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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.
All right, so we have seen this amazing demonstration of Content-Aware-Scaling that was just breath taking and then in the next exercise, we found out that actually a few of the details didn't hold up too well. Some things turned out great but then other things didn't. And those things that didn't are critical enough that we don't want this image to go out the door. So how do we do a better job? How do we protect our image so it doesn't get all messed up? Well, there's two approaches that you can take. One is you can mask the details that you want to protect, and then the Content-Aware Scale command will do its best to go ahead and respect those masked areas. And then in the next exercise, I'll show you a better approach that requires less work. I've got open among these other images, this guy right here, Bay with mask.psd, found inside the 29_new_tech folder, and I'm going to Shift+Tab back up my palettes.
So, you can see here in the Layers palette that I've gone ahead and converted the image to an independent layer. So, I've done some of that upfront work. I've gone ahead and given myself 2000 pixels of canvas, so I have some room to stretch the image. I've also created a bunch of alpha channels as you'll see here. So if you go to the Channels palette, there is this dock mask channel. I spent a long time on this mask, making it really, really close to perfect. So, I spent about, I'd say 15-20 minutes, making it a really accurate mask and we'll see what a waste of time that was, and then I turned around because that didn't worked worth beans and you'll see that in just a moment. And I created this blocks mask that took me about 12 seconds and all it's doing is roughly protecting, if I turned on the RGB image at the same time, it's roughly protecting the dock and the birds, bless them, and this post right there and I'm giving Photoshop some room in between.
Now, you might at this point, say, "Well, Deke, I bet the reason you're mask didn't work is you got it backwards buddy." I'll turn off RGB for a moment, so we can see what I'm talking about. Black conceals, right, and white reveals. "So, you're telling Photoshop to go ahead and stretch this area and protect this area. That's your problem." Just to demonstrate that even though that's great reasoning on your part, it doesn't happen to be true. I went ahead and created invert1 and invert2, so you can see how they fail even worse. All right, so let's go back up to RGB. Basically Content-Aware Scale is set to -- for whatever reason, I don't know why they chose this approach -- but it's set up to change the black area, the area that's covered with black and to protect the area that's covered in white, inside of any given alpha channel.
Anyway, let's go to RGB and make sure that the layer is active, which it is. Okay great. Let's go back to the Channels palette though, so we can keep an eye on our alpha channels down here and now I'm going to go up to the Edit menu and I'm going to choose Content-Aware Scale, bless it, and I'm going into make the image less tall, like so, and then I'm going to start peeling the image apart here. That is I'm going to start dragging the right handle over to the right until the point that I see things start falling apart and that happens pretty quickly. You can see that we've got a jag right here, where this support is concerned.
Let's go ahead and zoom in a little bit, and you may notice when you zoom in that the preview turns off and has to regenerate. Don't worry about that. That's just a way Content-Aware Scale works. All right, so let's say that I want to go ahead and protect it. Well the first thing I'm going to do is try out what makes more sense, which is these invert masks right here, so let's go with invert1. You notice -- I'm sorry, Protect, there is this Protect pop-up menu right here. So it will either not protect the image if it's set to None, or you can choose one of your alpha channels. You can't choose one of the Color channels, just so you know. Let's try the really accurate invert1 and notice that that just went ahead and decimated the dock.
So the first thing to go is the dock. I'll show you, I'll go ahead and zoom out here. So you can see. I'll make the image taller and notice, even when image is at full height, it's damaging the dock for all it's worth. Because I've told that this actually go for the dock. The dock is the only thing that I want you to modify because the dock is black, because that's the way Content-Aware Scale works. So if I start making it less tall, you can see there goes the dock, just plunging into the lake. Things are even worse if I change it to invert2.
It really goes in there and gives the dock a solid pounding. Actually it's not worse... I thought it would be worse. I was just predicting, what the heck?! This is what happens, if I make it even less tall. I believe, we just, yeah -- we just - there it this. We just completely get rid of everything but the lake. By the time we make the image about this tall. Isn't that interesting? So the bottom part of the image gets pretty much cropped away. We do have a little bit of weird action over here in a lower right corner, but you know, whatever. But for all intents and purposes, we've lost everything. All right, so let's make things slightly taller here and let's switch to one of the masks that makes a little more sense. Actually, just for a moment, just for the sake of comparison, now that I'm done making merry over invert1 and invert2, I'll switch things back to None, so we can see what no mask whatsoever looks like. Looks a lot better than anything we've come up with so far.
Then let's compare that to dock mask, which is my really hyper accurate mask, right? And I'll wait for it for a moment, you have to give it time to work and actually, if you zoom in there, you'll see it's actually in worse shape. Wait for the preview to update there, there we are and this post is falling apart in a way that we haven't seen it fall apart before. Before it just had a little bit of a jag coming out of it. Now it's kind of leaning over this way like it's in some kind of crazy pixelated windstorm, and this post is falling apart. It didn't have any problems last time. Now it's a mess and we have some weird, just kind of strange little pixel patterns that are showing up too. If I go ahead and stretch the image to full width, things get very bad indeed.
The side of the dock starts leaning right there and falling apart and these thing's going to heck, it looks as bad as it ever did and some of the Xs now have more wobbles in them than they ever did. So basically what we have is fifteen minutes of my life that I spent on that dock mask and now I'm telling you about it. So we are wasting everybody's time, and it actually made the image that much worse. All right, so what about blocks? Well, blocks is going to work better, I'm here to tell you. Up front, I want you to know that simple big chunky masks actually work better than highly detailed ones, where this command is concerned.
So let's go ahead and switch over to docks and sometimes by the way, you can have luck if you build in a little bit of softening, but we just really didn't have room for it. But this is blocks. This is a function of having chosen the blocks alpha channel right there. So, we don't have nearly as many wobbles inside of our Xs, although they're still pretty evident, but for some reason this guy decided to fall apart. I mean really badly. And then we have this weird lean in the dock right there. It's just an absolute mess and in fact, I'll go so far as to say, I think you are going to agree readily here, that no mask whatsoever actually worked much, much better. So that of course leaves us scratching our head wondering well, how in the world do we protect this darn thing? This Protect feature here just really doesn't work and that's pretty much been my experience. I've tried this out with several different images. I have a demo actually in my New Features series where it works okay. But my real world experience has been that it doesn't hold up very well at all. So, what do we do? Well I'll show you a really simple and really great approach that holds up pretty nicely in the next exercise.
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