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In Photoshop CS5 for Photographers: Camera Raw 6, Chris Orwig provides in-depth training on Camera Raw 6, the CS5 component that enables photographers to open and manipulate images in non-destructive and now even more efficient ways. This course covers the benefits of the raw processing, which makes it possible to more precisely control an image's appearance—exposure, shadow and highlight detail, color balance, sharpness, and more—including new workflow procedures and technical concepts and issues. Learn the entire Camera Raw workflow, from opening and resizing, toning and cropping, to sharpening and saving. Exercise files are included with the course.
In this movie, we're going to break the rules a little bit, and rather than using the Detail panel in order to reduce noise or sharpen, we're actually going to use this panel to come up with a technique which will give us really nice skin softening. Well, here is what we are going to do. Let's go ahead and select the Detail panel by clicking on the Tab here, or by pressing the shortcut. That's Command+Option+3 if you're on a Mac; on Windows, that's Ctrl+Alt+3. Next, what I want to do is zoom in on this image and take a look at some of the detail we have in the skin.
We can zoom in on this photo to 100% by simply double-clicking on the Zoom tool. Next, press the Spacebar key, and click and drag to reposition this. Now this image looks really good, the sharpness and detail is really nice. But let's say we just want to reduce the skin texture and some of the variance there just in order to create a little bit of an interesting skin softening effect. Well, what we can do is we can actually use our Noise Reduction controls in order to do this. Let me show you what I mean. Well, here I am going to go ahead and increase the Luminance amount of my Noise Reduction.
Now as I do that, you can see that the image is really becoming soft. Now, if I decrease the Detail here, we're seeing that we're really losing the detail. This is all kind of blending together quite nicely. Now in this case, I want to bring up a little bit of contrast just so I have that dimension. All right! Well you may be thinking, okay Chris, this is crazy. The eye looks horrible. We've lost all the sharpness there. Well yeah, I'm aware of that, but stick with me. See me through on this one, because I think you'll really benefit from this technique. Next, we're going to increase our color Noise Reduction.
That's going to decrease all the variety in the skin tones there and really smooth those out. Using this control alone can just help out your images by leaps and bounds, especially in regards the skin. Well now that we've done all of this, I am going to go ahead and also reduce my Detail amount here on the Sharpening and lower the Radius. I just want really nice soft and smooth skin. Next, we're going to open the image in Photoshop, so we'll click Open Image. This will then open that file inside of Photoshop with those settings that we dialed in, in the Detail panel.
The next step that we need to take is to go back to Adobe Bridge, re-open this JPEG inside of Camera Raw. Let's do so by pressing Command on Mac, Ctrl on Windows, then pressing the R key to open this up in Camera Raw. Let's go back to the 100% zoom rate by double-clicking the Zoom tool, press the Spacebar key to click and drag. Next what we are going to do is we are going to click on the Detail panel, and here what I want to do is I want to reset all of my Noise Reduction controls. I can do so by double-clicking on the tabs here to take my Luminance and my Color Noise Reduction back to default 0.
Next, I am going to go ahead and bring up a little bit of sharpening here. I want to have some nice details here, because I want to have a nice, crisp, sharp eye. Also, you may want to bring in some other details as well. So here what we're doing is we're processing this image in two different ways. One set of controls or settings here for the skin, another for that eye. I am just going to go ahead and bring this up. I want to have a lot of nice really good detail there in the eye. Next, let's click Open Image to open this image up inside of Photoshop.
This particular technique is actually quite powerful. What we're doing conceptually is we're creating two versions of the same image, then in Photoshop what we can do is combine these two images together. Let me show you what I mean. We'll go ahead and press the V key to select the Move tool. Next, I am going to click on the image that's really nice and sharp. I'll hold down the Shift key, and I'll click and drag this to the image that's really soft. Next thing we are going to do is go ahead and press F to go to Full Screen View mode, and then I'll zoom in on the photograph by pressing Command or Ctrl+Plus.
I am going to close this little Info panel here because we don't need that. Well now that I've zoomed in on this image, here I can see I have some nice detail in the eyes. The skin just has a little bit too much variation. I want to soften it up. All that we need to do to soften the skin is to add a layer mask. We'll do so by simply clicking on the Add Layer Mask icon over here Layers panel. Next, we'll grab our Brush, and we'll select Black as a color in our foreground color there, and then we'll lower our Opacity a little bit, and then let's decrease that Brush Size.
That's a little bit too big. We want a Brush size that's pretty big. We also want 0 Hardness, but not too big. That looks good. Then from here, all that I am going to do is go ahead and start to paint in this softening effect. You can see that already simply by adding that little bit of softening on the cheek, the image is looking so much better. I'll make my Brush a little bit smaller. I'll press the 3 key, takes the Opacity to 30% here, and then I am just going to go ahead and paint over this area of the skin. And I am just going to be really careful to bring in some of the softening. Keep in mind that's not just softening.
It's also reducing the variance in the color of the skins. This is just going to be a great way to make the skin look really nice. In this case, I'm painting with a real low opacity, just so I can build this effect up little by little here. I'll go ahead and paint across the forehead. If I ever want to increase my opacity, I'll just crank that up and then go ahead and paint over some of those areas that you know will benefit from this particular softening. Well, so far, so good. The image looks amazing, and that's the trick with this is there's lots of different ways to soften skin.
This particular technique does just such a good job because we're working with those raw controls which are really quite powerful and give us this nice look here, and it also didn't take us a lot of effort to dial in this particular effect. Well, I am going to press the 6 key, take my Opacity to 60%, just apply this a little bit stronger in a couple of areas where I am seeing some of these larger variations there. Next, I'll zoom out a bit. If I soften the face, I need to soften the skin here as well. So I'll go ahead and paint over this area of the image, and also this part of the arm.
I am changing my Brush Size by pressing the Left Bracket key to make it smaller, or the Right Bracket key to make it bigger. Well now let's zoom back in on the photograph, and I'll zoom way in so we can actually see these nice details here. Let's click on our before and after, and we can actually do so hereby Shift+Clicking on our mask. If you hold down the Shift key and click on this mask, it will disable this view temporarily. So here we have our before. Click again. There we have our after. Really nice, and really natural looking, skin softening.
Let me zoom in even further so you can see that. Again, before, and then after. I'll zoom in even further, and we have that before and then after. Now, the great thing about this technique is we can then take advantage of the many different things we can do with this mask right inside of Photoshop. Let me show you what I mean. Well, I can go to the Mask panel. Here I can soften the edges of my mask by simply increasing this Feather amount. This can give me a little bit more of a transitional edge in regards the areas that I painted on the photograph.
I can also dial in the Density of the mask. If I take this all the way down to 0, well that's no softening at all. Well then I can slowly bring this up and find just the right amount of skin softening, because certain images will benefit from a bit more softening, while other images you might want to go for something that's just really, really subtle, really clean looking, like say, a percentage at 65 here. Well, now when I Shift+Click that mask, we can see our before and then after, just a really nice subtle softening there in the photograph.
Well, that wraps up our look, and how we can use the Detail panel in an unorthodox way in order to come up with some really stunning results in regards to skin smoothing.
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