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Photoshop mastery can be elusive, but in Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery, best-selling author and video trainer Deke McClelland teaches the most powerful, unconventional, and flexible features of the program. In this third and final installment of the popular and comprehensive series, Deke delves into the strongest features that Photoshop has to offer, including scalable vector graphics, Smart Objects, and Photomerge. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, both part of the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
All right gang, we're back inside the Bridge looking at the contents of the Alcatraz sub-folder found inside the 28 Auto-Align folder, and what we've got is a bunch of photographs of good old Alcatraz. And I had high telephoto lens. So I wanted to zoom in and get a bunch of tight shots of various pieces of the island that I could then stitch together using the Photomerge function. Now I'm going to tell you something about Photomerge inside of Photoshop. Once upon a time it was one of the most wretched features in the program. I kid you not. It was so awful.
And it was the kind of the thing that you would just sit there and go "that didn't work again" and now it has transformed into this amazingly capable feature. It's gotten even better, it was really great in Photoshop CS3, and it's got even better in Photoshop CS4. So check it out, we got I think a total of 10 photographs going here. And they really kind of are little bit all over the map. I went ahead and edited them all together. So they have the exact same Camera Raw settings, and the same amount of jpg. I've reduced their size of course, because otherwise you were asking for trouble. You were just like cruising for bruising, if you go with full 10 megapixel, 12 megapixel and higher images and merged together 10 of them, I know because I did it.
You end up with like a 450-megabyte file, and then you watch Photoshop cry. By the way Photomerge I should tell you is a combination of the Auto-Align and Auto-Blend working together on their own without any help from you. And what's going to happen when something goes wrong is it will either complain and just say forget about it, I'm not going to work, I'm out of memory, sorry. In which case you restart Photoshop of course, or it can just get through the Auto-Align part of the deal, and it looks all choppy and weird, and the details don't match, and that's because it didn't get around to Auto-Blend, and sometimes it will tell you, ran out of memory, and sometimes it just won't do it, and then you'll have to try to perform it manually, and then it'll run out of memory and you'll have to restart Photoshop.
So there is a lot of different delightful things that can happen, but if you start with moderate resolution images in the first place, so go ahead and down sample them all to the same degree of course, then it can work out pretty darn nicely, and it's going to work out very nicely, knock on wood for us. So we'll see how it goes, anyway. I got these many images here, and this is the order in which I shot them. Here is the tip of Alcatraz, and then here's farther end, and notice the overlap, quite a bit of overlap going on. I'm remaining stationary. Okay, so I'm not moving my feet. That's one of the very important things. Don't go on wandering, because if you start moving around, you have that perspective problem and Photomerge is no more capable of reconciling problems with perspective than Auto-Align is because it is Auto-Align.
It's just Auto-Align and Auto-Blend mixed together. So of course it can't do it. So make sure that you are relatively stationary, keep your feet planted, you don't have to have a tripod. There is the good news, you do want to swivel your body in order to take the shots. Here is the next one. So a fair amount of overlap again, you'll hear people recommend about a third overlap from one shot to the next. But what do you know from a third overlap, just try to keep an eye on one of the details, and make sure that it appears in the next shot too.
So this time there was a water tower, and here's the next image. Not much different. I'm just kind of lowering a little bit, looking down a little bit more, and here's this. I don't know what I'm doing at this point, but there is a fair amount of overlap going on. Oh, now I moved. Good. There is-- We are down in the bush and now I'm moving back over to the right. And yeah, this is going to work out great. Really the trick is make sure there's overlap, make sure you don't move your feet, just swivel, just a little bit. And when you got a monstrous telephoto lens there's a little bit a swivel goes a long way, and I believe that's the end of it. Yeah, we're back to the original picture. All right, those are your 10, two of them really aren't necessary, but who cares, and what we're going to do, as I'm going to have you press Ctrl+A or Command+A on the Mac in order to select all of these images inside the bridge. Then go up to the tools menu, choose Photoshop, and choose Photomerge, and you'll once again bear witness to this dialog box right here, and when I say this dialog box, we got to wait for it, there it is.
And we're seeing that we have a bunch of different layout options available to us. What I suggest you do is start with Auto, if you end up having problems, and things don't look right. Sometimes you can get this weird bow-tie effects, and if that happens then Undo, start over, try out Cylindrical, would be your next bet, and then if that doesn't work, try out Spherical, and you can compare these two and see how they fair. But I would start with Auto, because it's probably going to come over some blend of cylindrical and spherical and perspective all by itself. Now you definitely want to blend the images together. You should see all the files listed by the way, and if you decided you didn't want a file, you can click on it and remove it. But I can't remember which ones are the ones that are duplicates, so who cares.
We'll just make Photoshop work a little harder, and then blend images together, most definitely you want the blend to happen. Vignette removal, you would do that if you have some vignetting from one photo to the next, which would be some darkening in the corners. If you have any degree of darkening from one photograph to the next photograph, so they would all have darkening presumably, because of the lens you are using. Then you would turn that on, and that will help to solve any variations in luminance levels between one photograph and the next, because other wise you'll have the scene getting darker and lighter, and darker and lighter. In our case we don't have that problem. You only want to turn it on if you got the problem.
And you can just check your images to see. And then Geometric distortion correction, again, if you are working with the special lens that is distorting the scene I was in, leave it off, unless you really need it, because that increases the complexity of the operation like crazy. All right, so now we're ready. We would just go ahead and click OK, and we'd watch the Fireworks, and what you're going to see is you're going to see Photoshop first of all heap all of the images into a single multi layered document. So it performs that first task that we've been doing over and over again from the bridge, where we were choosing that throw a multiple images in the layers, whatever that thing is called. Then it runs the Auto-Align function right there, and you can see it happen.
Now this time it knows that we want a Photomerge effect. So in other words, instead of trying to align the photographs directly on top of each other, it's going to expand the canvas and put the images in different locations as witnessed by these thumbnails inside of the Layers palette. Then you want to see this Progress bar. Blend selected layers based on content, and if you don't see that, that's a bad sign. It means, Photoshop ran out of memory or got confused or had some other problem, and then create the seamless composition, that's the masking and then, all right, so I'm going to go ahead and Shift+Tab away my palette for a moment, just because I need more horizontal room, and you can see them all. They are still separated, they are still editable and so on. But I'm going to Shift+Tab them away, and then I'm going to press Ctrl +Plus in order to zoom in on this composition.
Now we have some bad edges, of course, we're going to have to do some cropping, but I'm here to tell you that is a darn nice merge. Now I think it could be better, I think we could correct this image, and I'll show you how I think we can go about best correcting it in the next exercise.
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