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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.
I have gone ahead and saved my final modifications as Compassionate portrait.psd and you might well ask, well Deke, if this is your final version of the file, why are you still talking? What in the world is this exercise about? And it occurred to me that it might be interesting to experiment a little further here just for the sake of demonstration. Now if you are not interested, in a little bit of filter experimentation, totally understand; go ahead and skip this exercise and move on to the next chapter. But for me, this turned out to be fairly illuminating. I was sitting here, thinking all right, so an inverted High Pass layer set to a Contrast mode like Overlay is useful for filling in surface imperfections.
What if we take Gaussian Blur, for example, set to a Contrast mode such as Overlay? I will go ahead and turn off Contrast down for a moment, that Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer, and let's see what happens if we invert Gaussian Blur. So right now, the Gaussian Blur filter is filling in the surface details, and it's also elevating the saturation levels. If I press Ctrl+I or Command+I on a Mac, it does fairly the opposite; we no longer have any of the surface details receiving any attention whatsoever.
In fact, if anything they seem to be worse, if I turn that layer off, they look better without the application of Gaussian Blur, the inverted Gaussian Blur that is than they look with the application of an inverted Gaussian Blur, plus we have all these strange color problems that are showing up and the colors are actually growing much worse inside the image. So not a good experiment, fine! I will go ahead and press Ctrl+I or Command+I on a Mac to restore the original colors, because by the way, inverting I think I have mentioned this before, but inverting is a nondestructive operation, because you have just as many bright colors as dark colors in the luminance spectrum, so you can just flip them around.
Anyway, I am going to turn the contrast down layer back on. Question becomes well, what about a sharpening effect; something other than High Pass, in other words Un-Sharp Mask or Smart Sharpen. What if you take one of those layers, apply a big radius value, invert that layer and then mix it with the rest of the image, what's going to happen? Well, that turns out to be fairly intriguing, I must say and that's rather the purpose of this exercise here. I am going to go ahead, and with this top layer selected, I am going to press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E or Command+Shift+Option+E on the Mac in order to create a merged version of the composite image on a new layer, and I am going to call this guy sharpen, like so.
And then I'll go up to the Filter menu, and choose Sharpen and choose the Smart Sharpen command, or press Shift+F6 if you've loaded dekeKeys, brings up the Smart Sharpen dialog box. Notice that I've created for myself a new Settings, called Big Radius. All it is, by the way, is an Amount value of 100% with the Radius value of 15 pixels. Remove is set to Lens Blur. So we have a very high Radius value, notice that; relatively modest Amount value and then Lens Blur, and More Accurate turned off. I want you to notice something in passing here, this is very important.
I am going to go ahead and zoom-in on both images for a moment here, so that we can see the 100% view of the image in the background, and this 200% view of the image here inside the Smart Sharpen dialog box. I am also going to move her over a little bit, so that we have room to work, and I'm going to go with a more reasonable Radius value for a moment such as 4.5, and then let's try a really over-the-top amount value, let's try 500%. All right! So this is what the portrait looks like if we go this crazy with our Smart Sharpen settings.
I just want you to see what happens with More Accurate. I was telling you, do not use More Accurate with portrait shots, but hand really demonstrated that because we are looking in animals. Now, let's see a portrait shot, a human being, what happens to them when I turn on More Accurate. This is the effect you get right here. You're basically tracing around each and every pore, and I ask you, you look at that, do you think More Accurate of a sharpening effect inside Photoshop? Is that really what it is to take somebody's face and turn them into the covering for a football? That's what we're doing here.
That's more accurate. Anyway, go ahead and turn it off, we don't want that, and we don't want these settings; 115 is what I want, and you can go ahead and save off your settings independently. If you do that with a little floppy disk, name your settings and of course, make sure to choose them before clicking OK and we end up getting this effect right here. So this is the before version of the image, this is the after version. So the next step is to go ahead and invert this effect, so I will press Ctrl+I or Command+I on a Mac in order to get this sharpened inverted image, and now let's try applying a Blend mode.
Now, because we're working with an inverted version of a sharpened image, I am not going to use something like Overlay because that's just going to deplete the colors from my image as you see here. That doesn't end up producing a useful effect at all; instead I am going to switch my Blend mode to this guy right there, the Difference mode which we've seen in the past, it allows you to find the differences between two variations on an image. It also uses one image to invert the other. That's another way to think of it. So, we're using an inverted version of a sharp image to invert the normal version of the pre-sharpened image.
As a result, we get this effect here which is pretty radical I think. Now, I don't necessarily love the color scheme that I've come up with there. So I'm going to zoom-out a little bit. I might want something along those lines, but I was thinking, wouldn't it be interesting to retain the original color schemes to take this effect and marry it with the original colors inside the image. So I decided to create a merged version of everything I am seeing right now by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E or Command+Shift+Option+E on the Mac and then we'll go ahead, and call that merged difference like so, and I am going to turn off Sharpen because I don't want that to interfere with what I'm doing here.
That was just an intermediate effect, and now with merged difference selected, I will go ahead and switch to the Luminosity mode. That way I am keeping the luminance levels that are associated with merged difference and I'm merging them with the colors of the composite layers below. So I will go ahead and choose Luminosity, and I end up getting this effect where it's just pretty interesting I thought, but a little bit drab it seems to me at the end of the day. So I finally decided what the heck, let's go with the Contrast mode again and I experimented with a few different modes and ended up liking hard light, and I achieved this effect right there.
So let's go ahead and fill the screen with the image like so, zoom-in as well and we have this final effect right there with this amazing level of detail. Notice that we have these highlights being breathe out of the shadow details so it's as if we have these lit caverns in the background underneath the hair. And it comes out arctic cold initially and then once it hits the light, it just lights on fire essentially, inside of this final image which I think is perfectly suited for the album cover of the 1970's metal band, which just goes to give you a sense for the never-ending range of opportunities afforded to you by combining filters along with Blend modes inside Photoshop.
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