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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 friends, I've gone ahead and saved my progress so far as a document called Mostly finished.psd and I was telling you we're just going to apply this adjustment layer, we're going to be done, so this is going to be such a brief exercise, but then I noticed that there is something amiss inside of this photorealistic illustration here. Look at the boundaries of the layer and I've never noticed this before about this composition, but it's a good thing to look for. It's just a trace around the perimeter of your artwork to make sure all is well. You're going to see, if you look very closely, it looks like there is a little line where Bronco's head is cut off, right there at the top and then there is some kind of weird highlight along the bottom of this image as well.
So what gives? Well, the thing to do is zoom in and check out what gives. And if you zoom in to 100%, you're going to see the real authentic pixels and you're going to see that the top of Bronco is just fine, nothing wrong there. So everything seems to be just where it needs to be. So no problems. In fact, let's see, if I go ahead and twirl- open Knockout group, because that's where Bronco lives. Notice by the way, that Bronco and his mask are linked together. There is a little chain right there that's showing you that they are linked. So if you Ctrl+Drag Bronco down, his mask moves with him and that way the mask outline stays exactly where it needs to be. Ctrl +Z, Command+Z on Mac. If you unlink by clicking on a chain to unlink the two from each other, then you can move the image independently of its mask. That is the top of the image, there is no head up there. However, everything was just where it needs to be.
Anyway, I'll go ahead and undo that modification, Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac, because otherwise, obviously, the mask and the image wouldn't be aligned in the image and everything else, wouldn't be aligned either. All right, let's go and link it back together. Just for laughs. Twirl-close that Knockout group. Now let's go to the bottom of the image here, and we do have some problems. Look at that highlight right there, what's that caused by? Now wait a sec, see this is the weird thing. Let's go down to the Badlands layers. That's the problem because he's fine. That is Bronco's legs are fine and this tail is fine. It's totally the Badlands layer right there.
It's linked to its mask as well, and I'm going to Shift+Click on the mask to turn it off for a moment, because we move that down 200 pixels, so we've got plenty of Badlands down here. First I'll unlink the layer and the mask and then I'll Ctrl+Drag on the image itself to move it up and we can see there are tons more badlands to work with, 200 pixels at least of additional badlands that I could drag up and reveal down here at the bottom of the canvas. So Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. If I Shift+Click on the layer mask in order to hide it, so Shift+Click on a thumbnail here inside the Layers palette, my lightness goes away. Oh! So it's the layer mask, something is wrong with the layer mask, see right here where everything is fine too.
Shift+Click to turn the layer mask back on and sure enough I've got some lightness. Aha! So I'll go ahead and Alt+Click or Option+Click on this layer mask to view it independently of the rest of the illustration. Sure enough, there is a little bit of darkness right there, a little bit of blur. How did that happen? I know how it happened. Because way back when I created this long, long many years ago, I must have blurred the bottom somehow as well. So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to zoom out for starters to 50%, so I can see the entire image. I'm going to select this region just like so using the Rectangular Marquee tool, simple but wonderful tool inside of Photoshop and there area needs to be white.
White is my foreground color, so I'll press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete on the Mac and then click off of that selection to deselect it and then return to the image and it's all better, everything is correct the way it needs to be now. It still looks like there is a little bit of highlight right there, but that's organic to the scene. That's a little hump in the mountain. So that's okay. We have everything we need now. So if you see that kind of stuff popping up in your own artwork, that's how you might be able to solve it. Other times, like at 50% this line just appears here is not really there. We already confirmed that that's an allusion.
All right, what I really wanted to do though, what I was proposing to do in this exercise, was take care of the problem where basically the image looks like it could be more vibrant. The colors look a little weak to me and so I want to improve the vibrance of the scene overall, so all of the layers. That means I need an adjustment layer, so I'm not imparting any new news at this point. This is all old news, but the old news is good news. It's kind of saying I want to make sure that you understand over and over again here.
So we want to make the entire scene vibrant, we need an adjustment layer, we can't apply a static color modification in other words. Because we want to affect every layer, we need the adjustment layer to be at the top of stack. So go ahead and click on Nippers to make it active and then go to the Adjustment palette. I'll go ahead and expand it so that we can see it. I'm going to Alt+Click or Option+Click on the upside -down purple cone in order to open up the New Layer dialog box and I'll just name this Vibrance without 1, like so, and then I'll click OK. Then I'm going to increase the Vibrance value to 30% and then take the Saturation value up to 20% right there and then I'll hide the Adjustments palette, because that's all I wanted to do.
So that's very important to set the top of the stack. If it's down here, for example, then it's only going to affect the sky and nothing above it. So adjustment layers work down only, not up. So, we're going to need to put at the top if we want to affect everything. If, for example, we don't care about the Nippers, it's okay. If they're sort of gray, then it can be under the Nippers layer. Actually, that's great, I like him being undersaturated, because that puts them into disadvantage. All right, so that's it. That is the end of our scene. Everything has been edited to taste. Actually, I wonder if I want to be in front of it too. That's pretty interesting, maybe I should be undersaturated. No, all right, put it back where it was. This is the final version of my photo illustration, I'm going to press the F key a couple of times and zoom in.
We have finished this thanks to a combination of advanced layer and blending technique in which we saw how to work with clipping mask, how to work with luminance blending. We saw how to put groups to good use and we even created the Knockout group and we took care of a very peculiar little problem there by modifying our layer mask. In the next exercise, we'll begin to work with layer comps here inside Photoshop.
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