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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.
This exercise is an introduction. I'll introduce you to two things actually. First I want to show you the layered composition that we'll be modifying over the course of this chapter and then secondly, I want to give the most rudimentary sense possible of the degree to which you can blend layers using the two Opacity settings and the 20 plus blend modes available to you inside Photoshop. So let's start things off by opening this image right here. It's called skyandstatue.PSD. It's available to you inside the 15 Blend Modes folder that's inside the exercise files folder.
And you should just see one layer on screen right now and that is a sunset sky captured by photographer Sean Lowe In order to see the other layers go ahead and bring up the Layers palette either by clicking on its tab or pressing the F7 key and you can see that there is the background layer, visible by itself, a handful of other layers that are turned off right now. Let's cycle between these layers and get a sense of what each one of these layers looks like on its own by pressing Alt along with the Right bracket key that would be the Option+Right bracket on the Mac.
By pressing Alt+Right bracket I advance to the gradient layer right here, which features an independent layer on which I drew a white to black gradient, white starting in the lower left region of the image and black in the upper right region. Now I'll press Alt+Right bracket again to see this statue image right here and this is a statue by Michelangelo, from the tomb of Giuliano De'Medici as it turns out. Set against a transparent background so wherever you see checkerboard inside Photoshop that indicates transparency. Now every single one of these layers right now is set to the Normal blend mode with an Opacity and Fill value, both values, set to 100%. I'll be explaining what these values mean in subsequent exercises, but for now just note that that's telling us that every single pixel in the active layer is as opaque as it can possibly be. So in other words all the pixels inside of the statue's head are opaque in the case of this layer, and all the statues outside of the statue's head are completely transparent, because that's the way these pixels are hardwired.
Now you can modify things on the fly by changing the blend mode and the Opacity value and the Fill value, as we will see later. Alright, now let's press Alt+Right bracket once again in order to switch to the Texture layer. This is a pattern layer that I created by clicking on this little black-white icon, choosing the Pattern command and then selecting one of the predefined patterns that ships along with Photoshop. And this one ends up looking like sort of a marble texture. It doesn't look like much right now, but it will look like a lot once we start blending it with the other layers, again using blend modes.
All right. Again I'll press Alt+Right bracket to advance to this layer. It's called 'slight blue' and it features a very low saturation blue-color expressed as a gradient that fades to transparency. Once again relegated to its own layer. So wherever we see the checkerboard pattern that indicates transparent or translucent pixels. Finally, if I press Alt+Right bracket once again I'll advance to the Text elements group and now I'll twirl that one open and click in front of each one of these layers right here in order to make of the layers visible and we can see is some text that says Michelangelo, with a little bit of a cast shadow underneath that I created using the Motion Blur filter and I'll show you how I achieved that in a later exercise but for now, just note that this is live, editable text so you may get a message when you first open up this image that asks you if you want to go and update the text layers for vector output.
If you do see that message and if you ever see in the future, just go ahead and click on the Update button. Alright. Anyway I'm going to Shift+Tab back my palette, so I can see them on screen. Now that we've reviewed all the base layers that are available to us, let's go and check how we might go about mixing and matching those layers. Go to the Window menu and choose the Layer Comps palette or you can press that keyboard shortcut that I gave you with my Deke keys, Alt+F7 or Option+F7 on the Mac. Again that keyboard shortcut is only available to you if you loaded Deke keys.
And I'll get a big tall Layer Comps palette to the left of my other palettes. I'm going to go ahead and move this guy. I'll drag the Layer Comps tab, and I'm going to drop it underneath right there, underneath the Action item, that little Play button there that's inside of my History and Actions palette group and then I'll click on Layer Comps in order to make it visible. Notice that I've made my Layer Comps palette extra wide and there's a reason for that. I've got two Layer Comps inside of this palette that I've created in advance and saved along with this image.
One's called 'opaque layers' and the other ones called 'blend mode madness' and if you twirl the items open, you will see descriptions of each one of these Layer Comps. I created these descriptions in advance so notice that the opaque layers item says that the background and statue layers are visible. Other layers are hidden and all layers are set to the Normal blend mode with an Opacity of 100% and if you want to see that, just click in front of opaque layers in order to see what I'm talking about. That is indeed the saved composition and by the way, to create a comment like this so that you can tell other people how your layered compositions work, all you need to do is double-click your Layer Comp and enter your comment text into the comment field.
It's that simple. All right. I'm going to cancel out of there and bring back up my Layer Comps palette. Now the only difference between this comp right here and this comp right there, blend mode madness, which is all layers turned on, so all layers visible, subject to various blend modes and Opacity settings. The only difference is that I have applied a bunch of different blend modes, a bunch of different Opacity settings and also there's an Outer Glow layer style going on as well, but I haven't modified a single pixel inside the image. So big difference between where we're starting and where we're going to end up, all thanks to these parametric effects. That is to say- these editable parameters that are made available to us as Opacity settings and blend modes inside Photoshop.
All rights. So now you have a sense of what we're going to be doing. What I want you to do is click in front of the opaque layer's Layer Comp, then go ahead and tuck the Layer Comps palette away so that we can just see the Michelangelo head set against the sunset sky background. And that's where we're going to start things off, beginning with the next exercise.
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