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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.
In this exercise I'm going to introduce you to the advanced settings inside this Smart Sharpen dialog box. And then we'll see how to save out our settings in the next exercise, and pretty much if you are going to start wandering down advanced settings route, you definitely want to save out your settings, because otherwise you can truly mess things up inside this Smart Sharpen dialog box. Just a little bit of an FYI from me to you. Now I'm working inside of an image called No tresspassing.jpg. I'm going to move No trespassing over just a hair bit so that we can take in the histogram palette. So I'm going to start by collapsing these palettes around the right hand side, and then bringing up the Histogram palette right there, and I have got to move my image over a little bit again. And the reason I'm showing you the histograms is because I want you to see what's going on inside of this image on the channel by channel basis. Notice that we are clipping here in the Blue Channel and we are okay over here on the right hand side. We don't have any clipping going on in white, and we have a little bit of clipping going on in the blacks and the Green Channel, but not the whites, and we are pretty safe in the Red Channel.
But the thing is once you start applying a heaping helping of sharpening inside of an image, and particularly with the Smart Sharpen function, you are going to clip blacks and whites, because you are sending the darkest colors to black, and you are sending the lightest colors to white on an edge basis, so they are appearing all throughout the image. They are not in big clumps the way they might be with the Levels command. But you still might not want that. You might not want to clip your highlights and shadows, and inside of a cruddy little image like this one, it's very helpful to have that kind of control. So I'm going to press Ctrl+Alt+F or Command +Option+F to bring up the Smart Sharpen dialog box once again and notice all the clipping that's occurring. Look at that huge line over their on the black side of the Red Channel, and over here on the white side of the Red histogram as well. And we have got the same thing going for green and for blue. So just a ton of clipping happening all over the place.
All right, I'm going to drag over the No Trespassing sign so that we can see just what a rich job it's doing here inside the blacks. It's just making a mess of things, and notice how it's clipping the heck out of the top of the sign, and it's setting that fly on fire, pretty much I think. So we need to calm things down. We need to temper it. I'm going to start it by making it less calm. I'm going to raise that Amount value to 400%, so we can really see what's going on. Making absolute mess of this image, and raise the Radius value to 3 pixels. Remove, we do want to set the Lens Blur, but we sure as heck don't want More Accurate. In fact, if anything I wish we had a less accurate checkbox right here to you know get rid of bird poop, get rid of flys. Just don't sharpen those kinds of disgusting little items there. But More Accurate in general we definitely went off.
But that didn't resolve our problems like those weird sharpening artifacts here inside this black region of the sign, and of course our overly hot highlights are still a problem. So what you do is you come over here to this advanced option. Now, everything that I have shown you so far, I'm a big fan of how it's put together. I love the Amount value, I love the Radius value, I lover Remove. In a couple of exercises we will see Remove set to Motion Blur, so you can get a sense of how that works. And I love More Accurate. Even though you just have to watch it. Sometimes it's great, sometimes it's not.
What I'm about to show you-- we start going down into, gosh, I'm not really a fan of how this is designed territory. And I wish to heck they would fix it, but Adobe has a terrible, terrible habit of never going back and revisiting filters ever, and so once the filter is made, that's pretty much the way it stays for the rest of time, essentially. So anyway, we'll probably have to put up with this one the way it is, but it is useful. I have shown it to you, but I'm going to complain every ones in a while, to some you should know upfront. All right, so I'm going to turn on Advanced and now you get two extra tabs right here. So I'm going to switch over to highlight, we'll switch the highlights first, because the highlights are the worst defenders in terms of having blown highlights for example.
First of all you should know you are not going to see anything. If you change these two values Total Width or Radius, you are not going to see the effects of those until you increase the Fade Amount. So I'm going to take that Fade Amount up to 100, and I want you to watch this area right here. Did you notice how it changed? So this was a Fade value of 0, some very hot highlights, and also you can watch the histograms over here, and if I take that value up to 100%, we completely fade out those highlights now, so that we don't have any blown highlights at all. No highlight clipping occurring whatsoever. We do have much more shadow clipping going on now, but we'll resolve that in a minute. Now we have Total Width, remember the Total Width value inside the shadows highlight dialog box? Exactly the same. How much of the image is devoted to highlights, how much of the image is devoted to shadows and so on.
And I'm going to say 75% of the luminance level should be treated as highlights. Should fall into the range of colors that are getting mitigated here. And that's of course being treated to as slow and subtle drop off. So the lightest highlights like white, and the ones very near to it. So the hottest highlights like white, and those highlights that are very near to white, they will be faded the most, and then the colors that are closer to the midtones will be faded less and so on. So it's not an on off preposition the way it is with the threshold options inside the Unsharp Mask dialog box. It is gradual and beautiful and wonderful.
This next option essentially doesn't really function is when it comes down to. It's again another Radius pass just like we saw inside the Shadows Highlights dialog box, and if you have to get inside small details, and you want to keep this value very low. But inside this image, I dare you to see anything happening. I'll move the image down a little bit, so that we can see the top of this sign way better. If I crank it all the way up to 100 pixels, there's very little in a way of change happening inside the image, the visual change. You will see some stuff happening to the histogram here. But what I'm going to recommend is that we keep this value higher than your core radius value, the one that you are using for sharpening the image. So I'm going to take it to 10 pixels. Again, it's not going to make much of a difference. I don't think I saw anything happening in the way of a change to the histograms here. Just a little bit of tapering off from 10 to 100.
But anyway, that will distribute whatever effect we are applying in terms of fading this. Actually I don't want to fade it to 100, I want to take this back, and I'm going to take it down to 35%, which still keeps most of the colors from clipping. We have just a little tendency of clipping over here in red, but this is pretty much the way that histogram is looking before over here on the highlights side. So it's not too different than it was before we brought up the dialog box. All right, these values 35, 75, and 10. Just for the sake of simplicity I'm going to reapply them to the shadows, and I want you to watch what happens inside these sort of swarming details here inside the blackness of the sign. If I raise the Fade value just to 35% that goes away. Good-bye. Also no clipping occurring anymore. Let's just go ahead for safety sake, take Total Width up to 75%, that looks better and I'm talking about the histograms here, and we'll take the Radius value up to 10. Let's see what kind of difference that makes for the histograms. None, there is no difference at all there, just tiny slight difference.
All right, anyway it's hard to get this to really contribute to the action, but overall we do have some contributions. Now at this point you might go, why were you complaining about this Deke? I mean these seem to work just as well as many other settings inside of Photoshop. They are little strange. But well, here is the deal. If I turn on Basic right now, you would think, that I just reset those options back to their basic functionality. No, they are staying the way I just set them, and they will stay that way for all time now, even if you never selected Advanced again. If you click the OK button, you will save over your defaults settings right here, and that's how you can really mess things up.
You go to Advanced and now it's like, oh yeah, those advanced weird settings that I applied are still there. No wonder the filter is not working right any more. So that's why I think it's really patently bad design. But also, why you need to save out your settings, if you're going to go down this Advanced territory, so that you can distinguish your default from whatever else you decide to do here. And then you are going to have to turn around and reset your Default settings. As I'll show you, this really gets strange in my humble o, and I'll show you everything about it. All the strange things, all the goodness, everything it has to offer in the very next exercise.
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