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The third part of the popular and comprehensive series Photoshop CS6 One-on-One follows industry pro Deke McClelland as he plunges into the inner workings of Adobe Photoshop. He shows how to adjust your color, interface, and performance settings to get the best out of your images and the most out of Photoshop, and explores the power of Smart Objects, Shadows/Highlights, and Curves for making subtle, nondestructive adjustments. The course dives into Camera Raw to experiment with the editing toolset there, and returns to Photoshop to discuss toning, blur, and blend modes. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details and reducing noise, as well as creating quick and accurate selections with Quick Mask, Color Range, and Refine Edge commands.
Now creating a custom gradient is all very well and good, but if that was the only option, it would mean you'd have to customize even the best of gradients on an image by image basis, because the luminance levels in every single image are different. But if instead, you just like to take your collection of gradients and shoehorn them to fit an image, just make them fit. Well in that case, the solution is to adjust the Blend Modes and Opacity Settings. And here's what that looks like. I'll start things off by double-clicking on the thumbnail for this Quadtone layer, and then I'll click the down pointing arrow head, and I'll just grab one of my preset gradients, such as Green repeat, and you can see how it ends up creating these sort of ghostly areas of green inside of the darkest of the shadows.
That's probably not the effect we're looking for right off the bat, because it ends up with lot of posterization inside the image. So I'll hide the Properties panel. To make any gradient work, if you just want to map it to the existing luminance levels inside the image, you can choose Color, and that will take care of the problem immediately. So you're just taking all of the colors inside of that gradient and mapping them to the luminance levels inside the image. Another way to work that may turn out to deliver more exciting results is to switch to one of the first two contrast modes, either Overlay or Soft Light.
I'll start with Overlay here, and you can see that that's a little bit over the top, but we do get an amazing high contrast effect. I'll go ahead and press the Escape key so that the blend mode is no longer active. If it goes too far, for example, in our case we're over darkening the shadows and over brightening the highlights, because overlay and the other contrast modes tend to increase the contrast of the image. Then go ahead and press something like the 5 key to reduce the opacity to 50% and we get this effect here, which is pretty great, but I also urge you to try out the Soft Light mode.
So, I'll increase the opacity to 100% and switch the mode from Overlay to the next mode down, Soft Light, and then I'll again press the Escape key, so the blend mode is no longer active here on the PC, and we end up with this really awesome effect in my opinion. I'm just going to take the Opacity down a little bit by pressing the 7 key for 70%. All right, so that's how things fare in a low color image that we didn't even bother to convert to black and white in first place. What if we start with a black-and-white image? I'll go ahead and switch over to our couple again, double-click on the thumbnails for its Gradient Map Adjustment layer, and then this time I'll change to gradient to another one of my presets, which is Blue repeat.
And we get this effect here where once again the shadows are leaping forward and becoming bright, because of that range of moderately bright colors inside the gradient. So I'll press the Enter key in order to hide those gradients and then I'll close the Properties panel and I'll experiment with a Blend Modes once again. You can try out Overlay if you want to, that's going to produce pretty harsh effect in the case of this image. So I'm going to switch forward, and by the way, give you a little keyboard shortcut here. If I press the Escape key so the blend mode is not longer active, again, you only have to do that on the PC, I can advance to the next Blend mode, whether I'm on a Mac or the PC by pressing Shift+Plus (+) and that will take me from Overlay to Soft Light in this case.
If I press Shift+Minus (-) it would take me the other direction from Soft Light to Overlay. Anyway, I want the Soft Light mode, so I'll go ahead and select it, and then I'll press the 3 key to reduce the opacity to 30% and we get this effect here. So, just for the sake of comparison, if I turn the layer off, this is the no color grayscale image, and then if I turn layer back on, this is that same image infused with just a little bit of color. Now I'll press the F key in order to fill the screen with the image and zoom on in as well.
And so this is that colorized version of the black and white image of the couple and then this is the hand tinted version really, of the low color landscape image, both created using Gradient Map along with the Soft Light mode and some reduced opacity levels, here inside Photoshop.
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