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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 are midway into our action, and I'm still recording my action in progress, which is called My chrome maker, so far for me. I'm assuming you are working along with me. I'm not giving you a catch-up on this one. I'm just assuming you are going to work one exercise after another, because otherwise this whole thing isn't going to make any sense. It's very important that we do this together. If you don't have the sample file, you can try it out with something that you create on your own, you'll still be able to create the action along with me here. So here we are inside of the Rounded alpha channel right there, and here's how you go about rounding off corners really well inside of Photoshop.
This is the best way to do it, better than Median. Like I could go up to the Filter menu, and I could choose Noise, and I could choose Median, and then increase the Radius value to 18 pixels, and I'll get a rounding effect, but if you look at this rounding effect, closely here, it's got corners on it. So this area is nicely rounded, pretty good contour there, but then we have a corner right there that I'm covering with my little hand, and we've got a corner right there too. And I don't want those, I want nice smoothly smooth there, so cancel out. But instead go up to the Filter menu and choose Blur, and choose Gaussian Blur, which always gives you really nice smooth contours, but of course, it also blurs the heck out of the image.
Now I want you to enter Radius value of 18 pixels like so. And then click OK, and notice by the way, we are recording, I added Gaussian Blur to the Action, how come I didn't add Median to the action, what had happened there? Well, I canceled. So if you cancel out of a dialog box, it doesn't get recorded. All right, so notice that it did keep track of the settings, Gaussian Blur, Radius 18 pixels. That's all there is to keep track of, where Gaussian Blur is concerned. Now then, I want to you to go ahead and press Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac, to bring up the Levels dialog box. You can also go to Image Adjustments Levels if you prefer. And I'm going to increase this first value to 105. So we are firming up these edges at this point, in order to get rid of the blurriness.
And then I'll change this value to 115, so we only have 10 luminance levels left in between, 10 grays, and that's going to give some nice anti-alias thing. And you can see we have some wonderfully smooth contours now, which is totally awesome. Click OK, twirl open levels, and you'll see that it's keeping track of the Input Values 105 and 115, it didn't even record the gamma value, because I didn't do anything to it. So that's very well known for just keeping track of the stuff you do when possible. Now that's the thing, sometimes we are off keeping track of way too much stuff, but when they are working really nicely, they keep track of just the stuff you changed, and nothing else.
All right, so I'll go ahead and twirl that close once again. Now, I want to load this is the selection, because we are going to use this to create a layer. So let's go ahead and Ctrl-click or Command-click right there on that alpha channel in order to load a selection, and you can see that we have set this selection to the Current channel. So in this case it didn't keep track of the channel name. It just said Current channel. Well, that's fine. That works out beautifully actually. Now when I click on RGB, it's going to say Select RGB channel. Now, the RGB item up here is not really a channel it's a composite image, but still, we get its drift, and looks like it's inside of Set Selection, but it's not, if you twirl Set Selection close, you'll see it's a separate step right there.
All right, now let's switch back to the Layers palette, and I'm done with this layer, Layer 1 right here, I'm completely finished with it, we don't need it any more. So I'm just going to go down here to my Trashcan icon, and I'm going to Alt-click on it or Option-click on the trash on the Mac, and you'll see that when you do that, it just says Delete current layers. So we didn't need to know what the name of that layer was, because we never switched away from it. During this entire time since we created the layer in the first place with Merge Visible with duplicate, we haven't switched to a different layer. So deleting the current layer that was unnamed is just fine. Now you may ask, hey Deke, why didn't you just take advantage of that groovy new thing in Photoshop CS4 where you just press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of the active layer? Well, that doesn't work when you have a Selection Outline going. You would delete the contents of the Selection Outline had you done that. So there is your answer.
All right, we still got to do some cleanup, I want to take these layers right here, and put them in a group, and then turn that group off, so that we don't run the risk of herding these original layers, and we keep them aside, in case the user wants to do something else with them in the future, and I'll show you how that works in the next exercise.
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