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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, I'm going to show you how to correct wayward skin tones using the Average command and I have got this image here called Dudes on blue.jpg and it comes to us from photographer Mark Aplet of iStockPhoto.com. Notice these guys are just done with the day on the slopes I guess, skin and their windburn. So this guy has reddish areas on his cheeks and the bridge of his nose, it's kind of all over his nose and on his chin here and he has also got what might be a burgeoning pimple on his nose and then this guy has got some sort of rash on his face here. These are the afflictions of youth.
I must say there is something good about growing old, even though we've got the wrinkly-saggy skin that we've got to solve using the Captain Kirk-in-love effect, we don't necessarily have this. Those are days of the past for me anyway. And the fact of the matter is that this could be anything, dark skin or light skin, you could see variations between sort of oranges and yellows and reds and even really wayward colors going into blues and that kind of stuff, and you can use Average to solve those problems. You have to be aware that the Average command is a little bit odd. It's very simple in terms of its approach to things but it is also prone to strange behavior and I'll show you what I mean. Without anything selected, go to the Filter menu, choose Blur and choose Average and it doesn't blur anything, it just finds the average color across all the pixels inside each of the Color Channel. So it's looking for the average luminance level that is across the R, G and B channels, and then giving us back that average luminance level and filling the image with it. So, it looks like this. So, the average color apparently across this entire image is this particular shade of blue.
Interesting, so I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. There you might say, Gosh, Deke, on the face of it, it doesn't look like a terribly useful command, but before I get to why it's a useful command, let me show you some of its abrupt behavior just so you can dismiss it even more if you want to. I am going to go ahead and grab this area of red inside this guy's jacket. The average color there should be red. I'm guessing it's a shade of red and if I go up to the Filter menu and choose that first command, so now it's just Ctrl+F from here on, right to get average, that's Command+F on the Mac. Sure enough it gives us a shade of red inside there, so that's not terribly surprising.
Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo that modification because it would be flat red without any new uncertain noise or anything inside of it. Press Ctrl+J, Command+J on the Mac to jump that to an independent layer. And now I'll press Ctrl+F or Command+F in order to reapply Average. Please tell me what is that the average of? Red? It's most certainly not the average of the area inside that layer; it's taking something else in the consideration. It isn't the background image though because that can't possibly be the average of the background image and that red. So I'll go ahead and do this. Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac, let me just prove it's not the background image. I'll just take the background image and fill it with black. By pressing Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete.
Now let's go to the red layer right there, little red rectangle and press Ctrl+F or Command+F on the Mac. Again, with this very light sort of pinkish color that we've got here. What in the world gives? My theory is that somehow transparency is mapped to a very light color and then that gets averaged into the mix. I wouldn't swear to it because sometimes things will go blue like we'll start with a group of colors that look like they are all flesh tones for example and they will turn blue on us. So we'll see this in fact. But there is a way to keep it from happening and that's to work inside of a selection outline. So just like we did with Radial Blur Filter, we work inside selections with Average. So even when we are working with independent layers like this.
All right, I'm going to press F12 in order to revert the image back to its original appearance. Let's go. Let's see what we do here. Let's first start off by defining a selection outline because we just want to limit our averaging to the faces and nothing more, and I'm going to use the Magic Wand tool. You can also, if you know how to use it, you could use the Color Range command but I haven't gone to that command yet in this series, so let's just use the Wand. And what I'm going to do is just use the default settings. Tolerance 32, Anti-Alias On, Contiguous On, Sample All Layers turned off and I'm going to click in the red area of this guy's cheek and then I'm going to go out to the Select menu, choose Similar. Keyboard shortcut is Ctrl+Shift+M or Command+Shift+M on the Mac. I'll go ahead and choose the command and that goes in and selects most of the face detail. Just to make sure I get it all, I'll go up to the Select menu and choose Similar again. And that gets me everything that I'm looking for, plus a little extra and notice that I selected some areas down here along the sides of this red rectangular area of this dude's sweatshirt and some of the areas behind his hood and all that. And if you want to get rid of those, you certainly may. Get the Lasso tool and just Alt+Drag or Option+Drag around all the garbage you want to get rid of to send it away.
I am actually going to de-select his hair and his hat that way as well. Again, I'm Alt+Dragging or on the Mac I'd be Option+Dragging around these regions to get rid of them. Who cares about this little ear? There we go. Might as well make sure this is the best selection, conceivable with the Magic Wand tool of course. All right, so next I want you to go to the Select menu and choose the Refine Edge command or press Ctrl+Alt+R, Command+Option+R. That keyboard shortcut ought to work for you, and I'm going to apply these settings right here. Notice I've got a Radius of 1, a Smooth value of 3, the default Feather value is 1, I went ahead and cranked it up to 3 and otherwise, we just have default value. So only the Feather value did I change talking in the wrong order, that's fine and click OK in order to accept that modified selection outline.
Now, you press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+ Option+J on the Mac and we'll call this skin tones. Of course, I'm jumping the layer with the Ctrl+J and I'm forcing the display of the dialog box with the Alt. Now it would be the Command and the Option on the Mac. All right, so go ahead and click OK. We have just done that so many times. I'm assuming you know what's up there. And now, if we go up to the Filter menu and choose Average, then I'm going to color their faces blue. Don't even ask where that blue is coming from because it's not part of the background image. If I filled the background image with black, this would still turn blue. If I filled it with red, this would still turn blue. So it's something to do with the transparency mask but I'm just not sure what it is. So press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac.
Here's how you take care of it. It's the remedy that counts, right? So I'll press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac and click on the thumbnail of this skin tones layer to load the selection outline. Then I'll press Ctrl+H, Command+H on the Mac to hide the selection, and then I'll go out to the Filter menu, choose the Average command, Ctrl+F, Command+F on the Mac. Much more reasonable, much closer to what I thought it would be in any event. And then we just need to colorize the background image and you can do that in one of two ways, both are working with blend modes, by the way, so we are going to go to the Blend Mode pop-up menu here at the top of the Layers palette, click on it and if you choose Luminosity, you are going to replace the luminance information on the Background layer with a new luminance information and you are going to keep the wandering colors. You don't want that, so you want Luminosity's opposite, which is Color. You are going to keep the color associated with the new layer and apply it to the luminance information in the layer in the background.
So let's try that out and that I dare say is not quite what we are looking for. We have these guys with these very rosy faces now. It's over the top compensation. We've gone too far with it. So tell you what, you can break this color function down into its two ingredients, which are Hue and Saturation. So Hue is a core color. We saw that long time ago, when we talked about the Hue/Saturation command and then Saturation is how vivid that color is from gray to extremely intense.
Well, we want to ostensibly keep the original Saturation values from the image in the background. So we just want to keep the Hue from the active layer, so that's what we'll do and we get this effect right there, and that's pretty darn good. So just to give you sense, this is before with the apparent pinks that are going on inside of these fellow's skin tones and this is after. Thanks to this modification that's being applied to the Hue values only and we are accepting the original Saturation and Luminance levels. Now the only change I would make to this is, if I just feel like it's a little too pumpkiny, and I think we need to yellow it up just slightly so that we get more normalized skin tones for these specific guys.
So I'm going to press Ctrl+U or Command +U on the Mac or of course, you can go to the Image menu, choose Adjustments and choose the Hue/Saturation command. And I'm going to move that Hue a little bit. I'm just going to Up Arrow it and we'll just keep an eye on the Preview here to see how it goes. And as I increase the Hue value, we go farther and farther toward yellow. If we go too far, we are going to start getting some yellowish greenish skin going and we don't want that. So I'll take it back. Something around here for me works pretty nicely which is a Hue value of +7. So we are just slightly rotating things. Click OK, and once again, now to see what's up here. This is before and this is after. So this has done a really great job of leaching the pink out of the colors in the background. What about the Luminance? We do have these dark patches on this fellow's face that are still showing up and we have this dark mark on the bridge of this guy's nose that I'd like to take care of as well.
What do we do about it? Well, we'll approach that with another modification, another correction in the very next exercise.
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