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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.
In this exercise, we're going to see how the Channel Mixer effect compares with the black-and-white effect and how we might merge the best attributes of both. So I've gone ahead and called my progress files CM vs BW.psd (Channel Mixer versus black-and-white.psd) found in the 18_black_white folder. Notice here inside my layer Comps panel, I've gone ahead and created a new comp for the black-and-white version of the image, that is the black-and-white adjusted version of the image.
Now, because we want to be able to compare the really essential details inside this image, I'm going to have to move the layer Comps panel out of the way here, so we can see this earring, as well as the magenta hair and everything else that's going on. So you may recall these are our various Shadows/Highlights versions of this composition, so let's run through them. This is the Shadows/Highlights image set to basically a default grayscale conversion. So not all that interesting, but not as good as anything we've come up with since.
This was that custom effect which worked well for the background image, for the original image, but it didn't work nearly as well for the Shadows/Highlights version of the image. Then there is the Shadows/Highlights infrared, which was that extreme variation with Channel Mixer, where I went ahead and set the Red value to 50%, Green to 100%, so now we add up to 150, and then I subtracted 50 from the Blue Channel. That ends up giving us a dark earring and also some dark magenta hair, because both of those require Blue in order to show up.
We're subtracting all that Blue information there, so we're darkening those details. Compare it finally with the black-and- white adjustments that we just applied in the previous exercise. You can see that they look a little flat by comparison, but that's not really a fair comparison. I'll show you why. I'm going to go ahead and double-click to the right of the word Masks there to hide that Adjustments panel. We can see that when I click in front of S/H infrared, I'm marrying both the Channel Mixer effect and the Brightness/Contrast effect on top of each other.
If I take Brightness/Contrast away, that's also a lower impact effect right there. So in order to really be comparing apples to apples, I'll go ahead and increase the height of panel a little bit. I will not only switch to S/H B&W, but also move the Brightness/Contrast layer on top of the black-and-white layer. That's very important, because if we were to turn on Brightness/Contrast below black-and-white, it wouldn't have nearly the same effect. We'd be applying Brightness/Contrast to the full color image and then applying black-and-white settings on top of that.
What we want instead is black-and-white applied to the full color image, and then we're increasing the Brightness and Contrast of the final black-and-white effect. So I'll go ahead and turn on this layer right there, B/C, and now we get a much more high contrast effect out of the black-and-white adjustment as well. So I'm going to save that off as a New layer Comp, and I'll call this guy S/H B&W B/C, like so, click OK. Now, here's our real comparison. This is the infrared effect, dark earring, dark hair, dark jacket as well, check out the jacket details, versus the black-and-white version of the effect, bright earring, bring frock, we've got some frock details have brighten up, brighter jacket, brighter hair.
So this might make it look like well, you know what, actually black-and-white is better than Channel Mixer. Not actually true, again, we're not completely comparing apples to apples here. I'm going to switch back to S/H infrared. The thing about the Channel Mixer is you can create more extreme effects than you can with black-and-white. You can push that effect even farther. So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to double-click on that Channel Mixer layer down there, the one that's called infrared B&W. I'm going to go ahead and take my Red value up to 100 now.
Of course we're just blasting out the colors in the effect. We're clipping highlights like crazy. But that's not enough, I'm going to take the Green value up to 150, so now our total is 200%, and we're going to take it out of Blue, so -150, like so. Even still, even though our Total is 100%, we're actually clipping highlights inside this image and we're only going to be able to see that if we bring up yet another panel, the Histogram panel, and I'll update the Histogram. Notice we do have some clipping over here on the right-hand side of the graph.
So in order to correct for that, I'm going to take this Green value down 10%. So I'm going to press Shift+Down Arrow to reduce that Green value to 140. Now our Total is only 90%, but now we have a decent Histogram. If I update it, you can see we're going right to the edge of the graph there. We're not clipping any of the highlights. We're getting extreme highlights, extreme shadows out of the effect. We are starting to pull apart some details. If you look closely, especially at the left side of the image, the out of focus portion, you're going to see that we have more posterization than we had before.
But now let's say we look at these effects. This is the new Shadows/Highlights infrared effect versus the final black-and-white effect, so the former, that is the Channel Mixer effect is, certainly more radical. Let's say this is preferable. Let's say we like it better. It's not the kind of thing we're going to emulate very easily using black-and-white, because black-and-white, when you start making radical changes, if we were to increase the heck out of the Red and Yellow values, for example, we're going to tear apart the details to a higher degree than we're seeing now.
So let's say I like what I'm seeing here out of the Channel Mixer effect, but I also want those bright details inside the earring, maybe inside the frock a little bit, definitely inside of this woman's hair in the background. What do I do? Well, I can merge the two effects, but you have to be careful about how you do it. So I'm going hide the Adjustments panel once again and I'll turn on B&W as well, so we have infrared B&W, which is the Channel Mixer. We have the black-and-white adjustment and we have the Brightness/Contrast layer, but turning on black-and-white didn't do anything. There it is off.
There it is on. Well, of course it didn't do anything, because it needs colors to work and the infrared B&W layer had wiped out all those colors. So what we need to do is mask that Channel Mixer layer right there by adding a layer mask. So I'll dropdown to the bottom of the Layers panel. Click on the Add layer mask icon. Then I'll press the B key to get my Brush tool. Confirm that my foreground color is black, which it is for me. If it's not for you, press the X key. Then I'm going to paint, for example, inside of the hair, and now what I'm doing is I'm revealing the magenta inside of the original RGB image.
So if I were to turn off black-and-white, you can see that I am now revealing that magenta area, so that the black-and-white layer can work on it. So now are getting more detail inside of that hair. So notice, if I Shift+click on the mask, then I'll turn it off. So this is the hair as it appears, subject to just the Channel Mixer effect, Shift+click, that's the hair subject to the black-and-white adjustment. Then I could paint into this collar a little bit too, but I don't want the collar to be that bright. So I'm going to increase the size of my brush cursor a little bit by pressing the Right Bracket key a couple of times.
Press the X key in order to paint with white, and I'll paint like so to darken up that collar a bit. Then press the X key to switch back to black. Go ahead and reduce the size of my cursor by pressing the Left Bracket key a few times and paint inside of that earring, like so, to go ahead and brighten it up. black-and-white details, but now that I've made that big adjustment with my Color Mixer, that's actually not necessary. So the frock was brighter without the masking.
So I'll go ahead and undo that brush stroke. This looks pretty good to me. I mean, I could -- let's see what happens if I paint inside of her face. That darkens the face a little bit, which actually might work out pretty nicely by contrast to the very bright face in the foreground. I could paint away some of that sky detail as well, so we don't have so much posterization going on. This could be my final effect. Now, you might look at this and say, well Deke, gosh, man, let's go ahead and put that layer Comps panel away. That's not you talking. That's me talking for a moment. You might say, that is a lot of work in order to get this black-and-white effect.
Yes, it's cool, it's really awesome, but the idea of merging Channel Mixer and black-and-white together for every image that I want to convert to black-and-white, that's just too much. So what I would recommend to you is this. If you're trying to work your way through a dozen or more images, then you might find that black-and-white serves you better, because you can just go ahead and tweak those values, but you'll have to do so for each and every image. Each image is going to require different values, you have to remember that, whereas with Channel Mixer, you might be able to come up with a mix that works for all of your images.
So you'd have to play around and see which is going to do better for you. Then if you run into a situation where you have this one image, and this is the kind of stuff I focus on, choose an image that is exactly that photograph that requires your attention and spend the time and effort required to make that image its very best. That's what we've done in this case here, but we can go even farther, not quite done yet, because there are a couple of additional modifications I'd like to make in the next exercise.
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