Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery

Recording a fail-safe action


Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Recording a fail-safe action

All right gang, we're looking at the best Chrome effect ever as applied to a variety of objects. And starting in this exercise you and I are going to begin to assemble this complex Action together. Now complex is a relative word of course. We've got something like 40 steps inside this Action that looks like to me. And if you go hunting on the web, you will find Actions out there, then have like hundreds, if not thousands of steps. Actions can get extremely complicated. So this is fairly simple by complex standards.
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  1. 21m 20s
    1. Welcome
      1m 21s
    2. Installing the DekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      5m 38s
    3. Resetting the Function keys on a Mac
      3m 51s
    4. Installing the CS4 color settings
      4m 37s
    5. Setting up the CS4 color settings
      5m 53s
  2. 2h 31m
    1. Introduction to masking
    2. Introducing color range
      4m 22s
    3. Adding base colors and adjusting fuzziness
      4m 46s
    4. Localized color clusters
      6m 12s
    5. The Quick Mask mode
      7m 33s
    6. Viewing a quick mask by itself
      6m 40s
    7. Testing the quality of edges
      3m 55s
    8. Introducing the Masks palette
      7m 45s
    9. Editing a layer mask
      6m 18s
    10. Choking a mask with Gaussian Blur and Levels
      6m 44s
    11. Choking a mask with Mask Edge
      7m 43s
    12. Adding a Gradient Overlay shadow
      4m 23s
    13. Using live Density and Feather
      6m 12s
    14. Journeyman masking
      5m 44s
    15. Creating an alpha channel
      7m 6s
    16. Increasing contrast
      7m 15s
    17. Overlay painting
      8m 28s
    18. Cleaning up whites and blacks
      5m 48s
    19. Soft light painting
      5m 47s
    20. Selecting in style
      6m 55s
    21. Employing masks as selections
      5m 2s
    22. Scaling and compositing layers
      6m 30s
    23. Compositing glass
      5m 10s
    24. Selecting glass highlights
      8m 41s
    25. Working with found masks
      5m 46s
  3. 1h 34m
    1. Introduction to vector-based shapes
      1m 10s
    2. Vector-based type outlines
      7m 23s
    3. The benefits of vectors
      6m 27s
    4. Upsampling vs. nondestructive scaling
      7m 35s
    5. Vectors and effects
      8m 7s
    6. Fill Opacity and clipped layers
      4m 24s
    7. Basic shape creation
      3m 15s
    8. Drawing interacting shapes
      6m 21s
    9. Power-duplicating paths
      3m 12s
    10. Combining pixels and vector masks
      5m 19s
    11. Line tool and layer attributes
      7m 5s
    12. Copying and pasting path outlines
      3m 28s
    13. Drawing custom shapes
      3m 59s
    14. Drawing with the Pen tool
      7m 48s
    15. Creating cusp points
      7m 28s
    16. Defining a custom shape
      3m 34s
    17. Assigning a vector mask to an image
      2m 38s
    18. Adding a vector object to a composition
      5m 40s
  4. 1h 24m
    1. Introduction to Vanishing Point
      1m 11s
    2. Creating and saving the first plane
      8m 9s
    3. Creating perpendicular planes
      5m 16s
    4. Healing in perspective
      8m 47s
    5. Cloning and scaling in perspective
      8m 34s
    6. Patching an irregularly shaped area
      6m 59s
    7. Healing between planes
      3m 35s
    8. Importing an image into a 3D scene
      5m 46s
    9. Adding perspective type
      5m 37s
    10. Removing and matching perspective
      5m 36s
    11. Applying a reflection in perspective
      5m 1s
    12. Creating a perspective gradient
      6m 11s
    13. Converting a gradient to a mask
      2m 58s
    14. Swinging planes to custom angles
      4m 32s
    15. Wrapping art around multiple surfaces
      5m 49s
  5. 1h 15m
    1. Introduction to Smart Objects
    2. Placing a Smart Object
      5m 7s
    3. Saving a PDF-compatible AI file
      4m 27s
    4. Performing nondestructive transformations
      6m 8s
    5. Editing a Smart Object in Illustrator
      6m 50s
    6. Converting an image to a Smart Object
      6m 50s
    7. Cloning Smart Objects
      5m 24s
    8. Creating a multilayer Smart Object
      5m 51s
    9. Updating multiple instances at once
      2m 55s
    10. Creating a Camera Raw Smart Object
      4m 17s
    11. Editing a Camera Raw Smart Object
      3m 25s
    12. Assembling a layered ACR composition
      5m 55s
    13. Using an ACR Smart Object to effect
      3m 41s
    14. Blending multiple ACR portraits
      6m 56s
    15. Live type that inverts everything behind it
      6m 33s
  6. 1h 48m
    1. Introducing nondestructive Smart Filters
    2. Applying a Smart Filter
      4m 22s
    3. Adjusting filter and blend settings
      4m 25s
    4. Heaping on the Smart Filters
      5m 19s
    5. Smart Filter stacking order
      7m 23s
    6. Resolution and Smart Filter radius
      6m 12s
    7. Masking Smart Filters
      4m 42s
    8. Employing nested Smart Objects
      5m 5s
    9. Dragging and dropping Smart Filters
      6m 31s
    10. Using the Shadows/Highlights filter
      5m 53s
    11. Regaining access to the pixels
      7m 8s
    12. Parametric wonderland
      5m 52s
    13. Working with the Filter Gallery
      6m 28s
    14. Freeform filter jam
      5m 52s
    15. Swapping filters from the Filter Gallery
      3m 45s
    16. Mixing all varieties of parametric effects
      7m 30s
    17. Addressing a few Smart Filter bugs
      3m 11s
    18. Applying a Smart Filter to live type
      5m 30s
    19. Choking letters with Maximum
      3m 7s
    20. Duplicating a Smart Filter
      2m 38s
    21. Enhancing a filter with a layer effect
      6m 30s
  7. 1h 6m
    1. Introduction to Auto-Align, Auto-Blend, and Photomerge
      1m 2s
    2. Merging two shots into one
      3m 49s
    3. Applying Auto-Align layers
      3m 44s
    4. Masking images into a common scene
      1m 39s
    5. Auto-Align plus Auto-Blend
      8m 11s
    6. Assigning weighted Opacity values
      4m 7s
    7. Employing a Difference mask
      7m 17s
    8. Masking smarter, not harder
      3m 53s
    9. Capturing multiple depths of field
      3m 37s
    10. Auto-blending real focus
      8m 31s
    11. Creating a panorama with Photomerge
      7m 27s
    12. Correcting a seamless panorama
      4m 52s
    13. An altogether nondestructive Lab correction
      7m 59s
  8. 1h 44m
    1. Introduction to new CS4 technologies
      1m 1s
    2. Applying Content-Aware Scale
      7m 18s
    3. What works and what doesn't with Content-Aware Scale
      4m 19s
    4. Protecting areas with masks
      7m 31s
    5. Applying incremental edits
      7m 6s
    6. Protecting skin tones
      7m 12s
    7. Scaling around a model with TLC
      9m 0s
    8. Adjusting the scale threshold
      5m 22s
    9. When Content-Aware Scale fails
      4m 2s
    10. Creating a lens distortion effect
      8m 39s
    11. Layer masking the family
      11m 44s
    12. Installing the Pixel Bender
      3m 43s
    13. Introducing Pixel Bender kernels
      6m 50s
    14. Pixel Bender kernel roundup
      7m 24s
    15. Tube View and Ripple Blocks
      3m 58s
    16. Making a seamless pattern with Kaleidoscope
      6m 13s
    17. Introducing the Pixel Bender Toolkit
      3m 24s
  9. 1h 20m
    1. Introduction to actions
    2. Creating an action
      5m 45s
    3. Recording operations
      5m 12s
    4. Reviewing and editing an action
      4m 45s
    5. Playing an action (the Button Mode)
      4m 51s
    6. Saving and loading actions
      5m 0s
    7. Copying and modifying an action
      4m 8s
    8. Permitting the user to change settings
      5m 50s
    9. The Best Chrome Effect Ever II
      3m 41s
    10. Recording a fail-safe action
      7m 33s
    11. Rounding corners with a mask
      4m 33s
    12. Cleaning up layers
      3m 52s
    13. Automating layer effects
      7m 1s
    14. Applying chrome with Gradient Map
      6m 24s
    15. Action anomalies
      4m 11s
    16. Rendering effects to layers
      5m 1s
    17. Testing that it works
      2m 0s
  10. 1m 14s
    1. See ya
      1m 14s

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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery
13h 7m Advanced May 29, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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 Online Training Library®.

Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.

Topics include:
  • Defining the essentials of masking
  • Resizing images with content-aware scaling
  • Adjusting perspective with Vanishing Point
  • Applying Smart Filters to create complex effects
  • Using the Auto-Align tool to build composite images
Design Photography
Deke McClelland

Recording a fail-safe action

All right gang, we're looking at the best Chrome effect ever as applied to a variety of objects. And starting in this exercise you and I are going to begin to assemble this complex Action together. Now complex is a relative word of course. We've got something like 40 steps inside this Action that looks like to me. And if you go hunting on the web, you will find Actions out there, then have like hundreds, if not thousands of steps. Actions can get extremely complicated. So this is fairly simple by complex standards.

However, one of the things that I'm just amazed by the Actions that are out there is how frequently they fail on different sorts of images. So what I'm more interested in doing, as opposed to just going for the most complicated thing possible there. I'm interested in creating an effective Action that works. And that's what I'm going to be stressing as we work through this project. All right, so let's go ahead and press the F12 key in order to restore the original version of this image. The name of the image is Precision anarchy.psd found inside the 30 Actions folder. Notice that I've also loaded the Actions set called Best Chrome Ever II, also found in the 30 Actions folder.

Now, the only things you have to figure out what your parameters is going to be? What do you expect of the user, and what I'm expecting of the user in order to playback this Action successfully is that they have a background layer. That's going to be essential for this to work. So there's got to be a background layer, and then there's a bunch of other layers, however many, and they can be text, they can be shape layers, they can be pixel base layers, what have you, That define our outlines, our graphical outlines that were then going to trace using this Chrome effect.

Now we don't care what the colors of the layers are, because we're going to wipe them out. They just need to be there. So we need them have a mass of layers, and we need to have a background layer. And everything that's on the layers is going to get changed to Chrome, and everything that's on the background layer will survive. So that's why I've gone ahead and merged this fabric with the background layer, because otherwise it would get overwritten with Chrome, and it wouldn't look right because it's just a big rectangle, because we need the edges, right? We need edges and transparency for this effect to work. On the other end, otherwise we're going to make sure it works for any file is the idea. All right, so let's go ahead and hide Chrome Maker 2.0 or at least totally closed. And then let's make a new Action down here. I'm going to go ahead and click on that little page icon, and I'll call this one My chrome maker, because I'm assuming you and I are working together. We're going to put it in a set called Best Chrome Ever II, and we're going to click Record.

Now step number 1, is to make sure that the background layer is safe from our modifications. And so that means turning the background layer off. That's the simplest thing to do. But if I turn this layer off, notice it said Hide current layer. That's no good. I wanted to say Hide background layer, because I don't know, maybe some other layer is selected. So I'll go ahead and select a different layer, and I'll turn my background layer on, and then I'll turn it back off. And now I've got Hide background. There is always junk above. Hide background is wasted. I don't care about it.

We don't want it. So go ahead and stop recording for a moment like so by clicking that Stop button. And then grab these three steps, click on one, Shift-click on the other. Then go down to that little trashcan icon and Alt-click or Option-click to get rid of everything that hide background. That's the only thing we want. And this is one of the things you'll learn as you start recording your own Actions. Is what's good, what's bad, what you need, what you don't need. And you wanted to just kind of clear things as you go along. You don't want to keep your undone steps, and that's another thing that drives me nuts when I look at other people's Actions.

Is they'll back step, and then try out new things, and back step and try out new things, it's just sloppy. And you're wasting the user's time ultimately. And you're wasting your future time if you anticipate using this Action yourself. So next what we're going to do, now that we've successfully hidden the background regardless of which layer is selected, we'll start recording again very important. Keep an eye on that red dot, then press Ctrl+Alt+A or Command+Option+A on a Mac to select all the layers. Notice we did not select the background layer. It is safe.

Now then, what I want to do is I want to create a Merge version of all these layers, but I don't want to hurt the original. So I'm going to press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E, do you remember that one? That's Command+Shift+Option+E on the Mac. And you will Merge Visible, check that out. And if you twirl that open, you'll see with duplicate, which is Photoshop's way of saying, it went ahead and created the duplicate version of all these layers, and merged them together, and they are now pixels, and are now rendered out as pixels. Great! All right, now I'm not interested naming the layer. I just want to use this layer in order to create a mask, because the idea here is that I want to take these harsh corners, and I want to round them up, because the Chrome effect is much more realistic when assigned to rounded metal objects after all. And so we need to create that rounding. And it's also going to give us a lot more contouring to work with our layer effect. As you'll see.

All right, so what we want to do in order to achieve that effect, because there's not a really good way to just round things out here inside of the larger world of Photoshop. You can use the Median command, which will kind of carve off those corners, but it ends up creating kind of jagged transitions, which I don't like. So here's what we're going to do instead. Ctrl-click or Command-click on the thumbnail for this layer, and notice that it says Set selection to transparency channel. And it's implying that is for the current layer. It's not keeping track of the layer name. That's a good thing, because we don't want it to worry about the layer name. Just whatever layer, just got done creating, it will now use as a selection.

Now let's go to the Channels palette, and we're going to go ahead and save this off as an alpha channel by Alt-clicking or Option-clicking on this little Mask icon. And let's go ahead and name our channel round it. Now this is a good habit to get into. If you're going to keep a channel or a layer, then you want to go ahead and name it as you make it, because you may end up hitting that layer again, and if you've gone ahead and named it, and given it a good name, and then you just click on the layer, then the Action can track that. However, if you're being sloppy, you had three things and you don't name your layers, then you come back and you click on it, and maybe it can't find that same layer and so your Action fails.

So in this case we're naming the channel. Now you may ask, hey, well, why didn't you name your layer just a moment ago that you created layer 1? That's because I'm going to throw that away. All right, so let's go back to channels, and now I'm going to have you click on that channel to make it Active, and you can see now that we've made a channel called Rounded and all the stuff about it. That's what it's going to look like if we use it as a Quick Mask and that kind of a thing. So go ahead and twirl that close. Sometimes this step will keep track of a whole lot of information, other times it's not so much. And then this one, select channel Rounded. We just clicked on Rounded. And thanks to the fact that we just got done naming Rounded it here, we're sure that it's going to be there and available to us.

All right, so that's enough for this exercise, quite a bit of stuff that we've done here, except for one more thing. Press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac because we don't need the selection outline anymore. It was also just a means to an end. We now have a mask. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to round the corners inside of this mask, and then generate a layer from that.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery .

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Q: My Polygon tool is locked into a very small size. I can use the Transform tool to increase it's size once drawn, but I must have something set that will not allow me to freely draw it like I can the other shapes. What could be causing this problem?
A: This could be caused by a value associated with the Radius option of the tool. Click the down-pointing arrowhead to the right (a few tool icons over) from the Polygon tool in the options bar at the top of the screen. This brings up pop-up panel. If the Radius option has a number value, select that value and press Delete or Backspace to clear it out. That should fix the problem.
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