CS 325 and Film 385: Introduction to Photoshop
Highlights of this lab:
- What is Photoshop?
- The Photoshop Workspace
- Photo Manipulation (Size, Colour, Frames, etc)
- Image Construction
Click here for a compressed folder of lab demonstration files.
:: What is Photoshop? ::
Adobe Photoshop is one of the industry standards for desktop image editing and graphic manipulation. With it you can scan images, make original art, or composite images as well as colour correction, retouching and other image manipulations.
:: The Photoshop Workspace ::
The Photoshop workspace consists of several main components:
- Menu Bar
- Application Bar
- Workspaces Menu
This picture shows the workspace in its default state with one
exception: there's a grey background behind all the panels. It blocks
out windows from other programs, which is useful. This is normal on
Windows, but on a Mac you have to enable it by choosing
Window | Application Frame. As you work, try
both and see which you prefer.
Below is a more detailed explanation of some of these components.
The Menu contains controls for common functions such as opening and
saving files, as well as specific functions, such as copying and
pasting, calling up specific windows or palettes, and controlling the
The control panel contains the most commonly used options for the
tool you are currently using. It is not always the best place to
change options, though. Sometimes a palette with more space is
The main toolbar is reproduced below. It contains a collection of
tools for creating, selecting, and manipulating images. There's a lot
of stuff hidden in there, but things are mostly organized into logical
groups. You'll get used to it quickly enough.
Diagram courtesy of Adobe. Click for large
Different tasks in Photoshop have a different
workflow. Adobe has set up some workspaces that are
particularly suited to common tasks. You can quickly access them
through this menu. In general it will only change what Palettes are
on the screen, where they are and how big they are. One exception to
this rule is the Basic workspace–it hides advanced menu
options. I recommend you avoid this mode. The What's new in CS4
option will highlight features that are new or changed in Photoshop
Palettes are little panels that provide a quick visual guide to the
state of your program, or the settings of a specific tool. There's a
little more to palettes than meets the eye. You can group them and
switch with tabs, you can configure them with the menu,
or make them Collapse to Icon. You can also drag them into docks
like the one on the right in the default configuration. In or out of a
dock, you can shrink or grow palettes by double clicking the active
- Collapse to Icon
:: Picture Image Manipulation (Size, Colour, Frames, etc) ::
Save the following image on your computer (right click and "save").
It is the image we will be working with to demonstrate how to
manipulate images using photoshop. Please note that this image was
taken from The Official Lord
of the Rings website (Just for copyright mumbo-jumbo)
Open the image:
Save the image:
- File | Save As...
- Use this to do a simple save in Photoshop (PSD) format so
you can keep your layers, vectors, text, and effects in
place and editable.
- Can also save to many other formats, but you have to know
which one to choose for the next step in you workflow. There
are no hints there.
- File | Save for Web & Devices...
- Allows flexible comparisons and preview of file types that
are appropriate for the web. All the options are neatly laid
out for you.
- Use this mode to give file names for slices that will make
up a graphical layout for a web page.
- Photoshop should select the directory from which the image was
Picture Formats: Some picture formats, like GIF, limit the
number of colors you can use. In Photoshop this prevents you from
using color correction or distortion and limits painting effects. To
use the full range of colors your monitor can show, make sure you are
in a full color mode like RGB. To do this:
- Click: Image | Mode | RGB
There are a number of ways to select a colour in Photoshop. To choose
painting colors you can use these tools:
- The Eyedropper on the main toolbar is extremely useful! Select the
Eyedropper and click on the image, notice that the foreground
colour has changed to the colour selected! This is usually the
easiest and best way to set the current colour to match part of an
- The colour selector in the toolbox.
- Restore default colours.
- Switch foreground and background colours
- Change forground colour.
- Change background colour.
To adjust colors for a selection or a whole layer of your picture
go to Image | Adjust. There are a number of interesting tools in
there. For example:
- Brightness/Contrast: Adjusts the brightness and contrast
levels. Experiment with the tool and see if you can get this
Zoom and Move:
- The Zoom tool can zoom-in on a part of
an image, or
zoom-out to show the big picture. Simply select the zoom tool
from the main palette, then move the cursor over the part that you
wish to zoom-in on and click the left mouse button. To
zoom-out, hold the alt key down and click the left mouse
- The Hand tool lets you move around if you are zoomed in such
that the picture is bigger than the window. Select the hand tool, left
click and drag to move a short distance. You will find that if you
release the mouse button while dragging you can throw the picture a
There are quick shortcuts to zoom and move that can come in handy:
- Zoom: hold down the alt key and scroll the mouse wheel up and down.
- Move: hold down the spacebar, click anywhere on the picture and drag.
Many Photoshop features rely on selections to define where they
work, or what they do. Photoshop provides 3 simple tools for
- Marquee Tools (Rectangle and Elliptical): Selects areas in
the image that you wish to explore further
- Lasso Tools: (Regular, Polygonal, and This tool is very
similar to the marquee. BUT you are using a "freehand" tool to
make the selection! Notice that you don't need to "draw" a closed
shape. With the regular tool simple release the mouse button and
the shape will close automatically. With the other two you can
double click or press return to finish the shape.
- Colour Wand: The colour wand (or Magic Wand Tool) is
used to select areas with similar colours. Select the wand and
then click on the wall. Photoshop should select a part of the
wall. the tolerance can be changed (look in the Control
Panel). Change the tolerance (from 32) to 75 and select
again. Photoshop should select a much broader range of colour
(probably too much). There's also a brush version of this tool
called the Quick Selection Tool.
You'll find them at the top of the toolbar. In addition, you can
use commands in the Select menu. Select each of these and see what
they can do.
If you need to a very precise selection you can try out the pen
tool, but it's a pretty complicated tool. You can find basic
instructions in the Adobe Photoshop CS4 Online
Notice the Control Panel. You can control many aspects of each
selection mode from here. Common to all modes is what to do with the
next selection. There are four choices corresponding to these 4
In order these are:
- Create a new selection
- Add to the current selection
- Subtract from the current selection
- Keep the intersection with the current selection
There are several ways to add new elements to your picture:
- The Horizontal Type tool
makes adding text to an image with Photoshop very simple. Click on
the text icon and then click where the text is to be
placed. Edit text in place. Check the control panel for options. Hold shift and click to start text somewhere else.
- The Paint Bucket
tool is fairly straightforward. Simply click on the tool and then
move the cursor into the drawing area and click... the foreground
colour will be used to fill the canvas, until the edge of the
current selection or until a pixel of a different colour is
- The Gradient tool fills
a whole layer or the current selection with a range of colours
that gradually change. By default they change from foregroud to
background. To use it, fist select an area, then select the
tool. Next simply draw a line with the mouse by holding down the
left button (hold the mouse button down) and Photoshop then draws
a gradient fill that begins and ends with the line. Past the ends of the line
- Shapes: Take a look at the tool panel overview to locate
the rectangle, rounded rectangle, ellipse, polygon and line tools
- they're all in the same slot. By default these all make vector
based shapes, but you can use them to draw directly by selecting
fill pixels – – in the control
- Shapes are fine, but the pencil is
used to draw "freehand" (rather than straight) lines.
- The paintbrush is a flexible tool
with many options. Continually painting the same spot doesn't
alter the image, unless you turn on airbrush (see below). The fade
option is worth looking at... try setting it to a low number (for
example: 10). You should also explore the brushes - the Brushes
panel is a great place for this. Make your brushes larger or smaller with the [ and ] keys.
- The airbrush tool, an option for
the paintbrush tool, works like a spray-can, the longer the tool
paints an area the more saturated the area becomes and the tool's
edges are "soft".
These editing tools (like the paint tools) will either work on the
whole of the current layer or on the currently selected
- The eraser normally replaces the
graphics erased with transparency. If you are using a flattened
image, or you are editing the background layer it will
erase to the background color.Try
this tool with a non-white background colour! You can also erase to a point in your editing history.
- The clone stamp tool is used to fix
up part of a picture using another similar part. After selecting
the tool, move the cursor to the area you want to copy from, then
hold the alt key down and click with the left button - this
establishes the initial reference point. Move the cursor to where
the "copy" is to be placed and start drawing! There's a Clone
Source panel you should explore that allows you use this tool
better. You can manage multiple sources, scale and rotate them to
fit better, and more.
- The Healing Brush tool is similar
to the clone stamp tool, but it tries to preserve local texture
and lighting and be generally smarter.
- The smudge tool - as you'd expect - smudges the graphics where it's used. Select the tool and then draw a "sweeping" stroke across the image.
One of Photoshop's most powerful and most popular features is Layers. Conceptually, layering is very simple: imagine drawing an image on a number of transparent sheets, laying the sheets on top of each other and then copying those sheets to produce a final image.
To demonstrate how layers work let us frame our friendly little character picture of everyones favourite villian
- Step 1: Add space to your image. Choose Image > Canvas Size, then increase the width and height to add empty space at the edges. Although increasing the canvas size of your image is optional, adding space around the image prevents the loss of any part of the photo when defining the frame area.
- Step 2: Create a new layer by clicking the button of "create a new layer" at the bottom of palettes. To help distinguish between the image layer and the border layer. you might want to name the new layer, "Frame" or "Border."
- Step 3: Select the rectangular or oval marquee tool and drag the area of the photo you want framed by the border. Then go to the "Select" menu and click "Inverse". The border area will now be selected.
- Step 4: Fill the selection. With the border layer selected, choose a colour from the colour picker then choose Edit > Fill. In the Fill dialog box, make sure Foreground Colour is chosen for the Use option. Leave the Blending mode at Normal and Opacity at 100%. Click OK. This fills the whole selection. If a selection is all one color you can also use the paint bucket tool to fill it. Or, you can use brushes to apply more than one colour to the selected area.
- Step 5: Add texture to the selection. In the Layers palette, make sure the Frame layer is selected. Choose Filter > Texture and then choose the texture filter of your choice. In the filter dialog box, you might have to move the preview image to see the filled area of the layer. Adjust the settings to your preference. Click OK.
- Step 6: Make the border look three dimensional. With the Frame layer still selected, click the Add a Layer Style button at the bottom of palettes and choose Bevel and Emboss from the pop-up menu. In the Layer Style dialog box, adjust the Bevel and Emboss settings to your discretion. Click OK.
:: Image Construction ::
Seeing how I have already divulged my nerdness, why stop here? What we are going to do now is construct our own image. Since I have already shown my fantasy nerd ways with Gollum, let's go to space and make a planet that the folks from Farscape might pass on their journeys...or maybe a planet that the fine folks from the SGC (Stargate Command) might visit!
- Step 1: Create a new document
- Step 2: Create space. Click: Edit | Fill | Choose "Black"
- Step 3: Create a starfield. Click: Filter | Noise | Add Noise
- Choose 15%, Gaussian, and Monochromatic
- Step 4: Tone down the stars a bit by clicking Image | Adjustments | Brightness and Contrast
- Check "Use Legacy" and choose Brightness of -50 and Contrast of 55 (or so, use your own judgement)
- Step 5: Make a new layer for the planet.
- Step 6: Make the planet's cloud cover by clicking (in the new layer) Filter - Render - Clouds (This uses your current foreground and background colors.)
- Step 7: Add some more noise by clicking Filter - Noise - Add Noise
- Choose 5%, Gaussian, Monochromatic
- Step 8: Try to clean it up a bit. Click: Filter | Blur | Motion Blur
- Choose an angle of 0 and a distance of 7
- Step 9: Choose the elliptical marquee tool and draw a circle. If you hold down the shift key you will get a perfect circle.
- Step 10: Make the circle appear as a sphere by clicking Filter | Distort | Spherize
- Choose 100% and mode = normal
- Step 11: Keep the sphere selected. Now to get rid of the planet texture we don't need. Click:
- Select | Inverse to select everything outside the circle.
- Edit | Clear to delete the excess texture. Delete works too (On a Mac use back delete - the big one).
- Step 12: Move around the planet to your liking
- Step 13: Create a new layer above the other two layers and fill it with black
- Step 14: Create the appearance of a star. Click: Filter | Render | Lens Flare
- Choose brightness 160 and Lens Type: 50-300mm Zoom
- Step 15: In the layers pallette change the layer blending mode from
Normal to Screen.
- Step 16: Create a new layer and place it between the Sun and the Planet layers.
- Step 17: Select everything Opaque in Layer 1: Hit
command-click on the icon for layer 1 (the planer layer) in the
layer pallette to select just the planet. If you are having
trouble then select the object by clicking on layer 1, choosing
the magic wand in selection tools, clicking on the transparent
backgrond, then choosing select->inverse in the menu.
- Step 17: Select the new blank layer. Draw a gradient
appropriate to the sun by choosing layer 2 and clicking on the
- Step 19: Change layer 2's blending mode, located in the
panels, from normal to multiply
- Step 20: Select layer 1, the planet layer, and adjust the Hue/Saturation by clicking on Image - Adjustments - Hue/Saturation
- Select colourize and play with the sliders to watch your planet take colour!
:: Assignment ::
Use Photoshop to combine images, enhance an image or create a new image. You may choose to do any combination of the three. If you modify any pictures for this assignment, please provide the originals with your submission.
- 1: Lab attendance
- 0 - 1: For using a variety of techniques. Please explain what you did.
- 0 - 1: For creativity, skill, and originality etc.
The lab is due by the beginning of lab 3. Please
submit by either:
- Putting the final picture on your webpage from Lab 2, complete
with an explanation of your process and samples of your original materials (if any), OR
- Placing all materials in DropBox
:: Online Sources and Resources ::