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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 lynda.com Online Training Library®.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
In these first few exercises, I'm going to introduce you to the topic of masking and then we are going to really get into it. We are going to roll up our sleeves and create some extremely accurate masks, my friends. So we'll start off and sort of old school, we'll be using the Color Range command, new and improved inside of Photoshop CS4. Then we'll turn our attention to the Quick Mask Mode, which is still a useful tool, although its contribution to the masking process has been somewhat minimized inside a Photoshop CS4. Thanks to the arrival of the masks palette, and we'll see all of that stuff over the course of these first few exercises.
I'd like you to open these two images here. One is called Duckbill in tent.tif and the other is called The planets.psd, which affords us the unusual view of the Earth as seen from the Earth, pretty interesting I think. We are going to go ahead and select this hadrosaur that you see right here before you, this duckbill, and we are going to move him into this other worldly environment right there. And he is going to become intensely scary, you may recall from the previous portion of this series, from Photoshop CS4 One-on-One Advanced, this hadrosaur character is none other than Emperor Scratch. So he is extremely scary guy.
Anyway, let's make him and the idea behind masking is that you are selecting the image; you are just creating a hyper accurate selection outline essentially, and you can use that hyper accurate selection to apply color modifications if you want to, to apply any sort of modifications to an image, to enhance an image or you can select a foreground image and move it into a different background and that sort of the pinnacle of masking which is the reason we are doing it, because that's where you can really see the flaws in your mask and of course, address those flaws.
All right, so how do we go about selecting this guy? Well it's tempting to whip out the Magic Wand tool or something along those lines. But don't. Because a much better approach-- let's go ahead and just select a different tool there so that we know we are not working with the Magic Wand-- is to choose the enhanced version of the Magic Wand inside of Photoshop, which is this command right here. Under the Select menu, it's the Color Range command. It's so incredibly useful that for those of you who went ahead and loaded Dekekeys, then you have a keyboard shortcut which is Ctrl+Shift+Alt+O or Command+Shift+Option+O on the Mac and this is truly Magic Wand 2.0 if you will because it works very much like the Magic Wand tool does, except it's just better.
We could select the hadrosaur, and I could just click inside of him in order to select various portions of the dinosaur skeleton here. But where I to do that, we'd only select a little bit here and there at a time because we've all sorts of highlights and shadows to content with, whereas our background is fairly homogeneous. So let's select the background and then switch the selection later to the foreground image instead. So in other words, we are just selecting the thing that's easiest to select. Now we are seeing this command here, which is a lot like the Magic Wand tool, and I'm not lying to you. Even though it doesn't look anything like the Magic Wand, notice that you have got this little eyedropper cursor that is your wand.
So if you click inside of the image, then you'll select that color that you clicked on and its neighbors and you can see that the selection is occurring here inside the Color Range dialog box. So notice that you have got a little preview of your selection represented as a black and white image, and if you are new to masking that can be a little bit sort of difficult to come into terms with. The whole notion that this is a selection tool is a little bit foreign because it doesn't look like one at all. You will notice that we have white right there, around the skeleton and then the skeleton itself is black and what that's telling you, the white regions are the selected areas and the black regions are the deselected areas and wherever you see, gray is partially selected. So light gray means it's pretty darn selected, dark gray means its pretty darn not selected, and 50% gray would mean its right in between.
And so the delightful thing is that you are creating the selection on the fly here inside of the Color Range dialog box and you haven't committed to the selection outline, until you actually click on the OK button. There it is the Color Range command under the Select menu, available to you anytime that you want to use it, night or day, brings up the Color Range dialog box which gives you access to the more powerful Magic Wand feature inside of Photoshop and we'll be learning more about this in the very next exercise.
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