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The third part of the popular and comprehensive series Photoshop CS6 One-on-One follows industry pro Deke McClelland as he plunges into the inner workings of Adobe Photoshop. He shows how to adjust your color, interface, and performance settings to get the best out of your images and the most out of Photoshop, and explores the power of Smart Objects, Shadows/Highlights, and Curves for making subtle, nondestructive adjustments. The course dives into Camera Raw to experiment with the editing toolset there, and returns to Photoshop to discuss toning, blur, and blend modes. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details and reducing noise, as well as creating quick and accurate selections with Quick Mask, Color Range, and Refine Edge commands.
In this movie, we'll take a look at the Refine Edge command's automatic edge detection functions, which are what really truly separate it from anything else inside Photoshop. So I have got this guy here, and his sharp edges are looking a little better, that is, the edges along his face, and along the top of his shoulder, but his hair looks terrible, as you can see here. We have got obvious color fringing going on along the back of his head, and then his hair, which obviously contains a ton of mousse, looks less human than porcupine at this point.
So I really want to refine that selection, so that we are masking individual strands of hair instead of big clumps of hair, as we are now. So with the layer mask thumbnail selected here inside the Layers panel, I'll go up to the Select menu, and once again choose Refine Mask in order to bring up the Refine Mask dialog box. And incidentally, in my experience, you can apply the Refine Edge or Refine Mask command as many times as you like in a row without really making any destructive modifications, and that's because, even though applying any command in a static capacity, which is what we're doing here, is technically destructive, we are not modifying the photographic image.
We are modifying the layer mask, and therefore we have a lot more leeway. Now, I want you to notice this Edge Detection feature right here. We can see that we have got a Radius value, and it's measured in pixels. The Feather setting is also a radius value, and it's measured in pixels, but there's a big difference. Folks tend to mix these two up, and they serve totally different purposes. Let me show you. If I take the Feather value up to 20, for example, then we end up creating a blurry mask, which doesn't do us any good. And I can especially see how little good it does me if I switch my view from On Black to On layers, so that I can see the sky in the background.
That is not a realistic mask at all. What it is is it's a fudge. We are just throwing up our hands in despair, and saying, well you know, better to have a blurry mask than that ugly thing we had before. Well, it turns out we can do much better than either. So I'll go ahead and reduce the Feather value to 0, so we get back to that porcupine hair, and now I'll change the Radius value up toward the top of the dialog box to 20 pixels, and press the Tab key, and notice what a different result we get. And just that one change makes a terrific difference to the image.
What's happening here is we're creating an alleyway around the edges of the image in which Photoshop can work its magic, and let me show you what I mean by that. I am going to turn on the Show Radius checkbox. Notice, all the areas that we can see -- that is, they're not covered in black -- those are the areas that fall inside of this 20 pixel radius, and that is the region in which the Refine Edge command will redefine the edges of the mask. So that's what's meant by Edge Detection right here. The Refine Mask command is saying, tell me the area in which I can run my edge detection, and I'll do it.
And with the 20 pixel radius, things work out pretty darn well. Problem is -- I'll go ahead and click in one of the numerical values, so I can zoom in by Control+Spacebar+Clicking; that would be Command+Spacebar+Clicking on the Mac. Notice this guy's forehead right there. So there is the hair at the top of the forehead. There is this shiny pale forehead, with a little bit of blue poking through, and that's because of edge detection. Basically, this is a bad result of edge detection, because after all, like any automated function, sometimes edge detection does great stuff, and sometimes it makes a mess of things. Well, you can address that problem by turning on the Smart Radius checkbox.
Let me zoom out here a couple of clicks, so you can see what happens to this alleyway, which right now is uniformly 20 pixels thick. Now, sometimes it looks to be thicker, but that's because the original edge of the mask was little wonky inside of some of these hair areas. If I turn on the Smart Radius checkbox, we are going to reduce the radius around the guy's face, while keeping the radius nice and big inside of his hair. So Photoshop is automatically addressing which areas need tighter control, and which areas need loose control.
That is to say, the face needs tight control, and the hair needs the loose stuff; needs a lot of edge detection. And so now if I turn off the Show Radius checkbox, you can see that that little shine there on the guy's forehead has disappeared to an extent. It's still there a little bit, but it looks a lot better than it did before. All right, but tell you what; it's not quite everything I would like. We still have some color fringing along the back of the guy's head. We have an awful lot of the original background appearing inside of his hair, and then we have some kind of messed up edges down here.
If you zoom in on the guy's chin, you can see we have some holes in the chin. We have some holes in the sport coat. We have a hole in his shoulder as well. Fortunately, we can take care of all of those problems by brushing in our own custom edge enhancements, just as we'll do in the next movie.
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