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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'm still working inside Snowy old barn.tif, found inside the 14_levels_curves folder. In this exercise, we're going to take a Curves Adjustment layer and we're going to apply it to the actual task of correcting this image. Now, I already have a Curves Adjustment layer at work here. But I'm going to clear it out by clicking on the Reset icon in the lower right corner of the Adjustments panel. Then I'm going to start to work using the Target Adjustment tool, which greatly simplifies the behavior of the Curves dialog box in my opinion. Now, notice that the pointing finger has an up-down arrow icon next to it, meaning that you're going to drag up and down inside the image in order to produce results.
So, go ahead and click on that tool to select it, and then I'm going to begin dragging from one of the darkest details inside the image, known as this point here, next to this knot. So, it's just little bit over, inside the right portion of the barn. If you're looking at the Input and Output levels at the bottom of the Adjustments panel, you should see that they say something around 21 is going to work out for us. You don't have to get that value exactly right. But 21 is a good starting point. Then click and drag up, and notice that the Target Adjustment tool automatically places a point on the graph, and then begins moving it along with your cursor.
So, if you drag up, you're going to assign a higher output value, thereby brightening the colors, and if you drag down, you're going to assign a lower output value, which will darken the colors. I obviously want to brighten this dark region. So, I'll go ahead and drag up until I see an output value of 36. So, in my case, if I move my cursor back here into the Adjustments panel, I can see then I'm mapping an Input level of 21 to an Output level of 36, bearing in mind once again that 0 is black and 255 is white.
All right, now I'm going to move my cursor back into the image window, and I'm going to find a fairly light detail, somewhere in a fairly shadowy region of snow, and notice, my cursor is directly below the barn here. If you check out the Input and Output values down at the bottom of the Adjustments panel, once again, you'll see that Input over on the right is 229, and Output over on the left is 240. I'm going to click and hold at that location, and I'm going to drag down, because I want to sink those dark colors.
I'm going to drag down until I get an Output value of 216. So, I'm mapping from, in my case, it looks like things shifted a little bit. I'm mapping from an Input level of 232 and Output level of 216. That's going to work out fine. Then I just want to brighten my quarter tones, ever so slightly, so I'm going to sort of move my cursor around this lump of snow, down here in the lower right region of the image. Once again, at the bottom of the Adjustments panel, once I see an Input level of around 189 or 195, either of those is going to work pretty good.
I've got 195 right now. I'm going to click and drag upwards slightly, in order to raise that Output value to 183. It was below 195 before, because the other points in the curve we're dragging it down. So, I'm just elevating it ever so slightly. I end up getting these points right here. Now, if you want me to review the values, here we go. I'll go ahead and press the Plus key until we go ahead and cycle around the points. You may recall, pressing the Plus key selects the next point in the curve, pressing the Minus key selects the previous point in the curve.
So, we start things off, if I press Minus once again here. We start things off with a black point, which is mapping 0 to 0. So, nothing's happening there. Then the next point in the graph maps from 21 to an Output level of 36. Then after that, we've got a point that maps from 195 to an Output level of 183. The next one maps an Input level of 230 to an Output level of 216. Then we have a fifth point, which is one of the default points. It goes from 255 to 255.
So, it keeps the whites white. We end up with this effect here. Now, I'll go ahead and press the M key, in order to switch back to my Rectangular Marquee tool. To give you a sense of what we have accomplished here, I'm going to go ahead and collapse the Adjustments panel. I'll turn off the curves layer. So, this is what the image looked like before. This is how it looks now. So, we not only have a brighter barn, but we also have darker snow in the background. I think it actually looks fairly terrific, but there's one other thing I want to do. I want to increase the Saturation of these colors like crazy, and once again, just as with that Fotolia image, I'm not going to even attempt to do a subtle job.
This is going to be fairly over-the-top. So, let's go ahead, and once again, expand the Adjustments panel, click the left-pointing arrowhead down in the bottom-left corner in order to switch back to the list of Adjustment layers. Once again, Alt+Click or Option+Click in the Vibrance button there, the first button in the second row, and I'll call this guy superblaster, and then I'll click OK. I'll start by raising the Saturation value to let's say 40. See how that looks. That brings out those colors in the slats of the barn. Then I'll press the Tab key to go to the Vibrance value, and I'll change it to a 100, its maximum setting, and we end up getting this effect here. Love it! All right, I'm going to collapse the Adjustments panel once again.
This is the before version of the image, very dark barn, very bright snow, way too much contrast inside the image. This is the after version of the image. Thanks to a combination of Curves and Vibrance working together! In the next exercise, I'm going to do some additional work to bring out the detail in the snow.
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