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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 these next few exercises, we are going to see some more everyday applications of adjustment layers inside of Photoshop, and along the way, we are going to see a couple of different ways to convert an image to grayscale and we are also going to see how to tint an image, to infuse it with a little bit of warmth to create a sepia tone for example. The image in question is Bronze & beautiful.jpeg. It comes to us from photographer David Politi of istockphoto.com and it's single layered, it's a flat image file. I'm going to go ahead and add another Channel Mixer layer. So this time instead of inventing a channel, we are going to mix a monochrome version of the image.
But before we do, let's take a look at the independent channels inside of the image. Here is the Red Channel; I'm just clicking on these channels inside the Channels palette. Here is the Green Channel; these are both in pretty darn good shape. Red is the brightest of course because this is a portrait shot regardless of the luminance of our skin. In other words, whether we are light people or dark people, we all resonate huge in the Red Channel. We are going to be our brightest in the Red Channel, and then darker in the Green Channel, and darker still in the Blue Channel which is in retched shape actually. It has a lot of what's known as posterization.
If an image is posterized, it means that it has big areas of sort of flat color essentially with rapid contrast between that area and then another area inside of an image. So in our case, we have got these deep black shadows that all of a sudden raise to midtones, and it's happening predominantly up here in the eyes, and the eyebrows, but its worst around the mouth, that's where it really starts showing up. If we use too much of this Blue Channel in our grayscale mix, we'll really start seeing it around the mouth. So that's just a good thing to know in advance, and if we take a look at the Histogram palette, and I'll go ahead and update this Histogram, you can see that we have just a ton of shadow information here inside the Blue Channel whereas there is much less associated with Green and Red.
Let's go ahead and add a Channel Mixer layer now, and notice what Photoshop has done. It went ahead and switched me out of the single channel view back to the RGB view, and it added this adjustment layer right there and the reason it switched me in RGB is you cannot assign layers to independent channels inside of Photoshop just to the full color composite, and that's just the way things work inside Photoshop. Imagine, if you could apply layers to independent channels, each channel could have its own layering system. That would be something. I don't know if people would like that or not, I would, I would love it. Here we are inside the Adjustments palette, Channel Mixer panel of course. I'm going to turn-on the Monochrome checkbox.
So we are only outputting the gray, we don't have any other channels to work with now. But we do have all three channels to work with as source channels for our grayscale mix and I'm going to bring up the Histogram now. Now there is no point to seeing the All Channel View because we are mixing a grayscale image. Each one of the channels is going to be identical as you are seeing here. Every single one of these histograms are exactly the same as its brother and the mother. It looks the same too, they all look identical. So let's just look at mom by switching this to Expanded View, so that we have a little better view of the image in here in the image window and I'll move it over, so that we can see her lovely eyes there. All right, so we want to take blue out of the equation as much as possible. I'm going to take it down to +5.
In my Photoshop CS3 Channels and Masks series, I explored the Channel Mixer like crazy and I'll show you times when you can actually subtract one channel from the others if you want to and create just crazy mixes like this one here. We are taking Red and Green and we are subtracting Blue from the mix, but subtracting Blue is going to reintroduce some of that posterization. So not really something we want to do, but it does create a kind of infrared effect. But what we want is just 5 for Blue I think, and now our total values are adding up to 196%, meaning that we are flashing the highlights like crazy. Look at that, crazy histogram with all those blonde highlights right there, boo to that.
So I'm going to take my Green value to 43. How do I know 43%? I don't, I fooled around with it, just to see what kind of effect it was going to have. I do want to emphasize the warm values however here in the Red Channel, and so I'm going to take this value to 50% for starters, and I notice now my total is 98%. So I'll press the Up Arrow key to take it to 100%. So I raised that value to 52%. So we have got 52, 43, and 5 adding up to 100%. That's a good ballpark, but it's not an absolute number. You don't have to add up to 100% and in fact in the case of this image, I'll go ahead and update the Histogram.
Notice that leaves us with quite a few unoccupied highlights right there. So we could do a better job of flashing out this image. So I'm going to continue to take that Red value up until I see something that looks a lot better and I'm going to take it up to 57%, that looks pretty good to me, which means the values add up to 105%, whatever, I'm just looking at the Histogram to try to gauge what it is I'm trying to accomplish. Now notice as I add more to this histogram and taking it up to 106%, I'm now clipping some highlights and I'm leaving some shadows unoccupied and I could even take it higher if I want to. So I'll take the Red value up to 59%, clipping more highlights, leaving some shadows unoccupied.
I was telling you that constant value allows you to shift the entire histogram. So make the whites darker or make the backs lighter and usually I don't use it, but I'm going to take back something, it's not completely useless. It's great for shifting a histogram that's just ever so slightly out of balance. For example, if I press the Down Arrow key, notice, I now have clipped shadows and clipped highlights. So I'm not like damaging the image in the way that it wasn't damaged before. I'm not like harming it or something, and now I'll take it down even farther and that opens up the highlights and now we have clipped shadows.
All right, I don't want to go that far with this change. Here is as extreme as I'm going to take it. It's going to be 57%, 43%, 5% and then I'm going to raise this constant value to -1. Notice that does a great job of preserving the highlights right there, and we are almost clipping some shadows. Notice if I take it back to 0, then we have some shadow detail right there that's just unoccupied. So by taking down to -1, we are taking greater advantage of our luminance levels that are available to us inside of this image, and I'll just update it just to make sure it looks good, and this is the dainty change.
All right, so that's how things work if you are trying to mix a grayscale image using the Channel Mixer function here and just to give you a sense of what we were able to accomplish, I'll turn-off the eyeball, so that's the original RGB version of the image, this is now the grayscale mix of the image, which I think has this wonderful degree of contrast. I think it looks really great. There is another command that allows you to mix a grayscale image called Black & White and it's actually more flexible, it does a good job of avoiding any clipping inside the image. But before I show it to you, I want to show you one more advantage to working with an adjustment layer which is that you can mask it, and we have seen how to mask dynamic fill layer when I painted in that orange on the coral, but now we are going to see how to mask an adjustment layer and why we would want to do such a thing in the very next exercise.
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