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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.
In this exercise, I am going to show you how to apply Levels as an Adjustment layer. We'll see that there are a few differences when you're working inside the Adjustments panel as opposed to inside the Levels dialog box. But even though it's a little more challenging to work this way, it's worth the effort. Because an Adjustment layer, as you may recall from Chapter 7, in the Fundamentals portions of the series, an Adjustment layer keeps your modifications editable. I'm still working inside Flat photoCD image.tif, found inside the 14_levels_curves folder.
In order to create an Adjustment layer, I need to bring up the Adjustments panel. I want to keep the Adjustments panel over here in the right-hand stack this time around, because we don't have a lot of layers. So if I scrunch the Layers panel, no big deal. So I am going to go ahead and grab this collection of icons right there, and I am going to move it just above layers, like so, drop it into place. So there is the Adjustments panel. To create a Levels adjustment, you go ahead and click on that second icon on the first row, or if you want to name the layer as you create it, then Alt+click or Option+clicking that icon brings up the New layer dialog box.
Now then, if you consider that all too much work and you loaded my dekeKeys shortcuts, why then, I have given you this great keyboard short, in my opinion, I find it to be great anyway, that does everything that we've seen so far in one keystroke. So I am going to go ahead and Cancel out of this dialog box and I'll collapse my Adjustments panel as well. So here I am working inside the image. All I need to do, if you loaded dekeKeys, you press Ctrl+Shift+L or Command+Shift+L on the Mac. Now, were it not for dekeKeys, Ctrl+ Shift+L or Command+Shift+L is assigned to the Auto Tone command.
This, I think, you're going to use more often. Anyway, I'll go ahead and name my layer, instead of calling it Levels 1 like that, I am just going to name it levels, because it's going to be my only levels adjustment. I'll click OK in order to create the New layer, and now we're working inside the Adjustments panel. Now, I want you to be seeing this big huge Adjustments panel here. If you're not, if you're seeing a small Histogram, then click on this little folder icon down here in the lower left corner of the panel. That makes the Histogram 256 pixels wide, so we can see every one of the 256 luminous variations inside of a standard eight bit per channel image. All right! Now notice right here that we've got the Auto button.
If you click on it, not surprisingly, you go ahead and apply Auto Tone by default. If you want to apply some other flavor of Auto adjustment, then you press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and then you click on Auto, and that brings up that dialog box that we saw in a previous exercise. I could switch over to Enhance Monochromatic Contrast, I could turn on Snap Neutral Midtones, and I could adjust my other settings as well. And then I'd go ahead and click OK and now I have applied those setting temporarily using a Levels Adjustment layer.
Now if I want to back off those settings, all I have to do is reduce the Opacity value. Because I have a Selection tool active, for example, I could just press the 7 key to reduce the Opacity value to 70%. Then we get a blend of this automatic levels adjustment along, with the original uncorrected version of the image. All right, so far so good, in the next exercise, we'll take a look at how to apply a custom modification to the composite Histogram.
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