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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 first exercise I'm going to do two things. First of all, I'm going to tour you through the layered composition that we're going to be working in over the course of this chapter, and then I'm going to try to give you a sense for the power of Parametric Blending, including the two Opacity values and the 25 blend modes available to us from the Layers palette. I would like you to start things off by opening this image. It's called Sky & statue.psd. Notice that currently just one layer is active and visible, and that's it, which makes touring the document a heck of a lot easier. This landscape comes to us from photographer Shaun Lowe of iStockPhoto.com. Totally opaque, it's the background layer and nothing below it, nothing to blend with.
So other things can blend with it, but it can't blend with anything below. Next, I'm going to move up the stack here by pressing Alt+Right Bracket or Option+Right Bracket on the Mac, and that does two things. That selects the next layer up, and it goes in and turns it on and automatically turns the other layer off. It always behaves that way as long as just the active layer is visible and nothing else. That's Alt+Right Bracket on the PC, Option+Right Bracket on the Mac. We see, it's fairly lackluster gradient, it just goes from white, in the lower left quadrant, to black in the upper right corner, and it's a linear gradient.
No big deal there. Next in the stack, if I press Alt+Right Bracket or Option+Right Bracket again, we're seeing the contents of the statue layer. The statue was carved by Michelangelo and it comes from a detail of the tomb of Giuliano de'Medici, for what that's worth. Notice this checkerboard pattern here. That indicates transparency. So we can only mix the statue where it's visible. Where it's invisible, it's always going to remain invisible. So you can't apply opacity or blend modes to the checkerboard area, because there is nothing to apply it to. There's no colored pixels in that region.
Again, press Alt+Right Bracket or Option+Right Bracket on the Mac, and we're seeing this kind of marble texture right here on the texture layer. This is a Dynamic Fill layer incidentally. I created it by clicking on this little Black/White icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. Then I chose the Pattern command, and that does create a Dynamic Fill layer that happens to be made up of a repeating tile pattern. To take a look at what that tile pattern is you just have to double-click in the thumbnail for the layer. It brings up the Pattern Fill dialog box. You can hover over that pattern and its going to tell me it's Blistered Paint; this is one of the many patterns that ships with Photoshop, and I've gone ahead and scaled it to 300%. The result doesn't look too hot, but it wills, it's going to service very well. None of these layers is anything to write home about, but once we start combining them with Opacity and blend modes, they're really going to shine.
All right. The least impressive layer of all coming right up here. Alt+Right Bracket or Option+Right Bracket on the Mac to expose the Slight Blue layer. Its sort of a blue gray gradient, and it goes from totally opaque over here on the left hand side of the screen; it's once again a linear gradient, and it becomes completely transparent over here on the right hand side of the image as indicated by the checkerboard pattern. So that's pretty ugly. Again, it will look great, but right now, yuck! Then Alt+Right Bracket, Option+Right Bracket on the Mac to select the Text Elements group, and I'm going to have to twirl that one open and then turn on the layers inside of it.
You can see, this is editable text by the way that spells out Michelangelo, and you may or may not get a text warning. For some reason I didn't on this document, so you may not either, who knows. But if so, you just press the U key for update. Then I went ahead and rasterized the text, flipped it, applied Motion Blur to it, as you can see here in order to create this sort of reflection below the letters. That's them. That's everybody we got. Big deal, big whoop. Well, actually, kind of is. If we bring up the Layer Comps palette right here, which I'm going to do, by clicking on this Layer Comps icon, you can also go up to the Window menu and choose Layer Comps if you prefer. Notice I have just two layer comps setup.
I'm going to be showing you how to create your own layer comps and how to manage them and why you work with them and why they are so great, especially from my perspective of trying to train, in a future chapter. But let me go ahead and make the palette a little taller and I'm going to twirl these guys open. Notice like so. Actually, I guess I didn't mean to make it any taller, I needed it to be wider, like this. Notice when I twirl them open, I can see descriptions of each one of my layer comps. So Opaque layers. The first one says Background. And Statue layer's visible, other layers hidden, all layers Normal blend mode, Opacity 100%.
You can add a description to a layer comp by double clicking, not on the name, but elsewhere in the layer comp to bring up the Layer Comps Option dialog box and then entering a comment down here in this comment field. All right, anyway. So sure enough, if I click in front of that layer comp, that's what we're seeing, we're seeing the Statue layer, we're seeing the background behind it, all other layers are hidden, and everything set to the Normal blend mode. Next, we've got blend mode madness, which is just one variety of what we can do with blend modes. All layers are visible, subject to various blend modes and opacity settings. Let's check that one out. It looks like this. That's essentially the final effect that we're trying to create.
It really is amazing that this is all happening inside one layer document. Not a single pixel is changing from one layer comp to another. All we're doing is changing these parametric settings, which are these Blend Nodes, for example. So if I were to select the Slight blue layer and notice its set to Hue, and Opacity of 100%, but I could easily change that to some other blend mode and get a completely different effect anytime I liked, and then come back to Hue, totally nondestructive. There is no way you can harm a layered image using blend modes or Opacity values, and you can change them anytime you like.
The difficulty is that you look at that Blend Mode list and you have no idea what anything means. Most of the names are pretty darn arbitrary. They've grown up over time. They made sense to some programmer when they were added. Many of them have been just sort of cobbled together here and there and so on. But they are grouped logically, and once you understand how they work, you can make really nice use of them. Naturally, I'll be showing you how everything works over the course of this chapter.
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