Adobe Photoshop CS comes with an amazing asortment of tools to help you edit your images. The latest version includes a wide range of features to make things easier, but how can you get the most out of it? In this first part of Chapter 5 from Mordy Golding's Adobe Creative Suite, (Sams, ISBN: 0672325918), you'll learn how to use masks, layers, filters, feathers, and more.
Using Adobe Photoshop CS, Part 1 - Selecting a Range of Colors (Page 7 of 15 )
Although the Magic Wand tool is cool and all, it doesn't really provide the user (that's you) with any useful feedback. It's basically hit and miss-you click, see what gets selected, deselect, change the tolerance level a bit, and then try again.
Let me direct your attention, if you will, to the Color Range feature (Select, Color Range). Here you can use an Eyedropper tool to click on parts of an image and get a preview so that you can see what will be selected before you actually make the selection (see Figure 5.27). Above that, you have options such as Fuzziness (I love saying that word), which can control how sensitive the feature is to color shifts. Using the Select pop-up menu, you can choose to automatically select ranges of predefined colors, highlights, shadows, midtones, and even out-of-gamut colors (see Figure 5.28).
Figure 5.27 Using the Color Range dialog.
Figure 5.28 Choosing from various selection options in the Color Range dialog.
For even better previewing, you can choose to preview your document window itself with different viewing options that are found in the Selection Preview pop-up menu. Clicking on the OK button will close the Color Range dialog and return you to your document with your new selection waiting for you.
Ever see a nice vignette photograph with a soft edge (see Figure 5.29) and wonder how they did that? Wonder no more. Until now, you've been creating selections that have hard edges. Using a technique called feathering, you can specify a gradual edge for your selection instead of a hard one. You can specify how soft your edges are by indicating how many pixels you want your feather to be. For each of the selection tools, you can specify a feather amount in the Tool Options bar. Doing so will apply the feather to your selection as you make it. Alternatively, you can apply a feather by making a selection, choosing Select, Feather, and then entering a feather radius (see Figure 5.30).
Figure 5.29 A photograph with a vignette.
Figure 5.30 Choosing to specify a feather for your selection.
After you apply a feather to a selection, it stays until you discard the selection. Additionally, the feather isn't editable, meaning you can't change the value. So if you apply a 5-pixel feather to a selection, you can't then decide to change it to an 8-pixel feather. You basically have to discard the selection, create a new one, and then apply an 8-pixel feather.
Tip -When you're unsure how much of a feather you want, save your selection before you apply a feather (saving selections is covered later in this chapter). This way you can always reapply the feather if necessary.
Here's an important fact: Feathers are calculated using pixels, not units that are absolute. Because the size of a pixel is dependent on the resolution of your file, a 10-pixel feather might be very soft in a 72ppi file, yet barely recognizable in a 300ppi file (see Figure 5.31). As you get experience in working with feathered selections, you'll get a better feel for how much is right for each task.
Figure 5.31 A 10-pixel feather in a 72dpi image (left) and a 300dpi image (right).
There are many uses for feathering selections. As we mentioned earlier, they can be used to help create soft-edged masks to create vignettes. They can also be used for creating soft cast shadows, for glow effects, for blending photos into each other, and more. I find that they are most useful for selections that you make for purposes of photo retouching. If you have an area that needs an adjustment such as a color shift, doing so with a regular selection will create a visible line that shows where you made the correction. Using a feathered selection, however, will result in a seamless correction that no one will be able to see (see Figure 5.32).
Figure 5.32 The paint dab in the middle was adjusted in this photo. The image on the left had a feather applied to the selection before the retouching was done, and the image on the right did not.
Tool Options for Everyone -The Tool Options bar is pretty handy and gives quick access to the most commonly used options for each Photoshop tool, but the mostbrilliantpart of it is something called Tool Presets, which allow you to save different settings that you use often. For example, say I often use a feathered 4x5 aspect ratio setting for my Rectangular Marquee. I can save that as a Tool Preset and access those settings with one click of a button. You can store many of these tool presets, saving you valuable time as you work on your files.
Of course, these presets aren't limited to the selection tools-you can save tool presets for just about any Photoshop tool. You do so by choosing the settings you want in the Tool Options bar, clicking on the tool icon (the one that looks like a pop-up button), and then clicking on the Create New Tool Preset button. Alternatively, you can choose New Tool Preset from the flyout menu (see Figure 5.33). Give your new tool preset a descriptive name (otherwise you won't remember what each one is), and it will appear in the list from now on (these are application preferences, meaning that even if you close the file you're working on, or open a new or different file, your tool presets will still be present).
This chapter is from Adobe Creative Suite, by Mordy Golding (Sams, 2003, ISBN: 0672325918). Check it out at your favorite bookstore today. Buy this book now.