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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 add yet another layer of Gaussian Blur in order to completely and totally mimic that Vaseline/nylon stocking over the lens effect. That was so popular back in the late 60s and 70s and so on and then we are going to add a layer of Film Grain on top of that and the reason we are doing the Film Grain is in the case of this image just for effect, but you can also use this technique to mimic digital noise or film grain that's inherent inside of an image which can be a very useful thing because whenever you are blurring or averaging or smearing or smudging pixels around inside Photoshop, you end up eliminating that natural film grain or at least running the risk of doing so and this is a way to bring it back in.
It ends up being another practical effect, even though our application of it is anything but practical here. I'm working in a catch-up document. I have gone ahead and saved my progress thus far as an image called Object de Kirk.psd and what I want you to do right now is make sure that the top layer in the stack in the Layers palette is selected and then press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E again or Command+Shift+Option+E on the Mac once again to merge all layers including these new layers inside the image and you can't just duplicate all merged because it's already blurred. So that step is done and also it doesn't match the contrast of the overall composition so you have to create a new static merged layer and then I'm going to go ahead and call this one Vaseline because that's what it really represents it's no longer just plain old diffused focus, this is the actual goop on the lens this time around and what we are going to do this time is we are not going to employ a blend mode this time, we are just going to work with a Normal mode and we are going to reduce the opacity.
So rather than working the direction I did before where we go ahead and blend the layer and then blur it, I'm going to blur the layer and then blend it because we are not going to know what opacity value to apply until after we have done the blurring. All right, so what I want you to do now is go up to the Filter menu and Gaussian Blur was the last command I applied. So I'll just press Ctrl+Alt+F or Command+Option+F on the Mac and I'm going to work with a Radius value of 10 pixels this time. So previously we had 20, this time I'm going to take it down to 10 like so and there she was and there she is now.
All right, so click OK in order to accept that huge amount of softness right there and then I'm going to take down the Opacity value to taste, and I figure at 72% this is way too blurry. It's way too much Vaseline on that lens. So really this is your Vaseline slider right there, that's 100% Vaseline, all gummed up and then this will be no Vaseline whatsoever and then some amount of Vaseline in between and I think we won about 30% of that nylon stocking, what have you and that looks pretty darn and good.
So this is before and this is after. So you can see how it gives us some additional bounce, we are also brightening the shadow details just a little bit, darkening the highlights just a little bit as well. So it's very slight temper of the shadow highlight detail. All right, now for the film grain, this is a terribly practical technique. I'm going to first press Ctrl+Shift+N, Command+Shift+N on the Mac to establish a new layer and I'm going to go ahead and call this guy film grain and I'm going to click OK in order to create that new layer. Then I want to fill that layer with gray. So I'm going to go up to the Edit menu and I'm going to choose the Fill command and you can also get to this command incidentally if you press Shift+Backspace here on the PC or Shift +Delete on the Mac. And you might say, well that doesn't make any more sense.
But it does in the world of Photoshop because all of those Backspace techniques that fill a selection with either the foreground or background color like Backspace on the background layer or Delete on Background layer for the background color and then Alt+ Backspace or Option+Delete for the foreground color and then Ctrl+Backspace or Command+Delete for the background color, no matter what and then Shift+Delete for the Fill command. So anyway, you can also just choose the command if you like, brings up the Fill dialog box. Let's go ahead and change the Use option right there to 50% Gray which is what we want and the reason we are going with 50% Gray is because that's a great baseline for creating noise. That way the noise can be lighter than 50% or it can be darker than 50%, so it gives us a lot of noise range and then we can drop out that baseline, we can drop out that gray using the Overlay blend mode.
So I'll go ahead and click OK in order to fill that entire layer with gray. If I choose Overlay, all of these modes by the way, these contrast modes, they all treat gray as neutral. So if I choose Overlay, then the gray just disappears, the entire layer disappears. Notice that if I turn it off and turn it back on, there is no change, thanks to Overlay. All right, but I want to see what I'm doing. So I'm going to change this back to Normal and then go up to Filter menu, choose Noise and choose Add Noise right there, and I'm going to suggest you work with about 10% where this image is concerned and you will see what 10% ends up looking like and then you can make decisions about whether you want to use less noise or more noise for your images.
But for like old style TV, which is the effect I'm trying to achieve here. 10% is great. For new style digital photography, you are going to want to go with a much lower value, something like 3% probably and then even some older film photography, you probably take it up to 6 or 7%. Anyway, I'm going pretty high 10% right there, I'm going to stick with Uniform. If you want bigger noise, you can go with Gaussian that's just going to increase your contrast, but I'm going to stick with Uniform and then we want Monochromatic, in order to make sure that we are just working with grayscale noise otherwise we would be introducing foreign colors into our imagery and I don't want to do that. Usually you don't, sometimes you do, it depends. I mean if you are trying to mimic color noise, obviously you would leave Monochromatic turned off and then click OK in order to accept that effect.
Now I'll go ahead and apply it, the Overlay mode to see what it looks like and now you can really see that grain that's on top of this image here that's applied on top of the image and it doesn't look like grain though it's a problem, it looks like noise because it is noise and the reason it looks like noise is because it's only single pixels of noise that have been applied to this image. So every pixel is colored differently than its neighbor and you don't see that with film grain because it's not pixel base. All right, so I'll just go ahead and zoom out there, so we can take in that entire image once again. So that's not quite the look we are going for. We just want to gum things up ever so slightly and this is another job for Gaussian Blur.
So I'm going to go on to the Filter menu and choose Blur, choose Gaussian Blur and then I'm going to reduce my value to about 0.7 for this image, you can go bigger or smaller. You will definitely want to stick around the one and under range where the radius value is concerned. One pixel or less probably, it depends on the effect you are going for. But this is really an eyeball effect. I could take it down even further if I want, but I like actually, for this image, I really like 0.7 and then click OK in order to accept that modification and that's our Film Grain right there, there it is before and there is the image afterwards.
So we are getting a nice TV effect and this may seem like we are going too far, if it does, by all means you can reduce the opacity. This is what it looks like at 50%, so just little bit of grain there. But if you actually take a frame from the television show, which I invite you to do, you will see it's more like this. There is a ton of grain on any given frame on Star Trek and just sort of old school 4x3 TV in general. All right, that's it, that's NTSC for you right there. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you a different way that we could have created that gray layer just so you know and then I'll show you another diffuse focus effect, it's really the same darn thing, just apply it to a different person, so you can get a sense of just how thrillingly useful this technique is. Stay tuned.
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