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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 - Adding Ready-Made Elements
(Page 9 of 10 )

You're almost there; you just need some window boxes, a couple of shrubs, trees, and a few finishing touches to finish the transformation. Before you know it, you'll be done. This might be a good time to take another break to allow some time to sit back and admire the work so far. You've worked hard.

Before you continue with your landscaping work in this image, let me take some time to explain the logic behind the next exercise and what you will find on the companion CD. The previous exercises provided some insight into ways to transform and adjust composite elements to fit within the master image. So, in the interest of time, the next exercise will provide ready-to-go files that require a simple drag-and-drop-into-place process. However, if you would like to take the initiative of resizing each element on your own, you will find the necessary files available to do so. Keep in mind that, for this chapter exercise, you will find a plural version and a singular version of the filenames on the companion CD. The plural version, such as trees.psd, is simply the resized, ready-to-go composite version made up of the singular file versions—in this case, the tree01, tree02, tree03, and tree04 files.

These ready-to-go files were made simply by working with the original files provided on the CD. In some situations, we duplicated the element layers, such as for the window box and shrub elements. And from there, we used the Transform tool to resize, rotate, distort, and in some cases flip the images. In the case of the shrubs, we also needed to adjust the color to achieve a richer green.

We would like to encourage you to experiment on your own with these images. There are many methods for tweaking a nicer green color for the shrubs. A variety of Adjustment Layers might do the trick, such as Hue/Saturation or Color Balance. Or you can try creating a new layer, painting on the layer with a deep green color. (Hint: Ctrl(Command)+click on the shrub layer to load as a selection, and fill the selection on the new layer with the green color.) Then experiment with layer Mode settings and Opacity to obtain the desired green needed in the shrubs. The Multiply or Color mode might work well with a low Opacity. Simply adjust and play with the settings until you find something visually pleasing.

You should also note that, in the case of the window boxes, some flowers were cloned to different places to help break up any patterns that could be a dead giveaway that the same element was used multiple times within the image (a tell-tale sign of compositing as well). With all that said, let's start working on the condensed version for the remaining elements.

Adding the Ready-to-Go Landscaping Versions

  1. Open the window_boxes.psd file from the Examples\Chap13 folder on the companion CD. If necessary, press V to switch to the Move tool. Drag the Window Boxes layer into the 219Burnet.psd document window. Use the Move tool to position the window boxes perfectly near the base of the windows, above the shrubs. If necessary, use the arrow keys to nudge these elements into place. You can close the window_boxes.psd file without saving changes.

  2. Now, let's add some shrubs to this image. Open the shrubs.psd file from the Examples\Chap13 folder on the companion CD. Drag the shrubs into the master document window. Close the shrubs.psd file without saving changes. Position the shrubs so that they fall nicely into place, with one on each side of the walkway and one at the far right end of the existing hedge. That will hide any remaining snow areas near the bricks and at the left edge area of the picket fence. If necessary, use the arrow keys to nudge the new shrubs into place.

Insider - Again, if you feel adventuresome, you can use the original single shrub file, which is also provided on the companion CD (shrub.psd, not to be confused with the shrubs.psd file). The original file was resized to fit into the image. Then the layer was duplicated and flipped horizontally to use for the two shrubs at the far right and far left.

  1. Open the trees.psd file from the Examples\Chap13 folder on the companion CD. Drag the tree layer into the master document window. Close the trees.psd file without saving changes. Position the trees so that they help to cover up the unwanted information near the right and left sides of the house image. If necessary, use the arrow keys to nudge the trees into place. Place the left edge of the trees up against the left edge of the document window (don't be too concerned about the right edge; you will use cropping in the next step to rid the image of any unwanted space). Refer to Figure 13.2 as a guide for placing these elements appropriately.

  2. Now it's time to crop away some of the unwanted space. Switch to the Crop tool from the toolbox. Start in the upper-left corner, and drag down and to the right. The goal is to exclude the unwanted areas at the right and at the bottom of the image (see Figure 13.23). Use the handles on the bounding box area to fine-tune the crop. When you're satisfied, press Enter(Return) to commit the crop changes.

Insider - When you're using the Crop tool, sometimes you might experience difficulty in fine-tuning the border areas of the bounding box. If you ever run across this difficulty, suspect a Snap feature as being the culprit. When the Snap feature is turned on, the Crop tool will attempt to snap to the edges or to specific grid intervals within the image. Go to the View menu, and make sure there is no check mark next to the Snap item (on this menu). If this item is checked, click on it to toggle off this feature. After that, your Crop tool should be a lot more agreeable to the desired adjustments.

  1. Press Ctrl(Command)+S to save your work. Keep the image and Photoshop open for the next exercise.

Note - Want a rock? The companion CD also includes a rock element (rock.psd). It is purely an optional decorative item included in case you would like to add it for visual interest or maybe to disguise an unsightly area in the master image. If you're satisfied with the composition at this point, leave it out; otherwise, take some time to add and experiment with the rock file on your own.


Figure 13.23

On the left, you see a crop in progress as the unwanted space is removed from the master image; the results are shown on the right.

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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