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Monkey follows every Photoshop class on RAE:

Photo by deanjenkins on morgueFile
Photo by deanjenkins on morgueFile

I hope that today’s class will be extremely useful to you and point out some strong features of Photoshop (that may even win Lucine over – Lucine?)

Today’s Content:

  • Free Transform
  • Transform
  • Layer Style (Blending Options)
  • Practice of Selection, Refine Selection and Mask Selection
  • Tasks for today
  • Image Files to be Used in Class

Again, please refrain from anything that interrupts your learning, and be mature about it. The F_____k word is a dirty word in today’s class – and of cause I am NOT referring to firetruck, but Facebook and the likes…

Free Transform

Free Transform is a function that you will use almost every time when you use Photoshop. The short cut is Ctrl+T (Cmd+T) and it is nested in the Main Menu under Edit>Free Transform. This tool needs little explanation and is fairly easy to get your head around.

Let us start off by starting a new document (Ctrl+N or Cmd+N)  with the dimensions 800x600px with 72ppi resolution. Next click on the image of the girl in the turquoise/bluish T-Shirt towards the bottom of this post to open a larger version and right click it to copy the image. Back in Photoshop just paste it: Ctrl+V.

Okay this is a common scenario, that can be avoided by choosing the Place option in Photoshop (File>Place). Let us use the Free Transform now.

Manual dragging  with shift – After clicking Ctrl+T you can decrease the size of the large image manually by dragging a visible image corner while holding shift towards the centre. If your image is too large you can press Alt + scroll down to zoom out or  hold Space+Alt while left clicking to zoom out. Click on the tick in the options bar or simply press Enter to accept the new size.

Key in the new size – You can instead simply type in the new size. Follow these steps in the options bar: (1)Place the reference point in a position that you want fixed – in our case top left (2)Click on the chain icon between the W and H responsible for the aspect ratio (scale) and last enter a value into the W text box. 37% will give you a good result. (see image below to guide you) Press Enter to accept the new size.

Options for CtrlT

Ctrl and Free Transform – Now, Free Transform becomes really powerful in combination with the Ctrl (Cmd) key. Let us try this: copy Monkey (from the top image) and paste him into the open document. Next hold Ctrl (Cmd) while dragging a corner point of Monkey into the eMac screen. Repeat this with all points. Readjust them before accepting the changes by pressing Enter.

Free Transform and Ctrl - I am loving it!!!
Free Transform and Ctrl – I am loving it!!!


Transform can be used on its own. Access it from the main menu Edit>Transform>

Screenshot of Transform drop menu
Screenshot of Transform drop menu

Use Scale to change the size of the image. Use Rotate to rotate the image. Use Skew, Distort or Perspective to play with levels of perspective with the photo. Use Warp to get really creative on a image and achieve a more Psychedelic outcome.  The Rotate option is self-explanatory and the two flip options are handy to know.

For 5 mins play around with the different options. Copy your layer (Ctrl+J) and do a horizontal flip on your layer. Move it down and change the opacity settings in the Layers Panel.

Layer Style (Blending Options)

The Layer Styles can be accessed from the Layers Panel Menu (small down arrow at the top right of the Layers Panel) by selecting Blending Modes. The faster way is simply clicking on the blue area around the layer name (not on the name itself though).

Practice Selection, Refine Selection and Mask Selection

Selection Tools

Buttons from left to right:standard - add to selection (Shift) - subtract from selection (Alt) - intersect selections (Shift + Alt)
Buttons from left to right:
standard – add to selection (Shift) – subtract from selection (Alt) – intersect selections (Shift + Alt)

Attempt to select Monkey (see image above) and use a layer mask to separate him from his surroundings. You might need to use a blend of Selection tools available. Try the Quick Selection combined with Elliptical Marquee and Polygonal Lasso (see icons in image). Make sure to add to your selection by holding Shift while selecting or use the buttons in the Options menu (see image to your right for example) or hold Alt to take away from your selection.

After selecting Monkey use the Add a Mask  button in the bottom of the Layers panel (or from the Menu pick: Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal Selection).

If you did everything correctly you should now just view Monkey on his own. (Keep this file open)

Mask Mode vs Standard Editing Mode – Please look at your Layer in the Layers panel. A black and white thumbnail next to the layer thumbnail indicates that a layer mask is in place. You all know this from previous classes, but it is extremely important to understand the difference between the normal editing mode and the mask mode. The mask thumbnail should have a black part outline around it to indicate that you are in the mask mode. Please left click on the layer thumbnail (or image thumbnail) to activate the standard editing mode and observe any changes in the interface. Next click back on the Mask thumbnail and again look at the interface. What changes did you observe?
When in mask mode your foreground and background color boxes will be only in shades (black/white standard, tones of grey if you play around). The Mask mode does not need colours! Why do you think masks do not need colours?

Well, the mask mode simply works with masking parts of the image:

  • you use white to show the selected part
  • you use black to hide the selected part
  • and you use grey to partly hide/show the selected part

Adjusting size of brush

After writing Monkey in Mask Mode
After writing Monkey in Mask Mode

Easy? Well, let’s try it. Make sure you are still in the Mask mode and select the brush tool (short cut: B) use a standard brush tip and a size of 13px and hardness level of 0%. This can be adjusted in the options menu bar (see image to your left). Now with the brush, write the word Monkey 3 times in the masked area: once with white selected, once with black selected and once in grey (click on the foreground colour and shift tone to grey). When writing in white there should not have been a change, in black it should show Monkey in the colours of the background, while the grey should show a faded background. – I hope that this clarifies the use of masks to some extend.

Now change the grey tone back to what it was (we need black and white for the mask mode) NOTE: Benan, I don’t want to hear it… and can every one hide the monkey writing again (an easy way is to increase the brush size to over 100 and the hardness to 100% and go over it with black.

Mask Edge/ Refine Mask
Mask Edge/ Refine Mask

Finally, let us move towards using the Mask Edge/ Refine Mask function. Get there by (layer mask needs to be active) clicking on the Masks tab in the Masks Panel (above the Layers Panel and hidden behind the Adjustments Panel) – see image. Click on Mask Edge and with the Refine Mask window open adjust the Edge as you see fit. Try it against a black background as well as a white background (click down arrow next to View:) Click here for for a detailed tutorial on how to use the Refine Mask window.

Today’s Tasks

Task 1: Use the photos with the window, mask out the background and place the photo with the monkeys into it. Put your first name in one of the bottom corners and apply a layer style of your choice to your name. Save the file as a PNG, with the title: Photoshop_class5_task_1.png. Keep a copy and e-mail the file to me.

Select one of the encircled links for Task 3
Select one of the encircled links for Task 3

Task 2: Open the image of the girl in the bright green T-Shirt in front of the eMac. Next take a screen shot of your computer (Mac: command+shift+3, PC: press PrtScn) and either place or drag that image into the open file. Use  Free Transform to place your screen shot into her screen. If it does not look quite right you can place a black or dark blue fill behind the layer with the screen shot and play with the Layer Blending Mode or opacity levels of the Screen shot layer. Put your first name in one of the bottom corners and apply a layer style of your choice to your name. Save the file as a PNG, with the title: Photoshop_class5_task_2.png. Keep a copy and e-mail the file to me.

Task 3: Select one of the links in the Links for Learning section and look for a tutorial on any of the topics that we have covered today: Free Transform, Transform,

  • Layer Style or
  • Practice of Selection, Refine Selection and Mask Selection and place a comment with a link to the tutorial in this post!  Thank you! 🙂

Image files to be used in class:

Photo by mconnors on morgueFile
Photo by mconnors on morgueFile
Photo by xandert on
Photo by xandert on
Photo by jdurham on morgueFile
Photo by jdurham on morgueFile
Photo by jdurham on morgueFiles
Photo by jdurham on morgueFile

Link to Class 4     Link to Class 3     Link to Class 1

It is an exciting time to commence something new, so wear the badge Absolute Beginner with pride and get ready for a love affair with one of the best software packages of our time- welcome to Photoshop.

Photo by agathabrown on morgueFile
Photo by agathabrown on morgueFile

Suddenly life broke out in warm colors again, so young and beautiful that a lot of people couldn’t stand to look at it.

Quote from the film Absolute Beginners

We will work with Photoshop CS5 on a Mac.
Prerequisites: 10 photos of you and 10 photos of a background saved onto your USB and in class (the excuse of the forgotten USB at home is lame) 😉

Today we will look at:

  1. The CS5 Workspace (overview)
  2. Differences between the Mac keyboard and Windows keyboard
  3. Ways to open an image
  4. Selection Tools
  5. Use of Hue/Saturation function (Image adjustment)
  6. Layer overview
  7. Perform a task

Feel free to ask questions throughout class and to slow me down at any time. It is important that you view the instructions on the overhead first and then try them out yourself.

The CS5 Workspace (overview)

Please open this Link –CS5 Overview– of a 10 page PDF file (from Adobe Systems Incorporated 2010) in a new window or simply follow instructions in class.

On your screen find the application bar, the menu bar, the options bar, the document window, the tools panel as well as the other panels or palettes.


Activity:  Click on Window in the menu bar. (Here are all the panels and palettes that you can activate or deactivate.) Click on Navigator and see the palette becoming active. Next drag the Navigator palette to the very left of the  workspace or document window. Do the same with the Character Palette (this one is a bit harder to find and I leave it up to you to figure it out).
Next select New Workspace from the workspace switcher menu, name your workspace and tick the 2 boxes.

You have just created a new workspace for yourself. To get back to the standard workspace layout select Reset Essentials from the workspace switcher menu. Changing the workspace to suit your need can speed up your work and is more fun.

Differences between the Mac keyboard and Windows keyboard

These are the two main differences:

Ctrl (Win) = command (Mac)

Alt (Win) = option (Mac)

Ways to open an image

First ensure that you use a good folder structure. Save your 20 or so images from your USB onto the PC that you are working on into a folder with a short, yet descriptive name, eg images.

Select File>Open – find your images folder and select the image that you want to open. Photoshop will open the image at the image pixel size and at the resolution of the file.

Open the images folder and have Photoshop open and accessible. Now drag the image into the Photoshop window.

Create a New Document in Photoshop and choose File>Place. Next place the image into the document.

There are other options, such as dragging an image directly from a webpage into the Photoshop window or selecting File>Open As Smart Object. Photoshop is a very versatile software package. The most important is to know a way that keeps the resolution high.

Selection Tools

The Selection Tools in Photoshop are one of many strong points of this package. We will work with this slow loading instructions from the Teacherlink site: Selection Tool Instructions

Below is an screen shot of the Selection drop menu with annotations:

Source: The Graphic Designer's Digital Toolkit, Alan Wood, 5th Edition, 2011
Source: The Graphic Designer’s Digital Toolkit, Alan Wood, 5th Edition, 2011
  • The Rectangular Marquee Tool (Short cut M) – This tool draws square (with the help of Shift) and rectangular selections (freehand). It is important to understand that you are actually not drawing as such, you are simply creating a selection and will be able to do something to that selection only and only on the current layer. Drag the image below into your Photoshop workspace and select a rectangular shapes. Press Ctrl + U and change the colour settings – just play with it. Keep the file active.
    Image Source:
    Image Source:

    Open this excellent tutorial on Rectangular Marquee Tutorial

  • The Elliptical Marquee Tool (Short cut M) – This tool draws circlular selections (with the help of Shift) and elliptical selections (freehand). You can draw the ellipse or circle commencing from the centre by holding Alt (option for Mac) while you draw your selection. Visit this tutorial on to see a good example on how to use the Elliptical Marquee Tool.
    For this class select the red cylinder and change the colour as per instruction above.
  • The Lasso Tool (Short cut L). Basically you draw your selection freehand. It is an early Photoshop tool and has some good uses still (like creating a quick shadow underneath a vehicle with the help of Gaussian Blur). It requires a high level of mouse skills. Try to select the handshake with the Lasso tool and change the colour. Visit this tutorial on to see one good use of the Lasso Tool.

    Image Source:
    Image Source:
  • Polygonal Lasso Tool (Short cut L). You draw your selection by dropping points. It is an advanced version of the basic Lasso tool and can be very useful. It requires practice. Try the tutorial from Polygonal Lasso Tool.
  • Magnetic Lasso Tool (Short cut L). You draw your selection by clicking once to select the outline of your object and then you simply follow along the outline and the tool does the rest for you. If a mistake occurs use Backspace to go back one step. It requires practice. Try the tutorial from Magnetic Lasso Tool.
  • Magic Wand Tool (Short cut W). You make your selection by clicking in the field of what you want to select (eg inside the suit). The Magic Wand selects pixels based on tone and colour. You can change your selection criteria, for example by increasing tolerance your selection will be wider and less affected by tonal variations in the picture. That will result in a larger selection. If you bring the tolerance down it will result in a smaller selection, which means that changes in tone or colour will affect your selection earlier.
    Try the tutorial from Magic Wand Tool.
  • Quick Selection Tool (Short cut W). This tool is extremely useful as a selection tool. It is similar to the Magic Wand, but it is more advanced and user friendly. You make your selection by clicking in the field of what you want to select (eg inside the suit). The Quick Selection Tool selects pixels based on tone and colour, but it also has the ability to detect similar textures in an image. As a result it is better at detecting the edges of an object.
    You can change your selection criteria by changing the size of your brush tip: increasing it will widen your selection and decreasing it will narrow your selection. For a more in detail description please look at this informative tutorial at Quick Selection Tool.
  • How to add to or subtract from a selection
    Hold the shift key to add to an existing selection. Hold the Alt key to subtract from a selection. You will need to hold the key while adding or subtracting.

Use of Hue/Saturation function (Image adjustment)

This is a very quick intro to this function: Press Ctrl + U. 3 sliders allow you to change either the hue (the exact colour), the saturation (the amount of colour) and the lightness (the tone, lightness and darkness). You can also tick colorize to get a nice retro effect, it makes your selection monochromatic.

Layer overview

We will cover this in more detail in the next class. We basically will just have a look at the layers to get a broad understanding in class.

Perform a task – Important

Use the photos that you prepared for this class or simply copy the image of the gorgeous Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye below from the provided link and use it to apply your understanding of the Selection Tools. Select various parts using the different tools. Make sure to keep a copy of your final file in JPEG format and upload to MyKangan next week.

Example of applied changes
Example of applied changes

Student Submissions:

Work by Justin Anderson
Work by Justin Anderson