Tuesday, June 26, 2007
After Adobe's unique public beta introduction, the latest version of Photoshop has arrived. Pros will find a interface and a number of key new features to enhance images and streamline workflows.
Photoshop users have requested the ability to apply filters to a layer, and Adobe has provided this feature in CS3. Step one is to convert a layer into a Smart Filter Layer found in the Filter menu. Since filters need pixels to affect, you'll want to first select a layer to apply the filter. My recommendation is to do this on a copy of a layer before converting to a Smart Filter.
After applying the filter to this special layer, you can recall it at any time and continue to edit the parameters without stamping the edits into the document until you print or flatten the image. This works much like an adjustment layer or Smart Object. A bonus is having a layer mask to apply within the Smart Filter layer. It's possible to stack several filters within one Smart Filter stack, but the mask is applied to all the effects in that stack. You can alter the filter order, which plays a profound role on the total effect. Also, note that there's a single opacity for the entire layer, not individual filters in the stack, and you'll need a pixel-based layer below a Smart Filter layer if you intend to alter the opacity. Get used to the idea that just a few Smart Filter layers will produce very large file sizes, since rendered copies (essentially Smart Objects) have to be embedded in your documents.
Here, I've added both a heavy Gaussian Blur and Noise (monochrome) as a Smart Filter layer. Then using the Layer Mask, I brushed away the filtered areas on the dog. I double-clicked the filter name to alter its parameters as seen here. I can lower the opacity of this stack because I have an untouched layer below the stack.
The new Refine Edges command makes it much easier to tweak complicated selections by visually providing numerous previews of the relationship between selected and nonselected areas and a number of tools to adjust the two. There's a Radius and Contrast slider for controlling the transition from selected to deselected pixels. Smooth, Expand and Contract have been available for several versions and are found here for added functionality. The five buttons at the bottom of the dialog control how the image and selection is previewed. You can view a semi-translucent overlay, a black, gray or white mask or just view the image with marching ants. This is a useful new dialog when you need to visually see and then control how a selection will be applied. The new online help in this dialog is also well done.
The new Refine Edges dialog is seen here with the mask shown over a white background. Press the F key to toggle the other buttons and provide a different masking overlay preview.
If you use Channel Mixer to convert color to Grayscale, yet find it difficult keeping the total amount of the three data entry fields at 100 percent (to avoid tone shifts), you'll appreciate the new B&W Conversion dialog. Six sliders control how those colors are converted to gray, there's the good old Auto adjustment button, and should you wish to apply a color tint, a separate check box allows functionality similar to the options in Hue and Saturation. Move your mouse over the image, and the underlying color is automatically selected, then “scrub” left and right to affect the slider (scrub up and down for a finer degree of movement). Some conversion presets are supplied, and you can save your own.
The CS3 Channel Mixer is powerful and useful. It has a warning if you go over 100 percent in mixing the channels and now provides a field that totals up the three adjustments, so you don't have to mentally do the math. It also has a number of presets for conversions, and you can load and save your own settings.
1) The pop-up menu contains presets (screen right), and you can save your own settings. 2) Placing the cursor over the image produces the scrubby slider icon. Move it left and right to adjust that color, which is automatically selected. Up and down applies the edit with less intensity. 3) The Tint check box allows a color to be introduced into the conversion. Note that with the new palette design, I can click on the Swatches button to call that palette forward and select a color here, if I wish.
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