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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.
I've saved the results of the previous exercise as Trinkets.psd. We're now going to transition from our tour of the various layer Effects options to a project in which we're going to synthesize something out of nowhere, using a combination of some of the best of Photoshop's filters, along with layer Effects. Let me show you what that looks like. I am going to switch over to this file here. It's called Slippery when wet.psd, and it contains these synthetic water droplets. Now, these are generated from nothing; this is all a process of imagination between you and Photoshop.
No paintings, nothing like that. It's a few filtering effects; combination of Add Noise and Gaussian Blur, along with a couple of Adjustment layers. And then you go ahead and apply a series of layer Effects. Let me show you what the droplets look like to start things off. I'm going to click on this droplets layer right there, and I'm then going to right-click on this layer, in an empty portion of the layer. I am going to choose Clear layer Style, which will wipe out everything. It's going to wipe out all the layer Effects, the Blend mode, the Opacity, everything, and this is what this layer really looks like, a bunch of black blobs essentially.
So that's how you start things off. You have to create this kind of effect here, and that's all Filters and Adjustment layers by the way; again, no painting on your part. Then after we finish that, then we apply the layer Effects, and we end up getting this result here. So that's what you have to look forward to. We're going to start things off inside of this image. It's called Room to spare.psd. So called because it's just that wood image from Carl Durocher of the Fotolia Image Library. You may recall that this image has been set on an independent layer throughout the entire chapter.
That is, it's not a background layer, and it has been a little bigger than the canvas size. So I went ahead and expanded the canvas size 100 pixels in each direction; that is 100 top, 100 left, 100 down, and 100 to the right, and that's more than exposed the wood image. We also have a little bit of transparency around the edge. The whole reason I'm doing that is because, as we apply the layer styles to our droplets, we're going to have some harsh beveled edges around the perimeter of the image itself, and that's going to look totally wrong, so we're going to have to crop those edges away.
So we just want to give ourselves, in other words, a little extra room to work. Now, the good news for those of you who are not premium members and do not have access to the exercise files is you can still follow along with me, all you need is a picture of some wood. You don't even need that. I mean you could just shoot a picture of your wall or a paper towel or anything. You just need some sort of textural pattern to start things off with, and then we're going to spill some water on it, as you'll see. All right, so I am going to go ahead and Zoom in a little bit, just so that we're hiding those extra edges.
Here's how you create the droplets. Step number one, you need to generate some noise in the image, and we're going to do that using the Add Noise Filter. The whole reason we're using Add Noise is to create some random variations that we can then basically bulk out in order to create droplets. So you could either work with Add Noise, which tends to deliver the best results by the way, or you can achieve a certain degree of success, if you're feeling adventurous, by going down here to the Render submenu and trying out Clouds. As I've mentioned before, the Clouds Filter also generates noise.
It's just a different kind of noise, it's fractal noise, and it's going to lend a different quality to your water effect. Anyway, we need to start with a New layer. So I am going to go ahead and press Ctrl +Shift+N or Cmd+Shift+N on the Mac, and I'm going to call my New layer noise, and I'll click OK. Now, you may recall the Add Noise Filter needs something to operate on. That is, it can't just be a transparent layer. So I am going to fill this layer with 50% Gray, so I'll press Shift+Backspace or Shift+Delete on the Mac to invoke to Fill command; you could also choose the Fill command from the Edit menu if you want.
Then from Use, make sure it's not set to Content-Aware scale. Well, that's actually dimmed right now, because I am working on a blank layer, but we want 50% Gray. Make sure the Blend mode is Normal, Opacity is 100, Preserve Transparency is turned off, otherwise you won't fill a single pixel, because you'll maintain the transparency of the layer, which is altogether transparent. Anyway, click OK, and we now have grayness. It doesn't look like a water droplet at all so far, but it's going to in just a moment. Go up to the Filter menu and choose the Noise command and then choose Add Noise.
And these are the values I want you to enter. I want you to crank that Amount value up to 50%, which is pretty high for Noise. You can go much higher than that if you wanted, to 400%, but we don't need that much Noise. 50% will do us. Uniform is our best bet for this effect. And then turn on Monochromatic. That's very important. Then click OK in order to create this noisy effect that you see before you here on my screen. I'm going to go ahead and Zoom in actually to 100%, so we have something of a better view of what's going on.
I don't think it actually helps all that much at this point, but it will shortly. All right, the next step is to glom the noise together, because currently we have what you might think of as being tiny little single pixel droplets that are entirely independent from each other. They need to be bigger and gooier, and they need to seep into each other. And there's a couple of ways to gum things together inside of Photoshop. There is the Median command. We've looked at that filter a little bit over time. But for our purposes here, we want some roundness as well, and the Median command isn't going to give us the roundness we're looking for the kind of contouring.
So we're going to try out a filter that ends up turning things into circles essentially over time. That is, under the Filter menu, you choose Blur, and then you choose Gaussian Blur. If you loaded dekeKeys, you've got a keyboard shortcut of Shift+F7. So I'll go ahead and choose this command, and I want you to enter a value; this just happens to work well for the image we're working on right now. I'm going to change my Radius value to 28 pixels. That's going to give us some big gooey drops like we saw just a moment ago, in the final version of the image, Slippery when wet.psd.
If you want smaller drops, you'd lower the Radius value. If you want bigger drops, you'd raise the Radius value. Anyway, once again for this image 28 works quite nicely. I'll click OK in order accept that value. Now, if you're working along with me, you may be able to, on your screen, see some very slight distinctions in the gray values. I can see it here as I'm looking at my screen. I am going to go ahead and Zoom in on one of these items, like that guy right there. It's a slightly darker gray blob against a slightly lighter gray background.
Now, I'm not sure if that's showing up in video at all, but the fact of the matter is we need to draw that effect out. We need to enhance the difference between that darkish gray blob and the areas around it that are only slightly lighter. We can do that using a color adjustment we haven't seen so far called Threshold, and I'll show you how that works in the very next exercise.
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