If you’ve worked in Photoshop for a short while, you’ve undboutedly come across the Transform tool under the Edit menu. It allows you to scale, skew, rotate and more a selected object or layer. If you find yourself going back to the menu several times to get the object just right, you should consider using Free Transform. Free Transform ( Command + T ) allows you to allows you access to all the transform options including warp, perspective, distort, skew, rotate and scale, as well as image flipping – all at the same time. No multiple trips to the Edit menu. Once you hit Command + T, simply right click (control + click for one button mouse users) to access the contextual menu to display your options. You can rotate your image a bit, the right click again to add some perspective… all without hitting enter to commit the changes. Hold down the option key to scale from the center of the object, or just grab the handles and hold shift to scale proportionately just like Quark or InDesign. To rotate an object, move your curser just outside the corner handles to change the cursor to a curved cursor allowing you to rotate. Hold down Command + Shift keys and drag a side handle to skew the object. When you’re all done, just hit the Enter key to commit the changes.
With changes in Photoshop and its memory management, the formula used in the past (that is, 3-5 times the size of your average image) no longer provides an accurate estimate of how much scratch disk Photoshop needs. In Photoshop CS2, you can use the states in your history palette to help you determine how much scratch disk space you need. Note: I never subscribed to this theory to begin with. My personal choice is to assign about 65% of my RAM to Photoshop, and let Photoshop figure out the scratch disk itself. Each history state that includes an operation that affects the entire image (for example, when you apply Gaussian blur or unsharp mask to the entire image) creates a full copy of your image at its original size. If your initial image is 500 KB, and you apply Gaussian blur to it, your image will need 1 MB of scratch space. If your history states consist of operations that affect only part of the image, such as paint strokes, only the size of the tiles touched by the strokes are added to the image size. If you count up the number of histories you have where operations have affected the entire image, and multiply your original image size by that number, you’ll have an approximate amount of scratch disk space the image will need. If you have applied levels, a reduce noise filter, and an unsharp mask filter to your entire image that’s 5 MB in size, the image will need 20 MB of scratch space. If you need to reduce your scratch disk overhead to a minimum, you can minimize the number of patterns and brush tips you use in each as your presets, and you can reduce the number of patterns you use in your image’s Layer Styles (as applied with the Bevel and Emboss Texture or in the Pattern Overlay). Each small pattern and sampled brush in the presets uses at least one tile for storage. Patterns used in Layer Styles take extra RAM, as well.
When you’re editing your images in Photoshop, and you’re trying to make a selection using the Magic Wand Tool, you may find that the tool leaves behind a few stray pixels. The easiest way to pick them up is with you selection made, choose Select>Modify>Smooth from the menu bar.
If you have the occasion to combine all your layers in your Photoshop document, yet still have access to all the layers at the same time, you can use this little trick to do it. Create a new blank layer on top of all your other layers and hit Command + Shift + Option + E. This merges all the visible layers onto that new layer you created AND keeps all the old layers intact for further adjustment.
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.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. First, 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. 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!
I’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.
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!
When 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.
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 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!