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Do you want to rearm Venus de Milo, shave Uncle Harry?s beard, or turn gray skies to blue? Have at it with PhotoshopElements 3 For Dummies, your guide to enhancing the effect, fixing the flaws, or adding artistic effects to your photos. You?ll discover how to:
Do you want to rearm Venus de Milo, shave Uncle Harry’s beard, or turn gray skies to blue? Have at it with PhotoshopElements 3 For Dummies, your guide to enhancing the effect, fixing the flaws, or adding artistic effects to your photos. You’ll discover how to:
PhotoshopElements 3 For Dummies was written by Dele McClelland, award-winning author of more than 75 titles, including Photoshop for Dummies and Photoshop CS Bible, and Galen Fott, writer and reviewer for Macworld and PC Magazine. It includes 16 pages of full-color examples that demonstrate capabilities and show you “before” and “after” photos. You’ll get step-by-step specifics on techniques that can transform your photos, including:
PhotoshopElements 3 For Dummies doesn’t just give you instructions—it gives you ideas. You’ll be inspired to capitalize on the capabilities and explore different techniques to enhance and share your photos.
In This Chapter
* Introducing Photoshop Elements
* Working with the painting tools
* Understanding the image-editing tools
* Using Elements' helpful Help features
As you know if you read the Introduction to this book, the image-editing powers of Photoshop Elements are inherited from another Adobe application called simply "Photoshop." But you still may not be aware that Photoshop is the most comprehensive and popular image editor around. In fact, there's probably not a single computer artist who doesn't use Photoshop almost daily. As an Elements user, you have most of that professional power coiled up inside your computer, waiting for you to discover how to harness it.
Even if you haven't yet used Elements or Photoshop, you probably have at least a vague idea of what they're all about. But just so we're all clear on the subject, the primary purpose of these applications is to make changes to photographic images that you've managed to get on disk, whether from a digital camera, a scanner, or other means. Windows users also have the Organizer component of Elements, which lets you organize and arrange your digital image collection. We examine the Organizer half of Elements in Windows in Chapter 6; for now, when we refer to "Elements," we're referring to the Editor component of the Windows version, which is basicallyequivalent to the entire Mac version.
If you've used Elements for only a week or so, you may have mistaken it for a fairly straightforward package. Certainly, on the surface, Elements comes off as quite friendly. But lurking a few fathoms deep is another, darker program, one that is distinctly unfriendly for the uninitiated but wildly capable for the stout of heart. Sigmund Freud would no doubt declare Elements a classic case of a split personality. It's half man, half monster; half mild-mannered shoeshine boy, half blonde-grabbing, airplane-swatting King Kong. In short, Elements has a Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde thing going - only it's way scarier.
As you may recall from the last time you saw Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - indisputably the foremost resource of information on this famous tale - this Jekyll character (not to be confused with the similarly named cartoon magpie) is normally your everyday, average, nice-guy scientist. Then one day, he drinks some potion or gets cut off in traffic or something and changes into his ornery alter ego, known at every dive bar in town by the surname Hyde. Elements behaves the same way, except no magical transformation is required to shift from the easy-to-use part of the program to the scary, technical side. Both personalities - both "elements," if you will - coexist simultaneously in symbiotic harmony.
This chapter explores both the cuddly and not-so-cuddly parts of Elements' brain. (We'll leave the exploration of Abbott's and Costello's brains for another book.) We'll also take a look at the built-in Help features, which are the chief means of distinguishing Elements from its not-so-friendly big brother, Photoshop.
The Bland but Benevolent Dr. Jekyll
To discover the benevolent Dr. Jekyll side of Photoshop Elements, you need look no further than the standard painting and editing tools. Shown in Figure 1-1, these tools are so simple they're practically pastoral, like the kind of household appliances your great-grandmother would have been comfortable with. The eraser tool erases, the pencil tool draws hard-edged lines, the brush tool paints, and so on. These incredibly straightforward tools attract new users just as surely as a light attracts miller moths.
But you quickly discover that these tools, just like the boring Dr. Jekyll, aren't super-duper exciting on their own. They don't work much like their traditional counterparts - a line drawn with the pencil tool, for example, doesn't look much like a line drawn with a real pencil - and they don't seem to be particularly applicable to the job of editing images. Generally speaking, you have to be blessed with pretty strong hand-eye coordination to achieve good results using these tools.
The Dynamic but Dastardly Mr. Hyde
When the standard paint and editing tools don't fit the bill, you might try to adjust the performance of the tools and experiment with the other image controls of Elements. Unfortunately, that's when you discover the Mr. Hyde side of the program. You encounter options that have meaningless names such as Dissolve, Multiply, and Difference. Commands such as Image Size and Brightness/Contrast - both of which sound harmless enough - can easily damage your image. It's enough to drive a reticent computer artist stark raving insane.
The net result is that many folks return broken and frustrated to the underequipped and boring but nonthreatening painting and editing tools that they've come to know. It's sad, really. Especially when you consider all the wonderful things that the more complex Photoshop Elements controls can do. Oh sure, the controls have weird names, and they may not respond as you think they should at first. But after you come to terms with these slick puppies, they perform in ways you wouldn't believe.
In fact, the dreaded Mr. Hyde side of Elements represents the core of this powerful program. Without its sinister side, Elements is just another rinkydink piece of painting software whose most remarkable capability is keeping the kids out of mischief on a rainy day.
It must be noted, however, that even the dastardly Mr. Hyde side of Elements can have a friendly face, namely in Elements' new Quick Fix mode. This mode lets you deal with the complex task of image editing using greatly simplified controls. Compared to a snarling, maniacal real-world encounter with the powerful Mr. Hyde, this is sort of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon version. We visit the Quick Fix mode in Chapter 12.
The Two Elements of Photoshop Elements
Generally speaking, the simple side and the complex side of Photoshop Elements serve different purposes. The straightforward Jekyll tools concentrate mostly on painting, and the more complex Hyde capabilities are devoted to image editing. Therefore, to tackle this great program, you may find it helpful to understand the difference between the two terms.
Painting without the mess
Painting is just what it sounds like: You take a brush loaded with color and smear it all over your on-screen image. You can paint from scratch on a blank canvas, or you can paint directly on top of a photograph. Notice in Figure 1-2 the charming young lady, possibly in costume to portray Glinda the Good Witch in her high school's production of the musical Wicked. We introduce this lovely person solely to demonstrate the amazing functions of Elements.
Were you to paint on our unsuspecting fairy queen, you might arrive at something on the order of the image shown on the left in Figure 1-3. All these changes were invoked using a single tool - the brush - and just two colors - black and white. Clearly, the artistic work here is a little, shall we say, unsophisticated. However, it's worth pointing out that the image isn't permanently damaged, as it would have been with a real-life paintbrush. Because the original image is saved to disk (as explained in Chapter 7), we can restore details from the original whenever we get the whim.
Editing existing image detail
The lady on the left in Figure 1-3 may be entertaining to look at, but she's nothing compared to what she could be with the aid of some image editing. When you edit an image, you distort and enhance its existing details. So rather than paint with color, you paint with the image itself.
The lady on the right in Figure 1-3 demonstrates what we mean. To arrive at this bizarre image, we started by doing a little plastic surgery on our subject, using the Liquify filter as a substitute for the traditional ugly stick. Liquify was also used to create her stylish hairdo. We selected her crown with the lasso tool and placed it back on her head at a mischievous tilt. Her skirt was turned into a sort of seahorse tail by the Twirl filter. We replaced her pitiful little fairy wings with a pair of eagle wings from another picture, and then cut the whole thing out and placed it on a new background. And finally, we used the custom shape tool to draw the yin-yang symbol at the end of her wand, and applied a couple of layer styles to give it dimensionality and a nice glow. We're not sure exactly what it all means, but she certainly has a little more credibility as an authentic magical fairy-type creature than she did in the left image, huh?
Mind you, you don't have to go quite so hog wild with image editing. If you're a photographer, for example, you may not care to mess with your work to the point that it becomes completely unrecognizable. Figure 1-4 shows a subtle adjustment that affects neither the form nor composition of the original image. These kinds of changes merely accentuate details or downplay defects in the image.
Just for the record, here are a few common ways to edit photographs in Elements:
And that's only the tip of the iceberg. In the book's remaining chapters you'll see Photoshop Elements examined as both a painting program and an image editor. Some chapters contain a little bit of information on both topics, with Part III pertaining to image editing in particular. But you'll find all sides of Photoshop Elements' personality flourishing in this book.
Psychiatric Help: The Doctor Is Built In
Poor Dr. Jekyll. He spent all his time trying in vain to mix a drinkable antidote for that split personality problem of his, when all he needed was to seek help from another doctor - one of the psychiatric kind. Luckily, Photoshop Elements has seen the light, and the many built-in Help features that it puts at your disposal ensure that you'll never suffer by association with its split personality. Elements has woven the various aspects of its Help system together in such a way that help is always just a click away.
The Welcome screen
Let's start with first things first: The Welcome screen is the very first thing you'll see after you've fired up Photoshop Elements. (Don't worry if you don't know how to start Photoshop Elements yet - we'll cover that in the next chapter. If you feel lost, just smile and nod as you read and come back to this section later. We'll understand.)
The Mac Welcome screen
As Figure 1-5 makes clear, the Mac Welcome screen gives you these options:
You can also choose Frame from Video from the Import menu to be taken to the VCR-style controls, which let you import a frame from precaptured video. Just click the Browse button to locate the video on your hard drive, use the controls to locate your frame, and click the Grab Frame button.
The Web site for the company that made your device can be a great place to turn for help as well as an easy source for downloading updated software for your device. And the Photoshop Elements manual that came with the program has a surprising amount of helpful information.
Okay, there's one more button in this window, though technically it's a check box. If you click the check box for Show at Startup to deactivate the Welcome screen feature, you'll receive a thoughtful reminder that this screen can be turned on again by choosing Welcome under the Window menu.
The Windows Welcome screen
Figure 1-6 shows the Windows Welcome screen, which gives you seven icons to click:
The Start Up In menu at the bottom-left corner of the screen lets you specify how you want your Elements sessions to begin. Welcome Screen is selected by default, which means when you start Elements, the first thing you see is this screen. You can also choose Editor or Organizer if you want to skip the Welcome screen and have Elements open in one of its two components. But you can always choose Welcome from the Window menu of either Editor or Organizer to access the Welcome menu again.
Excerpted from Photoshop Elements 3 For Dummies by Deke McClelland Excerpted by permission.
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Part I: Element-ary School.
Chapter 1: Braving the Elements.
Chapter 2: Dissecting Your Desktop.
Chapter 3: “Open!” Says Me.
Chapter 4: Pixels: It’s Hip to Be Square.
Chapter 5: Over (and Under) the Rainbow.
Part II: Be Prepared.
Chapter 6: Get Organized (Before It Gets You).
Chapter 7: Saving with Grace.
Chapter 8: It’s Perfect. No, Wait! Okay, Print.
Chapter 9: Making Selections on the Pixel Prairie.
Chapter 10: Fifty Ways to Love Your Layer.
Part III: Realer Than Life.
Chapter 11: The Midas Retouch.
Chapter 12: Darkroom Déjà Vu.
Chapter 13: The Rainbow Correction.
Part IV: Unreality Programming.
Chapter 14: Startling Style.
Chapter 15: If a Picture Paints a Thousand Words . . . Then ShutUp and Paint.
Chapter 16: Painting with the Digital Stencil.
Chapter 17: Type Righter.
Chapter 18: Can Photoshop Elements Do That?
Part V: The Part of Tens.
Chapter 19: Ten Shortcuts to Commit to Long-Term Memory.
Chapter 20: Ten Reasons Why You Might Want to Upgrade toPhotoshop Someday.
The Dummies series of books is always the first place I go when I am updating my technical and software skills. I appreciate the organization and the simple and easy to follow format in which the books are written. The only downside in this format is if you do want to go into more depth it is best to add to your library of technical books to get more in-depth information for specific techniques.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 17, 2005
'Photoshop Elements 3 for Dummies' assumes you know nothing (like me) about Photoshop Elements and explains it step-by-step in an easy to follow and understandable format. It explains what to do and why you're doing it. It also tells us 'dummies' what to ignore unless you're doing sophisticated webpage design and other whoop-tee-do stuff. Before I got this book, I was very frustrated trying to learn PS Elements. Now, I'm cruising along just fine.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.