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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.
All right, we have yet to discuss one option in the Refine Mask dialog box. That's this guy down here in the Output region. It's called Decontaminate Colors. Notice first though, before I turn that option on that Output is currently set to layer mask. So in other words, all of these changes that we're applying so far are going to be applied to the layer mask. The image itself is going to be unmodified. That changes as soon as I turn on Decontaminate Colors, because what Decontaminate Colors does is it looks at all of these blue fringes that are still left over inside of the hair details, for example.
It re-colors them with the surrounding colors, which would be sort of shades of brown from her hair. That means that Photoshop has to go ahead and change the colors of not just the layer mask, but the layer as well. So as soon as I turn on Decontaminate Colors, a couple of things happen. First, you will see the colors change in those hair details around those edge fringes. They are no longer as blue as they were before. Now they appear browner. If there is still a fair amount of blue hanging on or whatever color from the old background, then you can increase that Amount value in order to decontaminate those colors even more.
However, in our case, increasing the Amount value ends up over smoothing those hairs. So I'm going to take it back down to 50%, which is the default. Also notice, Output is now set to New layer with layer mask. I can't even select layer mask anymore. That's now a dimmed option. If I'm going to apply Decontaminate Colors, I have to create a new layer right here. I am by default going to adjust the layer mask as well. So here is my reasoning. I've come up with this over time that you're better off taking two passes with Refine Mask regardless of what kind of edge fringing you're getting.
You're better off turning Decontaminate Colors off the first time around, and setting Output To layer mask, so that you go ahead and apply your changes to that layer mask, and you get that step out of the way. Then if you want to follow up with a second application of Refine Mask with Decontaminate Colors turned on, then that's just fine. In fact, it's okay to apply multiple passes of Refine Mask to a layer mask inside of Photoshop. Now you might argue, well, wouldn't that be a destructive modification? Well, you're not really affecting the image once again so long as Decontaminate Colors is turned off.
You're just affecting the mask. Let me show you what I mean. I'm going to leave Decontaminate Colors turned off. I'm going to Output my changes to the layer mask. I'm not going to turn on Remember Settings. By the way, that would change my default settings the next time around. I'm just going to click OK in order to apply my modification so far. So to give you a sense of what I've been able to accomplish. This is before. If I press Ctrl+Z, these are my original edges. I'll go ahead and zoom in here, so you can see these ratty blue edges run hair around the knuckles as well, and around the sweater.
If I press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z again, that's after the modifications that I applied to the layer mask using the Refine Mask command. All right, so obviously, my New layer mask is in much better shape. However, to determine whether it needs additional refinement, I've gone ahead and included this layer of white right here. I'll go ahead and turn the layer on. That helps us to see once again the image against a white background just as we were seeing it inside the Refine Mask dialog box. One of things I'm noticing in addition to the overly smooth corners inside the fingers, which we'll come back to.
I'm also noticing inside of the hair that we still have these blue details not only around the outside of the hair, but inside of the hair as well. So that makes me think that I should apply a second application of Refine Mask. Actually, that ends up working out really well for this image. So I'm going to go ahead and zoom out. With the layer mask selected here inside the Layers panel, I'm going to go back up to the Select menu, and choose the Refine Mask command a second time or press Ctrl+Alt+R, Command+Option+R on a Mac.
Instead of applying any of the numerical settings this time around, I'm just going to brush inside the image using the Refine Radius tool, because you can brush in a radius from scratch if you want to. So I'm going to go ahead and increase the Size of my brush to 100 pixels, like so. Then I'm just going to brush inside of the hair in order to reevaluate it. Initially, as you brush you're not going to see any changes. Bear that in mind, and I'm not pressing the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac. I'm just brushing away. Then I'm releasing.
Notice Photoshop has gone in, and leached away more of the blue inside of that hair. This is all being done right now by adjusting the layer mask. We're not decontaminating the colors. So in other words, we're not making any modifications to the layer itself. Now I'll go ahead and scroll over here to the left side of the image, and I'll paint inside of this bottom area of hair as well, because it still has blue inside of it. We'll see what happens. Again, we leached away more blue. I'll paint inside of this little detail right there.
We leach away some blue as well in that area. Then finally, at this point during the second pass, after I've made sure that I've painted over everything, I actually missed this stuff toward the top of the image. So I'll paint over it as well. If you went too far of course you would Alt or Option paint inside of the image to remove an area from the Radius. I actually think I want to go farther right there inside of this region. All right, once you've done that, and you've got rid as much of that edge fringing as you possibly can.
If there is still some hanging on, this is the point at which I suggest you go ahead and turn on that Decontaminate Colors check box, and you let it do its thing. Notice now that Photoshop is going through, and it's actually adding color to certain details inside of the layer. You can see how that adds a little bit of a brown bounce from the finger into the hair. But I actually think that it ends up working out very well, because we have far fewer blue fringes around these hair details. Anyway, so like I say, a second pass of Refine Mask can work wonders, especially if you combine it along with Decontaminate Colors that second time around.
I think an Amount value of 50% is working beautifully, Output To New layer with layer mask absolutely. Remember Settings, leave that turned off. Click OK. We've created notice, a sunny copy layer that has different colors going on inside of the layers. So sunny is turned off. That's the original unmodified layer with its first time around modified layer mask. Now we have a modified version of layer with a second time around modified version of the layer mask. To see what the layer itself looks like, you can Shift+Click on that layer mask, associate with sunny copy.
You will see that we have modified the colors inside of this layer ever so slightly in this case, because the Amount value was only set to 50%. If we've cranked it up to 100%, we would have huge ranges of brown around her hair. Potentially, we do have some weird brown halos underneath the finger, and so on. We do have these odd brown highlights bouncing off of her finger. But again, I think that is ultimately consistent with the image. Anyway, so I'm going to Shift+Click on this layer mask to turn it back on. I'm also going to go ahead and rename this layer refinement so that I know that it was created by the Refine Mask layer.
In the next exercise, we're going to go ahead and manually take care of these little corners inside of the fingertips, and ultimately achieve the final mask.
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