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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 show you how to modify a layer mask from the new Masks palette here in Photoshop CS4. I have saved my progress so far as a document called Me masked.psd, found inside the 18_advanced_layers folder. And I have got the Me on T layer selected. You should have that layer selected too, if you are working along with me. Then go ahead and expose the Masks palette. And you can get to that palette of course, like all palettes, by going to the Window menu and choosing the appropriate command, in this case masks. Now in my case it's telling me that no mask is selected, at least that's what it means. It left out the word is there, and this palette is something of a lightweight. I have to say it's not my favorite new feature inside of CS4. It's kind of an aggregator, meaning that it takes some features that already existed and makes some little more convenient to get to. It does had a couple of unique features, but it says this a lot, no mask selected, even when you quite obviously do have a mask selected, like you could be working in the Quick Mask mode, or you could be working in an Alpha Channel, and it's going to tell you, No mask selected.
In our case we do have the kind of mask it wants to work with, which is a layer mask. It's designed to work with both. Pixel based and Vector based layer masks. We have such a mask associated with this layer, but we don't have the mask selected. We have got the layer selected instead. So you would have to go ahead and click on a layer mask thumbnail and then suddenly it becomes happy, as you can see right there. Another way to work, if the layer already has a layer mask, as ours does, then I could click on the layer thumbnail like so. It's going to sit here and say No mask selected, and then you just click on the kind of mask you want to be working with. So I would just click on the pixel mask icon right there, and it will go ahead and automatically select the layer mask for me.
Here are our unique options. These options did not exist before the mask palette. And they are both dynamic, meaning we can change them any time we like. They are parametric. They are non -destructive, however you want to say it. And I'm going to increase the Feather value, and you can see, I can create a glow on the fly or really it's a fussy edge on the fly. And then I could switch to a different layer, make some modifications, come back to this layer mask and say, oh! I don't really want that Feather value, I'll restore it to zero once again. And so that's dynamic change, really great, if you want that kind of thing. If you want to assign that is blurriness to a layer mask, I don't in this case.
This option is a little stranger, but it decreases the density of the layer mask. So black becomes a lighter color, essentially, and as a result you're unmasking the layer, if you reduce the Density option so notice that I'm bringing back the background. At which points you might think, why in the world, would I want to do that? Well, there are the occasions where you want the background to show up to some lesser extents or other. Also this is a great masking tool, because if you decide now that you wanted to paint in some additional mask or paint away some additional mask, as we were doing with the Badlands recall that. Instead of working blind, the way I was showing you, you could actually see what you are doing.
And we could have used that technique with the Badlands if we had wanted too, I didn't. Because I want to show you that other technique then. But now I'll show you this one, I'll go ahead and get the Brush tool right there. Press the B key of course, and then, let's say I want to paint away something like my face. I don't like this guy's face right there. The foreground color is black appropriately, because that will allow me to paint something away, and then I can paint inside of the face, and I can see exactly what I'm doing. And let's say I paint away something like this. I'll just carve into Bronco's hindquarters there. And then I'll press the X key in order to make white my foreground color. Now I can go ahead and paint Bronco back in, and I can see what I'm doing, because I can see where the mask ends. I can see that darkening showing up right there at that location. And then when I reset the Density option, everything is back the way it needs to be. I have got sort of rumply thigh there, and I have no face, just the way I wanted it, well, not really.
So let's actually go to the History palette right there, and go back a few states. Let's go back to Add Layer Mask right there, because we don't want any of this other garbage, and then I'll hide the History palette from View. All right, now let's look at the buttons. We have this Invert button that allows us to invert the mask as we are seeing. Not really the effect I want, but you can see now the dinosaur is black inside of this little thumbnail, and the background is white. So we can see the background and we can't see the dinosaur or me. And that's just no good. We must be seen, so I'll just go ahead and click on the invert button again. That's the same as undoing, because recall, I told you this a while back, inverting is a non- destructive operation inherently. You can't hurt an image by inverting it, because the pixels are just squished, the opposite pixels and then you just switch them right back to opposite pixels again, that is opposite luminance levels. And then there is the Color Range Option. I'll show you how Color Range works when we discuss masking in a future chapter of the series, and then there is Mask Edge, that brings up for all intensive purpose the refine edge command.
So let's go ahead and click on it, because let's say what we want to do, we want to choke this mask invert a little bit. We want to choke away some of the bright edges over here in the right hand side and the elsewhere. So I'll go ahead and click on the mask edge in order to bring up the Refine Mask dialog box right here. And currently we are seeing the dinosaur and me, against the white background. I would rather keep tabs on how I look against my overall composition. So I'm going to switch to this guy right here, which allows you to preview the selection with a standard marching ants border, which is terrible, right? Let me click on it, and you will see that we have got marching ants, which are completely obscuring our view of this edge. I want to see the edge just the way it is.
Now all I have to do though, go to View menu and turn off Extras, which you can do by pressing Ctrl+H or Command+H. So it's just the simple Ctrl+H, Command+H will make mincemeat of that selection outline. So you are no longer seeing it. So we are just controlling the mask on the fly, and seeing the results, as we do. We have already discussed this dialog box way back in the fundamentals portion of the series. For this effect, I'm going to reduce the Radius value to zero. And I'm going to reduce Smooth to zero. So everything is zero except for Feather, which is one pixel. That's the way I want to leave it, and that gives me a little bit of softness, and that's the wiggle room I need to perform the contraction that I'm looking for.
I am going to set this Contract/Expand value all the way to -100%. And that's going to move that edge in just 1 pixel which is good enough for me and that takes care of that bright edge over here in the right hand side, and then I click OK, in order to apply that modification. So there's new Masks palette, not a ton going on inside of this palette, but there are a couple of unique features. And incidentally the features that you access using these buttons are all accessible elsewhere inside the program. For example, if you wanted to refined this mask the way we just did, all you have to do is go up to the select menu and choose the Refine Edge command or press Ctrl+Alt+R, or Command+Option+R on the Mac, and that will bring up that same Refine Mask dialog box right there.
So just so that you know, but the Mask palette is there if you need it. A nice little aggregator I suppose. All right, let's hide the palette, we are not going to need it anymore. In the next exercise we are going to introduce some more objects into our composition, and we are going to move those objects as a group.
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