Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Little Trick Scott Kelby Taught Me Using Adobe Photoshop Curves

Okay, so Scott Kelby didn't single me out and teach me this technique.  I saw him discuss it on one of his Photoshop based shows.  Probably on Photoshop User TV.  His demonstration involved using Curves to sculpt a model's face.  I watched, tucked in away in the back of my mind and thought I might be able to use it for other "stuff".

Today's image is an example of  an "other stuff" application.  Scott showed that by using Curves to increase the depth of the shadows and increase the heights of the highlights you could use the tones inherent in the image to add drama.  I took it and applied it to the folds and creases of the batter's shirt and pants.

It's really quite simple (and pretty foolproof).  Set up two Curves Adjustments Layers.  Tag one as Shadows and the other Highlights.  In the Shadows Curve bring the upper right end of the linear Curve (straight line) to the left until you just touch the edge of wherever the tone Curve ends.  Eyeball a point on the Curve about three quarters of the way "up" the straight line.  Drag it up so the Curve is now steep and almost to the top of the box.  Invert the Mask that goes with the Adjustment Layer.  The Mask should now be black.

Do just the opposite to the curve tagged as Highlights.  Bring the right side of the linear Curve to the tip of wherever the tone Curve ends.  About one quarter in from the left side of the Curve, drag the Curve down to brighten the image.  Invert that Mask to black.

Make the Foreground color White.  Select the Brush Tool (B).  Make it hard, at least 95% hard.  Make it small.  Depending on the resolution of the image, somewhere around 3 to 6.

Click on the Mask named Shadows.  Everywhere you see a shadow line, paint a line all the way down the shadow.  Click on the Mask named Highlights.  Everywhere  you see a highlight, paint a line all the way down the highlight.  As a hint, where's a highlight next to every shadow.  You'll see that, even though you painted the shadow with a white paint brush, every shadow becomes darker.  Not only does it become darker, but it gets darker by different amounts.  In the areas with lighter shadows you'll see "less dark" lines.  In the areas of darker shadows you'll see "darker" lines.  Same (just the opposite) goes for the highlights.  (One hint, highlights and shadows never cross.  They should be parallel to each other.)

Now you'll have all these lines all over your image.  In Adobe Photoshop CS6 you have a Properties dialog box that goes along with each Adjustment Layer.  Open it.  Move the Feather Slider to the right.  Keep an eye on your Shadow (or Highlights) and watch them spread out and become soft.  You can go as far as you feel is necessary.  At some point it will become too soft and you won't see the effect.

The idea is to emphasize the differences by putting a highlight next to a shadow.  It becomes rather Rockwellesque (Norman Rockwell like) and makes the details jump out of the frame.