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In the all-new Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final installment of the popular series, join industry expert and award-winning author Deke McClelland for an in-depth tour of the most powerful and empowering features of Photoshop CS5. Discover the vast possibilities of traditional tools, such as masking and blend modes, and then delve into Smart Objects, Photomerge, as well as the new Puppet Warp, Mixer Brush, and HDR features. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced.
In this exercise I'm going to demonstrate the first stage of the darkening and lightning modes which go by the names Darken and Lighten and we also see their composite equivalents Darker Color and Lighter Color. Now, these are, by no means, the most useful of the darkening and lighting modes, in fact, quite the contrary; they are the least useful of these modes, but I want to understand how they work so you have a better appreciation of the better modes that we'll be seeing. Also they do have occasional applications and I'll throw in a creative application of both of these modes before we're done with this exercise.
Now, I'm still working inside Paper pushers.psd, found inside the 28_blending folder. I'm going to make some changes to this composition however. I'm going to turn off the wrestlers layer here in a Layers panel and I'm going to twirl open future stuff and I'm going to turn on this darkness layer this Adjustment layer. It's a brightness contrast layer that's dimming the background and that will just give us a better sense of how these modes work. A warning here because this is not pleasant to look at necessarily, but I have this sort of clown stripe gradient pattern going on here. Now, I am not adding this layer because I consider it to be good looking.
Once again quite the contrary, but it is going to show off how these modes work because we have these colors that will show up very easily against the parchment background. All right, I'm going to click on gradient, the gradient layer there to make it active, and I'm going to bring up the Blend mode pop-up menu and I'll choose Darken, but first just so that you have an idea of how it works, this is what's going on. Basically, it turns on and off pixels. So it keeps a pixel on if it's darker than the equivalent composite pixel in the background.
It turns the pixel off if it's lighter than the equivalent pixel in the background. So it just keeps the darker pixels on the layer. Now as soon as I choose this mode, the results may surprise you a little bit because we are getting these incremental transitions right here. So if it's an on or off proposition, either the pixels stays visible or it disappears which is what happens with this mode, why don't we see harsh transitions? Why don't we see jagged edges? And the reason is because this happens on a channel by channel basis.
So if I switch over to the Red channel, you can see that the gradient remains visible over here on the left-hand side and then turns invisible over on the right-hand side. In the Green channel, we have a little bit of gradient over on the left and then we have some gradient in the middle and just a smudge over here on the right. And then in a Blue channel, just barely any gradient on the left-hand side and there is column of gradient over toward the right side of the image. So it changes from one channel to the next. And as a result we get some moderately smooth transitions here inside the color composite image.
All right, I'm going to switch back to the Layers panel. Let's say you don't want those smooth transitions. You either want to be able to see the pixel or not see the pixel that's it; completely on/off proposition inside of the composite view, then you would switch from Darken to it's composite equivalent Darker Color. And you'll get the jagged transitions you've always been hoping for. So there they are. Now, exactly the opposite of these modes, by the way, are Lighten and Lighter Color. So Lighten is going to keep a pixel if it's lighter than the composite pixel below it, and it's going to make the pixel transparent in the active layer if it's darker than the composite pixel below it.
And that's going to happen on a channel by channel basis as you'll see when I choose the mode. So once again if I were to wander through the channels, you could see that the Red channel, we're seeing basically the opposite of what we saw with Darken. We're seeing the gradient bright over here on right side of the image. Then in the Green channel, we have a little bit of gradient far-right a column of gradient there and a column of gradient farther toward left. In the Blue channel, we see lots of gradient over here on the right-hand side and a big swath of gradient near the left-hand side. So as a result you get moderately smooth transitions here inside the color composite view whereas, if you don't want that, you want jagged transitions, then you'd switch from Lighten to Lighter Color, like so.
And basically Lighter Color is exactly the opposite of Darker Color. So right now we're seeing gradient, notice in this region here over on the right-hand side and this blue region sort of in the middle there. If switch from Lighter Color to Darker Color, it'll exactly switch notice that. So they are fundamentally opposite. The problem is that you get these jagged transitions. So that's not always what you want, in fact it's rarely what you'll want I'll say that. And even with Darken and Lighten, you end up getting some questionable transition, some sharp edges and so forth, but here I'll go ahead and show you a quick application for these modes.
I'll turn on the wrestlers layer once again and I'm going to go ahead and jump it by pressing Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac and I'll call this layer gblur because we're going to apply a Gaussian blur in just a moment. I'll click OK. Then I'll go out to the Filter menu, I'll choose Blur, and I'll choose Gaussian Blur. If you load a Deke keys, you've got a keyboard shortcut of Shift+F7. And I'm going to apply a Radius of 12 pixels just as you see there. All right, so I'll click OK. I'll zoom in on this woman's face over here on the right-hand side.
And then notice what happens if I switch to the mode to Darken. Then we get this pretty interesting effect I think. It does have a lot of sharp transitions in it, but we also have a bit of blur popping off the detail that we're keeping, this dark detail that remains intact. Now because we blurring image directly on top of itself, we don't have a lot of differences between the channels. So we're not going to see any difference between Darken and Darker Color where this specific effect is concerned. So you could use either in other words. An even better effect I think is switching over to Lighten or Lighter Color.
Again, they will deliver the same results where this specific effect is concerned. I'll go ahead and choose Lighten and notice how this time we're keeping the bright detail and we're blurring all of the darkness. So it's a pretty interesting effect I think. I'm going to go ahead and press the Escape key so that blend mode is not active anymore. Zoom out a little bit so we can see the bright blurred image on top of the original. In the next exercise we're going to take a detour from how Blend modes work so I can show you the Blend mode keyboard shortcuts. Stay tuned.
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