Adobe Photoshop CC For Dummies, 2nd Edition book cover

Adobe Photoshop CC For Dummies, 2nd Edition

By: Peter Bauer Published: 12-08-2017

Photoshop is the gold standard when it comes to photo and image editing tools. But unless you've ever taken a class or gotten help from a Photoshop guru, you may find yourself a bit confused on where to start and how to get things done. Photoshop CC For Dummies, 2nd Edition is the book for those of us who don't know a layer from a level and just want to learn how to make photos look better.

Articles From Adobe Photoshop CC For Dummies, 2nd Edition

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20 results
Photoshop File Formats for Digital Photos

Article / Updated 08-26-2021

If you print your images yourself at home or the office, you can stick with the PSD Photoshop format when saving. (Remember that you cannot re-save in a Raw format after opening in Photoshop.) If you send the photos to the local camera shop (or discount store) for printing, stick with JPEG — or, if the folks doing the printing accept it, TIFF. Here are the pros and cons of the major formats that you should consider for photos when saving: PSD: Photoshop’s native file format is great for saving your images with the most flexibility. Because the PSD format supports all of Photoshop’s features, you don’t need to flatten your images — and keeping your layers lets you make changes later. If your file size is very large (400MB or larger), make a TIFF or JPEG copy before printing, flattening all the layers. Don’t send PSD files to the local shop for prints. TIFF: Although the TIFF file format (as you use it in Photoshop) can save your layers and most other Photoshop features, make sure to choose Layers→ Flatten Image before sending files for printing. Layered TIFF files generally are compatible only with programs in the Creative Cloud. The TIFF Options dialog box is shown. JPG: JPEG, as it’s called, is actually a file compression scheme rather than a file format, but that’s not important. What is important is that JPEG throws away some of your image data when it saves the file. Save important images in PSD or TIFF and use JPEG only for copies. When should you use JPEG? When sending images to a photo lab that doesn’t accept TIFF files, uploading to most social media sites, and when sending images (perhaps by e-mail or on CD) to people who don’t have Photoshop. Unlike PSD and TIFF, you can open JPEG images in a web browser and print from there — and so can Granny, and Cousin Jim, and that overseas soldier you adopted. When saving JPEGs, the lower the Quality setting you choose in the JPEG Options dialog box, the smaller the file, but also the more damage to the image. I discuss saving as JPEG in more detail in the sidebar “Resaving images in the JPEG format.” JPS: Jpeg Stereo is used to create steroscopic images that use the left half as one copy and the right half as another. It’s a specialty format for creating 3D-looking photos. You may or may not ever use the file format, but who knows what’s right down the road? (Remember the “old days” when only a few cameras could capture Raw and when nobody knew what HDR stood for?) PDF: It’s easy to overlook Adobe’s PDF format when talking about photos, but you should consider using this format. Although the local photo lab probably won’t accept it, it’s a great format for sharing your pictures with folks who don’t have Photoshop. Unlike JPEG, your images won’t be degraded when saving as PDF; and like JPEG, just about anyone with a computer can view the files. (Either Adobe Reader or the Mac’s Preview, which you can also use with PDFs, is found on just about every computer now, just like web browsers for JPEG.) Keep in mind, however, that PDF files are larger than JPEGs. Large Document Format (PSB): Really, really, really big pictures — more than 30,000 pixels wide or long or both — must be saved in the PSB or TIFF file formats. Will you ever need this format? Consider that 30,000 pixels at a photo-quality resolution of 300 ppi is 100 inches long. At a resolution of 85 ppi, more appropriate for a long banner to hang in a hallway, you’re talking about artwork that stretches almost 30 feet! Can your printer do that? If not, you probably don’t need the PSB file format. You could theoretically use a number of other available formats, such as DCS (never Photoshop Raw), but there’s no real need with the more common and more versatile formats about which you just read. The JPEG file format doesn’t support 16-bit color, but even when working with a 16-bit image (perhaps a Raw image from your digital camera), JPEG is available as a file format in Photoshop’s Save As dialog box. The image is automatically converted to 8-bit color. It’s more convenient — saving you a trip to the Image→Mode menu to select 8-Bits/Channel — but the JPEG Options dialog box won’t give you an estimate of the file size. Don’t forget to save in a format that supports 16-bit color, such as PSD or TIFF, before creating the JPEG copy.

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Specialized Features of Photoshop CC

Article / Updated 04-02-2021

Check out the various special features of Photoshop that were formerly in the Extended version only. This article won’t get you fully up to speed on how to work with the features; instead, it’s meant to quench your curiosity about those features designed for specialists and scientists rather than photographers and designers. These extended features don’t really have a place in the workflow of most Photoshop users. That doesn’t mean that you’ll never use any of these features! You might find a need to calculate a height or a distance using the measuring tools in Vanishing Point, or perhaps use the Count tool. As a photographer, you may find that a couple of the Smart Object stack modes can be used to solve a couple of photographic challenges. And who can resist the temptation to play around with 3D? This figure shows the 3D panel and menu commands. Using Smart Object Stack Modes Working with Photoshop CC, you can combine a number of images into a single stack as a Smart Object. Within the pile of images, you can determine how the pixels in each interact with those in the others. Select several related or contrasting images and add them as layers to a single image, select the layers, and create a Smart Object by choosing Layer → Smart Objects → Convert to Smart Object. Return to the Layer →Smart Object submenu and take a look at the Stack Modes submenu that’s now available. These options determine how the content on the layers within the Smart Object interact to produce the appearance of the Smart Object itself. (Not quite the same, but similar to the way layer-blending modes help determine the overall appearance of your artwork.) You can find technical explanations of each option in Photoshop’s Help. Here, you see a combination of the layers (shown to the left as thumbnails) using the stack mode Mean, which averages the values for each pixel in each channel. Not quite Merge to HDR, but with some planning and prep, it could be a supplemental technique. Photographers may also find another great use for stack modes. Using a tripod and the same exposure settings, take a number of photos of a static object with moving objects (people or cars, for example) over a reasonably short period of time (minutes, not hours, so the lighting doesn’t change much). Select the thumbnails in Bridge and use Bridge’s menu command Tools → Photoshop → Load Files into Photoshop Layers. (If you’re not using Bridge, open the first image, then open each additional image and drag the layer Background from the Layers panel to the first image.) In Photoshop, use the menu command Select→ All Layers. (You never even noticed that command before? Now you’ll use it all the time.) Unless you had a rock-solid tripod, choose Photoshop’s Edit→ Auto-Align Layers command with the Reposition option. Create a Smart Object from the layers by choosing Layers → Smart Objects → Convert to Smart Object. Choose the Median stack mode and watch all of those moving objects simply disappear, leaving you with just the scene, empty of traffic. The following figure shows the shots originally taken and the resulting image. The Mean Stack Mode Another use of the stack mode Mean that is of value to photographers is noise reduction. Shooting in low light with a high ISO setting can result in images with a lot of noise. Using a tripod or bracing the camera, take several shots, perhaps using the camera’s burst mode. (This is a great trick for shooting in a museum that doesn’t permit flash photography.) Open the files in Photoshop layers through Bridge or manually, select all the layers, and align. Create your Smart Object from the layers and set the stack mode to Mean to minimize the noise. Working with 3D Artwork Photoshop offers lots of 3D capabilities, including 3D extrusions from layers and paths, control over the spatial relationships among objects, improved rendering, and generally improved performance. This figure shows many of the features available when working in 3D. You can use the tools in the 3D Mode section of the Options bar (to the far right) to rotate and roll and drag and slide and scale 3D objects. The 3D panel offers access to each of the materials (think “textures”) used with a 3D object, as well as a tab on which you add, subtract, or alter lights used in the 3D scene. Creating 3D objects Working with a photo or any other 2D artwork, you can create any of a dozen different 3D shapes, from simple spheres, cubes, and cones to donuts, hats, and wine bottles. (Use the menu command 3D →New Mesh from Layer → Mesh Preset.) Working with a layer that contains areas of transparency, you can extrude shapes as well, stretching the layer content backward into a 3D shape. (Use the menu command 3D → New 3D Extrusion from Selected Layer.) Active selections on a layer and even paths can be used to create extruded objects. Importing 3D objects Among the file formats that support 3D that you can open into Photoshop are 3D Studio, Collada DAE, Flash 3D, Google Earth 4 KMZ, U3D, and Wavefront|OBJ. Many ready-made 3D objects can be downloaded or purchased from various websites, including TURBOSQUID Daz3D Archive3D You can use Photoshop’s File →Open command, or add a 3D object to an existing project by choosing 3D →New 3D Layer from File. And you can find additional resources by using 3D→ Get More Content. Rendering and saving 3D scenes After you have your 3D scene looking just the way you want it to appear as a 2D image, use the command 3D→ Render, followed by File →Save As, to save in the file format of your choice. Photoshop uses the Shadow Quality and Ray Tracer High Quality Threshold settings set in the program’s Preferences → 3D. You can also use the command 3D → Export 3D Layer to save the project in any of eight 3D file formats, including Collada DAE, Flash 3D, Google Earth 4 KMZ, 3D PDF, STL, U3D, VRML, and Wavefront|OBJ. Measuring, Counting, and Analyzing Pixels Designed for researchers and scientists, the measuring capabilities in Photoshop are quite powerful. You can measure just about anything and count the number of whatevers in a technical image, perhaps from a microscope or telescope. Measuring length, area, and more If you know the exact size of any element in an image, you can then discover just about anything you want to know about anything else in that image. The key is to set the measurement scale, as shown. Open the Measurement Log through Photoshop’s Window menu. Click the button in the upper-right corner to open the panel menu. From the Set Measurement Scale options, choose Custom (rather than Default). Drag the Ruler a known distance and then set the custom measurement scale. Afterward, you can use the Ruler to determine the height, width, or length of anything in the image. Calculating with Vanishing Point Photoshop also offers measurement in perspective through Vanishing Point (found in the Filter menu). Suppose, for example, you need to calculate how much wallpaper to order for the room shown in the following figure. You know the height of the window (70 inches) and using that as your known measurement, you can have Photoshop calculate the height and length of each wall. Drag the Measure tool along the edge of the window and enter the known size (70 inches) in the Length field. When you click the four corners of a surface in the image with the Create Plane tool, the length of each side is visible in boxes. Counting crows or maybe avian flu Nested with the Ruler tool and the Eyedroppers in the Toolbox is the Count tool. Zoom in and start clicking whatever you need to count, whether they’re birds in the sky or viruses on a slide. Each item you click is labeled with a number. When you want to record the count, click the Record Measurements button in the Measurement Log. You can also record and work with multiple counts. To the right of the Count Groups menu on the Options bar are buttons to show/hide the currently selected count group, to start a new count group, and to delete the current count group. Click the color swatch on the Options bar to select a new color for the count group, and you can customize both the size of the circle that marks the count and the marker number — individually for each count group. View your DICOM medical records If your doctor's office, hospital, or lab has sent you home with a CD (you may need to request the files), it probably contains DICOM (Digital Imaging and COmmunication in Medicine) images. It might contain the results of a CAT scan, MRI, ultrasound, or X-rays, and you can open the files and take a look right in Photoshop. Copy the files to your hard drive. (Don't open files into Photoshop directly from a CD or DVD.) Choose File→Open. In the Open dialog box, select the frames in which you’re interested and then click Open. In the next dialog box that opens (shown), the preview area is likely to be completely black. Make sure that Show Windowing Options is selected. In the Window Preset menu select the appropriate view option. Full is generally a good option, but try the others if appropriate for the image content. If you selected multiple DICOM images in Photoshop’s Open dialog box, you can click each of the thumbnails in the stack to the left to view them one at a time. You can also use the two arrows to the right below the preview to move through the frames. With multiple images open in the DICOM viewer window, you can click the Select All button in the upper left and then elect to open into Photoshop as layers in an image (the Import Frames as Layers option) or in a grid pattern (the N-Up Configuration option). You can also use Photoshop's File→Place command to add a DICOM image to an appropriate image. Ignoring MATLAB Photoshop offers all of these interesting features for scientists, researchers, and technicians, so it only makes sense that it should work with some of the file formats they actually use and integrate with their software. When you come across the term MATLAB in Photoshop, recognize it as a software environment (sort of like a programming language) that speeds calculations and helps coordinate work in various technical programs. Unless you actually work with MATLAB, in, say, a research lab, you really don't need to know anything else about it.

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More Sensei Coming Soon to Photoshop

Article / Updated 03-06-2018

At the Adobe MAX conference in October 2017, Adobe announced that Adobe Sensei will play a larger role in Photoshop. (Or, depending on when you’re reading this, it may already be doing so.) What is Sensei? Accessed by clicking a blue circle in the upper-right corner of Photoshop, Sensei is Adobe’s “creative intelligence” and “design intelligence” (try to avoid the term “artificial intelligence”). Already used in Face-Aware Liquify, it will add a number of very powerful features. Among them are a capability to identify various elements in a photo or sketch and then search your photos and Adobe Stock for related images and templates. The coolest capabilities Based on content, auto-masking will save hours of work for many photographers and designers. Using “design intelligence,” Sensei can search through your past projects for various elements, including, for example, text layouts and social media layouts. Mind blowing, Sensei will be at least partially voice controlled.

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What’s New to Camera Raw in Photoshop CC

Article / Updated 03-06-2018

The engineers at Adobe didn’t just make improvements and add features to Photoshop, the Camera Raw plug-in got some love, too. There are new features, improved performance, and changes such as moving the Upright adjustments from the Lens Correction panel to the new Transform tool. Additional camera support: As soon as Adobe has a handle on a new camera’s Raw capabilities and format, it’s added to Camera Raw. You’ll also find lots of new lens profiles. Pressure-sensitive device support: Wacom tablets and Windows Surface Pro devices can now take advantage of pressure sensitivity for the Local Adjustment Brush and the Eraser tool (if you’re using a stylus with an eraser, of course). Set the flow to maximum value and control how it behaves with lighter or heavier pressure. Guided Upright in the Transform panel: With the Transform tool selected, you can adjust perspective with up to four lines drawn on your photo. Photoshop uses these to straighten and align objects in an image (see the figure). The original manual transform controls for rotating, adjusting vertical and horizontal lines, rotation, scale, and aspect — and the Level, Vertical, Auto, and Full Upright modes — have been moved from the Lens Control panel to Transform. Interface control: Selections you make in Photoshop’s Interface dialog box are now also applied to Camera Raw. Boundary Warp: The Panorama Merge preview now includes a Boundary Warp slider that enables you to straighten and minimize areas of transparency when creating a panorama. Dehazing local areas: Use the Dehaze slider with the Radial Filter, Graduated Filter, or the Adjustment Brush to localize and control fog-like softening in your image. Haze is most often found in scenic photos. Black and White sliders: When working with the Radial Filter, Graduated Filter, or the Adjustment Brush, you can now use sliders to adjust the black and white points in your image. GPU acceleration: Camera Raw got speedier now that it can use your computer’s graphics processing unit. It’s enabled by default, but if you see problems, you can disable it in Photoshop CC →Preferences → Camera Raw. HDR and panoramas in Camera Raw: You can now create high dynamic range images and panoramas right in Camera Raw. Open the source files, select them in the left column (Filmstrip), right-click one of them, or open the menu in the upper-right corner and select Merge to HDR or Merge to Panorama. Make any necessary adjustments, click Merge, click Save, click Done. Note that the Select All, Select Rated, and Sync Settings commands are now accessed through the menu or by right-clicking an image.

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The New Features of Photoshop CC

Article / Updated 03-06-2018

Since the last version of Photoshop CC was released, new features and improvements (so-called “bug fixes”) have been introduced regularly. Many of them you’ll never even notice, but some of them add significant and powerful capabilities to Photoshop. Here is a look at some big and little changes since the introduction of Photoshop CC: Learn Panel and Rich Tooltips: Okay, newbie, Adobe has made it much simpler to figure out which feature does what. In the default Essentials workspace, you’ll find a new panel named Learn. (In other workspaces or custom workspaces, you can make Learn visible through Photoshop’s Window menu.) Click one of the subjects and you’ll find a number of videos on the subject. When you park the cursor over a tool, not only do you get the tool’s name, you’ll get a short explanation of what it does and, in many cases, you’ll also see a video and even a “Learn More” link. (If you find Rich Tooltips to be annoying, disable them in the Tools pane of Photoshop’s Preferences.) Perspective Warp: Using grids, this feature enables you to do a couple of tasks that are very difficult to do manually in Photoshop. You can align a grid to straighten a building or other subject in an image and you can also use Edit→  Perspective Warp to change the vantage point in the image, effectively altering the position from which the image was shot, without distorting or stretching anything in the image. You can also use multiple grids in an image to make multiple changes. Motion blurs: The Blur Gallery now includes Spin Blur and Path Blur to simulate circular blurs and blurs that could be created using a slower shutter speed while moving the camera. You’ll also find that the Blur Gallery now allows you to add monochromatic or color noise to better match the original image. Content-Aware improvements: You find a new command in the Edit menu: Content-Aware Fill. The Content-Aware option for the Fill command remains, but this new command includes something special. You find a brush with which you can designate areas to be used for the content of your fill. It can also be used to designate areas that you don’t want used for the fill. Overall, Content-Aware features now do a much better job with gradients and areas of similar color, such as skies. The improvements are across the board, including the content-aware modes for the Patch and Move tools. Content-Aware is available in the Crop tool’s Options bar for situations in which you need to rotate or increase the canvas size. It uses adjacent pixels to fill in what would be transparent areas of the canvas. Select and Mask: This is much more robust than the Refine Edge it replaces. (The Refine Edge brush is included among the tools to the left in the Preview pane.) It gives you much more control over the edges of your selections. See its Properties panel here. Select → Focus Area: This new feature enables you to make selections based on what areas of an image are sharpest. The dialog box includes sliders to adjust the amount of “in focus” you want to include and noise control, as well as a button that will take you directly to the Select and Mask feature. You can elect to output the result to a selection, mask, new layer (with or without a mask), and even to a new document. Typekit Marketplace: Typekit can now access some of the major font suppliers and uses its font sync and web to access your Marketplace fonts anywhere you need them. Linked Smart Objects: Rather than embedding a placed file into your working document, this feature allows you to embed only a link to the placed image file. This can be great at keeping file sizes small and saving space on your hard drive, but keep in mind that if you move the linked file, the link is broken and the master document won’t be able to find the image automatically. Also keep in mind that if you send the master document to someone else, you’ll need to include the linked file (and re-do the links), so embedding the placed image often makes more sense and prevents potential problems and wasted time. If/Then in Actions: While recording an Action, you can select Conditional Action from the Action panel’s menu. You can select from among two dozen situations to determine what steps should follow in the Action. The conditionals include various document attributes, such as color mode, bit depth, layers, and alpha channels. There are also layer-related conditions, such as what type of layer is active (background, adjustment, shape layer, and so on). Smart Object improvements: You can now apply Liquify and Blur Gallery effects non-destructively by using Smart Objects. Face-Aware Liquify: Liquify can now (most of the time) identify faces in a photo. It’s not perfect (yet), but it can be very helpful. It can even allow you to adjust each eye independently. Smart Sharpen changes: An all new Smart Sharpen algorithm puts the older version to shame. If you avoided Smart Sharpen in the past, relying instead on Unsharp Mask, give the new version a spin — you’ll find it does a much better job of minimizing halos and noise, while maximizing clarity. The Glyphs panel: This panel, shown here, like those in Illustrator CC and InDesign CC, permits you to view all available glyphs for a particular font. (Not all fonts have additional glyphs.) As you can see, you can also select a character on the page and see all of its possible variations. Match Font: Using an existing image or photo, Photoshop can now help you identify and match fonts. (Latin fonts only at this time.) Share: Found in the File menu and as a button in the upper-right corner of the workspace, Share enables you to easily add your images to various social media platforms. Artboards: Useful for multiscreen designs, Artboards let you create a single document and have multiple layouts for different devices and sizes. You can copy items among various Artboards. Each layout can be exported individually or several at a time. Search: Using the command Edit→Search or the keyboard shortcut Command  /Ctrl+F you can open the new Search dialog box. (Yes, that shortcut no longer applies the previous filter. You’ll need to add the Option/Alt key for that. If it becomes frustrating, change ‘em up in Edit → Keyboard Shortcuts.) You can search for tools, panels, menu commands, document presets, open documents, recent documents, and more. Adjustable path appearance: Another “Why has this taken so long?” feature, Photoshop now allows you to change the width and color of paths. Select a path creating tool, click the Gear in the Options box, customize the path appearance as desired. (Remember that paths don’t print; they just appear in the Photoshop window.) Preserve Details 2.0: Activated by default in the Technology Previews section of Photoshop’s Preferences, this option is available to you when using the Image Size command to enlarge your artwork.

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How to Work with Adobe Bridge and Adobe Stock

Article / Updated 03-06-2018

Adobe Bridge, the asset-management program for Photoshop and other Adobe programs, is a separate program in the Creative Cloud Manager. You can open Bridge independently, or you can choose File→ Browse in Bridge from Photoshop’s main menu to launch Bridge — seen launched here. If you choose Bridge’s Preferences→ Advanced command, you can elect to have Bridge launch automatically whenever you log in to your computer. In the figure, note the Publish tab in the upper-right, nested with the Preview tab. That gives you direct access to Adobe Stock, enabling you to submit your images for sale as stock photos right from Bridge. Here are a few tips for working with Adobe Bridge: Use keywords and categories. Using the Keywords tab (shown here), to the lower right in Bridge’s default layout, you can assign keywords and categories to images. Keywords and categories are descriptive terms that you assign to individual images. Down the road, you can choose File → Find to find all images with a specific assigned keyword. A checkmark to the left of a keyword indicates that all the files currently selected in Bridge’s Thumbnails pane have that keyword assigned, a dash indicates that some, but not all, selected images have been assigned that keyword. Select multiple images in Bridge. You can have multiple images active by clicking and Shift+clicking (or Command  +clicking/Ctrl+clicking) the image thumbnails. You might want to select multiple images and then assign the same keywords to all the selected images at once. Use labels, ratings, and filters. Under the Label menu, you can assign a star rating to each image and assign colors to organize by subject or project. Use the View→ Sort menu to arrange images in the thumbnails area of Bridge according to either the label or the rating. Add folders to the Favorites. You invariably will visit some folders on a regular basis. Choose File → Add to Favorites to get back to that folder faster and more easily. In the upper-left corner of the Bridge window, click the Favorites tab for one-click access. Keep in mind, too, that you can add a folder to the Favorites while working on a specific project, and then choose File → Remove from Favorites when the project is finished. Change your view and workspace. Use the View menu to customize what the Bridge window shows, and use the Window → Workspace menu to determine how it is displayed. You might find that Compact Mode fits your needs better in some circumstances than does Full Mode. And don’t overlook Bridge’s Slideshow feature — it can be a great way to show off your work! Use stacks to organize images. Select similar images or variations on the same shot and use Bridge’s Stacks →Group as Stack command. All the selected images are piled into one spot as a single thumbnail, with a number in the upper-left corner to indicate how many images are stacked together. When you have ten or more images in a stack, you can scroll through the thumbnails with a slider that appears when you move the cursor over the stack. Zoom with the Loupe. Click in the Preview (in the upper-right corner of the default workspace) to zoom in. Drag the cursor to inspect the preview up close and personal. Use your mouse’s scroll wheel or your trackpad to zoom from 100% to as high as 800%. Access Photoshop scripts. In Bridge’s Tools menu, you’ll find a submenu named Photoshop (as well as menus for other installed programs that use Bridge). Through that menu, you can easily access Photoshop’s Batch, Image Processor, Photomerge, and a number of other features. Select the thumbnails in Bridge first, then select the feature you want to use. Perhaps my favorite command in the menu is Load Files into Photoshop Layers — all of the files selected in Bridge are opened into a single Photoshop document, each on its own layer. It’s a fabulous time saver when preparing a series of images for use with Photoshop’s stack modes. If you enjoy macro photography — taking close up shots of little things — you can shoot a series of images with different focal points (using a tripod, of course), then use Bridge’s Load Files in Photoshop Layers command. After the files load, choose Select→All Layers from Photoshop’s menu bar (did you know about that command — very handy, eh?), choose Edit→ Auto-Align Layers (even if you did use a tripod), then choose Edit → Auto-Blend Layers with the Stack Images option. Each of the in-focus areas is combined to a single all-in-focus image using layer masks.

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How to Customize Your Photoshop CC Toolbox

Article / Updated 03-06-2018

If you’re upgrading from an earlier version of Photoshop, you may notice the ellipse near the bottom of the Toolbox. Click that and you can customize the Toolbox to optimize it for your workflow. You control the behavior of Photoshop’s tools through the Options bar. With the exception of a few path-related tools (Add Anchor Point, Delete Anchor Point, and Convert Point), every tool in Photoshop has options. The Options bar changes as you switch tools. The behavior of some tools changes when you add one or more modifier keys (Command  , Shift, and Option for the Mac; Ctrl, Shift, and Alt for Windows). As an example of how modifier keys can affect tool behavior, consider the Rectangular Marquee and Elliptical Marquee tools: Hold down the Shift key while dragging. Normally the marquee selection tools are freeform — you drag however you like. When you hold down the Shift key while dragging, on the other hand, you constrain the proportions of the selection to a square or circle (rather than a rectangle or ellipse). Hold down the Option/Alt key while dragging. When you hold down the Option/Alt key while dragging a marquee selection tool, the selection is centered on the point where you first clicked. Rather than being a corner of a selection, that starting point is the center of the selection. Hold down the Shift and Option/Alt keys while dragging. You can select from the center while constraining proportions by using the Shift and Option/Alt keys together. Use the Shift key to add to an existing selection. If you already have an active selection in your image, Shift+dragging a selection tool adds to that selection. (Press Shift before you click and drag.) Use the Option/Alt key to subtract from an existing selection. When you have an existing selection and you hold down the Option/Alt key, you can drag to subtract from the selection. Note in the figure that the selection tool’s cursor shows a small minus sign when subtracting from a selection. “Double-clutch” with the Shift or Option/Alt key. You can even constrain proportions or select from the center and add to or subtract from a selection. Press the Shift key (to add to the existing selection) or the Option/Alt key (to subtract from the existing selection). Click and start dragging the marquee selection tool. While continuing to hold down the mouse button, release the modifier key and press and hold Shift (to constrain proportions), Option/Alt (to center the selection), or both; then continue to drag your selection tool. You might want to use this technique, for example, when creating a donut-shaped selection. Drag the initial circular selection and then subtract a smaller circular selection from the center of the initial circle. Don’t be afraid to experiment with modifier keys while working with tools. After all, you always have the Undo command (Command +Z/Ctrl+Z) at hand! If you’re using a current version of Windows, you also have Microsoft Dial Support available, which enables you to adjust brush attributes using the Microsoft Dial (if it’s on your hardware).

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To Resample or to Crop in Photoshop CC: That is the Question

Article / Updated 03-06-2018

To better understand the difference between resampling an image and cropping an image in Photoshop CC, consider the following situation: A painter paints a picture. He paints it at whatever size he thinks is appropriate. (Or, perhaps, on the only piece of canvas he can afford on that particular day.) A patron likes the artwork, but the painting is too large for the frame that works best with the dining room table. Yeah, patrons can be like that, can’t they? The patron asks the artist to make the painting fit the frame. The artist decides between cropping and resampling. He can grab a pair of scissors and cut off some of the painting (cropping) or painstakingly re-create the painting from scratch at a smaller size. Thankfully, Photoshop does the “repainting” for you, using Image Size with its resampling algorithms. The artist charges the patron for the extra work. (Don’t forget this final, crucial step!)

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Content-Aware Scaling in Photoshop CC

Article / Updated 03-06-2018

The Edit --> Content-Aware Scale command in Photoshop CC is designed to be used when an image needs to be resampled to a new aspect ratio but can’t be cropped. It tries (very hard) to keep the subject of the photo undistorted while stretching or shrinking the background. Here’s how to use it: Open an image or make a selection. Make a selection if you need to scale only part of an image. If you need to resize the entire image, don’t make any selection. Convert the Background layer. You can’t use Content-Aware Scale on a flattened image (an image that doesn’t support transparency). If your image has a layer named Background, click the lock icon to the right of the layer name in the Layers palette. Choose Image→ Canvas Size. If increasing the pixel dimensions, resize the canvas as required. If you’re reducing the size of the image, skip this step. Choose Edit→ Content-Aware Scale. Drag the anchor points in the center of the four sides of the bounding box that appears to resize to fill the new canvas, and then press Return/Enter. Hold down the Option/Alt key to scale from the center. If you’re resizing an image of one or more people, click the little “man” button to the right in the Options bar to protect skin tones. Before selecting Content-Aware Scale, you can also create an alpha channel (a saved selection) to identify areas of the image you want to protect. Make a selection, choose Select→ Save Selection, and then select that alpha channel on Content-Aware Scale’s Options bar in the Protect menu. See Chapter 8 for more on alpha channels. Flatten (optional). If desired, choose Layer→ Flatten Image. In this example, the original image is at the bottom. To the left, the image has been resampled from 6.67x10 inches to 8x10 inches using Image Size (with Constrain Proportions deselected). To the right, Content-Aware Scale does a much better job — in this particular case — of scaling the image to 8x10 inches, minimizing distortion of the subject. Is Content-Aware Scale a substitute for properly composing in-camera before shooting? Absolutely not! Is it preferable to cropping to a new aspect ratio? Rarely. Is it an incredibly powerful tool for certain difficult challenges? Now you’re talking!

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Photoshop File Formats for PowerPoint and Word

Article / Updated 03-06-2018

If the final destination of your image is PowerPoint or Word, use the PNG file format. If your image has areas of transparency in it, PNG is definitely the way to go. What about all that neat clip art that you have on your hard drive? How do you use those images when Photoshop won’t open the vector-based WMF and EMF clip art files? Here’s how you get clip art into Photoshop, quick and easy: Open a new document in Word (or a comparable word-processing program). Add the clip art. In Word, choose Insert→ Picture → Clip Art (or your word processor’s comparable command). Click directly on the artwork and drag the lower-right corner to resize it to the dimensions that you need in Photoshop. (The artwork comes into Photoshop at 300 ppi.) Choose Edit→Copy. The selected image is copied to the Clipboard (the computer’s memory) in Word. Switch to your Photoshop image. Choose Edit →Paste. You have your clip art, ready to use in Photoshop! Use the Edit → Transform commands to scale, rotate, and otherwise fit the clip art into your design. (See the following figure.)

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