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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.
All right, let's mix up a custom black-and-white image. I still have opened those same two files from before Agrarian gothic.jpg and Grayscale composite.jpg. I've gone ahead and created a base channel mixer adjustment layer here inside the Layers panel, but I haven't really done anything with it yet. So, I'll go ahead and turn it on. Double-click on its thumbnail to bring up the Adjustments panel. If you are working along with me, make sure to turn Monochrome on and then from here it's a matter of deciding which values we want to work with. Now, I was saying let's go ahead and emphasize Blue the most and then Green and then Red.
So, why don't we just change out these values? Currently, we are seeing Green emphasize the most and these by the way are the default recipe for mixing an RGB image down to Grayscale. So, traditionally Green gets the most emphasis, Red slightly less and Blue way less than the others. Let's go ahead and switch things around. I am going to take that Blue value up to 50. Now, of course my Totals way too high, so I am clipping highlights like crazy inside the image. I'll Shift+Tab my way back to the Green value and let's go ahead and take that guy down to 30, let's say 30%.
Then I'll Shift+Tab to Red and take it down to 20% and we end up getting this mix here which is very different from what we saw a moment ago. What we saw a moment ago was very similar to this image here, the Grayscale composite.jpg file. So, this is your typical every day average grayscale mix, the default mix that Photoshop comes up with when you choose the Grayscale command compared with this wacky mix that we've created right here, which is fairly different. Now, let's say you look at this and you might as well go ahead and update the Histogram.
The values add up to 100% but we want to check how accurate our mix is. When I look at that I think well, we are kind of weak in the very dark shadow department and we are definitely weak with our light highlights. I'd love to expand the Contrast, that's not something you can do using the Channel Mixer by itself; definitely don't use the Constant by the way. That will just move that histogram back and forth. Look at it go slam and against the right-hand side of the graph. Leave that value set to 0, that's one I am looking for there. What I'd suggest instead is say you just go ahead if you're looking for Contrast; you just throw on a fairly straightforward Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer.
You might be able to achieve a little bit more control using something like Curves. But typically where black-and-white effects are concerned Brightness/Contrast gives you more than enough control and by the way it's very easy to apply. So, I'm going to click this left- pointing arrowhead in the bottom left corner of the Adjustments panel to Return to my adjustments list, and I'll Alt+Click or Option+Click in that very first icon and I'll just go ahead and call this B/C like usual. Click OK and I am going to start with the Contrast value. By the way make sure Use Legacy is turned off.
If you've been following along with me, it's very possible because the last Brightness/Contrast modification we applied, we went ahead and turn Use Legacy on. If you start raising that Contrast value very high at all, notice you're going to get some very strange effects very fast and that's Use Legacy for you. It's that terrible behavior that once upon a time was routinely associated with this command. So, go and turn off Use Legacy and you can increase the Contrast all the way to 100% without clipping either highlights or shadows.
You are going to have a lot of highlights that are very near to being clipped but they won't quite be clipped as you'll see if you update that histogram. But you will have a high degree of Contrast inside this image and this is great for like a film noir effect or something along those lines. If you want a significant amount of emphasis on those highlights and shadows and lot of contrast, why then absolutely go for it. I'd also recommend if you intend to print this image that you go ahead and take the Brightness up just a little bit because the image will darken up as you print it due to the fact that the halftone dots actually bleed into the paper and grow a little bigger and as a result the image grows a little darker.
So, you want to compensate accordingly. Anyway, in my case I don't want to go this far, and actually we start seeing banding in the background if I go with such a high Contrast value. So, I am going to take my Contrast level down to more like 30 I think and I'll take my Brightness down to 10. Use Legacy off once again and we get this result right here which I think is intensely dramatic. By comparison once again to the standard everyday average grayscale composite which is this guy here, this new effect is welcome indeed in my opinion.
All right, so that's one take on things. Let's try something different. I am going to leave that B/C layer intact because no matter what it's going to well serve our black-and-white needs. I'll turn off this Channel Mixer adjustment layer because after all I want to apply a slightly different adjustment. But I know what I have in this one is actually really good so I don't want to lose it. So, why not just set it aside, just turn it off and then go ahead and click on that Background layer once again, bring up the Adjustments panel and Alt+Click or Option+Click on the Channel Mixer icon once again, and I'll go ahead and call this one let's say, Infrared B&W. Basically, in infrared photography you end up sort of emphasizing one color channel way over another.
But it ends up being shorthand for raising one of the color channels beyond 100% and lowering the other one below 0%. Just, as we did in order to increase the saturation of the full-color image a few exercises back. All right, so let's start things off the way we need to by turning on the Monochrome check box here. Then I'm going to tab to the Green value and I am going to take it up to 100% so that we are taking absolute advantage of the Green channel. We are going to use every single luminance level that the channel has to offer. Then I am going to add in 50% Red which leaves us with way too much Brightness at this point.
Notice that our Total is now 170% and if I update that Histogram I have all kinds of clipping going on in the Highlight region. So, I need to take down some value and that some value is going to be blue. Instead, of having it set to 20 I'm going to go ahead and enter -50, like so. So, we have 100% Green plus 50% Red, -50 % blue takes us back to 100% as we can see represented by the Total and if I update that histogram it's looking good. Then we have a really great version of this grayscale image to show for it as well.
So, I'll go ahead and close the Adjustments panel. Again, that Brightness/Contrast layer is working very well for us. So, just by way of contrast here let's take a look at the original grayscale composite, that is the default grayscale composite right here, where it's a fairly lackluster image. As you can see, it has a fair amount of intensity associated with it but that's because of the subject of the image. Very interesting people to look at here, and also great composition as well with this one woman way in the foreground, the other woman out of focus in the background there.
But luminance wise it's not really too much to get excited about. Compare that to the version of the image that we have right which is very bold and very dramatic and appears to me at least a much better represent the scene.
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