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Photoshop mastery can be elusive, but in Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery, best-selling author and video trainer Deke McClelland teaches the most powerful, unconventional, and flexible features of the program. In this third and final installment of the popular and comprehensive series, Deke delves into the strongest features that Photoshop has to offer, including scalable vector graphics, Smart Objects, and Photomerge. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, both part of the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
All right gang, I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far as Lime is lemon.psd found inside the 23_masking folder. So called because we have magically transformed what was formally a lime into a lemon inside of this composition and we invoked that transformation by selecting the highlights inside of the original glass image using the Color Range command, bringing the highlights into the composition and setting those highlights to the Screen mode. Now you can experiment with different modes. If you want a harsher effect, you could try something like Color Dodge, ouch, not necessarily the route I would recommend or you would try let's say Linear Dodge which is going to give you less vividly saturated colors but some over the top highlights as well, but of course needless to say I think the best thing for this image is going to be Screen.
So I'm just going to press the Escape key to make that darn option inactive and then I'll press Shift+Alt+S or Shift+ Option+S on a Mac to return to the Screen mode. Now let's say this is still too vivid for your liking. In other words, the highlights are a little bit too harsh. You want something with softer transitions like the image that we are seeing inside of this composition, so Glass on pattern.psd. It's a little smoother and by the way, I'm looking at this layer comp, the found mask layer comp right there, so that we are seeing the highlights found layer along with base colors in background.
All right, so how do we get that? Well, you would load a found mask. What in the world am I talking about? Well, let me show you. I'm going to go back to Lime is Lemon for a moment here, I'm going to turn off that color range layer because we are going to create new highlights and I'm going to select the base layer. Now, let's go back to Splash in glass, that original image once again from photographer Chris O'Driscoll, and I guess if I keep telling you about Chris O'Driscoll, I actually keep telling you about Harold Fela. Both of these guys are responsible for these base images here and Harold Fela did the stars in case you forgot.
All right, let's go back to Splash in glass. What are we going to do? Well, press Ctrl+D, Command+D on the Mac to make sure nothing is selected because I still have that lime selected right there and go to the Channels palette. These are found masks, these channels. Every one of these channels, Red, Green and Blue, can be turned into a mask on a moment's notice. They are just sitting there waiting for you to make the masks, they want you to make the masks and they are perfect for selecting highlights. Why are they so great at selecting highlights? Well, because the highlights are light and light colors are selected when you are working with masks. It's that easy. So these are what are known as Luminance masks. They are masks that are going to select the luminance information inside the image.
Now, what we want is a mask that's going to provide us with a nice degree of contrast between the foreground which is the glass and the water and a table and the bubbles and so on, where that is these little spots of water and the background which is the other junk. However, we also want to select the lime and the Blue channel does not select the lime because the lime is dark in the Blue channel. So forget about it as is so frequently the case, the Blue channel is not our friend where masking this image is concerned. Let's go to the Green channel instead. That looks good. We have got a nice light lime and we have got some nice light highlights and so on and some nice dark shadows and then red. Now red, not so good, because we are getting a darker lime once again and we are getting a lighter background. So green is our choice.
Now, I was telling you that Red channel is frequently a great channel for selecting portrait shots especially if you have a person against a dark background. If you have a person against a light background, you might find Blue to be more useful, believe it or not. When you are working with still images and you are not concerned about things like skin tones, Green is your when-in-doubt channel because that's your detail channel, a lot of detail out of that Green channel and it turns out to be the best channel for us, but I do recommend you always peruse your channels and make intelligent decisions because relying just on those arbitrary recommendations I just gave you is not the way to go.
So just look at what you got and make a decision accordingly. Then when you decided what you want, Ctrl-click or Command-click on that channel to load it as a selection outline. No changes, don't make a duplicate, don't do anything to it, it's right ready to go. Go back to RGB like so and then I want you to make sure that you are seeing the little pair of scissors next to the arrow cursor there. Ctrl+Drag or Command+Drag the lime just because it's the easiest thing to grab into this tab right there. Lime is lemon.psd, drag back into the Image window, press the Shift key along with Ctrl or Command, drop it into place. My goodness, there are the highlights, not looking exactly the way you wanted to look.
Actually I would say it's a better composition, the one we saw before with color range, we have more credible transitions inside of this composition at this point, even set to the Normal mode and that would maintain the lime as a lime look right there. You would have a nice greenish lime but if you want even better transitions, then you want to switch back to Layers palette, you want to go ahead and call this guy found lime or something along those lines and then change the blend mode from Normal to of course Screen and you are going to get a beautiful composition.
Now was that easy? I ask you, isn't it nice to end something that's so advanced like masking on such an easy note? So just remember, anytime you want to select highlights inside of Photoshop, you don't under any circumstances go to the Magic Wand tool, never, never do that. You could go to the Color Range command if you want a lot of control or you can just load a Found Mask and for more information my friends, please, if you are interested in mastering masking inside of Photoshop, this is just the beginning of your journey. Definitely check out Photoshop CS3, one day we might update it to CS4 but doesn't really need that much updating.
Photoshop CS3 Channels and Masks, a two part series found here in the lynda.com Online Training Library. All right gang, that's it for masking inside of this series. In the next chapter, we are going to take a look at vector-based shapes inside Photoshop.
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