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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.
I've waited until now, until the advanced portion of this series to tell you about Layer Effects and Layer Styles because they are so doggone powerful. So some of you may be thinking, "Deke, really, honestly, we had to wait till now to learn about, for example, Drop Shadow?" And the answer is, "Absolutely, sure." If you want to create a really quick and dirty basic Drop Shadow, you can do it pretty easily by going down here to the FX menu, choosing Drop Shadow and entering a few values and you're done. But if you really want to master Drop Shadows and other layer effects, this is the time to do it, right now I tell you and master them, we will, inside of this chapter. Now I'm looking at an image called Max in kitchen.tif. After I got done shooting the photo I was so tickled by it that I was moved to create an elaborate composition around a product called Happy Juice that makes children happy. It is called Happy Juice.psd, the file is, i.e., found inside the 21_layer_styles folder.
Make sure that the Background layer is selected; it shows the sky from the PhotoSpin Image Library, thank you very much! Let's go back to Max. Now at this point I could tell you, all right, go ahead and select Max. Get out your Lasso tool, but obviously you won't get a very good selection that way, which is why I've created a mask for you for Max, here inside the Channels palette, there it is. We're going to be discussing masking really soon now. It's coming right up in the next and final portion of this series. It's going to be the first chapter, you'll see.
But here's the mask, so I'm just going to Click on it so you can see it. If you zoom in, you'll see that it's a darn accurate mask. Look at those little hairs on Max's head. So I tried really hard to make this mask as detailed as humanly possible. But you'll see it's not quite good enough, they never are. You always have to make some additional modifications so that this character that you're taking out of one environment looks like it grew up in another environment. And you'll see what I mean in just a moment. So let's go back to the RGB composite image right there and this is a fairly scary view of my child sort of the jaws view with his teeth looming at us, there, that's a little better. Then I want you to press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac and Click on the thumbnail for the Mask channel right there and that will load up that Selection Outline. Then I'm going to have you press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac to temporarily get the Move tool and then drag Max up to the Title tab up here.
I'll do it with you, there we go, and then it will switch over, wait for it to switch over, of course. Then drag your cursor back into the Image window and drop Max into place. Now it doesn't really matter where exactly you drag him, because you're going to have to reposition him no matter what. To help you with that positioning, I've gone ahead and created some guides, Ctrl+Semicolon please or Command+ Semicolon on the Mac. We'll view those guides or you could go up there and dig through the View menu and find the Show Guides command. I'm going to zoom in on Max a little bit here and we want him to be touching all three of these guides and snapping is a little broken in CS4, I think, I've mentioned this.
So if you Ctrl+Drag or Command+Drag Max around, you're not going to get any snapping action whatsoever. So you just have to eyeball it, and actually, I'm going to have to zoom out so that I can see the elbows there. So the better way to work, oh really, your only way to work if you want any snapping to occur and now you're going to get a lot of snapping is to go ahead and switch manually to the Move tool. So go ahead and Click on it or press the V key and then drag Max into place until you see a snapping cursor, which isn't really much of an indicator because you see the snapping cursor like incessantly. Max is constantly snapping the things according to the cursor anyway, and I believe that's because he is snapping to elements on other layers because we've got a lot of layers going on.
Anyway, you should see, he is touching all three guidelines. So when he gets in this approximate position here, release him, and let him lie and then, that is, lie in the composition. That lie to us. No, Max, don't do that. Ctrl+Semicolon, Command+Semicolon on the Mac and then zoom on in and you will see what I was talking about. His hairs look pretty good. I mean, we've got some fine hair detail, but over here on this side in particular, they don't look really like they belong here. You know what I mean? There is just a lack of credibility at work inside of this composition thus far.
So we're going to fix that credibility. We are going to make Max a credible part of this design starting with a Drop Shadow of all things. I know that doesn't make sense. How would he cast the Drop Shadow on the sky? But it's going to look great and that's what really counts. So we're going to make that drop shadow in the very next exercise.
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