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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.
I'm calling this final exercise Layer Comps Don'ts and Dos. I'm going to tell you about things that layer comps can't save, that you think they would save but they can't, just because Adobe hasn't gotten around to updating layer comps in a while. Basically, there is a few gotchas associated with layer comps, and I want you to know about those. So just little bit of sort of wrap up. I've gone ahead and saved my progress so far as Family feud.psd. So called because Emperor Scratch and Bronco, the Plaster Dinosaur are somehow related. I'm little vague about what that relationship is, but now let's start off with the don'ts.
We've seen how layer comps save Visibility; whether the layer is turned on or off. How they save position; they can save the physical position of the layer, XY coordinates, and then they can save appearance, meaning blend modes, opacity, advanced blending stuff. Layer Effects, whether they're turned on or off and specific Layer Effect settings. So that's a heck of a lot that you can save. Oh, oh, by the way, you could also save whether a layer mask is on or off. Credit me for that one, because I requested it and got my way, way back when. So Visibility of a layer mask is also saved.
However, Arrangement is not saved. So in other words, if you change the stacking order of the layers that does not get saved with layer comp. So all layer comps are affected by the stacking order, which is a real drag in my opinion. I wish it weren't that way. It's something it could save, but it doesn't. Clipping masks. If one layer is clipped inside of another layer, it isn't saved. So you clip, you unclip, doesn't matter to the layer comps, they don't track it. Scale and Orientation, I already told you about that. So if you transform the size of the layer or the angle of the layer, that's not something that layer comps can track. This is just things I'm listing out for you by the way. There is no visual so you can close your eyes if you want to.
Pixel Level changes. If I go into one of these layers and I paint inside of it, well, then I'm painting inside of that layer across all of the layer comps. Adjustment layer settings. This is another thing you would think that layer comps would track. If they can track specific Layer Effect settings; and I'll go ahead and twirl open duckbill, for example, and I'll double click on Bevel and Emboss; we haven't discussed this dialog box yet. But if I was to change the Depth of this effect to something just enormous and I was to change the angle of my effects to something; I've got Global Light turned on so that it affects all of the layer effects inside of the document, and I clicked OK, and I go, heavens to Murgatroyd, what was I thinking, I could go back here to my Layer Comps palette and then I could click in front of Dinosaur depth once again to reinstate those good old settings that I had before.
It's capable of tracking that numerical data but it can't do it for adjustment layers. So if I change the Opacity or the blend mode of an adjustment layer, that gets tracked, but the specific adjustment layer settings, like the fact that I rotated the Hues 105 degrees in that one case, if I changed that setting that would get changed across all of the layer comps. What else? Smart Objects and Smart Filters? This is very disappointing in my opinion. When we get to Smart Objects and Smart Filters you would get a sense of why the disappointment is there, but if you turn on and off Smart Filters, for example, then they get turned on and off across all of the layer comps. So that doesn't get tracked.
Also, Smart Objects, one of the great things about Smart Objects is that you can transform and scale and rotate them parametrically, so that you can change your mind anytime you like without harming the image one iota. Well, layer comps are completely unaware of that. So it is kind of a mind-boggling list there, but that's all the stuff that's really parametric and it really should be saved by the Layer Comps palette, but isn't. All right, that was a don'ts list. Let's check out this little do gotcha thing. So we know that layer comps can track, for example, the XY coordinates of a layer, so the movement of a layer. But I've turned it off for Talk bubble.
Remember, if I double click here on Talk bubble, you can see that Position is turned off, so I'm not tracking it. Then Dinosaur depth, same thing, Position is turned off. I was telling you that's by default a good thing to do, and I'll show you why. I'm going to go ahead and cancel out of there. Let's go ahead and collapse the Layer Comps palette for a moment. Let's say that I want to move the dark lord here, Emperor Scratch, over to the left a little bit, so that we can see the plans a little better. Right now he is covering up these plans, which is a huge plot element here, and he's got his nose all over it, so we need to back him off just a little.
So I'll click on the group in order to make it active, so that it can move all these things; the duckbill layer, the eyeball, the teeth and the hands, all as one together. Then I've got my Rectangular Marquee tool selected. Fine. I'll press and hold the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac to temporarily get the Move tool. Then I'll drag this guy over to the left a little bit to reveal the plans like so, so he's not sort of being the big image hog, and then also press the Shift key. So I've got Ctrl+Shift+N here on the PC or Command+Shift+N on the Mac, so that I'm constraining the movement over to the left. I'll release my mouse and then I'll release the keys. Then let's go ahead and check over here just to make sure his fingers are clipped a little bit, but I'm not concerned about that. It's more important that he does not have his big old nose all over the plans.
Okay. So that's great? No, let's go ahead and collapse those right side palettes and bring this guy. Let's expand him and bring him over to the right, just trying to clean things up, to watch out for that blue when you do this. There is a gotcha for you. I want to keep this guy floating so I'll sort of drag him by the left side of the Title bar. All right. So I can see my composition. Great! Notice if I switch between Talk bubble and Dinosaur depth, no problem. Because that's not getting tracked, so it's moved across all of those two, just those two right there, to layer comps.
But Hadrosaur elements, if I click on it, I mess it up. He goes back to his previous location and that's because, double click on it, you will see Position was tracked with this one. All right. Interesting! So cancel out, and now though, here is the problem, here is the gotcha. Now, I go back to Talk bubble and he is back where he was. So I've got to redo my movement, and same with Dinosaur depth, he is back where he was. Oh, my goodness! Well, here is one way to solve that problem. One way is to have turned on Position so that I don't have that problem, but then I would have to update the layer comp when I moved it and so on. You see how Position can sort of be a gotcha all by itself.
All right. Anyway. I'll bring up my History palette right there. Let's go back a few layer comps here, and I'm just going to back step like so, because I'm not sure exactly where we want to go with this. There is the dinosaur in the proper location. So bad dinosaur here, good, evil dinosaur right there, that's where we want him. Then what I could do, just to make sure that Hadrosaur elements isn't going to mess up everything else, I could double click on Hadrosaur elements and I could say don't track Position anymore, don't do that, and then click OK. Then I can click on Hadrosaur elements, and we just get the flat version of the Hadrosaur and then I can click on Dinosaur depth and we're still okay.
Just something to think about when you're working with layer comps, because you will undoubtedly encounter this kind of thing, where something just kind of like all of a sudden shifts and you've kind of messed it up across all the layer comps and so on. That's one way to sort of track what you're up to. But bear in mind that it's not just the position of the Hadrosaur that now Hadrosaur elements is ignoring. It's ignoring the position of all the layers. So I'm saying, turn off Position when in doubt, turn it on when you need it. I guess that's really the extent of it. All right. Just for the sake of wrap up here, I'm going to go ahead and tab away my palettes and fill the screen with the image. Zoom in just a little bit so that we can see it that much bigger on screen. This, friends, is the conclusion to my exploration of advanced layering inside of Photoshop CS4.
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