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Photoshop is the tool of choice for most creative professionals and has quickly become household name synonymous with computer art and image manipulation. In Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics, internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland teaches such digital-age wonders as masking, filters, layers, blend modes, Liquify, Vanishing Point, and vector-based type. Along the way, Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, trimming away jowls and fat, and wrapping one image around the surface of another. Plus, the training teaches how to construct and organize the elements in a composition so you can edit them easily in the future. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Ready for more Photoshop CS3 training with Deke? Check out Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Advanced Techniques.
Note: Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials is a recommended prerequisite to Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise, I'll show you the simplest way to blend layers inside of Photoshop and then choosing the Opacity value inside the Layers palette. Now if your working along with me, you should have open the skyandstatue.PSD image that's found inside the 15 blend modes folder and you should've gone to the Layer Comps palette and clicked in front of opaque layers. In which case you'll see on screen the Michelangelo carving of Giuliano De'Medici set against the sunset sky image from photographer Sean Lowe.
Alright now I'll go to the Layers palette and for me anyway, the background layer is highlighted by default and perhaps it is for you as well, in which case all of these options at the top of the Layers palette, the Blend Mode setting, the Opacity setting, the Fill setting, all that stuff is going to be dimmed. The reason is that these parametric effects here control the interaction of the active layer with all the layers below it. Now by definition, and there's nothing below the background layer. The background layer is the ground level of your layered composition. So each and every pixel in the background layer is opaque. If you want to change these settings up here, you have to switch to a different layer. Now it has to be a visible layer as well. If I click on the gradient layer, notice because it's turned off, all of these options are dimmed still.
If I click on statue however, the statue layer, then I suddenly have access to the blend mode, the Opacity setting and so on. Now I'm really change the Opacity setting for the statue layer, which of course represents the Michelangelo carving on screen. I'll change the Opacity setting by clicking on the right pointing arrowhead and adjusting this slider value and I'm going to go and take it down to 50%. Now what I've done is not only have I created a translucent version of the Michelangelo carving but I've created a 50-50 mix. So we've got 50% of the statue layer mixed with 50% of all the layers below it, all the visible layers below it, which in this case is just the background layer.
So that's why I say we have a 50-50 mix of the two. If I wanted to weight it toward the background layer, than I would lower the Opacity value. At this point we have 30% statue layer, mixed with the remaining 70%, because 30 plus 70 equals a hundred, the remaining 70% background layer. If I wanted to weight the statue, I would raise the Opacity level. So in this case, I've got 70% statue layer mixed with 30%, the remaining 30% background layer. In any case, this allows you to achieve a translucent statue. I'm going to go and press the Escape key in order to escape out of that value. That also returned me to 100% as it turns out, but that's not a problem because there's so many different ways to change that Opacity setting.
For example I can scrub directly on the word Opacity in order to make the value smaller or larger in 1% increments. If I want to work in 10% increments, I would press the Shift key as I scrub. So notice each little teeny pixel of scrubbing with the Shift key down changes the Opacity value in a 10% increment right there. But the best way to work in my opinion is just to press an number on the keyboard. Notice these groups of tools over here in the toolbox. Notice that you have four groups of tools in all. You've got the top tools under the Selection tools and Crop and so on. You've got the painting and editing tools, then you've got the Pen tool going down to the Shape tool here and finally the Note tool going down to the Zoom tool. As long as any tool, except for those guys in the second group, as long as any of the other tools is selected then you can just press a number key on the keyboard in order to change the Opacity of the active layer. So if I press six, I'll change the Opacity value to 60%. If I press three, I'll get 30%.
If I press two numbers in a row, such as 3-5, I'll get 35%. Or 7-8 for example, for 78%. Zero takes me back to 100%. The only value therefore that's unavailable to you is zero percent. Because after all, you can press 0-1 for 1% Opacity. Unfortunately 0-0 just gets you 100% Opacity. So if you want to make the layer 0% opaque, that is completely transparent, then you actually have to change the value to 0% manually.
All right, now I'll go and press zero in order to take that back up to 100% Opacity. Now the reason I'm cautioning you against having these tools, the painting and editing tools active, is because if you do, I'll go and select the Brush tool here, notice that it includes its own Opacity value. So if you press a number key, watch that value up there, if I press a number key such as four, I'll change the Opacity of the brush, not the layer. So that's something to bear in mind when you're working inside Photoshop. So I'll go and return the Opacity value back to 100%.
If you end of doing that, if you end up changing the Opacity value when you don't mean to, just press zero to restore that value to 100% then press the M key for the Marquee tool, because that's just a good base tool, then press whatever key you want, whatever Opacity value such as 4 for 40% Opacity. All right. So that just gives you a sense of what you can do with the Opacity value. I'll restore my Opacity value back to 100% so that I can see just the statue layer and I'm only seeing through to the background where the layer's transparent.
In the next exercise, I'll show you the difference between the Opacity value and the Fill value directly below it.
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