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Photoshop is the tool of choice for most creative professionals and has quickly become household name synonymous with computer art and image manipulation. In Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics, internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland teaches such digital-age wonders as masking, filters, layers, blend modes, Liquify, Vanishing Point, and vector-based type. Along the way, Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, trimming away jowls and fat, and wrapping one image around the surface of another. Plus, the training teaches how to construct and organize the elements in a composition so you can edit them easily in the future. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Ready for more Photoshop CS3 training with Deke? Check out Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Advanced Techniques.
Note: Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials is a recommended prerequisite to Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
Alright, now let's take a look at the contrast modes that are available to us here inside of Photoshop. The contrast blend modes are organized into this fourth grouping inside the Blend Mode pop-up menu here inside the Layers palette. Every single one of these options multiplies in the shadows, screens in the highlights, and drops away the midtones in order to create a high-contrast effect. So they're all somehow combining the darkening modes along with the lightening modes. So we'll see that every single one of these modes combines a different sort of coupling, a different pair of these modes together.
Alright, assuming that you're working along with me inside of the Sky & statue.psd document, I want you to select the Texture layer, and I want you to turn it on as well, and you'll see this marble texture that I created by adding a pattern layer to my composition. And now I'd like you to go ahead and change this texture layer to the Overlay mode by selecting it from the list. Now the Overlay mode is your "when in doubt" mode where contrast modes are concerned inside of Photoshop. It really, truly is merging together the Multiply and Screen modes in order to keep the highlights and keep the shadows in the darker regions where those shadows overlap the darker regions of the composite layers in the background here, and it drops away the midtones. So you can see that our few midtones inside of this layer are dropping away and revealing the colors from the layers underneath.
Alright, so that's the Overlay mode, your base contrast mode inside of Photoshop. I'm going to go ahead and press the Escape key so that blend mode is no longer active there inside the Layers palette, then I'll press Shift+Plus. If Overlay is too harsh, then you can advance to the Soft Light mode, which is a downplayed, reduced version of the contrast modes inside Photoshop. It uses totally different math, as it turns out. It's not simply Overlay set to a reduced Opacity or Fill value, it's something quite different, quite its own thing.
If you want something that's a little stronger than the Overlay mode, then I'll press Shift+Plus again to advance to the Hard Light mode, and this is basically the Overlay mode turned on its head, as it turns out. The math is an upside down version of the Overlay mode, if that makes any sense. If not, just bear in mind that it's a stronger version of Overlay. And it's starting to look a little too strong, as it turns out, but it's still based on that same Multiply and Screen mathematics. If you want to switch from Multiply and Screen, which are represented by these three options, to dodge and burn, then you want to switch off to Vivid Light and Linear Light, those guys right there. Vivid Light is analogous to combining Color Burn with Color Dodge, and Linear Light is analogous to combining Linear Burn with Linear Dodge.
I'll go ahead and show you how those two work by pressing Shift + Plus. This is the Vivid Light option, and this is the Linear Light option, and they are of course totally over-the-top at this point, but we can mitigate them using the Fill value, as we will in just a moment. But in the meantime, let's advance on, let's check out the remaining contrast modes. I'm going to press Shift+Plus to advance to the Pin Light mode. Notice this time, we keep the highlights, we keep the shadows, and we really totally drop out the midtonesin between.
The reason is, we are now performing a composite lighter and darker measurement. So it's like we're combining those new Lighter Color and Darker Color functions, new to Photoshop CS3 that is, even though Pin Light is a couple of versions older. So Pin Light results in some pretty harsh effects as it turns out, some pretty harsh contrast between the highlights that remain totally visible, the shadows that remain totally visible, and the midtones that drop completely away. And that can be useful for creating a textured effect, especially when combined with a reduced Opacity value.
The next and last of the contrast modes is this guy right here, Hard Mix. Hard Mix is basically Vivid Light with a threshold applied on top of it, so that you're reducing the number of colors on a channel-by-channel basis to just black and white. And because we're doing it on a channel-by-channel basis, that means that we're seeing a total of eight colors, black, white, red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, and yellow, but that's it. Which might make you think, Why in the world would you use this totally, unspeakably ugly blend mode? The reason is- I'm going to go ahead and press Ctrl+Tab to switch back to the Blend mode keys.psd document, where I've turned on the fill opacity layer- and you can see that Hard Mix is one of those blend modes, along with Linear Light and Vivid Light, by the way, that are uniquely subject to the Fill Opacity value.
So let's go back to our composition in progress, our extremely diminished composition in progress at the present moment in time, and let me show you what happens if you are to back off the Opacity value to say, let's go ahead and take it down to 10% by pressing the 1 key. You'll see that this just results in a very translucent version of the Texture layer, but we're still ending up with those same eight colors and nothing more, blended in with the layers below.
So we get a faded, sort of ghosted effect that I don't think looks all that great. So I'll press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z to undo that opacity setting, and that was a result of reducing the Opacity value to 10%. Let's now press Shift+1 to reduce the Fill Opacity to 10%, and notice how we get a considerably different option. This time we're not limited to our eight colors, we are taking advantage of the entire range of muted colors here inside of the image, and we get some very smooth, usable transitions, thanks to combining Hard Mix along with the Fill Opacity value.
Well imagine, if we start with Hard Mix and we get such a great effect, what if we start with something that's more useful. Like, let's say, Vivid Light. We'll go ahead and switch to the Vivid Light blend mode here, and we get a slightly different effect, because we're working with such a reduced Fill Opacity value. I'm going to go ahead and press the Escape key, and I'm going to return the Fill Opacity value to 100% by pressing Shift+0. So this is the standard application of the Vivid Light effect. Compare that to pressing Shift+2, which is what I'd like you to do if you're working along with me, Shift+2, to reduce the Fill Opacity value to 20%, and we get this wonderful, I think, just wonderful sort of interaction between this crackled marble pattern and the layers below, this sort of ancient Michelangelo carving below. That is the effect that I want you to apply. So once again, this is a result of taking the extremely aggressive Vivid Light mode and tempering it using a Fill value of 20%.
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