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Photoshop Tricks, Part 1

For a humorous approach to touching up images in Photoshop, check out Gary Bouton's tips and tricks. He covers how to use Photoshop to firm up your subject's neckline with painless nipping and tucking, how to create images from text, how to work with an image's color palette using practical techniques and more. (From Inside Photoshop CS, Sams, ISBN: 0672326442.)

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By: Sams Publishing
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 41
August 25, 2004
  1. · Photoshop Tricks, Part 1
  2. · Trick 2: Creating an Image Out of Text
  3. · Trick 3: Borrowing an Image's Color Palette
  4. · Posterized Piper
  5. · Trick 4: Removing Fringing from Leaves
  6. · Touching up the Image
  7. · More Touch Ups
  8. · Other Selection Techniques

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Photoshop Tricks, Part 1 - Trick 3: Borrowing an Image's Color Palette
(Page 3 of 8 )

Borrowing an Image's Color Palette

Actually, you'll learn how to steal an image's colors in this exercise because the word borrowing strongly suggests that you will put something back when you're done.

Okay, here is the scenario: First, you cannot copyright or trademark the use of certain colors. You can get in a lot of trouble borrowing corporate colors for your own logo, but I'm talking about a beautiful autumn day or, in the case of this example, a poster that uses such nice colors together that you would like to sample and repurpose the color combination.

Palletizing the colors in an image is easy. The hard part is knowing what to do with the colors when you're done! Gradients can command attention by using a color "set" like you create in this exercise, and frankly, there's a lot of mediocre black-and-white art—at least in my shoebox under the bed—that could get some new life pumped into it by the application of an interesting color palette.

Sampling and Downsampling a Bunch of Colors

I'm going to make this trick as simple and as ideal and as unrealistic as possible because I want you to understand what's going on and not necessarily how I set up the trick. So, suppose that the Getaway.psd image has the colors you want neatly located on a layer. Here's how the tune goes:

Copying and Downsampling Colors
  1. Open the Getaway.psd image from the Examples\Chap24 folder on the companion CD. Figure 24.9 shows the image in black and white, but check out the image file and the color section of this book to get a nice idea of the colors as they'll appear on your screen.


Figure 24.9 --The word Tropical contains about 2,275 unique colors, but this number is the result of the blends between colors. Actually, the text contains only about 20 striking colors. And you want them!

  1. On the Layers palette, right-click (Macintosh: hold Ctrl and click) on the Tropical layer, and choose Duplicate Layer. In the Duplicate Layer dialog box, under Destination, choose New from the Document drop-down menu. Click on OK, and the text appears in an image window the same size as the Getaway.psd. Crop the image.

  2. Choose Image, Adjustments, Posterize. Now, I read the Photoshop documentation, and it says that the Posterize command will take as many colors as you enter in the number box, times the bits per channel. So, as you can see in Figure 24.10—you should be doing this, too—a Posterize amount of 3 will yield an image that has, um, 24 colors!


Figure 24.10 -- You still retain a lot of the original colors, even though some colors shift, when you apply Posterize to a 24-bit RGB image.

Note - Color sampling I consider this the hard but more accurate way of color sampling: You start with a blank Swatches palette (provided as Blank.aco in the Chap24 folder), use the Eyedropper tool to sample a color, drop it on the Swatches palette, and then name the color. If you hold down the Alt(Opt) key when you click on an empty spot of the Swatches palette, and then name the color.

But then again, the trick here is to glom sample colors you like in one fell swoop, so these steps are legit and worth knowing.

  1. Choose Image, Mode, Indexed Color. Accept the Exact setting in the dialog box, and click on OK. You might notice that the exact number of colors Photoshop reports can be anywhere from 16 to 24 or so. This technique is inexact, so the colors you wind up with depend on the color profile you have set for Photoshop. But you've still sampled a bunch of colors you like, and now it's time to save them.

  2. Choose Image, Mode, Color Table, and then click the Save button to save the color table as getaway.act to your hard disk (remember which folder you save the file in). Click Save.

  3. To load the color table, click on the menu flyout on the Swatches palette (press F6), and then choose Replace Colors. Then navigate to the getaway.act file; make sure the Files of Type at the bottom of the dialog box is set to Color Table (*.ACT), or you won't be able to see your file. Click on the getaway.act file, and click Load.

  4. Press Ctrl(Command)+S; keep the file open.

You might ask yourself, "Terrific, Gare, but now what can I do with this color table?" Glad you asked. You can now posterize a grayscale image and then apply the colors you glommed in step 5 in this exercise.

This chapter is from Inside Photoshop CS, by Gary Bouton (Sams, 2004, ISBN: 0672326442). Check it out at your favorite bookstore today.

Buy this book now.

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