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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, I'm going to introduce you to the Paths palette and I'm going to show you how to take a Path Outline and convert it over to a layer mask. I've saved my progress so far as a document called La luna.psd and anytime you want the moon to seem mysterious and romantic, why then you call it la luna. That's a little tip from me to you. Now I invite you to join me as I click on the Me on T layer here inside the Layers palette and I'm going to go ahead and turn it on so we can see it. Now, this is a photograph that was shot just a few days after the other one, I believe. It's definitely in South Dakota. It's in Rapid City and there is a Dinosaur Park there with these very crudely rendered dinosaurs.
This guy is supposed to be a tyrannosaur, imagine that, and I'm standing on the dinosaur, which is probably setting a poor example for the kids, but I didn't have kids back then. So, it's all okay and you can tell I didn't have kids, because they don't have any grey hair. Also it was a few years back. Mine only contribution to this photograph so far besides resizing it and putting it inside this composition, whereas to give the dinosaur some mitten because its hands looked a little cold. So now what I want to do is I want to take this terribly realistically rendered dinosaur and I want to place him very realistically into this layered composition.
So, I need to mask the non-dinosaur portions of the image away. So, here's what we're going to do. I'm going to deselect the image for starters, just by clicking at a random location there and I'm going to switch over to the Paths palette. Now you should see Paths in this Layers Channels Paths cluster. That's the way it's set up, by default, anyway. But you can also go to the Window menu, of course, and you can choose the Paths command if you prefer. That will switch you over to the Paths palette. There in, you will see a Path outline, go ahead and click on it to make it active and you will then see the Path Outline right here tracing the contours of the dinosaur on both sides and even under its arm right there.
Now you create path outlines either using one of the Shape tools right here, one of these guys, or by using the Pen tool. I use the Pen tool, because this is a custom path outline. I'll be showing you how vector-based paths work in a future chapter, when we look at Vector- Based Shape layers inside of Photoshop. I also devote an entire chapter to the Pen tool, because it's such a rocking, enormously useful tool and that chapter exists inside a different series, inside of my Photoshop CS3 channels and mask series. You can check that out at your leisure, because this is an extraordinarily powerful Selection and Masking tool.
So that's how I do it, and to give you a sense of how I put it together, I want you to select the White Arrow tool. So, if you're seeing a Black Arrow tool right here, then click-and-hold and choose this guy, this so-called Direct Selection tool. I call it the White Arrow tool, because that's what it is. Then I'm going to click someplace on the Path Outline and you can see that what we've got are these curving segments that are anchored down by these so-called Anchor Points right there. Then we've got these control handles and the control handles pull and tug at the curving segments like so, very, very powerful function right there.
You do have to figure out how to use it though to take advantage of it. It's sort of an Illustration tool. In fact, it hails from Adobe Illustrator. Anyway, go ahead and undo that poppy right there. We're not interested in editing the Path Outline because its fine the way it is. We're interested in converting it to a layer mask. Now, there's one or two ways we could go. We could keep it a Vector-Based Path Outline and assign it as a vector mask to the layer and I'll show you how to do that in a future chapter, not right now, or we could convert it to a Pixel-Based layer mask. I'm going to convert it to a pixel-based mask because that's going to get me some additional options inside the new Masks palette.
So the first step is to go ahead and convert this path to a Selection Outline. To convert anything inside the Layers palette, Channels palette or Paths palette to a Selection Outline, you press-and-hold the Ctrl key or the Command key on a Mac and then you click on the thumbnail for the item. So Ctrl+Click on a PC, Command+Click on a Mac goes ahead and deselects the Path Outline, notice that, and converts it to a Selection Outline, as you're seeing right here. Now, go to the Layers palette and I want you to click on the Add Layer Mask icon in order to convert it to a layer mask and the background drops away, the area inside the Path Outline remains opaque.
Of course, all of that is dictated by the layer mask itself, if I Alt+Click or Option+Click on the layer mask thumbnail, the interior of the dinosaur with me inside, I'm completely inside that dinosaur there, that's all opaque as indicated by the whiteness and everything outside is black and therefore transparent and we have just this thin bit of anti-aliasing, notice that. I'm clicking-and-holding in order to zoom in, i.e., I'm Ctrl+Spacebar+Clicking-and-holding or Command+Spacebar+Clicking-and-holding on the Mac. We could see just a little bit of gray and that's the anti-aliasing and because we're working from a Path Outline, we don't have any feathering, any blurring, anything like that, we just have ultra crisp, smooth layer masking goodness.
I'm going to press Ctrl+1 or Command+ 1 to zoom at to the 100% zoom mode. In fact, I'll zoom out a little further there, by pressing Ctrl+Minus or Command+Minus on the Mac. Then I'm just going to click in other way to exit the layer mask and see the fore color image is just a click on the fore color image like so. But now the fore color image is active. So, that's something to bear in mind. Now, let's say I want to modify this layer mask just a little bit, I want to, what's called, chock it, meaning that I want to move it inward just a little bit to get rid of some of the blue highlight on the right edge of this arm right here.
How do I go about doing that? Well, I'll show you in the very next exercise.
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