Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery

Introducing Pixel Bender kernels


Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Introducing Pixel Bender kernels

All right gang, time to take our first look at the Pixel Bender here inside of Photoshop CS4. I've gone ahead and opened this image called Green frog.jpg that comes to us from photographer Emil Marinsek of and it's available to you inside of the 29_new_ tech folder. We'll be using the frog as the basis for our various Pixel Bender manipulations here. Now, something I want you to note about the Pixel Bender before we go any farther. It goes ahead and loads up these PBK files right here. In all you'll see there are 12 of them. PBK stands for Pixel Bender Kernel, which are the files that you write for the Pixel Bender, load up inside the Pixel Bender Gallery.
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  1. 21m 20s
    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 37s
    5. Setting up the CS4 color settings
      5m 53s
  2. 2h 31m
    1. Introduction to masking
    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 24m
    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 34s
    6. Patching an irregularly shaped area
      6m 59s
    7. Healing between planes
      3m 35s
    8. Importing an image into a 3D scene
      5m 46s
    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
    2. Placing a Smart Object
      5m 7s
    3. Saving a PDF-compatible AI file
      4m 27s
    4. Performing nondestructive transformations
      6m 8s
    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 55s
    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 55s
    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 33s
  6. 1h 48m
    1. Introducing nondestructive Smart Filters
    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 42s
    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 52s
    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 39s
    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 43s
    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
    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 51s
    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 52s
    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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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery
13h 7m Advanced May 29, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Photoshop mastery can be elusive, but in Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery, best-selling author and video trainer Deke McClelland teaches the most powerful, unconventional, and flexible features of the program. In this third and final installment of the popular and comprehensive series, Deke delves into the strongest features that Photoshop has to offer, including scalable vector graphics, Smart Objects, and Photomerge. Exercise files accompany the course.

Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, both part of the Online Training Library®.

Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.

Topics include:
  • Defining the essentials of masking
  • Resizing images with content-aware scaling
  • Adjusting perspective with Vanishing Point
  • Applying Smart Filters to create complex effects
  • Using the Auto-Align tool to build composite images
Design Photography
Deke McClelland

Introducing Pixel Bender kernels

All right gang, time to take our first look at the Pixel Bender here inside of Photoshop CS4. I've gone ahead and opened this image called Green frog.jpg that comes to us from photographer Emil Marinsek of and it's available to you inside of the 29_new_ tech folder. We'll be using the frog as the basis for our various Pixel Bender manipulations here. Now, something I want you to note about the Pixel Bender before we go any farther. It goes ahead and loads up these PBK files right here. In all you'll see there are 12 of them. PBK stands for Pixel Bender Kernel, which are the files that you write for the Pixel Bender, load up inside the Pixel Bender Gallery.

Now the thing is though, if you take a hankering to this tool, it's pretty fun, actually. And you decide to go scouting for other Pixel Bender Kernel files out there or you decide to build some yourself, why then you need to know where to put them. That is exceedingly poorly documented. So, here's the deal. It's not in a completely abstruse place. It's just something you should know about. On the PC you go to the Program Files folder, which is presumably on your C drive unless you install it elsewhere. Then you go inside the Adobe folder, then Adobe Photoshop CS4, and then Pixel Bender files right there.

Now on the Mac, it'd be inside your Applications folder probably inside of a loose Adobe Photoshop CS4 folder, and then inside Pixel Bender Files. The reason I note this is because it's not in the same location as the Pixel Bender Gallery plug-in, which is in a different subfolder inside the same Adobe Photoshop CS4 folder. So it's just worth noting. Anyway, here's our 12. Now then, let's go back to Green frog.jpg and before you enter the Pixel Bender, just for safety's sake, I recommend you go ahead and convert your layer to a Smart Object. Pixel Bender does work with Smart Objects, which is totally awesome. So, I'm going to go to the Layers palette menu here and choose Convert to Smart Object or press Ctrl+Comma, Command+Comma on the Mac if you loaded Deke keys.

It turns it into a nice little Smart Object right there and I'll call it frogObject, obviously. Then let's go up to the Filter menu and choose Pixel Bender and choose Pixel Bender Gallery. You won't see those individual kernels listed there. You'll see the gallery listed instead. Then what you do is you go ahead and choose the desired kernel, which is what we think of as just being a filter, from this popup menu right here. And all 12 are represented. So, anything that you put in that filter is going to appear here the next time you start Photoshop.

Now you will see this Process on GPU checkbox. Leave that turned on because after all you want your video cards, GPU, Graphic Processor Unit, to be calculating these effects. That way they'll happen a lot more quickly. You have this gargantuan and very accurate image preview, which is something you don't have with Photoshop's distortion filters, for example. So, this rocks! I mean this is actually a great filtering environment. It's just that the filters themselves are sort of hit or miss frankly. But if they were all great filters, this would be an outstanding tool. You can zoom into 100% right here. Here is where things get a little rocky.

We're seeing the filters in alphabetical order, so CircleSplash is the first one that appears in the list. It's not one of the greatest filters, but here it is. It just appears to wipe out your image. Well, there is a center point right there. Most of the filters include some sort of center point that you can work from. This one happens to be located by default in the upper left-hand corner of the image. Notice that it says Center and then it says 0 and 1. Well, 0 is the horizontal coordinate of the center point and 1 is the vertical coordinate of the center point.

So, you might say, "What? Why in the world did they call it that? This is worse even than flip and flop. Why did they call them 0 and 1? That doesn't make any sense whatsoever." Well, bear in mind that Pixel Bender relies on a toolkit, and basically what they gave you was that you could name your overall options, but if you make sort of these little meta options inside of it, then they just get the tags 0, 1, 2, and so on. So, you don't have any control over the naming there. But these two options do measure the horizontal and vertical coordinates of the center point as measured from the upper left corner of the image. They only go as high as 1800. Now, between you and me, it's not really worth spending this time dwelling on this specific filter, because I don't know if you'll ever use CircleSplash. I'm just trying to give you a sense of how these filters work in general and this is a good test case because it doesn't have that many options. It only goes up to 1800 pixels and 1 only goes up to 1800 pixels as well.

Now this image is small enough so that's okay, but most images are much larger so 1800 pixels would only take you about a third of the way into the image. These are arbitrary limitations that are set up by whoever designed this kernel. So, they decided that you should only go 1800 pixels in and 1800 pixels down. I have no idea why. Now, you can't just drag the circle around. I wish you could. So, I could drag it to the frog's eye, but over time, I figured out that the frog's eye is located roughly at 1089 pixels over to the right and down about 522 pixels. So, there is the frog's eye right there. Of course, I determined that just through trial and error. Now I didn't enter those values. I used my Arrow keys to nudge the values up and down and you can also press Shift+Up Arrow and Shift+Down Arrow as well.

So, you do have a fair amount of decent control. Then you've got this Radius value that makes the center bigger or smaller. Notice what happens is it's basically finding colors around the parameter of that circle and then creating a radial gradient pattern around there. So anyway, I'm going to go ahead and take it out a little further so I can see the frog's face, like so. Obviously, there's nothing particularly useful I would do with this unless I'm trying to generate some sort of pattern. Then I would click OK in order to accept that filtered result. Then there's my Smart Filter and I could go ahead and double- click on the Blending Option, and then I could change that Blending Option to something ridiculous, like Linear Light.

Oh my gosh! Then let's take the Opacity value down to 50% or something and click OK. Of course, we do have that filtered head in front of the original head. So, we're really overdoing the colors inside of the face and we're getting rid of a lot of the shadow detail and so on. So I could just go ahead and grab my Brush tool and I could click inside of the mask and I could make my brush really large here, like so, and really soft. With a single click of black, foreground color is black right now, I could go ahead and reinstate that head. Isn't that nice? So, there's just one of ten bazillion things you can do with the Pixel Bender.

This is not the end of my discussion of the Pixel Bender, by the way. I consider actually CircleSplash to be pretty much the least of the kernels that are available to you. We're going to check out some more kernels, starting in the next exercise.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery .

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Q: My Polygon tool is locked into a very small size. I can use the Transform tool to increase it's size once drawn, but I must have something set that will not allow me to freely draw it like I can the other shapes. What could be causing this problem?
A: This could be caused by a value associated with the Radius option of the tool. Click the down-pointing arrowhead to the right (a few tool icons over) from the Polygon tool in the options bar at the top of the screen. This brings up pop-up panel. If the Radius option has a number value, select that value and press Delete or Backspace to clear it out. That should fix the problem.
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