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Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, updated for CS5, 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 CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
I'm still working inside Gamma tweak.psd, found inside the 14_levels_curves folder, and my only remaining concern vis -a-vis the brightness and contrast of this image is the overly dark shadows underneath this slight awning. What I'd like to do is breathe life into those details. You'll sometimes hear people talk about opening up the shadows. That means they're hoping to lighten up the darkest areas of the image. Now, one way to work would be to grab the Dodge tool, which you may recall from Chapter 9 of the fundamentals portion of this series, and then you could go ahead and paint under the awning.
Now, I'm getting the ghostbuster icon, because I have my adjustment layer active. So, I'm going to collapse my Adjustments panel and switch to the Background layer, and then I'm going to paint over it, and you can see that that makes a big difference very quickly. So, the Dodge tool allows you to make quick edits inside of an image like nobody's business. However, let's say you want more control than that. I think we can do better. In that case, what we need to do is take a slightly more disciplined approach. We need to select these shadow details here, and then we need to brighten them using another adjustment layer.
That's what I'm going to do. So, I'll press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo the Dodge tool, and then, I'm going to switch to this tool right here, the Quick Selection tool, not my favorite selection tool inside of Photoshop, however, quite good at selecting areas with obvious edges, which definitely defines these tiles right here. Now, I'm going to go ahead and drag across the tiles like so, and that does quickly select them although I selected down into this region right here. What I've noticed in Photoshop CS5 is that the automated selection tools have a habit of behaving differently, depending on whether you're working on a pixel-based image or an adjustment layer, which I have to say is little peculiar, because you would think they're always watching the composite image.
However, it does make a difference what's selected. So, check this out! Notice this region above the sundial is selected, I'm going to switch over to my Adjustment layer. I'm going to press Ctrl+D, Command+D on the Mac to deselect that image, and I'm going to paint that exact same brush stroke with the Quick Selection tool. This time, I do not select down into that region above the sundial. So, go figure. In fact, the only cleanup I have to do is in this area right here. So, I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and paint over these non-shadow details in the midsection of the image, and I get this effect right there.
Now, at this point, you might think, ay, caramba! This is awesome! We've got an accurate and quick selection outline, out of the Quick Selection tool. But if you're paying any attention to chapter 8, then you may recall that the Quick Selection tool delivers selection outlines with ratty edges, and you can never trust the marching ants. So, what we're going to do is click on the Refine Edge button here in order to bring up the dramatically enhanced Refine Edge dialog box here in Photoshop CS5, but here is another weirdness of working on an adjustment layer.
This time, the Adjustment layer is not helping us, it's hurting us. What we're seeing here, instead of seeing a little sliver of the image, do you recall this, once again, from our earlier discussion of Refine Edge, we saw a preview of it, I'm going to explain it in more detail in a future chapter. But for now, what we should be seeing what I'd expect to see is the selected area, these tiles that is, against a white background in our case. However, I'm seeing a Mobius tube instead, because Photoshop isn't smart enough to see through the Adjustment layer to the image below.
Then if we start making modifications, check this out! These are the changes that I'll be making. I'll be raising the Radius value to 20. Notice the bizarre, completely unacceptable edges that we're getting right there, and then I'll turn on the Smart Radius option, I'll explain what I'm doing here, when we do it for real. I get this haloed effect, altogether unacceptable. I'll cancel out, and let's switch to the Background layer instead, and compare the results. I'll go back to Refine Edge. Now we see the actual image against the white background. By the way we do want to preview this selection against the white background, because that affords us the most contrast, and if you're not seeing white, then click inside this View icon and choose On White, like so.
All right, I'll go ahead and hide that dropdown menu. Now watch what happens when I raise the Radius value to 20 pixels. Much better results this time around! Incidentally, I want you to make sure just in case that the Adjust Edge values are all set to zero. Decontaminate Colors should be turned off. We don't want any of these options for this effect right here. What the Radius value does is it intelligently seeps the selection outline into different luminance levels. It seeps the selection according to the luminance. So, in other words, if we've selected a dark area, then it will seep into other dark areas, seep away from the highlights, and create a nice soft edge between the two.
But I'm also managing to seep the selection a little bit into the hard edges of the tiles, which I don't want. So, I'm going to turn on this check box right there, Smart Radius, which treats the soft edges and the sharp edges differently. So, when you turn that on, notice that the tiles darken up. Now, the shadows darkened up a little bit as well, which actually long-term benefits the selection outline, but we definitely needed to keep those title details nice and sharp, because, by virtue of the fact they were going light on us, that meant they were becoming translucent, and we were seeing through to the white background.
Anyway, notice how different this looks when we're working on the background image as opposed to the Adjustment layer. So, just bear that in mind. If you're getting weird aberrant results out of your automated selection tools inside Photoshop, try switching away from the Adjustment layer or even to the Adjustment layer, because it helped us where the Quick Selection tool is concerned. All right, I'll go ahead and click OK in order to generate that selection outline. In the next exercise, we'll use the selection to mask another Levels Adjustment layer.
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