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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.
All right, I think we are making marvelous progress so far. We are definitely on the right track. And I've gone ahead and saved out my progress as Nested Smart Object.psd. So called because we have one Smart Object nested inside of another inside of this composition. Let's go ahead and compare this image to the original. I also have opened Soft portrait.jpg, which is the image as it was captured by Joey Nelson. Subject of course to some interpolation that I provided to the scene in the form of rotating and scaling the image. Now, the original image has great framing, it's got great lighting, the model looks beautiful and so on, but you could use some sharpness, or you could use some color punch and that's what we have going on in the version of the image so far. So it's definitely looking better. However, is it looking best? No, I would say not.
One of my concerns with the image is that the left side of the face is awfully hot. We've got this fantastic amount of glow. And as a result, we are losing some of the contour detail right there. So if we go back to the original image, you can see that we do have some nice volumetric contouring going on. This nice play of light chiaroscuro, all that jazz that I would like to reinstate, and we can restore some of that detail and actually make it even better using the Shadows/Highlights filter. So let's go ahead and switch back to Nested Smart Object.psd. Make sure that Smart Girl is selected and you should see the Red Luminance Mask right next to the words Smart Filters, and Gaussian Blur below just to make sure that you are working on the correct Smart Object inside of this composition.
Then I want you to go up to the Image menu, choose Adjustments and notice that we have just two color adjustments available to us, Shadows/Highlights and Variations. What gives? What if we wanted to apply for example Vibrance to this image? Well, if you wanted to do that, all you need to do is apply Vibrance from the Adjustments palette. So let's go ahead and select Smart Girl again; I accidentally deselected her. Then I'll expand the Adjustments palette and then I'll click on Vibrance. Now notice that Photoshop has decided to do another one of its half preview updates here.
Let's go ahead and turn the Vibrance layer off for a moment, and actually that's just a different kind of messed up. Let's go ahead and turn off the Smart Filters and see if that helps, and that doesn't. Interesting, and let's turn it back on, and see if that makes things better. It did, good. Now let's turn on Vibrance and it doesn't make any difference. Good. That's the way it should be. So little bit of a screen redraw problem. Bear in mind that we haven't made any changes to Vibrance so far. So we should not be seeing any effects from that adjustment layer. Now, let's go ahead and turn up the Vibrance. I'll just crank it through the roof, so that we can see what you can do using the Vibrance control, if you want to. So any of those color adjustments, levels, curves, brightness, contrast, hue/saturation, all of those guys are available and you can apply them as adjustment layers to a Smart Object regardless of how many Smart Filters you have applied.
I am going to go ahead and press the Backspace key to get rid of that Vibrance layer, because I don't want it. Now, the thing about Shadows/Highlights and Variations, which we can see up here in the Image>Adjustment sub-menu, they have never been available to us as adjustment layers, because they are not traditional color adjustments. Rather, they are calculated as filters. In particular Shadows/Highlights, bears a strong resemblance to Unsharp Mask and the other radius-based filters, because it's comparing neighboring pixels and making decisions based on edge detail.
So if you choose Shadows/ Highlights, you will go ahead and assign Shadows/Highlights as a Smart Filter to this Smart Object. And that makes perfect sense if you know what's going on in the background with Photoshop. Anyway, I'm going to reduce this Shadows amount value to 5% and you could turn on Show More Options, so that you can see every single one of these items here. But I'm leaving everything that's otherwise hidden set to its default setting. So I'm not making any special modifications to Tonal Width or Radius or Color Correction or any of those guys.
So my feeling is at this point in the game, what we don't need is more complexity. So let's turn off this check box and just stick with the simple stuff. How much do we want to change the Shadows? Not very much at all. How much do we want to sink the Highlights? A lot, because we want to restore some of that mid-tone detail there. So I'll take that Highlights value up to 35%. So 5% and 35%, click OK. We now have a new Smart Filter in the stack. I'm going to take that new filter, and I'm going to move it below Gaussian Blur, and I want you to watch the image on screen there, and see how it changes and notice that we just restored more mid-tone detail in the left side of the woman's face, her right side, of course.
Now, because the color saturation is a little out of control, thanks to a default setting inside the Shadows/ Highlights filter, let's go ahead and get rid of that unnecessary increase in saturation by double-clicking on the slider icon. We'll get that warning about the filter is being stacked and you are only going to see the filter that you are working on, fine, click OK. Then I'll change the mode from Normal to Luminosity. That's going to lose some of the saturation, and it's looking pretty subtle in this view. But as soon as you click OK, it's going to make a bigger difference.
Now, we are seeing the results of both Shadows/Highlights and Gaussian Blur stacked on top of each other. Just to get a sense of what Shadows/Highlights is doing; let's turn it off for a moment. So you can see there we are with the blanched side of the face once again. We are losing way too much detail, and then if I press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to restore Shadows/Highlights, we get back that wonderful detail, and we have nice volumetric forms going on, wonderful shading. That's thanks to leveling yet another filter on the stack here inside of the Smart Object composition.
In the next exercise, the final exercise where this project is concerned, we are going to apply a pixel-level edit and we'll see how that goes. Stay tuned.
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