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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 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.
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