Category: Photoshop

Adjust skin tones in Photoshop easily

One of the most difficult color adjustments to do is skin. Too much red and you look sunburnt, not enough and your skin takes on a shade of yellow that can only be compared to an infants dirty diaper after eating peas. In the photo below, the handsome devil on the right looks pretty good, but that ugly guy on the left looks like he spent a little too much time in the sun the day before.

Original image with redish skintones

Original image with redish skintones

Many times, adjustments made with either Levels or Curves can destroy detail and affect colors you don’t want to change. Here’s another way that isn’t quite as drastic and limits the adjustment only to the colors you want. Hue/SaturationFirst, select the area you want to edit (in this case, the face) and feather the selection a little to create a soft edge. Now, create an Adjustment Layer using the adjustment layer button at the bottom of the layers palette and select Hue/Saturation. By using an adjustment layer, we don’t lose the original and don’t have to bother saving the adjustment as a copy. Next, from the drop down menu, select the color you wish to adjust, in this case it’s Red. Now start moving the sliders around and watch the unwanted color disappear. Or if I really WANTED to look sunburned, I could add more red to the already red areas. You can see the results of a slight Red adjustment in the photo below. Notice that only the red areas were affected.
Adjusted skintones

Adjusted skintones

The changes I made were purposely drastic (the skin tone now looks too flat) to show the differences. Obviously, you must look at each image individually and adjust accordingly. The guy on the left is still ugly, but at least he doesn’t look sunburned!

Save your sanity, use CMYK Preview in Photoshop

ps_cmyk_previewI’m always amazed to see some print designers working in the RGB color space. It’s like a mechanic working on a car in the dark, you just don’t know what you’ll get when he’s done. Many filters and some color correction features only work in the RGB color space, but that doesn’t mean you have to “fly blind.” Try hitting Command + Y or select View>Proof Colors from the menu bar to see what your image will look like when converted to CMYK using your particular color settings. Many times, it will drastically alter your expectations and the results of your color edits. It will also allow you to continue using those filters and edits for color – and still know what you’ll get when you’re all done.

Sharpening an image in Photoshop

Most images in Photoshop need sharpening when you reduce them, or importing from a scanner or digital camera. There are two ways (which generally provide the same results) that you may find useful.

  • Change the image into Lab Mode and only sharpen the Luminosity Channel is one way.
  • Another way is to choose Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask, apply the settings that you want, then choose Edit>Fade Unsharp Mask, and alter the Blend Mode to Luminosity. The benefit of this method is that you can adjust the amount of the sharpening while you’re there instead of undoing and trying again.

There are, of course, other methods to accomplish the same thing, this is just an idea. If you have another way, please share it in the comments!

Fixing blurry text in Web graphics

ps_kerning_paletteWhen using small text in web graphics in Photoshop, you may notice that your text looks blurry at small point sizes (usually, anything below 12 to 14 points). Running a sharpening filter over rasterized text only serves to make it look worse. To clean up the blurry text, try increasing the tracking (kerning)amount of the text using the Character palette. By increasing the tracking amount it lowers the effects of anti-aliasing, thus making the letters appear sharper/cleaner.

Align guides to ruler tick-marks in Photoshop

Ever have difficulty getting a guide to line up with a tick mark on the ruler while working in Photoshop? Or see that it appears to line up, only to find out when you zoom in that it really doesn’t? Fortunately there’s an easy way to do what you want. Hold the Shift key down while you drag a guide to exactly the tick mark you wish. The guide will “snap” to each tick mark on the ruler.

Snap Photoshop palettes to screen edge

Snap your Photoshop CS & CS2 palettes to the nearest screen edge by Shift-dragging them or Shift-clicking on their titlebars. This seems like a silly tip, but it drives me nuts to see palettes that aren’t perfectly aligned!

Selection options in Photoshop

You have a lot of options in working with your selections in Photoshop. Try holding the Spacebar down before you let go of a selection you are making. It will allow you to re-position your selection. Now, make a selction, go to the Select>Transform Selection menu item. Now hold down the Command key and grab the control points and move them around a bit. Starting to see the convenience of this tip yet?

Free-up more RAM for Photoshop

icon_psEvery once in a while, when you’re working on a large file in Photoshop, you might want to make a trip to Edit>Purge>All – which will free up a LOT of memory. Photoshop stores your history and the clipboard in memory – which takes up quite a bit of space depending on how you work. You may also wish to experiment with lowering the amount of steps that Photoshop saves in your history palette by making a visit to the preferences. The more steps saved, the more RAM used.

Delete Photoshop layers quickly

An annoying fact when designing in Photoshop is that you quickly accumulate a multitude of layers. Even with Photoshop’s advancements in the layers arena, it gets out of hand quickly. The best thing you can do is delete unused layers. A quick way to delete multiple layers in Adobe Photoshop is to Shift+click or Command+Click the layers you don’t want, then click on the Layer Palette Trash icon. Don’t forget that you can save a Layer Comp before you delete the layers, that way you can quickly return them if necessary.

Quickly switch and select objects and layers in Photoshop

This may seem like a very basic technique, yet I see very few Photoshop users making use of it. If you want to quickly change layers. Press “V” to select the Move tool. Then Command + Click the object you want to work on. That’s it. The correct layer becomes active and you don’t need to navigate to your layers palette and scroll through the list to activate the layer you want to work on.