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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.
In this exercise we switch from that old project file to this brand-new one that looks pretty much just the same as the old one. It's all Layer comps project.psd. Now in front of the Badlands image here we're going to be building up me running away on the back of a dinosaur, that whole thing, the plaster dinosaur with the little nippers at my tail and everything. But we're going to go beyond that into this exciting story that's unfolding before us. We're going to follow up on this story with the help of layer comps. Now we've seen a smattering of layer comps here and there throughout other chapters, but now we're going to really immerse ourselves in them, because they are exceedingly powerful if you have any desire to save states inside of layer document to show a client or just because you're fooling around with an idea and you're not sure exactly where you want to go or you want to build up a file and then rip it apart, whatever you want to do, layer comps can be your pal.
So we start off with a layer composition just like we got here. We've got tons of layers inside of this image and I'll just scroll up the Layers palette so you can see that I'm not lying when I say tons a layers are here, many layer groups as well. But there are a few layers that are turned on right now. We just have the Badlands layer active, its mask is turned off. Then we've got the white Background layer that's hidden for all it matters, completely hidden by the Badlands image right now. But I've got all these other layers to work with that are just fallow; they are just lying idle here. We can wake them up using these layer comps. So to get your Layer Comps palette, go up to the Window menu and choose the Layer Comps command and you will see, this palette right here, you can also click on this little icon if you want to.
We've got these layer comps active inside of the document. So in other words layer comps are saved along with your layer PSD file, if you go ahead and create them. You've got to create them; they don't create themselves, but then they will, of course, determine what's going on inside the composition. One of the things that they save is which layers are turned on and which layers are turned off, so the active layer. They also can change the position of layers and they can change the blend modes and opacity values and layer effects and a variety of other options that are associated, other parametric options that are associated with layers.
So right now we can see the Badlands photo comp is active and we know it's active, not because it looks this. Because I've clicked on it and made it blue or whatever color, but rather because it has this little page in front of it right there. This little like page from a newspaper or something. That indicates that this is the active layer comp. Now if you're not seeing that page in front of Badlands photo, just go ahead and click on it, your document should look exactly the same as you see it right here. If you want to switch to a different layer comp, like the next one in the list, for example, you can click in front of it. Not on it, that's not going to do you any good where switching between layer comps is concerned. But rather, I'll go ahead and click on a previous one or I could click on nothing in order to deselect them all.
What you want to do is want to click in front of Ground & sky, and did you see that? That I just moved the entire planet down inside of this layer composition. So this is where it was before, check that out, and this is where it is now. Amazing! Move the layer down. Went ahead turned on the layer mask, that's something that a layer comp can save and it revealed the thin sky in the background. Then I'll go ahead and switch to this Basic landscape guy right there, which is the darkened moody mountains with a ghosted moon in the background and the sky revealed as well. So we have more layers that are active right there.
Now another way to work. If you're just cycling through layer comps in the order you're just moving from one to the next. Then you can click on these Next and Previous buttons. They can be pretty helpful for just moving through the comps. So imagine you've got a client and you're trying to show them how you put a composition together. Either you want to give them choices or you want to very slyly suggest that the massive amount of appreciation that they should be offering you, whatever, then you've got these buttons to work with right here so you can walk them through the process. You could even create a presentation inside of Photoshop using layer comps. You can do lots of things. There are a lot of different options available to you.
The reason I'm kind of going on and on about them, not only because I think they're splendid and wonderful and very useful, but also it's amazing. I mean, I know people who have been using Photoshop since 1.0 and they have no idea that feature even exist; it's been here for a while now. Let's move on to the next one. There is me, all of a sudden just covering up everything, where am I? Who knows? I'm someplace here inside this stack of layers. I know, I happen to be right here in this Knockout text group, so I can spin and open and there I'm with my mask turned off. Notice me and my mask aren't even aligned with each other. But that's okay. In the next one, we'll be.
When I click over here to Dinosaur elements, then I move over. Notice I moved. So this was before, look at me over there; this is after, look at me over here. So anyway, you get the idea I moved. Then also we have the nippers, down here the little nippers. They are part of, of course, the Nippers group. Then I'll move on to Rough comp, which is really rough and I'm just kind of roughing in some dialog here and I'm also showing that we have some plans that are located here inside of Bronco's mitten or whatever that is.
Go ahead and open that up again. Then we've got Final comp, which is where we've got in the previous project. This is as far as we've got. So I move the little nippers over, this is before, see they are over there now; this is after. I really just want to give you the sense of what you can accomplish using layer comp. So again, we'll save in other words the position of your layers. We're moving on to other options to other layer states, because there is a lot more activity inside Layers palette here, a lot more layers to work with this time. I'll go ahead and twirl those groups close. Move up the layers stack. Here is the Surveillance screen right there I notice that. Now we're starting to move into new territory, and because I'm covering up really important stuff here I'm going to move this Layer Comps palette up and over to the left, and then I'm going to collapse the Notes palette. That is my discussion of the Notes palette. That's how often I use it anyway.
There is Surveillance and you can see that there is this little item that says plan is identified right there, because there is this evil hadrosaur, right there if we go to Hadrosaur elements you can see there is this evil hadrosaur that's checking out the screen here and that is on to us. So it's not just the nippers that we have to worry about. We have to worry about this Darth Vader character as well. So things are heating up insofar as the story is concerned and I think I also told you if you spin these guys open, you can see descriptions as well that are associated with your layer comps. All right.
So what we're going to be doing. Now that you know what layer comps can do for you, it's just a basic demo. We're going to change our layer composition a little bit and we're going to set up our own layer comp. That's going to save some very, very special details here, starting in the next exercise.
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