Photoshop Elements 3 Solutions, Pt. 1 | 2 | WebReference

Photoshop Elements 3 Solutions, Pt. 1 | 2

Photoshop Elements 3 Solutions, Pt. 1

Deciding What Comes When

Quick Fix streamlines your workflow, and like Standard Edit, it doesn't force you into any one way of doing things. When it comes to fixing a typical digital image, however, some tasks are best done before others.

Here is an order I suggest you follow when working on images:

1. Rotate the image if it is in the wrong orientation.

2. Use the Smart Fix command. If that doesn't work satisfactorily, use Auto Levels. For even more tonal control, use Levels. (I'll get into the specifics of how to do this shortly).

3. Use the Reduce Noise filter to reduce digital-camera-specific noise (If you are working in Quick Fix, from this point on I suggest you leave and go to Standard Edit).

4. Use the Clone Stamp tool or Spot Healing Brush to remove unwanted dust and scratches and other kinds of flaws.

5. Save a copy of your work in the Photoshop file format (File > Save As). Do this now, before cropping, resizing, and sharpening. Cropping throws away data you may want later, and resizing and sharpening always degrade an image to some degree.

6. Use the Crop tool to crop an image to its essential elements.

7. Resize the image to meet the specific needs of its final destination, be it the Web, a high-resolution ink-jet print, a printed document, or an e-mail attachment.

8. Use the Unsharp Mask filter to sharpen images that were shot out of focus or that look particularly soft for some reason and to optimize the image for printing.

9. Use File > Save As to save your image. Be sure to rename your file to differentiate it from the copy you saved before resizing and then select an appropriate file format (JPEG, PSD, TIFF, and so on).

At this point, if you follow my suggestions, you'll have three versions of your image—the original, an "optimized" image, and, finally, an optimized, cropped, resized, and sharpened image. If memory storage is an issue, consider saving only the original and final image.

You can vary the order of these tasks slightly. For example, there is no logical reason why you'd need to optimize colors and tonal values before removing unwanted dust, scratches, and electronic noise. However, whatever order you follow, always keep resizing and sharpening for last. Throughout this chapter, I'll give you exact details about how to perform these tasks.

Note : When I open a digital image I examine it and make mental notes about how to improve it. Depending on the inherent size of the image, I do this at 100 percent, 50 percent, or 25 percent. Using other view options, such as 66.7 percent or 33.3 percent, distorts the image on the monitor ("Viewing and Navigation Tools" in the appendix).

Setting Proper Orientation

It's difficult and unnecessary to work on an image that is not properly oriented. Look at the image in Figure 2.1. I shot the photo on assignment for a labor magazine and held the camera in the portrait, or vertical, orientation to capture kids huddled around their day care provider. This is how the image appears when I first bring it into Photoshop Elements. Obviously, the image needs rotating before I can move on to other tasks. To do this, click the Rotate Photo 90 Degrees Counterclockwise icon located in the upper-right side of the Quick Fix Control Center. Both the "before" and "after" views will rotate.

Note : If your image contains multiple layers, only the selected layer will be affected by Quick Fix commands. The exception is the Quick Fix rotate command, which rotates all layers. Also, if you have an active selection, only the selected areas will be affected by Quick Fix commands.

You can also rotate an image from the main menu bar regardless of whether you are in Standard Edit or Quick Fix (Image > Rotate).

If you are in File Browser (File > Browse Folders), you can rotate one or more selected images via the rotate icons located in the File Browser menu bar. To select more than one image for rotation at a time, hold the Ctrl/ key while selecting, and then apply the rotate command. Keep in mind that when you do this you are rotating only the thumbnail version of the image. To apply the rotation to the actual image file, you'll need to either choose Edit > Apply Rotation from the File Browser menu, or open the file and do a File > Save or File > Save As from the main menu bar. If you are working with JPEG images, I suggest you avoid the Apply Rotation command from within the File Browser menu. If you use this command, your file is automatically saved back in the JPEG file format with a very slight loss of quality. (See the note at the end of this section).

What Do You Do When You Mess Up?

It's comforting to know that when you are working within Photoshop Elements, it's difficult to permanently damage a digital image. There is hardly a mistake you can make that can't be fixed by using the Undo History palette or the Undo command. Even if you accidentally save your work, as long as you haven't closed the file you can revert to a previous version. Here are your choices if.and mess up:

The simplest way to undo an action you've just made is to click the Undo button in the shortcuts bar or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Z / +Z. This button is connected to the Undo History palette, and each time you click it you move backward through the various recorded states in the Undo History palette. You can continue stepping backward this way until you reach the end of the recorded states in the Undo History palette. To redo the operation, click the Redo button in the shortcuts bar or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Y / +Y. (You can customize the keyboard command by choosing Edit > Preferences > General).

You can also go directly to the Undo History palette to correct mistakes. By default, the Undo History palette records 50 states, or changes, to your image. You can increase this number in the Preferences ("Setting Preferences" in the appendix). States are added to the palette from the top down, with the most recent state at the bottom. The name of the tool or command you used is included. To undo a mistake, simply select a state above the one you want to redo, and the Undo History palette will revert your image to that state.

You can also choose Edit > Undo from the menu bar. Or you can use the keyboard command Ctrl+Alt+Z / +Option+Z. To redo, choose Edit > Redo or use Ctrl+Alt+Y / +Option+Y. When using almost any tool, it's important to use small steps (release the mouse frequently); that way, you will need to undo only a small amount of work.

As a last recourse, you can always revert to the last saved version. To do this, choose Edit > Revert to Saved. If you decide this isn't what you want, you can always undo Revert in the Undo History palette.

Fixing a mistake is easy, but most people will find a way to mess up so badly that the methods just described won't help. For example, say you resize an image and save and close the file. Oops, you really didn't mean to save the resized version. What do you do now? Unless you have a backup, you are out of luck. That's why throughout this book you'll see that I strongly advocate creating a copy of your digital image and working on that file. It won't matter as much if you mess up because you'll always have an original to go back to.

Created: March 27, 2003
Revised: November 30, 2004