Step 3: Use Quick Mask

No doubt about it — the easiest and most frequently used filter effect for those new to any of the Photoshop family of products is the Poster Edges filter. If you use it, odds are good someone will look at your work and say, "Oh, you used the Poster Edges filter!" If you don't mind this — and I sometimes don't because I admit to liking the Poster Edges filter as there are times and places where it is okay to use it. You can use this filter to make some wonderful inkjet prints when a fine-art paper is used. In spite of what I just said, go ahead and use it.

■ As we want to apply the Poster Edges filter on the Background, click once in the thumbnail in the Background in the Layers palette to set it as the active layer.

■ Click the Hide Layer icon in the left column of the Background copy layer to hide that layer.

One of the problems with the Poster Edges filter is that some images (such as this one) need to have different settings applied to different parts of the image. The solution is to use the wonderful and quick to use Quick Mask. Using the Quick Mask, you can apply the optimal settings to each part of the image. In this image, we want to use one setting for the trucks, as they are smooth, and a second setting for areas covered by grass and tree leaves, as they have lots of edges and shadows.

The Quick Mask is as its sounds — a mask that you can create quickly. After you turn on the quick mask, anything that you paint with black is masked, while everything that is not painted is not masked. When it is turned on, you paint the mask. When you turn it off, it automatically creates a selection for you from the mask you painted, thereby allowing you to affect only the areas that were not masked.

■ To edit in Quick Mask Mode click the Quick Mask Mode button (Q), which is near the bottom of the Tools palette, as shown in Figure 35.5. Before painting, make sure that the Foreground color is Black by clicking the Set Default Foreground and Background Colors (D) icon, which is located just to the bottom of the Foreground and Background color boxes in the Tools palette.

■ Select the Brush tool (B) by clicking it in the Tools palette.

■ Click the Brush Preset Picker box (the second brush box from the left) in the Options palette to select an appropriate brush. I suggest selecting the

Soft Round 300 Pixels brush by clicking it in the Brush palette shown in Figure 35.6. The Options bar should now show Mode as Normal, Opacity as 100%, and Flow as 100%. As you click and drag your cursor, paint with a red color, much like a rubylith — the default color of the mask. Keep clicking and dragging until you paint all of the leaves and the grass. After you are done, your mask should look similar to the one shown in Figure 35.7.

■ To turn off Quick Mask mode and once again edit in Standard Mode, click the Standard Mode button in the Tools palette. You now see a selection marquee showing you where want to apply the Poster Edges filter.

■ Choose Filter ^ Artistic ^ Poster Edges to get the Poster Edges dialog box shown in Figure 35.8. If you click inside the image preview box inside the Poster Edges dialog box, the cursor turns into the Hand tool. You can now click and drag the image to pick an area where you can best judge the settings. As we are going to set the filter

for the truck, click and drag until you can view the Mack emblem on the side of the hood. Assuming that we are in agreement that we want a nice level of posterization with medium heavy lines, try the settings of 4,3, and 6 respectively for Edge Thickness, Edge Intensity, and Posterization. Click OK to apply the settings.

■ Invert the selection by choosing Select ^ Inverse (Shift+Ctrl+I).

■ Choose Filter ^ Artistic ^ Poster Edges to get the Poster Edges dialog box. Click inside the image preview box and drag the image until you see the bottom-left corner of the image. Try setting Edge Thickness, Edge Intensity, and Posterization to 0,0, and 5 respectively.

■ Click OK to apply the settings, which makes the areas covered with grass and leaves have similar characteristics as the portion of the image where there are fire trucks.

■ If the Poster Edges effect is too strong for you, you can fade the effect by choosing Edit ^ Fade Poster Edges (Shift+Ctrl+F) to get the Fade dialog box shown in Figure 35.9. Not only can you adjust the fade factor by adjusting Opacity, but you can also change the blend mode! Using the

Preview feature, you can see the changes in the image as you make them. After you are done experimenting, click Cancel as I just wanted to show you how the Fade command works — not actually use it.

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■ Choose Select ^ Deselect (Ctrl+D) to remove the selection marquee.

■ To further enhance the filter you just applied, choose Image ^ Adjustments ^ Levels (Ctrl+L) to get the Levels dialog box. Set Input Levels to 20,1.00, and 235 respectively, and then click OK.

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