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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.
I have gone ahead and saved my changes as Auto money.psd found inside the 14_levels_curves folder. And I think the Auto commands are fairly obvious in terms of their purpose especially when applied to a low colored graphical image like this money right here. However, when we move on to more nuance digital photographs which contain more subtle luminance transitions and far more colors, while then the Auto commands become a little bit more difficult to predict. So I am going to show you how they behave with a couple of different digital photographs, but I want you to know this, the Auto commands do their best work on two kinds of images, either images that have color castes, and as you know both the Auto Tone and the Auto Color commands, will remove color caste from an image but strictly speaking you don't need a color caste, because if the colors are okay, you can just go ahead and apply the Auto Contrast command, what you definitely need inside of an image, what the Auto Commands are designed to do, is correct low contrast images.
So, notice that I have got my control layer selected inside of Auto money.psd and you can see here, this is the original version of the money and you can see that we are missing shadow detail and we are also missing a little highlight detail and as a result the entire histogram is squished, it doesn't take up the entire horizontal space provided by the graph and as a result what we have is the low contrast image. The Auto commands will go in and stretch those histograms there by liberating the contrast inside of an image. Let me give you a couple of other examples here.
I have got this image called Washed out and badly caste.psd, also found inside that 14_levels_curves folder. It comes to us from Photo CD which is a group that works with the Fotolia Image Library about which you can learn more at fotolia.com/deke. Now, when you look at this image, the first thing you see a reddish color caste, but it's not nearly as much of our pronounce color caste as you might think, because she naturally has ruddy skin tones, and she also has red hairs and she is wearing a red sweater, so she is already naturally trending toward red.
Her biggest problem is that she lacks shadows. So you can see here inside the histogram panel, that all of our histograms are bunched out up to the right, meaning that we have got plenty of highlight detail to work with here but we are missing shadows, that's another kind of low contrast image, because once again the histogram is squished and it's relying on the Auto commands to liberate it. All right, I will switch to my last image, which is La Pyramides.psd and this is an image that I shot in the Saint-Remy area of Southern France, and I will go ahead and hide the Histogram panel for a moment, so that you can see the entire width of the image.
Notice it's got this really cool sundial here that provides us with a little bit of a puzzle in terms of it's numbering system. Anyway, I will let you investigate that on your own if you are interested. I will bring back the Histogram panel and notice this time that we're lacking highlights, so all of our histograms are bunched up to the left hand side, plenty of shadows, well we could use actually a little more shadow detail, but we really need more highlights. So once again the histogram is squished needs to be liberated, that's the whole purpose of the Auto commands. So what I am going to do here inside of this exercise, I am going to go ahead and apply each one of the Auto commands to both of these images and we will just see what happens.
And then in the next exercise, I will take the results of those various Auto commands and I will merge them together to create the ideal correction. So let's switch back to Washed out and badly caste.psd here. And what I want you to notice about this is how the shadows are arranged, such as they are that is to say. So notice that we start with the blue mountain right here, and then the green mountain overlaps, and then quite a distance away, the red sets in. So, as a result our shadows are looking quite red, because red is a brightish channel where the shadows are concerned, and that's where the real color caste is creeping into this image.
Notice also that we have only red highlights, where the highlights are concerned, the green and blue channels are under represented. All right so let's see how the various commands fair. I will go ahead and click on the Auto Tone layer, turn it on as well, so that we can see it, notice the image still looks the same, because after all this is just a copy of the background layer and then I will go up to the Image menu and choose the Auto Tone command which is going to stretch each one of those histograms outward. Notice that the shadows continue to be offset from each other, that's very important, because we will how that differs from Auto Color in just a moment. Now, the command has done a brilliant job of compensating for the color caste, in fact it's probably gone a little bit too far again.
So we have some bluishness inside the skin, also we have tones of shadows now. In fact I would say, this image is a little bit too dark. All right, let's switch over to auto contrast, turn it on, now you would figure Auto Contrast isn't going to work too well with this image, because after all we have this very pronounce red color caste, but think again, go up to the Image menu and choose Auto Contrast and it actually looks halfway decent because the fact of the matter is, the Color caste isn't as pronounced as you might think.
All right, but probably so far we need to blend between these two corrections before we are going to come up with the right result. Anyway, I am going to click on Auto Color this time, turn it on and then I will go up to the Image menu, and I will choose the Auto color command. Now, normally this command stands the best chance of succeeding, because it goes in there and tries to neutralize the highlights and the shadows and the mid-tones and so on. In the case of this image though, it fairs quite poorly. It makes the skin-tones bluer than ever and we are actually starting to lose the redness inside of sweater a little bit, and the reason is notice what it did to these masses of shadows right there.
It went ahead and tried to align them with each other and that does strictly speaking make for some neutral shadows, but in doing so, it has moved a lot of the other luminance levels around and that's not ultimately suiting the image that well. But as you will see in the next exercise, I am going to actually employee all three of these adjustments, in order to create the ideal correction. All right let's switch over to La Pyramides.psd once again. Click on auto tone, turn it on as well. Go up to the Image menu, and choose the Auto-tone command and we end up getting this correction right there, which is a little blanched a we are warming up the image I think a little bit too much.
Notice it's getting a little bit yellow here, once again all the command has done is stretched each one of those color channels independently. So bear in mind every time you apply any one of the Auto commands to a different image, you are going to get a custom result. All right, now I will switch over to auto contrast, turn it on as well, and then I will go out to the Image menu and I will choose the Auto Contrast command, which is pretty darn successful, and not surprisingly given the fact that this image doesn't have much of a color caste in the first place. All right, now let's switch over to Auto Color, turn it on and then I will go up to the Image menu and choose the Auto Color command.
And this time, Auto Color fails brilliantly, this is a terrible correction, in fact this could be the Before image, before we get around to correcting it, it looks like it's been sitting in the picture frame in direct light for the last 20 years, and it's faded terribly. So obviously Auto Color is not the champ this time around. In fact, nobody is quite doing everything exactly right, which is why we are going to go ahead and merge the results of the Auto commands in the next exercise.
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