Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Using Groups To Simplify Life.

Today’s image could be called “fun with bevels”. Just about every element in the image has been given a Layer Style (Double Click on the Layer in the Layers Panel) of Bevel and Emboss. The net effect is to have turned each piece of the derailleur into a graphic component. Each piece is on its own Layer and is capable of being altered. This made for quite a number of Layers and lead to using the Group Layers (CTRL G) function to make things a little more manageable. The spokes are a good example of putting things into groups. The spokes that pass in front of other spokes are in one Group. The spokes going behind others are in a second Group. One of the biggest advantages or putting closely related objects in Groups is that Groups support just about all the modifiers that can be applied to individual Layers. Rather than using a Mask on each spoke Layer, a single Mask was applied to the “Full Spoke” Group. Groups can also be used to control runaway Layers. On each image worked on here at the gallery the colors are saturated individually using Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers. (Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue, and Magenta) Once they are brought up to the point where each color is at its peak saturation and any masking applied to the individual Adjustment Layers they are put into a Group to minimize clutter. Groups do not disable alteration/correct of those layers within the group, but also make it possible to do universal changes to everything in the Group. It’s a very flexible piece of Photoshop that often overlooked. One only has to look at some of Bert Monroy’s work to see extensive use of Groups. His work, “Damien” is made up of more than 15,000 layers. Without Groups and Groups within Groups he would have had a terrible mess on his hands. To view any of Bert’s tutorials is to get a lesson in image management. He’ll make elements in multiple Layers and then Group them for ease of handling. The elements become objects and the objects are put into Groups. The objects become pieces and the pieces are put into Groups. And so on and so on, building reusable Groups to set in pattern after pattern to make the complete image. To see how many groups were used in today’s image, hit the “read more”.
The first Group is the “typical” color correction and modification Group. The second is made up of the individual links of the chain, with the individual components of each link in another Group. The two spoke Groups have already been discussed. The last Group comes just before the Sharpening and Vignetting Layers to pull the entire composition together.

It ends up looking like the image is only a couple of steps. The reality is that the image has about 45 to 50 Layers involved. Managing your workflow becomes increasingly important as work become mor complex.