Adobe Photoshop Tutorial. Copyright Michael B. Karbo.

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    Adjustment layers

    In stead of adjusting brightness or something else directly in he picture, Photoshop offers a smart alternative. You can insert an adjustment layer, then you can later cancel/modify the adjustments. If you work directly in the picture, it can be difficult to return and correct the adjustment. That is no problem when you employ adjustment layers.

    1.   You still have the picture bath.psd on your screen. Choose menu items Layer --> New Adjustment Layer --> Brightness/Contrast…:

    2.   Click on OK in the dialog box New Layer:

    3.   Then the new layer is inserted, and you immediately get the same dialog box as before. Enter again brightness 3, and contrast 3.

    4.   Click on OK, and save the picture with Control+s.

    5.   Look in the layer palette. An adjustment layer had been added, which is a special type layer. Therefore the content in the layer beam is different from what you know in regular layers:

    6.   You can activate the adjustment (in this case brightness/contrast) by double clicking on the adjustment icon. Try that:

    7.   The double click opens the dialog box Brightness/Contrast, where you then can change the settings as needed.

    With an adjustment layer you can at any time adjust the picture’s light intensity and contrast. You can do that quite independently of which other retouchings you might make. That is smart!

    A brown toning

    The picture needs to be exposed to yet another adjustment, and that is done by inserting another adjustment layer. You need to brown tone the picture, since that is suitable for such an older black/white picture.

    1.   You still have the picture bath.psd on your screen.

    2.   Start by choosing an orange or red-orange foreground color:

    3.   Then select menu items Layer --> New Adjustment Layer --> Hue/Saturation and accept with Enter.

    4.   That opens a dialog box with three sliders. Nothing happens to the picture immediately. But now check the Colorize field:

    5.   Then the color tone changes to yellow-brown, since the pcture is toned with the foreground color. You can increase and reduce the strength of the toning by dragging the saturation slider towards the right or left, respectively:

    6.   Try also to drag the Hue slider, which changes the pure color, which is behind the toning:

    7.   You can follow the change in the narrow color field in the bottom of the box, while you drag the slider forth and back. Try that – drag the slider all the way from right to left and back again.

    8.   Select an orange tone with a color tone value around 30. Drag the Saturation slider to the left, until the picture gets suitably brown, a saturation value around 25 gives the right nostalgic look. Click on OK.

    9.   Save the image file again.

    You have now changed the picture’s color tone using the Hue and Saturation functions. They are based on the so-called HSB color system. This system is rather special: The color tone is chosen on a scale, which goes from 0 to 360 degrees. The saturation can have values between 0 and 100. Notice that we do not use the third parameter (brightness) in the exercise.

    Advantages of adjustment layers

    In the last exercise you used two adjustment layers. That was actually not necessary, because you can adjust the picture directly both with brightness/contrast and with Hue/Saturation. But it is still a good idea to insert adjustment layers.

    The advantage of adjustment layers is that you preserve the original picture material unchanged. Thus you avoid canges in the picture’s pixel mass.

    You can completely remove an adjustment any time by dragging the layer down to the waste basket in the bottom of the palette. You can also just temporarily cancel the effect by clicking on the eye to the left of the layer button. You can later change the values for the adjustment by double clicking on the special adjustment icon. That opens the corresponding dialog box, as you have seen already. You can also cancel or change an adjustment at any time. That can be done completely independent of what else you do in the picture.

    Adjustment layers only affect the underyling layers. If a picture consists of multiple layers, you can change the adjustment layer’s placement in the layer palette and with that control, which picture elements will be affcted by the adjustments.

    Figure 38. Adjustments can advantageously be placed in adjustment layers, where they technically are separated from the picture layers.


    You are now finished with the bath picture. Let us print it.

    1.   You have the image file bath.psd open, and the finished picture is shown on the screen. Now press Control+p. That opens the Print dialog box.

    2.   To the left you see a preview of the print, as it will look if you click on the Print button. In the first window you have the option to select another printer. But try to click on Properties --> Features. There you can change the paper orientation to ”Landscape” and then click OK:

    3.   If you put a checkmark in the Scale to Fit box you can reduce the print size (in percent) or you can fit to paper in printer:

    4.   If you are satisfied with the setup click on the print button, and the picture will be printed on the selected printer.

    Try an oval section

    Sometimes you might want to use just a section of a picture, to be used for another purpoe. Try here to make an oval section of the bath picture, which you still have on your screen.

    1.   First make sure that the background color is white (press d to get the default colors).

    2.   Then select the background layer in the layer palette, since that is the layer you need to work on:

    3.   Find the Elliptical Marquee Tool  in the tool box (press m):

    4.   Now you need to drag an elliptical selection around a suitable section of the kid. Such a simple thing as dragging an oval selection can be a tease – but that is not a problem, since shape and placement are easy to change later. An remember that you can always cancel the selection with Control+d. Try that now, make an oval selection in the picture.

    5.   You have now made a temporary selection. Then right click somewhere in the selection, and choose from the menu Transform Selection:

    6.   Now your oval selection gets equippped with a frame with handles to drag in. You can change the size and shape of the oval – try that:

    7.   Like with other transformations, you can rotate by placing the cursor outside the selection frame (as described in the exercise on page 29).

    8.   But you can also enter values directly in the fields in the settigs line if you prefer that, and define the selection’s size and placement that way.

    9.   You can move the selection by dragging it with the mouse, when the cursor looks like this:


    10. You can also move the selection with the keyboard arrow keys, try that!

    11. Make a selection of the boy’s head and a little of the upper torso. To succeed with the rest of the exercise, it is important that the selection does not come too close to the head. Since the boy looks to the right, you can let the selection be slightly larger in the right side, so the head is not placed 100% in the center. The selection must not get too close to the upper picture edge either:

    12. Press Enter when you are satisfied with the selection.

    Feather the selection

    There are many possibilities to change and correct a selection. Here you need to feather it, and this means that you will get a soft transition between the selected and the non-selected. The feathering is shown in pixels; the more pixels the softer the transition.

    1.   Check in the tool box hat your background color is white. Choose menu items Select Feather --> Feather Selection. Enter the number 12 in this field:

    2.   Click OK or press Enter. Apparently nothing happens – at least nothing visible.

    3.   Choose menu items Select --> Inverse (or press Shift-+Control+i). Then press Delete to delete the background. Cancel the selection with Control+d.

    4.   You now see the oval area on a white background. The feathering resulted in a soft transition between picture and background:

    Canvas size and cropping

    Now you just need to crop the picture. But first you need to address the problem that there is hardly any space above the motif. You solve that problem by enlarging the canvas. The canvas is the area where the picture ”rests”, and it can be enlarged. When you change the canvas size, he picure remains unchanged, but you get a larger background to work on.

    1.   Select menu items Image --> Canvas Size…. Now you can see the picture area’s actual size in pixels (if you have settings as the ones we described on page 3). By us it is 625 by 483 pixels:

    2.   You need to incease the canvas height. But the inrease has to be upward. So click on the bottom center button in the Anchor field. That causes the picture to be expanded upwards, as also is indicated by the arrows:

    3.   Then enter the new height in the Height field; than can be 550 pixels:

    4.   Then click OK. The picture has now been expanded to give more elbow room in the top; the new canvas i white, because it copies the background color.

    5.   No choose the Crop Tool by pressing c:

    6.   drag a suitable frame around the motif. As you see, the part of the picture that will be removed is shaded with a dark color.

    7.   Drag in the frame edges until you are satisfied with the section. Finish by pressing Enter.

    8.   Save a new version of the picture. Select File --> Save As..., and name the picture bath2.psd.

    The Crop Tool is incredibly practical. You just press c and then drag a frame around that part of the picture to be preserved. The rest is shielded and can be deleted by pressing Enter – it really can not be easier.

    If you have already made another selection, then you can also crop the picture from that. That is done with menu items Image --> Crop.

    But you can also use the the crop tool to easily expand the canvas. If you drag the frame beyond the picture edge, the canvas is actually expanded by the ”cropping”, when you press Enter:

    The Shield setting can in some situations be irritating, so it can be turned on and off. You can also change its parameters; by default it is a 75% covering black surface. The changes are made in the settings line:

    Figure 39. Settings for the crop tool.

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