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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 introduce you to another protection method that's afforded to you by the Content-Aware Scale command. And for my money it's much better. For one thing, it's fully automated and for another it works more reliably than that darn Alpha Channel function. So it's not 100% successful by any means. But it can be quite helpful. So in this exercise I'm going to show you an image that benefits from the skin tone protection, us what it is, quite well. And then in the next exercise, I'll show you an image that needs more TLC.
Don't we all, really, when you come right down to it? Anyway, the name of this image is Chair in park.psd. It's found inside 29_new_tech folder and it comes to us from photographer Lee Scania one of my favorites over there. One of everybody's favorite. She makes out like gangbusters. I tell you what. Some of those photographers with iStockphoto are doing quite well. Bless them. And what I want to do is I want to move the forest or this glade of trees right here or whatever the heck it is, I want to move it closer to this women's head and get rid of some of the grass in between there. Compress that area and in case it has not come to light so far, what Content-Aware Scale is doing is it's protecting areas of high contrast and compressing areas of low contrast.
So where pixels are very similar to each other they get squished or stretched and where pixels are very different from each other they get automatically protected. Now I can also try to make the image a little wider but we don't really have that much grass to work with here. So we are going to start chomping into the chair pretty quickly, I would think. Anyway, I have gone ahead and prepared the image. As you can see here, I have given myself some extra canvas width. I have converted the image to an independent layer and so on. So all that up-front busy work is been done. Let's go up here to the Edit menu and choose the Content-Aware Scale command, like so.
And then I'm going to make the image shorter. And notice what happens. When I start making the image shorter, we get about this far next to the women's head, right? And then we start making her recline. I really dig that. I think that's pretty great. Now at some point, especially if I start stretching her horizontally here, which I'll do. Because she is centered I'm going to press the Alt key or the Option key as I drag one of these side handles and that way we are going to stretch with respect from the center outward.
And I'll stretch to, and actually let's just go for it and stretch all the way, what the heck. Let's make a mess of this image. She looks like the bottom half of her body has just been magically cut away. Isn't that amazing? Her elbow is very long indeed, especially this left-hand elbow and her right elbow is getting less stretched but still stretched. And notice up here in the Options bar, in the right side of the Options bar, we have this little dude and that guy protects skin tones. So it's ultimately protecting areas of orange and this could be pale areas of orange or dark areas of orange, what have you. But it's going to stick in that skin tone range that we all share. And so I'll go ahead and turn on the Protect Skin Tones option.
And watch her elbows now. Watch what happens here. She gets compressed. So she has normal elbows again. Her arms go back to a normal size. It's fairly amazing. Now the chair is an absolute disaster at this point. And it's fairly unusual that there just happens to be a hump of grass in back of her head. That's just wild that things worked out that way. So I'm not sure I would really use this image this way. In fact, I wouldn't. It would be foolish. But I did want to demonstrate just how well this function can end up looking. So it's doing a beautiful job of protecting those skin tones there.
Now what I'm going to tell you is -- Nah, on that modification. Why don't we just escape out? Just press the Escape key. It's easier to start over than to try to make that work. And then I'll go back into the Edit menu and choose Content-Aware Scale and you will see something that I think is very interesting. He is sticky. Notice that. I didn't even apply. I escaped out and yet he stuck. You need to watch that fellow. Because you do not always want him on. You are specifically protecting warm colors, especially the oranges right there in between the reds and yellows.
And it may be that that's just the part of the image that you want to stretch. But you can end up ruining the effect if this is turned on. If you are working with a landscape for example or a sunset background as well. I have got one of those coming up. So watch this setting. Make sure you only have it turned on when you need it. Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and make the image less tall. I'm going to take it down until she starts reclining. That just doesn't look right at all. We could pretend that she is in a recliner but then we have the hump on the head and that just didn't work out. So I'm going to take it down until the chair stays upright. And that's at about this location here. Now I want you to see something that's pretty interesting here. Let me see if I can make this image any wider without stretching the chair. And it doesn't look like I really can.
It looks like the chair starts stretching pretty quick there. Anyway, so right about there let's say. That looks pretty darn good. Okay watch what happens now with skin tones. Now it's not really doing much good for me. But I'll go ahead and turn it off and you can see, oh! It was actually, it was helping the chair at this point. It was working out pretty well for me. All right, and this is with it on. So the chair goes back to a normal width and her elbow also retracted a little bit. That's nice. You also see that the grass changes a little a bit, I believe. I'm actually applying a slightly different transformation than I have in the past. So the grass is rolling a little bit differently. And I actually like the way it's rolling with Protect Skin Tones turned on.
So, what I'm saying is obviously if you want to protect your skin tones, you turn on Protect Skin Tones and see if it's working out for you or not. But you may find that Protect Skin Tones helps in other departments as well. Bear in mind that what we see as green, especially grass greens, often fall into the yellow territory where Photoshop is concerned. It's really emerald green that falls into the green territory. And so grass green can benefit to an extent here by having Protect Skin Tones turned on. You may find that it works out nicely for you.
Anyway, I'm going to press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to apply that modification. And you can see we have a progress bar. That is to be expected. Now these are fairly low- resolution images, I should caution you. When you are working with high- resolution images, you have more wiggle room because you can always downsample from there and you can make bigger modifications, if you want to, so you have more flexibility. But at the same time Content-Aware Scale is going to take longer to apply. And you are going to get a progress bar essentially every time you use the command. All right, there we have it, Protect Skin Tones has protected the skin tones.
Attaboy! Yeah! I'm going to go up to the Image menu and I'm going to choose the Trim command. And I'm going to trim away those transparent pixels and that's the effect right there, people. I think it looks pretty darn good. In the next exercise, I'll show you an image that doesn't benefit quite so much from Protect Skin Tones, it benefits a little, and how you go about giving such an image a little bit of extra tender loving care.
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