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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.
All right. In this exercise we're going to take a look at the final Free Transform option, which goes by the name Warp. We saw Warp as it applies to type; actually as it doesn't apply to type, because we had to convert the type to Shape Outlines, as you may recall, back in the previous chapter. In this exercise we're going to see how we might apply Warp to pixel-based layers, and it works a little differently. All right. I've gone ahead and restored the original Blue boy.psd image. I'm going to go ahead and Click on the hands group and Shift+Click on the Face group, so that we've selected the entire clock, just like in the previous exercise.
Then I want you to go to the Edit menu, choose Transform, and notice that the Warp command is dimmed. The reason being, you cannot apply Warp to multiple layers at a time. It works on one layer and one layer only. So what are we to do? Well, I'll tell you, what we're going to do is scoot over a couple of elements to the Layer menu, and then choose Merge Layers, by pressing Ctrl+E or Command+E on the Mac. Photoshop has gone ahead and rendered out. Notice that there is no Layer Effects anymore. They've all been rendered out as pixels. Your image should look identical to the way it looks before.
Photoshop should do a brilliant job of rendering everything out. But you don't have access to any of those parametric controls anymore, because you just have this one flat item here. Now, if you're at all concerned about that, you want to retain those layers just in case you want to do something with them later, for example, then try out this keyboard shortcut. First, press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo the emerging of those layers, and press Ctrl+Alt+E or Command+Option+E on the Mac, and now you have hands merged and the original layers are still intact. Go ahead and turn them off, because we want to hide them for now.
Then let's go ahead and rename hands ( merged), because it's not hands, it's a clock. So let's just go ahead and name it clock, and you could keep that merged if you want to, just so that you remember that it came from these layers below. All right. Now, we're ready to apply Warp. There is a few different ways to do it. Here we go. You can go to the Edit menu, you can choose Transform, you can choose the Warp command. If you loaded Deke Keys, you can press Ctrl+Shift+R or Command+Shift+R on the Mac, or you can go ahead and choose the Free Transform command, or press Ctrl+T to enter the Free Transform Mode. Then you go up to the Options Bar and you've got this little guy there. Click on it.
That goes ahead and switches you into the Warp Mode, and now you have a variety of different Warp options to choose from over here. So notice, if you go to this drop- down menu, this pop-up menu here, you can choose from those predefined Warp functions that we saw back in the previous chapter, and you can use them as jumping-off points for a custom distortion. For example, let's say I apply a Flag Distortion, like so, which does give me a pretty darn warpy clock right now. If I wanted to, I could calm down the Bend value a little bit, let's say take it down to 30%. Then if I decide, gosh, I want custom control over this, then I switch to Custom, and now I have my control handles and points and everything else I need.
Now, you're thinking, control handles and points and everything else you need, Deke, what in world are you talking about? Well, let me show you. Let's go ahead and unwarp this image by switching to None, and then I'll go ahead and switch to Custom, so that I can get my points and handles back. So here's how things work. I should tell you that this is Photoshop's attempt at an Envelope Style Distortion function. So if you're familiar with Envelope Distortions inside of another application, such as Adobe Illustrator has it, CorelDRAW had it years and years ago, there is a lot of different applications that offer it, Photoshop's attempt is about halfway there frankly. It's very interesting, but it's not quite a full-fledged Envelope style Distortion feature, but we do have unique controls that we don't have anywhere else in the software.
Now, you can see that the image is divided into three rows and three columns. So we've got nine different sort of squared areas here, which become semi-important in a moment. You also have four, what I'll call, corner points, just so that we can distinguish them from the other handles, so four corner points. If you drag one of these points around, then you are going to begin to bend the selected image or that is the selected layer. The other points remain stationary. But instead of moving this top segment here, that is the top of the bounding box, instead of just moving it down so that it remains straight, as it would if we were applying a four point distortion in the Free Transform Mode, we're bending this top segment, this top end of the bounding box, and we're really bending this left end as you can see.
All right. So you can go ahead and sort of drag these guys around as much as you want. I'm going to zoom out, just so that I have a little more room to work here. I'm going to drag this guy down. Now notice that we're now staring to see the control handles, and there are eight control handles, and they're round, and they're at the end of these levers, and these levers allow you to stretch the image out or smoosh it back inward. So the handles, they're not actually on the outline of the bounding box, they instead have this sort of magnetic attraction-repel sort of function associated with them. So if you pull away, you're attracting the pixels, and if you move inward, you're repelling the pixels, you're moving them inward as well.
Ultimately though, you're bending the outline of the bounding box, and the image is going to bend with that outline. All right. So I could move this here. I could bend this control handle upward. I could bend this control handle upward as well. I'll tuck these guys up. Now, in doing so, I'm stretching out the clock and I'm getting what I want, which by the way is sort of a Salvador Dali meets the High Renaissance sort of effect here. But in doing so I'm compressing the bottom of my frame and stretching the top of my frame, and I don't want that. So how in the world do I take care of that? Well, I can't address that problem by dragging either the points or the control handles, what I need to do instead is just drag inside the image. That tends to be a pretty intuitive way to work.
For example, if I want this clock hands to move upward, I drag them upward, like so. So now you can just start dragging inside of -- they have quadrants, but inside of these nine regions. It really doesn't matter, you can drag right on an edge if you want to, so you can drag anywhere you want inside of the image in order to Warp this stuff as much as you like, so just Warp the heck out of that clock. Now, let's say at this point you're thinking, well, things are getting a little big, I'm clipping at the top. I don't want that. I might want to rotate this; it's almost a shield now, I might want to rotate it a little bit, I might want to scale it. How in the world do I do it now that I'm trapped in the Warp Mode? Well, you're not trapped in the Warp Mode, all you have to do is Click on this icon to go back out to the standard, more familiar Free Transform Mode, and now you could go ahead and rotate, for example, if you want, or you could drag this side handle down in order to scale this shield, as I'll call it now, a little bit, so that it fits inside of the canvas.
Well, what if you now want to adjust your Warp settings again? Go up there and Click that icon again. You're back in the Warp Mode, with all of your Warp settings intact, which is pretty amazing. All right. I'm going to zoom out of here. I've got this one stray control handle that's sort of going off in its own weird direction there. Its better that the control handles are just bending the segment a little bit outward like that, or a lot, it's okay if they're bending a lot, but it's pretty twisted if your control handle is going like completely in the opposite direction of the point. Notice it's pretty harmful to the image. You can see that we're doing some really weird stuff to the image now. So you don't want that. We'll move that back. If you really want to stretch it downward, grab that point and drag it downward, like so.
You can also sort of drag inside. The downside of dragging inside of the image, even though as I say it's more intuitive, you can get weird effects. You can get these handles that are going off in weird directions. So you just need to keep an eye on that. I'm going to drag this upward as well, so we just get a little more height there, little more of a nice arc. By the way, if you loaded my Deke Keys, another way to switch back and forth between the modes is to press Ctrl+T to go to Free Transform, Command+T on the Mac, and then to go back to Warp, Ctrl+Shift+R or Command+Shift+R on the Mac. Now, you may be asking me, all this toing and froming between Wrap and Free Transform and Wrap and Free Transform, surely Deke, we are harming the image at this point. These are destructive modifications, because we keep going back and forth. The answer is no, not really. Because we haven't left the Free Transform Mode yet. Everything is going to be concatenated. Now, that word, when you hear it, don't run screaming from the room. All it means is that Photoshop is aggregating all of the mathematics and applying it all at once. So that it's applying one overarching transformation. Now, that may be semi-destructive, but it's not going to be continuously destructive.
All right. So I'm going to zoom in here, make sure I like what I see. I do. Great! If I'm done, which I am, I'm going to press the Enter key here on the PC in order to apply my modification. You can see things now render out more smoothly, and that would be the Return key on the Mac. Then we might as well just go ahead and fill the screen with this image, it's so beautiful. I'm going to zoom the image to 84% and press Shift+F to go to the big old Full Screen Mode here. That is Warp and that is the end of our discussion of Free Transform my friends.
In the next exercise we're just going to run through a handful of distortions; they can be kind of fun, they can be kind of weird, that are available to you from the Filter menu.
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