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The third part of the popular and comprehensive series Photoshop CS6 One-on-One follows industry pro Deke McClelland as he plunges into the inner workings of Adobe Photoshop. He shows how to adjust your color, interface, and performance settings to get the best out of your images and the most out of Photoshop, and explores the power of Smart Objects, Shadows/Highlights, and Curves for making subtle, nondestructive adjustments. The course dives into Camera Raw to experiment with the editing toolset there, and returns to Photoshop to discuss toning, blur, and blend modes. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details and reducing noise, as well as creating quick and accurate selections with Quick Mask, Color Range, and Refine Edge commands.
Now I would be a remiss if I failed to mention that just like Brightness/Contrast, and Levels, Curves offers its own unique auto function, and it's new to CS6. So we might as well see how it compares to the other two and how it might serve as a jumping off point for a custom correction. So I have opened this image that we first saw in Chapter 12 of the Intermediate course and I'm going to duplicate it a couple of times by going up to the Image menu and choosing the Duplicate command and then I will call this image Auto Levels and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac, Zoom on in, then create another Duplicate by going back to that same command and this time I'll call my image Auto Curves and press Enter or Return on the Mac and zoom in as well.
All right, let's start off with the first image here and I will drop down to the black/white icon and choose Brightness/Contrast and I'll go ahead and click on Auto, it's going to take a moment to calculate, and then you'll see the correction in the background, and quite honestly for this particular exercise, we don't need a big huge properties panel. So that's the Brightness/Contrast correction. I am going to switch over to the Auto Levels image, drop down to the black/white icon and choose Levels and then I will click on its Auto button and we end up with this variation.
And then I'll switch over to the final Image drop down to the black/white icon and choose Curves and I will click on its Auto button, and we end up with this. So for the sake of comparison here, this is the automatic Brightness/Contrast variation. This is the Automatic Levels variation, not nearly so garish, probably the most successful of the bunch where this particular image is concerned, and this is the Auto Curves variation. Now naturally, everything we are seeing is specific to this particular photograph, your results may vary dramatically, but the real point is you may luck out and Photoshop may do a great job or what Photoshop comes up with may be a great jumping off point.
Now when I corrected this image back in Chapter 12 using Levels, I had to apply two applications of a Levels Adjustment layer. One, across the entire image and another just to brighten up the shadow regions and the awnings on these wooden shutters here, whereas, I can correct this whole image using one pass of curves, as I'm about to show you. So I will go ahead and double-click on the thumbnail for this Curves 1 layer, and I will also increase the size of my Properties panel, so that I can take in the entire curves graph. I am going to start things out by dragging this white slider triangle, until I get to an input value of 194.
So I am mapping everything, that's 194 or brighter to 255 which of course is white. Then I will press the minus key in order to select that bright point right there. Notice that it has an Input of 173, I am going to press the left arrow key a few times to back it off to 170, and then I will press Shift+ Down arrow to take the Output value down to 220. All right, so that takes down some of the heat inside of those highlights, but now I need to brighten the shadows, and I will do so by switching over to the Target Adjustment tool and I'm going to search for a very dark color like right about there, you can see that my cursor is very close to the top of the image, above the wooden shutters and I found an Input of 14 at this location and I'm going to drag up in until I get to an Output of 28, should do the trick.
And then I'll move my cursor back into the Properties panel, so I can see those values and I'll press the left arrow key in order to nudge that Input value to 15. So Input should be 15, Output should be 28. Then I wanted to open up the shadows a bit, by taking this point right there, the point that Photoshop created automatically and I'm going to just kind of drag it up to graph to about this location, actually I want the Input value to be 96, so I will go and press the Right Arrow key a few times and an Output value of 115 is exactly what I'm looking for.
And that takes care of it, so I will go ahead and close the Properties panel, so we can see what we have done here. I will turned the Curves layer off, this is the before, dark low contrast version of the image, this is the after version of the image with more contrast. Now the thing about those kinds of radical curves adjustments, I will go and bring it back up here. Where you're brightening the shadows and then you're dimming the midtones and then you are brightening the highlights again, so you are going back and forth, is that they have a habit of reducing the Saturation of the colors, so we can end up with some drab images or patches of gray, you need to watch that.
But one way to solve the problem is to add a Vibrance layer. So I'll drop down to the black/white icon, click on it, choose Vibrance and I'm going to take that Vibrance value way up to 70, so I'm pressing Shift+Up arrow seven times in a row and we end up with this effect here. Now that looks great where the shutters are concerned and where the awning is concerned as well, but the colors are a little bit too hot in the bright sections of the wall. So we need to mask this Vibrance Adjustment using the opposite of Luminance Mask, which is a Density Mask.
Let me show you how that works. I'll Alt+Click or Opt+Click on the eye in front of background. Then I will go to the Channels panel, and you can see here that the Red Channel is the brightest, the Green channel starts darkening up and the Blue channel does the best job of showing us those shadow regions, regions that need more vibrancy. It shows them up the darkest and we have the most contrast across the entire image. So I will go ahead and Ctrl+Click or Cmd+ Click on the Blue Channel in order to load it as a selection, so we are selecting the highlights, deselecting the shadows, switch back to the RGB image, switch over to Layers panel, turn those layers back on by Alt+Clicking or Opt+Clicking on the eye in front of the background.
My Vibrance layer is selected and this time instead of clicking on the Add Layer Mask icon, I will press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and click on it. And that will go ahead and give us a layer mask that looks like this. Just go ahead and Alt+Click or Opt+Click on the layer Mask Thumbnail and you can see that we have an inverted version of that Blue Channel and that is what is meant by a Density Mask. That is we are masking the image based on ink density. All right, now I am going to increase the contrast of this mask by pressing Ctrl+L or Cmd+L on the Mac in order to bring up the Levels dialog box and I'll take this black slider up to about 60.
The point in which the Histogram begins, and then I'll click on the white point value and press Shift+Down arrow a few times, until we really dramatically open up that shadow detail, that is to say the highlights that we are using to select the shadows, and then happens at about 195. So 60 for the black point value, 195 for the white point value, that's it, click OK and then Alt+Click or Opt+Click on the layer Mask Thumbnail again, in order to achieve the effect you see before you. All right, and just to see what we've been able to achieve, I will Alt+Click or Opt+Click on the eye in front of the background, that's the original version of the image, and this is the corrected version of the image based in small part on the Auto button, that is included along with Curves and in larger part on your ability to edit those Curve Settings, anyway you like.
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