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Freckles are just a stand in for whatever densely packed luminance varied issue you are trying to take care of inside of your skin tones or throughout your image. I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far as Blurred surface.psd. This photograph comes to us from Renee Lee of iStockphoto.com. I'm going to turn off the surface blur layer to reveal the original freckled woman right here, and I'll select the Background layer to make it active. Let's press Ctrl+Alt+J again or Command+Option+J on the Mac to go ahead and jump the layer and name it at the same time. I'm going to call it D&S, which can only mean one thing, Dust & Scratches, which is the approach we are going to take this time. Click OK.
The idea behind all of these blur techniques is we are trying to do big work fast inside of an image. So we don't want to sit there and brush in an effect using the Healing Brush for example or we can't as in the case of this image right here, and we want to see how much stuff we can get done and how quickly we can do it. So it's quick and dirty stuff. But this effect right here is going to require some painting. I just want to warn you in advance. We are going to start by going up to the Filter menu like we do every single time in this chapter. And then go down to Noise and then choose Dust & Scratches. The reason we are choosing Dust & Scratches instead of Median is because Median will completely smooth over everything in the image and Dust & Scratches gives us that threshold function which allows us to keep the inherent digital noise. So go ahead and choose the Dust & Scratches Filter right there. And you can see we've got, whoa, kind of a weird effect at this point using a Radius of 16 and a Threshold of 30. But if I were to zoom in you would see that in addition to the weird style sort of averaging that's occurring, we are also keeping a lot of the digital noise and some low level details inside the image.
So the idea here, we've got a right side up Threshold value. If two neighboring pixels are less than 30 luminance levels different from each other they will not be affected, if they are more than 30 luminance levels different from each other they will be affected, just as is the case for Unsharp Mask. I'm going to go ahead and take that Threshold value way down because right now we are protecting some details that are as far apart from each other as 30 luminance levels, which is a pretty big difference. Let's go ahead and reduce this value to 15 luminance levels and then you will see, we are really just preserving the noise inside the image now, and we are obliterating all the details which is good, believe it or not. Now, let's go back to the Radius value and take that up to 25 for this image. I just really want to make those freckles, which I love so dearly, go completely away here.
And you can enter those values as well. Click OK. Now then, that's way too much right, I mean, not only are we smoothing over her face or averaging over her face really. But we are smoothing over her eyes and her nose and her mouth and her teeth and all kinds of details, her hair stuff that we are not interested in compromising at all. So here's what we are going to do, we are going to work with a layer mask. When you are working with a layer mask black represents temporary transparency that you are brushing at and then white represents opacity, so if you go too far with your transparency then you can turn around and brush in opacity with white. And if I was to add a layer mask by clicking on this little Add Layer Mask icon down here at the bottom of the Layers palette, I would get a white layer mask like we are seeing right here. You get that additional thumbnail and that shows you that everything in the layer is opaque because white represents opacity that's not what I want. I want to start from a position of transparency and build up because most of what I have done here, I don't want to keep.
All right, so Ctrl+Z, command+Z on the Mac to undo that modification. Press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and click on this little guy here Add Layer Mask. And you will create an inverted mask, so it will be a black mask, which makes everybody transparent, and it's temporary. I can turn it on or off. I can brush inside of it and so on. So for example, if you want to turn it off, you Shift+Click on it, if you want to turn it back on you Shift+Click again, and you'll see the effects of turning it off and on there inside the image window.
All right, now let's get the Brush tool, go ahead and click on it, I want a bigger brush. So I'm going to increase the size of my brush by pressing the Right Bracket key and I want a really blurry brush, so I'm going to press Shift+Left Bracket a few times to get the blurriest brush possible. Then I want to brush with white. So press the D key just to make sure that you have those default colors and when you are working in a mask those default colors are white for foreground and black for background. So the inverse of what they are when you are working inside of an image. All right, now paint over her face like so in order to make those freckles go away.
You can paint over the top of the mouth a little bit into the lips just so that we have a smooth transition, but I don't want you to go on painting over things like the nostril, do paint over this area at the top. I just want to paint over the bridge of the nose, paint over here into the forehead. You can go ahead and paint over the hair that's perfectly fine to do that by the way and paint over this portion of the eye into the hair just little bit because we are going to be backing up this effect in just a moment. Paint next to the eyes, do not paint over the eyes that would not be a good thing at all, and then once you start getting unnecessary, you might want to reduce the size of your brush by pressing the Left Bracket key as I'm doing here. So I'm stopping painting for a moment and then pressing the Left Bracket key and then painting, some more of course.
All right and this looks just voonderbar, I think. Now, again you might think, Deke, are we looking at the same image? That doesn't voonderbar, that looks terriblar. But here's what's so golden about this. I'm going to zoom in on this and we are going to be backing off the effect in just a moment, don't you worry. But notice that here in the area that we have smoothed over and here in the area that we haven't smoothed over inside the mouth, we still have the same amount of digital noise going on. So there isn't a big abrupt transition. There isn't like a dead give-away that we have been inside this image other than we are sort of clod-hopping inside the image so far in terms of our editing.
And we'll now take care of that. Go head and switch back to the rectangular Marquee tool, and I want you to see something about the layer mask. If you Alt+Click or Option+Click on the layer mask, you will see the layer mask independently at the rest of the image and doesn't it look just like that scary guy from Scream, isn't that interesting? That transformation occurred in just a few seconds. Also note that the layer mask doesn't look very good. This isn't a piece of artwork you would hang on your wall for example presumably. It doesn't need to look good; it just needs to get the job done.
All right, Alt+Click or Option+Click on the Scream face again, to return Ctrl to the image or at least return visibility to the RGB composite and then with the rectangular Marquee tool selected, I'm going to press the 5 key to reduce the Opacity value of this layer to 50% and now check it out. This is what the image looks like originally; this is what it looks like with a dose of Dust & Scratches. Very deliberately applied, haven't lost any of the sense of film grain, we don't have any dead give away edits, this looks very naturalistic, we even brought back the hair that I just painted over, beautiful, wonderful, lovely, excellent! And if you want to downplay the freckles, why would you? Because freckles are beautiful. But if you want to downplay whatever you are trying to downplay inside the image, the more then you would also turn on your surface blur layer as I have done. And I would reduce the Opacity further, I'm going to take it down to 30% by pressing the 3 key and now we've got all these various layers working together and she is not mask, the surface blur layer doesn't really require mask. You could if you want it to, if you want to spend some time achieving an even more careful result you can, but this is great.
So this is the original image right here, if I Alt+click or Option+Click on the eyeball from the Background layer and this is the modified version of the image in which we've downplayed the surface variations. Thanks to the Surface Blur Filter working in concert with Dust & Scratches.
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