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In Photoshop CS5 Essential Training, author Michael Ninness demonstrates how to produce the highest quality images with fantastic detail in the shortest amount of time, using a combination of Photoshop CS5, Adobe Bridge, and Camera Raw. This course shows the most efficient ways to perform common editing tasks, including noise reduction, shadow and highlight detail recovery, retouching, and combining multiple images. Along the way, Michael shares the secrets of non-destructive editing, utilizing and mastering Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw, layers, adjustment layers, blending modes, layer masks, and much more. Exercise files are included with the course.
So, in addition to the standard transformations that you can do to a layer in Photoshop, so Scale, Rotate, Flip, Perspective, Distort and so forth, there is another category of distortions or transformations you can do that are very powerful. It's just a little bit buried, and that's the Warp transformation. Some people call them envelope distortions. Some people call them warp distortions. Here is how you get to them. So, let's say that I want to make this snapshot of this postcard look like it's a curling page, kind of floating above this gray background here. Let's figure out how to do that.
So let's first select that layer, Warp that layer selected. We'll do Command+T or Ctrl+T to bring up the Free Transform mode. Then there's this little, tiny button off to the right in the Options bar. It's this little guy right here. It only appears when you're in the middle of the Free Transform mode. So if you're looking for a menu command or a keyboard shortcut or a tool to get you here, you're not going to be able to find it, you have to be in the Free Transform mode. Once you have the Free Transform bounding box, you can either click the Warp button here or you can right-click and in the contextual menu you can choose Warp.
That switches you into the Warp mode of free transform. At first, it puts a distortion grid along your selected layer there. You can just freely transform and distort and Warp this content. You'll see it update there. But there's also some presets that you can choose from as well. So, some of them are kind of sillier than others, like the Fish, very popular. I like the one that's called Flag. The default distortion there is pretty severe, so I don't want to use it that much.
So you just have got to find the handle on the envelope here on the distortion grid that can be adjusted. I'm just going to click-and-drag this up, so it's just a more modest adjustment, just a slight, little bend here, to create this kind of flaggy distortion. Once you like the effect that you've got, you just hit the Enter or Return key to lock that in, and then to kind of make it look like it's more floating, up against this background, and have it more three-dimensional page like effect with the page edges curling there, I'm going to rotate this layer.
So Command+T again, Ctrl+T to bring up Free Transform and I'll just put my mouse outside the boundary to go ahead and start rotating this a little bit. I'm going to go ahead and scale it at the same time and I'm going to click on the corner handle and hold down the Shift key to do it proportionally. Then I can move it freely where I want it, just decide on the rotate angle, and get it just right. I'll go ahead and hit the Enter key when I'm happy with that. Then to finish this up, maybe we'll add a Drop Shadow to make it look like it's more three-dimensional and floating above this gray background. So to do that, we'll go down to the bottom of the Layers panel and there's the little fx pop-up menu for Drop Shadow, let's say.
Once I bring up this Layer Style dialog box, I can actually click inside the image and grab the shadow and position it freely, which is kind of nice. Get it so like that. Then I can maybe adjust the size to make it softer and I'll bring back the Opacity, make it a lot lighter there. If I need to, I can actually move the dialog a little bit off screen just to make sure that I can position that shadow exactly where I want it to get the effect I'm looking for. Dragging the shadow directly is a lot easier than playing around with the Angle and Distance controls. Distance, I'll move it away from the object and then the Angle changes the light source there.
What I like about using the mouse inside the image is that you can just position it freely and it updates the Angle and Distance accordingly. It's a lot easier way to go about it. Click OK. There you have it, using a combination of Free Transform, Warp mode of Free Transform and a layer Style for Drop Shadow, to create a very static looking flat piece of artwork into kind of something interesting.
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