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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, we're going to take a look at the lightening blend modes inside of Photoshop. Not lightning, but lightening, and those are the third group of blend modes, these guys right here, starting with the Lighten blend mode, of course. Alright, so here I am working inside the Sky & statute.psd document. I want you to click on the Gradient layer and turn it on, make it visible, so that it's active and visible here. This is the white-to-black Gradient layer. I want to go ahead and drop out all those blacks, just keep the whites, and blend them in with the Background layer. I'm going to do that using these lightening blend modes. So for starters, let's go ahead and switch to the first and simplest of the bunch, which is the Lighten mode.
In this case, we're keeping the colors that are lighter inside the Gradient layer than the colors in the background. Wherever the background is lighter, it shows through instead. And this is happening on a channel-by-channel basis, so we may end up getting some different color transitions going on, some wayward color transitions. If you don't want those wayward colors, and you'd rather calculate your lighter colors on a composite basis, then you can switch from Lighten to the new, and misplaced, Lighter Color function down here at the bottom of the Blend Mode pop-up menu, at least inside this version of Photoshop CS3.
And you'll end up with some harsh transitions, but you'll also end up keeping colors on a composite basis. Notice that we don't get any color interaction going on this time around. Alright, so while that's interesting, I don't think it's good-looking in the case of this image. So let's switch to the creme de la creme of the lightening functions, and that is the Screen mode. The Screen mode is to the lightening modes what the Multiply mode is to the darkening modes, that is, it's the mode to turn to when in doubt.
So I'll go ahead and choose Screen, and it ends up creating a nice, smooth, even transition. Notice that we don't see any darker colors going on, the blacks are totally dropped out, all the darker grays are dropped out as well, and we just end up with a smooth white gradient that's dissipating into nothingness over here on the right-hand side of the image. So there's a lot of math going on under the hood here. But this time, the Screen mode, unlike Multiply, the Screen mode is not named after the math. Instead it's named after the analogy that's at play, the real-world analogy. So imagine this, imagine that the Gradient layer has been printed on one slide, like a 35 mm slide, and the Background layer has been printed on another slide, and we take these two slides and we put them in separate projectors, and we shine both projectors at the same screen. That's what's going on with the Screen blend mode.
So as a result, we get a uniformly lighter effect, because we have two different projectors with two different light sources going on there. And we end up with just this wonderful, smooth, beautiful transition. Alright, let's say that's not enough. You want something with more punch. Well you've got these punchier options in the form of the dodge functions. You've got Color Dodge, which is going to punch up the highlights, probably blow them out a little bit, and give you some very hypersaturated colors. If those colors are too saturated, then you can switch to the Linear Dodge function, which is going to back off the midtones a little bit and deliver brighter highlights as well.
Now bear in mind that the dodge functions are a lot like the burn functions in that the Fill value behaves differently when one of these options is selected than the Opacity value does. Just to refresh your memory here, I'll go ahead and switch back to the Blend mode keys.psd document that's there inside of that 15 Blend Modes folder. And I've turned on the fill opacity layer so that you can see the highlights over those blend modes that are affected differently by Fill and Opacity, and sure enough, Color Dodge and Linear Dodge rank among those functions.
I'll switch back to this image here, and just for the sake of demonstration I'll press Shift+4 in order to back off this effect, in order to back off the Fill value to 40%. Notice now we get a much more agreeable, I think, effect assigned to the Gradient layer. Alright, but that's not what I want. I'm going to go ahead and undo that Fill value, and I'm going to press Shift+Alt+S, or Shift+Option+S, for the Screen mode. The Screen mode is so great that I recommend you assign that keyboard shortcut to memory. So once again, that's Shift+Alt+S on the PC, Shift+Option+S on the Mac.
Then press the 6 key in order to reduce the Opacity of the Gradient layer to 60%, and that is our image so far. In the next exercise, we'll take a look at the next group of blend modes, which are the contrast modes.
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