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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 introduce you to the skew and perspective style distortions that are available to you when you're working inside the Free Transform mode. Now, I should caution you that these are not true perspective effects. So your elements will not decline toward the horizon, meaning that they do not appear to go smaller as they move away from you, rather, you're just moving points toward each other independently as you'll see. If you want true perspective style distortions, then you go to the Filter menu and you choose the Vanishing Point command, and we will be discussing Vanishing Point, which is an application unto itself in a future chapter of this series.
But for now, we'll just be taking a look at these more convenience options, and they can be good enough for many different kinds of distortions as you'll see. So I'm working inside of this image called Blue boy.psd, and the idea here is I just switched out the cardinal for this adorable Raphael Cherub and then otherwise I have just colorized a few things and moved the hands around just so you get the sense that time has passed. Here's what I want you to do. I've also tidied up stuff here in the Layers palette as you can see.
So if you Click on hands and Shift+ Click on face, then you're going to select all of the layers that make up the clock. So notice, if I press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac and I start dragging things around, I'm going to move the entire clock, hands, and face, and numbers, and frame and all. So I'm going to press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on a Mac to undo that modification. So let's go up to the Edit menu. First I want you to choose transform, just so that you can see some options that are available to you. Notice we have Skew, Distort, and Perspective. So you can enter all of those modes as independent mode, so that no matter what you're going to skew your selected layers or distort them or apply some perspective to them.
But I'm going to show you ways to do that in the Free Transform mode with the help of a few modifier keys. It's kind of fun once you get a sense of how they work. But also notice that you have some very specific kinds of rotations and flips available to you. So you can rotate selected layers 180 degrees or some variation of 90 degrees one way or the other way, and then you can also flip your selected layers if you like. All of these options are available in the Free Transform mode and here is how it works there. If you go to Free Transform by pressing Ctrl+T, Command+T on the Mac, then you Right-Click or Ctrl+ Click somewhere in the Image window, and then you've got all those options still available to you. So you could flip the clock horizontally, for example. Then you can rotate it, just by dragging outside the bounding box, and so on, and so on.
But I just want you to see that stuff is there. Let's go ahead and press Escape, and then press Ctrl+T or Command+T again, and I'm going to back up a little bit from my image so that I can see that entire bounding box right here. Now, I was telling you, if you drag one of the side handles, whether it's a left-side or a right-side handle or a top or bottom handle, they're all side handles. If you drag one of those guys, then you're going to scale the layers disproportionately, as I've done here. So I'll press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. If you want to apply a skew instead and by skew, I mean slant or shear or whatever you want to call it. You press and hold the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac, and you drag one of these side handles. So for example, I'm going to drag this handle down like that and notice that I'm moving this handle, the top handle, independently of the bottom handle and therefore creating a slant, and I could apply a different kind of skew. In this case, a vertical skew, by Ctrl+Dragging or Command+Dragging say the right handle, and as I do that, Photoshop is going to do its best to keep track of my skewing up here in the Options Bar, and notice that it's giving me 7.1 degree horizontal skew. But then it went ahead and rendered out my vertical skew as negative rotation right here, and it left the vertical skew value 0.
I'll tell you what, that could be totally right. The numbers sometimes don't add up properly. Once we start applying distortion, things get a little wonky. But for all, I know this is how things reconcile. It's up to Photoshop. I don't really care. Once I start getting in skew territory, I rarely work numerically. But anyway, that's what happens when you Ctrl+Drag the side handle to skew. So what about if you Ctrl+Drag the corner handles, what happens then? Well, let's go ahead and escape out for a moment so that we can start this over again. I'll press Ctrl+D or Command+D on a Mac, and then I'm going to Ctrl+Drag a corner handle and notice when you do that, you move that corner handle independently of the other corner handles which remain stationary. What I've done now is I'm applying what's known as a four-point distortion.
So I can do this as much as I like. Ctrl +Drag this corner handle, that would be Command+Drag on a Mac. Ctrl+Drag this corner handle, that's Command+Drag on a Mac. So you have ultimate freedom. You can just drag these guys all over the place, and then start doing things like Ctrl+Dragging or Command+Dragging the side handles as well. So basically what it comes down to is when you have the Ctrl key down or the Command key on the Mac, you can move any handle you drag independently of opposite handles thereby creating either what appears to be a slant in the beginning, and then ultimately renders out as a four point distortion as we now have.
So another way to work, Gosh! I bet those other modifier keys come in pretty handy too. Let's go ahead and try them out. What happens if you press Ctrl and Shift at the same time? That would be Command and Shift on the Mac. Why then you constrain the angle of your drag? So notice right now that I'm constraining the angle of my drag, so that this line right here along the top is staying at the same angle, whatever that angle is. So there we're able to create something of a perspective style effect at this point.
Then we also have the option of Ctrl+Alt+Dragging, this would be a Command+Option+Drag on the Mac, and you will now move two opposite handles in league with each other, basically, either toward each other or away from each other, like so. While the other two, the two opposing corner handles remain the way they were. All right then. So do I expect you to remember all this? I really don't. The reason I'm throwing it all at you is just so that you feel entitled to go in there and experiment if you like. Once you know that pressing the Ctrl key or the Command key on a Mac moves the handles independently, then you can start throwing the other keys in and see what happens.
I am going to press the Escape key in order to exit the Free Transform mode because now we're really going to get down to business here. I'm going to zoom in a little bit and I'm going to press Ctrl+T, Command+T on a Mac and now what happens, if you throw down all the keys? Every single modifier key goes down. So mash your fist on Ctrl+Shift+Alt or Command+Shift+Option on the Mac and drag one of these corner handles and notice what happens. The opposite corner handle moves as well, thereby creating something that resembles a perspective style distortion. So this is what passes for a perspective effect here in the Free Transform mode. I'm going to go ahead and drag, I'm just dragging now, just dragging this top handle down so that I have better access to this row of top handles here, and then I'll Ctrl+Shift+Alt+Drag, Command+Shift+ Option+Drag the handles pretty far out, I guess I should be zoomed out actually if I'm going to do this kind of wackiness and that might be a little farther than I want to go. That's pretty extreme I think. Let's Ctrl+Shift+Alt+ Drag this back in. This is the Command+Shift+Option+Drag on the Mac.
Let's go ahead and drag this guy back up as long as I'm working this way. Let's Ctrl+Shift+Alt+Drag these guys in like so, that's Command+Shift+Option+Drag on a Mac. Let's Command+Shift+Option+Drag, Ctrl+Shift+Alt+Drag these guys out. Let's drag this guy up like so and notice this here, the clock is just rushing at us now, awesome. All right. I'm going to press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to render that out and notice that we went from a pretty jagged looking image to a nicely rendered image after the effect was applied. So here it is.
We have this frame really rushing out at us with the clock declining in the background. So we get something sort of resembling a perspective effect, but its faux perspective my friends, believe me. Things start breaking up when you go quite this extreme but it is an option. In the next exercise, we're going to move to the final Free Transform option, the Warp command.
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