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Photoshop mastery can be elusive, but in Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery, best-selling author and video trainer Deke McClelland teaches the most powerful, unconventional, and flexible features of the program. In this third and final installment of the popular and comprehensive series, Deke delves into the strongest features that Photoshop has to offer, including scalable vector graphics, Smart Objects, and Photomerge. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, both part of the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
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 how to paint inside of an alpha channel to exaggerate the contrast of specific edges so that you can make selective modifications using the Brush tool, and we'll just be painting. We are going to rely on some blend mode automation that's really going to help us out as you will see. I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far as an image called mask in progress.tiff. You saw me do it in the previous exercise those of you who are following along with me here. We need to get from my mask right here inside the Channels palette to Final mask that's where we are eventually going over course within next few exercises but let's start by getting some of these hair details where we want them.
So switch over to my mask and you know what I'm going to do, I'm going to go ahead and call this guy contrast because all we have done is increase the contrast of the mask and then I'll make a duplicate of it and I'll call this one painting or something along those lines because we are going now be painting inside the mask and this is a really great way to work because you don't have layers, when you are working with channels, you need to go ahead and save your progress as you go through the process of creating a mask. It's just a good idea in case you want to come back to one of your previous versions of the mask.
You can do that just by duplicating the channels as you move your way through the process here and if you want to make sure that you still have access to your keyboard shortcuts so that you can press, for example, Ctrl+9 or Command+9 to get to this channel because the next channel I create would have no keyboard shortcut because we are out of numbers. You can just change the order of the mask. You could drag it to the top of the stack. I could say okay, this guy is going to be my first mask. It will now have a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+6 or Command+6, so that happens automatically depending on the order of the alpha channels here inside of your palette and the I would make contrast. The next guy, he is sort of the lieutenant right there and then we have these other masks that I created for you.
Here is the painting alpha channel. I want you to go ahead and grab the Brush tool. Also make sure that your alpha channel is set to white, as it should be by default, because when you are working inside of an alpha channel, Photoshop makes the assumption that you want to paint with white, that you want to paint in the selection and that the background color should be black because that would be painting away the selection. So if it's not already set to white and black, then you can just click on this little icon there, and notice the default icon shows white as the default foreground color. I'm going to make my brush bigger, right now I have got a 90 pixel soft brush. So we want a soft brush for our purposes here, 0% hardness and that may surprise you because after all if we start working with the soft brush, we are going to start doing this number here where we add in artificial edges and we just make a mess of thins and this looks like a blurry ol' blob at this point. We are not doing as decent job of selecting the hair at all.
That's because we are working in the normal mode, which relies on us to be extremely careful with our painting. We don't want that so press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac. Instead, what we want is one of the contrast modes and your best bet is Overlay. But you can change that, you can experiment with other modes as well if you want to and I'll be experimenting with Soft Light before we are done here but let's go with Overlay right now and then I'll pres the Esc key here on the PC so that blend mode isn't selected anymore. Then watch what happens when I paint. That exact same brush stroke I painted before. Notice that Photoshop goes ahead and relegates my light brush stroke to the light areas inside the image. So it's brightening the highlights, it's changing the mid tones, it's also lightening the mid tones, it's leaving the shadow detail intact.
Now I don't happen to like that modification right there, it's too over the top, so I'm going to undo because I'm making those hair too thick. We'll come back to them but I do want to paint inside of his face like so and over his ear and you may have to paint multiple times but notice as I'm painting, it's a miracle tool here, the Brush tool along with the Overlay mode, produces this wonderful masking tool that allows us to paint in the highlights and protect the shadows, it's just the most wonderful thing every really, where masking is concern, it's really great. Now there are other ways to work and when you start getting into move advance territory, then you can work with the Dodge and Burn tools which give more selective control but you can learn all about them in my Photoshop CS3 Channels and Mask video series if you like.
All right, so I'm going to paint inside the arm as well, paint, no we don't really need the arm to be painted too much but I'll paint down it little bit. Paint over here inside the hand, this is looking pretty darning great, I'm leaving the hair alone, notice that, I haven't really painted along the hair because if I start painting along the hair, I'm going to exaggerate it pretty terrifically and I don't want to do that. So I'll press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo that modification there. Now what about the background, it's so darning light, it needs to be nice and black. Well all you do is you press the X key to make the foreground color black, you have already got the mode set to Overlay, just start painting, just automatically, the highlights are protected now and by virtue of the fact that you are using this contrast mode here mode the first and foremost contrast mode the Overlay mode, don't you know.
All right and I'm just painting paying attention to the edges I'm not worried too much about the stuff that pretty far away from the edges because I can take care of that independently. I do have some issues along the arm right here that I'll resolve in just a moment, I'm going to paint next to the arm down in this location as well, paint in the background over here and so on. Now once you get to a point where you don't have good edge stuff to work with like right here along the edge of the arm, we have got this white highlight right here that indicates that we are going to select this area but it's not something that I want to select, let's see what it is. It's some person in the background at the tradeshow, a shoulder or something along those lines. I don't want that. I want that out of there.
So go back to the painting mask that I'm working on right here and let's change the blend mode back to Normal because we are going to have to do some hand painting here and then I also recommend and then I also recommend that you increase the Hardness. Now you might want to go with Sharp is at 100% or you would take it down to something like 75% is the lowest you want to go if you are going to work this way. Just to have a little bit of organic edge going on. I want it all the way hard however, so I'll set that to 100%, I'll reduce the size of my brush and I'm just going to click right there and then drag away from it. So I'm trying to be very careful.
Then I'll click right here and drag away and the brush is thoughtfully round which actually works really well for these kinds of organic details. Now should you determine at some point here that you would like to see the image at the same time, you can take advantage of that quick mask technique that I was showing you before, where you just click in the eyeball in front of RGB so that you are seeing the RGB image and the mask at the same time. And if you don't like the color of that mask, double- click on it and change it's color to something like, once again 180 is going to work out pretty nicely, click OK, click OK again and now we can see the mask very well and I can see for example that Russell's nostrils are blue and I don't want that. That's why I press the X key to make my foreground color white and I paint that stuff away in order to add it to the selection as I'm doing right here.
Then if you don't want to see the RGB image anymore, then you turn off the eyeball or take advantage of that wonderful keyboard shortcut, the tilde key. So the tilde shows the image, tilde hides the image. Press X for white and then paint away the glasses right there, paint a little bit right there on ear, notice I'm not doing a lot of just clicking on details, when in doubt, be very careful and just click and right here on the hand, your best bet is just do these kinds of clicks and notice the world is made of circles, people.
The circular shape of the this brush is no accident and it works beautifully for us where masking is concerned and the I'll just go ahead and drag down right there in order to get rid of some of that stuff. We are left with a few things I guess. I mean this needs to go, this needs to go, why don't we just go ahead and get rid of this stuff as well? And when I say get rid of, we are actually adding it to the selection. Press the X key and paint this stuff away. You could also select this area with Lasso tool or something like that and then just fill up with black by pressing Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete in our case since I now have black as foreground color. Anyway, paint, paint, paint, get rid of a lot of this stuff, not everything of course, as you are seeing.
Now you will notice that we still have some residual dark gray going on in the background where it really wants to be black. However, if I were to just paint, even with the Overlay mode, over these details, I really start losing that hair and so I'm going to show you a more careful way to work in the next exercise.
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