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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.
All right gang, in this exercise we are going to do a couple of things. I'm going to introduce you to the project file and show you where we are going with it, and I'm also going to share with you a really great trick that most Photoshop users don't know about, but you are going to be one of those few, so get pysched for that. I have opened before me The escape.psd, which is found inside the 18_advanced_layers folder. I would like you to make sure you have that file opened as well, and it creates a lot of layers as you can see here inside the Layers palette. Make sure you have the Layers palette opened. You can do that by choosing Layers from the Window menu of course, or pressing the F7 key, which is its keyboard shortcut, and we have several layers available to us.
If I turn off this Badlands layer, this is a not so good photograph. That's the wonder of Photoshop is that it can take these not so good elements and turn them into something really special. You have heard the term Garbage In, Garbage Out, I resent that term, because a lot of my sample files involve heaping, helpings of garbage in, and yet we have some very sweet smelling stuff out. So that's the good thing about these techniques. If they can save these kinds of files, they can save anything of course. So anyway, this is this photograph I shot years ago, the sweeping photo of this beautiful part of our great nation, the Badlands in South Dakota. It's just that I had a little Point-and-Shoot camera back in the old days too. This is in the late 1990's, and I was able to capture this beautiful scene here, and in the background we have got some sky, we have got a moon that we'll be using later. I'm going to turn that back off. Turn the Badlands back on.
We have a few other elements as well that we'll be playing with here, and ultimately we'll come up with this final version of the composition, it's called Bronco and me.psd, also found inside the 18_layer_comps folder, and basically, the setup here is that I'm riding the good tyrannosaurus; there is a good tyrannosaurus and a bad tyrannosaurus, we'll see later, and they are like brothers ,bad blood between them or something. And we have some secret plans that are stuffed in Bronco's mitten right here, and we are rushing to the President, and of course, the bad tyrannosaurs minions, evil minions are at our heels. And I have this patriotic message that I'm sharing here. We have got these fireworks going off, and just the epitome of a patriotic composition, don't you think? Especially because it has a dinosaur, a Plaster of Paris dinosaur in it.
All right, back to The escape.psd, here is that special tip and/or trick that I'm going to share with you. Make sure that the Badlands layer is turned on, and what I want to do is I want to scoot it down. If you take a look at the final version of the composition, the Badlands horizon line right there is lower, and so we need to scoot them down so that we have room for the sky, and the moon, and the clouds, and everything else that's going on there. So Ctrl+Tab or Command+~ on the Mac to switch back to The escape.psd. I have the Badlands layer active, and let's say I just know that I want to move this layer down 200 pixels. That's just something I know, for whatever reason, I could of course press Ctrl+Shift or Command+Shift, and then press the Down-arrow key 20 times in a row. I could do that, because every time you press Ctrl+Shift+Down-arrow, or Command+Shift+ Down-arrow on a Mac, you move the layer down 10 pixels. So 10 times 20 gives you 200, or a better way to work, and we'll be investigating this command in more detail later, but a better way to work is to go up to the Edit menu and choose this command right there, Free Transform, or you can press Ctrl+T, Command+T on the Mac. And the great thing about Free Transform is that it provides you access to all the transformation functions, which includes Scaling and Rotating.
So you can scale a layer, make it bigger or smaller, you can rotate it. You can skew it, you can distort it, you can apply a perspective effect. You can warp it, which is amazing, the warping you can do, and that's kind of stuff we'll see in the next chapter. You can do flip horizontal or flip vertical, and so these commands right here under the Transform sub-menu; they break out the various things that you can do inside of Free Transform, but the thing that they don't show is move, and this awesome. Go ahead and choose Free Transform or press Ctrl+T, Command+T on a Mac, and then notice, right here you have got these Placements options, and I'm going to go ahead and turn off this Delta option right there, because it's off by default, and what we are seeing here is that the center, notice that this point right here inside of this matrix, this reference point is located at the center of my layer.
So it's telling me that everything is going to happen with respect to that center point, and a location of that center point is 800 pixels in X, that means in horizontally, from the left side. So 800 points to the right from the upper left corner of the canvas, and 600 pixels Y; 600 pixels means 600 pixels down. So that's where the center point is located. Well, I'm just telling you that even though my response is who cares? I don't care where the center point of my image is. What I care about is I want to move it 200 pixels down, so I'm going to have to add 200 pixels to 600 pixels, to come up with 800 pixels, to figure out where this thing needs to be? No, you just have turn on delta. This little triangle represents the Greek letter Delta, and what that means is Change. So how much do you want to change the position of the graphic, and if you turn it on, then everything becomes 00, all two options when I say everything, and to move something down 200 pixels, you enter a positive value of 200 like so, and then you press Tab, and I'm assuming you are working in pixels, as I instructed way back in the fundamentals part of this series. If not, you are going to have to enter 200 px, like you are seeing right there. px stands for Pixels.
But anyway, that's going to move it down, if you wanted to move something up, you would enter a negative value like so, but we want positive, and then X is going control right or left movement. If I were to say 100 pixels, that would move it 100 pixels to the right. If I wanted to move it to the left, I would say negative like so. Just so as you know, I want it to really be 0 of course, and 200 pixels down and then what do I do? I press the Enter key once to accept that value; that's a Return key on the Mac, and then I press it again, either Enter or Return a second time in order to invoke that movement right there, in order to invoke the transformation.
Now most transformations are destructive, unless you are working with the Smart Object, which we are not, but if you scale an image or you rotate it, you are actually mapping the pixels differently. You are mapping the colors to different pixels, and 9 times out of 10, that's going to be a destructive modification. If you just flip something horizontally or flip it vertically, that's non-destructive. Movement though is also non-destructive. It didn't harm anything, it just moved the layer down, and that's your trick of the day assuming that you don't want to watch anymore of movies today.
If you want to watch more movies, then stay tuned, and I'll share with you many, many more, tricks of the day, coming right up.
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