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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 to this image as Tempered highlights.psd and we have applied the Shadow/Highlight filter here. I'll go ahead and turn off that layer so that we can see the original background image has some skin surface detail that we are ultimately bringing out as we're accentuating the volumetric forms. So I believe we would like to go ahead and smooth over some of these surface details, particularly if you look closely here, I'm not sure exactly what's going on with these small flecks. I think there is some form of makeup on this woman's face that's inside of those pores, but whatever is going on there it might be nice to distribute that a little bit anyway to defuse the focus in the area.
So my typical approach would be to apply a layer of Gaussian blur, that's what we're going to do in this exercise. In the next exercise I'll show you an alternative approach that a friend showed me just recently, that I think is really actually very interesting. So with Shadow/Highlight selected here, go ahead and press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac. That is the S/H layer selected and now we'll go ahead and make a copy of it. Now you might say, Hey Deke! Shouldn't we merge these two layers together in order to create our Gaussian blur layer which is what we're doing right now? And the answer is, yeah, you can if you want, but it's not going to actually make any difference.
Since the S/H layer is set to Normal Blend mode and an Opacity of 100%, it's opaque, so the merged version of these two layers is the same as this layer by itself. Anyway, so I'm going to go ahead and call this layer, GBlur, like so. Click OK and now go up to the Filter menu, choose Blur and choose Gaussian Blur, or if you have loaded dekeKeys, you can press Shift+F7 in order to bring up the Gaussian Blur dialog box. Now it's goofing off inside this dialog box earlier which is why it's now set to a 100 pixels. I don't want that.
I'm going to back it off to 15 pixels once again for this image. I typically when I'm applying this kind of effect vary it between 10 and 20, maybe 30 pixels, something along those lines depending on the resolution of the image. This image isn't all that large. So if you're working with a typical, a high-resolution digital photograph you would probably go with a higher Radius value here in Gaussian Blur. Anyway, I'm going to click OK in order to apply this effect and that blur is obviously the heck out of the detail here. So I'm going to change the mode from Normal to Overlay and let's go ahead and checkout we've done here.
Obviously, it has done a great job of smoothing over the surface detail without entirely getting rid of it. I'm not talking about turning her skin into porcelain or making her look like a doll or anything along those lines. We still want to be able to see that surface texture inside of the skin. We're just trying to mitigate it a little bit, smooth it over. So this is what the skin looked like before, and this is what it looks like after the application of that Gaussian Blur layer, so a pretty big difference. Also if we zoom out here a little bit, you can see that the color inside of her hair is in much better shape now.
So this is the before version with that weird green going on inside of the midtones of the hair and in the forehead as well. Notice that band of green right there, and that more or less goes away. It's replaced by a different range of colors there once we add that Gaussian Blur layer. Now that's not to say this is necessarily the effect we want. If I go ahead and zoom out, we do have a very high contrast effect now with some supersaturated colors, and you might want to ask yourself, is that what you want from this image or would you rather mitigate some of those surface details and keep your original colors intact? And if your answer is the latter and we're going to imagine it is for just a moment, even though we do have some problem colors.
Let's imagine that we would rather leave the colors alone for now and just mitigate the surface details, why then turn off the Gaussian Blur layer, don't throw it away, just set it aside for now and join me in the next exercise as I show you an unusual application of the High Pass Filter.
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