Effect Layer Options
Once you’ve stacked up enough effects, you can begin to modify the settings that define their appearance (within the unmasked regions you brushed over earlier). Note that as you select a layer for additional tweaks, the layers above it will be temporarily deactivated so it doesn’t change your perception of the “stacked effect” up to that point. When you’re ready, highlight the first effect you want to tweak and click the Options button. This will open the Blending Options inspector, which can be moved around to avoid concealing different parts of the image preview.
First I selected the Color effect layer, then panned and zoomed the image so I could see the colors in both the trees and on the creek, and again clicked Options to reveal the inspector. From the Blending Mode menu, I hovered the stylus over each option to get a preview. Because most blend modes (other than Normal, which is the default) make it too obvious where the mask borders are at higher Amount settings, I used Soft Light blending and an Amount close to 40 (instead of 50+) to help the color enhancement blend in better. The Apply Effect To menu (which also has a list of modes you can preview by moving the cursor over them) lets you be even more selective about where the effects are applied! For example, you can choose a particular tonal range or color range.
For this example (Figure 6), I decided between the settings All, Midtones, and Vivid Colors, and came to the conclusion that the second option was best because it omitted some of the greenish colors, which made the overall look more subtle.
Figure 6 The Blending Options allow you to apply affects not only in the masked areas, but with different blend modes, or even to different tonal ranges such as Highlights.
Once you choose a tonal or color range, use the Fuzziness slider to more precisely define which pixels are included and which are not. The higher the value, the more “neighboring pixels” will be included (for this case, think of it as the plugin including more pixels found to be “almost Vivid,” the higher the number the more “lenient” the plugin is about including the extra pixels). I typically keep this value under 50 though its effect can be very subtle compared to the similar setting found in Photoshop CS6’s Color Range command. Finally, I added some Highlights protection to be sure I was not brightening or changing pixels that might clip or create artifacts.
When you’re finished modifying your effects, click Cmd-0 (Mac) or Ctrl-0 (Win) to fit the entire image into the preview area for a final check. If no further changes are needed, click the Apply button, and the image will be processed and opened into Photoshop CS6, with your Perfect Effects on a separate layer from the Background.
Once the changes have been applied and output to a Smart Object layer (Figure 7), you can double-click the Perfect Effects label to open the image back into the plugin. Note that when you return to Perfect Effects, you will not be able to modify the layer masks you originally made, but you can use the layer mask from the Smart Object layer itself to further customize where changes in appearance occur.
Figure 7 Perfect Effects 4 is Smart Object-aware, making a non-destructive workflow possible.