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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.
So here I'm enjoying the fruits of my subtle modifications inside the Liquify plug-in. I'm looking at the Maddalena.jpg image that's found inside the 20_warp_liquify folder. Now there are a few reasons not to work the way I have so far. For one thing, of course, I have a made a complete mess of the image and you wouldn't want to normally do that. But if you are trying to make photo realistic modifications, you don't want to apply big distortions for two reasons. One is that you end up just blurring the heck out of your image. What you're really doing is smearing color transitions right here. And you can end up with some really unsharp results especially compared with neighboring regions that you haven't modified.
So you need to watch out for that and then you can also end up with these ripped pixels right here where certain colors are completely ripped away from their neighbors and you end up with very, very choppy results. So this wonderful combination, and when I say wonderful I mean horrible, horrible combination of smearing and sort of this weird choppy, jagged look that you can get if you work big inside of Liquify. So there are two rules of thumb that I like to observe, first do as little work as possible inside of this plug-in. Just by virtue of that you get subtle modifications and then secondly work very patiently. So small changes are better and even very small changes can make huge differences to the image. So that brings me to reconstructing the image. So I have made some big drags just with this default tool up here, the Forward Warp tool which just be called the Warp tool because of course it's moving the pixels in the direction you drag them.
And that is your main warping tool. That's a tool I'll use at least 50% of the times when I'm inside of this dialog box. After you make a mess of the image or after you make even not a mess just apply a small modification, you can incrementally undo it. Now we saw in the previous exercise how you can restore the entire image with this Restore All button but you can also just apply a partial reconstruction by Clicking on the Reconstruct button. So notice if I Click on the button I'll just slightly undo my brush strokes, all of the brush strokes that are not masked, and I'll show you how you can mask certain areas in the image later.
But for now that's just going to go ahead and undo everything partially and this is different then anything else that's going on inside Photoshop. If you think of it even the Fade command, what the Fade command is doing is it's mixing the modified version of the image with the original version of the image subject to in Opacity value and the blend mode, that's nothing like what we are getting here. We are partially reconstructing the image, taking our brush stroke and incrementally undo doing it. And Liquify is capable of doing that because it's actually a parametric editor.
And let me show you what I mean by that. For the length of time you are in Liquify, it is parametric and that's because what you are doing is you are changing this thing called the Mesh. And I'll go ahead and turn the Mesh on so that you can see it. You are moving these lines around and they are controlling the movements of the pixels inside of the image. I am going to go ahead and change the Mesh color to Red so that we can see it very easily and I'm going to change the size to Large. We have a little less definition where the Mesh is concerned. So you can move this Mesh around by dragging for example with the Warp tool and notice that I'm reconstructing the details by doing that. Very interesting. Also that's why this Reconstruct button can work the way it does. It can put things back together incrementally, which is a fantastic thing. Again unlike anything else inside Photoshop.
Now you might say well the bad news is that you can't say reconstruct to 10%. I mean it can't control the degree to which the reconstruction occurs. It just does whatever it does. Well yes or no, that's not quite true actually, as it turns out, you have this mode here. The first thing I'll tell you about the mode is it gives you control over how much reconstruction you apply. The next thing I'll tell you about it is that it's almost indecipherable. If you Click on Mode you will see that you have five modes to choose from, Revert, Rigid, Stiff, Smooth and Loose. So if you were to just sit there and play with it, what it seems like is Revert sort of does the medium job and then Rigid does an enormous job, it sends the image almost back to its original appearance. And Stiff is even, like a higher opacity version than Rigid is or something along those lines. And then Smooth does less then Revert and then Loose does almost nothing at all.
But that's like quite what's actually going on. For example I'll Click Stiff here and then I'll Click Reconstruct. And you notice the image is almost completely restored now. Whereas let's go ahead and undo that modification by pressing Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. If I choose Loose then it does very little at all, almost nothing, just some slight reconstruction there. All right, what's really happening though is it's all about the relationship between Reconstruct and this Mesh that you are seeing on screen. So what Loose does is, imagine that you have a bed sheet and you have gone ahead and rumpled the bed sheet in the way that we are seeing this mesh rumpled right here.
Well if you set this to Loose and Click Reconstruct you just slightly tugging at the bed sheet in order to sort of make the bed. You doing it the way my children do it. You are barely doing anything at a time, just slightly tugging things around. Whereas if you are given a good stiff jerk, that's what you are doing with Stiff and Reconstruct together is you are really tugging at it and as a result you are really straightening that mesh and you are regrouping the mess so that most of the little squares here meet each other at right angle, so that you have a lot of right angles inside this mesh.
Whereas let's go and compare this to Rigid and I'll go ahead and Click Reconstruct, not so much of a jerk. It's a big stiff jerk but not quite as much as with Stiff. So I hope that helps you make sense of it, Smooth by the way. Let's go back to what we had before or you won't be able to see. Smooth those ahead in just sort of smooth things out, it's yanking the sheet, it's smoothing over the wrinkles and you end up getting this result here. And actually Smooth is one of my favorite settings. I would say when I'm reconstructing images and of course, I would be just reconstructing small and it's not big, huge ones like this. But I'll either work with Smooth or Revert most of the time.
All right, in this case though I'm going to go ahead and do a Restore All, just to get the image back to the way it originally appeared. Now I was telling you that this is a parametric modification for as long as you are inside the Liquify dialog box. That changes as soon as you Click OK button. It becomes a pixel level modification and it's always that way. Liquify cannot be parametric in the larger world of Photoshop, you can't even apply Liquify to a Smart Object. So there is no way to turn it into a Smart Filter, it always modifies pixels. So do the work correctly inside of your Liquify session before you Click OK.
All right so let's get rid of the Mesh. It's interesting to see it, but it also gets in the way of making halfway decent modifications which we will begin to do when I show you how to use the Warp tool here in the very next exercise.
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