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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, we are going to explore these options down here at the bottom of the Basic panel, Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation. I have got a couple of images opened in Camera RAW. One is Arles Coliseum.dng and the other is Canal boat.dng, and I've selected these two images because they will allow us to compare and contrast the differences between modifying saturation values and color intensity in general when working inside of a landscape or architectural image like this one here and then when working with skin tones.
I am going to switch to Arles Coliseum. dng here, and I am going to zoom in on this image, and this is one of those pretty ratty images frankly. The kinds that you find inside the Bridge after a day shoot or what have you. And you look at them and you think, "I thought it was going to be better than that. Oh well, goodbye!" And then you move right along. You should get out of that habit when you are working with RAW images because even an image like this one that is dim and drab and low color and pretty uninspiring, and it has a lot of posterization over here in the brickwork, even something that bad essentially can be brought to healthy life using these controls.
So we'll just work through the controls we've seen so far so that I can get this image in relatively good shape. I am going to take the Temperature value to 5200. So I am cooling it down just slightly, leaving Tint alone. I will take the Exposure value up just a little bit, just a smidge, because notice here if I take it up too high, I am Alt+Dragging or Option+Dragging this control, I will start blowing up the sky, and I don't want that to happen. So I'd rather err on the side of things looking a little gloomy for now. So the Exposure value goes up to +0.10. That's it. Skipping Recovery and Fill Light for now, we'll come back to those in a future exercise, very useful options by the way.
I don't mean to neglect them. It's just that they're better understood after these other settings. I'll go ahead and increase the Blacks value to 10 just so that we are darkening up the shadow detail a little bit. I am going to take the Brightness value up to 70. So we are increasing the brightness quite a bit, raising those mid-tones, and then this is where this image really starts popping. I am going to take this Contrast value through the roof. I am going to take it up to +80, and that ends up giving us a pretty strong effect. So this is before, and then this is after.
We are losing some of the shadow detail inside the clouds, but we are gaining a lot here inside this brickwork. Now I'm going to try out some of these other options here: Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation. Now, Vibrance and Saturation, those are right out of the Vibrance adjustment layer that we saw way back in the Fundamentals portion of this series. You may recall that Vibrance offers a Vibrance slider and a Saturation slider. They work exactly like this which is to say if you increase the Saturation value, you are going to increase the intensity of the colors across the board and if you reduce that Saturation value all the way to -100, you are going to completely lose the colors, and you'll just have luminance information left.
So all the colors turned to shades of gray essentially. Whereas with Vibrance -- let's go ahead and reset Saturation to 0 -- with Vibrance you are emphasizing the colors that need emphasis the most. So the lower saturation colors are getting the most attention as you increase that Vibrance value. If you reduce the Vibrance value all the way, you're still going to have some color left inside the image. Now, it's not as obvious in this image as it will be in the next one. But what I am going to do is crank this Vibrance value. Because this image needs so much help, I am going to crank it up to +100, and I want you to notice something where this image is concerned.
This is less of an effect or an aesthetic choice as a necessary modification. Check out what the image looks like at a Vibrance of 0. See how much posterization we have in these details? And by posterization, I mean we have very sharp transitions from shadows to midtones to highlights inside of this brickwork, to the extent that the photograph looks a little bit fragile and if I go ahead and raise the Vibrance value, I want you to keep an eye on these colors here inside of the brickwork.
Notice as I raise the Vibrance values, I end up smoothing over some of those color transitions, and as a result, the image starts to look a lot more healthy. So not only does the intensity of the color expand, but the transitions smooth out as well. All right! I am also going to take up the Saturation value a little bit. I am going to take it to 25 where this image is concerned. So you typically work this way. That is to say you are going to take the Vibrance value higher than you are going to take the Saturation value. Not necessarily this high, but for example, it's very common to take the Vibrance value as high as 30 or 50 let's say and the Saturation some place between 5 and 15.
Anyway, this image needs more work, which is why we are giving it higher values, and then finally, I am going to go and zoom-out here. We might want a little bit of edge contrast where this image is concerned and that's what clarity does. So Clarity is entirely unrelated to Color Saturation. It really doesn't have anything to do with Vibrance and Saturation. But it does allow you to enhance the edges. And the idea remember when we were working with Unsharp Mask and I was telling you if you want a truly sharp looking effect, sharp detail, then you want to work with a low radius value and a high amount value.
However, if you combine a high radius value with a low amount value, you'll get clarity. That is you create big flares around the edges and that's what's happening here as well. So if you increase that Clarity value, notice you are strengthening the edge detail inside the image without applying any sharpening. It's not strictly speaking sharpening the detail inside the image. If you reduce the Clarity, check out what happens. You are losing your edges and keeping your color, and this might be useful if you're working with a portrait photograph of a person who has a lot of skin detail that you are trying to smooth over.
Then you can create a kind of smoothing effect by reducing the Clarity value. Anyway, in our case, we want exactly the opposite. We want crags all over the place inside of this architecture. So I am going to increase that Clarity value as high as it goes to +100. Now, let's see what we been able to pull off here. This is the before version of the image. Seemingly hopeless. It's just so grim and boring frankly, and then when I turn on Preview, a ton of life inside of this image that just needed to be drawn out using these basic controls.
All right! Let's compare this to working with a portrait photograph like this one here. I call this more of a snapshot, but it does have a human being inside of it, and I will start things off once again by applying some basic modifications. I am actually really happy with the temperature of this image. I am going to take the Tint value just down ever so slightly, just to get rid of a little tiny bit of pink. So I took it down to -5. Then I will take the Exposure value up to +1, like so, which seems too high. So far. And in fact, if I Alt+Drag or Option+ Drag that Exposure triangle, I will see a little bit of clipping going on.
But we are going to compensate with the other controls. So Tab down to Blacks, take that down to 2. These are just the settings I came up with through trial and error. I am going to reduce the Brightness value to 10, and then I will take the Contrast value up to 40. All right! And that's starting to bring out some noise in her coat. That's something we'll explore. We will explore how to remove noise inside of Camera RAW in a future exercise, but for now we are just going to ignore that. We are going to drop down here to Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation. We don't need any clarity where this image is concerned. I'd hate to add all kinds of edge thickening and gooeyness to this image because it wouldn't really suited to portrait photograph.
Nor does my friend require a lack of clarity, in my opinion. I think that just makes it look bizarre. So I am going to leave that setting at 0. Then I'm going to tab my way down to Vibrance, and let me show you the difference between Vibrance and Saturation where this image is concerned. I will go ahead and zoom in another click actually, and if I increase the Saturation all the way to 100, we are increasing the saturation of the colors across the board. If I reduce the Saturation to -100, there go my colors. All right! What I want for Saturation is 20. It actually works pretty well for this image.
Now, let's see Vibrance. If I crank the Vibrance value up to 100, notice which colors get the attention. The blue coat gets a ton of attention, because it started off as a very low color intensity coat in the first place, whereas the skin tones don't change much at all. We are seeing some purple show up around the eyelashes, possibly some mascara there around the hair detail as well. So we are popping out some aberrant colors as you can see. But the oranges and the reds of the face are not popping like they would have if we had cranked the Saturation value upward.
If we reduce that Vibrance value down to -100, we still have some colors intact. So the reds and the yellows are protected, some of the greens are protected as well, and that's typically the way Vibrance operates. So Vibrance actually protects some of the primary colors. It also has a habit of protecting flesh tone colors, your warm colors. All right! Where this image is concerned, I ultimately arrive to a Vibrance value of 50 and to just give you a sense of what we have accomplished with this image, this is the before version of the image. Just a little more muted, not that terribly different, and this is the after version.
Thanks to our ability to enhance the color intensity using Vibrance and Saturation and then of course where the previous image is concerned, we were able to do quite a number on that edge detail. Thanks to our enhancement of Clarity.
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