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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.
All right, I have gone ahead and restored the original version of the Blurry blocks.psd file that includes the Gaussian Blur example up here in the top left corner and the Box Blur example in the top right corner. I'll go to the bottom of the image. Let's check out the other Blur filters. I'm just going to kind of race you through the Blur Filter sub-menu there so that we can see the other ones that are available to us. I'll just tell you what's going on and then I'll demonstrate a couple of them Smart Blur and Surface Blur. I am going to go ahead and switch to the 3 BL layer there which is this guy. Go up to the Filter menu choose Blur and notice we started things off with Average which is an averaging function and therefore belongs in the Noise sub-menu but whatever. We'll just go ahead and average the luminance of all of the pixels in a layer.
And actually it goes ahead and averages them with the luminance data on other layers as well. So you get a single color out of it, and I'll show you why that's used, well it's a pretty Adobe filter, it's a very simple effect that is applying but it can be useful sometimes for averaging skin tones for example. These guys right here Blur and Blur More they are like the Sharpen and Sharpen More of the Blur menu here. So they are single shot variations of Gaussian Blur, just a little bit of blur, more blur you will never need to use them. So there is that.
We already saw Box Blur, we already saw Gaussian Blur. Lens Blur is like a blurring factory for duplicating the effects of having the lens element out of focus. And I'm not going to demonstrate it in this series but I do demonstrate how to use it in my Photoshop Channels and Masks Series. So if you want to take a look at that. When I talk about specialty masks one of the specialty masks is a Depth Mask and it comes in very handy when using Lens Blur. So check that out if you want to. Motion Blur and Radial Blur I'll be discussing in the next couple of exercises. Then we have Shape Blur that blurs inside a specific kind of shape.
If you ever come up with a use for it, let me know. I have not, it's a goofy filter, but then we have Smart Blur and Surface Blur. And I'm here to tell you of the two they kind of work similarly to each other. I find Surface Blur by far the more useful. Smart Blur, I'm going to go ahead and bring it up here. It leaves a lot to be desired. For one thing you have an In dialog box preview but no Out dialog box preview. So we just have this little tiny thing to work with here. You can't nudge the value. So if I press the Up Arrow key I go forward, I go to the left, I move my blinking Insertion Marker, how great is that? And by Tab from Radius, I'll tab to Quality here on Windows anyway and then tab back to Threshold and then tab to mode. But let's talk about what's going on here.
We've got Radius and we've got Threshold, and the way Threshold is measured, this time we've got an inverse Threshold and we do inside Surface Blur as well. So imagine we are working inside of Unsharp Mask. If two neighboring pixels are less than 25 luminance levels different from each other then you would not get sharpening. If they are more you would get sharpening, and with Dust and Scratches you will not get averaging if they are less, you will get averaging if they are more. Okay turn that equation on its head. Now if two neighboring pixels are less than 25 luminance levels different from each other they will get blurred, and if they are more they will not get blurred. So if you want maximum blurring you would crank this Threshold value up to 100 inside of this dialog box, that's as high as it goes, and then you would blur everything that is less than 100. All pixels that are less than 100 luminance levels different from each other, and you will not blur anything that's more than 100 luminance levels different from each other. So notice that in this case it goes ahead and keeps the rectangular boundary around my fellow here and blurs everything else.
So I'm going to take the Radius value up to 16 and you see it's something analogous to Gaussian Blur, although I'm not sure, I wouldn't swear that it's exactly a Gaussian Blur and you also have control over the Quality. So this becomes important, let's go ahead and reduce this value here until we get some chunks. See those chunks that are showing up right there. All right, if you want those chunks to be rendered differently perhaps even better -- actually let's go ahead and take this value down to 30. I think we see some good chunks there, potentially better. Then you would go ahead and choose High or Medium even. One of these guys in order to render things out better. But it may not always look better which is why you have control over that Quality right there, and then you also have this mode control that just patently absurd you can go ahead and trace the edges if you want to and then you can mix the edges as an overlay effect with the colors inside the image if you want for a different kind of effect that has nothing whatsoever to do with blurring or smartness or anything like that.
All right, so I'm going to say just because I think it produces the coolest effect. We could just go ahead and stick with this Threshold 30 that we have been applying but actually we are going to get a cooler effect if we max this out to a Threshold of 100. But you know what, we are not looking for cool effects, are we? We are doing analytical comparison. So let's keep our values the same from one experiment to the next. So we'll go with a Radius of 16, Threshold of 30. Those are the exact same values incidentally that we applied from Dust & Scratches, except we are going to get an opposite effect, right? Well, not only is it blurring versus averaging, but instead of averaging all the pixels that were more than 30 luminance levels different from each other, we are blurring all the pixels that are less than 30 luminance levels different from each other.
All right, I'll go ahead and click OK to apply the effect there. Yeah, that is smart baby. That's a smart blur for you. Let's move on to 4 BR here so that we can see the better version of this filter I believe which is Surface Blur. It doesn't use a Gaussian model though. It uses a Linear Blur model. That's the only thing I have against it, but it's pretty darn useful. We will be seeing examples of it in creative capacities in future exercises. Here it is Surface Blur. I'm going to go ahead and choose it. Look at this to be able to tab correctly between our values here by Tabbing and Shift+Tabbing and I can raise the value just by pressing the Up Arrow key, lower it by pressing the Down Arrow key. Isn't that great? And I can preview the effect down here in the larger image Window.
It's a proper Filter designed by human beings. All right, so let's take the value up to 16 pixels, and I'll take the Threshold up to 255 just so we can see what it looks like when everything gets blurred. It is very much a Box Blur filter, a Linear Blur function with one big difference which is that we are preserving some degree of the hard edges, but it is preserving a little bit of that hard edge around the rectangle and on the inner rectangle as well. So we have a little bit of translucency built into this Filter. That's a big difference vis-?-vis this one and Box Blur, and also of course, we've got this Threshold setting right there.
All right, I'm going to go ahead and take that down and as I take it down I'm blurring less-and-less of the image of course, because again it's an upside down threshold as long as two pixels are at least 73 luminance levels different from each other, they will not get blurred. If they are less than 73 luminance levels different from each other, they will get blurred. And I'm going to take that value down to 30 once again. So 16, 30 just as we have applied with the last couple of filters. Now click OK in order to apply that effect. So there is the difference between those two.
Pretty big difference as you can see. So we have a nice smooth blur where Surface Blur is concerned. Let's compare them to our original blurs, here they are. Here our Gaussian Blur, I'll press the Home key to check them that. Gaussian Blur and the Linear Box Blur function right there on right, and keep an eye on Box Blur because that's the one that's the most telling I think. I am going to now press the End key in order to jump down to the bottom images. Surface Blur versus Box Blur, so there is Box Blur once again, there is Surface Blur. You can see how similar they are. With the exception of course of the fact that the Surface Blur function has that threshold in force and there is our Smart Blur, which doesn't look the least bit blurry at all.
There you have it. In the next exercise, we are not done with these angry blocks. We are not done with them at all, and I'm not done discussing the Blur functions. We still have Motion Blur and Radial Blur, both extremely exciting functions as you will see starting in the next exercise.
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