- 1 Getting Started with Photoshop
Getting Started with Photoshop
Options For Setting Up Your Workspace and Preparing Images for Editing
Before you can get started working, you need to set up your workspace to your liking . I think of it just like a desk, and you want to make sure that it’s optimized to your purposes and to your personal workflow.
The way you access workspace options is via a small drop down menu in the upper right hand corner, which by default reads, Essentials. This is the workspace I normally use. I would suggest pulling up your own Photoshop workspace as you read through this book to get the most out of it. Being able to see it in front of you will help comprehension greatly. The tool which you are currently using will be highlighted in the upper left hand corner. This is also where you will find any presets you may have for that tool. Directly beneath this is the toolbox, which runs the whole length of the left side of your screen. I will explain what each tool does in the next chapter. Then you have your foreground, background indicator, which is represented by black and white unless you have selected a color with the picker. Beneath that is your go to button for a quick mask, and your full screen editing mode, which can be exited with the escape key.
Along the very, very top, you have your menus, which of course, as with word or any other computer program will locate all of the drop down menus you will need if you don’t know the shortcuts. Speaking of shortcuts, I use Photoshop so much that I actually have a shortcut map keyboard cover. If you don’t plan on customizing your shortcuts too much, I would definitely suggest investing in one. It’s extremely helpful for learning on, and also just as a daily reminder. Just below your menus bar, back in the actual Photoshop dialog, you will see a toolbar that becomes customized based on whichever tool you have selected. I will also go over these in Chapter 2, but I would still suggest scrolling through all your tools and experimenting with it on your own time too. If you ever get confused or can’t remember what all these buttons do, you can always hover your mouse over them and Photoshop will tell you . This is also true of all your tools. Moving to your right side, there are two boxes, one represented by an arrow and squares, and one by what looks like a bunch of differently shaped blocks. These are your history bar and your properties bar. The history bar will likely become your best friend, because instead of having to hit undo ten times when you really make a mistake, you can just select the history bar and click on the step you’d like to go back to. Easy! Be careful though, because even with the history bar, you can only go back so much before it makes you click to go back to your very original image. Properties, of course, will reflect whatever specs are relevant to your image. Next to that, you’ve got your color and swatches dialog, which are pretty self explanatory. When you get into using the eyedropper tool, you’ll find that you can use it directly within this dialog to select the colors you need.
Below are your Libraries, Adjustments, and Styles tabs, which, when selected, directly affect the menu below it. Libraries will allow you to connect to an online server and access your library directly, while Adjustments allows you to view all the adjustment layer symbols right there and thus makes it easier than using either the top or bottom drop down menus to apply them. Finally, Styles, which features all sorts of gradients you can choose from, create, and apply to your pictures. Finally, there are Layers, Channels, and Paths, which too have their own chapter, because this is the area of your workspace you will likely need to pay attention to the most, aside from which tool you have selected. The Essentials layout is the one that will be used for the remainder of tutorials after this chapter.
The Other Workspaces
Since we won’t be using the other workspaces for these demos, I’ll just give a little bit of information. 3D is useful if you are a graphic designer or 3D animator, and need to do some basic rendering. While other programs that are made specifically for these purposes do a much better job, the 3D workspace can be useful especially if you need to utilize Smart Objects, which will be addressed later. There are also spaces for Motion, Digital Painting, Photography, and Typography. Experiment with these as needed. The only real difference between Essentials and Photography workspaces is that the photography one features a histogram at the top of everything, kind of like in Lightroom. This can be useful when doing colour and exposure corrections. You can also customize your workspace to include relevant elements of each of these standards.
As a warning, this chapter may get a little bit exhaustive to read, but I promise it’ll be worth it. It’s all about your toolbar, and the functions of everything in it. I will indicate which tools you’ll probably be using quite a lot with an asterisk, but will also give a brief overview of everything. The first thing to know is that the toolbar is somewhat customizable, and that behind each base tool is a variant tool, which can be accessed when you press down on the button. It may take you a while to remember where everything is, but once you at least have an understanding of the base tools , you should be all right. All of the tools also have shortcuts
that you will learn in time, and have their own settings toolbar which will run across the top of Photoshop beneath the main menu bar to allow you more options and easier accessibility as you switch between tools. Each tool also has its own shortcut, which you will memorize with use and time. Each is, of course, denoted by its own symbol, but these change as you click on variant tools. If you find yourself using a variant tool more than the main tool, you can leave it set like that. That, along with the specified toolbars, is where the customization comes in. So here’s the basic list, in bullet points, and I’ll elaborate on the more commonly used tools as we go.
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- Move Tool: This tool is self-explanatory. It allows you to move whatever you’ve got selected.
- Rectangular Marquee Tool:Allows you to make a rectangular selection when highlighted. If you hold down this button, you’ll also find the options of elliptical, single row, and single column marquee tools
- Lasso Tool:Opens up to the polygonal and magnetic lasso tools. These make more freely or weirdly shaped selections, and the magnetic lasso, true to its name, which will snap two edges it detects in the photo that it thinks you are trying to trace. Once you have made your selection, there is a box called Refine Edge that will become highlighted in your top toolbar. This will allow you to refine and tweak any part of the selection that may not be quite right, having selected too much or too little of an area.
- Quick Selection Tool and Magic Wand: allows you to make a very quick selection for utilizing things like a quick mask, to map out where you’re going. The edges won’t be perfect, but like lasso, you can refine them. The variant tool, the Magic Wand, makes its quick selections based on tone and colour in the image. Meaning that if you initially select something pink in an image, it will go and pick up on all the pinks. If you don’t want it to pick up absolutely every shade of pink, but only a small section, play around with your tolerance at the top. You can also add to and take away from selections, as well as choose what type of sampling you would like to do and how many layers to sample, be it one or all of them.
- Crop Tool: The crop tool of course is self explanatory, but also gives way to the perspective crop tool, slice tool, and slice selection tool. The type of crops you make will depend on the realism and precision of your work, as well as whether you do any graphic design.
- Eyedropper Tool:The eyedropper tool allows you to select a foreground and background colour, whether from the colour picker, swatches, or your image. This tool can be especially helpful because it can allow you to greater match things like skin tones or gradients as you work and do corrections to small, specific areas. The Eyedropper tool gives way to a whole host of other tools: The 3D Material Eyedropper tool, the colour Sampler, the Ruler tool, the Note tool, and the Count tool. Of these, the only other one I really use is the colour Sampler, which allows you to select samples of up to four different colour within your image. This tool is extremely useful when trying to do colour corrections, because you can set parameters to within those samples and make changes that way.
- Spot Healing Brush Tool: This tool and it’s variants get a bunch of asterisks, because they are going to be very important and useful to you no matter what type of work you do. These are the tools that allow you to fix any sort of discrepancy or blemish imaginable, and for that, they’re all going to get their own bullet points. So, Spot Healing Brush is awesome for things like blemishes in portraiture and dust on film. Because it is a brush, it has the same toolbar settings as the general brush tool, including brush size and firmness, blend modes, match modes, a sample all layers checkbox, and the swirly pen symbol, which allows you to match the brush pressure to its size.
- Healing Brush Tool: Does the same thing as the Spot Healing Brush, but over larger areas. However, with the Healing Brush Tool as with the Clone Tool, you have to select a sample spot to begin with and work from.
- Patch Tool:This will let you select an area within the photo that you would like to repair, using other pixels from another part of the photo to repair it. You simply select and drag the area over to correct it. This tool can also be used to clone isolated image areas.Self-explanatory, it moves the selected area to wherever you drag it, but then uses the matching software to meld it almost effortlessly into its surroundings.
- Content Aware Move Tool: Self-explanatory, it moves the selected area to wherever you drag it, but then uses the matching software to meld it almost effortlessly into its surroundings.
- Red Eye Tool: Removes red eye as caused by flash or other poor lighting conditions. The Brush Tool and its variants are also very, very essential. Obviously, the brush tool can be used for any kind of digital painting. Its control panel has an indicator and drop down menu for size, hardness, and shape of the brush, so you can really control it as you would an actual paintbrush. Next to that is a palette folder of all the brush presets that Photoshop includes. If you go into this dialog box, you can really have control over the type of brush you create. As you can see, you can control every aspect of the brush. This is really a tool that I would suggest taking the time to experiment with, both on photos and on blank Photoshop documents. If you happen to create a brush you really enjoy, you can add it to your
- Pencil tool: The Pencil Tool works essentially just like the brush tool, except that in my opinion, it’s less versatile and more frustrating. Choose the Brush Tool over this all the time.
- Colour Replacement Tool: It does exactly what it says: Gives you an easy way to change, or replace, the colour of any element within a photo. What this tool does is takes a sample of the colours that are under the cursor, so make sure you set the size accordingly. Whatever colour you’re dragging over is the colour you want to alter, and it will change to whatever your foreground colour is set to. If you do move it outside of the area you to be, as in, how heavy on blue, or how light on the red, et cetera. There is also a drop down menu of presets for your convenience. Be careful though. This tool will cover your photograph unless you adjust it with the right opacity and blend modes to get the exact look you want.
Clone Stamp and Pattern Stamp Tool:
The Clone Stamp Tool is another great way to do retouching or to create any artistic patterns you might want. Clone Stamp allows you to select the area you would like to clone, and then click to apply it to other spots. The thing is that it works much better when being applied in close proximity with the spot of origin, and also works much better when being applied to small, selective spots. So set your brush size to the smallest size that you can possibly use for optimal results. The Pattern Stamp tool allows you to select preset patterns and apply them over your photos. As with other tools, you can also load other patterns of your choice for your use. You can either create your own and save them, or there are plenty of free and paid patterns online that are downloadable.
History Brush Tool:
- The History Brush Tool works much the same as the history dialog box, except that, as its name implies, you can actually use it like a paintbrush to paint on the layer (and in the area) that you would like to undo. The Art History Brush tool does much the same thing as the History Brush tool, except that you can paint in filters or other under-layer effects, unlike the History Brush tool, which just allows you to undo things.
- Eraser, Background Eraser, and Magic Eraser Tool: The eraser and background eraser work exactly as their names imply, but the note I’d like to give you about these tools has to do with the concept of non-destructive editing. When you choose to use any of the eraser tools, you never want to erase right on your original image. Always use a copy or a layer, especially when using the background eraser tool. That way, if you want it back, you just have to click a button, and the same goes for if you make a mistake. The Magic Eraser tool is called that simply due to the fact that it is smart; it will select and erase pixels that are similar to the ones you designate.
- Gradient, Paint Bucket, and 3D Material Drop Tool:3D Material Drop Tool: These tools kind of remind me a lot of paint on old, old Mac computers. They work almost exactly the same way. If you choose to apply a gradient, it may at first seem to obscure your entire image. But never fear, because you can isolate it on its own layer. That way, you can apply blend modes and differing opacities to allow lower layers to show through. Paint Bucket works exactly the way you might think, and is also similarly affected by
- blend modes and opacity. It will not fill your entire image when you click, however, but will follow the layout of your image depending on where you click. The 3D Material Drop tool is not something I’ve ever used before, because I don’t work in 3D rendering, but basically what it does is allows you to drop uploaded textures into the picture, or rather, onto the 3D object.
- Blur, Sharpen, and Smudge Tool: These are pretty self-explanatory, and can be pretty useful for small fixes. The Smudge tool is really the most interesting in the way it makes things look, since, if heavily applied, it can have a melty, Surrealist effect.
- Dodge, Burn, and Sponge Tool: The dodge and burn tools work exactly like the traditional darkroom techniques of dodging, or allowing less light to effect parts of an image, and burning, or the opposite. Of course, it’s a lot easier to do in Photoshop than it is in the darkroom, and there are even different settings that control how much you want the tool to affect the part of the image you’re working on. The Sponge tool seems at first like it should be housed under another main spot, since the name reminds me a lot of the Pattern Stamp tool. But the name can be deceiving, and the Sponge tool is actually used to saturate or desaturate parts of your image.
- Pen Tool: This is mostly used for things like creating vector paths, although you can also draw with it. A path is sort of like an outline, it helps to map things out. The pen tool also houses the Freeform
- Pen Tool, and Add, Delete and Convert Anchor Point tools. This is because paths are made up of anchor points that tell it where to.
- Type Tool: The type tool is awesome for any kind of graphic design process. With it, you can use Photoshop to create things like postcards or your own business cards.
- Path Selection Tool: Self-explanatory, this tool is great for use with the pen
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Shape Tools: The shape tools are: the line tool, the ellipse tool, the rectangle tool, the polygon tool, and finally, the custom shape tool. Within the polygon tool and the custom shape tool are even more choices. Unlike the marquee
Let’s talk about layers. One of the most fundamental rules when it comes to learning about Photoshop that I cannot stress enough is the importance of non-destructive editing. Non-destructive editing simply means that you use Photoshop properly—that is, to your advantage, to ensure you preserve all of the photographic and editing information that you can. That’s where layers come in. Layers allow you to place each task that you perform in its own space. In order to keep it all straight, especially when you’ve got over ten or so layers, Photoshop provides ways to keep it all organized. Firstly, you have your layer titles. There’s no standardized way to title your layers, but you do want to make sure that you name each one. Use something that’s going to trigger your memory, or the name of whatever fix you’re trying to do. This way, if you should have to go back and change anything, you know exactly which layer you need to go to without having to click through every single one. Photoshop also provides a way to see what your final image will look like with and without certain layers. You can tell if a layer is turned on or not by the checkbox next to the title. If a layer is on, or visible, there will be an eye symbol in the checkbox. If not, the checkbox will be empty. With this option, you can decide whether you want to keep or print a layer before you delete it for good. If you want to organize your layers even more, you can also create layer groups, which will create a folder into which you can drop all the layers you want. This is awesome for grouping like fixes. Say for example that you’re retouching a portrait. You could have one grouping for eyes and lips, one for skin, one for hair, one for retouching wrinkles from fabric. You maybe thinking, how could I possibly need this many layers for something like that? But sometimes you want to do things in sections. For example, in the skin grouping, there maybe a separate layer for cheeks and for the forehead. The more layers you have, the less likely you are to get confused in the event of a mistake (that is, as to how to locate the mistake). It may also be a good idea to group by what are necessary fixes, such as blemish removal or color correction, and to group by artistic choice. Later in the book, I will discuss modes that can be applied to layers to affect artistic choice even more. In the meantime, also in the same palette area as layers, are channels and paths.
Brightness and Contrast
The wonderful thing about adjustment layers, too, is that it automatically includes a layer mask so that you can control, within the layer, where the adjustment will be applied. Brightness and Contrast are controls that should be used sparingly, because they are not as refined as some of the other choices that you have. You don’t want to push either one of these too high, because it will just make your photo look unprofessional. In fact, if you are going to use the brightness and contrast sliders, I would suggest applying then after you apply any changes using the exposure slider for the Levels and Curves slider. This way, you are not tempted to make your photos look so high contrast that it becomes crunchy. Even so with these warnings, let’s take a look at what the Brightness and Contrast sliders look like when applied to an image. Pull up one of your own images that needs little to no correction applied. Use the original for comparison and just play around with the sliders, saving different versions of them. You may not think that the tools are making that much of a difference, but when you pull up your altered images alongside the original, you will see how even a small five point change makes a huge difference. Don’t believe me? Try it on a few different images and see what you get. Try making a version where you just minimally pop up contrast and brightness. This is good editing, generally. Then make a version of the image in which you push the changes to their max, which is an example of what not to do in most cases. In your second image , the sliders should have barely moved. What you are generally looking for in your corrections is subtlety. Then take a look at your third image, which is what the same image would look like if you were to push the contrast slider all the way up to 100. This is a common mistake that many new photographers make, especially when they get excited with Photoshop. They want their images to stand out, and look punchy, but instead, the effect is not exciting, it’s just unprofessional.
Curves perform essentially the same function as levels, but are even more precise. Within this dialog box the corrections are interactive, meaning that you can click anywhere within the histogram that you need to, moving the guiding line up or down to adjust highlights and shadows. You can also make more than one point on the line to affect more than one change at a time in an image. Like levels, you can also use the mask to make sure that the layer only affects parts in the image that you want it to. Another easy way to make sure that you’re getting exactly what you need is to use the eyedropper tools to sample the area where you want the blacks, midtones and whites to come from. This can take some practice however, because if you select something that is too dark for example, you can get some weird color casts on your image. This is just one of those tools as you are old as you’re playing around with this practice to get it just right. As you’re playing around with this, however it will get easier to use, and you may just discover some practical and artistic applications for it. This way, your final image has more color and contrast than it did, but it isn’t overdone or oversaturated. Feel free to experiment with your own photos, and start with some that you know need some obvious fixes, then move into more subtle fixes that require a much lighter hand. Breaking away from just talking about each type of adjustment layer separately, I want to talk about what you can do with adjustment layers now that you’ve got a good base file to work from.
The photo filters adjustment layer is a throwback from the world of analog photography. When you went to take an analog photo before the days of Photoshop, fixes couldn’t be done to the negatives after the fact. So, if for example, you needed to shoot a landscape and pop your greens to be more vibrant, you could use a green filter. Same with if you needed to bring in clouds, although that would require a different kind of filter, blue, I believe. These photo filter adjustments can help you to bring in or pop anything you need after the fact, and even if your photo isn’t really in need of a fix, you can also use them to affect the color of the lighting, making it warmer or cooler, or more neutral , et cetera. This will affect the overall mood of the photograph to be read the way you want it to. For example, in relationship to landscape photography you can add a green filter to make sure the color is as rich as it should be. However, as you can see if you apply it, it will affect the whole picture , so again, make use of your layer masks as well , unless you find yourself preferring the overall look.