Photoshop - Quick Tips 1

Have you :

  • Ever started to make a selection using the Rectangular or Elliptical Marquee tool and then realised that it was in the wrong place?
  • Done the Shape Warp yet?
  • Built a Catalogue?
  • Had problems with Guides sticking?

Quick keystrokes, brought to you by the letters “A” and “S” and other quick tips are covered in this tutorial.

Reposition a selection

Have you ever started to make a selection using the Rectangular or Elliptical Marquee tool and then realised that it was in the wrong place? If you haven’t yet released the mouse, press-and-hold the Spacebar and the mouse button while you reposition the selection, then just release the Spacebar and continue dragging the Marquee.

If you’ve already released the mouse, you can still move the selection, but you won’t be able to resize it by dragging. You could deselect and start over again but if you choose Select>Transform Selection, you’ll be able to re-size the selection and reposition it as well. This feature gives you a Transform bounding box and works on any marquee regardless of the tool you used to create the selection.

...or a shape

You can reposition a Shape exactly the same way you’d move a selection-in-the-making: As you’re placing the shape, continue to press the mouse button and hold the Spacebar as well, then drag the shape to the new position and release the spacebar. Until you release the mouse button, you can continue to resize the Shape.

Do the Shape Warp

Have you done the Shape Warp yet?
Transform a placed Shape by first choosing Edit>Free Transform Path, then click on the Warp icon at the right of the Options Bar, and you can warp and mistreat the shape just as if it were a pixel-based area of the image before clicking the Commit checkmark.

Build a catalogue

The File>Automate>Contact Sheet ll command is a great way to print and save a contact sheet from a folder of images but that’s not the only trick it can do. If your folder contains images of consistent size, for example, a folder of auto parts for a catalogue, you could build most of the catalogue using just the Contact Sheet feature.

The dialogue gives you two very useful options that help with catalogue building. You can create the contact sheet using layers just by unchecking the Flatten All Layers box. And if you check the Use Filename As Caption box, it does just that. So, if you build the contact sheet in layers and name the images with parts numbers, all of the captions are actually live text that you can also edit and style. The best part is that the Contact Sheet does the basic layout for you.

If you're Guides won't stick...

Precise placement in Photoshop is easy using the rulers and guides; however, many of my students say that they can’t get the guides to “stick” on the image. When you drag a guide from a ruler, you need to pull only in one direction at a time. The mistake that so many students make is to try to drag both a horizontal and vertical guide at the same time from the top-left corner of the image. That doesn’t place guides; that only resets the 0 point of the rulers. Pull a guide out from the centre of one ruler at a time and you won't have trouble with them.

Quick Keystrokes

Here are some quick keystrokes, brought to you this month by the letter “A”:

  1. press A on the keyboard to choose the Selection tools (A is for “arrow,” the shape of both tools).
  2. press Shift-A to switch between the Path Selection tool (filled arrow) and the Direct Selection tool (hollow arrow).
  3. press Command-A (PC: Control-A) to place a selection marquee around the entire image.
  4. press Command-Option-A (PC: Control-Alt-A) to select all of the layers in the Layers palette.

Borrow document characteristics

You probably know that you can borrow the size and characteristics of any open document to use as the document from the Window menu when the File>New dialogue is active, but there’s an easier way. In the File>New dialogue, click the Preset drop-down menu and scroll all the way to the bottom of the contextual menu. All of your open documents are listed.

Sticky colour

If you change colour spaces in Photoshop CS2 because you want your new images to be automatically set to use the new colour space, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised. The settings in the File>New dialogue are “sticky” and, unless you catch it, the next file you create will have the same settings as the last file you created. For example, if your colour space was Adobe RGB and you’ve changed to sRGB, you need to change the Colour Profile in the Advanced settings of the New dialogue as well.

Assign or Convert?

Do you know the difference between the Assign Profile and Convert to Profile commands? The Brief explanation is that when you assign a profile, the actual colour numbers in the file don’t change. The colours are reinterpreted onscreen so the colours look as if they have changed.

When you Convert to Profile, the colours onscreen don’t change; however, behind the scenes, the colour numbers in the file itself have been altered to give them new colour values needed by the “converted to” colour space so the colours can be displayed without looking changed. That’s probably still clear as mud but, if nothing else, just remember that you probably don’t want to convert an image to a new colour space if you don’t know what the client plans to do with the file when you finish.

The Convert to Profile command is the one that really alters the underlying file.

Colour-safe Web

I usually work in Adobe RGB colour space because I prepare a lot of images for printing; however, if I need to put something on the Web, the colours can change dramatically. The example here (image not available) shows the Saves For Web dialogue with the original image displayed on the left with its colour profile (Adobe RGB) as viewed in Photoshop, and on the right with uncompensated colour as it would be viewed on the Web. Notice the change.

I’ve found the best way to compensate for that is to work in Adobe RGB and save the file, then convert (Edit>Convert to Profile) a copy of the file to sRGB and choose file>Save for Web. Converting the file keeps the image the same colours onscreen as designed and the sRGB profile produces a JPEG that will display on the Web the way it looks in Photoshop.

Quick Keystrokes

The Keystroke “S” for Spring…

  1. Press S to use the Clone Stamp tool.
  2. press Command-S (PC: Ctrl-S) to save the active image under the current name.
  3. press Command-Option-S (PC: Control-Alt-S) to save a copy of the current image under a new name.
  4. press Shift-Command –Option-S (PC: Shift-Ctrl-Alt-S) to save the current image for the Web.
  5. on Windows, Alt-S opens the Select menu. On the Mac, Option-S has no effect.

Embedded Profile vs. Working Space

If you get the Embedded Profile Mismatch warning dialogue saying that the document you’re trying to open has an embedded profile that differs from the current working space, choose to Use the Embedded Profile. This option preserves the original file and simply alters your working space so you can see accurate colour as you work, yet not change any colour values in the document file.

If a document has no profile at all and you get the Missing Profile warning, then the best option might be to Assign Working RGB. If the document belongs to a client, consider the Leave as ls (Don’t Colour Manage) option. You won’t see accurate colour for the file-but with no profile embedded, its almost impossible to know what “accurate” colour for that image is anyway.

When your EXIF data disappears

You have a midlevel digital camera that only shoots JPEG images and when you look at the JPEG images in Bridge (or in Photoshop using File>File Info), you can see all the camera data (EXIF)- exposure and flash settings, for example.

After you’ve made some changes and used File>Save for Web, you EXIF data disappears: Saving the image this way simply doesn’t preserve the camera information. Instead, choose File>Save As, choose the JPEG format and your camera data will survive its trip into Photoshop.

Save your JPEG as PSDs

If you shoot JPEG and edit your images in Photoshop, save your results as a PSD (Photoshop format) file, thus saving the best-quality image you can. Use this version for printing or if you ever need to re-edit the image. The only time you should re-save a JPEG as a JPEG is when you want to upload that image to the Web, because each time you re-save a JPEG as a JPEG, it reduces the image quality. So, if you need to use a JPEG workflow, save and protect a PSD version of your image and always start your editing process with that version.

Soften your frame edges

When your vignette and frame your image, hard edges show up after you soften the vignette because the image isn’t large enough for the treatment. What do you do? The solution is usually fairly simple. Just add a new layer above your original photo. Now choose the Clone Stamp tool (S) and make sure that the Sample All Layers box in the Options Bar is checked. Click on the Eye icon to hide the frame layer and then just extend the picture by cloning the photo’s background under the hard edges of the vignette frame. Then click on the frame layers icon to reveal your adjusted vignette.

Cloning inside a mask

On the subject of the Clone Stamp tool, have you ever tried to clone inside a layer mask? It isn’t as simple as it seems. The only way to get what you expect in the layer mask is to uncheck Sample All Layers in the Options Bar. If you try to clone from the combined layers, you end up transferring greyscale image data into your mask.

Quick Keystrokes:

Brought to you by the Letter J

1. Pressing the letter J on the keyboard chooses whichever healing tool is visible.

2. Pressing Shift-J cycles through the Spot Healing Brush, Patch and Red Eye tools, showing a new tool each time.

3. Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J) is the keyboard shortcut for Layer>New>Layer via Copy.

4. If you have a selection in your image, pressing Command-Shift-J (PC: Ctrl-Shift-J) creates a Layer via Cut.

5. Command-Option-J (PC: Ctrl-Alt-J) will give you the New Layer dialogue (along with the New Layer via Copy).

Article courtesy of Adobe Photoshop Magazine

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