DATE: January 18, 2007
TO: Notes for PhotoShop Elements Course
RE: Course Notes
The development of this course is getting a tad ragged so I have written this document to get everything pulled together. Note that we will depart from Beckham as we get deeper into the course. I can see that it is important to have more detailed notes for each lesson, so this document has morphed into detailed class notes. (April 2, 2007)
Lesson 1 Introduction to PSE 5.0 and printing images.
Lesson 2 Improving the basic photograph
Lesson 3 Retouching general images
Lesson 4 Retouching images of people
Lesson 5 Tips and techniques for going further
Lesson 6 Brief look into creative Photoshop Elements
Homework: Using the procedures developed in class produce a final print for the file BonVoyage.jpg. You should consider straightening the horizon, quarter inch borders, portrait orientation, and printing on letter sized photo quality paper. Do the same thing with one of your photographs.
Lesson 2 Reading: Pages 46 – 71
Homework: Try the quick fix method of improving image: Overexp.jpg. Using the selection method outlined in class crop the image to remove the really bad material. Use the Adjustment Layer technique to improve the image: PatShadow.jpg. Do any of the above to your own pictures.
Lesson 3 Reading: Pages 72 – 107
Homework: Practice isolating figures from Beckham’s images. Some are easy, while others are hard. Try: layers 1.jpg, making montages 1.jpg, and making montages 13.jpg. Practice workflow on your own pictures.
Lesson 4 Reading: Pages 108 – 131
Homework: Practice retouching with three of Beckham’s images: restoring old photographs 1.jpg, retouching portraits 4_1.jpg, and retouching portraits_2_1.jpg. See what you can do with some of your own portraits.
Lesson 5 Reading: Pages 132 – 185
Homework: Use the techniques on page 114 to convert: color to B-W1.jpg to B & W. Create faux DOF with: depth of field effects 6.jpg. Do a vignette with: KimonoGirl.jpg. Work on your own images.
In Class Lab
Lesson 1 Goal: Produce a “ready to print” image.
Task: Start with the test picture called BobPatSkiing.jpg. Resize the image such that its height is 14 inches at 300 ppi. Do an 8 by 10½ fixed sized cut of a pleasing section of the photo. Paste this on to a letter sized blank new blank file that has a resolution of 300 ppi.
Lesson 2 Goal: Get to feel comfortable with Quick Fix and
Task: Use Quick Fix to improve on Beckham’s page 24 example. Use Adjustment Layers to correct Beckham’s page 32 image. If time permits, work on other Beckham images.
Lesson 3 Goal: You should begin to feel comfortable taking
apart images and making adjustments to each segment.
Task: Work on the image: Parasail.jpg. Here are some ideas for modification: Try to straighten the horizon. Improve the overall contrast and brightness. Isolate and enhance the sky. Isolate and sharpen Pat. Isolate the chute and play with H/S/L.
If you find you have extra time try to cut out the girl from the image kimono girl a.jpg. Once you have a copy on the clipboard you might try to paste it into the scene called Ocean.jpg. I have made this task easier for you by scaling both pictures to approximately 4.5” by 6.0”.
Lesson 4 Goal: You should be able to improve on portraits
you take. In this session you will
retouch the picture of Mike’s younger brother, Keith.
Task: Use the same workflow we used in class with the image of Mike. You will use the image of Keith, Keith.jpg. Start by isolating the subject and remove him from the background. Next “heal” Keith’s acne. Remove any highlights from the picture. Do not sharpen the eyes as the glasses make this very hard to do. Add an interesting background to the final picture.
Lesson 5 Goal: To master some additional image altering
Task: You will want to exercise extraction, perspective correction, and faux depth of field techniques.
Lesson 6 Goal: To be able to recreate the silk screen effect.
Task: Load the photograph SilkLight.jpg into PSE. Starting with the sky, select broad areas of the image and create a layer via copy. Choose a color and “paint bucket” that color into the area. Be careful with the windows of the lighthouse. Select the windows before you do the body of the lighthouse. Then when selecting the body, exclude the painted widows with the Magic Wand by area subtraction.
Notes for Lesson 1
Intro Introduce the course as a whole.
Objectives Explain the objectives for the entire course. Point out that this is just a small subset of PSE. There is a lot that we do not have time to get into; image organization for example. PSE is a really big program. The objectives are the things I want you to be able to do after taking this course.
Outline Outline for the entire course. The slide lists the topic of each lesson.
Lesson 1 Explain what we are going to do tonight. This is the lesson 1 outline.
Meet Introduce myself and give a brief biography. Ask the students to introduce themselves. Show how I have used photography in my career. Spend some time justifying my approach to teaching.
Objectives Display the objectives for tonight. Note that we have accomplished a few of them already!
Course CD There are restrictions on the use of the class images on the CD. Go over what is on the CD. Beckham’s material is under copyright, mine is not.
Starting PSE Show how you can start PSE by the icon, or by any graphic file type that has been tied to PSE. Use the slide of the desktop to illustrate starting any program including PSE. Explain version 5.0.
Editor Explain what to do if the Editor does not come up. Workspace is a new PSE term for the Editor window. It has two tabs: Full Edit and Quick Fix.
Preferences Briefly explain some of the preferences and how to set them. Doing a general reset back to the factory defaults. Talk about PSE “remembering” of the defaults and why this is both good and bad.
Workspace Look at the basics of the Editor’s workspace. Tour the workspace geography: We will mention (briefly here): A. Menu bar, D. Shortcuts bar., Workspace buttons (tabs), B. Tool box, E. Options bar, C. Photo bin, F. Palettes, and H. Palette bin. Note that the letters refer to the PSE manual page 27.
Workflow Workflow is a term that refers to the process of taking an image and producing a final print. Here are the basics. The first file to work on should take no adjustments. Use OceanView.jpg as a demonstration file. We need to open the file in the PSE editor, change it from the camera size to the print size, and print same. Most workflow will be more complex, but we need to start somewhere.
Open File | Open to select your image. This was done earlier such that the tour had an image loaded.
Adjustments There are things we could do to this image, but at this point we will bypass adjustment and move right on to resizing the image.
Resizing First we will discuss the basics so you will have to take it some things “on faith.” Everyone’s camera is different, so some of these rules will have to change. Without explaining resolution now, I assume your picture, as it comes from the camera or scanner is fairly large with respect to pixels. I shoot all of my images at 2000 by 3008 pixels. This means that the picture comes into PSE as a 6.667” by 10.027” @ 300 ppi image. Clearly this would fit on a “letter size” piece of paper (8½ by 11), but it would be nice for the image to fill the paper save a ¼” boarder.
Image | Resize is the process we want to execute. I am going to enlarge the width of the picture to 8” and accept that the height is going to exceed 10.5”. In the next step I will crop the picture taking off a bit of the sky. Therefore set the width to 8.0”. Make sure that the Constrain Proportions checkbox is checked. This will force the height to 12.032”.
Crop by cut I typically crop by using the rectangular selection tool in concert with cut ‘n paste. While there is the Cropping tool, it is fairly limited and we will be using selection all of the time, so we might as well get used to using the Selection tool.
Click on the Selection tool and set the Mode to Fixed Size. Make the dimensions of the selection 8 by 10.5. Click anywhere in the image and the selection is made. Note how you can move the selection. Make sure you are removing sky. Next do Edit | Cut to remove the image. Close down, but do not save the original. Cut placed the image on the Windows clipboard. To place it in the workspace command: File | New | Image From Clipboard.
Blank image In order to have the white boarder we could just print the image, but I like the step of creating a letter sized image. Then you can select, copy, and paste. Select | All to define the image and Edit | Copy to place the image on the clipboard. Create a new active image by File | New | Blank File. The Preset is Letter, Color Mode is RGB color, and the Background Contents is White. When OK is pressed a blank image is placed on the workspace. Edit | Paste will lay the image on this blank page.
Printing The “finished” picture is now ready for printing. [Note: OceanView.psd is the image after resizing] File | Print invokes the PSE printing window. Nothing needs to be changed here. Press the Print button and you will bring up your printer’s driver. Everyone’s printer is different. This driver is for my printer, the Canon S9000. Choose the paper type to match the one you are using. Print your picture.
Rotate In order to demonstrate image rotation I am going to use Beckham’s raccoon as he did not supply the bird he used on p. 29. [Note, in a day or so I am going to replace Beckham’s image with one of my own.] The key to an accurate rotation is to have a baseline to match. Use the grids to provide a horizontal baseline. We will put the raccoon’s eyes on this line. View | Grids turns on the grid lines. [If the grids are the wrong size it can be set with Edit | Preferences | Grid] Image | Rotate | Custom 11° to the left will do it. I had to play around to get the 11° alteration just right. A better way is by Transform.
To start the process do: Image | Transform | Free Transform. As you start into this procedure you will get a warning message about creating a layer. We will talk about layers in depth over the next few sessions. For now just accept the new layer with the default name. When you move the cursor outside of the image it turns into a linked arrow. By dragging it around you rotate the image. To finish the transform you must click the green check mark. A number of tools work this way so be on the lookout for these green check marks.
Once rotation has been done, by either method, you need to crop the picture or it will not be square. Use the Selection Rectangle in Fixed Aspect Ratio mode. This will make sure that you end up with a picture that will fit in an 8½ by 11 print. Select, Cut, and Paste the new image. Resize the image to 8 by 10½ as we did earlier.
It is important to understand what enlarging and reducing an image means. These terms refer to the pixel dimensions of the image and not the page size of the printed image. On this picture we are not changing the ppi resolution so an increase in document size is the same thing as an increase in pixel dimensions. When you are enlarging an image, as we are here, you get a better looking image if you use Bicubic Smoother to Resample Image. On the other hand, if you are reducing the size of the image choose Bicubic Sharper.
If, however, your camera produced a 72 ppi image with a much larger document size you have to be careful. My Olympus C-750 will give you images with a smaller pixel size owing to its smaller sensor. But, the pixels are arrayed such that the document size is larger. Here is an example: If I had taken this shot with the C-750 the pixel dimensions would have been 1520 by 2288. The document size would have been 21.111” by 31.778” @ 72 ppi. You might think that we would be reducing this image to get a document size of 8.0” by 12.042 @ 300 ppi, but you would be wrong! When you entered those dimensions and look at the pixel size the new values are 2400 by 3613, almost the same as the Nikon pixel sizes. We are actually enlarging the image by adding pixels. Therefore we would use Bicubic Smoother resampling in this case too.
Notes for Lesson 2
Homework There are three things that need to be covered with respect to homework. First, we must deal with people who cannot get their prints produced at home. Next, we can devote some time to the student’s own images. Finally, we need to handle questions from the Beckham book. Be careful not to get too deep into book questions that you jeopardize class time.
Enhance This is the second step in our workflow. Last week I was suggesting to you that the first step was resizing your print. Now it is time to improve upon the basic photo. We will begin with a shot that does not need a great deal of enhancement.
Quick Fix The Quick Fix tab in PSE 5.0 is a new feature. It combines in one place all of the automatic photo repair tools. It is a great place to begin our study of PSE for photographers. You should use Smart Fix or Lighting & Color. Sharpen is best left to the more detailed corrections in Editor. If Auto does not do it for you, it is better to return to the Editor tab and proceed by “hand.”
Smart Fix Smart Fix is the one stop shop for automatic correction. It is often the first thing to try. Push the Auto button and see what happens. If you like what you see, you are home free. If you do not like it: hit the reset button to undo everything.
As it turns out Smart Fix does very little for Roger except make him a tad more red. This is not what Roger needs. We want to remove some of the shadows in his face, so hit the Reset and start over.
Lighting Quick Fix is fine, but it really does not do a great job. For this we need to start to investigate real image enhancements. Lighting is the study of contrast and brightness. Switch into the Editor, from which we will spent just about all of our time. Following our workflow we will correct lighting and I will assume that you did not go into Quick Fix (or that Quick Fix did not do the job for you).
To best understand lighting we should start with black and white. Let’s take photography back 100 years to a time before color imaging. Here is the same picture showing extremes of contrast and brightness.
Histogram Histograms are a plot of an image’s tonal distribution. If the following is a bit too technical, you can safely “zone out” for a few minutes and not miss anything practical. The horizontal axis shows the pixel brightness. The darkest value (black = 0) is on the left and the lightest value (white = 255) is on the right. This is a range from deep shadows to bright highlights. In a B&W image the darkest value (0) is black and the lightest value (255) is white. This defines 256 columns in the plot.
The vertical axis shows the number of pixels having the same value. Thus column one represents the number of pure black (in B&W) pixels. It is easier to talk in terms of black and white rather than shadow and highlight so I am going to use those terms for a minute. Later, as we talk about color I will return to the more proper terms.
I like to keep the histogram palette visible when I first look at an image in PSE. The Levels tool allows you to make adjustments to the histogram. We will discuss these adjustments shortly. A good image with a pleasing balance of contrast will have pixels at every column position. The picture of Pat in this slide has a pretty good balance although it misses pure black and pure white.
Now let’s consider some problems. If most of the pixels are bunched up at the left the image is lacking detail in the shadow. If they are bunched up at the right the detail is missing in the highlight area. If the information is not in the image, no amount of processing is going to bring them back.
In the Distribution Shapes slide, the histogram under the image shows patterns. The low contrast image has the pixels bunched in the center of the graph, indicating no black or white but just shades of gray. The high contrast shot has the distribution well spread out and the lack of detail in the image at both in the black and white.
The brightness study is different. The dark image has all of the pixels shifted left as you would expect. The light picture is just the opposite, the pixels are shifted right. Now I doctored the base line image to demonstrate these concepts.
Adjustments It is instructive to explain how I produced
the five images of Pat. The full color
picture was the starting point. The
first thing I did was to remove all of the color information: Enhance
| Convert to Black & White. I saved
this in a file called BaseLine.jpg. I
then created four copies of this image:
C-40.jpg, C+40.jpg, B-40.jpg, and B+40.jpg. These are the four corner images that you see on the slide. Finally, I made the adjustments using the Brightness & Contrast tool: Enhance | Adjust Lighting |
Brightness/Contrast. This slide shows the B+40 window.
Final Now, how do we use the Levels tool to improve the full color picture of Pat? As I was suggesting to you earlier, the picture is not really a bad one. We could stretch the distribution a bit to add a tad more contrast and I would like to brighten the midtones just a little. By using the term midtones, I am now reverting to the full color language rather than black and white. From here on in we will talk about shadows, highlights, and midtones. To do this we are going to use the Levels tool. From now on we will always use this tool to make lighting adjustments.
Invoke the Levels tool by entering: Enhance | Adjust Lighting | Levels. Notice the three sliders just below the histogram. These make the adjustments to the shadows, highlights, and midtones. They are a touch counter intuitive to use, so take careful notes here. The control on the left, the black triangle adjusts shadows. We want to stretch the distribution to add contrast so we are going to clip off some of the dark pixels. You move the slider to the right and the image gets darker. What is happening is some of the pixels which were not the deepest shadow (black if you will) are redefined as the darkest (or value 0). Said another way, the pixels in column 20 are now in column 0 when I move the left slider to 20.
Next we do the opposite with the highlight slider on the right. Moving this to the left redefines the high end of the distribution. Now the image gets darker as the brightest highlight is no longer 255, but 247. What we have done now is redefined the range 20 – 247 and stretched this out so it now fills the entire span 0 – 255.
The midtones slider works as a factor based around 1.0 rather than a specific column number. It shifts the center of the distribution. It too is somewhat backwards. If we want the midtones darker we move the slider to the right. We want the midtones lighter so we move the slider to the left. OK, so it is confusing so let us do by hand what the program does when you push the Auto buttons in Quick Fix. We are now returning to the practical and leaving the land of the technical.
The first thing you do is move the shadow and highlights sliders toward the center of the distribution. Keep looking at the image after moving both sliders a bit. You want the sliders to just get into the mass of pixels. Then move the midtones slider left or right until the picture looks just right. I used the highlight area on Pat’s right cheek to keep the contrast from washing out the light areas. I used the shadow on her left cheek to keep definition in the dark areas. As you become familiar with the Levels tool you will find it is very useful for tuning up lighting. This is the second step in our work flow.
Burn/Dodge Another way to adjust lighting in a small area, like a face, is to burn and dodge. These terms came from the B&W darkroom where they were applied to the negative in the enlarger. The dodge tool is used more often. If you had a clear spot on the negative too much light reached the print causing it to go dark. In digital photography a face crossed by shadows is too dark. In the enlarger if you blocked some of the light in a small area you could lighten the print up a bit. You would construct a lollypop looking tool and shake it between negative and the print to block the light. This was called dodging.
We will use the dodge tool to remove shadows. The first issue we need to address is where this tool is to be found. It is next to the last tool in the toolbar, but it will be showing the sponge tool by default at first. Click on it and the dodge tool will be among the hidden tools in the Option Bar. Select it. A good starting configuration would be a Size: 40 px., Range: Midtones, and an Exposure: 30%. Work slowly.
Adjustment We are going to cram a lot of PSE into a few minutes here. If you do not
Layer get it all, don’t fret. There will be plenty more discussion on selection, selection tools, and layers in future lessons. Explain the “onion peeling” method of development. Layers are like clear plastic sheets that stack up above the original image. You can place things from the base image on the layer and work on them independently from the original image. The layers concept is used often and it is a critical skill you need to master.
Often when taking pictures of people in high light settings, like this skiing scene, you and/or the camera need to make a compromise on the exposure. Here, the background is fine, but Bob is in shadow. We will use the technique outlined in Beckham, page 32, to effect this change.
Create an Adjustment Layer to manipulate Levels. Name it Bob if you want. Move the midtones slider to the left to brighten the picture. You could change the shape of the histogram if you want to, but it probably is unnecessary.
Once the figure is set, choose a soft brush. Start with a brush size of 500 and “chip” away the layer with a black foreground color. As you remove the “paint” on the layer you see the original image below. As you get closer to Bob, switch to a smaller brush. I used 15 close in, and 100 a little bit further out.
Once you have a pleasing image, you should flatten out the adjustment layer. Layers | Flatten will do that for you.
Improving Like other techniques PSE gives you a great many tools to make color
Color corrections. We will touch on a few of them and spend some time with one of them. Removing color casts can often be handled very skillfully by the automatic correction button. Hue & Saturation is the standard color tool. We can even use the color channels of the Levels tool. Finally, we will briefly mention layers once again in connection with color correction.
Color casts One of the “issues” that the automatic button of PSE handles well is dealing with color casts. Sometimes the digital camera is fooled and you end up with a color cast. Snow scenes are notorious for having a gray or blue cast as in this picture of Pat in Park City, UT. Bring up the image in Quick Fix, press the Auto button, and most color casts are gone.
Hue & Sometimes color correction requires a tad more intervention. The tool
Saturation for this job is found: Enhance | Color Adjustment | Hue & Saturation. The image here was scanned from a slide. The rich fall colors are somewhat washed out. We need to make them more vivid. While there are lots more to describe about the Hue & Saturation dialog box, let’s just make a few simple adjustments. What you see in the picture is after 3 small adjustments to the Reds, Yellows, and Greens. Here are the adjustments that were made:
Layers Once again we are going to use the Adjustment Layer to restore the guys in the boat to the original color. This time we will form the Adjustment Layer with Hue & Saturation. Layers | New Adjustment Layer | Hue & Saturation are the menu choices. You can name the layer Color or just let it take the default name. Repeat the three color modifications as we did with the picture as a whole on the layer. Then, as we did before, use a brush ( the 100 pixel soft brush works nicely) with the black foreground color to “chip away” at the layer so as to reveal the original color of the boat on the base (background) level. To really see the hole in the adjustment layer you might turn off the “eye” icon on the background layer.
Bit color In an attempt to get “Fall” color into the trees, we have been shifting the hue yellow into the orange. In this much enlarged view (600%), we shifted the Yellow by H: -20 and S: +20. Take a look at the pixels around X: 0.183 Y: 0.897. The original was (R: 196, G: 168, B: 100). The transformed pixels came out as (R: 202, G: 145, B: 80). By depressing green and blue we get a much richer red/orange.
Notes for Lesson 3
Marquee We have used rectangular selection before. Review the three modes of use: Normal, Fixed Aspect Ratio, and Fixed Size. Once the selection has been defined you can drag it anywhere on the workspace, although you would rarely move a selection without placing in a layer. The elliptical selection is rarely used. The area it selects is an ellipse; however the bounding box is the same rectangle you have just seen in action. Note that an ellipse with a fixed aspect ratio of 1:1 is a circle.
Magic Wand Use the New Selection icon to start the process. It is always wise to look at this icon first as it is “remembered” from use to use and is often in the Add or Subtract position. Next set the Tolerance (0 – 255) to a low value for selecting colors very similar to the clicked pixel or a high value for a large range of values. If the Magic Wand tool is to be used at all, low values are the most useful. If that does not isolate pixels, consider using another selection tool. The selection is based on color and tone.
With all the selection tools you can make a first selection and then add to it with another selection. You can also subtract from it with another selection. Don’t forget you can zoom in on the workspace with <Ctrl>+. This is useful with fine selections.
Paint Once we have isolated the sky we can ham-handedly color it blue using the paint can tool. This is not what we would usually do, but it gives you a good feeling for layers and modifications to same. We will actually this on purpose in lesson 6 to create a silk screen effect. Create a new layer with “New Layer via Copy.” Remember these steps because we will do this time and time again from here on in. Turn the lowest layer invisible by using the eye icon. Use the Paint Bucket tool with an extreme tolerance of 255. Pick a foreground color of blue, and click anywhere in the layer. Notice that some white shows through the trees.
A really useful way to “fix” the sky is with another image of puffy white clouds on a royal blue sky. The white showing through the trees would blend into these low lying clouds. It would be good to take a number of cloud images with blue sky above them and make a cloud and sky “library.” The one that would work best here is having a cloud in the lower left hand corner so that the white that shows through the trees is taken for the cloud.
Lasso Another fix I have used with some success is to add
something to a picture. Look at this
shot of the Ritz Carlton hotel. It would
be a better picture if it had some foreground.
I am going to cut the jetski out of one shot and paste it into the beach
in front of the Ritz. The Polygon Lasso
just connects straight line segments with left clicks. I am going to use the Magnetic Lasso tool to
do the cutting. This tool hugs the boundary
of pixels with differing contrast. It
has three parameters that may need “tuning.”
Width – This is the distance in pixels from which an edge will be detected. A good tip is to turn on Caps Lock to see this width as a circle. A value of 10 worked well for this picture, but the contrast differential will define this value. Too little contrast and this tool will not work well at all.
Edge Contrast – A higher edge contrast detects only very high contrast differences. The default 50% worked well in this setting.
Frequency – This value is the rate at which the tool sets fastening points. It is a range between 0 and 100. The high the number the more often it will set these tie points automatically. Of course, every time you left click you set a user defined fastening point.
It is useful to use any lasso tool at a high zoom factor, so this trick will help you move the image while lassoing. If you hold the spacebar down the Hand repositioning tool becomes active and you can move the workspace and then continue to lasso. You can also change to the Polygon Lasso in the middle of a Magnetic Lasso run by Alt-Click.
When the lasso almost surrounds the object a double click will close the selection. Once that is done copy ‘n paste the jetski on to the sand. You will need to do a little resizing and repositioning.
Artifact Sometimes you need to remove defects from your image. If you use a
Removal film scanner, cardboard dust is usually a problem. When you scan a damaged print you often have cause to remove some a defect and replace it with “good” pixels. The principal use of artifact removal for photographers is to erase some distracting element in the photograph. Look at the telephone wires in this image.
Healing Brush When you want to replace “bad” pixels with random similar pixels the Healing Brush is the best tool. A telephone wire against the clear sky is a good example. The older Clone Stamp tool will also do the trick, but not nearly as well as it exactly copies pixels from the source area while the Healing Brush blends them. Do not confuse the Healing Brush with the Spot Healing Brush discussed next week.
Clone Stamp Use this tool when you want to copy pixels exactly. Notice how I duplicated the bolts at the front of the engine. A hard edge brush was selected. The clone source was set to just cover the original bolt. <Alt>left click will set the source. The destination was an area where the edges would be hard to see in the finished image. You can “paint” with the clone tool to copy an irregular shape, but there are better ways to duplicate and paste objects.
Red eye The best way to deal with red eye is not to use a flash in the first place. Note that I teach a course in digital photography where I rail against the use of flash photography. If you get red eye, the Red Eye Removal tool works well. Choose the tool. Click the red area of one eye. Then click the other eye, and it is done.
Dust If the problem with dust or mild scratches is not too severe there is a repair that is quicker than the Healing Brush. It is the Dust & Scratch tool. Select the area with the artifact you wish to remove with the Rectangular Selection tool. Invoke the tool with Filter | Noise | Dust & Scratches. Sadly, the Adobe documentation does not tell you how to use the parameters of this tool. However, a Radius of 5 and a Threshold of 0 does the trick. Beckham explains that moving the Threshold above 0 reduces the softening effect of the filter. You can really see the action of this tool on the scratch on the Stop sign. By keeping the Threshold at 0 and raising the Radius to 8 you can remove the scratch entirely. However, my feeling about this defect causes me to want to use the Healing Brush.
Sharpening One of the last tools to be employed in my workflow is the Sharpening tool. My longest lens almost always leaves the subject just slightly out of sharp focus. Additionally, in camera processing of digital images often blend pixels leaving the resultant image in need of a bit of retouching.
This picture of a Marlin’s baseball player could use a bit of sharpening magic. Now that we are lasso experts, we employ the Magnetic Lasso to isolate the player. If we did not do this we would sharpen the stands and ruin the depth of field effect that adds to the player “pop” in this image. Once the player is isolated, bring up the tool by: Enhance | Adjust Sharpness. Use the Hand tool to move the preview window to an area of high definition, like the fish logo. The Amount parameter tells the program just how much sharpening to perform. I go for small amounts at first like the 110% in this example. The Radius determines the number of pixels surrounding the edge pixels affected by sharpening. Usually this number is smaller than the 25 used here, but I felt this image needed a healthy slug. You should use the Remove parameter called Gaussian Blur for most images. Lens Blur and Motion Blur have their uses, but are used less frequently.
Sky Blue sky would help this picture of Pat in front of the Great Buddha of Kamakura. As we noted earlier, you should create a collection of sky shots with white cloud in the lower edge of the image. Make a layer of the picture. Use the Magic Wand tool to select most of the sky. Delete the sky and check to see that it is gone by making the background layer invisible. Do not worry about the “old” sky remaining in the trees. Create a blank layer just above the background. Paste the sky on to this blank layer. Select this layer and make all other layers invisible. Use the Move tool to position the sky such that the cloud is in the tree. Now we will get rid of the boundary “line” of unerased pixels. Use the Eraser tool on the top layer with a small soft brush. Enlarge the image so a 5 pixel brush looks big. Cut away the offending pixels. Do not use this technique around hair. Hair is usually not a problem anyway.
Workflow In general these six steps are what I use with the normal image. Obviously, if you are making a radical change to your picture, like we did by adding the jetski, there will be other steps. These six will cover the tuning up of any image to make a very decent print.
Notes for Lesson 4
Professional I wish I could tell you that after taking this course you could do work like this. These are my great grandparents who went on an adventure to the Klondike in 1898. The picture had been folded into a book and is now in two pieces. After restoration a high quality print is hanging in my bedroom and a fairly large TIFF file is on a CD.
Isolation Often it is useful to remove the subject from the background. Even if you are not going to replace the background we will want to work on a layer so our selection technique will be a skill you will want to master. Start with the Magnetic Lasso in the high contrast area of the image. Work in small sections using the Add to Selection feature. To get to the edge of the workspace use the Rectangular Marquee tool. If you cannot get to the exact edge, do not fret. We will trim the image a small amount after isolation.
Lasso Once the entire figure has been selected, including the little area beneath the sleeve, you will execute an Inverse process: Select | Inverse will get you there. This isolates Mike rather than the background.
Cut ‘n paste With Mike selected, cut the image to the Clipboard. Form a new image: File | New | Blank File. Then paste Mike into the new letter sized picture. If your selection was not perfect around the edges, use the Rectangular Marquee tool to select and cut Mike from inside his image. Delete the layer you just exhumed Mike from and paste again. Now move him into position flush with the lower left hand corner.
Notice that one layer is Mike and the other is a white background. In the end we will place a nice textured backdrop behind Mike by inserting a layer between the white and our boy.
Skin I chose Mike, in his late teens, and his brother Keith later on, because they have issues with acne. Look at this close up to see what we need to repair. Create a new layer by copying the Mike layer. Enlarge the view. Use the Healing Brush tool with a soft edge about 15 pixels in diameter. Hold the Alt key down and left click to define the source or donor pixels. Then paint over the destination area.
Spot healing A better technique for small repairs, like acne, is the Spot Healing Brush. You do not select the source pixel area. Choose a soft brush a little bigger than the blemish. The Create Texture option seems to work best for this type of defect. It uses the pixels within the selection area to repair the blemish. A simple left click executes the tool.
Teeth Just like the example in Beckham p. 94 we will remove the highlights on Mike’s teeth. Create a new layer: Layer | Duplicate Layer. I could use the Spot Healing Brush as demonstrated above, but I am going to use the older Clone tool as Beckham does.
Eyes In a similar manner we will follow Beckham into sharpening the eyes. Create two new layers: Layer | Duplicate Layer. I keep building up layers on the original, but you can flatten out your work as you go along. The reason for two is we are going to do “violence” to the under-lying layer and I do not want to do this to the “teeth” layer. The two layers are “eyes” and “eyes over-layer.” Select the “eyes” layer. Now radically sharpen the “eyes” layer: Enhance | Unsharp Mask. I used the suggested Amount: 200%, Radius: 2 pixels, and Threshold: 0 levels. Note the Radius parameter defines the “edge” that gets sharpened. Threshold values determine how different pixels must be before they are considered “edge.” A Threshold of 0 means all pixels are considered in the image.
Move to the top layer, “eyes over-layer.” Use the Eraser tool with a small soft brush to poke a hole in the top layer in the eye area to reveal the sharpened image of the layer below. Sometimes it is useful to make all of the layers below invisible so you can see the developing hole more clearly.
Backdrop Let’s add one last touch, a professional
backdrop. Select the lowest layer. Go to the Artwork and Effects palette. Select “Backgrounds” and “Textures” in the
dropdown boxes. Choose the texture
called Patina and apply it to the lowest level layer. We want to blur this texture quite a bit, so:
Filter | Blur | Gaussian Blur. A Radius: 35 should do it. Next we want to brighten up the backdrop so: Enhance | Lighting | Brightness/Contrast. A Brightness setting of +35 works is a good value.
One last point should be mentioned here. This is good enough for a class room illustration. However, we did not use too much care in cutting Mike out of the original image. Therefore, there are some boarder pixels which would receive some “loving” hand crafting were this to be passed off as professional work.
Restore The slide explains the steps toward restoration and the order of the workflow. Although I am not going to explain how to use the tool, I used the Magic Extractor tool to isolate the subjects. You can use the same procedure that we used on Mike to isolate subjects. Most of the damage repair was done with the Spot Healing Brush. Sometimes I used the Clone tool. I am not sure at this point how much red eye I should repair. The Red Eye Removal tool cannot get it right.
Levels Use the shadow and highlights slider to bound the distribution. Then darken the midtones a touch. This has the effect of reducing the fading. Next adjust the hue and saturation by bringing up the color adjustment: Enhance | Color Adjustment | Hue/Saturation. Move the Hue slightly into the magenta by -2. Push up the Saturation by 15.
Eyes Red eye tools do not work here because there is not enough definition in the eyes. Let’s approach it in a different way. Create two layers here. Drastically shift the lower layer into the blue range with the hue slider at -95. Chip away at the upper level in the center of the eyes with 60% opacity.
Highlights Do the same thing with the harsh highlights. Create two layers. Use the Clone brush to eliminate the highlights. Then chip away at the upper layer to reveal the skin tones below. I had success with a 40% opacity setting as I did not want to do away with the highlights entirely.
Notes for Lesson 5
Technique There are a fair number of other techniques that can be useful to photographer. In this lesson we will discuss a number of them, although as we have been saying all along, PSE is a very big program and we can only focus on a few items.
Magic You have already visited the Magic Wand tool. It is one of the many color
Selection differential selection tools. The Magic Selection Brush allows you to combine the ease of use of the Magic Wand with the area defining nature of a brush. With Magic Wand you click on a pixel and it finds like pixels of the same color, give or take whether contiguous is selected. You have to keep playing with the tolerance control to get the right tonal range correct. With Magic Selection Brush it will only find pixels covered with “paint.” Tolerance is gained by what color the “painted” pixels are.
Scribble over the colors you want to select and the red foreground color will paint the image. When you release the mouse button, that color will be selected. You may have some non-contiguous items selected. They are easy to remove with polygon lasso in subtract mode.
Extractor The Magic Extractor both selects an object and extracts it from the image onto a layer. There is no tool icon for this feature. It is launched in its own window by: Image | Magic Extractor. You place foreground red dots (or scribbles) on what you want to extract. Blue background dots define what you want to remove. The Preview button lets you see what will happen. Clicking OK extracts the image and makes it a layer. Note that the background is gone once this procedure is executed. Usually this is fine because the image is often going to be pasted into another background.
Painting For artistic reasons you might want to paint over a large section of a photograph. We will make good use of painting next week when we transform a photograph into a silk screen. Pat had this snapshot taken of herself during an Ikebana class on our trip to Japan in 2004. While this image will not win any photography contests, it serves to illustrate how you can mold an image into something better with PSE. It would be nice if Pat’s T shirt matched the color of the flowers. Here is how it is done.
Duplicate the image into a new layer: Layer | Duplicate Layer. Use the Magic Extractor tool to isolate and extract the shirt. You might have to “tune up” the edges of the shirt. Next, set the Blend Mode to Hue. This allows the texture to show through the paint we are about to apply. While working on the background level, use the Color Picker tool to find a nice shade of pink from the flowers. Change to the shirt layer. Use the Paint tool to flood the shirt with the pink color. Use a Tolerance of 255 to color everything.
Vignettes I seem to have an issue with Beckham page 122. I could not make his procedure work for me. Load the picture of Pat. Create a new layer from the background layer, not a blank layer as Beckham suggests. With the Marquee tool draw an oval around the head. You need not be too careful as you can position the selection after it is drawn. Go for a tad bigger oval than the head. Invert the selection: Select | Inverse. Feather the selection about 25 pixels or more: Select | Feather. This will fade out the vignette. Choose the foreground color. White is the favorite for vignettes. Use the Paint Bucket tool to flood the layer with color. Once again invert the selection. Now delete the selected area. The face from the background shows through.
Perspective This technique is usually reserved for pictures of buildings take way too close as a means of making them appear not to be falling over. Here I took a picture of a silk screen painting from an angle to reduce, but not eliminate glare. View the grid lines: View | Grid Lines. We have to dramatically “shrink” the left hand side of the image. Bring up the perspective transformation tool: Image | Transform | Perspective. Notice the 8 “handles.” Click and drag the upper left hand handle and move it downward. Notice how the left hand side of the print shrinks. We want to extract the silk screen print and not the frame, so match the grid lines with the outside edges of the print and not the frame. Try to get the top and bottom edges as parallel as possible. You will notice that the camera was a little below the center of the picture so we will move the center point of view upwards. Grab the left center handle and move it up just a tad. This will give you the least amount of perspective error. Now cut out the image using the rectangular Marquee selection tool. In the end you still have some glare on the picture. Using a technique we will discuss next week you can fix this with some selective painting using the Paint Bucket tool.
B & W It is fairly simple to convert an image to black and white. First size the picture to its final dimensions and resolution. PSE 5.0 has a separate feature for the conversion: Enhance | Convert to Black and White. This procedure will execute a program that will allow you to alter how the colors will be transformed into gray scale. It is like putting a colored filter in front of a camera loaded with B & W film. Once you find a pleasing look press OK and commit the image to B & W. After it is in B & W, you might want to adjust the levels for even more alteration of the zonal values.
Faux DOF You can use Gaussian Blur to create a faux Depth Of Field (DOF) effect. For the quick and dirty, just cut out the central figure and blur the background. For a better effect select 4 or 5 distances and scale the blur effect.
Proceed like the simple, but only blur a radius of 1.0. Next make a simple selection of those elements close to the subject. Feather the edge of the selection: Select | Feather. Make the feather about 10 pixels. Invert the selection: Select | Inverse. Create a new layer by way of Cut: Layer | New | Layer via Cut.
Repeat the process by selecting outward. Feather the selection by 20 pixels. Invert the selection. And create the new layer via Cut. Finally, just blur what is left of the image to about a radius of 12.
Notes for Lesson 6
Direction This lesson starts you out in a new direction. Up to now we have focused on making your photographs better. Now we are going to transform your pictures to a new art form.
Transformed There is no need to go any farther. Creating and displaying great photographs is a fabulous end all in itself. I, however, have a desire to go further. Come with me into to the “world transformed.” Most of what we are going to do today is to create faux painting. Of the seemingly endless techniques we are going to investigate three: 1/ Silk screen. 2/ Water color. 3/ Poster paint.
Recipe Up to this point we have tried to focus on real technique education. There are better books than Beckham, but they are too deep for a course like this one. I have tried to be the link to the knowledge. The advantages of a knowledge approach are obvious. You end up knowing “why” things happen. By now you should have a very good command of how layers work and why you need to use them. The old saying about the differences between giving someone a fish and teaching them to fish is at the core of the knowledge approach. Once you have this base you can go out and buy a book on PSE, like Andrews, and go so much further on your own.
However, there is something to be said about the recipe approach that is often overlooked. By not delving into the complex details you can learn to execute some very difficult procedures. By following a recipe you can get results a lot faster. You do this by “standing on the shoulders of giants.” There are a lot of PSE giants out there. The faux serigraph on the right is Pat in the style of Andy Warhol. I learned how to do this from an article in Adobe Photoshop Elements Techniques magazine. This, together with their on-line community has helped me master PSE.
Silk screen The technique is close to the serigraph just displayed. It works best on images that have large expanses that could be painted with one color. You will not get, nor will you want, fine detail. The workflow is Select, Copy via Layer, pick color, and paint. This is repeated with each new area. To save on RAM you can flatten after every cycle. Note, there is a Posterize tool, but in my experience it works very poorly.
Select Most of the time the Polygon Lasso works best. Enlarge the image to visualize the lasso’s path. Small areas of well defined contrast can be selected with the Magic Wand. You do not have to be too careful around the picture’s edge as a quick crop at the end will fix that. If you are sloppy with selection you can always add/subtract areas.
Copy After selection use Layer via Copy to place the new area over the background. To get a good view of the area to be painted you should turn off the background layer. You can pick a color for the sky from an existing color in the original image. If you want to do this you need to make sure that the background is both visible and is the active layer. Then you can use the Color Picker (Eyedropper) to choose the color. There is no law saying the sky needs to be blue. Set the color to anything you wish.
Paint bucket Next, use the Paint Bucket tool to color in the entire sky. Now you are ready to select the next area. You do not have to do every area. I chose to leave out the shadow on the jib and a number of small areas.
Blend mode Because you often find Blend (or Blending) mode in Beckham, we are going to take a brief diversion into this topic. But be warned, this is a very complex subject and we could spend a couple of hours on it alone. When you have two layers directly on top of one another you have the opportunity for layer color interaction. The normal behavior of a top layer is to completely obscure the bottom layer. This can be modified by the action of the Opacity slider. But there are color interactions which can come into operations too.
Color can be thought of as Hue, Saturation, and Luminance. As you remember from the Color Adjustment feature, Hue is the shade of color be it red, green, blue, or any mixture thereof. It is what we normally think of as color when we ask a child: “what color is the sky?”
Saturation is the intensity of the color running from gray to vivid. Without getting into too much color theory, increasing saturation of red gets you the most vivid hue until it is “fully saturated.” Reducing saturation removes color until you get to gray for a hue other than black or white. Adjust the hue or saturation of black does nothing because it has no hue to change! In a similar manner, trying to adjust white does no good because it is a mixture of all colors.
Luminance is the relative lightness of darkness of the color. Adjusting the luminance of a color light red will cause it to go to black or white. Increasing luminance will cause it to move toward white, while decreasing it will tend to go to black. Black can have its luminance increased and it will go to white, but it cannot have its luminance decreased because it is already black. In a similar manner, white can have its luminance decreased and go to black, but cannot have it increased.
A few terms can be used when talking about blending. The base color is the color of the lower layer as defined by hue, saturation, and luminance. The blend color is the color of the top layer. The resulting color is the final color you will see after one of the treatments. Let’s look at three possible ways to change the white stripes and stars to green. Using the Magic Wand with a Tol: 60, we isolate the desired areas. Once again we remove them to by: Layer | Layer via Copy.
Apply color In order to show the effect more clearly we will turn off the background layer. Now set the foreground color to a nice vivid green (#00FF33). Apply the paint giving us a nice flat green just like with the silk screen. Now we turn the background on and we see that we have indeed turned white to green.
3 blend modes Now here comes the magic. What we are demonstrating is Normal Blend Mode where the top layer completely obscures the bottom layer. If we shift the Blend Mode to Hue we start to see texture in the waves of the flag. This is because we are getting the hue from the top layer. The reason we don’t get much green is because the saturation and luminance come from the base or bottom layer. What is the saturation of white? White! What is the luminance of white? White! The folds show up because they are shades of brown and black and their saturation and luminance are non-white.
Now look at the third flag. Here we have chosen a Blend Mode of Color. This time we get both hue and saturation from the top layer. The luminance comes from the bottom. There is much more green in this image because you only get white where base, or bottom, was pure white. The folds are still there because they are controlled by luminance and we still get that from the bottom layer.
Watercolor One of the nicest “painterly” effects is described on Beckham page 103.
Effect It is the watercolor effect. It is particularly well expressed if the original photograph is composed of clear lines, simple subjects, and bright colors. My example photo is not as good as the balloons in the Beckham book, but I love playing with Monet’s water lilies. This picture was taken at Monet’s home in Giverny, France. This demonstration illustrates a number of new techniques that can not only be used in this effect, but in many others. Included are edge finding, soft light blend mode, and the use of pixilation. Before we get started you will need to copy the background into a new layer.
Edge Many watercolor paintings are done over pen and ink drawings. We will approach watercolor using this vehicle. The technique of finding an edge involves the Smart Blur feature, believe it or not. This function is buried with the blur filters: Filter | Blur | Smart Blur. You will want to use the Quality: High, and the Mode: Edge Only. The Radius slider informs PSE how far out to investigate for dissimilar pixels. In my water lilies I don’t want to go too far out so I set Radius: 0.8. The Threshold parameter determines how dissimilar the can be to be eliminated. I set the Threshold: 30. The careful use of these two parameters determines how many edges the program will fine. Note, if you just wanted to create a line drawing you could use this technique to create the lines.
Invert Since the edge finding technique places white lines on a black background, we will want to invert this effect. Release 5.0 of PSE moved this function into the Filter menu so the path to this feature is: Filter | Adjustments | Invert. If you wanted to do your own silk screen effect, you might consider hand painting within the lines.
Soft Light Now we are going to introduce a new Blend Mode, Soft Light. In the dropdown box in the Layers Palette, select Blend Mode of Soft Light. This gives a nice pastel coloration to the image. Here is how it works: The top layer, the line drawing is the blend “color.” It is not color at all as it is black and white. The base color is the color of the underlying photograph. If the blend color is less than 50% gray the result color is lightened. This is most of the image because the top layer is almost all white. If the blend color is greater than 50% gray (i.e. the black lines) the result color is darkened. In this case you can’t get any darker than the black of the lines. You could stop here and you have a very nice effect, but simulating brush strokes with blurred pixilation is interesting. There are other ways to get brush strokes and you might want to investigate other filters.
Crystallize Change the focus to the background as this is where all of the “paint” is
& Blur located. Bring up the Crystallize function: Filter | Pixelate | Crystallize. Set a fairly small Cell Size. I used Cell Size: 10. Now we should smooth out the effect with a little Gaussian Blur: Filter | Blur | Gaussian Blur. I took a pretty heavy hand at this blurring: Radius: 10. You will want to play with all of these values for your own images. Now you should flatten the image, print it, and save it.
Painterly The third, and final, effect is Beckham’s borrowed “painterly” effect.
Effect It is sort of the “paint by
numbers” look. I have chosen one of my
lighthouse images for this effort. It
has more sky than is recommended, but I will cut this off at the end when
improving the picture. I have prepared
the image lighthouse.jpg so as to be 300 ppi and 8.0 by 12.042 inches. The first step is to create three additional
layers on which to work. These will be
Opacity layer #4
Color layer #3
Filter layer #2
Plastic wrap Turn off the visibility of the top two
layers such that you can see the work done on Filter layer #2. We are going to accentuate the highlight
areas to help in finding edges. To do
this the Plastic Wrap filter will be employed.
To do this: Filter | Artistic | Plastic Wrap. For my lighthouse I needed slightly different
values for the parameters of this filter:
Highlight Strength: 10
The Highlight Strength considers which pixels are to be highlights. Beckham’s 15 was too much for my image. The Detail parameter smoothes or sharpens the selected highlights. The Smoothness affects the sharpness of the highlight boundaries.
Cutout This filter is quite a bit like the
silk screen effect. It reduces the bit
level of the colors so that you get broad areas of a single hue, just like cut
out pieces of colored paper. It employs
the feature: Filter | Artistic | Cutout. The default parameters work quite well:
Number of Levels: 4
Edge Simplicity: 4
Edge Fidelity: 2
The number of levels is the color depth. Four bit color gives you 16 colors in each of the color channels RGB. Note 24 is 16. The colors are chosen from all of the colors in the image and reduced from the standard 8 bit color which has 256 in each of the channels RGB. Thus you get fewer, larger areas of the same hue.
Edge Simplicity controls the area considered a different color. Finally Edge Fidelity controls the edges and their shape. Try out different experiments using Cutout on your own pictures. You will be amazed at the transformations you can obtain.
Color blend The two above steps pulled out much of the color in the image as it redefined the areas that will make up the final print. We need to take the color from the original image and cast it back on the texture of the transformation. This is why we created layer 3 and called it: Color layer #3. Turn on the visibility of this layer and give it focus. In the Layer Palette choose the Blend Mode: Color. This will yield the Hue and Saturation from the Color Layer #3 and the Luminance (and texture) from Filter Layer #2. This means that the texture shows through just like on our flag demo.
Turn off the visibility of the Background layer. We are going to merge layers 2 and 3. To do this: Layers | Merge Visible. Now we have three layers: Background, Color layer #3, and Opacity layer #4.
Opacity To return some, but not much, of the original detail turn on the visibility of Opacity layer #4. Set the focus to this layer. Now reduce the Opacity to zero and slowly bring back some of the detail in this layer. Beckham ended up with 20%, but I found that 30% worked better with my picture. Once again merge the layers such that we end up with two layers, Opacity layer #4 and Background.
Detail We could stop right here with a
fairly acceptable picture, but Beckham suggests a few finishing touches. He needed some detail in his faces. I could use a touch more detail in the bushes
at the base of my lighthouse. Make the
Background visible, but keep the focus on the top layer. We are going to erase some of the top layer
so as to reveal the original bush. Enlarge
the image such that the bush dominates the picture. Select the Eraser tool. Set it to a soft brush of about 32 px. Erase the bush from the top layer. Toggle the visibility of the Background layer
and you will see the
hole in the top layer. Now completely flatten the image: Layers | Flatten Image.
Final touch Now we are going to make the final picture “pop.” Nothing new will be introduced at this point. First use the Levels control to improve contrast. Move the end sliders toward the distribution. Darken the midrange pixels by moving the center slider to the right.
Sharpen the picture just a bit. Use the Unsharp Mask by: Enhance | Unsharp Mask. Because we have created sharp boundaries by our filtering, we can get a little heavy handed with the sharpening tool. Amount: 70% with a Radius: 2.0 and a Threshold: 0 looks good to me.
To add more color to things like the red roof we need to add saturation. Enhance | Adjust Color | Adjust Hue / Saturation. Kick up the Saturation to +30.
Finally, crop the picture using the Rectangular Marquee tool with a Fixed Sized of 8.0” by 10.5”. Cut off the sky.