Sign & Digital Graphics

November '18

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38 • November 2018 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S DIGITAL PRINTING AND FINISHING DIGITAL GRAPHICS Let There Be Light Digital lighting techniques that create impact Stephen Romaniello is an artist and educa- tor teaching digital art at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona, for over 28 years. He is a certified instructor in Adobe Photoshop and the author of numerous books and articles on the creative use of digital graphics software. Steve is the founder of GlobalEye Systems, a company that offers training and consulting in digital graphics software and creative imaging. B Y S T E P H E N R O M A N I E L L O The Digital Eye HDR—High Dynamic Range You see a lot of high dynamic range (HDR) images these days, as the technique is quite fashionable for its grainy dystopian look. The HDR Toning dialog box, (see Figure 1) found under Image > Adjustments, is a cluster of tonal and color controls that globally enhance the color and contrast of an image so that there is more overall detail in the highlight, midtone and shadow areas. From this panel, color vibrancy and saturation can also be spiked as can sharpening. There is even a Brightness Curve that precisely controls the specific range of contrast. The results have a look that can be edgy and dramatic. HDR works particularly well to improve lackluster landscapes (see Figure 2A), but I've seen it used to the extreme as in Figure 2B, and it's questionable whether this treatment is desirable. On the other hand, if applied with restraint HDR can vastly improve the image lighting as in Figure 2C. People do tend to go overboard with it, especially with the detail slider, and it can be particularly unkind when over-applied to a portrait (see Figure 3). Shadows/Highlights When shooting a picture, the camera's automatic exposure meter measures the light intensity of a specific area and bases the exposure on that measurement. If the meter measures darker areas and compensates to reveal more detail, then the lighter areas can become blown out. Conversely when the meter measures lighter areas, the darker areas become darker and lose visible detail. Thus, the foreground of a backlit image can become severely compromised as in Figure 4. As long as some detail exists in the highlight areas (and it's not completely blown out) or the shadow areas aren't completely filled, there is a miracle technique that can help perfectly balance the darks and lights. The solution is the Shadows/Highlights adjustment found under Image > Adjustments. The controls (see Figure 5) individually target the light and dark image areas. To apply it, balance the dark-light relationships by dragging the sliders to the right to strengthen the effect or to the left to weaken it. Similar to HDR, there are color adjustments to saturate colors or to adjust the contrast of the midtones, and they are nicely clus- tered in a single interface. Shadows/Highlights is an ideal solution for enhancing detail in filled or blown out areas and spiking overall tonality as in Figure 6 where the default settings have been applied. L ight is the medium in which we as digital artists work. By manipulating the numerical proportions of the red, green and blue light that we see on the monitor, we have been granted unlimited control over how an image appears. The way lighting is handled can make or break an image. Of course, it all starts at the initial photo-shoot where the picture is captured, but post-capture digital techniques are frequently employed to enhance and dramatize the image content. Digital Light Light manifests in three forms on a digital image. There is the visible spec- trum of color, the color's intensity and the tonal range. These characteristics are referred to the as the hue, satura- tion and brightness. By manipulating these character- istics globally or locally, an image can be dramatically altered to improve their relationship. In Photoshop or any image altering software, there are basic tools that readily perform this task such as Brightness and Contrast, Levels and Curves that lighten, darken and increase or decrease contrast. These tools are essential for a gener- alized quick-fix that can improve the overall tonality of an image. There are however features that are more spe- cific to lighting design that provide, in a single interface, an extensive tool kit for the instant and precise modeling of light. These features are the ones that I'll explore in this article. Figure 1: The HDR Toning control is a cluster of tonal and color tools that globally enhance the color and contrast of an image.

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