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Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, updated for CS5, 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 CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
In this exercise, I'm going to suggest how you might want to set up your default settings inside the Shadows/Highlights dialog box. Now this is entirely up to you, but I think it will give you a mechanism basically for saving a little time and effort in the future. So I've created a couple of files for you to experiment on. One is called Linear grad lines.jpg and we'll use this image to gauge our default settings and then we'll move on to this image Face with fan.jpg, which comes to us from photographer Coka once again at fotolia.com.
All right, so let's start inside of this gradient image. Basically I drew a gradient, I colorized it using the Gradient Map command, and I'll explain how that command works in the future chapter. And then in order to get this sort of metal scraping pattern that we're seeing here, I went up to the Filter menu and I chose Stylize and I chose this command right there, Wind, which is one of Photoshop's lesser-known filters and what it allows you to do is create various wind patterns, none of which actually look anything like wind, but they are sort of unidirectional Motion Blur patterns kind of.
And so you have the option of selecting Wind or Blast or Stagger, and Stagger is going to basically wrap the gradient around the image again and then you can go From the Right or you can go From the Left. From the Left doesn't do anything inside of this particular gradient, you've to go from right, because this filter creates a light on dark effect and the light colors are on the right, and dark colors are on the left-hand side. Anyway, I just thought I would show you that. I'm going to Cancel out. Now then let's see how we can bring some additional life or bring out some luminance information inside of what is ultimately just a linear gradient, with you know some fall-drawl on top of it, but we're going from black over here on the left to white on the right in fairly equal increments.
So go up to the Image menu, choose Adjustments, choose Shadows/Highlights or press Ctrl+Alt+S or Command+Option+S if you got them and that brings up the Shadows/Highlights dialog box, which I've been careful to put over here on the right hand side of the screen and notice that doesn't really do anything for us. These default settings create a fairly garish effect and bring out way too much purple over here on left-hand side. So this is the original version of the gradient. We see that when I turn off the Preview check box. This is what it looks like. Thanks to Photoshop's default settings.
Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and reduce the Shadows value to 15% and then I'm going to tab my way down to the Highlights value and raise that to 30%. So basically I am increasing highlights to 30 and shadows to half that. It's really what's going on. Obviously, color correction get down to zero. If nothing else at least change that value there to zero, so you no longer have the up saturation effect happening. Then you can play around with these Radius values if you want to, and you're going to get different effects inside of this gradient as you do so.
That is, if you make big manipulations to the Radius value, either they are in the Shadows area or here in the Highlights area. But what I recommend for your everyday typical standard image is 50. I think that's a great place to start, 50 for both Radius values by the way. Leave Tonal Width set to 50 in both places as well and then go ahead and tweak your Midtone Contrast, and watch the gradient as I raise this value. You can see that I am bringing out more and more detail inside of those midtones. And it actually just keeps getting better to about 70% before we start breaking down and we have too much contrast right there at that middle row of colors, but it's interesting to see the depth of information that we're drawing forth using this function.
Anyway, I'm going to set my Midtone Contrast at 35, just as a starting point there. So these are my default settings. This is what I am suggesting. 50 for Amount for Shadows, 30 for Amount for Highlights, 50 for all the other options there, for Tonal Width and Radius for both Shadows and Highlights. Color Correction obviously zero, Midtone Contrast 35. Leave Black Clip and White Clip alone. Click the Save As Defaults button. These will now be your default settings from this point on and so the next time you bring up this dialog box it will already have these values inside of it.
Then you can if you want to, you can save out settings, that saves out a separate file of settings that you can then load later, so that's an option too, but that requires a little more work as you've to click on these buttons. Anyway, I'm going to click on OK in order to set that modification, so just to give you a sense of what we did here. This is the before version of the gradient and this is the after version, thanks to our default settings and I think we've got some pretty interesting effects going here. Notice that there is a pretty big break at this line right there and at this line right there, those represent key colors in my gradient that I applied using my Gradient Map Effect and as I say we'll explore that command.
It's a color adjustment function. Under the Image menu you go to Adjustments and there it is right there, Gradient Map. It's great for colorizing grayscale imagery, and we'll explore how it works in an upcoming chapter. In the meantime, let's go ahead and switch over to Face with fan here from that photographer Coka, and I'll go to the Image menu, choose Adjustments and choose Shadows/Highlights and lo and behold up come my recent default settings, the ones that I entered for this command, and they look pretty darn good where this sample image is concerned. It's not like it's going to work out great for every single image you encounter.
These are just defaults and over time if you decide you want to tweak your defaults, go for it. Absolutely, if you run into the same sorts of brightness contrast scenarios on regular basis that are well served by group of settings here inside Shadows/Highlights and I'd very much urge you to enter those settings into the dialog box. Click Save As Defaults in order to apply them to your future images and then at least that's a good jumping off point for your future edits. All right, I'll click OK in order to accept that modification. This is the before version of this particular image.
You can see that this left eye is in a fair amount of shadow and that we've got some pretty bright highlights over here on the right and then if I go ahead and reapply the command, then we've got some elevated shadows over here on the left. We are bringing out some problem colors, don't worry about that, this is just a demo image. We are also bringing out some definition inside of this iris as well as tempering the highlights over here in right hand side. So I consider this to be a successful group of defaults. In the next exercise we will move back to our image in progress, which obviously needs some work.
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