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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 exercise I'm going to introduce you to the various means of anti-aliasing that are available to you when you are working with text. I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far as the document called Itching for obscurity and we are going to zoom in a little here to get a sense of just how wonderful this next feature with the Body copy layer active, of course that's very important. I'm going to select the Type tool and then notice that we have this aa option right there. That stands for anti-aliasing and right now it's set to Sharp.
Let's start things off with None, so that you can see that None gives this very jagged type. Not good for web work, not good for close up work. What it's good for, if it's good for anything is a very, very high resolution print work like 600 PPI or 1200 PPI pixels per inch, because that way you don't have any softening or any smoothing around the outside edges of the text. You just have solid pixels on or off, which can be useful. But it's not useful in this case. We've got just a moderate resolution image. If I press Ctrl+Alt+I or Command+Option+I on the Mac, you can see the resolution is 200 pixels per inch.
That's not moderate, that's low. So this is a fairly low-resolution image that we have going, and not suited at all for None. All right. So now let's take a look at the others. Now Sharp, this is me reading, manages to anti-alias the type while maintaining sharp corners. This preserves the best character definition especially when applied to small letters with Serifs and the Serifs have the little flourishes. We don't have any Serifs here. If you need to round off the corners ever so slightly, then you can switch from Sharp to Crisp, which is basically less sharp than sharp. Think of it that way.
So if things are looking too jagged with Sharp, then you can smooth things out ever so slightly, really a subtle by switching to Crisp. Are you ready? You are going to watch for it. Okay, hear it is. Did you see that? That is pretty darn subtle, but another thing to bear in mind it's not only subtle, it just changed the letter shapes, check out the Es in teen, for example. This was sharp, which had the sort of squat Es by comparison and this right there are the taller, thinner, skinnier Es. So does that really go with my description, which rounds off the corners slightly? I don't think so. It just changed the letter shapes. The thing to bear in mind really honestly is when you are working with text especially that you are formatting for the web, so you are going to be really closing on that texture end users, why then these options come in very handy and you might want to try them out just to see how they are going to affect the text.
Now even though anti-aliasing is here inside the Character palette, there it is right there, it is not applied to just the selected characters of the tex. It's applied to the entire text layer. So it's very misleading that it's here. But these bottom two options really don't have anything to do with the characters per se. So this is going to affect the entire text layer, just something to bear in mind. Let's say you want your characters to bulk up a little bit. You go to Strong and that's going to thicken them. So if you are losing your characters, you are working with very slight font of some sort, you want to thicken things up and go strong and that will make things meatier.
Then if you want to smooth things out, you try Smooth. Now my experience has not been that smooth, as any smoother than any of the other options. In fact, let's go to Sharp for a second. Well, that's pretty different. Let's go to Crisp. There is Crisp and there is Smooth. So that just kind of jumped the letters up a little bit. So Smooth and Crisp where this specific font is concerned are similar to each other. Let's try strong just because this is pretty small text and I want it to look nice and beefy. All right, let's now zoom out if you are working along with me, and I'm going to press the Escape key to deactivate this option right there. Let's move the text up.
So just to give you a sense of what we are able to accomplish here, this was Sharp and this was Strong. So that does make the characters thicker, but it also makes them slightly taller. We are going to talk about fractional width in the next exercise.
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