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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, I'm going to show you the biggest benefit of all associated with vector-based paths inside of Photoshop, and i.e., that they are scalable. Meaning that you can increase the size of a photo illustration without any penalty. So, I still have open Tip pixels.psd and Type to vectors.psd, both found inside the 24_vector_shapes folder. I want to show you something about this image. I'm going to go up to the Image menu, and I'm going to choose, and it doesn't matter which image we're looking at right now. This happens to be Tip pixels.psd. I'm going to choose the Image Size command, Ctrl+Alt+I, Command+Option+I on a Mac. And we'll see that even though this image has a very high resolution, my goodness, 600 pixels per inch. That will ensure that we have very, very smooth edges associated with this wonderful photo illustration here.
But it's dinky; it's not even an inch. So it's a tiny, little, tiny thing, which is great, by the way, for having a margin icon or something along those lines. But let's say I'm so proud of my tip, and I want to shout that to the world and I'm going to be at a trade show. My goodness, I'm just making this up on the fly. I want a big, huge poster, draping down from the ceiling, so it's going to be gianormous, this word Tip, and nobody is going to be able to ignore it. So anyway, you'd think then, in that case, why gosh, if it's so darn scalable, I should just be able to zoom in on it, and it's going to look great, because you can't do that in the Illustrator, right? You can zoom in on your vectors and zoom all you want and they're going to look smooth forever. Well, not so in Photoshop. So, I'll go over to Type to vectors.psd. We're viewing the image at 100% right now. If I zoom in, I just get big, chunky pixels exactly as I would in the pixel-based version of the image.
What gives? Why am I seeing this mosaic pattern, especially after I was telling you how great and smooth and wonderful and awesome these vectors are? How come I'm lying to you? Well, I'm not. It's just that Photoshop tops out at 100%. Beyond 100%, no matter what you see bigger pixels. That's just the way Photoshop works. So how do we make this photo illustration bigger then? Well, we use the Image Size command. So let's check that out, because it's so darn cool. I'm going to go ahead and zoom back out to 100% by pressing Ctrl+ 1, Command+1 on the Mac. Let's switch over to Tip pixels.psd and let's try a side by side comparison, why don't we? Let's get rid of this Layers palette over on the side by pressing Shift+Tab, to make it go away. Then I'm going to go up to the Image menu, I'm going to choose the Image Size command, and I could press Ctrl+Alt+I, Command+Option+I on the Mac.
But I already told you that you can already see that, so let's get on with it. Here we are inside the Image Size dialog box and I'm just for the sake of demonstration going to set my Interpolation method here to Nearest Neighbor (preserve hard edges), just so that we can see it at its worst. I'm going to really zoom the heck out of this thing; I'm going to set it to 847 percent. Now, what is that going to shape out in pixels? I don't know if I showed you this little trick yet, it's pretty cool. If you go ahead and change this guy, from percent to pixels on the fly, it will say, "oh, you want 847 pixels," and by the way, this has gotten changed to pixels as well. So it changed both Width and Height. Then if you change it back to percent, it's going to goof the whole thing up, lovely feature. Anyway, I'm going to set this back to 847 percent.
Let's say you just want to change one of them, so I change the Width value to 847 percent. I have all these guys turned on; by the way, you want all the checkboxes on Scale, Constrain and Resample, Nearest Neighbor, if you're following along with me. With this active -- well, let's say I want to check out the pixels, without goofing things up the pixels associated with Height, and I want to leave 847 percent right there. So I'm going to press the Shift key, choose pixels. If you do that, then just Height changes the pixels and Width stays what it was, which is percent. You change one option independently of the other one, and that's a Shift-choose, by the way. It works with these guys too, these Width and Height values right there.
Completely weird, hidden trick inside Photoshop. The image will now be 4235 pixels high and it will also be that same number of pixels wide because it's square. That's a gianormous image. It's going to grow to 51 megabytes. That's going to be huge. So go ahead and click OK in order to make that occur. Now it's also going to look like garbage, look at that. I'm not even sure which part of the image we're looking at right here, so I'm going to take advantage of the bird's-eye technique, where you press and hold the H key, and then you click and hold, and then you scroll some other portion of your image with the H key still down, and then you release to go there, and then you release the H key. And you can see that looks like garbage.
So that's established, all right. Let's replay that exact same modification, on Type to vectors.psd. So I'm going to take advantage of that keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+Alt+I, Command+Option+I on the Mac. We'll change the percent, let's go ahead and change this percent right there to 847. Let's go ahead and try out Nearest Neighbor, really doesn't matter. Well, actually it does matter to a small extent. We do have some layer masks, some pixel-based layer masks going on inside of this image. So those will still be modified to the tune of Nearest Neighbor, but vectors are not affected by Image Interpolation. So we'll do nothing to the vectors as you'll see. I'll go ahead and click OK, except grow them beautifully. I'll go ahead and click OK in order to create my gianormous 51.3 megabyte image.
We will wait a moment for Photoshop to do its thing, and then, I'll go ahead and press and hold H, click and hold inside of my image. Drag over here, once it gets done redrawing things, it's a little slow in a redraw with a gianormous image like this. Then I'll release my mouse button and I'll release the H key and check that out. Now this guy right there, it's a little bit of garbage there. That's because I selected Nearest Neighbor and we did the Nearest Neighbor Interpolation, then a pixel-based layer mask.
But the vector outlines are crisp as they can possibly be. So, this is going to look beautiful, we can print this out now. And if I press Ctrl+Alt+I, Command+Option+I on a Mac, I'm now going to have a 7-inch image at 600 pixels per inch, but gosh, I was telling you I want a big poster. Well, we don't need that kind of resolution for a distant poster. So I'll turn off my Resample Image checkbox here and I'll say I want this to be like, 6 feet in inches. That's 72 inches, I believe. So we'll do it 72 inches wide, the Resolution is only going to be 58.819 pixels per inch. That's okay, click OK, and now this thing is going to be gianormous, it's going to be huge. Send it off to my service bureau, have them printed up.
I'm going to have some garbage-y edges right there. So, of course, what I'd really do, go ahead and back-step, Ctrl +Alt+Z, Ctrl+Alt+Z a couple of times, Command+Option+Z, Command+Option+Z couple times on the Mac. This word Tip having the path outlines around it, so let's go ahead and select a different layer right there. So with that, we're not going to be plagued by this in the future. Shift+Tab that away again, if we want to do it right, then I press Ctrl+Alt+I, Command+Option+I on the Mac. I would say Resample. Definitely scale those styles, because those styles are really integral to what's going on here. Change the percent to 847, what have you, whatever it is you want to use, then you can goof around with these options if you want to. We'll use Bicubic (best for smooth gradients) as our Interpolation method.
So our layer mask looks good, click OK. Wait for it to happen, press and hold the H key, drag up to there, release, release the H key and ooh! Oh! It's so beautiful! It's going to output just beautifully as well. So that's the kind of flexibility that's associated with scalable vector-based paths here inside Photoshop.
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