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Photoshop permutations Adobe Photoshop comes in a variety of versions and guises and is the most popular family of photo editing packages. Seeking help or happy to provide advice on Photoshop use? Then this is the place for you.

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Old 13-01-08
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Some Basic Photoshop Techniques

Hi All,

I thought I would share a few hints and tips that I have picked up.

Most of these tips and ideas I have picked up from the kind people of DPNow, so I thought I would share a few nuggets with you

Please feel free to criticise anything you dont agree with, or add any that may help!


I am currently using Photoshop CS2, however, most of what I cover should transpose to earlier versions, and certainly to CS3.

Some of what I cover may not be the way that many of you carry out your workflow, I would be keen to hear from others in the way which they work, and of course other peoples hints and tips would be gratefully received!

For this I am assuming that the initial photograph has been taken in JPEG as that is how I carry out most of my work, and I know very little about working with RAW.

Some basics:

• First of all, I would always advise keeping your unmolested photograph, I never save over my initial photograph so I can always revisit if needs be.
• Its good practice to create a new layer initially to work on, so as during your workflow, you can always revisit the base photograph.

• Workflow:
o Right mouse click your ‘background’ layer, in the layers palette.
o Duplicate layer

Levels:

With almost every photograph, my first port of call, is to ‘tweak’ the levels (unless converting to black and white, see below).
Obviously the amount of which you do this, would very much depend on what photograph you have taken. But in almost every circumstance, it will enhance your photograph, and add a little punch.

• Workflow:
o Image
o Adjustments
o Levels (ctrl+L)

I usually find bringing the left slider (the darks) to the right and the right slider (the lights) to the left by a very small amount. You will find that this will have the effect of darkening the blacks, and lightening the whites.
I then use the centre slider (the greys) to taste.

Another very useful use of ‘Levels’ are the ‘eye droppers’

You will see three eye droppers in the Levels palette. Black, White and Grey . These are very useful for correcting white balance.

• Workflow:
o Bring up the ‘Levels’ palette (ctrl+L)
o Click on the white ‘dropper’ tool
o Click on an area of white in your photograph

You should see the photograph change. If the result is not pleasing, continue to click other area of white within your photograph. There is no need to undo the initial click.

Similarly you can do the same for the black ‘dropper’ obviously clicking areas of black. I have found the black tool particularly useful for taking pictures of the night sky and fireworks with the amount of light pollution around, it illuminates this very effectively to give a nice pitch black sky.

Adding a Vignette:

For those who are not familiar with this term, a vignette is where the extreme edges of the photograph is darkened slightly, it has the effect of drawing the eye into the centre of the picture.

The process is particularly useful for portraiture.

• Workflow:
o Right mouse click the ‘Marquee’ tool (top left tool)
o Select ‘Elliptical Marquee Tool’
o Create a large circle in the centre of your photograph, so the edges of the circle are almost touching the edges
o Right mouse click, select inverse (your ‘marching ants’ should now be all round the edge and the circle in the centre)
o Right mouse click, feather
o Select 250 pixels, click OK
o Right mouse click, fill
o Use – Black, Mode – Normal, Opacity 45% , click OK
o Right mouse click, deselect

I find these amounts most pleasing, however, do change the amounts to your taste.
For a romantic portrait, using white as the fill colour, and increasing the opacity can prove more apropriate.

The ‘feather’ amount can vary also depending on the size of your files.

Sharpening a Picture

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to sharpen a photograph. I tend not to over sharpen my photographs, as this can lead to unsightly artefacts, increased noise and thus a less pleasing image.
So the following is what I carry out on pictures which I feel need it.

Sharpening a photograph should always be the last action which is carried out. Its also important to note that sharpening a picture will always increase the file size.

• Workflow:
o Create a duplicate layer, name this sharpen
o Filter, sharpen, unsharp mask
o Select amount 100%
o Select 1 pixel
o Click OK

The amounts above are the maximum amount I normally use for sharpening a picture.
The reason for creating a duplicate layer, is so that you are able to use the ‘eraser’ tool to erase any areas that do not need sharpening, and revealing the background layer underneath as sharpening can accentuate any noise on pictures where a higher ISO has been used, so it is not always desirable to sharpen the whole picture.

Softening a Portrait

Sometimes softening a portrait can give a more ‘romantic’ feel than one which is pin sharp. However, it is always important to have the main feature such as the eyes, nose and lips nice and sharp.

• Workflow:
o Duplicate the background, and rename the layer ‘sharpen’
 Sharpen the image slightly if required using the above technique.
o Duplicate the background, and rename ‘soften’
o Ensure that ‘soften’ the top layer, and sharpen directly below by simply dragging and dropping the relevant layers in the layers palette
o Working on the ‘soften’ layer:
 Click Filter, blur, Gaussian blur
 Blur the image very slightly to soften the skin tones and background, ignoring the main facial features such as eyes nose etc.
 Select the eraser tool
 Using the navigator palette, zoom in so as the eyes are visible.
 Select a suitable brush, ensuring the hardness is turned down to zero. I find a size of about 80 to 100 is just right.
 Change the opacity of the brush in the tool area to about 50%
 Slowly and carefully erase the eye areas.
• What you should see here, is that you are erasing the ‘blurred’ eyes, revealing the ‘sharp’ eyes on the layer below.
 Continue on both eyes, the nostrils, and the mouth.

You should end up with a nicely softened photograph, with sharp eyes, mouth, and nose.

Converting to Black and White

There are many different methods to convert to black and white (or mono), below is the method I prefer to use.

• Workflow:
o Image
o Adjustments
o Channel Mixer
o Check the ‘monochrome’ box
o Tweak the outputs as you feel necessary, click OK
o Tweak the ‘levels’ (see above) to taste.

Creating a Duo/Tri/Quadtone

This is very much to taste, and is also great fun for dramatically changing images.

• Workflow:
o Image
o Mode
o Greyscale, Click OK
 An image needs to be converted to greyscale prior to converting to a duotone
o Image
o Mode
o Duotone
 Using the dropdown for type, select duotone
 Now simply have a play with the colours to give a dramatic feel to your image. Also experiment with tritone, and quadtones.

In order to save your photograph as a JPEG, you will need to reconvert your photograph back to RGB, using Image, Mode, RGB.


Adding a simple border

Ton finish off a photograph, adding a simple border makes all the difference, my border of choice is usually a simple black, white, black affair.

• Edit
• Stroke
o Width – 15 pixels
o Colour – Black
o Location – inside
o Blending Mode – Normal
o Blending Opacity – 100%
o Click OK
• Edit
• Stroke
o Width – 10 pixels
o Colour – White
o Location – inside
o Blending Mode – Normal
o Blending Opacity – 100%
o Click OK
• Edit
• Stroke
o Width – 5 pixels
o Colour – Black
o Location – inside
o Blending Mode – Normal
o Blending Opacity – 100%
o Click OK

You should now end up with a nice subtle border. Feel free to increase the size for more drama.


Sign Your Work, the Copywrite sign

I always like to add my signature to work that I feel proud of. To me it just rounds off the picture, and finalises the work.

In order to do this, I use the normal text tool, however, some struggle to work out how to add that ‘copywrite sign’, well, heres how!

• Worksflow:
o Select the text tool
o Hold down the ‘Alt’ key, and type 0169
o You should now see the © symbol
o I generally type my name, and the year:
 ©Ben Durrant 2008
o Once this has been completed, I change the opacity of the text layer to 50%


I really hope you have found some of the above techniques I have detailed useful.

Happy snapping, and happy post processing!

Again, I reiterate that most of these ideas I have picked up from the kind people here on DPNow

Cheers,
Ben
AKA Coupekid
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Old 16-01-08
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Caz Caz is offline
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Re: Some Basic Photoshop Techniques

Thank you Ben - I've seen some basic explanations on one of the groups on flickr, but as an absolute beginner with a very old version of Photoshop (5.5!) I found this very interesting.

I got a new computer on New Years Day (and the replacement on 3rd January - good old PC World...) and have found Vista a bit of a learning curve, let alone getting to grips with Photoshop!

Mind you - think I will need to invest in a more up to date version; I saved all my old good photo-editing programs on to an external hard drive, but Vista's not at all keen on my old Photoshop
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Old 17-01-08
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Re: Some Basic Photoshop Techniques

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caz View Post
Thank you Ben - I've seen some basic explanations on one of the groups on flickr, but as an absolute beginner with a very old version of Photoshop (5.5!) I found this very interesting.

I got a new computer on New Years Day (and the replacement on 3rd January - good old PC World...) and have found Vista a bit of a learning curve, let alone getting to grips with Photoshop!

Mind you - think I will need to invest in a more up to date version; I saved all my old good photo-editing programs on to an external hard drive, but Vista's not at all keen on my old Photoshop
Thanks Caz, glad someone found it interesting!
Well, I am sure if there is something you dont understand about Vista there will be someone on here at hand to help, I would certainly try being an early adopter of the software
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Old 17-01-08
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Re: Some Basic Photoshop Techniques

Hi,
Thanks for the info, photoshop is mind boggling and its nice to see the techniques used by pro's insead of blindly wading through the endless tutorials on forums.
I love vista, its 10x better then xp in my experience, but thats a whole different thread.
Cheers
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Old 18-01-08
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Re: Some Basic Photoshop Techniques

Quote:
Originally Posted by 19ninety View Post
Hi,
Thanks for the info, photoshop is mind boggling and its nice to see the techniques used by pro's insead of blindly wading through the endless tutorials on forums.
I love vista, its 10x better then xp in my experience, but thats a whole different thread.
Cheers
Good show (though, I am not a pro)
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