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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.
In this exercise I'm going to show you how to create a knockout layer, which is one of the most powerful things you can do inside of Photoshop when you are working with layers, and one of the weirdest things. You would never figure it out on your own. The way that they have set it up is just bizarre, but it's useful. I have saved my changed thus far to this document called the Attack of the Nippers.psd, the N being capitalized, because Nippers is the scientific designation of these dinosaur toys, and I have got in addition to this Nippers group, which I want you to twirl closed right now just so that we have less clutter inside of this palette. I want you to turn on Elaborate balloon, which is kind of like this talk balloon that also has patriotic ornaments, and thereby lending more significance to the statement, which is right here, Caption, and I'm going to go ahead and turn it on to which is Run, Bronco, Run! The President Awaits Us! And it has a certain amount of weight and character, but I don't want the text to be green. That's just the placeholder, I want the text to cut a hole in everything, so it reveals the dark background and becomes basically a floating hole, as we'll see, and you can do that by converting this Caption to a knockout. Here is how it works.
I am going to double-click on the empty portion of the Caption layer in order to bring up the Layer Style dialog box, and right there is the Knockout function and notice either you are going to do a Shallow knockout, whatever that is, or a Deep knockout, whatever that is. But you choose either one of them, like let's choose Shallow, since we don't know how deep we want to go with our knockout. We don't want to burrrow the way to the background, for example. So let's do Shallow. And that gets us nowhere, it's still green. So let's do Deep. Let's really go for it.
At which point it's still green. We haven't done anything and that's because the text has to somehow indicate to Photoshop that it wants to be transparent and that can be accomplished with a blend mode. If you can figure out a way to assign a green neutral blend mode to this, you can make it happen. But the best way to make it happen is to use the Fill Opacity, not Opacity, but the Fill Opacity option, and watch this. I'm going to set the Fill Opacity down to 0%, and what happens, the text turns white. No, it doesn't turn white.
It's burrowing all the way down to the background. The background is white and therefore the text is appearing white. All right, so apparently we want Shallow. It still goes all the way to the background. Click Cancel. We need to set something up in advance, we need to establish a layer group in advance, because either you are going to burrow all the way to the background with Deep or to the bottom of a layer group or some other weird construct that made sense to an engineer. I know there are other constructs out there that Shallow will go to the bottom of, but the simplest way to do it is with a layer group. So what you do...
Click on the Caption, then Shift+ Click on Elaborate balloon on that group, because these are the items that have that have to be grouped together, because you want to use Caption to cut through Elaborate balloon, don't you know? And then we are going to group those together by going up here to the Layer palette menu, because we can't get to it by right-clicking, and choosing New Group from Layers, and then up comes this dialog box. And I'll just call it knockout group, so I know the only reason this group exists is for the sake of my knockout, and I'll click OK, and now I have got it twirled open, so I can click on Caption.
All right, now I have got things setup and the nifty thing here is, group inside of a group, you can't have nested groups in Photoshop. Here's the Caption layer, double-click on the empty space to the right of the layer name. Now then we'll start with Deep and I'll go ahead and set the Fill Opacity value down to 0, we are still cutting through all the way to the background, because we are going for the deep dive there, but let's try Shallow instead. And now it just cuts through to the bottom of the group and reveals everybody else that's below there, including, see the haunches of the dinosaur right there, so you can see that inside of the S and exclamation point. Now I'll click OK. That's how you do it. So put things inside of a group, set Knockout to Shallow, Fill Opacity to 0, click OK, and you have done the deep. That has got to be one of the most mysterious features in Photoshop.
All right, now watch though, Ctrl+Drag or Command+Drag this text around and look it's just the floating hole. Woo! That's pretty cool! A lot you can do with that actually, pretty nifty feature. Ctrl+Z, Command+Z to undo that movement. Now let's say though that I wanted to cut into the haunches of Bronco the dinosaur as well. So I want this S to cut through the dinosaur. Why then I just grab Me on T, get that layer, drag it and drop it, because I want it to be at the bottom of the group, drop it on the group, on Knockout group, and there it goes.
It now appears inside the group, and notice S cuts a hole through it. So now if I go back to Caption and Ctrl +Drag it around, it's cutting through me, see that? So pretty nifty, it does not cut through the Nippers though. They are too powerful. All right, Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on a Mac to undo that movement. That is mostly the entire composition. We are almost mostly done. There is just one more modification I want to make. This scene is a little lackluster, so I'm going to increase the Vibrance of the scene, and we are going to do that in the dinkiest little exercise. But it's the next exercise and it eagerly awaits you.
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