m 38s
    21. Enhancing a filter with a layer effect
      6m 30s
  7. 1h 6m
    1. Introduction to Auto-Align, Auto-Blend, and Photomerge
      1m 2s
    2. Merging two shots into one
      3m 49s
    3. Applying Auto-Align layers
      3m 44s
    4. Masking images into a common scene
      1m 39s
    5. Auto-Align plus Auto-Blend
      8m 11s
    6. Assigning weighted Opacity values
      4m 7s
    7. Employing a Difference mask
      7m 17s
    8. Masking smarter, not harder
      3m 53s
    9. Capturing multiple depths of field
      3m 37s
    10. Auto-blending real focus
      8m 31s
    11. Creating a panorama with Photomerge
      7m 27s
    12. Correcting a seamless panorama
      4m 52s
    13. An altogether nondestructive Lab correction
      7m 59s
  8. 1h 44m
    1. Introduction to new CS4 technologies
      1m 1s
    2. Applying Content-Aware Scale
      7m 18s
    3. What works and what doesn't with Content-Aware Scale
      4m 19s
    4. Protecting areas with masks
      7m 31s
    5. Applying incremental edits
      7m 6s
    6. Protecting skin tones
      7m 12s
    7. Scaling around a model with TLC
      9m 0s
    8. Adjusting the scale threshold
      5m 22s
    9. When Content-Aware Scale fails
      4m 2s
    10. Creating a lens distortion effect
      8m 39s
    11. Layer masking the family
      11m 44s
    12. Installing the Pixel Bender
      3m 43s
    13. Introducing Pixel Bender kernels
      6m 50s
    14. Pixel Bender kernel roundup
      7m 24s
    15. Tube View and Ripple Blocks
      3m 58s
    16. Making a seamless pattern with Kaleidoscope
      6m 13s
    17. Introducing the Pixel Bender Toolkit
      3m 24s
  9. 1h 20m
    1. Introduction to actions
    2. Creating an action
      5m 45s
    3. Recording operations
      5m 12s
    4. Reviewing and editing an action
      4m 45s
    5. Playing an action (the Button Mode)
      4m 51s
    6. Saving and loading actions
      5m 0s
    7. Copying and modifying an action
      4m 8s
    8. Permitting the user to change settings
      5m 50s
    9. The Best Chrome Effect Ever II
      3m 41s
    10. Recording a fail-safe action
      7m 33s
    11. Rounding corners with a mask
      4m 33s
    12. Cleaning up layers
      3m 52s
    13. Automating layer effects
      7m 1s
    14. Applying chrome with Gradient Map
      6m 24s
    15. Action anomalies
      4m 11s
    16. Rendering effects to layers
      5m 1s
    17. Testing that it works
      2m 0s
  10. 1m 14s
    1. See ya
      1m 14s

Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.

Start Your Free Trial Now
please wait ...
Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery
13h 7m Advanced May 29, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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 Online Training Library®.

Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.

Topics include:
  • Defining the essentials of masking
  • Resizing images with content-aware scaling
  • Adjusting perspective with Vanishing Point
  • Applying Smart Filters to create complex effects
  • Using the Auto-Align tool to build composite images
Design Photography
Deke McClelland

Assembling a layered ACR composition

All right, so I have a few photographer friends of mine who will every once and while sort of suggest that Photoshop is becoming a little less useful. And particularly where something like Camera Raw Smart Objects are concerned. Why would you take advantage of those? Why would you bring a Camera Raw image into Photoshop and then still need access to Camera Raw? You would have divorced yourself from Camera Raw if you're coming into Photoshop or you would keep that lifeline to Camera Raw from the Bridge and I already showed you how useful that can be when we discussed Camera Raw at links in a previous chapter.

Well, I'm going to tell you something else. Photoshop is a compositional program; we've established that I think. And if you're creating a composition that's based on a Camera Raw Image, you may find it terribly, terribly useful to retain that thread, that connection to Camera Raw, and that's what we're going to see right now. Over the course of these two exercises, this one and the next one, I'm going to show you how very, very useful that can be. So in this exercise, we're going to assemble a fantastic layered composition and then in the next exercise we'll see how great it is that we can still access Camera Raw.

All right, so I'm creating some Album art, let's say for my guys in Pennsylvania, The Jellybricks. We do some things together, every once and while, they've got their own gig going on over there, wonderful band. And so I've got this image open called Album art.psd and it doesn't look like album art yet but it will. And I've saved a few steps that I'm going to work through with you here. That is to say I've set up a few layers and I've got some alpha channels at my disposal as well. That will help me magically assemble this composition in front of you. All right, so notice that my Camera Raw Smart Object is called canyon right, what canyon right? Well you'll see. All right, so I'm going to go over to the Channels palette and I've got this channel down here called keep. I want you to Ctrl-click on that channel or Command- click on it on the Mac in order to load that channel as the selection outline.

Then I'm going to return to the Layers palette and with canyon right active, I'm going to click on my Layer Mask icon right there in order to add a layer mask. So we're just cutting off that portion. Let's go ahead and zoom out a little bit here. I'm cutting off this bottom portion of the layer. Now I don't want all this transparency exposed, for whatever reason. Let's just say I want to cover it up. So I'm going to throw on a background layer. And making a background layer kind of weird. Anyway, I'll click on this little Page icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. Then I'll go up to the Layer menu, choose New and choose Background from Layer. Just byzantine, but that's the way it works in Photoshop. And now we have a new background layer, fine.

I'll create a mirror image of this canyon right layer right here, and I'm going to call it canyon left. All right, so I'm going to press Ctrl+ Alt+J, Command+Option+J on the Mac and I'll call this layer canyon left, like so. Click OK. There it is. All right, now notice by the way, this is really great, a new thing in Photoshop CS4 that basically solves an old problem. You can now link your layer mask to your Smart Object and that's a fantastic thing and it's linked by default. That way if you decide to move, either your image or your mask, you're going to move both of them together, which is very important. So I just Ctrl+Dragged or Command+Dragged that rock down a little bit.

Now I'm going to press Ctrl+T or Command+T on the Mac in order to enter the Free Transform mode. I'm going to go ahead and right click and choose Flip Vertical in order to flip the image upside down like so, good and then I'll press the Enter or Return key in order to accept that modification. And then, let's go ahead and drag this guy up. I'm Ctrl+Dragging of course or Command+Dragging on the Mac and I'm going to go ahead and zoom in to the point that I can see that seam because I want to make sure we get these guys right tied together. So I'm pressing Ctrl+ Up Arrow until the two fuse together at 100% so that I can make sure there is not a single pixel in between.

Okay, groovy. Now I'm going to move canyon left below canyon right like so, so that they make a little more sense. All right, now what? Why in the world are they canyon right and canyon left? Well, we're not looking at them, at the right orientation. So what we're going to do is we're going to go up to the Image menu, choose Image Rotation and then choose 90 degree CW in order to rotate the image clockwise like so. So it's going to look like sort of this big wacky pinecone or something along those lines or a walnut, looks delightful I think actually.

Now it needs to be cropped to the size of an album cover, so we'll go back to the Channels palette and notice that I have this channel called Crop right there. Ctrl-click on it or Command- click on it on the Mac and then go up to the Image menu and choose the Crop Command. Now before I do that, let's go back to the Layers palette for a second. Normally, when you go up to the Image menu, and you choose the Crop command, you're cutting away everything outside of the marquee. You're actually completely deleting it on all layers. The reason you can afford to get away with this where Camera Raw Smart Objects are concerned is because you can't crop the original Camera Raw data, you just can't.

That's a really great thing. That makes Crop that much more powerful. Now you're going to crop away the contents of the masks but you know, who cares, it's going really going to hurt anything. And of course, if you loaded Deke keys you have keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Shift+Alt+C or Command+Shift+Option+C on a Mac. Now we've gone ahead and cropped this image to these proportions right here, a nice square of course, which works nicely as an album cover. Then I'm going to turn on these other layers. We've got this yellowish gradient down at the bottom of the composition and a bluish gradient up at the top of the composition.

And then we have the name of the band up here at the top and the name of the album, their breakout album, Legendary Clam. Just a suggestion on my part, I think this album would rock. And we now have the base composition all right ready to go. Now where in the world, does Camera Raw entered to the equation? So what, you got this cool, weird thing going on here, but why would you need to reference Camera Raw at this point. You'll see why, in the next exercise.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery .

Expand all | Collapse all
please wait ...
Q: My Polygon tool is locked into a very small size. I can use the Transform tool to increase it's size once drawn, but I must have something set that will not allow me to freely draw it like I can the other shapes. What could be causing this problem?
A: This could be caused by a value associated with the Radius option of the tool. Click the down-pointing arrowhead to the right (a few tool icons over) from the Polygon tool in the options bar at the top of the screen. This brings up pop-up panel. If the Radius option has a number value, select that value and press Delete or Backspace to clear it out. That should fix the problem.
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.

Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.