Mopping up with the sponge tool

The sponge tool is actually a pretty simple tool, hardly worth expending valuable space in a book as tiny as this one. But I'm a compulsive explainer, so here's the deal: Press Enter when the sponge tool is active or double-click the tool icon in the toolbox to display the sponge tool controls on the Options bar. Then select either Desaturate or Saturate from the Mode pop-up menu to create one of the following results:

* When set to Desaturate, the tool reduces the saturation of the colors over which you drag. When you're editing a grayscale image, the tool reduces contrast.

* If you select Saturate, the sponge tool increases the saturation of the colors over which you drag or increases contrast in a grayscale image.

You can switch between the Desaturate and Saturate modes from the keyboard. Press Shift+Alt+D to select the Desaturate option. Press Shift+Alt+S for Saturate.

No matter which mode you choose, higher Pressure settings produce more dramatic results. Your settings in the Brushes and Brush Dynamics palettes also affect the sponge tool's performance; see the next section, "Brush Shape and Opacity," for more information.

Tip Color Plate 5 1 shows the sponge tool in action. The upper left example shows the original PhotoDisc image. The upper right example shows the result of applying * the sponge tool set to Desaturate. I dragged with the tool inside the pepper and around the corn area. The Pressure was set to 100 percent. Notice that the affected colors are on the wane, sliding toward gray. In the lower-right example, the effect is even more pronounced. I applied the sponge tools here with great vim and vigor two additional times. Hardly any hint of color is left in these areas now.

To create the lower-left example in Color Plate 5-1, I applied the sponge tool set to Saturate. This is where the process gets a little tricky. If you boost saturation levels with the sponge tool in the RGB or Lab color modes, you can achieve colors of absolutely neon intensity. However, these high-saturation colors don't stand a snowball's chance in a microwave of printing in CMYK. So, use View ^ Proof Colors (Ctrl+Y) to preview your image in CMYK before boosting saturation levels with the sponge tool. This way, you can accurately view the results of your edits. (Adobe changed the CMYK preview features in Version 6; Chapter 16 explains the new preview options if you need help figuring them out.)

Figure 5-15 shows the yellow channel from each of the images in Color Plate 5-1. Because yellow is the most prevalent primary color in the image, it is the most sensitive to saturation adjustments. When I boosted the saturation in the lower-left example, the yellow brightness values deepened, adding yellow ink to the CMYK image. When I lessened the saturation in the two right examples, the amount of ink diminished.

One of Adobe's recommended uses of the sponge tool is to reduce the saturation levels of out-of-gamut RGB colors before converting an image to the CMYK mode. I'm not too crazy about this technique because it requires a lot of scrubbing. Generally, selecting the out-of-gamut area and reducing the colors using more automated controls is easier (as discussed in Chapter 11). You might prefer to use the sponge tool, however, when a more selective, personal touch is required, as when curbing a distracting color that seems to leap a little too vigorously off the screen or boosting the saturation of a detail in the CMYK mode.

Figure 5-15: The yellow channel from Color Plate 5-1 shows the greatest a mount of variation when reducing and boosting the saturation with the sponge tool.

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Photoshop Secrets

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