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Photoshop is one of the world’s most powerful image editors, and it can be daunting to try to use skillfully. Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, 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 CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise, we're going to create a slightly more involved layer comp, so that you can get a sense of just how wonderful it is, that you can save out appearances, blend modes, and Opacity values and all that jazz, differentlayer effects, using layer comps, it's a very, very powerful feature. I've gone ahead and saved my progress so far. It's the document called Ten little layer comps.psd, and it's so called of course because I do have ten little layer comps. You can see right here that this latest sort of strangely named Layer Comp Talk bubble has indeed been saved along with the file.
I'm not suggesting that every time you make a layer comp you go ahead and choose the Save As command and save it as a separate image, because that would defeat the purpose. That's what we had to do in the old days before layer comps. If you wanted to save different layered states, then you would have to actually save those as separate files and you would garbage up your hard drive, because layered documents are so ginormous. But thanks to the advent of layer comps, that means that you can save different versions of a single layered composition inside of that single layered composition. So you're really saving multiple variations on your artwork, if you will.
Of course, all of your variations are parametric; no pixel level modifications. We'll discuss some more limitations associated with layer comps in the next ever so helpful exercise. I'm going to make my Layer Comps palette tiny again; I'm going to collapse it there. I'm going to twirl open Emperor Scratch, this group right there, that's very close to the top of the Layers palette, and you'll see that we have duckbill, which, hadrosaurs are informally called duckbill dinosaurs, because they look exactly like ducks after all. Then we also have teeth and hands; these hyper-realistically rendered hands on my part, photo-realistic teeth as well, so it's all highly realistic. Well, not so much. We're going to enhance the realism using some Layer Effects.
So I'm going to start by expanding right here the duckbill. We haven't gone into much detail about Layer Effects yet. We will, as I say, we're going to have an entire chapter devoted to these very, very useful functions. But I've gone ahead and created them in advance. You could create them on the fly, let's say if this was the real world and you were really for real working through a real layered composition in the realm of reality, then you would heap on everyone of these, and you'd probably start off with Bevel and Emboss. I'm just going to click in front of it. So that gives the dinosaur skull some cartoon depth. Also, it kind of makes it look like the screen is bouncing onto him. It's highlighting the dinosaur.
Then I went ahead and added a little bit of a Gradient Overlay in order to darken him up and make him seriously sinister, you can see. Then I wanted him to look like he is being lit sort of greenish by the glow at the ginormous cathode-ray tube or whatever this thing is. I did that by adding this Inner Glow Effect right there, and you can see he is turning slightly green, so that he looks like he is like in his evil laboratory right now. Awesome! Then I'll go ahead and hide the effects so that we have more room to work.
Let's go to the teeth. Right now they don't look very scary; they look like they're cut out of construction paper. So let's add some Bevel and Emboss to give it a nice Bevel. Next, I want to add a little bit of edge shading around the teeth, and I'll do that using an Inner Glow, and you can see how effective that is, that looks very, very nice. He has got some very dangerous teeth going there. Then I'll turn on the Drop Shadow, which I'm not sure his teeth would really cast the shadow onto this big giant green screen, but it looks good, so that's all I care about. I'm going to go ahead and twirl that guy close and then twirl open hands, and then we've got Bevel and Emboss of course, and that adds little bit of highlighting on the hands there.
Let's do an Inner Glow for good measure, sort of darken things up, and Outer Glow so that he has glowing hands. I don't know why. Then Drop Shadows as well, in order to just add some more depth to the hands. I think it's one of those screens where if you touched it, it kind of goes blue, so that's why he's got the Outer Glow effect. All right. We'll twirl that close. If I go back to my Layer Comps palette, notice Talk bubble no longer has a newspaper page in front of it, and if I were to click on it, all of my Layer Effects would go away, because I said to save the appearance, and that appearance involved no layer styles. So I just flattened off my evil hadrosaur.
His level of evilness drops precipitously, thanks to that. So let's go ahead and undo that modification, by pressing Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac, or always remember that you've got this Last Document State option right there, you can click in front of it in order to regain things. Okay. So I just want -- there's little bit of danger, just watch out for that. Let's go ahead and save of the state. If we really want to be safe, we'd go oh, I almost lost that. Let's go ahead and save it off. I click on the little Page icon and I would name it Dinosaur depth or something along those lines.
Then Visibility is turned on, Appearance is turned on; definitely turn on Appearance or we're going to not pay attention to any of that jazz. Then Comment, which is something like, My goodness, now he is so very scary, or something along those lines. That's good. An exclamation point is better. Then I'm going to go ahead and click on the OK button in order to create that layer comp right there, and now I can switch between them. This is Talk bubble, which doesn't have the effects; this is Dinosaur depth, which does have the effects.
But we've also got this cavernous eyehole right there, and we don't want that. So go over here to Layers palette and turn on the eyeball layer so that inexplicably a skeleton has an eyeball and he is looking, but this isn't his skull, this is his exoskeleton, this is just the way he happens to look. But of course, I have upset Dinosaur depth, its no longer active. It is selected but it's not the active state. So presumably, I could create yet another layer comp, there is no reason really not to except for cluttering up your document, but in my case what I want to do is just update it. So I've gone ahead and added a different layer, fine. Then I would click on that little Update icon in order to make the eyeball part of that layer comp right there.
Now, we just have this wonderful narrative at our disposal here. I'm going to go ahead and collapse my right side palettes like this, so I have a little more room to work. I'll move layer comps over here. I don't want to move them into the stack there, so I'll just move them off to the side. You have to watch where the little blue lines are showing up. Let's just start the whole thing over. This is the Badlands photo at the beginning. This is Ground & sky, and this is the Basic landscape; looking nice. Rapid City photo, doesn't look good at all, it's horrible. Dinosaur elements, oh, my goodness, all of a sudden the realism occurs. Then we go to Rough comp and Final comp; of course we saw that before, and that is a delightful looking photo illustration.
Then we've got Surveillance with the scary factor, just starts going through the roof, and then we have got the Hadrosaur elements, we're introducing our antagonist, which is a good thing to do, that has to happen. Then we'll give them some dialog, also very helpful. Then finally, we'll finish off the composition with some depth. So there you go, that's how to tell a story in Photoshop using layer comps. In the final exercise of this horrifying chapter, I'll tell you what layer comps don't do, which is actually a lot. It's just an FYI that I'll share with you next.
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