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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 first creative application of the blur and averaging functions, I want to present you a really practical technique that I call the Captain Kirk in Love effect and it may sound like a goofy idea but here it goes. It really is very useful. The idea is that back in the original Star Trek, right, the old generation, anytime that Captain Kirk happened upon a potential love interest, his vision of that woman suddenly changed and we were treated to what was going on inside of his love-addled head. So we would see this close-up of the woman and she would have a streak of eye lighting typically. I didn't apply that in this case, but some back lining as well.
And then most importantly she would have diffused focus. So this might be a function of some Vaseline on a lens or a nylon stocking or something along those lines. These days, it's accomplished using a layer of Gaussian Blur here inside Photoshop and it's very useful for hiding the blemishes and the wages of age essentially in somebody's face. So if you have got a person in their mid 30s or their 40s or 50s, on up the ladder as high as we can go, then it tends to be a useful technique and the model that we are looking at here is approximately of my age. She is in her mid 40s and the name of the image is Natasha.psd and I want to walk you through this fairly elaborate layered composition that we have here. So I'm going to go ahead and scroll down the Layers palette and we'll start with the background layer.
This is intended to simulate the Capitan's quarters because all shots of the Captain's quarters showed the walls to be lavender, just like this with this kind of wacky blue space painting that's supposed to be far enough in the background that it's out of focus. So let's go ahead and see how this is put together. I'll Alt+Click or Option+Click on the eyeball in front of the violet layer and that will hide all the other layers. So we are just seeing the wall by itself with a little bit of shading and click on this down pointing arrow ahead, next to the FX icon. It's a function of this Gradient Overlay effect. So if I turned off the effect, you will see we just have flat lavender, that's it. And we haven't got into all these features in Photoshop quite yet but we'll throughout this series.
Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and hide that once again. This is the space painting right there, the blurry space painting and something you should note about all these layers, they are all big layers meaning that they are bigger than the canvas size. If I were to Ctrl+Drag or Command+Drag this space painting around, you can see that it's fairly gianormous and we have a lot of extra space painting to work with here. If you want to move it around, it's up to you. And then I have this levels layer right here, I'll go ahead and turn it on and notice that it's just brightening up the painting and nothing more. This layer group right here contains a couple of variations on our model, I'll go ahead and turn it on and here is the model as captured by photographer Deborah Ray incidentally and the bottommost layer right there is a multiply version.
So it's burning her into the background and that establishes her dark hair, it goes ahead and saves the dark hair and makes it looks nice and proper against the lavender background which is pouring of course to her and then I have got a normal version in order to reinstate some of the flash tones here and they are merged together using these layer masks all stuff that we'll be exploring in more detail in later chapters. Now I'll go ahead and close that group and we have got some highlights along this side of her face. This was really typical for the show that people would have sort of bright, vivid primary color highlights streaking across them.
Notice her lipstick is just totally inappropriate for this setting. So it doesn't look 60s at all. So I went ahead and glossed up her lips using this Curves adjustment layer that's captured inside of a layer mask that's just relegating the effect of the lips and nothing more and then I added a little bit of gloss. Notice this highlight right here, watch it change when I turn on the gloss layer. Sot it gets nice and super highlighted. So sometimes layers are very, very tiny. This is an itsy bitsy layer right there and then I decided to light up her irises. Even though I didn't give her any eye lighting, I decided to create sort of something like that effect by shinning lights directly into her irises and nothing more and then I gave her this lavender eye shadow along with some lavender irises in order to match her background. So she has sort of a Garanimals feel. So she belongs here inside the Captain's quarters.
So that's basically the layered composition. Now we are just going to do one thing inside of this exercise to this file and it's a very important thing. We need to establish an independent layer to which we can apply the Gaussian Blur filter and that layer needs to match the contents of all the other layers inside this image. So we are going to create a flat version of the image on an independent layer and you do that using a keyboard shortcut. There really actually is no command for this function. So you press Ctrl+Shift+Alt on a PC or Command+Shift+Option on the Mac and then you press E, which is the second letter in the word merge.
Notice what you get. You get everything combined on to an independent layer right there and we'll just go ahead and name that 'all merged' like so and that's it. So there you have it, a top-secret technique that you can achieve here inside Photoshop. We are now ready to apply Gaussian Blur and create a diffused focus effect, which is exactly what we'll do in the next exercise.
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