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Increasing contrast

From: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery

Video: Increasing contrast

All right, so here I'm inside the image called Russell Preston Brown.tiff and all I have done so far is grabbed the Red channel and duplicated and renamed it my mask. Our next step is to take this alpha channel and convert it into this Final mask right here. So step number one was to duplicate the channel, we already did step number one. Step number two is to increase the contrast of the channel so that we can get essentially about 50% there. All right, so I'm going to go back to my mask that I'm working on right there; best way to increase the contrast of a channel in my opinion, go to the Image menu, choose Adjustments and choose Levels. If you need more control go with Curves, you can even get away with Brightness/Contrast. Humorously enough if you use Brightness/ Contrast which you can do, you would want to turn on Use Legacy because notice if I increase the Contrast, I don't really get all that far; I do make some progress but I don't make as much progress as I like to.

Increasing contrast

All right, so here I'm inside the image called Russell Preston Brown.tiff and all I have done so far is grabbed the Red channel and duplicated and renamed it my mask. Our next step is to take this alpha channel and convert it into this Final mask right here. So step number one was to duplicate the channel, we already did step number one. Step number two is to increase the contrast of the channel so that we can get essentially about 50% there. All right, so I'm going to go back to my mask that I'm working on right there; best way to increase the contrast of a channel in my opinion, go to the Image menu, choose Adjustments and choose Levels. If you need more control go with Curves, you can even get away with Brightness/Contrast. Humorously enough if you use Brightness/ Contrast which you can do, you would want to turn on Use Legacy because notice if I increase the Contrast, I don't really get all that far; I do make some progress but I don't make as much progress as I like to.

Whereas, if I turn on Use Legacy, so that I can now to go ahead and clip luminance levels inside of the image, then increase in contrast does a lot of work really fast. You can see now I'm changing a lot of the background to black and a lot of the foreground to white. So you can work this way and you can create great masks using Brightness/ Contrast by the way my friends. I'm not going to, because I'd rather get the control that's afforded to by the Levels command. So let's go to Image, let's choose Adjustments, let's choose Levels. We can see the Histogram. We have got some gianormous bumps going on here on the left hand side of the Histogram, indicating our big areas of shadow detail and then we have quite bit of highlight detail as well and we have some clipped highlights and some clipped shadows inside of this image.

Not that great of a photograph in the first place but what you could do now at this point is just increase the contrast all right, and we want the background to be black, so I could just say fine, it's all going to be black, at black point value of 101, I'm saying everything that has the luminance level of 101 or darker becomes black, super duper, that gets rid of the background. Then let's go ahead and reduce the white point value until everything inside of Russell is going white and now we have a ton of contrast, isn't that great? Well the problem is our edges. We really need those edges to look just absolutely awesome and they don't; they look very ratty and very jagged. Also we are losing some contrast between stuff we don't we don't want like the o in the logo of my beloved book publisher O'Reilly, we don't want that coming out of Russell's head.

So we need better definition right in that area and we are losing it, thanks to trying to get too much done at once here inside the Levels dialog box. So what I caution you to do is to work patiently in incrementally, a little bit at a time. So I'm going to back off that white point value to something like about two-ten, I'm just working with even numbers so that it's easy to track what I'm doing and then I'll take the black point value down to something like 70. Now that works for this image. Don't you dare think for a second that these are magical numbers that are going to work for every image; they are not. They are just for this image. I'm looking at the image in the Image window here and making a judgment call, as I'm modifying my slider triangle values here.

All right, but that looks good, I like that. So we have increased the contrast quite nicely, we still have a little bit of contrast between the O and the top of Russell's head. That's probably the worst of the contrast right there. Certainly it's going away at this point but we'll take care of that you will see and we still have some nice contrast here around the hand, which is another area that we are starting to lose. So you can see that we have some pretty dark shadow detail right next toward to some very dark shadow detail and we can exaggerate the contrast at that point later. But otherwise, I think we are looking good and the hairs are standing out just beautifully aren't they? All right click OK in order to accept that modification.

Now this is about the point at which I save my work because I have done a little bit of work at this point. Something about saving alpha channels inside of Photoshop, little bit of note. You can't save to the JPEG formats. So if you are working on a JPEG image, you have to switch to a different file format, if you are working from a Raw image and this comes up as a DNG file, you are going to have to save to a different format because you can't save the DNG or any of the other Raw formats from Photoshop. You are going to have to go with either TIFF or the native PSD format. Let me show you how to do that. Go up to the File menu, choose the Save As command and then what you want to do is you want to go ahead and rename the image. I'm going to call mine something like mask in progress, make sure Alpha Channel is turned on. That's very, very important. That check box must be on if you want to save these alpha channels along with the image. Now presumably you are looking at a different format right now but you would switch either to TIFF or PSD. Now which one win? Well here is my rule of thumb; if your image contains layers, or you plan on adding layers to the image, then go ahead and save the image out to the native PSD format right here. The file format does have some compression associated with it by the way and that will become important in just a moment when I explain how that compression works but not quite as much as much as TIFF but anyway, just know that that's the file format if you've got layers.

If you don't have any layers and you are not planning on adding layers to the image, just as I'm not because I'm just building up the alpha channels here, then you switch to this format right there, TIFF, instead that's what I recommend. And if you decide to go with TIFF, then you go ahead and click the Save button, you are going to get another dialog box here that's asking you about things like Pixel Order, which you would leave set to Interleaved, and Byte Order, which you would set to anything you want. It doesn't matter if it's PC or Macintosh; they are both compatible on both platforms. If you have got a customer that's working on the Mac and you just want to make sure that they don't have any problem with this image whatsoever, then go ahead and select Macintosh even though you are working on a PC, for example, you shouldn't have any problems every with the Byte Order.

So anyway, I'm going to leave it set to IBM PC because that's what I'm working whatever. Don't turn on the Image Pyramid. This is the thing that I want you to change. Image Compression. By default it's set to None. What that does is it just saves every pixel completely uncompressed and you have gianormous images on your hard drive, taking up all kinds of room that could be spent on more and more images. You want LZW. So go ahead and turn on LZW compression, this is lossless compression, it is not going to harm your image, it's not JPEG and it does a terrific job specially where alpha channels are concerned of minimizing the size of the alpha channels, because what LZW compression does is it looks for neighboring pixels that are of the same color. So lots of white pixels for example, or lots of black pixels, it just group them altogether and as a result, creates a smaller file on your hard drive, it's the same size in memory, it's the same size when you open it up as it ever was but it smaller on your hard drive, thanks to LZW compression and way smaller where alpha channels are concerned.

Click OK in order to save out that image and you have now saved both your full color image and your alpha channels for future use and you can save all kinds of alpha channels. Now in the next exercise, we still have more work to do, of course, inside of this image. What we have got to do is basically get from here my mask to Final mask and we are going to do that by painting inside of the alpha channel. But as you will see this painting is fairly automated. It's not a lot of grunt work; it's a lot of great work. Stay tuned and you will see how it works.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery
Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery

147 video lessons · 27748 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 21m 17s
    1. Welcome
      1m 21s
    2. Installing the DekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      5m 38s
    3. Resetting the Function keys on a Mac
      3m 51s
    4. Installing the CS4 color settings
      4m 34s
    5. Setting up the CS4 color settings
      5m 53s
  2. 2h 31m
    1. Introduction to masking
      51s
    2. Introducing color range
      4m 22s
    3. Adding base colors and adjusting fuzziness
      4m 46s
    4. Localized color clusters
      6m 12s
    5. The Quick Mask mode
      7m 33s
    6. Viewing a quick mask by itself
      6m 40s
    7. Testing the quality of edges
      3m 55s
    8. Introducing the Masks palette
      7m 45s
    9. Editing a layer mask
      6m 18s
    10. Choking a mask with Gaussian Blur and Levels
      6m 44s
    11. Choking a mask with Mask Edge
      7m 43s
    12. Adding a Gradient Overlay shadow
      4m 23s
    13. Using live Density and Feather
      6m 12s
    14. Journeyman masking
      5m 44s
    15. Creating an alpha channel
      7m 6s
    16. Increasing contrast
      7m 15s
    17. Overlay painting
      8m 28s
    18. Cleaning up whites and blacks
      5m 48s
    19. Soft light painting
      5m 47s
    20. Selecting in style
      6m 55s
    21. Employing masks as selections
      5m 2s
    22. Scaling and compositing layers
      6m 30s
    23. Compositing glass
      5m 10s
    24. Selecting glass highlights
      8m 41s
    25. Working with found masks
      5m 46s
  3. 1h 34m
    1. Introduction to vector-based shapes
      1m 10s
    2. Vector-based type outlines
      7m 23s
    3. The benefits of vectors
      6m 27s
    4. Upsampling vs. nondestructive scaling
      7m 35s
    5. Vectors and effects
      8m 7s
    6. Fill Opacity and clipped layers
      4m 24s
    7. Basic shape creation
      3m 15s
    8. Drawing interacting shapes
      6m 21s
    9. Power-duplicating paths
      3m 12s
    10. Combining pixels and vector masks
      5m 19s
    11. Line tool and layer attributes
      7m 5s
    12. Copying and pasting path outlines
      3m 28s
    13. Drawing custom shapes
      3m 59s
    14. Drawing with the Pen tool
      7m 48s
    15. Creating cusp points
      7m 28s
    16. Defining a custom shape
      3m 34s
    17. Assigning a vector mask to an image
      2m 38s
    18. Adding a vector object to a composition
      5m 40s
  4. 1h 23m
    1. Introduction to Vanishing Point
      1m 11s
    2. Creating and saving the first plane
      8m 9s
    3. Creating perpendicular planes
      5m 16s
    4. Healing in perspective
      8m 47s
    5. Cloning and scaling in perspective
      8m 33s
    6. Patching an irregularly shaped area
      6m 59s
    7. Healing between planes
      3m 34s
    8. Importing an image into a 3D scene
      5m 45s
    9. Adding perspective type
      5m 37s
    10. Removing and matching perspective
      5m 36s
    11. Applying a reflection in perspective
      5m 1s
    12. Creating a perspective gradient
      6m 11s
    13. Converting a gradient to a mask
      2m 58s
    14. Swinging planes to custom angles
      4m 32s
    15. Wrapping art around multiple surfaces
      5m 49s
  5. 1h 15m
    1. Introduction to Smart Objects
      58s
    2. Placing a Smart Object
      5m 7s
    3. Saving a PDF-compatible AI file
      4m 27s
    4. Performing nondestructive transformations
      6m 7s
    5. Editing a Smart Object in Illustrator
      6m 50s
    6. Converting an image to a Smart Object
      6m 50s
    7. Cloning Smart Objects
      5m 24s
    8. Creating a multilayer Smart Object
      5m 51s
    9. Updating multiple instances at once
      2m 54s
    10. Creating a Camera Raw Smart Object
      4m 17s
    11. Editing a Camera Raw Smart Object
      3m 25s
    12. Assembling a layered ACR composition
      5m 54s
    13. Using an ACR Smart Object to effect
      3m 41s
    14. Blending multiple ACR portraits
      6m 56s
    15. Live type that inverts everything behind it
      6m 32s
  6. 1h 48m
    1. Introducing nondestructive Smart Filters
      46s
    2. Applying a Smart Filter
      4m 22s
    3. Adjusting filter and blend settings
      4m 25s
    4. Heaping on the Smart Filters
      5m 19s
    5. Smart Filter stacking order
      7m 23s
    6. Resolution and Smart Filter radius
      6m 12s
    7. Masking Smart Filters
      4m 41s
    8. Employing nested Smart Objects
      5m 5s
    9. Dragging and dropping Smart Filters
      6m 31s
    10. Using the Shadows/Highlights filter
      5m 53s
    11. Regaining access to the pixels
      7m 8s
    12. Parametric wonderland
      5m 52s
    13. Working with the Filter Gallery
      6m 28s
    14. Freeform filter jam
      5m 51s
    15. Swapping filters from the Filter Gallery
      3m 45s
    16. Mixing all varieties of parametric effects
      7m 30s
    17. Addressing a few Smart Filter bugs
      3m 11s
    18. Applying a Smart Filter to live type
      5m 30s
    19. Choking letters with Maximum
      3m 7s
    20. Duplicating a Smart Filter
      2m 38s
    21. Enhancing a filter with a layer effect
      6m 30s
  7. 1h 6m
    1. Introduction to Auto-Align, Auto-Blend, and Photomerge
      1m 2s
    2. Merging two shots into one
      3m 49s
    3. Applying Auto-Align layers
      3m 44s
    4. Masking images into a common scene
      1m 38s
    5. Auto-Align plus Auto-Blend
      8m 11s
    6. Assigning weighted Opacity values
      4m 7s
    7. Employing a Difference mask
      7m 17s
    8. Masking smarter, not harder
      3m 53s
    9. Capturing multiple depths of field
      3m 37s
    10. Auto-blending real focus
      8m 31s
    11. Creating a panorama with Photomerge
      7m 27s
    12. Correcting a seamless panorama
      4m 52s
    13. An altogether nondestructive Lab correction
      7m 59s
  8. 1h 44m
    1. Introduction to new CS4 technologies
      1m 1s
    2. Applying Content-Aware Scale
      7m 18s
    3. What works and what doesn't with Content-Aware Scale
      4m 19s
    4. Protecting areas with masks
      7m 31s
    5. Applying incremental edits
      7m 6s
    6. Protecting skin tones
      7m 12s
    7. Scaling around a model with TLC
      9m 0s
    8. Adjusting the scale threshold
      5m 22s
    9. When Content-Aware Scale fails
      4m 2s
    10. Creating a lens distortion effect
      8m 39s
    11. Layer masking the family
      11m 44s
    12. Installing the Pixel Bender
      3m 42s
    13. Introducing Pixel Bender kernels
      6m 50s
    14. Pixel Bender kernel roundup
      7m 24s
    15. Tube View and Ripple Blocks
      3m 58s
    16. Making a seamless pattern with Kaleidoscope
      6m 13s
    17. Introducing the Pixel Bender Toolkit
      3m 24s
  9. 1h 20m
    1. Introduction to actions
      42s
    2. Creating an action
      5m 45s
    3. Recording operations
      5m 12s
    4. Reviewing and editing an action
      4m 45s
    5. Playing an action (the Button Mode)
      4m 50s
    6. Saving and loading actions
      5m 0s
    7. Copying and modifying an action
      4m 8s
    8. Permitting the user to change settings
      5m 50s
    9. The Best Chrome Effect Ever II
      3m 41s
    10. Recording a fail-safe action
      7m 33s
    11. Rounding corners with a mask
      4m 33s
    12. Cleaning up layers
      3m 51s
    13. Automating layer effects
      7m 1s
    14. Applying chrome with Gradient Map
      6m 24s
    15. Action anomalies
      4m 11s
    16. Rendering effects to layers
      5m 1s
    17. Testing that it works
      2m 0s
  10. 1m 14s
    1. See ya
      1m 14s

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