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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 take you on a whirl wind tour of the blend modes that are available to you here inside the Layers palette. Now I'm not going to promise that by the end of this exercise you are going to have a complete understanding of how each and every blend mode works. In fact, you most definitely won't, but you will have a sense for the way that the blend modes are grouped, and then we'll visit the specific blend modes in future exercises. All right, I'm working inside this image called With outer glow.psd, found inside the 17_blend_ modes folder, and I'm going to go ahead and reduce the Fill Opacity of my statue to 75%, by pressing Shift+75, like so, and that goes ahead and reduces the opacity of the statue without affecting the outer glow. And you can see the Fill Opacity value right there.
All right, now let's check out the blend modes. Now, the whole idea of the blend modes is that they specialized mathematical equations, not terribly complicated ones. They are actually fairly simple arithmetic formulas, but they use these equations in order to calculate how the active layer blends with the layers below it. Now, even though the math is not all that complicated, if Photoshop was to just spew the mathematical formulas at you, it wouldn't do most people very much good, and in fact, even if you are comfortable with math, I'm not sure it would help you anticipate what's going to happen necessarily.
So instead they have gone ahead, and given each blend mode a name that is supposed to sort of help you out, but in truth, it's very difficult to get a sense for what the blend modes are going to do based on the name. For example, what in the world does hard light do? What does linear light do? What does linear light even mean? What's a Pin Light? And so on, and so what you tend to do if you are feeling adventurous is you try out a blend mode, and you go, Gosh, that's pin light. What do you know, don't want that effect? Let's try. Gosh, maybe vivid light is going to do me better, and then you look at it, and go, oh you know, that's not what I'm looking for either, and then pretty soon you hang it up and you say, yeah, normal is good enough, that will work.
So that's what I want to make sure doesn't happen to you. I don't want you to just feel frustrated by the whole affair and just give up on it, because these guys can be very, very useful. Now, what's more telling the names of the specific modes at this point is how they are grouped, because they are grouped logically. You see these horizontal lines that are dividing up the groups of blend modes, and what we are going to do inside this exercise is visit each of the groups. All right, so starting with normal, we know normal. Normal is going to mix the image according to the opacity and fill opacity values and nothing else.
Dissolve is a little different. Now, I'll go ahead and choose Dissolve and then we'll zoom in on the statue's head here. Actually let's take it to 200%, and you can see that rather than seeing translucent pixels, the way we did with normal, instead we are seeing either opaque pixels or transparent pixels. So with the Fill Opacity value set to 75%, and this would be the same if the opacity value were set to 75%. We are seeing 75% of the pixels and the other 25% of the pixels are turning transparent on a random basis here, according to a diffusion dither pattern, just so as you know what this thing is called.
Anyway, what it ends up looking like is a kind of rash at this point, sort of a pixel-based rash. So I wouldn't recommend this effect applied to a layer like this one here. Let's go ahead and scroll the face over a little bit, where you might find it useful. I'm going to go ahead and change the mode back to normal, and I'm going to double-click on the outer glow because all of these blend modes are also applicable to your layer effects. So instead of having the blend modes set to screen, let's try setting it to Dissolve, and you will now see this sort of scattered pattern going on right here. Thanks to the Dissolve mode, combined of course with the signs value, and the blur, and everything else that is going on. This is will be my only discussion of the Dissolve effect inside of this series. So I'm going to go ahead and zoom back out, so that we can see more of the statue at a time.
Now then let's try out the other modes. Not all of them, just the groupings at this point, and we'll come back to the specific modes inside of the groups in future exercises. This next group right here, darken through darker color, they are all going to darken the image. So your four most darkening function I'll tell you right now is multiply, and it will give you this effect here of darkening the statue into the sky below it. So you are always going to get a darker effect. If you want a lighter effect instead, then you would go to the next group. All of these modes lightened through lighter color go ahead and lighten the image, and your first and foremost and best mode is screen, in which case you'll get this brightening effect right there. If you want a combination of both, both brightening and darkening, then you would switch to these modes right there. These are your contrast modes overlay through hard mix, and your best mode of the bunch here is overlay, and it's going to produce a heightened contrast effect, sort of as if you were tattooing one image on to another, and we'll learn more about those later.
These next guys right here, Difference and Exclusion, are kind of oddball modes. What they do is they use one image to invert another image. So if I apply Difference, we are going to get the psychedelic effect, where the statue is concerned, and then finally, we have hue through luminosity which express the image using a completely different color model that's known as the Hue/Saturation Luminosity color model, the HSL model, and color for what its worth is the combination of hue and saturation working together.
So for example, if I chose the color mode right here, I would keep the colors that are associated with the statue and blend them in with the luminance level, so brightness values that are associated with the sky below. If I wanted the opposite effect, because after all, that looks terrible, if I wanted to keep the colors of the sky and mix in the brightness values of the statue, I would choose luminosity instead. So that's your World Wind Tour my friends. In the next exercise I'm going to show you a few blend mode shortcuts. Stay tuned.
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