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Photoshop – Quick Tips 2

Written by adminCGT on .

This Photoshop quick tips 2 tutorial covers:

Preview your edge on any colour

  • Gradients
  • Unifying text layers
  • Which Bicubic to choose
  • Nearest Neighbor interpolation
  • Quick keystrokes, brought to you by the letter “M”

and more.

Preview your edge on any colour

By now you may have gathered that you can use the Refine Edge tool to preview your edges and selections (with any selection tool active, choose Refine Edge from the Options Bar). Notice all the options at the bottom of the dialogue. . . but what about hot pink? Just double-click the Quick mask option. In the dialogue, crank the Opacity up to 100%, choose a colour from the Colour Picker, and then click OK. Now you can “audition” your image against any colour and you can change these options by double-clicking the Quick Mask.

Note: You may want to change the setting back when you’re don’t because this colour will affect all masks and alpha channels.


In Photoshop CS3 upwards, you have access to your gradient pick anywhere you want it. Choose the Gradient tool from the Toolbox (or press G). When your cursor is on your image, Control-click (PC: Right-Click) or press the Return (PC: Enter) Key and the gradient picker appears-now that’s handy. This also works for brushes (B), except you have to Control-click (PC: Right-click) to get your Brushes palette.

Stop selecting that type

Have you experienced the frustration of trying to add a new text layer when it’s close to the existing type? Whenever you click, you select the previous type rather than creating a new text layer. You tried hiding the old type or locking the layer to get around this issue. Good news . . . no more workaround needed. Hold the Shift Key as you click with the type tool to force a new text layer. Yep, this works on previous versions of Photoshop. It’s been there all along.

Unifying text layers

After you’ve created multiple text layers, you changed your mind on the colour, font or size. You could select each piece of text with the I-beam and change it if you like, but here’s what I would suggest. With nothing selected, simply select all the text layers you want to change at the same time pressing Command-C (PC: Ctrl-C) and clicking the text layer thumbnails in the Layers palette. Choose the Type tool (T) and make your changes in the Options Bar or the Character palette and watch all your text layers update at once.

Displaying mask overlays

When painting on a layer mask, have you ever wanted to see the overlay (the reddish colour) like you get when working with a Quick Mask? Just press the Backslash key (\) to show the overlay.

Which Bicubic to choose?

When you go to Resample Image in the Image Size dialogue (Image>Image Size,) the number of the bicubic interpolation options might seem overwhelming. You have three choices: Bicubic, Bicubic Smoother and Bicubic Sharper. When do you use them? Use Bicubic Sharper when you’re reducing the number of pixels in an image. As it claims, this will keep the image sharper as it gets smaller.

You shouldn’t increase the number of pixels in an image unless you have no other options; however, if you must (and it happens to me sometimes too), then use Bicubic Smoother. This does a fairly good job up to about a 200% enlargement.

Nearest Neighbor interpolation

And then what can you do with the Nearest Neighbor interpolation? This one is the most primitive interpolation method. It works best in even increments (200%, 300%, etc.) and simply doubles the pixels at those percentages. It usually doesn’t work well and it also makes a mess of image reductions. But…if you have an image that consists of only solid rectangles, it’s the best way to enlarge (or possibly decrease) its size. When you can use this one? Well, I’ve created cross-stitch charts by using Nearest Neighbor to enlarge a small image (one where each pixel should be a single stitch) to about 800%. That gives me a chart that contains each stitch as an 8×8 colour square, which, when printed at 72 PPI, is large enough to follow and stitch from.

Set your default interpolation

You can change the default bicubic interpolation method to pick any available method. For example, if you know that you usually reduce images in size, you can set Bicubic Smoother as the default. To alter the default, choose the Image Interpolation method from the drop-down menu near the top of the dialogue.

Interpolation affects Crop too

Did you know that the default Image Interpolation you select in the Preferences dialogue affects commands other than Image>Image Size? It determines how Photoshop interpolates the Crop command if it needs to add or remove pixels. It also determines how Photoshop resamples an image when you scale it using the Edit>Transform>Scale or the Edit>Free Transform command.

Program Error warnings

Just to change the topic a bit here…I used to tell my students that nothing they did would produce the dreaded Program Error warning message in Photoshop. But in Photoshop CS2, that isn’t true anymore. I’ve been getting this message if it tries to use a layer command or tool when I’ve accidentally deselected all of the layers and no layer is active. Sometimes the message pops up when I try to copy an empty area of a layer; for example, if I have no layer highlighted and choose the Move tool when I go to use it, I get a message that states “Could not use the move tool because of a program error.” So, if you get this message, before you panic and trash your Preferences files, check to make sure that you haven’t violated the Photoshop conventions: You must have a layer active to move it, or you must have something in the layer to be able to copy it.

Quick Keystrokes:

Here are some quick keystrokes, brought to you by the letter “M” (for March):

1. Press M on the keyboard to choose the Marquee tool.

2. Press Shift-M to switch between the Rectangular Marquee and the Elliptical Marquee tools.

3. Press Command-Shift-M (PC: Control-Shift-M) to open your current document in ImageReady.

4. Press Command-M (PC: Control-M) to open the Curves dialogue.

5. Press Command-Option-M (PC: Control-Alt-M) to reuse the previous settings in the Curves dialogue.

Swatch exchange program

Have you ever wanted to share a palette of custom colour swatches with Illustrator or InDesign? This is handy if you need to reuse colours that we created for a specific project. You can save your swatches from either the Swatches palette flyout menu or from the Preset Manager (found under the Edit menu). In the Preset Manager, first, select Swatches from the Preset Type pop-up menu and then select the colours you want to save. Then (in either location), click the flyout menu and choose Save Swatches for Exchange. The new file will have an ASE extension.

Quick sketch artist

Here’s an almost magical way to create a wonderful coloured pencil sketch from a photo. Open any photo and create two more copies of the photo layer (Layer>New>Layer via Copy.) Change the top layer’s blend mode to Colour Burn. Double-click directly on the middle layer’s name and rename it “Effect Layer”. Then, create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer above it. Set the Saturation to -100 and click OK. Now make the effect layer active again. Choose Image>Adjustments>Invert and set the blend mode to Colour Dodge (the image will turn mostly white).

Choose Filter>Blue>Gaussian Blur. (If you’re using Photoshop CS3, make the layer a smart object so you can apply Gaussian Blur as a smart filter. Because of the way you’ve set up the layers, you can immediately see the effect of any Blur setting. The size of the image will dictate the size of blur you need – Just drag the slider until you like the result. If you’d rather have a greyscale sketch, just turn off the top layer by clicking on its Eye icon.

Preview for Web, Part 1

Did you know that while you’re saving an image for the Web, you can preview it on the Web? Hidden at the bottom-right of the preview window in the Save for Web dialogue is an unassuming icon that looks like a globe. If you click it, your default browser will launch with a preview of the image so you can see exactly what it will look like on a webpage.

Preview for Web, Part 2

You can even preview a transparent GIF file along with its intended background as you’re saving it. Choose Edit Output Settings from the optimize flyout menu (the tiny arrow to the right of the Preset drop-down menu.) Choose Background in the second drop-down menu from the top. Then, click the Image option, browse to the file you want to use for the background image and click OK. You can now preview both files on a webpage and save both parts of the image.


Shadow Highlight (Image>Adjustments>Shadow/Highlight) is a great adjustment for bringing back some of the areas in our photos that may have become plugged.

The good thing about this adjustment is that we don’t lose any of the detail in the mid-tones. Perhaps you’re disappointed because it’s still not an adjustment layer. Don’t worry because it had that exact functionality with a little workaround. First, make your layer a Smart Object and then apply Shadow/Highlight as a Smart Filter. You now have a re-editable Shadow/Highlight.

Auto Collapse

When you’re in icon mode (everything is minimised) and you expand a palette to choose its an option, it stays open and now you have to make an extra step to close it? Control-click (PC: Right-click) anywhere in the palettes and choose Auto-Collapse Icon Palettes. Now when you choose an option and then click in your document, the palette will automatically collapse closed again.

Article courtesy of Adobe Photoshop Magazine