Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Dodging the highlights, part of Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics.
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Here I am working inside the face in the dark.tif image and I have made a few alterations. I duplicated the red channel, I renamed it My Mask and I went ahead and enhanced the contrast of this channel using the Levels command, but we still have some more contrast enhancement to go because after all this is our destination, this mask channel is what we are trying create here. So I have got to take these grays, this entire region of grays right here and somehow make them white, something that I couldn't do inside Levels command.
If I try to accomplish this in Levels then I would have ended up obliterating the good transitions that I have inside of this image, particularly this region up here where we have these very fine strands of hair going on. It's just not worth rushing things don't you know, might as well enhance the contrast one little baby step at a time in order to achieve a desirable beautiful wonderfully accurate mask. So I am going to go in and selectively brighten this dark gray hair using the Dodge tool, you may recall the Dodge tool from the previous chapter, we are going to be using it again.
Go ahead and click on the Dodge tool to select it. And I am going to increase the size of my cursor a little bit so it's about a 150 pixels here. Now recall that you have a few range options available to you. The default setting is midtones is a great settling when you are working inside of a continuous tone photograph, but when you are working inside of a mask, it's not such a good setting. Check this out, if I start brushing in the hairs using the midtone setting, I make those hairs thick and gloppy and they start encroaching on the background, notice that.
So they are getting way too thick, way too gooey and the background is going away and we are ending up creating some harsh icky transitions. So let's go ahead and back step to get rid of that dodging. We certainly don't want to switch over to shadows. If I were to dodge the shadows then I would lighten the background exclusively without affecting the hair barely at all, alright, so I will undo that modification as well. The setting you want to choose is Highlight, so go ahead and choose Highlight. By dodging the highlights, we protect the shadows, which is the background and we focus our attention on the hair, alright.
So I am going to paint inside this area of the hair once in order to start brightening it up and then I am going to reduce my exposure value, notice that it starts out at 50, I am going to reduce it to 20% by pressing the 2 key and now I am going to paint over this region some more. Now it's going to take several passes in order to get things looking the way you want them to. So be patient, this is my third brush stroke, this is my fourth one. Make sure to be patient, lot of things happen, don't rush it, because if you start rushing it, then you are going to lighten up the background and that's certainly not something that you want to do.
Alright, I will paint in these hairs a little bit as well and that's pretty much the transitions that we are looking for at this point. You don't have to paint in these hairs, these little tiny hairs at the top, because they are already sharply focused, they already have a great degree of contrast, so leave them alone. We are just worried about getting these soft hair set up. Now you may also find it necessary to bolster the shadow detail to darken the background a little bit and if you want to do that then you would switch to the Burn tool and you would change the Burn tool range to Shadows like so.
Now go ahead and press the Esc key in order to deactivate the Shadows option, not necessary once again on the Mac. I will press the right bracket key a few times to make my brush larger and then I would pain in the shadows like so. But in our case, that's not such a good idea, notice what happened, I just paint away a bunch of hairs and those hairs are already delicate enough and more to the point, our background is already dark enough, so I will undo that modification just by pressing Ctrl+z. The next step is to get rid of all this other garbage over here and I don't mean to imply that her face is garbage, it's just that from a masking perceptive, we don't need it.
We have a nice gully here, nice alleyway between the good hair edges and this stuff that we need to get rid of. So let's go grab the Lasso tool, make sure that you are scrolled over so that you can see the far right side of the image. Grab the lasso and just generally select through this region, see that. And drag all the way up, and all the way over and down, around to encompass the entire top and right and bottom portions of this right half of the image.
Now that I have selected all the stuff that I wanted to delete, how do I delete it? Well normally, you could just press the Backspace or Delete key because normally the background color is white, but when you are working inside of an alpha channel, default background color is black and the default foreground color is white because Photoshop is making the assumption that you want to paint with white when you are painting in the image, when you are painting in the foreground and you want to paint with black when you are painting it away, so it makes a lot of sense actually, but you have to take different approach to deleting the selection.
Press Alt + backspace or Option, Delete in order to fill that selection with white. That's it folks, I am now going to press Ctrl+D, Command D on the Mac to get rid of that selection, check out this mask, it is awesome, you can zoom in on those hairs and you will see that you have some very natural soft transitions, a little bit noisy but it's matching the noise that's inherent inside the image, so that's actually a great thing. I am going to zoom out a little bit here and scroll to the top, check out those individual strands of hair, could that not be more awesome or what.
And if you are amazed by that, stay tuned because in the next exercise I am going to show you how to take off this wonderful mask that you have created and put it in play.
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.
- Understanding what Photoshop CS3 is and what it can do.
- Zooming, scrolling, and getting around an image.
- Making the most of the new-and-improved CS3 interface.
- Using Adobe Bridge to organize and manage images.
- Saving workspaces for maximum comfort and efficiency.
- Correcting colors using the Variations and Hue/Saturation commands.
- Taking on the professional-grade luminance editors, Levels and Curves.
- Resampling an image and selecting an interpolation setting.
- Cropping and straightening a photograph.