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Photoshop has become an indispensible tool for photographers, designers, and all other creative professionals, as well as students. Photoshop CS4 Essential Training teaches a broad spectrum of core skills that are common to many creative fields: working with layers and selections; adjusting, manipulating, and retouching photos; painting; adding text; automating; preparing files for output; and more. Instructor Jan Kabili demonstrates established techniques as well as those made possible by some of the new features unique to Photoshop CS4. This course is indispensable to those who are new to the application, just learning this version, or expanding their skills. Example files accompany the course.
Another way to add special effects to an image is to apply filters. When you do use filters, it almost always make sense to use them as Smart Filters, because Smart Filters are not destructive of the underlying photo layer and because they remain editable and can be reopened for tweaking at any time. There are many filters in Photoshop. Lot's of them are decorative only, but some can be used to simulate photo effects. In this movie, I'm going to apply a filter as a Smart Filter and that filter is the Gaussian Blur filter.
I am going to use it to simulate shallow depth of field in this photo. Shallow depth of field is often something that you accomplish in your camera by opening up the aperture to a wide F-stop, and that makes the image blurry in the background and to a lesser degree in the foreground, focusing attention on the subject. Since I didn't do that when I shot this photo I would like to do it now in Photoshop, using the Gaussian Blur filter as a Smart Filter. I am going to start by going to the Filter menu at the top of the screen and choosing Convert for Smart Filters.
I'll click OK at this warning and that turns the single layer in this file into a Smart Object and you can see that from this icon on the layer. I covered Smart Objects in another movie. So if you want to learn more about them, you can go back and listen to that movie. I am now going to add a filter to this Smart Object layer. I'll go to the Filter menu and I'm going down to Blur and I'm going to choose Gaussian Blur. In the Gaussian Blur Filter dialog box, there's only one slider, this Radius slider. If I drag this to the right, the image gets really blurry; if I drag it to the left it gets less blurry.
I am going to increase it just a bit. And as long as the Preview box is checked, I can see the effect on my image here. I'll say OK and now I can see beneath the photo layer, a sublayer for Smart Filters and below that another sublayer for the Gaussian Blur filter. Because the Gaussian Blur has been applied as a Smart Filter, it's not directly changing the pixels of this photo layer. And because it's a Smart Filter I can reopen it at anytime for more tweaking. So if I double-click it the Gaussian Blur dialog box opens again and I could change my Radius slider.
Notice that there is a white box on the Smart Filters sublayer. That box is a mask. Just like a layer mask or an adjustment layer mask, which I covered in other movies, I can paint in this mask with black, white, or gray to control where the filter appears in the image. I don't want the viewer itself to be blurry, so I'm going to click on this mask on the Smart Filter sublayer. I'm going to go over to the Toolbox to select by Brush tool. I am going to check that the paint in the foreground color box is black. And if it isn't, I'll press D and then X on the keyboard and then I'll move my brush over the viewer.
I think this brush is about the right size. If it weren't, I would use the right bracket key to make it bigger, the left bracket key to make it smaller. And I would make it a soft brush by holding the Shift key as I press the left bracket key. Now I am just going to paint with that soft black brush over the Viewer, and as I do I'm hiding it from this part of the image. Now you notice that I am painting down here at the bottom and I actually want the foreground of the image to be a little bit blurry, in order to simulate real in-camera depth of field.
So I'm going to go back over to the foreground and background colors and switch them, so that white is the color. And I'll just paint back in, a little bit of blurriness in the front. Then I'll go back to black paint. I am going to reduce the opacity of my brush so that it's painting with gray rather than black and I'm going to go over the porch area, which I want to make a little less blurry than the far background. So I think that does a pretty good job of simulating depth of field.
And I could paint some more here, if I wanted to tweak this. But we'll leave it as it is for now. I could show you what this mask looks like by clicking on the mask while holding down the Option key on a Mac or the Alt key on a PC. You can see where I've hidden the filter where the filter is partially showing through and in the white area where it's completely showing through. I'll Option+Click or Alt+Click again on that mask to see the image one more time. Because this is a Smart Filter, I not only can go back to re-edit it, I could turn off completely by clicking the eye icon here or I could take the whole thing and drag it to the trash without affecting the photo.
I also can add more Smart Filters. So as an example, if I go back to the Filter menu and I go down to Blur, I'll choose another blur this time, this Radial Blur. The Radial Blur is kind of a fun effect. You can make part of your image look like it's spinning around or you can make it look like it's zooming in. In this case, I'll do Spin and I'll click OK and you can see that it's taken the background and just makes it look like it's spinning. And this filter, just like the Gaussian Blur filter, is being affected by where I painted on that Smart Filter mask.
That's just one example of ways that you can use filters to alter an image. The really important thing to take home from this movie is the idea of Smart Filters, which offer a way for you to apply filters in a non-destructive way and in a way that you can go back and re-edit at anytime.
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