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Issue 04 September 2011

Issue04 September 2011£5.99

SPINE SHORTCUT #4 ALT/ BACKSPACE Fills with Foreground Colour

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COOL EFFECTS

MASTER LAYERS Montagetips totrytoday!

& Achieve amazing light & colour effects Understand histograms and channels Take your images to another level

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CREATIVE PROJECT

MAKE A MAGRITTE

THE UK’S BIGGEST & B PHOTOSHOEPST MAGAZINE

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STUNNING LANDSCAPES

Use the Art History Brush tool to create a painterly country scene

PLUS! INSIDE

16-page creative manual packed with tips and techniques JUST FOR FUN

X RAY EFFECTS

Find out how to give your images the X-ray look

FUNDAMENTALS

SHARP SHOTS

Allyoursharpening questionsanswered ISSUE 04 SEPTEMBER 2011 £5.99


Meetyour Photoshopgeniuses…

BenBrain

BenhasusedPhotoshop sincetheearly90’s,findingit vitalforhisartphotography andduringhispreviouscareerasapro photographer.Check outhisguideto makingX-raystyleimagesonpage66.

SteveCaplin

A digital artist and author, Steve has his photomontage work published worldwide. This issue

sees him recreate Bridget Riley-style artwork on page 76.

JamesPaterson

Having worked as a studio portrait pro, our technique editor has used Photoshop on a daily basis for the past decade. Follow his tutorial on creating a fantasy landscape on page 68.

AliJennings

Ali has been using Photoshop for a decade and is Imaging Lab Manager for Future’s photography portfolio. Read his expert guide to the Colour Halftone Filter on page 64.

Welcometo…

Levels and Curves can seem daunting to the uninitiated. However, they aren’t nearly as scary as they first appear which is why we’ve dedicated this month’s main feature to showing you all you need to know in our ultimate guide. Whether you’re struggling with histograms, want to get the best out of your photos or have a burning desire to unleash your creativity – we show you how. Our Creative Projects are packed with some great advice, too, and to tie in with the Tate Liverpool’s major exhibition of surrealist artist René Magritte, we’re going to show you how you can make your very own surreal masterpiece from scratch. Meanwhile, our resident Photoshop whiz James Paterson is going to show you how we created this month’s stunning fantasy landscape cover. As usual, our galleries are filled with inspirational images to get your creative juices flowing and we showcase the talented Cristian Boian in our Portfolio. I hope you enjoy the magazine and don’t forget to drop me a line and let me know what you think. Our star letter will receive some fine art paper from Fotospeed.

Ben Brain

Ben Brain, Editor ben@practicalphotoshopmag.com AngelaNicholson

Our Head of Testing has used Photoshop since version 4.0 and now uses CS5 to get the best possible results from her images. She explains the basics of sharpening on page 52.

HannahGal

Award-winning creative Hannah Gal, whose work has featured on MTV and in the New York Times, shows us how to create a cool mosaic effect in three easy steps on page 79.

DavidCole

Photoshop 5.0 inspired David, a traditional artist specialising in watercolours, to move into natural media simulation. The fourth part of his photo painting series can be found on page 88.

MissAniela

Author of Self-Portrait Photography which covers her techniques and composites. Miss Aniela tells us how to achieve her acclaimed levitation photo effect on page 74.

PS Don’t miss out on our special introductory offer on pages 40-41 – you can save up to 30%!

Get Inspired…

Every issue of Practical Photoshop is packed with fresh ideas and expert advice to help you improve your Photoshop skills. Be inspired by the best new imagery in our World of Photoshop section and let our technique guides teach you how to create your own with our tutorials in the magazine and on our DVD.

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September 2011 PracticalPhotoshop

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Issue Four September 2011

Get creative with

Inside Issue 04

LEVELS & CURVES 24

Everything you need to know about mastering these vital image-editing features in our essential guide

07 DVD Contents

Find out what’s on your free DVD of superb Photoshop tutorials

08 The World of Photoshop

Get inspired by the very best Photoshop imagery from around the globe

14 Portfolio

We showcase Photoshop guru Cristian Boian’s quirky brand of graphical tableaux

18 Readers Letters

Make yourself heard and enter the debate in Practical Photoshop’s Noise section

20 Reader Challenge

Take this month’s challenge and push your Photoshop skills to the limit

40 Subscription offer

Save up to 30% on our cover price by subscribing to Practical Photoshop

74 Artist Insight

Five top Photoshop gurus share some fascinating tricks of the trade

81 International offer

42 Create a Magritte Use the surrealist masterpiece images on

Makeyourownversionoftheartist’s iconicpainting,TheSonofMan

tthe DVD!

START IMAGES

Live outside the UK? We want to save you cash with this great subscription deal

82 Image Review

See your shots critiqued by our team of experts and learn new skills!

95 Filter

All the latest Photoshop gear tested and rated by our crew of top experts

114 Personal Selections

Australian digital artist Justin Maller waxes lyrical on his favourite work to date

4 PracticalPhotoshop September2011

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Subscribe right now & save up to 30%

UK readers see page 40 for full details. International readers see page 81 for your own special offer…

YOUR CREATIVE MANUAL!

See page 51 for more…

68 Make a fantasy composite landscape

Recreatethismonth’sfantastical coverartfromacombinationof imagesin thelatestofoureasyto-followstep-by-steptutorials to-follow step-by-step tutorials

START IMAGES

16 PAGES OF IN DEPTH TECHNIQUES, TRICKS & TIPS INCLUDING:

88 Art History Brush painting

Sharpening The Gradient tool X-ray effects And much more…

Turn a landscape image into a stunning work of art with David Cole

START IMAGE

NEXT MONTH

Forasneakpreview Turntopage67

New to Photoshop? Get up to speed fast in…

Turn over for the DVD contents!

YOUR PHOTOSHOP QUICKSTART GUIDE

105 www.practicalphotoshopmag.com

Take a tour of Elements and CS, and learn the principles of image editing

September2011 PracticalPhotoshop

5


Email us at letters@practicalphotoshopmag.com or join the discussion at www.facebook.com/practicalphotoshop Time to move on in photography debate

STAR LETTER

It’s helpful including images on the DVD

WttIerNw!ins a

Star le pack of A3 Fine Art paperfrom Fotospeed

Well done to all involved in creating a new, refreshing and hopefully very successful magazine in these uncertain times. I love the in-depth tutorials, and even though I’m a relative beginner, I will be trying each one. I especially enjoyed watching the video by David Cole and look forward to seeing more tutorials from him. I have also taken advantage of your offer and have taken out a subscription, mainly because I always buy magazines late and always miss the competition deadlines. Hopefully, now I’ll get my copy early and have plenty of time to enter. One last point, I hope that you will

Creative projects are a central part of Practical Photoshop each month

continue with the cover DVD, as having the tutorials and files to work with are a big bonus. Well done again, I look forward to receiving my copies in the post. David Nightingale, Email

Reply Thanks David. It’s always our intention to make it as easy as possible for readers to recreate the tutorials and the DVD video lessons are vital in making that happen.

I write with regard to the letter from Brian Thompson in Issue 3 of Practical Photoshop (“Basic photo skills are slowly dying away”). I can understand where Brian is coming from with his basics, but it’s a dying philosophy. We had the same argument when digital started taking over from film: the idea that digital took the art out of taking a photo. However, I do feel that I am still a beginner after at least five years if not more and still try to get it right in-camera to save time in Photoshop later. I have even enrolled in a course to better myself and “visualise” what I’m going to take beforehand. At the end of the day, Photoshop can only do so much. It can’t always restore massively under or overexposed images and can’t make really blurry images clear. I may be wrong, but I do feel Brian’s confusing the rescuing of images with tweaking to improve a shot, just as per your response in the magazine. Andrew Miller, Email

Reader David Nightingale has enjoyed the tutorials on our monthly free DVD

Reply You’re absolutely right, Andrew. Six or seven years ago, the debate of the merits of traditional film stock versus digital imaging was at its peak, now it’s non-touched up digital shots against Photoshopped ones. We’re definitely in the camp that believes Photoshop is a force for good not evil!


READERCHALLENGE

Take the Practical Photoshop challenge! Get surreal and enter this month’s reader challenge for the chance to win a great prize Every issue we’ll set you a creative task based on a technique featured in the magazine and this month’s challenge is inspired by our René Magritte tutorial. We’ve supplied a surrealist’s toolbox of images on the DVD. Use them however you like, along with any of the other tutorial files you’ll find on the disc or even your own images, to create a weird and wonderful masterpiece. We’ve pieced together our own creation using different images from the disc, combining a few of the techniques that are featured in this issue’s tutorial pages. Now it’s your turn to get creative. Our favourite images will be featured in Issue 7, giving you plenty of time to enter, and the overall winner will have their image professionally framed. Good luck with the challenge – we’re looking forward to receiving your entries!

What you can win

In addition to featuring the best image in Practical Photoshop, we’ll also get it professionally framed by WhiteWall – the leading online gallery for bespoke photographic printing, mounting and framing. WhiteWall’s easy-to-use website allows photographers and digital artists to upload their pictures and select from a variety of beautiful finishes prepared to gallery standards. See www.whitewall.co.uk for details.

Your challenge images…

Use theon images D! the DV

Howtoenter How to enter

Simply load up the DVD and go to the Resources section, where you’ll find find a selection of classic surreal objects. Use these images, plus any others on the disc or of your own to create a work of surreal art. You can enter by email to challenge@ practicalphotoshopmag.com or by sending a CD to: Practical Photoshop, Future Publishing, 30 Monmouth Street, Bath BA1 2BW. Please give your finished finished creation a suitable title and supply a couple of lines to describe what you did and why. The closing date for entries is 21 October, 2011. We look forward to seeing your entries and we’ll publish the best in Issue 7.

20 PracticalPhotoshop September2011

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SURREALART

WIN!age

The best im will be framed to a professional standard

Five top tips for… stunningsurrealart 02

01

Make bizarre composites

Surreal art often juxtaposes objects that have no natural connection, so to create a masterpiece in Photoshop you’ll need to get to grips with building composites. Learn how to bring several images together into a cohesive whole in our tutorial on page 42.

04

Create a canvas

You’ll need a suitable canvas to use as a starting point for all the image elements and effects. We chose to create a green curtain with the Gradient tool. Find out how it’s done on page 60. The curtain has been blurred slightly with Filter>Lens Blur to give a sense of depth.

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03

Tone to perfection

Tonal adjustments are essential tweaks for any image, and can really help to make elements gel together in a composite. Turn to this month’s main feature on page 24 for everything you need to know about tweaking tones with levels and curves in Photoshop.

Fine-tune for added realism

Simply placing the claw on top of the phone isn’t enough. We’ve used the Dodge and Burn tools to add a shadow for extra realism. This was applied on a separate grey fill layer set to Blend Mode: Overlay. Find out more about nondestructive dodging and burning on page 55.

05

Add odd flourishes

This is a great opportunity to add fun flourishes such as the surreal touches on the phone. The letters have been changed around by making small selections, a technique similarly used to make the ‘tree faces’ on the cover and in the tutorial on page 68. The more peculiar the results the better.

September2011 PracticalPhotoshop

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GETCREATIVEWITHLEVELSANDCURVES

INTRODUCING CURVES Levels’ more powerful cousin Curves gives you ultimate control over tones

Like Levels, Photoshop’s Curves command allows you to adjust tones, but with far greater precision. Levels is like a decorator’s roller compared to Curves’ artistic paintbrush. Instead of just three sliders, you have an array of intuitive control points that allow you to fine-tune different values along the tonal range. To access the Curves Dialog Box go to Image>Adjustments>Curves or alternatively hit Cmd/Ctrl+M. Alternatively, apply Curves as an Adjustment Layer. Like Levels, we recommend you always apply Curves on an Adjustment Layer for the extra control this gives you. If you’re unfamiliar with Curves, then the controls may initially seem a little daunting, but a few minutes of experimentation is all that’s needed for most people to become comfortable. Click anywhere along the diagonal line to add a control point. Drag this point upwards to lighten the image and down to darken it. Add more points along the line if you like and drag these up or down to alter different tonal values. In most cases, you’ll rarely need to add more than three points. Along the bottom of the grid you have a black point and white point slider that work in exactly the same way as they do in Levels. Hold Alt and drag the sliders inwards until they meet the edges of the histogram to improve the tonal range and check for clipped pixels.

Use the image on D! tthe DVD

Curves allow you to make really precise tonal adjustments to your digital images BEFORE

TOP TECHNIQUE CURVESEXPLAINED Curves work by remapping the tonal values displayed in the histogram. If you add a control point halfway along the horizontal axis above the centre of the histogram then drag the point up to 3/4 of the way along the vertical axis, you’re effectively changing the tones that were initially halfway between light and dark and making them 75% light 01. Add a second control point a quarter of the way along the horizontal axis and drag this down to meet the diagonal line and the tones that were 25% light before you made your first adjustment will be restored to their initial tonal value 02. The steeper the line of the curve,

3

4 1

2

the greater the contrast will be along this range of tones 03. If the bottom or top of the curve flattens against the box, then the tones at this corresponding point in the histogram will be clipped to pure black or pure white 04.

32 PracticalPhotoshop September2011

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INTRODUCING CURVES

THE CURVES DIALOG BOX EXPLAINED

18

DRAW CURVES

The pencil icon allows you to draw a line by hand through the box. It’s most useful if you hold Shift as you draw so you can get straight vertical, horizontal or 45 degree lines. Check out our creative Curves section on page 38 to see how this can be used to create a solarised effect.

17

CHANNELS

Select from the drop-down to make changes to individual colour channels. Make colour tweaks to shadow or highlight areas by adjusting the curve at either end of the histogram.

18

15

9

OUTPUT AND INPUT VALUES

Allows you to manually set an output and input value for each control point on the curve.

5

6

11

7

13

PREVIEW

HAND ICON

Highlight the hand icon then click within the image to select a certain shade of pixel. Drag up or down to interactively lighten or darken all similar shades. You’ll see the corresponding point along the curve react as you drag.

HISTOGRAM

Just like Levels, Curves displays a histogram that represents the tonal range of the image as different shades grouped together from dark (0) to light (255). The more pixels of a certain shade, the higher the peak on the graph.

12

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07

08

15

13

OPTIONS

Toggle the Preview on or off to see how your changes affect the image.

10

16

06

Access Auto options to set tones according to automated equations. This button only appears in the Dialog Box. If you’re using the Adjustments Panel, Alt-click the Auto Button.

8

SHOW AMOUNT OF:

14

4 2

14

By default, this is set to Light. Pigment/Ink% is useful for checking the levels of ink required for printing.

AUTO

Hit Auto to apply an automated tonal adjustment that enhances contrast. If you’re applying Curves in the Adjustments panel, hold down Alt and click Auto to access the Auto Options box.

Use this in conjunction with the pencil icon to smooth the lines of a hand-drawn curve.

EYEDROPPERS

Like the eyedroppers in Levels, click within the image to interactively re-map the tones. Set a white point and any shades lighter than this point will be clipped to pure white. The black point works in a similar way. The grey point allows you to alter colours by choosing a tone to set as neutral grey.

CANCEL BUTTON

05

SMOOTH

18

The edit points option is checked by default and allows you to click on control points and move them to adjust the curve.

16

02

1 17

04

Like most Dialog Boxes, hold down Alt and this will change to reset.

3

EDIT POINTS

PRESETS

Choose from a drop-down list of Curves presets to quickly adjust tones. Among the choices are Cross Process and Colour Negative effects. Presets can be useful for a quick fix and as a starting point for further tweaks.

Note: This diagram displays the Curves Dialog Box. The Curves Adjustments panel shows a slightly different set of options, but the key features remain the same in both.

01

03

12

SHOW

11

CONTROL POINT

Customise the appearance of the Curves Dialog Box with this set of check boxes.

09

DIAGONAL LINE

The diagonal line is used to remap tones in an image to different values. The horizontal axis displays the original tones and the vertical axis specifies how the tones are changed. The steeper the line of the curve, the more contrast there will be along that part of the tonal scale. Conversely, the more shallow the line, the less contrast.

Click to add control points along the line and then drag the points to adjust the tones. You can add a maximum of 16 points. To get rid of one, drag it outside the box.

10

SHOW CLIPPING

A handy check box that will show you pixels that are clipping to pure white or black. Click on the control point at the top or bottom of the line to see highlights or shadows.

September2011 e r2 PracticalPhotoshop Pr c Pho shop

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THE CREATIVE MANUAL FOR ALL PHOTOSHOP USERS

R FA TE

FUNDAMENTALS

Our adjusted image now has clearly defined petals

SHARPENUP YOURACT

RE O F BE

We fly the flag for Photoshop’s wide range of excellent image-sharpening tools When it comes to creating polished, sharp images, it seems there’s more than a little confusion as to the best way forward. Schools of thought are divided between those who opt for achieving it in-camera, while others plump for software packages such as Photoshop. In most cases, in-camera sharpening is applied across an entire image to a level selected by the photographer. This one-sizefits-all approach keeps things

simple, but it’s not always the best solution. It can result in edges with high contrast, such as the horizon of a landscape looking too bold, while fine foreground details are still a little soft. Consequently, it’s far better to apply sharpening at a level that suits each individual image using Photoshop. The grid-like structure of a camera’s sensor and the presence of an anti-aliasing filter over it to reduce moiré patterning mean that all digital images need some

52 PracticalPhotoshop September2011

form of sharpening, either in-camera or post-capture. Sharpening works by increasing the contrast along edges so that there is a quicker transition from light to dark and the edges become more defined. Pushing the level of sharpening too far results in very high micro contrast with halos appearing around image elements and the introduction of artefacts in otherwise smooth areas. Oversharpening often looks worse than not sharpening at all.

Photoshop CS5 offers a selection of sharpening modes, but the most useful are Unsharp Mask and Smart Sharpen as they offer the greatest level of control. Elements users are often best served by the Adjust Sharpness options (Enhance>Adjust Sharpness), which is similar to CS5’s Smart Sharpen feature. The Sharpen tool is also very useful as it enables sharpening to be targeted at specific areas using a brush.

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Unsharp Mask

How do the Amount, Radius and Threshold controls help?

Found via the drop-down Filter>Sharpening>Unsharp Mask, the Unsharp Mask (USM) Dialog Box has three sliding controls called Amount, Radius and Threshold. The Amount slider sets the overall level of sharpening. Radius dictates how large an area around an edge is sharpened. Overuse of the Radius control is a common cause of oversharpening and it is responsible for the introduction of strong outlines and halos. The Threshold slider is used to specify which edges are sharpened. When a large value is used, the sharpening is only applied to high contrast edges, while a low value means that the sharpening is also applied to low contrast edges and finer details. Finding the correct values takes experimentation, but start with a low Threshold and move the Amount and Radius sliders up and down until the image looks right. Required values vary from image to image, but aim to keep the Radius below 3. An Amount of 150-180 is a good starting point.

R FA TE

RE O F BE

Sharpening the luminance

Try applying sharpening to the Luminance channel to avoid colour shifts and artefacts

Using USM can result in colour shifts and artefacts being introduced. Avoid this by only applying the sharpening to the Luminance channel. Convert the image to Lab Colour mode (Image>Mode>Lab Colour) and then select the Luminance channel in the Channels panel. Converting to Lab Colour mode results in some loss of image quality, so it isn’t always desirable. It’s better to apply USM to a duplicate layer and blend that layer with the background using the Luminosity Blend Mode.

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Unsharp UnsharpMask(USM)has Mask (USM) has three threesliderscalledAmount, sliders called Amount, Radius RadiusandThreshold and Threshold The Unsharp Mask can determine the exact extent of the sharpening of your image

R FA TE RE O F BE

You can apply sharpening to the Luminance channel to avoid colour shifts and artefacts when using USM

GENIUS TIP!

SHARPENING FOR PRINTING

Apply sharpening at the size the image is to be used at. Different levels are required depending upon how the image is to be viewed. An image that is to be printed may need a heavier sharpening treatment than one viewed on-screen. As some printers apply sharpening, it’s important to make a test print or two before making multiple large prints for the first time.

September2011 PracticalPhotoshop

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THE CREATIVE MANUAL FOR ALL PHOTOSHOP USERS

Sharpening controls in Adobe Camera Raw

Camera Raw makes targeting the right areas for sharpening a simple process – even if you don’t shoot in Raw format Camera Raw opens automatically when you open a Raw file in Photoshop, but to use it with a JPEG, simply select the image in Bridge, right click with the mouse and select Open in Camera Raw. The sharpening controls are found under the Details tab, but before you set to work, use the drop-down menu in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen to set the preview to 100%. Camera Raw’s sharpening controls are similar to the USM controls, with Amount setting the level and Radius dictating the width of the area along the edges that is sharpened. The Detail slider is similar to Threshold in that it is used to control the haloing and determine how much emphasis is

The Mask slider restricts where the sharpening effect is applied GENIUS TIP!

SELECTIVE SHARPENING

Sharpening blurred backgrounds and uniform skies may introduce artefacts or texture, so it’s advisable to sharpen selectively. This can be done on a duplicate layer where masking or erasing can reveal the unsharpened layer beneath. Alternatively, use the Sharpen tool found with the Blur and Smudge tools. With the option to protect details selected, paint in sharpening over important areas.

given to the edges, but its impact decreases as its value increases. A Detail setting of 100 is effectively the same as a zero Threshold value and vice versa. Finally, the Mask slider is used to restrict where the sharpening is applied. Hold down the Alt key while making Masking adjustments to see where is affected, the black areas will be left untouched.

R FA TE E R O BEF

Smart sharpen

Adjust the sharpening that’s applied to the highlights and shadows separately Adjusting the Amount and Radius settings in Smart Sharpen has the same impact as when using USM, but you can choose what type of blur – such as Gaussian, Lens or Movement – to correct using the Remove drop-down menu. Gaussian Blur is the general softness that is also addressed by USM, the Lens Blur option detects edges and detail and is a good choice for sharpening fine detail. Motion Blur aims to reduce the effects of camera or subject movement. After selecting the appropriate Amount, Radius and Remove settings, choose the Advanced options to control how much sharpening to apply to the shadows and highlights.

54 PracticalPhotoshop September2011

R FA TE RE O F BE

Make use of the Lens Blur option to detect edges and detail

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Practical Photoshop Sampler