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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 exercise I'm going to introduce you to the single-shot sharpeners, which are three sharpening functions that will sharpen your image automatically. They are not smart or intelligent or anything like those auto-commands that we saw in the previous chapter, auto-tone, and auto-contrast and color. Those guys are intelligent commands. These single-shot sharpeners, they are dumbbells. I actually don't even begin to recommend them, but in the name of comprehensive covers, I want to show them to you. We are working inside of the Orange on blue.jpg file, and I have gone ahead and restored the original version of the snake, of course, found inside the 14_sharpen folder.
You go up to the Filter menu, as I was telling you a hotchpotch of different command activity here. The best of which are the edge detection functions, and many of the edge detection functions reside right here inside the Sharpen submenu, and we have got Sharpen, Sharpen Edges, and Sharpen More. Along with two commands that have ellipsis after them, thereby indicating that they will bring up dialog boxes, and these guys are by far the better commands, they are much better than the single-shot dudes right there. They include Smart Sharpen. It's just kind of a super sharpener, it just gives you more control over the sharpening process, and then we've got Unsharp Mark, old schools, it's from the old days. Smart Sharpen is more recent command, I think it came around in Photoshop CS2, and Unsharp Mark has been around since Photoshop was a baby, and I'll tell you all about how those commands work.
But let's start with these, because they'd seem like when you are first playing around with Photoshop and you discovered sharpening, which is really a nice day. These commands are the ones that you lied on. But after a few weeks, you discover, I want you to discover right now that they are no good, but anyway, sharpen, I'm going to apply the sharpen command, and that's the degree of sharpness that is applied. We saw in the previous exercise, we used sharpen, and by the way, whoever you choose from the Filter menu, goes up to the top of the Filter menu, so you can repeat it if you want to. Don't do that though with the single-shot guys. Don't say, well gosh, that's not sharp enough. I'm going to go ahead and apply some more sharpening.
Then you are going to start really ruining your image if you go that route. You are going to make it more tactile though, but you are also bring out the green behind the snake here, so this would be the digital noise inside of the photograph that's showing up in this plain blue background. So everything ends up getting sharpened inside the image, well, good detail and bad detail, that's just something to bear in mind as you are working with the sharpening functions. All right, so just a little bit of sharpness gets applied. I'm going to go ahead and back step, Ctrl+Alt+Z, Ctrl+ Alt+Z a couple of times. That would be Command+Option+Z, Command+Option+Z on the Mac.
Go to Filter menu. Let's try this time Sharpen More, which is third in the list, but second in terms of its behavior here. And that's going to apply more sharpening at a time, than the sharpen function does, but how much? Basically, the problem here is you have no control. You are just accepting this default setting, and by the way, as I said not a smart command, not an intelligent command, isn't making any decisions based on the composition of the image. It's just doing its thing, same thing to every single image out there. So that's horrible.
Anyway, let's go ahead and undo, that and if you really want hoard, I mean in terms of, it just not really doing what you wanted to do. You can try Sharpen Edges, and the point of sharpen edges is to avoid sharpening the digital noise, and sharpen just the good details inside the image. Well, if I choose Sharpen Edges, notice almost nothing happens. I'm going to go ahead and zoom in on the snake, so this is before, notice that, and this is after. So just a little bit of activity on the top of this eye and around the snout and so on. So basically according to Sharpen Edges, there really aren't any good edges inside of this image.
It's prejudice against snakes, that's what I think. So I'm going to go ahead and undo that badness that we just applied, and just to make sure that I'm not leaving any residual sharpness, any, because I can't even tell whether that was applied or not. I'm just going to go down here to the Revert command under the File menu, and revert to the original version of my image. All right, so those are the single- shot sharpeners, I don't recommend them. It's not necessarily because they are going to hurt your image or anything like that, it's just that you have no control, that's my point. Whereas, you have lots of control if you choose one of this commands, and we are going to start with the old school command, Unsharp Mask, and it's going to become your friend, even though it has a strange name inside the next exercise.
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