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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.
I've saved my progress as Spokesboy in orange.psd and in this exercise we're going to turn on a few layers. We're going to add a Stroke. You'll see how Fill Opacity and Stroke get along with each other. We're going to have a high old time, you'll see. So go over to the Layers palette, if you will, and I want you to turn on a couple of things. Turn on the Balloon layer right there. It's a little talk balloon and then turn on Tagline & dialog. Tagline & dialog contains a bunch of different layers, these Legal items which are just trademark symbols that appear above Max's head. He is now a trademark but we haven't registered him yet and then Happy Juice, that's registered. Then we've got, Wow! How can I help, Mom? That's pretty obvious, but down here this is cool, this Tagline (knockout) right there.
I'm going to twirl-close Legal. This is a Knockout layer that goes all the way to the bottom. So text layers can be Knockouts, my friends. Notice how it's knocking out everything below it, which includes my child and the curtain and everything, and revealing the sky, which is part of the Background layer right there. And of course, I created that knockout by Double-Clicking in an empty area of the layer and setting Knockout to Deep. And of course, Fill Opacity is 0% because you need that for your Knockouts. The reason I went with Deep is because this Tagline exists inside of a group and we needed to burrow not only down to the bottom of the group but also all the way down to the Background layer. So Deep it is. All right anyway, cancel out, and then I'm going to undo the movement of that Knockout layer.
The layer that we want to affect though is Balloon. So go ahead and Click on it and it's a Shape layer, it's got a little custom shape right there. So it's a little vector layer. We don't really care about that much right now. Actually, we do care a little bit about it. Shape layers are something we're going to discussing in a subsequent chapter, but for now, no, because if we want to create an outline around the shape. The Stroke effect works best with vector- based layers, whether they are Shape layers like this or whether you're working with type, Stroke works great with type, not so good with pixel-based layers.
Strokes have a habit of getting really rough when applied to pixel-based layers. If that occurs, if you end up getting that kind of effect and you're trying to stroke a pixel-based layer, then you'd want to work with an Outer Glow effect instead as we will be doing in the very next exercise. But for now we're going to work with Stroke. So we've got Balloon selected, great. If you're seeing the vector outline like so, then Click on the vector mask right there to turn it off. Now I want you to Click the FX icon and choose Stroke. Now inside of Photoshop CS4, the Stroke is, by default, black instead of red. It used to be bright red for versions and versions now. Enough people let Adobe know that they never use red strokes and they finally took care of that problem.
I'm going to take the size of the stroke down to 2 pixels right there and you can make it as thick or as thin as you want. It starts off at 3, by default. The Position is pretty important here. You can either move your stroke all the way inside the path on the inside edge. Let's make the stroke thicker so that you can see what I'm talking about. There it is on the inside. So that's on the inside edge. You can center the stroke on the shape outline by choosing Center and you can set it outside if you prefer, so that's entirely outside of the shape. In our case, that's what we want. We want it all the way on the outside of the shape so that we're not covering up any of the shape itself. That's also going to render out better with our fine corner here at the end of the talk balloon.
I'll take the Size value back down to 2 pixels. We have the option of changing the blend mode or the Opacity value. I want to change neither. You also have the option of changing the Fill Type and you may wonder what that means. Like it's that, the Color blend mode, so we're going to colorize everything below? No, the blend mode is set to Normal. This means we have a solid color as opposed to Gradient so you could stroke a path with a gradient, stroke a shape i.e., with a gradient or stroke it with a Pattern, if you prefer, one of Photoshop's predefined patterns. We don't, we just want the color.
Then of course, if you don't like this color, you Click on the swatch, dial in your own color and Click OK. I love my color, just fine. Now the reason I bring up stroke here, that is very important just because sometimes you will just want to draw a shape and just give it a stroke like you would inside say, Illustrator, where you could just set up a path and give it a stroke, some sort of colored outline and then make the interior transparent. Well, Photoshop doesn't allow you to set the Fill to None, the way that Illustrator does from the bottom of the toolbox or anything like that. Instead, what you do is you go up to Blending Options and you would reduce the Fill Opacity to None and then you have no Fill and the Stroke. So that's how you get that if you want that. So you get that effect right there.
However, what I want is a Fill Opacity of 70%. I want a little bit of Fill Opacity but I want it be able to see through this talk balloon to the sky below, just ever so slightly, just a little bit of translucency and that's all she wrote, folks. I'll go ahead and Click on Stroke once again so you can see the Stroke settings, just in case you want to confirm them and then Click OK in order to stroke that balloon. Incidentally, if your Layers palette is starting to get really full of all these layer effects, as it will once you start playing it around with effects, you can, of course, collapse your effects just by Clicking on these little Up Arrow icons right there, this up arrowheads or up triangles if you prefer. That will collapse your effects so that they're taking up less room inside of your Layers palette.
In the next exercise, we are going to move on to the stroking of a pixel-based layer, specifically this Happy Juice logo up here. In order to get the best effect and also to get a really cool Gradient, in fact, as you'll see, we're going to apply an Outer Glow.
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