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Photo by hotblack on morgueFile.com
Photo by hotblack on morgueFile.com

Today we will look at:

  • Crop Tool
  • Image Adjustments:
    • Brightness/Contrast
    • Levels (Ctrl+L)
    • Curves (Ctrl+M)
    • Auto Tone (Shift+Ctrl+L)
    • Auto Contrast (Alt+Shift+Ctrl+L)
    • Auto Color (Shift+Ctrl+B
    • Vibrance
    • Hue/Saturation (Ctrl+U)
    • Photo Filter
    • Shadows/Highlights
  • Adjustment Layers
  • Tasks

Crop Tool

Follow the in-class instructions on how to use the Crop Tool or follow the tutorial below the image.

The crop tool works on two basic levels:

  • free-hand – simply select the crop tool (Shortcut C) [Visit Shortcutworld for more Photoshop Shortcutsand drag a window over your image. You can adjust the size of the crop selection by dragging the edges and corners. You can even rotate your crop selection (with CS4 or higher).
    Hit Enter to complete the crop action and accept the new size.
  • key in dimensions – after activating the crop tool enter the width: 500 (in px for web), the height: 600 (in px) and the resolution: 150 (72 is suitable for web)- the values need to be entered in the options bar (also called properties bar). See image below as an example. Next drag the crop window and press enter to except the change.
    Note that the window is restricted in its scale.
See the dimensions of the Crop Tool: 450px x 400px with 72ppi resolution.
See the dimensions of the Crop Tool: 450px x 400px with 72ppi resolution.

Cropping and Straightening Images in Photoshop Essentials

Cropping Tool in Photoshop Essentials

Brightness/Contrast

Follow the in-class demonstration. A nice and basic function, it allows you to change the brightness and correct the contrast. Move the slider to change the values.

Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast

Tick and untick the Preview box to observe the changes before accepting it.

Use the sliders. It is self explanatory.
Use the sliders. It is self explanatory.

Levels

With the Levels function you can adjust problems with tone (eg a photo that is very grey and does not show enough dark and light aspects) or colour related problems (eg too much blue).

The Short Cut: Ctrl+L (Cmd+L) or use: Image>Adjustments>Levels

Overview: follow my in-class introduction to how to use the Levels in simple steps. Use the attached photo by Matthew Bridges of the old house at a lake.

Photo by matthewbridges on morgueFile.com
Photo by matthewbridges on morgueFile.com
Image>Adjustments>Level
Image>Adjustments>Level

The easiest and most basic way to apply the Levels function is by moving the sliders for the highlight (white) and shadows (black) below the graph of the input levels inwards. Moving the highlight will brighten the image up and moving the shadow will darken the shadows.

This is a good basic function to start of with and it is useful for the majority of your photos, may they be basic shots or more sophisticated and at higher resolution.

Follow this tutorial to learn how to use the Level Adjustment more detailed and how to create an Adjustment Layer:

Fix Tone and Color with Levels in Photoshop – Photoshop Essentials

Improving Image Tone With Levels In Photoshop – Photoshop Essentials

Curves

Follow the in-class demonstration (shortcut: Ctrl+M or: Image>Adjustments>Curves). The Curves function is similar to the Level function, but the graph is a lot more visual and intuitive. You can manipulate it with your mouse.  See image:

Try the presets and see how it affects your image, and then manipulate the curve yourself.
Try the presets and see how it affects your image, and then manipulate the curve yourself.

Curves Tutorial on Photoshop Essentials

Auto Tone

The short cut is Shift+Ctrl+L (or: Image>Auto Tone). Follow the in-class demonstration. The Auto Tone function readjusts tonal settings in your image and in most cases this results in a crisper image with the click of a button. The Auto Tone option looks for the darkest and lightest points in an image and resets them to pure white and black, resulting in clearer tones.

Because  Auto Tone adjusts each color channel individually, it may remove color or introduce color casts.

Auto Contrast

Follow the in-class demonstration.

The short cut is Alt+Shift+Ctrl+L  (or: Image>Auto Contrast). Auto Contrast adjusts image contrast automatically, at the click of a button. Unlike Auto Tone it will not affect colours. It clips the shadow and highlight values in an image and then maps the remaining lightest and darkest pixels in the image to pure white and pure black . As a result the image will have lighter highlights anf darker shadows and a crisper contrast.

Auto Color

Follow the in-class demonstration.

The short cut is Shift+Ctrl+B  (or: Image>Auto Color)

Auto Color adjusts the contrast and color of an image. It is able to search images for shadows, midtones, and highlights. It then neutralizes the midtones using a target color of RGB 128 grey and clips the shadow and highlight pixels by 0.5%. Personally, and from experience it effects images less and Auto Contrast and Auto Tone bring more convincing changes in image quality.

Vibrance

Follow the in-class demonstration. Click: Image>Adjustments>Vibrance

As the name suggests this function will help you making a photo look more vibrant. Colours can be shown more intensely with higher saturation. It is easy to grasp this function, simply move the sliders to the right to increase vibrance or move them to the left to decrease vibrance.

Based on a photo by delboysafa from morgueFile.com
Based on a photo by delboysafa from morgueFile.com

Hue/Saturation

Follow the in-class demonstration.  (Ctrl+U or Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation)

Using Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer with a mask showing the original (yellow) below.
Using Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer with a mask showing the original (yellow) below.

Photo Filter

Photo Filter
Photo Filter

Follow the in-class demonstration. Press: Image>Adjustments>Photo Filter.

One of the best image adjustment options, you can select from a set of preset filters: use a warming filter to create a lighting sense that you would encounter indoors, in autumn (fall) or during a sunset when there are more yellow, orange and red colours around. Use a cool filter to create a typical outdoor setting or a winter atmosphere. You can tick the Color box and select your own colour or select a colour from the image itself (simply click on the part of the image).

You can also change the amount of density, more density results in a stronger impact of your filter. Find a level that you like – try to be more conservative and chose a little less density than you like for a print).

Shadows/Highlights

Follow the in-class demonstration. Click: Image>Adjustments>Shadows/Highlights.

With the shadows and highlights you can easily lighten up an underexposed, dark image. Use the functions sparsely to not overdo the changes, which can easily create an unrealistic look. The image shows the changes on a dark photo.

Based on photo by o0o0xmods0o0o from morgueFile.com
Based on photo by o0o0xmods0o0o from morgueFile.com

Use an Adjustment Layer

All the image adjustments that we have looked at above can be done directly to an image or in from of an adjustment layer. It is far better to create an adjustment layer, this allows you to create changes in form of a layer. You can always delete or hide the layer and your original image remains unaffected.

How do you create an adjustment layer?

With your original layer selected click on the Create a new fill or adjustment layer button and select what type of adjustment layer you want to create. Next do all the adjustments to it.

Alternatively you just click on the Adjustments tab and select the Adjustment Layer that you want to create.

(See image)

Create an Adjustment Layer
Create an Adjustment Layer

Task in Class

Perform these two tasks to show that you understood today’s class ( If you have missed this class you need to do this!!!)

  1. Use the image by Matthew Bridges (or select an alternative image). Use the crop tool and resize to 500px x 600px at 150ppi (resolution). Apply 6 different image adjustment layers and mask them off in strips (see examples of student work). Add titles to your strips.  E-mail the file to me as a PNG (not PSD) and keep a copy for yourself.
  2. In your second task I would like you to use Matthew Bridges’ image only. The photo is very grey and it looks foggy. I would like you to improve the image using any of the image adjustment functions that you have learnt about. When you are happy with the improved image e-mail me a PNG version of it (no need to crop the image).
    Create a before and after version of the image.

Student Submissions:

Work by Benan Ü
Work by Benan Ü
Work by Michael T
Work by Michael T
Work by Tristan S
Work by Tristan S
Work by Vlad K
Work by Vlad K
Work by Jo W
Work by Jo W
Work by Justin A
Work by Justin A

Link to all Classes     Class 1     Class 2     Class 3     Class 4      Class 5     Class 6

Welcome to your third Photoshop class. Be honest: did you practice what you have learnt last week? Make sure to practice Photoshop as much as you can, preferably daily. If you create a habit and make it fun your learning curve will be steep. If you are to busy to practice every day, try more than once a week.

Only practice will help you learn!Photo by  BreonWarwick on morgueFile
Only practice will help you learn! Photo by BreonWarwick on morgueFile

Today we will look at:

  1. The Layer panel
  2. How to create a new layer
  3. How to move layers
  4. How to make a layer active
  5. How to hide and show a layer
  6. How to link layers
  7. How to group layers
  8. How to delete layers
  9. How to draw shapes
  10. How to create a clipping mask
  11. How to use the Gaussian Blur
  12. How to rasterize a layer
  13. How to merge two layers and
  14. How to flatten an image

You can see that we will be rather busy. You will also need to provide me with an image as a result.

If you already now all of the tasks above you can do this straight away –

Your Tasks for this class:

Task 1 – Start a new document – 700x500px at 150ppi (pixels/inch) resolution and background contents set to transparent. Create a clipping mask with a rounded rectangle (fill most of the document space and with a 40px radius) of a photo of geese in Ameland, inthe Netherlands by Frans Schouwenburg. The photo is available under Creative Commons agreement and can be found on Flickr.com. If you cannot open the file get it from here:

Geese in Ameland, Photo by Frans Schouwenburg
Geese in Ameland, Photo by Frans Schouwenburg

Create a Gaussian blur (7.4px) of the clipping mask and flatten the image. Save as a JPEG with this title: Class3_T1_Your_full_name.jpg (example: Class3_T1_Toni_Varsetti.jpg). Upload the file to MyKangan and keep a copy of the JPEG.

Task 2 – Use the same document from task 1 or start a new document – 700x500px at 150ppi (pixels/inch) resolution and background contents set to transparent. Type the initials of your name in Impact Regular 200pt. If you have not done so in task 1, download the image of the geese in Ameland (see Task 1 for link). Place the file in your document (File>Place). When excepting the size make sure that the image is larger than the initials. Finally create a clipping mask (the photos should only appear inside the text now). Save the file as a PNG with this title: Class3_T2_Your_full_name.png (example: Class3_T2_Toni_Varsetti.png). Upload the file to MyKangan and keep a copy of the PNG.

The Layer Panel

The ability to create layers is a central aspect of Photoshop. It works like a collage, you place one photo on top of another and the one on top covers up the photos below it.

Layers Panel - Source: The Graphic Designer's Digital Toolkit, Alan Wood, 5th Edition, 2011
Layers Panel – Source: The Graphic Designer’s Digital Toolkit, Alan Wood, 5th Edition, 2011
layer_drop_menu
Layer Drop Menu Click image to see larger version

The Layer palette is located in the bottom right-hand corner with a tab called LAYERS. There are two menu items you should be aware of in the drop down main menu: Layers and Window.

Click on Layers to see a lot of actions that you can perform with layers. (See image) You can perform these functions directly from the layers palette as well, by clicking on the Layer Options Tab (small icon in the top right of the layers palette).

Click on Window in the main menu and see Layers ticked. This is were you can activate the Layer palette if you cannot see it on your screen. (If you are using a Windows PC notice the shortcut F7? This allows you to activate or deactivate the layers palette.)

Please read all the options of the image of the Layers panel (above) before advancing.

How to create a new Layer

  • You can simply click on the small icon in the Layers panel that looks like a sheet of paper (too slow)
  • You click on the Layer tab in the menu bar: Layer>New>Layer (too slow) or
  • You use the short cut: Ctrl+Shift+Alt+N (Mac: command+shift+option+N) – Nice! This will immediately create a new layer on top of your active layer.
  • You can use this short cut: Ctrl+Shift+N. This will open a options panel before the layer is created.
Layers in Photoshop are like a Collage of images stuck on top of each other...
Layers in Photoshop are like a Collage of images stuck on top of each other… Monkey photo by deanjenkins and Green photo by omdur, both on morgueFile

How to move a Layer

  • Drag the layer in the layer panel into the new position. You can move it up (=on top of other layers in the workspace) or down (it will be partly hidden by layers above. This is an easy and intuitive way. You will need to sometimes move it right between two layers and wait for a dark line to appear before releasing the layer.
  • You can also use the shortcuts: Ctrl+[ (or Cmd+[ on Mac) to move the layer up and Ctrl+] (or Cmd+] on Mac) to move the layer down.
  • You can use the Menu bar:  Layer>Arrange>Bring Forward (or Backward)

How to make a Layer active or inactive

A layer needs to be active for you to be able to work with the artwork on the layer. Photoshop allows you to work on one layer at the time.

  • The active layer is high-lighted or shaded (generally it is the layer with the blue background and white text in the layers panel.)
  • To activate a layer simply click on the layer in the layer panel

If you want to select numerous layers hold the Ctrl button (Mac: Cmd) while selecting more layers.

How to hide and show a Layer

You can make the content of a layer invisible by clicking on the eye icon in the Layers panel. Clicking it again will make the content visible.

How to link Layers

Linking layers can be done by selecting numerous layers (with Ctrl) and then clicking on the chain symbol in the Layers panel.

How to group Layers

Group layers by selecting numerous layers and then either pressing Ctrl+G (Mac Cmd+G) or create a new group by clicking the Create a new group icon in the Layers panel (it looks like a folder) and drag any layer you want into it.

How to delete Layers

The easiest way is to select the layer and hit Backspace; this happens immediately.

If you are the old school type you might to simply drag the layer into the bin icon or click the bin icon and press enter to delete the layer.

How to draw Shapes

Using the Custom Shape Tool to draw a Rabbit - The rabbit is below the grass
Using the Custom Shape Tool to draw a Rabbit – The rabbit is below the grass

Before you draw a shape place an image in the document (File>Place). In the example I have placed a photo of grass (found on http://www.morguefile.com > Petersphoto)

There are several tools that allow you to draw shapes. They basically draw vector graphic shapes that are linked to a layer. Try the Rounded Rectangle Tool tool. (If the tool is not visible, hold down the Rectangle tool near the bottom of the toolbox.) The shortcut is U – and Shift+U allows you to scroll through the tools options (it should be the second.)

Draw a rounded rectangle with a 25px radius (drag to draw). You will notice that drawing a shape will create a new layer as a default!

Try the other drawing tools as well.

I chose the rabbit custom shape. To find it choose the custom shape tool, it looks like a blob, see the sample images! Then go into the options menu bar and select the down arrow next to the custom shape (most likely a black arrow). This will open all the different custom shapes. Next click on the small outward arrow head in the top right of the box you have just opened. Select all and Ok. This will open all the custom shapes that Photoshop comes with. The rabbit should be in the selection.

How to create a Clipping Mask

The grass layer has been turned into a clipping mask with the shape of the rabbit below.
The grass layer has been turned into a clipping mask with the shape of the rabbit below.

Keep only one shape layer and delete all the others.

Place an image in the workspace: File>Place. Make sure the image is larger in size than the shape on the layer below. Right-click on your image layer and select Create Clipping Mask.

Male sure that you do this to your image layer and that the image layer is on top!!!

Your image layer has been reduced to the shape of the shape layer below. 🙂

  • Try to move just the image by selecting the image layer.
  • Try to move just the shape layer.

What is the difference?

How to use the Gaussian Blur

Make sure your shape thumbnail on your shape layer is selected. Go to the menu bar: Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and enter 7.4px for the Radius.

You should be prompted if you want to rasterize the layer. Click yes.

How to merge two Layers

Select two layers (left click + Ctrl) then right click and select Merge Layers.

How to flatten an Image

Right click on any layer and select Flatten Image or press Ctrl+Shift+E (Cmd+Shft+E on Mac)

Tasks

This completes today’s tutorials, please perform the below tasks:

Task 1 – Start a new document – 700x500px at 150ppi (pixels/inch) resolution and background contents set to transparent. Create a clipping mask with a rounded rectangle (fill most of the document space and with a 40px radius) of a photo of geese in Ameland, inthe Netherlands by Frans Schouwenburg. The photo is available under Creative Commons agreement and can be found on Flickr.com. Create a Gaussian blur (7.4px) of the clipping mask and flatten the image. Save as a JPEG with this title: Class3_T1_Your_full_name.jpg (example: Class3_T1_Toni_Varsetti.jpg). Upload the file to MyKangan and keep a copy of the JPEG.

Actually – in class we ended up straying and did the grassy rabbit instead. I am happy with either. See image:

Grassy Rabbits
Grassy Rabbits

Task 2 – Use the same document from task 1 or start a new document – 700x500px at 150ppi (pixels/inch) resolution and background contents set to transparent. Type the initials of your name in Impact Regular 200pt. If you have not done so in task 1, download the image of the geese in Ameland (see Task 1 for link). Place the file in your document (File>Place). When excepting the size make sure that the image is larger than the initials. Finally create a clipping mask (the photos should only appear inside the text now). Save the file as a PNG with this title: Class3_T2_Your_full_name.png (example: Class3_T2_Toni_Varsetti.png). Upload the file to MyKangan and keep a copy of the PNG.

Example:

Initials
Initials

Here is a link to a Clipping Mask tutorial on SalinStudio.com

Student Submissions:

Yong - Clipping Mask
Yong – Clipping Mask
Justin Clipping Mask
Justin Clipping Mask