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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.
All right gang, let's build that book cover, why don't we? We'll start inside of this image Drive-in screen.psd, and this image happens to contain not only the photograph of the Drive-in movie theater, but also all the other core elements will need to make our compositional dreams come true. Now you are probably going to get this wacky old error message here asking you if you want to update the text. What I suggest you do, another way to invoke the update button is to just press the U key, U as in update. All right, so here is the Drive-in movie theater. We are working inside the Layers palette here. Here's the live text that represents the title of the publication, and here's my shadow, nice. Now what I want you to do is click on the Shadow layer, and I want you to change the blend mode from Normal to multiply, and I'll explain what Multiply does in the next chapter, but for now you can see its effect. It goes and burns the shadow, just as if it is an actual shadow being projected on an actual drive-in movie theater in an actually extremely unrealistic fashion here, and we even have all these rocks, and all these shadows coming off the rocks, all this wonderful detail, I think that just looks rich and lustrous and beautiful. And that's all we have to do is just apply a blend mode, and you are in like flint, so easy.
Now, I want a scarier book cover of course. This is light and happy and cheerful, which is not what I want at all. So let's go ahead, and invert the background. When you want scary, invert. So click on the background layer to make it active, and then I'm going to go to the Adjustments palette right there, and I'm going to Alt+Click or Option+Click on that icon, and I'll call this Invert Luminance, because that's what I want to do, I just want to invert the luminance of the image, and then I'll click OK. It doesn't have any options. There's no reason for the adjustments palette to take over this enormous area of my screen, unless I could sort of jot down a few notes in it, or something like that, but it's ridiculous. But anyway, also ridiculous you might think is that I used an adjustment layer at all in order to create an inversion. Why not just click on the background layer, go up to the Image menu, choose Adjustments, and choose the Invert command, or better yeah, just press Ctrl+I or Command+I on a Mac because after all, this is not even a disruptive effect. I can set here press Ctrl+I, Ctrl+I or Command+I, Command+I on the Mac as many times as I want, and I'm not going to hurt a single color inside this image. Why? Because there is 256 potential luminance levels per channel. 256 is an even number. So if you switch black to white, white to black and then you switch them back, and you switch those two grays that are right next to each other, 127 & 128, you switch them for each other, and then you switch them right back. No harm is done. Why, is the question, why did I use an adjustment layer? Well, let me show you, let's go ahead and press Ctrl+I another time, Command+I on the Mac, because I have left the image inverted in the background. The reason I'm going to work this way is because, A, I can change its order in a stack if I like to, later. I can move where it's going to be, because after all if it's at the top, up here, it's going to invert everything below it. It's going to remain a nice flexible inversion effect that I can put anywhere I want.
Also, it's flexible and that can apply a blend mode to it. So I can change his behavior. So for example, if I don't want to invert the colors, I have the colors look just fine the way they work. I just want to invert the luminance, then I could choose Luminosity, and notice my original colors like the blue sky, that all comes back, and that's not dirt, that's grass right down there. Whatever, it's great. So it works very nicely, thanks to the fact that I applied Invert, Adds and adjustment layer. Next step, I'm going to click in the Background layer, just to make a point here. Go up to Adjustments to the Adjustments palette here, and I'm going to go ahead and Alt+Click on the Levels icon, and I'm going to call this one Brighten Screen, if I can remember how to spell those words. Brighten Screen, because we are brightening the movie screen of course, click OK.
Now I'm going to raise that Gamma value, which you very well know brightens the image, I'm going to raise it to 2. All right, I just darkened the heck out of it. Why did that happen? Well, let me show you. Let's go ahead and hide the Adjustments palette. Once again, if I turn off Invert Luminance, you can see that Brighten Screen is doing a heck of a job of brightening the screen, this is before the original screen, and this is after. So it's much, much brighter, but as soon as you heap inverts on top of a brightening effect, you invert the brightening, and you turn it into darkening. So it made things darker.
So another great thing about adjustment layers is you get it wrong in the first place, and you do the old head scratch and why did it turn out this layer, I know that I did something wrong. It's not Photoshop behaving in a buggy fashion. Oh, I know, this needs to be on top. So move it on top of Invert Luminance, and now we get the proper effect. This is before, and this is after, so easy, don't you know? And that's just the thing about adjustment layers. At first they come off as being a little bit complicated, because you sort of have to navigate through them and apply a bunch of them and track their behavior here inside the Layers palette, but they really do simplify the process of creating a composition, and they give you so much flexibility that you can really do anything you darn well want.
What do we darn well want? Well, we darn well want to sit in our seats and eagerly await the very next exercise.
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