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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.
Let's start things off by taking a look at the Opacity value and the Fill Opacity value, two very different creatures even though they seem like the same darn thing when you first start using them. We'll look at Opacity in this exercise, Fill Opacity in the next. I'm still working inside the image called Sky & statue.psd, and I'm going to bring up a Layer Comps palette here, and I'm going to switch to the Comp called Opaque layers. The guy right there. It's unfortunate that this palette is sticking right into Juliano de Mirchi's nose. All right, so I'm going to click in front of Opaque layers, so that we see just the Michelangelo's statue and the background image from Shardlow. And then I'll hide the palette from you, we don't need it any more. Now let's say that the Background layer is active. Let's start there, you'll notice up here at the top Layers palette, the blend mode is dimmed, the Opacity value is dimmed, the Fill value is dimmed, all the Lock options are dimmed as well, because you can't do anything to the Background layer. That is you can't blend it with anything below, because there is nothing below to blend it with. If I click on the Gradient layer instead which is hidden, these options remain dimmed, because I can't change the contents of a hidden layer. In fact, not only can I not change the contents of a hidden layer, I can't even check out what's been assigned to that hidden layer, because Photoshop is going to show me Normal and Opacity 100%, and Fill 100%, even if special blending settings have been applied.
All right, now I'll go to the Statue layer, and certainly I can get to all of these options, because I can blend the statue with all of the layers below, so you're blending the active layer with a composite version of all layers below it, using these options up here. So let's say that I decide to change the Opacity value to something like 50%, which I can do using this slider bar that pops up below it, and the reason I'm going with 50% is because that's the easiest one to understand when you are creating a blend between the active layer and the layers below, and your Opacity value is set to 50%, then you're seeing 50% of the active layer and 50% of everything below it, because 100 and minus 50 gives you 50.
And so what you have is an evenly translucent object, even way that it has given to the foreground layer and its background. If I were to reduce the Opacity of this layer, like let's say I take it down to 25%, why then it becomes that much more translucent, and we're seeing 25% of the active layer and 75% of the composite version of the layers below. In this case it's just the one layer, because the other layers are hidden, the Gradient layer there. And then if I were to take this up to 75%, just as an example, we'd see a less translucent foreground layer, and so we're seeing 75% of it makes to a 25% of the layer below.
All right, so that's one way to change the Opacity value not the most exciting way necessarily, you can also by the way scrub the value, you can do this with most numerical values inside our Photoshop, scrub on the actual word Opacity there, and this will change the numerical value in increments of one, so 1% for every pixel that you move here. If you want to change the value in higher increments, increments of 10, then you press the Shift key as you scrub, and notice now I get 10% for every pixel that I move, so it gets very sensitive.
All right? The easiest way to work with the Opacity value though I think is to just press the number key on the keyboard, but before you do that I want you to direct your attention to the toolbox. Notice that we have four groups of tools here. We have the Selection tools, as well as the Crop tool, and the eyedropper at the top, and then in the next group we have Paint.NET tools that we saw back in Chapter 9, and then we have the Pen tool, the Type tool, all the Vector tools essentially, and then we have the Navigation tools, Hand and Zoom, and if you've Photoshop Extended, you'll see the 3D tools there as well.
So the way that things work is that as long as any tool, but the painting and editing tools is selected, so any tool on the first, third or fourth group is active, then you can press the number key and the key board to change the Opacity value of the active layers. So 7 gets you 70%. Notice that over here in the Opacity value. 4 gets you 40%, 2 gets you 20%, to return to 100%, you press the 0 key, or you can press two numbers in a row. You can press for example 35 for 35%, or 67 for 67%, or 01 for 1%, you can't get 0% from the keyboard.
If you want 0% opacity that makes layer completely transparent, then you have to enter it manually like so, because if you press the 0 key, you get 100% opacity. And this goes for pressing 0 twice in a row too, get to 100% Opacity either way. Now why in the world doesn't this work when the Heal and Edit tools are active? Because if I go ahead and select for example the Brush tool right here, you'll see that it has its own Opacity value. So if I press 7, I change the Opacity of the brush to 70%, not the Opacity of the layer. So Brush opacity takes president over layer opacity. I'll go ahead and press the 0 key to return that Opacity value to 100%, and then press the m key to return to the rectangular Marquee tool. And this is one of the many reasons why I like to always return to the rectangular Marquee tool when I'm not using some of the tool, it's because, it's cross shaped cursor here is non intrusive, that makes it a good default tool, and because I can change the Opacity Fill value, and the blend modes of my active layer from the keyboard anytime I like. All right, there's the Opacity value, that's how it works, pretty darn straightforward, but I just want to make sure we're all on the same page. In the next exercise, I'll show you how to work with the less straightforward Fill Opacity value.
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