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Photoshop is one of the world’s most powerful image editors, and it can be daunting to try to use skillfully. Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, 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 CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
All right, so here I'm still inside the document called Inexplicable darkness.psd and it's found inside, of course, the 18_advanced_layers folder. What I've done is I've set the moon to the Screen blending mode, as you can see, right here next to the word Blend Mode. Then I double-clicked on this empty region of the Moon layer in order to bring up the Layer Style dialog box. Now, if that's not working for you, for some reason, you run into a problem or you don't like the fact that you had to double-click at here, you want a better solution, what you'll do? I'll cancel out of there.
You can right-click pretty much anywhere on the layer, I believe, and you can choose Blending Options right there. Let me make sure that that's just right that I can right-click anywhere. Let's try right-clicking the thumbnail, yes, there's Blending Options as well. So, if you right-click anywhere inside the layer and choose Blending Options, not Layer Properties, because Layer Properties, watch this. It's just as dinky dialog box that lets you name the layer, which is something you could already do out here just by double-clicking in the layer name, and then you can assign it a color. That's not going to colorize the moon, that's just going to colorize the layer, in case you work that way, in case it helps you to see colorful layers for whatever reason.
I'm kind of dismissed over that feature, because I'm never taken to it, but you might use it. Anyway, cancel, so right-click and choose Blending Options. That's going to bring up the gargantuan Layer Style dialog box set to the Blending Options panel right here. All right, so drop down, we've already seen how Blend Mode and Opacity and Fill Opacity work. We're going to see how Knockout works in this chapter and we'll see some of the other options later in later chapters. These guys are mostly for mitigating layer effects, by the way. I'm going to drop down to what some folks call the Blend If sliders.
They're not the Blend If sliders. Blend If is this option right here. That's all it is. And it's saying, "Do you want to apply these sliders according to the composite image which is Gray or the Red, Green or Blue channel?" We just want to leave it composite, so Gray, but that's the extent of Blend If. These guys right here don't really have a name, but the pair of them together or along with Blend If. I call the Luminance Blending sliders, because that's what they allow you to do is apply luminance exclusion. So, what you can do as to this layer, you can drop out certain areas of luminance, either the shadows or the highlights. This one right there, Underlying Layer, that allows you to force through either shadows or highlights from underlying layers and here's how it works, watch this.
I'm going to start things up by dragging this white triangle over to the left and notice what happens as I do it, at a value of 170, let's say. You can't set these values numerically. You just have to track them. You just have to look at them and move your slider triangle, which is a big nuisance by the way, they have to fix up. But anyway, that's the way it is. Notice at 170 what we're seeing, and bear in mind of course that 0 is black, 255 is white. So, what we're doing is we're saying anything with a Luminance level of 170 or brighter is becoming transparent. Certainly, that seems to be the case when I look out here at the moon.
I'm going to go and zoom in on it, by Ctrl+Spacebar+Click and now I'm Spacebar+Dragging. That would be a Command+Spacebar+Click and then a Spacebar+Drag on the Mac. So, you can zoom, of course, when this dialog box is up on screen. Now, I'm just going to move things over a little bit, so that we can see everything we need to see in this fairly small screen real estate here. All right, so I'm saying 170 or brighter is becoming transparent. Well, that's not really what I want. What we really want to do is we want to get rid of the dark areas, not the bright areas. So, let's go ahead and reestablish our highlights by dragging that white slider triangle all the way over to the right and let's drag the black one over to the right.
I'll leave it at about 40, is where we want it. At 40, if I can get it there, there we go on 40. It's not absolutely necessary that you get exactly 40. But you can see now that I've set anything with a Luminance level of 40 or darker on a composite basis and remember, when we eyedropped that darkness, it had R, G and B values of 34, 30 and 34 respectively. So, that is darker than 40, and so it drops out of sight. Is this a permanent change, by the way? Heck no, that will make a ridiculous change like so. 144 in darker is now transparent, excellent, click OK. Oops, on further reflection, I would come to my senses and I notice that looks terrible.
So, I double-click once again in order to bring up once again the Layer Style dialog box and I move it once again over to the right side of the screen. There, my settings right there, waiting for me and I'll go ahead and move it back. So, this is an issue sometimes when you look at your old graphics, once you start using Luminance Blending and you're looking at an old photo composition and you've dropped out some colors inside of it and you're going, "What did I do?" You're looking at the blend mode Screen, doesn't really explain things. So, there is no difference, both the Opacity settings are 100%. What in the world did you do? Double-click and check out your Luminance Blending Options down here and see if you did something.
Probably you did, and if you can't find them, when you look at gray, then try looking at Red, Green and Blue, because you can set those independently as well. Anyway, back to the story it had, now one of the things you should notice, I'll just Ctrl+Click, Command+ Click. I didn't have to do the Spacebar number there in order to zoom in. You'll notice here, if I quit moving things around that we have some jagged edges going, because this is an either/ or proposition right now, either it's visible or it's invisible. So, we have a threshold, like that, threshold spinning an Unsharp Mask. We have the threshold right here where we're saying if it's darker than 40, it's transparent, if it's lighter, it's opaque, end of story.
And you now, I have no patience for threshold, not on a regular basis. I want what's called fuzziness, which means that at one Luminance level, things become transparent, at another Luminance level, they become opaque and then we have some softness in between. How do you create fuzziness? We'll look very, very closely at that triangle. It's got a little line in it and that's actually two-halves of a triangle that just happen to be glued together. To unglue them, press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac and then with that key down, drag the right half of that triangle away and we're introducing fuzziness and notice the jags went away.
All right, so now what I'm saying, when I move it up to 150, I'm saying if it's 150 or brighter, opaque; if it's 40 or darker, transparent, if it's between 40 and 150, make it increasingly opaque over the span of this area. So, it's a gradient of opacity, if you will. What that really means is it's just wonderful. All right, let's go ahead and zoom out from the moon. It's wonderful, but it's not as wonderful as it needs to be. The reason I say that is because I want the clouds to sort of drift in front of the moon here. You know what? I'm going to change the blend mode, Screen, no; I'm going to change it to Linear Dodge (Add).
Let's really go for it, make this a really bright moon and then let's change the Fill Opacity. Let's knock that guy down a little bit to something like, for now 50%, so that we have a nice blend of moon and clouds. It's still too bright; we'll take it down from here. But the clouds should really just be in front of the moon, we shouldn't have this kind of strange interaction. So, we need to force the clouds forward and we're going to do that using the Underlying Layer slider bar right here, in the next exercise.
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