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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.
I've saved my changes as the GBlur elf. psd and as you may recall we've got this GBlur layer, named for Gaussian Blur that where it turned on as it is now, it not only smooths over the surface details inside the image, but it also elevates the saturation levels and it tends to fill in shadows and result in overly bright highlights as well. So I was telling you that a friend of mine passed along a technique, which I'm going to pass along to you, because it's really great. The friend in question is Katrin Eismann, who is a well-known Photoshop expert out there and she was on my weekly audio podcast called Martini Hour, that you can get to at deke.com if you're so inclined, and we were doing a little bit of a tips and tricks show and she came out with this one and I tell you, it's an absolutely great trick, and the idea is you can fill in these skin imperfections essentially, so smooth over the surface details without modifying either the saturation levels or the ultimate level of contrast inside the image.
So let me show you how it works and it involves High Pass by the way. So I'll go ahead and turn off my GBlur layer. Click on the S/H layer to make it active, and I'm going to press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J once again to go ahead and jump that layer, and I'll call it High Pass and I'll click OK in order to accept that new layer. Now I'm going to zoom in so that we can see the image at the 100% zoom level and I'm going to go up to the Filter menu and I'm going to choose the High Pass command down here from Other, choose High Pass or you can press Shift+F10 if you've loaded my dekeKeys and I am going to apply a Radius of 10 pixels for this image, and basically when you're applying this technique you typically go about in my experience anyway as I've been playing around with it, I typically go with a Radius value that's about twice as much as I would use for Sharpening.
So if I were to sharpen this image with a Radius value of 3-5 pixels for output for example, then I would set this Radius instead to somewhere between 6-10 pixels. Anyway, 10 pixels works well for this image. I'll click OK, and we need to get rid of the saturation levels obviously. So go up to the Image menu and choose Adjustments and then choose Desaturate and that will replace all of those colors with gray values and now we go to the Blend mode pop-up menu and change it from Normal to Overlay and at this point, you might look at this layer and think, wait a sec, okay, this is the image without the High Pass layer and this is the image with that layer.
First of all, this is not a new technique Deke, secondly this is just plain mean. We're bringing out more skin details inside of this image. This woman has aged like 15 years, thanks to the application of this layer. That doesn't seem like a good idea and it's certainly not going to make you popular with your clients if this is the kind of work you do. So here is the trick though. I'm going to invert this layer. So I'll go up to the Image menu and I'll choose Adjustments and I'll choose Invert, or you can just press Ctrl+I, Command+I on the Mac, and you get this effect instead.
Now it's over the top, we're going too far with it, but here is what I want you to understand. Notice that we're filling in surface details like crazy all over the place inside the skin and so I'm going to change the Blend mode back to Normal so that we can see what's happening here and notice what we've done by virtue of the fact that I inverted this High Pass layer. It used to look like this, so we were seeing dark halos on the dark side of an edge and light halos on light side of an edge, now when I press Ctrl+I or Command+I on the Mac, I am seeing light halos on the dark side of an edge, and dark halos on the light side of an edge.
So because what these contrast modes do from Overlay on down, they go ahead and use the dark shades to darken and the light shades to lighten, and the gray values don't have any contribution whatsoever. They go invisible. What's happening is that you're using the dark edge right there, that dark halo in order to darken the bright edge inside the image and then you're using the bright halo to brighten the dark edge so you're actually depleting contrast from those edges. So it's pretty much the opposite of a sharpening function, and as a result you're filling in these skin imperfections and it's unlike anything else you can do inside Photoshop.
Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and switch this mode back to Overlay, that's too much. Now you might think, well gosh, maybe I'll try Soft Light instead. That's not really going to do the trick for us. It just gives us this kind of blurry image. Instead, what I'd suggest is we stick with Overlay, go ahead and press the Escape key after you choose that option on the PC, don't worry about that on the Mac, and then I'm going to reduce the Opacity value, assuming that one of your Selection tools is active, press the 5 key to reduce the Opacity value to 50%. So this is the contribution of the layer now.
If I turn off High Pass, this is the way the image looked before, that is, after the application of Shadows/ Highlights and this is the way it looks now. So it's done a pretty darn good job, especially given incidentally that we haven't modified any of the overall contrast of the image, nor have we changed the saturation levels or the colors in general. So if the colors are basically sound in your image in the first place, this is a great technique. Unfortunately, inside of our image we have some color problems and I do want to increase the contrast a little bit.
So it seems like maybe we should go ahead and mix these two effects together, that is the Inverted High Pass along with Gaussian Blur. In fact, I'm going to call this layer by the way, Inverted HP. I didn't want to call it that at the time, because I didn't want to ruin the surprise, but that's what it is. We might want to marry the inverted high pass layer along with the Gaussian Blur layer and that is what we're going to do in the next exercise.
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