As we learned in the previous post, the final “basic skills” chapter in Steve Caplin’s How to Cheat in Photoshop introduces key techniques extensively used in photomontage. Next, Caplin demonstrates that he expects his readers have systematically followed the book thus far.
Major Color Changes
This lesson uses both a Hue/Saturation adjustment and Curves adjustment to change a black Mini Cooper into a red one with a British flag on it’s roof, a la Michael Caine’s film The Italian Job. It’s also the first lesson where How to Cheat in Photoshop leaves out specific instructions. For example, Caplin gives hints in the steps for creating the Union Jack, but leaves it up to the reader to know how to complete the task. I’m sure people who expect an author to provide them with all the necessary lesson components were cursing Caplin, and perhaps even throwing his book against the wall, when they attempted Step 6 (see below). I grumbled a little, myself. Then I realized that, in real-world situation, Caplin most likely would not be there to tell me what to do.
Note that Caplin says “the roof is selected” leaving it up to the reader to determine which selection technique to employ. I chose to use the pen tool, as I am quite comfortable with it. (See blog post Pixel Perfectionist – Part 1; First Encounter: Photoshop 7). I also used the pen tool for Step 10 where he instructs: “The red portion of the flag is created by drawing it’s outlines, and then deleting that area from the white roof to reveal the read coloring that’s already beneath it.”
I did have one bone to pick with Caplin about this project. Step 11 discusses creating the license plate using a certain font most people are not likely to have on their computer, as well as a technique not covered until Chapter 10 – Metal, Wood and Stone. I also had to go onto Google Images to find “GB” sticker image. Actually, I didn’t complete this lesson until I reached the “Metal with Layer Styles” lesson in Chapter 10, at which point I also uploaded a similar font from the Internet. It seemed a bit unfair that Caplin didn’t supply layers with the license plate and the sticker to for this lesson in Chapter 4. Maybe he was just trying to weed out the wanna be photosynthesists from the serious students. But I digress…
It’s been possible to select a broad range of colors using the Hue/Saturation adjustment in many previous versions of Photoshop. However, starting with CS4, it’s been possible to click and drag directly on an image to change only selected colors. This is demonstrated in the “after” image, where the technique enabled lowering the red saturation in the boxer’s gloves and robe without drastically affecting his skin tones. His shorts were also re-colorized to more closely match the new robe and gloves.
Back in the post “Just Thumbing Through“ I hinted at the power of the Healing Brush. In this chapter I learned the basics and a solution to a common problem. The Healing Brush works by using the texture of the source area and then blending that with the lighting of the target area. This works just fine if the target area only contains pixels of a similar hue and saturation. However, when there is a sharp difference, the Healing Brush produces an unsightly bleed as it tries to combine the pixels. My CS3 course did not address this shortcoming. However, How to Cheat in Photoshop does.
In the example below the model had her blemishes removed by sampling a clear spot on her forehead and painting over the blemishes. This works well for all blemishes except the mole on her right cheek. In the middle image, notice how that “fixed” area includes white bleeding through from the background:
Caplin provides an excellent solution: select that area of the face, subtract the white background and then apply the Healing Brush. The image on the right shows the result.
As you can see, this chapter taught me a lot. I’ve used all of the techniques in Chapter 4 to complete subsequent lessons and the Friday Challenges. Speaking of which, stay tuned for more Challenge fun next week!
Next: Friday Challenge – Madge Triumphs