Sunday, 16 May 2010

Curves Basics: Opening the Door to Fine Editing

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I wanted to do a "fun" post but I just realized that there can be no fun until I've taught what is perhaps the most important, most-used, and most powerful tool in image adjustment: Curves. Out of the box, this function only works in Photoshop, but Elements users can do Curves adjustments with either Elements+, a third-party patch that unlocks it for a fee ($12) or SmartCurve, a plugin that can be easily installed. Once you've done either, you can join in the fun!

The only prerequisite for this tutorial is Understanding Histograms. However, Understanding Levels will also help.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Adjustment Layers: Changing Only a Part of an Image and Selective Coloring

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Welcome to the next lesson on image adjustments! Today we'll learn about the basics of adjustment layers. For the full lesson, you'll need the following prerequisites:
1. Layer Masks
2. Levels
because Adjustment Layers are really just a combination of most image adjustments (brightness/contrast, levels, curves, color balance, exposure, etc.) with a layer mask. However, if after reading the Layer Masks tutorial you're still on the fence about using it (or if you didn't get the lesson that well), never fear - adjustment layers are intuitive and easy. This tutorial is applicable in both Photoshop and Elements.
Strawberry Profiterole
Adjustment layers are a very popular trick in a photo editor's arsenal because 1. they allow selective adjustment of only a certain part of the image, and 2. they are nondestructive, which means they do not change an image permanently - they can be deleted, moved around, the layer mask can be edited, and even the adjustment you make can be edited. For example, if you suddenly decide that the Levels adjustment you made isn't quite right, you can simply redo the adjustment layer over and over as many times as you like and the image under the adjustment layer will be intact and unharmed.