Monday, June 7, 2010

Finally, A Use For The Tragic Wand Tool

I have to thank Dave Cross, one of the “Photoshop Guys”, again. He had a tip a few weeks ago about making a selection for using Adobe Photoshop CS5’s new Content Aware Fill routine. His recommendation (I can’t call anything from those guys a “suggestion”) was to use the Select/Modify/Expand command to enlarge the area created by straightening an image or the ragged area produced in making panoramas before using Content Aware Fill. It just gives you a little more of a “bite” for the analysis to start with. Typically it works better than using the bare selection. Without the extra few pixels I’ve had a dashed line appear as an outline along the Selection to Fill junction. With the Selection expanded, it just doesn’t happen. That got me to thinking about other applications for expanding a Selection before doing other operations on it, like desaturating the fringe sometimes found when cranking up a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Since the fringing occurs in multiple places on an image, and it’s typically a very small line that we’re talking about, using something like the Quick Selection Tool would be painfully slow. Using the Magic (tragic) Wand with the Contiguous option unchecked will pick up all similarly colored areas. Often much more than the fringe will be targeted. The unwanted areas are typically larger areas and easily unselected using the Loop Tool in a minus state (L with the Alt Key held down). To follow the next few steps, hit the “read more”.
Once the “offending” areas are selected, go to the Select/Modify/Expand function and use a fairly low value. On a full resolution image I use 10 pixels if I’m filling the area created by making either a straightened image or a panorama. To work on the fringe, two or three pixels would probably be a better choice. With the Selection expanded, put it up on its own Layer (Ctrl J). It’ll probably look like it’s an empty Layer. Use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and slide the Saturation slider to the left (negative). You’ll see that the entire image will be affected. Not what we’re looking for. Put your cursor on the line between the Adjustment Layer and the full image while holding down the Alt Key. You’ll see a double circle and arrow icon appear. Click your mouse button to select. You’ve just created a Clipping Mask. A Clipping Mask is used to apply whatever you’re doing to the Layer directly below only. So, the rest of image will pop back to whatever “normal” was.

You can make as many Layers using this technique as needed. In today’s image I used one for removing excess green fringe. Another to remove excess yellow fringe. Still another to take the blue out of the shadows on the white door. As usual, everything goes on its own Layer (individual Adjustment Layers can be stacked on one base Layer) so I can have the Mask that goes with the Adjustment Layer to tweak the selections. I think (I’m still exploring this) I get more control using this method than using the Defringe option found under Layer/Matting/Defringe. Control, and the ease that comes from having control is what I’m after. Anything that makes work easier I’m all for.