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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 show you variation under Diffuse Focus technique that is great if you need more diffusion inside of an image for whatever reason. This is also going to help demonstrate that this is not a gender specific technique. It's not just for the ladies who want to be attractive to Captain Kirk; it's for all of us. It's really all about growing old. It's about the aging process and compensating for that aging process as we grow wiser. So that's why I have this image here called Horatio Q Marketforce.jpg. This image comes to us from photographer Duncan Walker at istockphoto.com. This image, you may notice, is a flat image meaning that it has no layers. So we don't have to worry about that mash your fist on the keyboard and press E technique there. Just press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac.
So this allows us to jump the layer the bring up the New Layer and bring up the New Layer dialog box and I'm going to call this one diffusion and we are going to set it eventually to the Overlay mode. So I might as well do it not eventually but right now, choose Overlay from the Mode pop-up menu and then click OK and we now have an overlaid version of the gentleman. He is ending up looking a little too hot, a little too jaundiced. So we need to tamper his contrast and we are going to do that this time, using not the Levels command that was fine, you can use that technique, nothing wrong with it, it will produce the same effect as what we are about to do now. Instead though we are going to Brightness Contrast just for the sake of variety. And also so we can see how old school Brightness Contrast sometimes comes in handy.
So let's go up to the Adjustments palette here and I'm going to Alt+Click or Option+Click on the very first icon for Brightness Contrast and I'll call this guy, contrast reducer, Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask, very important you have to do that, so that you are affecting just the diffusion layer and not the entire composition. Then go ahead and click OK. We are not going to change the mode for this because it's a color adjustment, so I'll click OK and I'll reduce the contrast. Am I crazy and what good is it? What am I getting out to it? Not very much and that's because of the way that Photoshop CS3 the previous version improves the behavior of the Brightness Contrast function, thanks to that improvement so that it's no longer an image destroyer, so it does good contrast reduction unlike what we saw from the Output Level slider for example.
Because of that it doesn't do us any good where this effect is concerned. So we need to turn on Use Legacy if we are going this route. So that's a good thing, where this is concerned. It's a bad thing for a flat image but it's a good thing for this particular layered composition and now notice if I take the contrast down to -100%, I'm completely eliminating the behavior of this layer that's because I just changed the diffusion layer to solid gray. I'll click on it and I'll change its blend mode back to Normal and look at it. It's totally gray, that's to the old school contrast reduction. So maybe it's not such a great thing after all.
Anyway I'll go ahead and undo that modification. Let's switch back to the Contrast reducer layer and let's pull this guy back up to about 40, I think it works pretty nicely for our purposes here. So just a different way to work. You could still use levels as well, if you are the kind of person who just wants to figure out a technique and stick with it well then levels is your man, otherwise try this just for laughs. All right, so I'm going to hide the Adjustments palette because we want to go back to diffusion and now I'm going to show you a focused diffusion technique that works in three parts: Median, Unsharp Mask, Gaussian Blur in that order believe it or not that's the way we are going to work and I'm going to show you that very technique in the next exercise.
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