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Photoshop mastery can be elusive, but in Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery, best-selling author and video trainer Deke McClelland teaches the most powerful, unconventional, and flexible features of the program. In this third and final installment of the popular and comprehensive series, Deke delves into the strongest features that Photoshop has to offer, including scalable vector graphics, Smart Objects, and Photomerge. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, both part of the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise we are going to see the importance and the effect of the stacking order of Smart Filters assigned to a Smart Object here inside Photoshop. I am working in an image that I just got done saving as Big filter stack.psd. This is that image by Photographer Joy Nelson subject to the application of three Smart Filters, in all, High Pass, Median, and Smart Sharpen except in the opposite order. So when you are figuring the order of filters, you read from the bottom up the stack. So Smart Sharpen first, Median second, and High Pass third. That's the order in which we applied the filters coincidentally, but we can change that if we want to. For example let's say I want the clarity to occur first and then the effects of Smart Sharpen.
Let's go ahead and change things around by grabbing High Pass and dragging it to the bottom of the list and under Windows you will get that little preview of the filter as you are moving it, on the Mac, you don't get that. But you will see the dark horizontal bar right there, that thick bar. That will show you where you are dragging High Pass to. You are not really clear that you are dragging High Pass; you have to take down on faith. But we'll go ahead and drag it down to the bottom of the stack, wait for it and you will see the effects of the modification. This is before, it's not going to be hugely different, in fact, I don't think it's even detectable at this point, and this is after. So just a slight change there at 100%, so you could see it in the highlights right there and now I'm going to take Median and move it below Smart Sharpen like so and drop it into place and this time we'll see a bigger effect, not huge, but still bigger than before.
This is before and then this is after and I'm doing that of course by pressing Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac. So we are getting darker shadows now with Median farther down the stack. So now Photoshop is applying High Pass first, Median second and Smart Sharpen third. Now let's say that I want to change some Filter settings, some Blending settings, what have you. Let's start things off by going over here to High Pass and I'm going to double-click on its slider icon in order to adjust the Blending Options and when I do, I'm going to get a warning. Photoshop is saying at this point, Smart Filter stacked on top of this filter will not preview while this filter is being edited, which in English means, as long as we are editing High Pass, we are only going to see the effects of High Pass, we are not going to see Median and Smart Sharpen which are heaped on top of it.
They will however be applied after committing the Filter Parameters dialog. After we click OK, we'll see the results of all the filters being calculated together. I am not going to say Don't show again on this. This is worth knowing every single time you run into it. So I'm going to click OK and notice, we saw the image just changed on screen, a lot it changed, a lot more than anything else we've done. Even though I haven't made a single alteration, we've already applied the Overlay mode and an Opacity value of 50%. I'm going to go ahead and click on her eye so that we can see it there.
The reason that we are seeing a very different image is because Photoshop is temporarily turning off Smart Sharpen and Median and we are just seeing the effects of High Pass and were I to turn off the Preview checkbox, we would see High Pass applied to the image by itself, but not subject to the mode or the Opacity value. So this would be 100% and Normal mode. So leave Preview turn back on, it's not going to help us, in other words in terms of evaluating the other filters. We are just going to have to accept the fact that we are working to some extent blind.
So I'm going to go onto the Mode menu and I'm going to change the blend mode from Overlay to Soft Light which is going to give us a more subtle effect, not way different but a little bit different and then I'm going to click OK in order to accept that modification. Now as soon as I click OK, we are now going to see the results of all the filters calculated together. So we now get back Median and Smart Sharpen. So to get real sense of what we've done let's go ahead and zoom in on our eye here again and I'd like to see some hairs as well I think. And this is before I made my modification and this is after. So again a subtle and meaningful contribution to the composite image.
Now let's do the same for Median. I'll go ahead and double-click on its slider icon to bring up its Blending Options dialog box. Again, Photoshop is going to make with the alert message. This time what it's telling me is I get to see the effects of Median and High Pass together, but not Smart Sharpen. So you can only see down the list, not up the list. Fine. I'll go ahead and click OK in order to acknowledge that; that's the case, what else can I do. Now I'm going to reduce. So I'll go ahead and drag her eye into the picture here, the Opacity to 30% and we'll see the results of that modification out here in the image window, but we are always seeing Median and High Pass at this point as soon as I click OK.
Now bear in mind we applied a big difference this time. We went from an Opacity of 70% down to 30%. So we should expect a pretty big change. I'll go ahead and click OK and now we are going to see the effects of Smart Sharpen on top of the other two. This is before this time by pressing Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac of course and this is after. So we are bringing back some of that shadow detail. And lest you think now Median is not making much of a contribution to the overall effect, go ahead and turn it off for a moment and you will see that in fact it is. it's still making a big difference there. So this is without Median and this is with Median, which I get of course by pressing Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac.
Now finally let's go ahead and modify the Smart Sharpen settings. As oppose to changing the Blend Options which, well, I don't want to do in this case, I want to change the actual settings instead, because I'm happy with the Blend Options, let's say. I'll go ahead and change the Smart Sharpen settings by double-clicking on the word Smart Sharpen. This time no alert message, I just get the Smart Sharpen dialog box. Now that's not a function of changing the filter settings as opposed to the Blending Options, it's a function of having smart sharpen at the top of the stack. Now I can see not only the effects of Smart Sharpen, but Median and High Pass as well below it. After I drag the eye into the center here, I'm going to reduce the amount value to 200% because that's a much more reasonable setting I think, no longer so over the top, but I really don't care about that setting that I saved there.
I just wanted to protect the defaults. I will go ahead and click OK in order to apply that modification and just to see what kind of difference that made. This is Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. So it used to be sharper. Now if I press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z again it's not quite so over the top sharp and I might want to change the Blending Options as well to compensate. So I'll double-click on the slider icon right there, again I don't get the alert message, again I'll move the eye into the center so I can keep an eye on it, and I'll just increase that Opacity value to 50% this time around and click OK, so a very minor change.
But the kind of thing you end up doing when you are tweaking Smart Filter settings inside of Photoshop and now to give you a real sense of what kind of difference we've made, I'm going to zoom out here so that we take in the image at the 50% view size which would be pretty good indicator of how the image looks. I'm going to press the F12 key to revert the image to its appearance when we started this exercise. So this is how the image looks when we first started working on it at the beginning of this very exercise and then this is the way it looks now and I dare say the way it looks now is a lot more desirable.
Let's go ahead and zoom in once again. This is the before version of the image, pretty ridiculous actually in terms of the amount of micro sharpening I have going on and these little Median highlights all over the place and this is after, much better.
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