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For the first installment of Photoshop for Designers, Nigel French shows how to create editable, non-destructive effects such as shadows, glows, and bevels with layer effects in Photoshop. The course covers the use of layer effects like Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, Bevel and Emboss, and Gradient Overlay, as well as how to combine effects with blending modes, transparency, and textures. With these techniques, designers can finesse type and graphics, control light, warp text, and extrude shapes, creating drama and adding depth to their compositions.
We are going to take a look now at working with preset contours and editing our own and understanding exactly what's going on with contours. I have a red circle and it has a black Outer Glow applied to it. Let's go and work on the contour curve of that Outer Glow. First of all, we have a number of presets that we can use. Currently, there is a Linear contour curve applied and that means that the transparent areas down here, as I move that up, they become more opaque and the shadow areas are up here. Now as I move that down, we lighten the shadow.
Well, we have these predefined contour curves. Try them and see. The best way to learn about contours is just to experiment with them. For example, if we choose Ring, it's an interesting one. What's going on here? Down here, we have the transparent areas. Now, look at the edge of the Outer Glow. As I get this last point and pull it up, you see we are bringing in some opacity right on that edge there to what was formerly transparent.
So, we are going from transparent to solid, down to transparent again and back to solid. Hence the ring. Adouble ring, looks like that. Interesting stuff. Now, as well as choosing your contours from this drop-down menu here, you can also if you click on the arrow choose them by the shape of the contour curve, which you might find more useful. Here is the place also where you can load more contour presets.
We have 12 to start with but Photoshop ships with more than just this 12. So, if I come to this fly-out menu here and choose Contours from down the bottom here, we are loading the contour curve presets and I'm going to append them to what we have already. So we now have a whole bunch of more different curves. But let's go about editing one of our own.
And I am going to start off with the Linear curve and then click on the Contour Editor to edit it. What if we were to invert this, so that the transparent areas out here become opaque and the opaque areas right here became transparent? It would look like that. So, let's see what's going on here. If I bring both ends of the curve down like so, we are just flattening everything out.
We just got gray at one end and gray at the other. What about if I were to add in some extra points here? So, I am going to add a point right there and then I am going to pull that one up and I am going to add another point right there and pull that down and another point right there and pull that one up, and I will be getting that sort of ring thing happening. But the shadow is gray, even though the color we are using is black. It's gray at the moment because we don't go all the way to the top of our contour curve. So, if I pull this up, it's going to darken those rings and if I pull this one down, it's going to increase the transparency and I can pull this one up.
Now, we are still going to have transition areas. This is going to be a soft transition between them. If we want to harden up the transition, we can convert these points to corner points. Click on them, check Corner like so, and then we'll pull this one all the way to the top. Now, these curves are very tricky to edit. They are a lot more difficult I find than editing the curves that you have for adjusting tonal values of photographs. So, you may find it useful to do it numerically.
So, if I want these rings evenly spread, I am going to say I want an input there of 25 and right there I want an input of 50 and right there I want an input of 75. Okay, now let's say that I particularly like this contour. Then what I am going to do is I am going to save it. Since I can't think of anything better at the moment I am going to call it my contour and then click OK. Especially when you create contours like this with lots of up and downs, when you apply them to more complex shapes than circles, you may find that you get some nasty jaggies going on, in which case you will want to check Anti-aliased.
Now, it's not making much of a difference here but if we turn on this layer here, that W layer, and then come and have a look at what's' going on here. Here we have a Bevel and Emboss applied and the Bevel and Emboss is using one of the preset contours. It's using a Shallow Cove. And if we look at the top of those letters, there is some nasty jaggy stuff going on. So, when I check Anti-aliased, it's just I hope going to smooth those out a fraction.
It's not a tremendous amount of difference but it is smoothing them out a bit. So, when you are doing curve jaggies or if you do more likely on complex shapes, more likely when using contour curves with lots of ups and downs, you can check Anti-aliased to smooth out those jaggies. So, that brings us to the end of the various different options that pertain to layer effects, and now what we are going to do is we going to actually put these into practice and we will see how they combine together and how layer effects can be used in conjunction with other Photoshop features.
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