Whether you are a top model or an expert photographer, your images will rarely be completely error-free. It is useful to know how to work with Photoshop to remove minor facial blemishes, or to improve the quality of raw digital images, much like darkroom post-processing of film photography.
In most cases, expertise in the basic Photoshop tools listed below is enough to increase the visual appeal of photographs, without modifying their basic layout.
1. Working with Layers
When one image overlaps another, you get layers. Photoshop allows you to break down the composition of any image into multiple layers, for ease of editing each one individually. The most commonly used layers are the background, which is always untouched, and the type layer for working with fonts. You can adjust the opacity of one or more layers, and apply various style effects to them. It is also possible to add a new layer to an image or delete an existing one.
Layers give the same effect as several pieces of transparent film stacked up. The order of the individual layers decides the composition of the overall image.
You may need to duplicate a layer to use parts of it on another layer. This is called a layer mask, where the removal of these parts does not affect the original image.
2. Color Correction
Before you learn to effectively use Photoshop for color correction, you need a sound understanding about complementary colors. With this knowledge, you can identify that the sky is too blue in your nature shot, for example, and add red to achieve a more attractive tone.
Minor color adjustments can be made quickly and easily with the color balance tool. This is particularly useful for highlighting tones in the shadows.
If you are not too confident about how colors interact with each other, the best option is to allow the software to make the optimal adjustments in terms of tone and color, by using Photoshop’s Auto Tone tool. If you are not happy with the outcome, simply undo the auto corrections to get back the original image.
Photo retouching is the art of applying subtle corrections to an image to get rid of fine wrinkles on the face, dust on the camera lens, or other such minor flaws.
To retouch an image in Photoshop, first choose a fault-free area of the image, called the source point. Then use the Healing Brush tool on the area needing touch-up. The software will replace the faulty area with the source point image, and automatically blend this in with the surrounding areas.
The clone stamp tool is basically the same as the healing brush, except that it only replaces the faulty area with the source point image, without any blending. The clone stamp is thus the preferred option for hard edges and high-contrast areas.
Photoshop offers many basic tools for beginners to start editing images. Install this software on your computer, open a new project, and start achieving high-quality images that you never thought possible.
Do you have tips for beginners just starting out with Photoshop? Share your wisdom in the comments below.