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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.
In this exercise I'm going to demonstrate the effects of the darkening blend modes, which use the active layer to darken the layers below it. For the most part these darkening blend modes are located in the second section of the Blend Mode pop-up menu. Alright, I'm going to escape out of there because I want to show you that I'm working on the Statue layer still inside this Sky & statue.psd document. Since opening this image from inside the 15 Blend Modes folder, I have assigned an Outer Glow effect and reduced the Fill Opacity value to 80%. I'm now going to switch from the Normal blend mode to the first and simplest of the darkening blend modes, which is simply known as Darken.
And notice what happens here in the case of this mode. I'm going to go ahead and zoom in tight on the image in the eye and nose region, and we can see that Photoshop is keeping the darkest colors inside the layer and dropping away the lightest colors inside the layer, so anywhere where the statue layer is darker than the background layer we keep the colors, anywhere where the statute layer is lighter than the background layer, we drop the colors away. So we're basically keeping the shadows, dropping away the highlights, on a channel-by-channel basis.
So inside one channel, one pixel may be darker, inside of another channel a different pixel might be darker. As a result you sometimes get these wayward colors going on, thanks to the Darken blend mode. If you don't like those wayward colors, you can switch to a new blend mode- new to Photoshop CS3, that it is. Now inside this particular beta version of Photoshop CS3, the different mode, this variation on the Darken mode, is located at the bottom of the blend mode list. It's called Darker Color, and I mention that because I live in the hope that Adobe will come to its senses and go ahead and move this mode where it belongs, to the second section up here, but for now for engineering reasons they've decided to move it to the bottom of the list. Also worth noting, whereas every single one of the other blend modes includes a keyboard shortcut, these two new modes, Lighter Color and Darker Color, do not include keyboard shortcuts, and not only are they located in odd positions, odd and I would go so far as to say inconvenient positions at the end of a list here, but they don't have keyboard shortcuts either. Anyway I'm going to go ahead and choose Darker Color, and notice that we end up with harsher transitions. What's going on here is that Photoshop is calculating which pixels are darker and which pixels are lighter on a composite basis. So as a result inside one channel a pixel may be darker, inside of another channel a pixel may be lighter, hence the harsh transitions that we're seeing along the bridge of the nose.
And if we go to the neck region, it's even more obvious. So this the Darken mode, and this is the new Darker Color mode, just to give you a sense. Now, I'm not going to belabor this mode too much for two reasons. First of all, if you're interested in the real-world use for the new blend modes here, you can check out my Photoshop CS3 Beta One-on-One Preview series and take a look at an exercise called "The new blend modes." It'll tell you all about how to use Lighter Color and Darker Color. But here's a little tip from me to you: not all that useful.
Much more useful is this guy right here, Multiply. It's better than Darken and Darker Color put together. Go ahead and switch to the Multiply blend mode and you'll see what I'm talking about. We now end up with these nice smooth color transitions, and we don't see any wayward colors either. So I'm going to go ahead and switch over to the eyes and nose region. So just for the sake of comparison, this is the difference between the Darken mode, which I'm getting to by pressing Shift+Alt+K, or Shift+Option+K on the Mac, and the Multiply mode, which I'm getting to by pressing Shift+Alt+M or Shift+Option+M on the Mac. And that second keyboard shortcut, Shift+Alt+M/Shift+Option+M, is a keyboard shortcut that I suggest you memorize. The Multiply mode is really, really useful.
Now a couple of other notes about the Multiply blend mode here. It's the rare blend mode that is named after its underlying math. Photoshop is actually multiplying colors in order to create this darkening effect. But it may be more helpful to think of the effect in terms of its real-world analogy. So imagine the Statue layer is printed on one transparency and the Background layer is printed on another transparency, and you've stacked the two transparencies directly on top of each other on a light table. This is the effect you would get. So the light from the light table is having to shine through two transparencies, and therefore it's getting incrementally darker as it goes through the ink of these transparencies, as it were.
As a result you get nice smooth transitions, nice even shadows, which is why the Multiply mode is the blend mode of shadows inside of Photoshop. A really terrific blend mode, the best blend mode to use when in doubt, the best darkening blend mode available to you. Alright, if for some reason you decide that the Multiply blend mode really isn't doing it for you, doesn't have enough punch, then you can switch to the punchier modes, which are the burn modes. I'm going to get to them by pressing Shift+Plus. So pressing Shift+Plus once gets me to the Color Burn mode right here, which produces a high-impact darkening effect.
It usually results in some clip shadows, as we're seeing here, as well as some very, very saturated midtones. If you like the darkness of the Color Burn effect, but you don't like the oversaturated midtones, then you can scale down the midtones a little bit and punch up the darkness of the effect by switching to the next blend mode, which is called Linear Burn. So I press Shift+Plus to switch to the Linear Burn mode. This is Color Burn, and this is Linear Burn, where this face layer is concerned. So you can see that we are losing a little bit of midtone saturation, which is a nice thing.
So those are the darkening modes that are available to you inside Photoshop. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you a little trick that you can pull off using the Fill value when working with either the Color Burn or the Linear Burn mode.
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