To get started, we need to open a photograph into Photoshop, preferably an image that has a good range of light-to-dark tones (you’ll see why this is later) and a decent range of colors to work with. Once you’ve opened your shot of choice, choose File > Automate > Perfect Effects.
Getting Familiar with Perfect Effects
When the Perfect Effects window opens, you will see a brand-new interface that utilizes a set of controls and panels that are very similar in appearance and organization to those found in Perfect Mask. Down the left side, there are basic preview manipulation tools and masking tools, at the bottom a series of preset categories and preview thumbnails, and down the right edge a group of panels that include a Loupe/Navigator, an Effects Stack and Effect Options (Figure 1).
Figure 1 The Perfect Effects interface has been completely redesigned and shares much in common with Perfect Mask, Perfect Layers, and Perfect Portrait.
Note that many of the thumbnails at the bottom of the window may take on a somewhat similar appearance because of their small size; however, if you roll your cursor over any of the thumbnails and pause for a brief moment, a large preview will display above the thumbnail to give a better idea of how the effect will look once it is applied.
Besides offering many useful Presets, the power of Perfect Effects comes primarily from two features: the ability to combine effects by using blend modes and different masking techniques (found in the Blending Options inspector), and the ability to create your own effects using Effect Options. For this example, we’ll take a typical landscape scene taken under dull light, and using three different presets with a combination of blending and selection masking techniques, we will turn it into a “sun shower” scene. The first step is to choose a “base effect,” keeping in mind that as you add new effect layers, you can re-arrange them to change the look in subtle ways.