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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 demonstrate the Radial Blur filter, which is designed to simulate the effect of movement around the central point whether you are spinning an image around that point or pushing the image from the point toward the viewer. I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far as Motion blocks.psd and you can see that I have applied the Motion Blur Filter in different ways to both of these top layers here. I'm going to press the N key to advance to the two layers that have not been modified thus far, 3 BL and 4 BR. Click on one of them to make it active.
All right, so I'll go up to the Filter menu and I'll choose Blur and I'll choose Radial Blur. Now before I choose it, I want to be aware of something about this filter. It's really great, it produces really cool effects, you are not going to use it very often but still it's a nifty effects filter. It is from the old days. I am going to go ahead and choose the command. It lacks any form of meaningful preview. You get this thing that indicate the Blur Center but you actually will see, it works differently than you think it would. You think it's going to go ahead and position the center point for the blur right there in the center of the dude's face because after all there it is, even though it's represented inside of a square instead of a rectangle, which is the area that we are operating inside of, but you will see even that's wrong. Everything has gone to the wind inside this filter.
But anyway, I'm going to increase the amount value to 30 and so we are getting quite a good deal of spinning going on about the central point. You can move the central point to a different location but typically, you just want to go ahead and leave it set to where it was and there isn't any sort of automatic way to reset the center point to the center of this square, you just have to drag it around and hope for the best. All right, you also have a blur method of spin or zoom, I'll show you the difference but for now, leave it set to Spin and then you have different quality settings; draft, good, and best. Let's go ahead and set it to Draft.
What this means by the way is you are going to get different amounts of noise. Don't worry about like Best is slower which it is than Draft. Draft is going to be your fastest choice, but anymore on modern machines, this filter operates pretty quickly unless you are working on a really enormous file. I would prefer you think of it in terms of how much noise you want in your final effect. Draft is going to give a lot of noise, Good is going to give you some noise and Best is going to all but eliminate the noise inside of the final blurred effect. All right, so I'm going to go ahead and click OK in order to accept this noisy effect and certainly it is noisy and certainly it is spinning but what gives with the fact that it seems to be spinning around its upper right corner when I very specifically went to all that trouble to tell it to go ahead and spin around the center.
The reason is because it's always working from inside of the selected area and there is no selection so it's just assuming that you want to spin it with regards to the center of the overall image which of course is up here. This is the center point for our image, so that's what it's working from which of course is completely wrong. Anyway, you can see how it's a really noisy effect. Let's go ahead and undo that effect. Let's see what happens if I turn on the Lock Transparency function which often helps to anchor a filter by the way, as well as lock up the transparency.
All right, let's go back to the Filter menu. Actually, let's just go ahead and press Ctrl+Alt+F or Command+Option+F on the Mac to bring back the Radial Blur filter. I'm going to turn on Good this time just so that we can see how it's less noisy. I'm going to leave this Blur Center set the way it is because there is no way I can figure out oh, he is down here someplace. Forget about that, then click OK and so you see we have got a less noisy effect this time around but it's still and it's not by the way going outside of the normal previous opacity of the layer but it is still working with respect to the center of the image. So that did not help.
So let me show you what is going to help. I'll go ahead and Ctrl+Click or Command+Click on the thumbnail for this layer in order to load its selection outline. That is going to anchor down Radial Blur. Now let's press Ctrl+Alt+F or Command+Option+F on the Mac and let's check out Best just for the sake of good old comparison there, click OK, leave the Blur Center set to the center, click OK and you get this effect right here. So now it knows that's the center that we're looking for and it's also a very smooth effect as you can see, there is none of that noise that we saw in particular with the Draft effect.
All right, let's see the other setting, which is Zoom. I'm going to Ctrl+Click or Command+Click on a Mac on this thumbnail that's associated with 4 BR and then I'll click on this layer to make it active. All right, so now we are working on this layer, we have selected it, great. I'm going to press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac to hide those selection outlines. We don't need them. And then you know what, I'm going to go ahead and lock down the transparency just to make sure we don't mess that up and I could have done that of course by pressing the Slash key, I just remind you just because I like to do that, I'm compulsive.
I will press Ctrl+Alt+F, Command+Option +F on the Mac to bring up Radial Blur. Let's leave this set to Best this time. Let's try out Zoom. When you are working with the Zoom effect, Zoom is more subtle than Spin. So you typically raise the amount value and I'm going to send it through the ceiling all the way to 100%. So that we have the effect of stars rushing towards us, that kind of thing, except only it's not going to be stars, it's going to be an angry robot head and then I'll click OK and then it zoom, it comes either at us or away from us or something.
All right, so there we have it. These are the effects of the Radial Blur filter just so you can compare them to Motion Blur which doesn't look anything like it but still, I'll go ahead and press the Home key. There is some Motion Blur effect just in case you wanted to see those again and here are the Radial Blur effects quite different I think and fairly unrelated but they do all simulate motion here inside Photoshop. In the next exercise, we are going to transition from the world of diagrams of angry block diagrams here to the world of creative applications of blur and averaging filters.
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