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This chapter is from the book

Imagine Color Correction by Painting It On

I hope the title is a catchy one here. For the most part, you change the color and tones of object areas in Photoshop by selecting them, apply feathering so the transition between edited and original areas is not severe (or noticeable), and then get out that Curves or Levels command.

You don't actually need to create a selection to perform color and tone corrections. Adjustment Layer fills enable you to paint on a layer that is above your target layer, and instead of applying paint, you're applying tone, color, or other corrections.

Photoshop's Department of Corrections

Adjustment Layers were a hands-down boon to photographers using Photoshop because they provided the photographer with a preview of one or more different tone or color corrections. And this could be done without touching the digitized image.

Photoshop's Adjustment Layers include the useful correction commands found on the Image, Adjust drop-down menu. Also (although we don't have an assignment that shows this off) everyone...even non-photographers...can play through "what-if" scenarios without damaging the goods, because in addition to Adjustment Layers, non-photographers can experiment with the Fill Layer feature. (To use the Fill Layer feature, choose Layer, New Fill Layer; then select the type of Fill Layer you want to create (Solid Color, Gradient, or Pattern). A dialog box appears, asking you to name the Fill Layer and choose the Color, Mode, and Opacity settings. After you enter a name, make your choices, and click OK, you are presented with the current set of fill choices that apply to the type you selected. Choose the one you want from the pop-up dialog box and click OK to make the change.


Modifying Palettes As you may remember from Chapter 2, "Optimizing and Customizing Photoshop Preferences," you always can change the offerings of a palette by using the Presets Manager.

And like the layer mask, the tone of the color you apply to the Adjustment Layer determines how predominant the effect is. White shows off the effect at 100%, black doesn't show the effect at all, and 254 other levels of gray can be used to bring out a little or a lot of Adjustment Layer effect. Moreover, Adjustment Layers change the appearance of every layer underneath them, not only the closest layer underneath.

In the following example, you are going to decrease the brightness of the pool ball and dart while holding the brightness of the table top. With layers, this task is a lot easier than it sounds.

Applying a Dynamic Fill Layer

  1. Create a link between the Dart and the 15ball layer, as shown in Figure 4.14, and then use the Move tool to move the pair up so that the two objects are vertically centered in the image. (This has nothing to do with Adjustment Layers. This step simply didn't fit into the preceding set of steps).

Figure 4.14Figure 4.14 The Layer Link feature is on the Layers palette. Click in the empty box in the right column next to the layer thumbnail to link a layer to the current editing layer.

  1. Click the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon (the half moon icon next to the New Layer icon), as shown in Figure 4.15, and then choose Brightness/Contrast from the list. Note that we've moved the list over in this figure so that you can see both the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon and the pop-up menu.

Figure 4.15Figure 4.15 Choose Brightness/Contrast from the many Adjustment Layer selections.

  1. In the Brightness/Contrast box that pops up, drag the Brightness slider to –20, as shown in Figure 4.16. Click OK. All layers in the Pocket image lose brightness, and a new title on the Layers palette appears: Brightness/Contrast.

Figure 4.16Figure 4.16 With the Adjustment Layer's Brightness/Contrast, you begin tuning the brightness of the picture with a –20 setting (the final brightness you want for unedited areas of the image), and add color (using a brush or a fill) to bring parts or all of the image back to the original brightness.

  1. Let's simply play here for a moment. Take the Paintbrush tool, choose a medium-sized tip (Right-click (Macintosh: hold Ctrl and click), click the tip from the palette, and then press Enter to close the palette). Black should be the foreground color. Make a few strokes on the wood area of the image. As you can see on your screen, and in Figure 4.17, when you apply black to the Adjustment Layer (the chosen layer on the Layers palette), you are negating the brightness change you specified; and wherever you stroke, the wood becomes its original color.

Figure 4.17Figure 4.17 Look at the Adjustment Layer fill (mask) thumbnail on the Layers palette. Wherever you apply black in the image, the image takes on original brightness, and the thumbnail shows where you applied color.

  1. Okay, let's do what we came here for. Hold Ctrl() and click the Dart layer title on the layers palette, and then hold Shift+Ctrl() to add the 15ball layer to the selection by clicking its Layers palette title (see Figure 4.18).

Figure 4.18Figure 4.18 Create a selection marquee in the image by adding one shape's outline to another on a different layer.

  1. Press Shift+F7 (or Ctrl()+Shift+I; they both produce the same result) to invert the selection marquee in the image so that everything except the dart and the ball are selected.

  2. Make certain that when you created the selections you did not change target layers! The Adjustment Layer should be the present editing layer. Press Alt(Opt)+Delete (Backspace), and then press Ctrl()+D to deselect the marquee. You've filled the Dynamic layer with black—except where the objects are—and the wood table top in the image takes on its original brightness. Now let's lighten the objects by half the brightness by which they were decreased.

  3. Repeat Step 5, but do not invert the selection. The ball and dart are now selected. Be sure one or the other of the layers is chosen, and apply 50% black to brighten these objects by half. Inside the selection marquee, with a selection tool chosen, right-click(Macintosh: hold Ctrl and click), and then choose Fill from the context menu.

  4. The Fill dialog box pops up. Choose Foreground color from the Use drop-down list, and then type 50 in the Opacity box, as shown in Figure 4.19. Click OK. Press Ctrl()+D to deselect.

    If you look carefully at the Adjustment Layer thumbnail icon, or press Alt(Opt) while clicking the thumbnail to make the masking of the Adjustment Layer fill appear in the image window, you'll see that the entire layer is black (no effect) and the shapes are 50% black (50% of the effect). You can accomplish this "half bright" editing move by choosing a 50% black foreground color and then stroking in the selection, but filling it was quicker, right? You now know two ways to change an Adjustment Layer's effect. To go back to image view in the image window, Alt(Opt)+click again to toggle the display back to the image with the Dynamic Fill layer affecting it.

Figure 4.19Figure 4.19 To make the selected area halfway between its current and its original brightness, fill the selection with 50% black.

  1. Let's pretend you are servicing a client in these steps. The client looks at the tone changes you made and decides that he likes it better the way the image was originally. Clients, right? You drag the Adjustment Layer title into the trash icon. If your client is less of a pain and likes your tone adjusting work, you can keep the image with an Adjustment Layer on it or flatten the image to make your editing changes permanent. Flatten image is located on the Layers palette menu flyout.

  2. You can close the image at any time after saving it. Keep Photoshop open. We've finally exhausted layer tricks, and we'll now move on to shapes.

Step 11 isn't 100% accurate. Shapes have a lot to do with layers, so don't say sayonara to them yet. It's on to the easiest methods for creating complex designs in Photoshop—with shapes—vector masks.

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