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Keeping Up Appearances: Techniques for Retouching Images

Check out this chapter for tips on retouching images in Photoshop, improving color, adding new elements to an image or removing unwanted image elements. (From the book Inside Photoshop CS by Gary Bouton, Sams, 2004, ISBN: 0672326442.)

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By: Sams Publishing
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August 18, 2004
  1. · Keeping Up Appearances: Techniques for Retouching Images
  2. · Rotate the Image
  3. · Improving Overall Color
  4. · Removing Unwanted Elements
  5. · Enhance Image Elements
  6. · Coloring the Shrubs and Vines
  7. · Adding New Elements
  8. · Adding New Landscaping Elements
  9. · Adding Ready-Made Elements
  10. · Adding Some Finishing Touches

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Keeping Up Appearances: Techniques for Retouching Images - Rotate the Image
(Page 2 of 10 )

Rotating the Image!

The best way to begin is at the beginning, and in this case, that means rotating the image to a vertical view and saving a copy of that view as our master image—the one we'll work on in the retouching exercises in this chapter. So let's let 'er rip!

Saving a Vertical View of the Image

  1. Open 219Burnet.jpg from the Examples\Chap13 folder on the companion CD.

  2. Oops! The first thing that we need to do is rotate the photograph to a vertical view. Choose Image, Rotate Canvas, 90° CW (Clockwise). There, that's better!

  3. Make sure that your Layers palette is open (press F7). Now double-click on the Background layer in your Layers palette to unlock it. When the new layer dialog box pops up, rename the layer Original. Click on OK to apply the changes. Press Ctrl(Command)+J to duplicate the layer, and now the Layers palette will show two layers: the Original layer and the copy that is automatically named Original copy.

  4. Hide the Original layer by clicking the eye icon to toggle off the view for this layer on the Layers palette. Now save the image to your hard drive as 219Burnet.psd (Photoshop's primary and native file format) by clicking File, Save As and choosing Photoshop (*.psd) from the Format drop-down list.

This is our master image, and I will refer to it as such throughout the exercises. Keep the master image open. We're going to study it and start working on it.

Studying the master image, with the goal in mind as to what you want to accomplish, is by far the most important aspect of any project.

Studying the Master Image for Improvements

The house itself is a beautiful structure. Its rooftop could use a new paint job and perhaps an awning repair is in order, but other than these minor areas, we will not be tampering at all with the basic structure. It's the setting that really requires the major work or photo enhancement.

You might be thinking that it would have made sense to take this photograph on a beautiful spring day. And you would be absolutely right. It would have! Sure, taking the photo then would have saved us a lot of work, but where is the fun in that? The fact of the matter is, circumstances don't always allow for the optimum situation in photographs. Let's imagine that in this particular case, the client (a fictional real estate agent) provided you with the photograph. His or her instructions are simple and precise, "Turn it into a spring setting, and generally just improve the property for salability purposes." If it's winter and the house is going to sell in the spring (when most houses do), photographing the property during the spring, when it's at its best, would be physically impossible. Now you can imagine that this is often the case in real life. But, for us, this is not a problem...Photoshop CS to the rescue!

Having studied the image, with a goal in mind, I had a general idea as to how I wanted to "enhance" it, or rather how my imaginary client wanted me to enhance it. As you can see in my finished version, my "vision" was that of a near perfect spring day setting. I imagined a green lawn, a bluer sky, flowering window boxes to dress up the house, a few shrubs and mature trees, a new walkway, and even a "story book, picture perfect" white picket fence. Just the kind of house that anyone would want to immediately buy and move into!

As the vision unfolded in my mind's eye, I decided that I wanted to get rid of many parts of the photograph and then, apart from the house, I wanted to retain or simply enhance others. Studying a photograph like this, as you can see, is very important. My study armed me with a general "plan of attack," which is so necessary before embarking on any photo restoration or enhancement project.

Straightening the Image Perspective

Before doing anything at all to the picture, let's "straighten it out." You can clearly see that the house in this image seems to be slanted slightly to the left. The perspective of the house, as photographed from ground level, needs to be adjusted. That's what we'll do in this exercise.

Straightening It Out

  1. To see this picture in its entirety, first fit the image to your screen by choosing View, Fit on Screen or pressing Ctrl(Command)+0. Make sure that your rulers are showing. If they aren't, press Ctrl(Command)+R or choose View, Rulers.

  2. Now let's drag out some vertical and horizontal guidelines from the rulers to help us straighten things out. To do this, click and hold down the mouse button anywhere on either of the horizontal or vertical rulers, and drag to position a guideline. The guideline will appear when you release the mouse button. After you have dragged out your guidelines, you can quickly reposition them using the Move tool (V) along distinct vertical and horizontal lines for the house. Set up at least three vertical and three horizontal guidelines along the edges and approximate center of the house, as shown in Figure 13.3.


Figure 13.3 - Use this figure as a reference for placing guidelines.

Note - Using View, Snap: If you have the View, Snap option enabled, your center guidelines will "snap" to the center of your image.

Insider - The next step will make use of the Transform tool to straighten the house. It might help to press Ctrl(Command)+ the minus key to lower the zoom level of the image document. Then drag a corner of the document window out to expand the working area, and give yourself room for adjusting the handles on the Transform tool for the next few steps.

  1. The Original copy layer should still be the active layer on the Layers palette. To line up (or square up) the house to your guidelines, press Ctrl(Command)+T, or choose Edit, Transform, Distort. If you use the shortcut, position the mouse pointer anywhere within the bounding box, right-click (Macintosh: hold Ctrl and click), and choose Distort from the context menu.

  2. Drag the top right and left guide handles (indicated by an open square box at the corners) so that the horizontal and vertical lines of the house line up with the guidelines, as shown in Figure 13.4. Before committing your change, you can always drag out some more guidelines to see how your alignment is progressing. When you're satisfied, press Enter(Return) on your keyboard to accept the transformation, or click the check mark at the upper-right side of the Options bar to accept the changes. Figure 13.4 shows what the before (dotted line) and after (solid line) distortion will look like when making adjustments.

Insider - If you find the guides distracting, you can toggle them on and off by pressing Ctrl(Command)+H. This command gives you the freedom to turn the guides back on if needed again later. If you want to permanently clear away the guides, choose View, Clear Guides, or use the Move tool to drag them back onto the rulers.

  1. The photograph will now be askew, meaning that there will be an empty canvas area where you realigned it. So let's crop the image. Use the Rectangular Marquee tool (M), and positioning it in the lower-right corner, drag a selection up and out to the left until the top corners of your selection meet the blank canvas area. Release your mouse, and you will see what are often referred to as "marching ants." They indicate an active selection. If you don't select it right the first time, just start your selection over again. When you're satisfied, choose Image, Crop to resize your master image to your selection. Press Ctrl(Command)+D to deselect.

  2. On the Layers palette, double-click on the layer title name (Original copy), and type Aligned to rename this layer. Press Enter(Return) to commit the changes to the layer name.


Figure 13.4

Use the Distort option for the Transform tool to adjust the image perspective. The settings shown on the Option bar (in this figure) may vary in your own work, but these settings can still be a useful aid in determining whether you're on the right track in the Transformation process.

Insider - Naming your layers is a good habit to get into. It helps you to keep track and quickly identify a layer when you need to go back to it. Believe me, when you have a project that involves 20–50 or even a 100+ layers, you can imagine how much time would be wasted searching for the layer that you need to edit!

  1. Press Ctrl(Command)+S to save your master document. Doing this will overwrite your first saved version. Get into the habit of saving in this manner after every major change that you make to your master file just in case you need to revert back to it.

Keep the file open for the next exercise.

This chapter is from Inside Photoshop CS, by Gary Bouton (Sams, 2004, ISBN: 0672326442). Check it out at your favorite bookstore today. Buy this book now.

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