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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 Output Levels values that are down here near the bottom of the Adjustments palette. When you are working with the Levels adjustment, they are at the bottom of the Levels dialog box, if you are applying a static modification, and they aren't particularly useful. I have to tell you, when adjusting full color continuous toned photographs. You are not going to use them very often, but I do want you to know that they are, just in case you are curious and you want to keep up with all the options that are available to you. I'm still working inside that Input levels.psd image, and I have made a few tiny modifications here to my input levels, the guy is directly below the Histogram. Output Levels control the destination.
So in other words, I'm saying that I'm going to take a Luminance level of 18, and I'm going to map it to 0. So I'm going to make it black, and then anybody darker is going to become black as well. And then I'm going to take a Luminance level of 190, and I'm going to map it to 255 white, and everybody brighter is going to become 255 as well. And then Gamma is doing its own thing here, we are just, in this case with 0.95 value, were slightly darkening the midtones inside the image. And that's a purely relative modification by the way. So let's say we want to map in a brightest value of 18 to something different. Like I want to say, change everything that's 18 or darker to a Luminance level of 80, and that means that this whole range, right here will become a Luminance level of 80, and then everybody in between here and here, will be mapped from 80 to 255 in this case.
But I could also make the whites darker if I wanted to, and what I'm essentially doing is reducing the contrast of the image and dimming it. Your question of course, why in the world would you want to do anything resembling that? Well, it's a real easy question to answer. Really you wouldn't, you are not going to want to do this very often if ever. But here's one scenario that I'll sort of toss out there. You might want to dim the image like so. So you would make the white point 255, but you make the black point something like let's say 129, which is something near medium gray and by lightening the image like this, you could set type over it or create some sort of artsy effect. Now this isn't necessarily the best way to pull off such an effect, but it is 'a' way to do it, if you want to.
Also, you can perform such modification on a channel by channel basis, in case you are looking for some other sort of effects, some sort of colorization effect, and check this out, if I move black and white all the way over to the opposite sides. So in other words I exchange them with each other, so that the first value is 255 and last value is 0, then I invert the image, and you can control exactly the degree of inversion you apply if you want to, and then you could invert specific channels, like you could invert the Red channel independently, of the Green and Blue channels.
And just have a high old time if you want to, or you could say, another way to work, if you know your press isn't quite able to retain in an absolute white like that, and let's say something like 250, you know from just experience with working with your press, that an RGB value of about 250 per channel ends up going to white, and that will allow you to keep your highlights more easily than you could just go ahead and map your colors a little differently here. So you can map your shadows to 3, let's say, and your highlights 2. It would be probably higher than that, probably be more like 253, let's say. By the way I should tell you, I was modifying those values from the keyboard using the up and down arrow keys, so you can change these values across the board using the up and down arrow keys.
When you are working with any of the black or white points, whether input levels or output levels, the up and down arrow keys are going to change the value in increments of 1. If you press Shift along with one of these values, you'll change value by increments of 10, to this Shift+Down arrow and Shift+Up arrow, and then with gamma you are changing hundreds. So up arrow will increase the value by hundredth, down arrow will decrease the value by hundredth, and if you add Shift with up or down arrow, you'll increase the value by a tenth or decrease the value by a tenth. So just good stuff to know. I'm going to go ahead and restore my output levels to 0 and 255, because I want to leave them alone, otherwise I'm happy with this thus far, except for the fact that I really don't like the effect I have come up with, because we still have this incredibly yellowish color cast going on inside this image that I want to correct for.
So far we have only modified contrast. When you are modifying contrast that's all you want to do, you can apply a composite modification to the RGB channel right there, supposedly channel for the RGB composite image, but if you want to adjust for color cast which is something that we need to do, then you need to actually look at the individual channels and apply different modifications to different channels, and that is something that we are going to do in the very next exercise.
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