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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Jumpstart Photoshop

10 tips to help you get going quickly in using Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

The Polygonal Lasso lets you select from point to point as you click spots on a photo (you even can do Curves by clicking spots close together). Use the Alt/Option key to back up click points.

The Magnetic Lasso and Magic Wand are semi-automated selection tools. Click once with the Magnetic Lasso, then move your cursor around a strongly contrasted edge and the tool will find the edge. Click once with the Magic Wand on solid (or near-solid) colors and tones, and the whole area is selected at once (change the Tolerance setting if too much or too little is selected).

You can add to selections by holding down the Shift key while starting a new selection point and subtract from a selection by using the Alt/Option key the same way. If you have Photoshop Elements, try out the Selection Brush.

8. Spot Removal
Spots from dust used to be a real problem in the old darkroom. Then they appeared on scanned images. Now they show up in images from dust on the sensor. Spotting the specks from a traditional print used to be a pain. Today, it's fairly easy with Photoshop.

Two tools work well for this. The new Spot Healing Brush (which is in both Photoshop CS2 and Elements 3) lets you just touch and click your cursor on a spot and it magically disappears. The key to this tool is to size it correctly (use the Options bar below the menus to make it close to the size of the defect) and to use it multiple times if the first try isn't right (don't undo between clicks). A hard-edged brush works quite well with spots.

The Clone Stamp tool will help you deal with spots and other small problems in an image. The key to using it is to size it correctly as well, but you always want it to be soft-edged (for better blending). Too many photographers use this like a brush. It's better used like a "stamp" by clicking multiple times rather than once and painting. You need to choose your clone point carefully. If you try it and it doesn't look right, undo the clone and try a new clone point.




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