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Photoshop is one of the world’s most powerful image editors, and it can be daunting to try to use skillfully. Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, 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 CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
I am still working inside the document called With outer glow.psd and the only modification I have made is that I have changed the Fill value right here to 75%. Now that we have seen an overview of the blend modes, we have seen their shortcuts, let's dig into the second group right here, because we have already seen Normal and Dissolve, that goes from Darken to Darker Color which are actually very similar to each other. These are the darkening modes, because they cast shadows as you will see. So let's start with Darken and I'm applying by the way the Darken mode to the Statue layer right there.
Notice that it affects the interior of the layer. Blend modes do not affect exterior effects like the Outer Glow; they have their own independent blend modes. So if you were to double-click on Outer Glow, you would see that it has got its own blend mode, which happens to be a Lightening mode so it has the opposite effect going essentially. All right, cancel out of there. So I have got ahead and applied Darken to this layer and what it's doing, let's go ahead and zoom in here a little bit, it's keeping a pixel inside of the active layer if it's darker than the layer or layers below and it's making the pixel transparent if the pixels below are darker.
So if the pixel here is lighter, then it goes away. If it's darker, it stays. But this happens on a channel by channel basis. So I'm going to switch between the channels by pressing Ctrl+3+4+5 for Red, Green, Blue. That's Command+3+4+5 on a Mac. So this is the Red channel right there and we are either going to see a pixel if it's darker or not see a pixel if it's lighter and there is the Green channel and there is Blue channel. So basically the layer is looking different from one channel to the next and as a result if I switch back to the RGB composite image, we are going to get some color variations, wandering colors here, and some slightly smooth transitions as well, thanks to the Darken function.
If you don't want to calculate the effect on a channel by channel basis, you can switch from darken to this one here, Darker Color, the one at the end of the Darkening list. That is going to keep the pixel, if it's darker, on a composite basis and throw it away, if it's lighter on a composite basis. And when I say throw it away, I mean this is all happening on the fly. No pixels are really being harmed or permanently affected by any of these blend modes. So they are just turning transparent temporarily here. You can see as a result, we get colors that are closer to being the colors that were originally in a Statue or the Background image.
However, we also get harsh transitions. So it's up to you which way you go there. I'm going to tell you that you are not going to use darker color very often and you are not going to use darken much more than that. Where darkening effects are concerned, your best bet all the time, every time is going to be Multiply. That's where you start, if you are trying to use one layer to darken another. So I'll go ahead and choose multiply and notice now that we get these nice warm colors here and some very smooth transitions, never do we have a blocky transition.
So I'll do this from the keyboard. This is the difference the Darken modes, which is Shift+Alt+K or Shift+Option+K on a Mac and the Multiply modes which is Shift+Alt+M or Shift+Option+M on the Mac. So Multiply is a thing of beauty. Now it deserves a little more discussion than I have given it thus far and so thusly I will. Here is the idea. Rhis is one of the rare modes. It's actually named after its math. Photoshop actually goes ahead and multiplies on a channel by channel basis the luminance of any pixel inside this layer with the composite pixel behind it and in this case, it would just be the pixel directly behind it in the Background layer.
So it just goes ahead and multiplies the luminance of those pixels and that ends up making the effect darker, but it might be more useful than that rather than thinking in terms of the underlying math. It is perhaps more useful to think of it this way. Think of the statue being on one transparency, and think of the sky, the background here, being on another transparency, and then we take those two transparencies and we put one directly on top of the other on a light table. So the light has to shine through two layers of pigment essentially.
So it has to work harder to get through that pigment and as a result we have darker colors. Now we also tend to get slightly more saturated and more rich colors as well out of Multiply. It is ideal for creating shadows, it's great for dropping out whites and other light colors on a layer and keeping just the dark colors, it's great for creating Magic Marker effects, it's just a totally awesome blend mode and it is second in utility only to Normal. When in doubt, you want to darken, go with Multiply.
All right, if things are dark enough with Multiply that's when you turn the Color Burn and Linear Burn. Let me show you what those look like. I'm going to go ahead and zoom out a little bit here. I'm actually going to take the image to 60%, because that's where it fits inside of this window quite nicely and the way that I'm going to switch to the other blend modes is I'm going to press Shift+ Plus . So Shift+Plus here for Color Burn and this is usually the way I work. If I'm thinking of a darkening effect, I'll start with Multiply, so Shift+Alt+M, Shift+Option+M on the Mac and then I'll press Shift+Plus to check out Color Burn, just in case, and then Shift+ Plus again to check out Linear Burn just in case.
All right, so let's back up, Ctrl+Alt+ Z, Command+Option+Z on a Mac a couple of times, do it again. Here is Color Burn and the thing with Color Burn is it's a higher impact effect than Multiply, it uses pretty different math. And it also results in very, very saturated colors, saturated midtone, like crazy, and you pretty much drop out all of your highlights. If you want an effect, a similar effect, but you want something that's even darker, higher impact, but less saturated color, not these over hot colors here, then you want to try out Linear Burn.
And that's Linear Burn right there. Now both of these effects I regard as being too much for this particular composition, or do I? And actually we'll find a way to make Linear Burn work for us, because Linear Burn and Color Burn, both of these guys, they react differently to Fill than they do to Opacity. And that's really rare. Most blend modes react in exactly the same way to Opacity or Fill. There are just eight blend modes and Color Burn and Linear Burn are two of them, just eight blend modes that respond differently to these two options, and I'm going to show you how that works in the very next exercise.
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