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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
Rating: 5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars / 21
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 - Adding New Elements
(Page 7 of 10 )

This part of our project is commonly referred to as photo compositing—basically, creating a new image using the elements from other images. We've included a large variety of image files on the companion CD for the photo compositing part of this assignment. All the elements have been included in the Examples\Chap13 folder. The necessary files have already been prepared for your immediate use. However, if you prefer to find and use your own elements, by all means, have fun and experiment.

Adding Leaves to the Vines

You're probably ready to start the real work. The Examples\Chap13 folder on the companion CD provides eight different vine files to choose from. Basically, you will be placing, scaling, and rotating these elements to fit along the major vines painted earlier in the chapter. Let's get started.

Adding Some Spring to the Vines

  1. The 219Burnet.psd document should still be active in your workspace. On the Layers palette, click the arrow in the upper-right corner, and choose New Layer Set from the context menu. In the New Layer Set dialog box, type Vines for the name and click on OK (see Figure 13.16).

Insider - Notice that a folder appears in your Layers palette. Use this folder to hold all the vine layers until you're satisfied with the results. Then you can merge all the layers in this set or folder so that the vines are contained on a single layer, which reduces overall file size.


Figure 13.16

Create a New Layer Set to help keep all the future vine layers organized into one folder on the Layers palette.

  1. Let's open one of the vine images. Open vine01.psd from the Examples\Chap13 folder on the companion CD. Press V to switch to the Move tool. Position both the vine01.psd and 219Burnet.psd files so that you can easily see both windows in your workspace. Click in the vine01.psd file, and drag the vine into the 219Burnet.psd document window. Notice that this new layer is automatically placed in the Vines folder.

  2. On the Layers palette, double-click on the layer title, and rename this layer vine01. Press Enter(Return) to commit the new name to the layer. Repeat this step with the remaining seven vine images (on the companion CD), renaming each respective layer to coincide with the filename. You will now have a copy of all eight vine images contained in the Vines layer set, and you can close the original vine files without saving any changes. It will now be easier to duplicate these layers, as needed.

  3. To avoid confusion, let's turn off the visibility for all vine layers other than the one we're currently working on. On the Layers palette, click on the eye icon to the left of each vine layer title until you reach the vine01 layer (leave the eye icon or visibility turned on for this layer). Click on the vine01 layer to make it the active layer.

Insider - Here's a part in the assignment that will require some initiative and imagination as you place leaves on the vines. Look at the vines that intertwine all along the front of this house, and then look at the shape of the leaves on the vine01 layer. Decide where in this image the vine leaves would fit best. The transformation process in the next step will rely on your artistic sensibilities, so try to visualize the best placement for each vine element and work toward this goal until you are satisfied with the result. Let's start.

  1. If necessary, press Ctrl(Command)+ the plus or minus key until you are at a comfortable zoom level for working with the vines. Press Ctrl(Command)+T to access the Transform tool for the vine01 layer. You will see a bounding box appear around the leaves. Hold down the Shift key while dragging on one of the corner control handles to constrain the proportions as you resize the object.

  2. If you need to rotate the object, hover your mouse cursor near the outside of the bounding box until the cursor looks like a bent double arrow; then click and drag to rotate (see Figure 13.17). If you need to reposition the object, click inside the bounding box when the cursor looks like an arrow head, and drag to reposition the item to line up the leaves with your intended spot on one of the vines. You can also use the arrow keys to reposition the object.


Figure 13.17

Press Ctrl (Command)+T to enter the Transform mode, and then resize, rotate, and reposition the vine01 layer into the desired location.

  1. You can fine-tune any transformation by entering numerical data into the appropriate Options bar area. For instance, if you've rotated an object using the click-and-drag method, but you know that you need to fine-tune and adjust the rotation by one degree, you can enter the appropriate number in the rotate box on the Options bar and then press Enter(Return) to make the adjustment stick. Something new to Photoshop CS is the ability to "scrub" data into the box. To use this new feature, try this while the Transform tool is activated: On the Options bar, hover your cursor near the W (for Width or Horizontal Scaling). You will see the cursor change to a double-arrow. Now click and drag to the right or left, and you will see the numerical values for that item go up or down depending on which direction you drag the cursor. So, if you don't want to type a number into the boxes, scrub the number in—as if there was an invisible slider. By the way, this scrub ability is not limited to the Transform tool; it is available for any of the dialog boxes that require numerical data. When you're satisfied with the transformation, press Enter(Return), or click on the check mark at the upper-right of the Options bar to accept the changes.

Note - Using the cursor to gauge repositioning: When you place a cursor inside a Transform bounding box to reposition the object, the cursor is a good indicator of what is going to happen. When you hover the cursor inside the bounding box, it will appear as an arrow head to indicate that you are about to move the object within the bounding box area. If you move too close to the center reference point, the cursor will display a circular reference point icon next to the arrow head cursor. This change tells you that you will be moving the reference point rather than the bounding box itself. Keep in mind that transformations happen relative to this reference point. So, for example, if you move the reference point outside the bounding box and rotate the box, it will rotate around this new reference point location (outside the box) rather than around the center of the object (which is the default location for the reference point).

  1. Repeat steps 5–7 for the remaining vine layers. Simply click on the layer to make it the active layer, and turn on its visibility. Press Ctrl(Command)+T to make the necessary transformations. Press Enter(Return) when you're satisfied with the results. If you want to duplicate any of the vine layers, click on the layer to make it active, and press Ctrl(Command)+J.

  2. Press Ctrl(Command)+S to save your work. Keep the document and Photoshop open for the next exercise. If you have the vines.psd file open, you may close that file without saving changes.

Insider - Once again, a file has been provided if you prefer to have this part of the project completed for you. Open the vines.psd file from the Examples\Chap13 folder on the companion CD (if you don't have it still open). Click on the Vines layer to make it the active layer and to toggle the visibility on as well. With the Move tool active, hold down the Shift key, and drag this layer into the 219Burnet.psd document window. If necessary, use the arrow keys to fine-tune the position of the vines (check Figure 13.2 to see the position of vines in the finished product). If you decide to use this layer, you can delete any vine layers that you don't want by dragging them to the trash icon at the bottom-right corner of the Layers palette.

If you chose to use the vine layer provided in the vines.psd file, you can delete any of the remaining vine layers that are not needed. However, if you took the time to create your own vines for the house, you might have quite a long list of vine layers inside the Vines layer set. If you want to hide the long list of layers from view, click on the arrow next to the Vines layer set title to collapse the folder and hide the layers that are inside this folder. Clicking again on the arrow will toggle the folder open again.

Whether you keep all the vine objects on separate layers or merge them all into one layer is a matter of personal preference. While merging these layers will help keep file size down, by doing so you lose the option of later tweaking the position or size of only one of these vine objects. Personally, I think it's always better to choose flexibility over a smaller file size. But if you decide you would like to merge them, the simplest way is to make the bottom vine layer active and link this layer to the remaining vine layers. Then click on the arrow in the upper-right corner of the Layers palette, and choose Merge Linked (see Figure 13.18).


Figure 13.18

Link the layers and choose the Merge Linked option from the Layers palette menu if you want to merge the vine layers into one layer. Otherwise, keep the layers, and simply close the set folder to keep the confusion level low when you don't need to view these layers.

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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