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Photoshop is the world’s most powerful image editor, and it’s arguably the most complex, as well. Fortunately, nobody knows the program like award-winning book and video author Deke McClelland. Join Deke as he explores such indispensable Photoshop features as resolution, cropping, color correction, retouching, and layers. Gain expertise with real-world projects that make sense. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download Deke's free dekeKeys and color settings from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise, we're going to create what amounts to a beam of light descending from the moon, using nothing more than the Rectangular Marquee tool, the Feather command and a blend mode or two. At first, it's going to look quite cheesy, but if Photoshop excels at anything, it's at turning what is ultimately an ordinary layer into an extraordinary member of the overall composition. I've gone ahead and saved out my progress as Doomsday comp.psd found inside the 08_selections folder. Notice that I still have my selection outline.
I can go ahead and click off it to deselect that region of the image. Then I'm going to press Ctrl+Semicolon, or Command +Semicolon on the Mac, to bring up the guideline. Armed with the Rectangular Marquee tool, make sure it's active, I want you to begin dragging right about here. So notice that I'm maybe 100 pixels below the moon here, right on the guideline. I'm going to begin dragging like so. As I drag, I'll press-and-hold the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, so that I'm centering my marquee on that guideline, and cuts just a little bit down into the road, like so.
That is going to be our beam of light. But first, I need to soften this selection. So I'll go up to the Select menu, choose Modify, and choose the Feather command, or I could press Ctrl+Alt+D, Command+Option+D on the Mac. My last Feather Radius was 120 pixels. That's way more than we need for this. I'm going to take it down to 10 pixels and click OK. Now we have a softer selection outline. You can kind of see this time that it's got a softer edge, because the corners of the marching ants are around it. But as usual, the outline isn't terribly representative of the end effect.
Now we need to create new layer and adjust the order of the layers here in the Layers panel. So for starters, I'm going to go up to the panel fly- out menu and I'm going to choose the New Layer command. You can also press Ctrl+Shift+N, Command+Shift+N on the Mac. It brings up the New Layer dialog box. I'll call this guy beam, and then I'll click OK. Now beam needs to be in front of the road, so that's good. But it needs to be in back of the moon. So I'm going to drag the moon layer up to the top of the stack and drop it. So moon comes first, then beam, then road, then Background.
Click on beam again to make it active. Now, we're going to fill beam with a color that we'll lift from the overall composition. So I want you to go ahead and get the Eyedropper tool here inside the toolbox. You can also get to it by pressing the I key, if you like. You should make sure up here inside the Options bar that Sampling Size is set to Point Sample, Sample is set to All Layers. You might as well go ahead and see the new Sampling Ring here inside Photoshop CS5. Now, I currently already have the color I want to use selected as my foreground color.
But just so we're on the same page, I'll press the D key in order to switch to the default color, which is black. Now, I'll click and hold inside the image, but I want you to see this Sampling Ring. Basically, on the bottom, you're seeing the old foreground color, and at the top, you're seeing the new foreground color. Now, in case you're wondering why in the world that's helpful, it's not particularly helpful when you're going from black to orange, but after I release, and if I click-and- hold again, now it becomes more useful, because I can see, I'm sampling a lighter color on top that I had sampled before on bottom.
I'm going to drag around in order to get an even lighter color. Actually, the color I want is more or less in this territory, when I get something resembling a bright yellowish orange. You can see the color here inside the Color panel. If you can't see the Color panel on screen, go to the Window menu and choose Color, or press the F6 key. Now, notice, I'm looking at HSB values. You can see those as well, if you click on the fly-out menu icon and choose HSB Sliders. The specific values I want, just so that you and I are on the same page, even though the Eyedropper is a perfectly acceptable way to work, but I ended up going specifically with 20 for Hue and 90 for the Saturation value and then 100 for Brightness.
We end up getting this color here. Press the Enter key or the Return key on a Mac. Now, we want to fill the selection with the foreground color. There are a couple of ways we can do that. You go to the Edit menu and you can choose the Fill command. Incidentally, even though you don't see the keyboard shortcut here, it has a keyboard shortcut of Shift+Backspace on the PC, or Shift+Delete on the Mac. The idea is that if you were just to press Backspace or Delete, you would delete the contents of this layer. But by adding other keys to the mix, you're filling the layer instead.
Anyway, I'll go ahead and choose Fill. Then you could say that you want to fill with the foreground color and make sure that Mode is Normal, Opacity is 100%, Preserve Transparency is Off and you click OK. I'm going to go ahead and undo that. The other way to work is just to remember a wacky keyboard shortcut. That happens to be Alt+Backspace, or Option+Delete on the Mac. So Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete always fills the selection with the active foreground color. If you want the Background color, it's Ctrl+ Backspace on the PC and Command+Delete on the Mac.
Anyway, Alt+Backspace, Option+Delete, we get this beam of orange light inside of the selection. Of course, it doesn't look anything like a beam of light. But it will when we attack it with a few blend modes in the next exercise.
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