Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Getting Into CS4

Among the useful features in the latest version of Photoshop are the new Adjustments panel and the Masks panel

This Article Features Photo Zoom


In figures 5 and 6, you can see the alignment and blend controls for Photoshop CS4’s Deep Focus control. Deep Focus allows you to use multiple shots to create a final image with essentially unlimited depth of field.
Knowing that the Adjustments panel would become “command central” for most photographers as they improve their images, Adobe also added several convenient controls to the panel. You can jump back to the adjustment list by clicking the left-pointing arrow at the bottom of the Adjustments panel and then select another type of adjustment layer to be added to the image. The next button allows you to expand (or contract) the Adjustments panel based on whether you need more room to work on your adjustments or need to be able to see more of your image (such as when working on a laptop).

If you want an adjustment layer you’re working on to affect only the layer directly below it on the Layers panel, there’s no longer a need to hold the Alt/Option key and click on the line between the two layers. Simply click the Clip to Layer button on the Adjustments panel to put the adjustment layer into a clipping group with the layer directly below it.

When it comes to seeing a “before and after” view of your image, you now have a couple of options. You’re probably already familiar with the Eye icon to the left of each layer on the Layers panel, which allows you to turn off the visibility of an adjustment layer (or any other layer) to see what the image looks like without that layer applied. In CS4, you have access to that same capability on the Adjustments panel by clicking the Eye icon at the bottom of the panel. This may not seem like a very big deal, and you might even feel like it’s just redundant, but I can assure you that when you’re in the middle of making an adjustment, it’s very convenient to have the Eye button right there at hand so you can see what the image looked like before you applied the current adjustment layer.


The process can be time-consuming, as the progress bars in figures 7 and 8 show.
It gets even better. Besides being able to see what the image looked like before you added the current adjustment layer, you also can see what the image looked like before the most recent revision you applied to the current adjustment layer. The new View Previous State button, when held, will show you what the image looked like before you made the most recent change to the current adjustment layer. If you like the previous version better, you can click the Reset to Previous State button on the Adjustments panel. Still not happy with the result? Clicking the same button one more time will reset the current adjustment entirely so you can start over with that particular adjustment layer. And, of course, if you decide you should have never added the current adjustment layer at all, you can click the Trash Can icon and delete the current layer.

Masks Panel
Layer masking is certainly nothing new to Photoshop, but the Masks panel breathes new life into creating—and especially refining—layer masks. In many ways, the Masks panel simply consolidates a number of features related to masking into a single location. But it also adds some powerful capabilities you’ll put to use frequently with your layer masks.

When it comes to adjustment layers, you’ll probably either start with a selection and add the adjustment layer (so the mask for the adjustment layer reflects the selection automatically) or you’ll create an adjustment layer without a selection and paint on the layer mask to block or reveal the adjustment as desired. As a result, you’ll probably only use the button to create a layer (or vector) mask when creating a composite image.


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