What’s happening in the October Photoshop SIG

Photoshop Training Room
Bill Oldham: photoshop@ausom.net.au
Photoshop SIG website: https://2014photoshopsig.wordpress.com/


Example for October Challenge: Create a bokeh background and then blend it with an image of a flower.

Breaking News
The AUSOM COM and the Photography SIG have arranged for Lightroom to be the topic  or the first six meetings of 2017.

The Photoshop SIG aims to present a new topic each month to meet requests from its members. This is followed up with a monthly challenge to encourage members to try out what they were shown at the SIG or that they read about on the SIG website.

In general the SIG tries to cover both Photoshop Elements (PE) and Photoshop (PS)
users. However, there may be times when a Photoshop feature is not part of Photoshop Elements.

Last month in the September SIG
(1) We more than doubled our numbers for the September SIG. Just as I was patting myself on the back thinking that I was getting a reputation for being a marvelous SIG leader, one of the new arrivals announced that the iPad SIG had been canceled. So that explained the sudden increase in the number of people at the Photoshp SIG.

(2) Because we had so many new faces, we did a bit of a review of opening an image, duplicating the background layer, and playing with the Blend modes and Opacity slider. This was followed with a brief review of the Shadow and Highlights tool (with the warning that it was a destructive edit and to use it carefully) and the Levels tool from the previous month. We discussed the ways that you could correct under and over exposed images and how to remove or add a colour cast.

(3) In the remaining time we discussed ways to use the Colour Balance tool and the Hue and Saturation tool to enhance images and to create some artistic effects. A good website for this is here – http://digital-photography-school.com/3-easy-steps-using-photoshop-to-making-your-images-pop/

This month in the October SIG
The first topic for October is going to be a conclusion to the five image enhancement tools when we discuss how the Vibrance tool may be used to moderately increase the midtone colours in a photo. More information on this can be found here: http://digital-photography-school.com/photoshop-tools-to-take-your-images-from-good-to-great/

The second topic is going to be how to create bokeh in an image with Photoshop. Bokeh is defined as “the visual quality of  the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens.” (From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh)

Every time that I try to pronounce this term, I have to look it up at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR8HSHevQTM.

These are some websites that you might want to look at before the September SIG meeting.
(1) http://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-effects/watercolor-painting-photoshop-cs6/
(2) http://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-create-bokeh-in-camera-and-using-photoshop/
(3) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnyK3UxCIGE

I hope that you have a chance to try these tutorials and share your experiences with each other at the September SIG meeting.

October Challenge
Use one of your own still life floral images as the basis. Then carefully follow each step in this tutorial – http://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-effects/watercolor-painting-photoshop-cs6/.

Send your before and after jpgs to me to post on to the website. My email is photoshop@ausom.net.au.

Photoshop one on one
If anyone wants to sit down with me for a one on one Photoshop session, please let me know. It’s BYOC. Please email me at photoshop@ausom.net.au to arrange a time, if you interested.

Hope to see you there.

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Photoshop SIG for September, 2016

Photoshop Skills(1) (1)

There are several different methods that may be used to enhance your photos. This method discussed last month and this month consists of the following order of steps:
(1) Shadow and Highlights tool,
(2) Levels tool
(3) Colour Balance tool
(4) Hue and Saturation tool
(5) Vibrance tool

This month’s discussion will be about tools (3), (4) and (5). These are tools in PS/PE that can be used to enhance or correct faults with an image.

Breaking News
There have been requests in both the Photoshop and Photography SIGS to spend some time on an introduction to Lightroom.

This will be done in the first six months of 2017 during the Photography SIG. We are looking for interested parties to run the Intro to Lightroom sessions. Please share your expertise with us.

Further Information

Tonal Balance – http://www.graphics.com/article-old/evaluating-images-and-adjusting-photographic-tonal-values

Colour Balance – http://www.graphics.com/article-old/making-image-color-balance-adjustments-photoshop

The Colour Balance Tool
Let’s start with a short video to get the overall picture (Very punny, Bill.)

(1) Open up you image in PS/PE.
(2) Duplicate the layer using Control + J as a keyboard short cut. I then set the Blend Mode to Multiply to darken the image. I then adjusted the Opacity down a tad
(3) Click on Layer/New Adjustment Layer/Color Balance. Or click on the icon at the bottom of the Layers Tool as shown here:

Image 1 - open the color balance tool

Click on image to see as full size.

(4) Here is the tool box that comes up in CS6.

Image 2 - colour balance toolbox

Did you notice the reflection of the handsome photographer?

(5) Now it is simply  a case of experimenting with the sliders for the different colours with the shadows, midtones and highlights.
(6) Best to leave the  Preserve Luminosity box ticked. It lightens or darkens the colour so that after changing the colours, the apparent brightness is still the same.

Here is the final version.

Image 3 - final version colour balance toolbox

Click on image to see in full size.

Well, that was a brief discussion of the Colour Balance tool. Let’s move on to the Hue/Saturation tool.

The Hue/Saturation tool.
Here is a good explanation of why we need something besides just the colour balance tool.

“So far I hope I’ve berated the point that Color Balance is just what name implies, a fine balance. It should be apparent by now that most color adjustments made to the image will directly affect the rest of the color in the image. For example, you can’t seem to increase the amount of Green without decreasing the Magenta in an image.

This problem is called “crossover,” and can be very frustrating if, for instance, you like the amount of Magenta in an image, but want to increase the Green.

Photoshop has two powerful tools that will aid you in this battle, and will decrease the amount of crossover. They are the Hue/Saturation tool . . .” (Source: http://www.bairarteditions.com/pages/tutorials/photoshop/cbhuesat.html)

Here is a video that shows us how to use the Hue/Saturation Tool like a delicate scalpel rather than a sledge hammer.

Well, I don’t think that I can do any better than that video for a good explanation. So let’s take a photo and give it a try.
(1) Open up a snapshot that you want to enhance,

Note: This is a camera raw file that I am using. It opens up in in Adobe Camera Raw. I have chosen Shade as the White Balance and then clicked on the Auto below the top two sliders. This gives me a good place to start. Looks like this:

Image 4 - hue and sat in ACR

Click on image to in full size. You may be wondering, “What is that?” A shot of a rock on the beach at low tide  with bits of sea weed on it. Followed by, “Why would you take a photo of that?”

(2) Control + J to duplicate it.
(3) Play with the Blend modes and Opacity controls for a bit. I settled for Colour Burn blend mode and 100% opacity.
(4) Save as a .psd version 1 so that you can come back to this as a starting point.
(5) Press control + 0 (zero) to fill your screen.
(6) Click on Layer/New Adjustment Layer/Hue/Saturation.

That’s as far as we got in the last September SIG. That leaves us the Vibrance tool to start the discussion for the October SIG.

That’s all, folks!

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Photoshop SIG for August, 2016

Photoshop Tools to Help You Enhance your Photos.

Photoshop Training Room
Bill Oldham: photoshop@ausom.net.au
Photoshop SIG website: http://2014photoshopsig.

The next two months are going to provide a deeper discussion of some of the tools that you can use in Photoshop to enhance your snapshots. The ideas presented in this article are from the Digital Photography School (DPS) website ( http://digital-photography-school.com/photoshop-tools-to-take-your-images-from-good-to-great/).

Here is a quote from the Digital Photography School listed above that encourages us to strike a balance when we use Photoshop to enhance a photograph:

“Photoshop is the KEY to making your good images look spectacular. Yes, I said “good” images. Photoshop is not about fixing mistakes or trying to rescue a bad shot. It is more about refining your images and making them look amazing without overdoing it.”

There are several different methods that may be used to enhance your photos. This method discussed today consists of the following order of steps:
(1) Shadow and Highlights tool,
(2) Levels tool
(3) Colour Balance tool
(4) Hue and Saturation tool
(5) Vibrance tool

Before and After
Here are the before and after images of a shot with my iPhone 5C last year that I enhanced following the five steps.

 Before and After

So let’s get started with a deeper look at some of these tools.

The Shadow and Highlights tool
Just as a preliminary thought – you can use the HDR mode on your camera/phone/tablet to bring out all the detail in the shadows.

The Shadows and Highlights tool is a destructive edit. It is not part of the group of non destructive adjustment layers. So before you apply it, make a copy of your background layer.
(1) Open your image in PS/PE.
(2) Duplicate the background layer by pressing Control + J as a keyboard short cut.
(3) Double click on the Layer 1 text and rename it Shadows and Highlights Edit.
(4) Press Enter to accept the new name of your layer.
(5) Click on Image/Adjustments/Shadows and Highlights.

Image 3 - Click on Image-Adjustments-Shadows and Highlights

Click on Image/Adjustments/Shadows and Highlights

You should get a dialogue box that looks like this. If you have the shortened version, simply click on the Show More Options tick box.

Image 4 - Dialogue Box

Dialogue Box

According to DPS, this tool is best for bringing out detail in the shadows and not too crash hot on the highlights. So the guide line is only use it for the shadow detail. But do try the highlights and Adjustments sections of the dialogue box. I was presently surprised at how much better the highlights were improved in my snapshot of a flower.

(6) Click on the Preview tick box a few times so that you get used to seeing the before and after effects of your adjustments.
(7) Set the amount to 33% for a start point.
(8) Line up the Tonal Width and Radius sliders with the Amount so that they all read about 33%. Why do it this way? Because it is decreed by the Photoshop gurus.

But this is also a chance to have a play with the sliders and see what effects that you can come up with. You may be surprised like I was.

(9) Now observe the changes in Before and After by trying the Amount sliders at say 50% and 75%. And then vary the tonal Width and the Radius sliders to see what other changes that you come up with and want to keep.
(10) When you use the Amount sliders in the Shadows/Highlights tool, you may lose some saturation. Use the Colour Correction slider in the adjustments part of the panel to increase the saturation to what you had before or even give it a bit more.
(11) Finally, adjust the Midtone Contrast slider and see how it affects or improves your photo.

Further Information
To find out a lot more about the Shadows/Highlights tools, you can try these websites for both video and pdf formats.
(1) http://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-editing/shadow-highlight/ – pdf format.
(2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1A5wnYxIvA – video format. (Well, duh, Bill. That’s what YouTube is!)
(3) http://tricky-photoshop.com/shadow-highlight/ – this is one is simple and informative. Try it first.
(4) https://www.naturescapes.net/articles/techniques/the-shadowhighlight-tool-in-photoshop-cs-breathing-new-life-into-your-images/ – this is an in depth and easily understood article. Worth a look.

An aside – As I write this on Saturday, August 6, 2016, I am now using two monitors. The new one actually shows the same colours as the printer. My old monitor was about 12 years old. I never had the motivation to try the whole colour calibration with Spyder and software. Instead I would add a curves layer that would get close to the printer after printing several tries.

I can now report that I wished that I had this a lot sooner.

Using the Levels tool
Die hard Photoshop fans will always argue over which is the better tool – Levels or Curves.

Today we will have a look at using the levels tool to control the contrast/Exposure in your snapshot and to adjust the colour as well.

Here is the photo that we were using before with the Shadows/Highlights tool.

Before Photoshop enhancement

Before Photoshop enhancement

Adding an Adjustment layer
(1) Click on Layer/New Adjustment Layer/Levels. Looks like this:

Image 2 - opening an adjustment Layer

Adding an adjustment layer

The first thing to play with is the Presets.
(2) Click on the Drop down arrow as shown below and select Darken.

Image 3 - Presets in Levels

Using the Presets (shown in the red outline) in the Levels tool.

(3) Use your up and down keys to cycle through the eight choices so that you can compare the results.
The only problem with this is trying to remember which one that you liked better. Eventually you can get it down to one or two choices. I settled for the Increase Contrast 3 Preset.
(4) You can also click on the Auto button to see what photoshop thinks is best for you. You generally conclude that photoshop has very poor judgement compared to your own selection. Have faith in yourself!
(5) Compare the before and after by clicking the Eyeball of Death next to the Levels Layer on the left.

About the Histogram (the white blobby thingamajig)
Here is an explanation from Sean McHugh’s Cambridge in Colour website (http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/)

The levels tool can move and stretch brightness levels in a histogram using three main components: a black point, white point and midtone slider. The position of the black and white point sliders redefine the histogram’s “Input Levels” so they are mapped to the “Output Levels” (default is black (0) or white (255), respectively), whereas the midtone slider redefines the location of middle gray (128). Each slider is shown below as they appear in Photoshop’s levels tool, with added blue labels for clarity:

Levels in Photoshop

Some of you may have noticed a similar graph on the back of your camera when you take a photo. It can be used to help set your camera to the best exposure. You can get more info on this from the Photography SIG members for the price of a cup of coffee. Or better yet for free.

Failing that, then try these two websites for a bit more information than you might want:

(6) Do it yourself! Click on the right triangle on the right and slowly drag it back to the left until you get to the start of the hill. You should see a dramatic change. Hopefully! here is my photo again.


Image 4 - adjusting the white set point by moving it to the left.

Click on image to see full size. it shows adjusting the white set point by moving it to the left.

The slider on the left is for the blacks. It starts at a value of 0. The midtones have an initial value of 1.0 and the whites start off at 255.
(7) Repeat this for the black slider on the left.
(8) Now the same again with the mid tones slider. Here is what I finished up with:
Black as 10, Mid-tone as 0.76 and Whites as 205.

Image 5 - adjusting the blasck and mid tone set points

If you are looking at this on the website, you can see the increase in the colour saturation.

So that is the first part of using the Levels tool to change the contrast across one of your photos when it is over or under exposed. The next task of the Levels is to do some colour correction. Here’s how.

Colour Correction with the Levels tool
Back at the start of this article, we mentioned the Presets may be all that you need. If you want to take it a bit further, then we do the same tasks with the sliders again. But now we use the Red, Green and Blue channels for this.


I hope that this article will get you started using the Shadows/Highlights tool for a quick and easy starting point to enhance your photos.

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Retirees SIG on July 13, 2016 at Balwyn Baptist Church


You can down load the notes for the Audacity presentation by clicking on the link below:


That’s all, folks!

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July, 2016 Photoshop SIG Notes


The main topic was meant to be how to change a photo to a line sketch. Turns out that this will only take 30 minutes to explain. The remaining time will be used for questions and answers and discussion of solutions to individual problems.

Topic 1 – Changing an image to a line sketch suitable for framing
Many people have a problem similar to mine – I cannot draw very well. In fact, I draw really badly.

Photoshop has come to the rescue for people like me. It is possible to use  PS/PE to convert a photo to a line sketch.

If you Google “Photoshop CS6  photo to sketch”, you get a massive 690,000 hits. Here  are some YouTube videos that I found of interest while preparing these notes:
(1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gsd8dNFtbOg
(2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K43-_zhQZiM
(3) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mi8rr1TcCX8

But I still prefer something that I can read at my own pace or even more radical – print it and hold it in my hands and turn the pages. How good is that! And how old does that make me? Here is the website that I felt most comfortable with: http://www.graphic-design.com/Photoshop/pencil_sketch/.

To quote from the website:

Tim Shelbourne writes…
Ask any artist and they’ll tell you that all the tubes of paint in the world cannot replace the simple pencil when it comes to artistic potential. Through the centuries, the litmus test of an artist’s ability was demonstrated best through the medium of drawing. In days of yore, student painters spent years drawing with graphite to hone their skills.

The so-called “Sketch Filters” in Photoshop consistently yield very disappointing results; re-creating the quintessential sketch demands a little more inventiveness and an approach that mimics traditional techniques. Pencil sketches work especially well when very soft leaded pencils are used on a tinted paper, with a few touches of white chalk here and there to heighten the tones. This is what we’ll produce here, digitally.

Don’t worry if your drawing abilities aren’t up to snuff, all that’s required here is the ability to scribble!

So let’s get started.
(1) Open up one of your photos.

I am using  a picture of the family cat. This month his nickname is Garfie Barfie since I seem to have been overfeeding him. He has worked out that all that he needs to do is to keep yowling and sit next to his food bowl and that I will top it up just to get him to be quiet. Here he is.

Garfie Barfie on July 1, 2016

Garfie Barfie after a few weeks of overfeeding.

(2) Now give the file another name and save it as a .psd some place that you can find it easily. Mine is named  Garfie Barfie on July 1, 2016 and saved to July SIG Notes/Images.

Image 2 - Garfie Barfie on July 1, 2016

(3) Duplicate the layer by clicking on Layer/Duplicate Layer.
(4) Click OK when the dialogue box comes up. It looks like this:

Image 3 - Duplicate Layer Dialogue Box

Click on image to see in full size.

Or you can use the keyboard shortcut of Control + J to do the same thing.

(5) Desaturate the duplicate layer (remove any colours other than black, white and shades of grey) the layer by clicking on Image/Adjustments/Desaturate.

Or you could use the keyboard shortcut of Control + Shift+ U.

(6) Double click on the duplicate layer and rename it as Desaturated Barfie. Now it looks like this:

Image 4 - Desaturated Barfie

Click on image to see in full size.

(7) Duplicate the Desaturated Barfie layer by pressing Control +J.
(8) Change the Blend mode to Colour Dodge. Here is what we have now:

Image 5 - Choosing Colour Dodge as the blend mode

(9) Invert the layer by clicking on Image/Adjustments/Invert. The image will disappear.Do not pull out your hair. It is meant to look like that.

Image 6 - Invert the Desaturated Barfie Copy layer

You know what to do! Click on the image to see it in full size.

(10) The next step might need a few tries. So let’s change the layer to a Smart Object. Right click on the top layer and choose Convert to Smart Object. This will let us come back and make any changes to the filter we are about to add. Looks like this:

Image 7 - Convert the Desaturated Barfie Copy layer to a Smart Object

Click on the image to see in full size.

(11) We want to apply a Gaussian blur next. Click on Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur. Make sure the Preview box is ticked.

Image 8 - Applying the filter

Click on image to see in full size.

(12) Move the slider back and forth until you reach the result that you want. The effect that you want is that of a pencil sketch rather than a photograph.
(13) To make the lines darker and thicker, add a levels adjustment layer by clicking on the icon in the blue square shown below.
(14) Move the slider shown in the red rectangle over to  the right to increase the density of the sketch lines.

That pretty well completes the photo to sketch that we set out to try.

If we want to add a bit of colour to it, this is easily done.

(15) Click on the original background later that you started with to make it active.
(16) Duplicate the layer by pressing Control + J.
(17) Now drag the Background Copy up to the top of the layers.
(18) Change the opacity to get a mix of colour and the sketch effect.
(19) Finally, cycle through your blend modes until you find one that you like.  Here is what I finished up with:

Image 10 -Final image of Barfie

Barfie after duplicating the background layer and moving it to the top of the stack. then adjusting the opacity and Blend mode to get my final coloured sketch.

First, I would pick an image of something other than a white furry cat. There is just not enough contrast to in the image that I chose to get a good sketch effect.

Second, it was both frustrating and helpful to find there are so many different ways of getting this effect. The smart filter meant that I could go back and make adjustments to the Blur filter without losing the rest of the  effect.

Third, I hope that you will have a chance to give this a go. I have learned heaps trying as well as horrifying friends that let me take their portrait and wind up looking like the Serial Killer/Music Star segments shown in the Spicks and Specks music quiz show on the ABC.

I realise now that it will take a lot more effort and time to produce a better effect that will be more flattering than my present attempts.

But as the stock car race driver said after spinning out his car and rolling it several times, “Wow! What a ride.”

That’s all, folks!

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What’s on for the June SIG?

Photoshop Training Room
Bill Oldham: photoshop@ausom.net.au
Photoshop SIG website: https://2014photoshopsig.wordpress.com/

The Photoshop SIG aims to present a new topic each month to meet requests from its members. This is followed up with a monthly challenge to encourage members to try out what they were shown at the SIG or that they read about on the SIG website.

In general the SIG tries to cover both Photoshop Elements (PE) and Photoshop (PS)
users. However, there may be times when a Photoshop feature is not part of Photoshop Elements.

In the May SIG
(1) We began with a demo of what you can do with some of the NIK effects available for free from Google (https://www.google.com/nikcollection/).
(2) Next we looked at how to use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) to make initial adjustments to an image before bringing it into PS or PE. We looked at how to use either Lightroom, PS, or PE to open an image in ACR.
(3) Then there was a demo of using the basic editing page in ACR to enhance an image.
(4) Lastly, we looked at how to make a selection and then what to do with it once we had selected it.

This month in June 2016
The topic for June is going to be an introduction to to the various selection tools in PS and PE and examples of ways that they can be used. Such as how to apply:
(1) a gradient to a selection (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48dXz7eni4A)
(2) a texture to a selection (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnB2NUIb1h0)
(3) a filter to a selection (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9y-7_c5G1o)
(4) a stroke to a selection (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mcfyb04XHAE)
(5) change the colour of a selection (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9fwiNyDHLI)
(6) an image to fit inside a shape (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeVaYjcsz3E)

I hope that you have a chance to try these tutorials and share your experiences with each other at the June SIG meeting.

Photoshop one on one
If anyone wants to sit down with me for a one on one Photoshop session, please let me know. It’s BYOC. Please email me at photoshop@ausom.net.au to arrange a time, if you interested.

Hope to see you there.

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June 2016 PS/PE SIG – Selections in PS/PE


(1) These can be found online in a slightly different format (with cartoons!) at https://2014photoshopsig.wordpress.com/.
(2) Thanks again to the Harvest Bakery in Balwyn for their kind donation of goodies for morning tea at the Retirees SIG.


After the May SIG meeting, the general consensus was to look at how to make selections in greater depth and also at ways to use them.

You can find out more about selections from these websites that have video/pdf that may be of interest to you.
(1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sv58Mp6KZmM
2) https://helpx.adobe.com/pdf/photoshop-elements_reference.pdf

Finally, most of my information for the topics of selections, channels and masks comes from a good online course by David Cross. A bit pricey at $US 97, but well worth the money. Find out more at https://fineartgrunge.com/selections/.

Why selections?
(1) They let you isolate a part of an image so that you are working only on the isolated area. Once selected, the area stays selected until you deselect it (Control + D). This means that you cannot get any other tools to work until it is deselected. Another way to deselect is to click once outside the selected area.
(2) Making a selection is the first step in a series of what you may have planned.
(3) Better yet, any selections that you make can be saved and loaded at a later step. This involves the use of channels. (Select/Save Selection). Another topic for July perhaps.
(4) The selection can be turned into a layer mask. Another possible topic for July, perhaps?
(5) Use channels to make a selection instead of one of the usual tools such as the rectangular marquee tool.

How to make selections and to use layers to replace a sky in an image
This is a topic that we have already covered before. You can revise it by going to there:

If you seem to be coming up with a strange selection time after time, make sure that the Style box is set to Normal rather than Fixed Size.

What does that little box marked feathering do?
Feathering allows you to set a degree of blur to the selection of your edges. This can be good and bad. The bad part is that it is a destructive edit. Once you have done it, it cannot be undone. So use it carefully.

Using the marquee tool
(1) Holding down the shift key at the same time that you click and drag out your selection will give you a perfect square/circle.
(2) Most of the time you drag diagonally. However, there are times when you might want to draw outwards from the centre, such as when wanting to select the face of a clock. To do this, hold down the Alt key as well as the Shift key. Voila!

Click here to download a clock face to practice on (upon which to practice?).

Image 1 – Clock face for selection practice

(3) Did you draw your selection in the wrong spot? Before releasing your mouse button (hopefully), hold down your space bar and you can move your selection to a new location. Then release your mouse button!

Using the lasso tool
(1) Remember that as soon as you let go of the mouse button, the lasso will automatically go to the starting point to close the selection. This can be both good and bad. Bad in the sense that you were not expecting it to close by itself. Good in the sense that there is nothing to double click to get it to close as with some of the other tools.
(2) Do not waste your time trying to draw around the outline of a shape to select it. That is not how to use the Lasso. Use it to improve a selection that needs something added or subtracted to it.

Using the polygonal tool
(1) Use this for when you have a lot of straight edges.
(2) As you get closer to your starting point, you will see a small circle apear as part of your cursor. Looks like this:

For more information, give this website a try:

Using the Magic Wand tool
This used to be the most popular selection a few years ago. We’ll have a brief look at to discuss the constraints in the tool bar – sample size, tolerance, anti alias, and contiguous. These are shown in the image below:

Magic Wand tool bar

The magic wand tool makes a selection based on the pixel colour rather than click and drag as we have done with the Marquee tools. If you start with a Point Sample, you may only get a few pixels selected. you can improve on this by normally using a 3 by 3 Average.

The next box is your tolerance range. The higher that the number is, then the more pixels are selected. but as a guideline, keep the tolerance low. The upper end is 256 which gives the same result as Select All.

If you have any curves as part of your selection,  then you want to have the Anti-alias box checked. This tells PS/PE to smooth out the edges of the curved section.

If you want to select pixels that lie next to each other, then tick the contiguous box. The definition of contiguous means next to each other. It’s not one of those words that you can drop into your cocktail party conversations, is it?

But in general, you will be better off using the Quick Selection Tool. So let’s look at it next.

Using the Quick Selection Tool
The Quick Selection tool differs from the Magic Wand tool  in that it detects edges rather than pixel colours. Here is what the toolbar looks like:

Quick Selection Tool bar(1) Leave the Auto Enhance box ticked for most of your work. If you have a really large file, and the processing bar comes up and takes a while to complete, then it is time to untick the Auto Enhance button.
(2) Leave the Add Selection button (the one with the paintbrush and the plus sign) selected.
(3) You can make your brush larger/smaller by using the square bracket keys. “[” for smaller and “]” for larger.
(4) We will discuss the Refine edge option later on.

For more information, read all about it at:

Using the Pen Tool (Either Oh boy! or Arghhh!)
The Pen tool has caused more angst than any other Photoshop feature. PE users need not worry because as far as I know, it is not in PE.

I am going to dip out of any pen tool discussions for the moment. For those of you that are really keen, then you can find out all about it at:

But the best exercise that I have come across is at: http://design.tutsplus.com/tutorials/photoshops-pen-tool-the-comprehensive-guide–psd-718.
Download the practice file and become better with the pen tool by  doing rather than just reading.

Tweaking your selection for the bits that need to be added or subtracted
If you hold down the shift key, you will be adding to your selection. And if you hold down the Alt key, then you will be subtracting from your selection. Let’s try it with the image below. You can click on the image and download it to your own computer.

Orange round object

(1) Any suggestions for which tool to try and use to select the orange coloured berry? There is a hint in there for you – the word “colour.” Good. You suggested the Quick Selection (QS to make life a bit easier) tool. Well done!
(2) I need to zoom in on the photo to make it easier to see my selection with the QS tool. I hit Control and + on my keyboard to get the image up to  67% where I can see it all right. This is difficult to do on your iPhone screen!
(3) To move around the image, press the space bar down as you click and drag with your mouse.
(3) After using the QS, this is what I have selected.

Selection with QS

It looks a bit lumpy! So we need to tweak it a bit using the Lasso tool and the shift and alt keys.
(4) Zoom in even more. Note that if you lose your selection, then click on Select/Reload to get it back.
(5) Click on the Lasso tool.  When I hold down the Shift key, the cursor changes and now  has a + as part of it. When I hold down the Alt key, the cursor now ha a – as part of it.
(6) This is going to have to be a demo. It is not possible to get a screen shot to show you. So we can watch the first three minutes of this video clip from:

Putting it all together
(1) Go to this website and download the image to your computer.

(2) Open the image in PS/PE.
(3) Press control + J to copy the image. (So that you can always go back to your  original photo.)
(4) Use the rectangular Marquee tool to select Figure 1 of the moon. It Looks like this:

Image 8 - Select the moon photo

(5) Now press Control + J to get a copy of the image on another layer.
(6) Now turn off the Eyeball in the background image. You should have something that  lo0ks like this.

Image 9 - Selection copied to another layer

Click here to see in full size.

(7) Now that you have the moonimage selectefd on its own layer, use the elliptical marquee to select the moon.
(8) Now use Control + J to put the moon selection onto its own layer. Voila! You have done it. It should look like this:

Image 10 – Moon selection placed onits own layer.

Image 10 - Placing the moon onto its own layer

(9) Now use a variety of the selection tools to put each of he remaining images onto a separate layer.

In conclusion, I hope that this has started you on the path to being able to use selections as part of your plans to enhance your images.

But there is also the easier way of using the presets in Lightroom to accomplish something similar. This might be a topic for August?

That’s it for this month.

I’m always interested to hear what you are doing from the comments that you make in the blog pages.

That’s all, folks!



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