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In the all-new Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final installment of the popular series, join industry expert and award-winning author Deke McClelland for an in-depth tour of the most powerful and empowering features of Photoshop CS5. Discover the vast possibilities of traditional tools, such as masking and blend modes, and then delve into Smart Objects, Photomerge, as well as the new Puppet Warp, Mixer Brush, and HDR features. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced.
In this exercise, we are going to get rid of this background, so that we're just seeing the dragonfly and nothing more against, of course, the blurry leaves and the grass and everything else that's going on in the composition. I'm still working on this image called Initial insect.psd. If you recall the final version of the graphic, we have no white background, so that's totally gone, and we're seeing the dragonfly as a light object. So, it's not dark the way it is now. It's light.
So, how do we go about doing that? Well, I'm going to switch back to Initial insect.psd, and one of the things you're going to learn over the series of this course is that sometimes you need to mask things. For example, sometimes you need to, like, select the background and delete it, or mask it away using a layer mask. And other times, all you need to do is apply a blend mode. So, the tempting thing, especially if you're at all a novice where Photoshop is concerned, is to go over here and grab the Magic Wand tool. This is what I've seen people do a hundred thousand bazillion times, and it is a very alluring tool, because it seems to offer so much automation, and yet so much of what it does is absolutely unnecessary and done better by other tools.
But what you think you need to do is grab the Magic Wand tool, click in the background in order to select it, which you can do. you can click to select this background even though it's a Smart Object. Then you'd press like the Backspace key to get rid of it, or the Delete key on the Mac. But if you do that with a Smart Object, Photoshop is going to get very angry with you. It's going to say, could not complete your request because the Smart Object is not directly editable. You can't change the pixels, because it's inside a protective container. So, all you do is say OK, and then you could edit the image directly as I'll show you in just a moment.
But that would still be an absolute waste of time, and what you would get are these little weird edge transitions. If you were to successfully employ the Magic Wand tool, you would get these weird transitional pixels around the perimeter of the insect and they would look like garbage, and it totally wouldn't look credible at all. So you don't want to use this tool. It's not like there is never a use for it, and I do show you how to use the tool in the context of this series. It's just not useful for deleting backgrounds. All right, so I'm going to switch back to the Rectangular Marquee tool, because I like it as the default tool, and I'm going to press Ctrl+D or Cmd+D on the Mac to deselect the dragonfly.
Here's you got to do. If you want to drop out a white background, which this is, totally white, stark white, then you go up to the blend mode pop-up menu and you choose Multiply. Bang! Done, the end. That's all you do. You don't have to delete that background because Photoshop does it for you, and does a stellar job of it. So basically, all of the lightness inside the dragonfly goes away. White is treated as a neutral, meaning, invisible color, and everything else about the dragonfly layer darkens up the background, but that's not what we want, right? We want this guy to be bright against the transparent background.
So, we want to employ this mode right here, which is Multiply's opposite. It's the Screen mode. But if we apply it to the dragonfly as it is, we'll keep the background and we'll see through the dark portions of the dragonfly, which is again the opposite of what we want, a different kind of opposite, but still the opposite of what we want. Now, we need to turn around and invert the dragonfly. Now, I could do that with an Invert adjustment layer if I wanted to, and we'll see that kind of stuff in other chapters, but what I want to do right now is show you how to edit a Smart Object directly.
You can't just apply the Invert command to this Smart Object. If you go the Image menu and choose Adjustments, you will not be able to choose Invert, it's dimmed. Instead what you do is you double- click on the Smart Object thumbnail, right there, and that will bring up this message saying hey! Here is how you edit the contents of a Smart Object, is essentially what it's doing. You might want to say Don't show again and click OK. I'm not going to say Don't show again because I'm going to be showing you this in a different chapter. I'll just say OK for now.
Now what I've done is I've gone ahead and opened the Smart Object in a separate image window as you can see right here. For some reason, Photoshop has seen fit to call this new image window, Layer 1576.psb. If you're following along with me, it'll probably be called something totally different. This is just a temporary file that Photoshop is creating on your hard drive. Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and zoom in, so that we can see the dragonfly up close here, and then I'll go up to the Image window, and I'll choose Adjustments and I'll choose Invert, or I could press Ctrl+I, Cmd+I on the Mac, and that goes ahead and inverts the creature.
All right, now we're done. We don't need the dragonfly open anymore. So, I'll just go ahead and close it by clicking on its Close box and Photoshop will say, hey! Do you want to save the changes? And I say Yes. It's important that you don't choose the Save As command from the File menu, because if you did that, you would break the link between the dragonfly and the larger Initial insect.psd composition. You can either choose the Save command that is not Save As, just File > Save, or you can close the image as we're doing and click the Yes button or the Save button on the Mac.
So, I'll go ahead and save it, and you're not saving it to disk, you're saving it back into the composition, and notice what happened, there is the inverted version of the dragonfly with no background. So, this was before when I just applied the Screen Mode to the original version of the dragonfly against the white background. I'm just pressing Ctrl+Z, Cmd+Z on the Mac to switch back and forth, and this is after I've inverted the dragonfly. It's still set to the Screen Mode, so we're dropping out the blacks and we're keeping the whites.
If Multiply and Screen are unfamiliar to you, don't worry, I will cover them many, many times, along with all the other blend modes inside another chapter of the series. All right! In the next exercise, we are going to go ahead and add the Smart Filters. So, stay tuned!
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