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Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, updated for CS5, 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 CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
I'm still working inside Gamma tweak.psd inside the 14_levels_curves folder. You may recall in the previous exercise, we went ahead and painted the selection with the Quick Selection tool and then refined it using the Refine Edge command. Now, we're ready to create another Adjustment layer that will open up those shadows, and we're going to put that Adjustment layer on top of the existing one. So, go ahead and click on the custom levels adjustment, and I'm going to apply another Levels Adjustment layer. So, I'll press Ctrl+Shift+L or Command+Shift+L on the Mac, and I encourage you to go ahead and name your Adjustment layers according to their function.
So, in this case, I call my shadow brightener, for example, because that's what it's going to do, and then I'll click OK. Up comes the Adjustments panel with a histogram that represents the composite view. So, in other words, I'm seeing the histogram of the selection that's a combination of the Background image and the custom levels adjustment layer working together. That's the way the Adjustment layers work. They build on top of each other. All right, but it's not accurate, so I could update it by clicking on this warning icon, not all that much different but worth doing.
Now, one way to work, if you really wanted to brighten the heck out of these shadows, you could drag this white point over, like so. Notice that goes ahead and applies a kind of underlining to the awning, which you might find to be beneficial. It's definitely a little bit surreal, I would say. However, what you have to bear in mind is that it's very possible that we're going to be drawing out a lot of noise inside of those shadows, because this is a pretty significant tweak that we're applying, and we're heaping it on top of another adjustment layer.
So, it's basically one color adjustment on top of another one. That's bound to get a little bit destructive, just something to bear in mind. So, you want to take it easy. I'm going to take that white point value back up to 255, and I'm going to focus my attention on the Gamma value. So, I'll press Shift+Up Arrow three times in a row to raise that value to 1.3. That's not quite far enough in my opinion, but if I go up to 1.4, that looks to me to be too far. So, I'm going to split the difference by nudging that value down to 1.35.
Then if you take a look at the histogram, you can see that we really don't have a solid black going on here. We've got some shadow details, but they failed to touch the left edge of the graph. As a result, we have some wishy-washy details there inside the awning. I'm going to go ahead and press Shift+Tab in order to back up to the black point value, and I'll press Shift+Up Arrow in order to darken the shadows. That ends up looking really nice in my opinion. So, I'm going to collapse the Adjustments panel here. Let's see what kind of contribution our new adjustment layer has made.
This is the image just that appeared at the outset of the exercise, and this is how it looks now. So, definitely breathing some credible life into those details, in other words, we're not going too far, however, we can make out the details quite nicely. Now, another thing I'd like to do is show you the difference between this, our custom adjustment, and the blended automatic adjustments that we applied a few exercises back. They're available to us right there, the auto adjustment group, notice, it's turned off, I'll go ahead and turn it back on. So, this is what we had arrived at, a few exercises ago.
It looked awfully darn good at the time, but now if I turn it off, and we compare it to what we have now, the custom correction looks a heck of a lot better in my opinion. Just so that we can say we've come full circle, if I Alt+Click or Option+Click in the eyeball in front of the Background layer, this is the original dim low-contrast version of the image. This is the image as it appears now, thanks to two Levels Adjustments working together here inside Photoshop.
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