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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 - Improving Overall Color
(Page 3 of 10 )

The next task to tackle in this image is to improve its overall color, brightness, and contrast. It appears to lack some richness and depth, but we can quickly improve this by applying a Curves Adjustment Layer.

As you learned in Chapter 12, "Curves and Adjustment Layers," using an Adjustment Layer allows you to make a visual change to the image, without touching the original photograph itself. This is commonly referred to as a non-destructive editing process. Not only does using this technique leave the original photograph intact, but it also allows you to go back at any stage during the editing process and adjust the initial settings.

Using Adjustment Layers to Improve Color

  1. At the bottom of the Layers palette, click the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon, and choose Curves. The Curves dialog box will open, and a new Curves 1 layer will be added to the Layers palette. The default channel, RGB, is the one that you'll work on.

Insider - If you Alt(Opt)+click anywhere in the grid area of the Curves dialog box, you can toggle between large or small grid squares. If necessary, Alt(Opt)+click to toggle to the larger grid squares.

  1. In the Curves dialog box, a diagonal line runs from the lower left (black) to the upper right (white), as shown in Figure 13.5. Click to add two points on the line: a point where the first corner grid squares intersect near the lower-left and upper-right corners. Drag the lower-left point down a little, and observe the change to your image. Drag the upper-right point up and to the right slightly. You may want to experiment with the Curves option to find a setting that suits your eye, but Figure 13.5 shows the settings described here.

Insider - If you feel you've made a mistake in adjusting the curve line, hold down the Alt(Opt) key to toggle the Cancel button to a Reset button and start from scratch again. If you would like to delve deeper into understanding the power behind a Curve adjustment, you won't want to miss out on Chapter 12.


Figure 13.5

Duplicate a curve similar to the one shown here to increase the contrast and improve the overall color.

  1. When you're satisfied with the preview that you see, click on OK to apply the adjustment. Don't worry too much at this point if you're not 100% satisfied with what you see. Remember, this is only an Adjustment Layer, and you can always go back and change its settings at any time just by double-clicking on the thumbnail on the Layers palette.

  2. Important: Press Ctrl (Command)+S to save your work again and keep the file open!

What we've done up 'til this point has been pretty basic and simple, yet effective in its own way. To appreciate these minor adjustments, click the eye icon beside your Original layer to turn its visibility back on. Click its layer thumbnail, and while holding down your mouse button, drag it up to the top of the Layers palette stack. Release your mouse button to reposition the layer, and then toggle its eye icon off and on to see the changes that you have made. Don't forget to drag the Original layer back down to the bottom of the stack before continuing with the rest of the assignment.

Note - Repositioning layers

A few useful observations may help when using a dragging method to reposition a layer on the Layers palette. First, you can quickly identify exactly what layer is active (the layer that you're working on) by its color. The active layer is highlighted a deeper shade than the non-active layers. Also, you may notice a thin white line between layers. When you click and drag a layer to reposition it, notice that the image thumbnail reverses to a negative, and the layer itself turns black. When you position the active layer between any of the remaining layers on the Layers palette, a dotted line appears around the layer button as you move it, and a black line appears where the thin white line used to be. If you're dragging from the bottom to the top, the black line appears above the top layer to indicate that, when you release your mouse button, the layer will be repositioned above the black line (a black line will appear below the bottom layer when dragging a layer to the bottom of the stack). Go ahead and try moving your layers back and forth to get comfortable with this method.

Keep in mind, if dragging isn't your cup of tea, you can use a keyboard shortcut to reposition the layers. Ctrl(Command)+] (right bracket key) moves the active layer up the stack, and Ctrl(Command)+[ (left bracket key) moves the active layer down the stack.

Now comes the real work, so get ready!

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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