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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.
In this exercise we are going to apply the Sharpening effect to our image, using a layer of High Pass. I have gone ahead and saved my progress as Smooth contours.psd, found inside the 17_shads-hilites folder, so-called because we really have very successfully smooth out the contours inside this image using Gaussian Blur. Let me show you what I mean. I am going to go ahead and zoom in on this dude, just a little bit here, and I am going to Alt+Click or Option+Click on the eyeball in front of the Background layer, so we can see the original version of the guy. Now he is not very old; looks to me like he is possibly in his 20s.
No real skin blemishes to speak of. He's got some razor stubble, but if he wanted to shave he could, so presumably that's what he wants. But check out the colors in his neck here. This image looks like it's been stressed by which I mean, it's been edited inside a Photoshop possibly some things got missed along the way. For example, he has got this pale skin in his neck and then we move into this region. I'll go ahead and zoom in on his neck so we can see this. Notice that we have this ruddy shadow and it's an area of fairly flat shading as well.
Notice that this entire area that I am tracing here has a pretty consistent color going on inside of it. Bright towards the center, all right, so it's kind of reddish, notice that, and flat, which is a problem, usually we want more contouring going on, we want a consistently fading shadow. Anyway, we've got a flat color and then all of a sudden we hit this mustard zone like the guy sat there and rubbed grey poupon on his neck and jaw for some inexplicable reason. And then finally, we have a darker area of shadow that is once again ruddier, looks a little more naturalistic.
Now we've got the whiskers blended in for flavor. Anyway I am going to zoom out. Notice as soon as we go ahead and add the Shadows/Highlights layer, then a couple of things occur, first of all, we get a little more contouring going on inside the pale region of the neck, which is a great thing. So we have a lot more shading going on, lot more incremental shading which is very nice between this pale area and then going into that sort of medium red area there. We still have however a region of mustard that has actually grown a little bit and Shadows/Highlights has a propensity for adding sort of strange colors to the mix or exaggerating the strange colors that are already there, and then we go into that dark sort of red shading.
Also though notice, the guy looks a lot more weathered than he did before. So he doesn't look sunburned but he looks a little bit wind-burned. The great thing about this Gaussian Blur layer is it takes care of all those problems. So as soon as I turn that on, we get this nice shading, just uniform shading going on inside the face, he looks a little bit radioactive, the Saturation values are definitely way up there and if that worried you, you could always add a Vibrance layer later to the stack of Vibrance Adjustment layer and take those Saturation values down.
I like them though. I think that works out very nicely. And then check out the neck here, much more uniform shading, not nearly that same degree of mustard, a little bit of it still hangs on, but it's red enough that it looks naturalistic, it looks endemic to the image. So the only problem of course is that we've got those super-dark shadows or shadows are filled in, and we will take care of that in an upcoming exercise, but for now I am going to zoom out to center the image and then zoom back in. And now let's go ahead and add a layer of High Pass.
I should explain that at face value this may seem a little strange that we just got done blurring the heck out of the image. We applied a 15 pixel blur, and now we are going to turn around and sharpen the image, don't the two kind of counteract each other, why would you blur and then sharpen? Well, first of all it works beautifully inside of Photoshop and secondly, remember that there is actually no such thing as Sharpening inside a Photoshop, what you really doing where Unsharp Mask is concerned for example, you are using Gaussian Blur in order to create the appearance of sharpening.
So it's a little bit of fakery. So you are piling Gaussian Blur on top of Gaussian Blur which is going to work out beautifully and wherever you see a Radius value inside of Photoshop, we are going to be working with High Pass but it has a Radius and that Radius is essentially Gaussian Blur, it's a Gaussian Distribution which means we are using a bell-shape curve, I won't go up to too much here but it's using a bell-shape curve in order to create a natural drop off. So you don't have any distinct edges at the perimeter of the blur, and that's what that's about.
And almost all the Radius values inside Photoshop are Gaussian, the notable exception being Smart Sharpen which you can swap between Gaussian Blur, Lens Blur, and Motion Blur, as you may recall. So anyway, let's go ahead and apply High Pass. Let me first start by showing you how to do it wrong. This is the way you would probably think you should do it based on the way we have been working so far. You might think you grab that Gaussian Blur layer right there and you create a copy of it by pressing Ctrl+Alt+J, Command+Option+J on the Mac because we need High Pass to be on an independent layer and I will go ahead and call this guy High Pass and I'll click OK, and it's still set to Overlay, I don't want that so I'll switch it back to normal like so, and then press the Escape key so that option isn't stuck, and then I'll go up to the Filter menu, choose Other and I'll choose the High Pass command, Shift+F10 if you've loaded dekeKeys.
And this is the value I want to apply, I want to apply a Radius of 5 pixels, because presumably I am printing this image and I also want a fairly high Radius value in order to compensate for the fact that blurred the image and I have all these other effects going on. But if 5 pixels I can barely see anything, you can barely, if you look really closely, you can make out this sort of outline of a human form in the background, very, very faint. Why is that? I mean, I should be seeing something, High Pass is well-known for being that filter that grays out the image, but still I should be seeing some edges.
Well, we are working on the Gaussian Blur layer that had a Radius of 15. So unless we make a Radius larger than 15, we're really not going to get much in the way of results. For example, if I take it up to 13.9, the image is just beginning to emerge. At 15 pixels it should get a little bit stronger. Let's see how high we have to take. Well, there you go, at about 50 pixels we start getting some decent results out of this filter. Actually I bet, we could take it down to 30 pixels and still see something, yeah there it is.
But still this is a very high value and it's certainly not going to give us anything resembling sharp edges, these are very murky, thick, gooey edges in fact. So if I clicked OK to accept that obscenely high value there and then I change the Blend mode to Overlay, well we are going to get a stronger effect, we are going to get some clarity out of this High Pass layer but it's not sharp. Notice if I turn it Off and then I turn it back On, well, we are getting some more distinct edges out of this effect but this is not sharpness. How do we go about creating an independent layer that serves our sharpening needs? I will show you exactly how in the next exercise.
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