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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.
Now before we dig in and examine the behavior of the individual blend modes, I want you to know that there are keyboard shortcuts available to you. You can decide right now whether to memorize them or not. I even give you some guidance as to which ones are worth memorizing which one probably aren't and how you might keep track of some of the strange letter combinations that are going on here. Anyway, for starters, you can change the blend mode by pressing Shift+Plus or Shift+Minus . So for example, I still have the Statue layer active and I'm still working inside of the With outer glow.psd image. I of course have my Rectangular Marquee tool active, so that the keyboard focus is locked on the layer. If I press Shift+Plus I'll advance to dissolve it, then Shift+Plus again for darken, Shift+Plus for multiply, color burn, linear burn, darker color lighten and so on, screen, color dodge.
Then I can press Shift+Minus to back up between each one of the blend modes. So this is great for comparing one blend mode to another as you go through the list, it's specially great if you know how to get to a specific blend mode, like you press Shift+Alt+M or Shift+ Option+M for multiply and then you press Shift+Plus to go to color burn, because you can't remember what the heck the keyboard shortcut for that is and so on. I don't recommend using it to go through the entire list however, because you are going to whip out your history states. Notice if I bring up the History palette here, then I have all kinds of Blending Change states and in fact I have exhausted all 20 of my saved states at any one given time. So everything that was into Blending Change state has ruled off the palette.
So good for me, I just totally destroyed my chances of undoing anything that I have done before, that's a big problem. So before you start Shift+Plusing and Shift+Minusing you might want to go ahead and create a snapshot, so that you can come back to the last good state or something along those lines. Or just use sparingly, just use it for a couple of things, like said, Shift+Alt+M will take you to multiply, that's Shift+Option+M on the Mac. Then you could say all right, Shift +Plus to compare it to color burn, Shift+Plus to compare it to Linear Burn, got it, don't want to use any of those. Shift+Alt+N or Shift+Option+N to return back to normal. Some sort of combination of specific keyboard shortcuts and that general Shift+Plus and Shift+Minus will probably do you well.
Now for the specific shortcuts we are going to switch over to a different image here, it's called blend mode keys. psd. Every single one of the keyboard shortcuts in 23 out of the 25 modes have shortcuts. Every single one of them involves Shift+Alt+(Alphabetic key on a PC) or Shift+Option+(Alphabetic key on a Mac). Now notice that normal as N, some of them are very straightforward, like Normal for N, Multiply is M, Screen is S, Overlay is O. Actually, the best modes tend to have the best keyboard shortcuts and then other ones, I give you some rationale for why they are what they are. For example, Dissolve is I, as if you can but, that's a second letter in the word dissolve, K is a big consonant in the word darken, B which for Color Burn, might of might not make sense is the B for Burn. A is the A in Linear, there is no keyboard shortcut for Darker Color which is fine, because you aren't going to be using it very often. G for Lighten there, we got D for Dodge and Color Dodge, Linear Dodge, some of these are just odd, is W. The only way I have come up with remembering that it's just an upside down M.
So M is the keyboard shortcut for the primary darkening mode multiply and Linear Dodge is a lightening mode, so you turn M upside down and you get W or you can think of it as being way light. So we got F for Soft Light there, as you can see, we got H for Hard Light, that makes a lot of sense. V for Vivid Light makes sense actually, but there is not really a big reason to memorize it. J for Linear Light, well, there are two Ls and if you think of J as being a backward L, that makes sense, Pin Light is Z for it zeros up the midtones. Hard Mix doesn't have an L in it, it's so funny that L was not assigned to Linear Light, nor was it assigned to Luminosity. It was assigned to the thing that doesn't have an L in it, and it is the least of all of the modes, however, you can think of it as being that way.
Although, it's a tough call, because really Darker Color and Lighter Color which were introduced in Photoshop CS3 are really itching to bee the least of the modes themselves, and the Dissolve mode is not too great either. So but you can't think of it at least of them all. It looks pretty bad the first time you apply it. We got E for Difference, the last letter in difference. X for Exclusion, U Hue, T for Saturation, C and Y for Color and Luminosity of the last letter in luminosity. Now if you wonder what the big balls being right there, the big blue balls, those are the ones that are worth memorizing. So I suggest you memorize if nothing else, N for Normal, M for Multiply, S for Screen, at least those three, because those are your three power modes and the next good one is Overlay. And then after that Hard Light is a good one to remember, E is a really great one, because even though you are not going to be using the Difference mode that often, it can come in handy for very specific operations and it's the first of the Inversion modes. It's the primary inversion mode, and then C for Color and Y for Luminosity, those are opposites of each other and incredibly useful.
And I would say the next mode I would memorize is U for Hue, because I use that a lot too. Now there are some Brush Only modes that only appear, because if you notice by the way if you take a look at that list, 23 out of 25 modes get keyboard shortcuts, what's with that, especially, since last I checked the alphabet, there were three more alphabetic letters still left. There is 26 mere alphabets in other words. Well, the three that are left are P, Q, R and they are the ones that go unused in the Layers palette. However, they are useful for the brush. So if I go ahead and grab the Brush tool right here, then you will notice that we have all the modes that I just showed you, those 23 modes plus we got a couple of others. We got Behind and Clear, and then we also have this Air Brush option right there.
All right, so let's go ahead and make the brush a little smaller, why don't we? Shift+Alt+P or Shift+Option+P on a Mac activates the Air Brush mode, when the Brush tool is active, it doesn't work for all of the tools and you could think of it as being P for push, because the pushes out the paint. Behind is Q, which is the letter after P. I don't know what to tell you there. There is no Q in Behind. And then R is the last letter in Clear. Now I'll tell you how the Behind and Clear modes work in the later exercise when we discuss the Brush Only modes, but for now those are your shortcuts. I don't think any of them is worth memorizing. So that's just me and that's them, that is all the modes my friend and all the keyboard shortcuts there for your viewing pleasure. So you can print out the list if you want to, you can keep it up on screen, you can do your best to memorize then, you can decide they are not worth memorizing, totally up to you.
In the next exercise we are going to take a look at the darkening modes, a really bunch, stay tuned.
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