Monday, October 5, 2009
Improved Retouching With A Simple Tool Tip—10/05/09
Sample all layers for efficient and effective retouching
One such tip is the ability for a few of Photoshop's key retouching tools to "sample all layers." When working on a layered file without checking the "sample all layers" box, these tools only affect the currently active layer. That means retouching a blemish on the background layer would also require additional work on adjacent sharpness masked layers or color-controlled layers.
With "sample all layers" checked in the healing brush palette, however, the tool is looking at the image the same way you're seeing it on the screen. Your eye doesn't see separate layers as separate entities; it merges them into one image. "Sample all layers" does the same thing—applying each click to the whole image, layers and all.
This step is certainly a time saver, sure, and a convenient way to avoid unnecessarily repetitive retouching tasks. But the best part about it is that it opens up an entirely new way of retouching.
With either a layered or flattened image to start with, add a new empty layer to the top. You can rename this "retouched" in the layers palette, if you'd like, because that's what it's going to be. Let's say your image is a portrait, and you've got to do some basic fix-ups. Perhaps there's a blemish or two, or maybe a frown line to be erased, or dark circles under the eyes to be minimized. When you utilize specific tools to make these changes—healing brush, blur/sharpen, magic wand and clone stamp—you can include the layers below with "sample all layers" selected, but the changes will happen on the blank layer above (as long as this is the active layer you're working on). This process builds a new layer with all the changes, while maintaining an unmodified original below.
There are a few great benefits of retouching on a blank layer. First, you can toggle the view on and off to check your progress as you go, ensuring you're making the changes as you hoped. Second, you can use a layer mask to ultimately go back and lessen the changes—ideal in case you get a little heavy handed with your retouching brush. Lastly, and perhaps most important, is that because the changes are maintained on a separate layer, the original pixels in the image file are all still there. They aren't degraded in any way so you always maintain the flexibility to go back, undo every adjustment and return to the unmodified original, even in a later editing session.