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Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, updated for CS5, 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 CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
In this second project, we're going to transition from my favorite automated selection tool inside of Photoshop Color Range to my second favorite automated selection function Refine Edge AKA Refine Mask. It goes by both names as we'll see. It's been fairly dramatically enhanced inside of Photoshop CS5, which is going to serve us quite well where this image is concerned. We're going to take this model as captured by Jason Stitt of the Fotolia image library, and we're going to mask away her background and eek into her hair essentially.
So this is our first opportunity to select real hair inside of Photoshop. We'll get more opportunity to do the same, and we'll do an even better job when we take a look at masking essentials in the mastery portion of this series. But for now, we're going to mask away her background to reveal the sky and sea that's on the Background layer right here, and we're going to do so using a combination of Color Range and Refine Edge. So I'll go ahead and choose the Color Range command or if you've got dekeKeys, you can press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+O, Command+Shift+Option+O on the Mac, to bring up the Color Range dialog box here.
I'm going to move the dialog box over a little bit and click in the background and Shift+Click in another point, and what in the world is happening down there at the bottom of the image? I've got some text or something like that going on inside of this composition. Now, bear in mind that I'm looking at the silhouette of this woman. So I'm actually selecting the background into her hair where you can see the outline of her knuckles right there; I'll go ahead and cancel out. I'll go ahead and zoom out so we can see yes, indeed, there is some text at the bottom of this image, even though the Background layer is active.
The Color Range command is always looking at the composite view of the image; that is regardless of what layer you're working on, it's always seeing all visible layers. So if we don't wanted to see the text, which we don't, we need to hide that text, and that text is sequestered away inside of this folder that's called sample all layers because that's basically what Color Range is doing all the time. So you can twirl it open. You can check out how this text layer was put together if you want to. There's a bunch of layer effects assigned, or you can just turn it off for now because we're not going to be using it.
I just wanted to demonstrate how the Color Range command works there. Let's go ahead and choose the command again after going ahead and zooming in on the image. Now, I happen to have the sunny layer selected, but again, that doesn't matter. When we're generating the selection outline, all that matters is what layers are visible in the first place. And because she's entirely opaque, and there is no visible layer in front of her anymore. We turned off that text layer; all the Color Range command is going to see is her. So let's go back up to the Select menu, choose the Color Range command again.
I'm going to turn off the Localized Color Clusters check box for this specific example, and I'm going to return the Fuzziness value to its default of 40, which happens to work well for this image. Then I'm just going to go ahead and click in the upper-right corner of this background here. We're just trying to select the background so we can isolate her away from it, and then I'm going to Shift+Drag across the background like so, just to make sure that I get every single bit of it. I might Shift+Drag at the top. I might Shift+Drag up here as well inside of this black-and-white preview, inside the dialog box.
Let's go ahead and Shift+Click over here on the left-hand side just to make sure I've got all that background. This looks good. Now, the big difference of course is that we want to select her, not the background. Right now, we've selected the background, not her, so let's go ahead and turn on the Invert check box. So she becomes the selection, she's encased in white, which is selection, her background is black, which is de-selection. I'll go ahead and click OK, and we've managed to establish a really sound base selection outline; unlike that garbagy thing we would have got now, the Quick Selection tool or the Magic Wand tool or what have you.
Now, with sunny selected, I'm going to go ahead and add the selection as a mask by clicking the Add layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. Now we have a layer mask like so, and we can see through her background to the sky and sea. However, big issue here. I'll go ahead and zoom in, so we can see we've got a lot of ratty edges. So even though the Color Range command is spectacular and so far as things go at organically matching the luminance transitions inside of an image, it doesn't get it 100% right, and so we still have some fairly jagged edges going on.
We also have some color fringing and some highlight fringing and so on, and that's the kind of stuff that we can adjust very happily using that enhanced Refine Edge function, and I'll show you how that works beginning in the next exercise.
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