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Photoshop is the tool of choice for most creative professionals and has quickly become household name synonymous with computer art and image manipulation. In Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics, internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland teaches such digital-age wonders as masking, filters, layers, blend modes, Liquify, Vanishing Point, and vector-based type. Along the way, Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, trimming away jowls and fat, and wrapping one image around the surface of another. Plus, the training teaches how to construct and organize the elements in a composition so you can edit them easily in the future. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Ready for more Photoshop CS3 training with Deke? Check out Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Advanced Techniques.
Note: Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials is a recommended prerequisite to Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
Now I assume you have been working along with me for the last few exercises, if you have then you have a layered composition and we can see here inside the Layers pallet that includes the background image from photographer M. Lenny with two blend mode variations of this portrait shot from photographer Pascal Jeness, one set to the Linear Dodge mode and the other set to the Normal mode subject to a Layer Mask. We are now going to set about editing that Layer Mask, but before we do, we need to evaluate what in the world we are trying to accomplish here, so I am going to zoom in.
Notice that we still have these heavy edges going on, they are not only these dark fringes, but they are also kind of sharp fringes, which really doesn't make sense in the context of these very soft blurry details, these out-of-focal range details in the bottom portion of the hair. Meanwhile at the top of the hair, we have very sharply focussed individual strands of hair that we don't want to mess up, so we want to soften this bottom detail without affecting the top detail at all.
And we are going to do that by modifying the Layer Mask. But what I am basically suggesting is that we need to modify the bottom portion of the Layer Mask independently of the top portion of the Layer Mask. And we are going to do that using something called a Gradient Mask and I am going to create that Gradient Mask using the Quick Mask mode. So go down to the bottom of the toolbox here and notice that there is this little circle on the rectangle icon available to us right underneath the foreground and background colors.
And if you hover over this little icon it tells you that you are going to edit something in the Quick Mask mode, you are going to edit the selection as it turns out in the Quick Mask mode. Well there is no selection right now, so if you click on this little icon or press the Q key for Quick Mask mode to enter the Quick Mask mode, you won't see anything different because we didn't have a Selection Outline to start with, so now we don't have anything going on inside the Quick Mask mode, but we can add something to this mode, specifically a gradient. Now the idea behind the Quick Mask mode is that it allows you to basically create a temporary mask that you will immediately convert into a Selection Outline.
And it's just that it's just handy as heck, so go ahead and select the gradient tool by clicking on it here in the toolbox or by pressing the G key. And then go up to the Options bar, click the down pointing arrowhead and make sure that the first of the gradients is selected, this guy that says foreground-to-background, go ahead and click on it in order to make it active, then press the Enter key or the Return key in order to hide that pop-up pallet. I would also like you just as a precaution to press D key, D as in default colors to make sure black is your foreground color and white is your background color.
Alright now we are ready to roll, and we are going to draw a vertical that is drop-downward here, a vertical black to white gradient. Let's go ahead and drag it over her eye, actually because it's a good way to measure this gradient. We are really trying to select portions of her hair but because this is a vertical gradient, it's going to look the same way across the entire width of the Image. So I am going to drag from roughly the top of our eyebrow here, down to just below her eye like so. And I am going to press the Shift key as I drag, press and hold that Shift key so that you are constraining the angle of your gradient to exactly vertical like this.
Alright then go ahead and release the mouse button and then release the Shift key. Now it may come as a surprise that your black to white gradient ends up looking red to transparent, like a red to transparent overlay. That's a function of working inside the Quick Mask mode. Any portion of the Image that's going to be deselected up here is red and any portion that will be selected up here is transparent. There is no overlay in top of it. And that is how the Quick Mask works. Alright having done this, you should see this fading red at the top of the image.
Once you see that, either go ahead and click on the Quick Mask button again or just press the Q key again in order to leave the Quick Mask mode and convert that temporary mask into a Selection Outline. Now it's just going to look like a rectangular marquee and the reason we are seeing this horizontal line of marching ends through the center of the gradient is because the marching ends represent a threshold between the 50% least selected pixels and the 50% most selected pixels, so I can't hope to represent that entire gradient.
But were you to switch back into the Quick Mask mode, you would see that the gradient is still intact, alright. So again entering and exiting the Quick Mask mode just like any conversion between a mask and a Selection Outline is a non-destructive transformation. You are not hurting the selection or the mask by going back and forth. Alright we are now ready to use this Selection Outline in order to modify the Layer Mask, so I want you to click on the Layer Mask thumbnail here inside the Layers pallet. And starting in the next exercise, we are going to blur the selection portion of the Layer Mask and we are going to apply the Levels Command in order to back off these edges, so we no longer see those dark fringes and we see nice soft transitions.
Please stay tuned.
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