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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 the previous exercise, I was showing you how you can preview your colors in CMYK while you continue to work along in your RGB image. In this exercise, I want to give you a sense of how that conversion happens and how you test how accurately it occurs as well and what kinds of changes you might want to make. Now, I don't want to get too deep into color management here because it is ultimately a little bit of a quagmire, but I do want you to understand what's at work inside of Photoshop and how those settings that we originally established, under the Edit menu here, we chose the Color Settings command at the outset of the course and we established those Best Workflow CS5 settings as you may recall, how those settings affect what we're seeing on-screen and how reliable this CMYK proofing ultimately is.
So worst-case scenario, just let the information flow over you, best case, you'll actually gain some insights out of this exercise. So, note that I'm still working inside of Aggressive RGB mix.psd. I haven't made any changes to the file. I'll go up to the View menu. Turn on the Proof Colors command, Ctrl+Y, Command+Y on the Mac. Incidentally, you should see a full-color preview of your image. If you don't, go to the View menu, choose Proof Setup and choose this second command here Working CMYK. That switches to your Working CMYK profile.
You can also take a look by the way at the CMY Plates on their own, so you can get a sense of what kind of shadow details been offloaded to the black plate or you could go to Proof Setup and you could proof your image as it might look to someone who's colorblind, if that's a concern of yours. Anyway, I'm going to switch back to Working CMYK. Then I'll go up here to the View menu and turn on the Gamut Warning command as well, Ctrl+Shift+Y, Command+Shift+Y on the Mac. All right, now having done that, let's m go up to the Edit menu and choose the I' Color Settings command because now we can actually preview changes made to our CMYK proofing on-the-fly.
So I'll go ahead and choose that command and notice that my settings are set to Best Workflow CS5 just as I had you do at the outset of the course. Also notice that my CMYK Working Space is U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) as it is by default here in the States. I'm going to go ahead and move my dialog-box over as far as I can, so I can see the entire width of the image. Then I'll switch from U.S. web Coated to U.S. Web Uncoated. Notice just by virtue of the fact that I'm changing the paper stock, I have lots more gamut warnings going on inside of my image and I'm losing some color saturation as well.
That's because everything; the ink, the paper stock, the press conditions, the press itself, everything affects how accurately your colors are going to output. So, if you decide to cut corners and no value judgment here, just let's say your budget doesn't permit you to buy coated paper stock, why then, you're going to have to accept the fact that you're going to lose color quality from your full-color images that you're printing from Photoshop. Now, some of these color profiles, I suspect, are more accurate than others. For example, if I switch to US Newsprint, why then my gamut warnings just almost totally go away.
I lost all the gamut warnings in the eye and in her earring. So you would think that US Newsprint is just the best medium ever. Let's just compare that to printing to a Japanese newspaper in which case I lose colors all over the place. So, obviously, our newsprint technology is way ahead of theirs. Well, that's probably not true. My guess is this US Newsprint profile is overly optimistic. So my recommendation is that you talk directly with your commercial printer, work out what profile you want to be using here.
If you're really lucky, they may give you a color profile that matches their press conditions. All right, anyway, I'm going to switch back to U.S. Sheetfed Coated. I also want you to see the difference in the Intent setting here. You may recall that my instructions were to go ahead and use Perceptual if you primarily work with continuous tone photographic images and use Relative Colorimetric which is the default setting if you're primarily working with graphic designs. I'll go ahead and switch to Absolute Colorimetric. Nobody really recommends that you work with that setting, but just so you can see how much different things would be, if you were to map every single RGB color to its exact CMYK equivalent regardless of any other conditions out there, you would have clipping all over the place where your more saturated colors were concerned.
Compare that to Relative Colorimetric which takes into account white point and media and other characteristics in order to produce much more satisfactory output. So we have a lot less clipping going on. In fact, where the clipping is concerned, it's pretty equivalent to Perceptual. So we have roughly, if not exactly, the same clipping going on. What's different is how the colors are mapped in between. So, I'm going to go ahead and turn off Gamut Warning, so we can focus just on the core colors. I want you to see a big difference here between these two Intent settings.
So let's start off with Relative Colorimetric. Notice that the colors just got slightly brighter on-screen when I chose that option. So we have some brighter colors, some more intensely saturated colors inside the young woman's face in the foreground as well as inside the left half of the background woman's face. Also notice the background woman's hair. I'm going to go ahead and zoom-in on her, by the way, even though she's terribly out of focus, that's actually very useful for a comparison here.
I'm going to go ahead and now switch. Notice the back of her hair; I want you to watch those colors there. When I switch from Relative Colorimetric to Perceptual, those colors actually dimmed down. So why in the world am I recommending Perceptual over Relative Colorimetric when the latter obviously produces more saturated colors? Well, that's the whole point. Basically, you've got a trade-off going. If you choose Relative Colorimetric, then you're trading your volumetric transitions. So in other words, you may end up getting stair-stepping or banding inside of your gradients.
You may end up getting posterized edges around regions of neighboring color. So in any case you're sacrificing those transitional luminance levels between your shadows and your mid-tones and your highlights in return for getting more saturated colors, whereas you make the exact opposite trade-off if you switch to Perceptual. You're going to get better transitions between your colors, better volumetric forms, less banding. You're going to get less stair-stepping, less posterization, but in return, you've got to sacrifice some of those highly saturated colors.
Now where I'm concerned, I would much rather sacrifice the garishly saturated colors, which is what's going on inside this image and get the best color transitions possible out of my final commercial output. So that's why I recommend Perceptual for the Intent setting. Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and cancel out of this dialog-box. I just want you to have a sense of what's going on there. All right, so enough theory for now, I'm going to go up to the View menu. Turn that Proof Colors command off or press Ctrl+Y, Command+Y on the Mac. In the next exercise, I'm going to introduce you to a file that's just chalk-full of practical applications of the Channel Mixer adjustment layer
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