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Drop Black tool
On p. 113, I encountered the instructions to use the Drop Black tool for the first time to help create a Hue/Saturation mask, and although there is a short description of what that tool does, I was unable to recreate the steps by hand. I reread the earlier section on using the Gradient Editor for a Gradient Adjustment layer, but I was still unable to replicate what Drop Black does: I couldn't make any tone transparent with the opacity stops in the Gradient Editor. I also tried using the Drop Black tool and then using Undo to try to see the steps, but the steps didn't show.
So, I was wondering if anyone could help me create the steps for the Drop Black tool?
Now, I'm also interested in how the Clear Grayscale tool works on p.86. I can get close by choosing white with the magic wand tool with a tolerance of 254, but when I toggle off and on and compare my result to the result after applying the Clear Grayscale tool it's not quite the same: mine is slightly darker. I noticed that the Clear Grayscale tool created a layer with the layers styles "f" on the layer. When I double clicked on the "f", I saw the settings for the layer style, so I tried discovering what layer style had those settings, and I could get a similar setting with Drop Shadows/Hard Edge, but no combination I tried could get my result to look the same.
Last edited by dpnew; 01-06-2004 at 02:07 PM.
Susan is quite correct, you really can't do what i set you up with in the tools without the tools. Blend if is a 'Photoshop Only' feature that I tapped into using actions. As Gradient Mask is based on the layer BELOW (there has to be a tone to apply the masking to), this tool will not clear the current layer...If you have a transparency set, it will just not apply anything -- which is much different than clearing.
I have not found a really good way to do what Blend If does. It is a primal tool -- one that has been in Photoshop and been hidden, misused and misunderstood for most of its existence. Drop Black has a specific purpose, to remove black from visibility in the layer. If you are going to experiment, I would suggest working with Blend Masking, and figuring that out.
Thanks for the posts.
I have a question about how the tools are created: if Blend If is a PS only feature, then I don't understand how it is accessible in Elements? If you create a PS action, does the action somehow include the code for the tools within it? I would think that an action could only access tools you have in your software.
Last edited by dpnew; 01-16-2004 at 04:00 PM.
And PE2 uses the PS engine under the hood to a large extent - many (but not all) of the Ps functions are there, it's just that there is no interface to access them.
Drop Black tool can be replicated in PE2
I believe I figured out a way to mimic the Drop Black tool in PE2. I got the idea when I was involved in a discussion at dpreview.com about how to mimic the PS shortcut ctrl+alt+~ in PE2, whose solution is the key to the puzzle.
To mimic the Drop Black tool try this technique:
CREATE A GRADIENT MASK
The following steps create a Gradient Map that’s black from levels 1-2, black fading to white from levels 3-31, and white from levels 32-255 (which is similar to masking with tone using Curves (p. 84) and making levels 1-2 black and levels 3-255 white, but a Gradient Map allows you to easily fade the mask between the black and white areas of the mask.):
1)Duplicate the image or layer from which you want to eliminate the black areas, and turn off the duplicate layer's visibility and move it out of the way on your layers palette. Then, create a Gradient Map adjustment layer for the original layer.
2)Open up the Gradient Editor by clicking in the middle of the bar under the heading “Gradient Used for Grayscale Mapping”.
3)Start with the Opacity stops on the top of the gradient bar: click on each one and next to “Opacity:” enter 100% for both.
4)Now move to the Color stops on the bottom of the gradient bar. Make the left hand color stop(location 0%) black by double clicking on it and opening up the Color Picker.
5)You need to set two additional Color stops: one black and one white. Their locations need to be at levels 2 and levels 31 respectively(from the description of the Drop Black tool), however next to “Location:” you have to enter a number measured in % brightness, so you have to convert levels 2 and 31 to their percent brightness. 2/255 is roughly 1% and 31/255 is roughly 12%, so those are going to be the locations of the stops.
6)Click below the gradient bar to add a stop and enter 1% next to “Location:”, and double click on the color swatch next to “Color:” to open up the color picker to enter black as the color.
7)Click below the gradient bar and to the right of the first stop you added to add another color stop. Enter 12% next to “Location:”, and double click on the color stop to set its color to white.
8)Finally, change the color of the right hand color stop to white. What you should end up with is a gradient that is solid black from location 0% to location 1%, black fading into white from location 1% to 12%, and solid white from location 12% to 100%.
9)Close the Gradient Editor and the adjustment layer by clicking on OK, OK. You should be see a grayscale image.
10)Merge the Gradient Map adjustment layer into the original layer to form the grayscale layer.
CONVERT MASK TO A TRANSPARENCY SELECTION
11)Click on Select/All and Edit/Copy to copy the grayscale layer.
11)Create a Levels adjustment layer, don’t group it with anything, and don’t make any changes, just click OK.
12)alt+click on the mask thumbnail(the one on the right) in the Levels adjustment layer to turn off the visibility of all the other layers and enter mask edit mode.
13)Click on Edit/Paste to paste the grayscale layer into the layer mask.
14)ctrl+ click on the mask thumbnail in the Levels layer. That loads the transparency of the mask as a selection. The selection selects the whites and fades the selection into the grays and blacks (this is what ctrl+alt+~ does in full versions of Photoshop). Select/Inverse to select the blacks and fade the selection into the grays and whites.
15)Activate the duplicate layer you created at the beginning. Notice, the selection with the marching ants will still be active when you switch to that layer.
16)Hit the delete key to delete the blacks with a border that fades into the grays up to level 31.
You should be left with the same thing the Drop Black tool produces. It doesn't come out exactly indentical, but it is very, very close, and I attribute the differences to the rounding errors caused by converting levels to brightness percentages in the gradient map. This technique is more flexible than the Drop Black tool because you can decide how much to fade the selection. This technique is similar to what you can do with what's called "Blend If" in full versions of Photoshop.
The Hidden Power tool Clear Grayscale is even easier to duplicate. Take a grayscale image, and as in steps 11-14 above, copy and paste the grayscale image into the layer mask in a Levels adjustment layer. Then, make the transparency selection by ctrl+clicking on the mask thumbnail. However, since the selection selects the whites and fades the selection into the grays and blacks, there is no need to invert the selection in this case--all you have to do is activate your grayscale image and hit the delete key. That will produce the identical result as the Clear Grayscale tool.
Last edited by dpnew; 02-06-2004 at 07:21 AM.
I am not sure why you would do all this if it is possible to do it in one step by clicking a tool. The book (which, if you note, is in the title of this forum) shows how to use curves (with Blend Mask) to adjust your output and target the areas you need exactly.
Again, it seems you are, for some unknown reason, interested in trying to prove techniques in the book incorrect, inadequate or whatever. Certainly there are other means of working around things -- no denying. However, what you have produced here does not use Blend If, it mimics it. The tools from the book actually use Blend If, without mimicing.
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