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Photoshop Tricks, Part 2

Part 2 covers how to make a photograph look like a painting, create a seamless fractal tiled image, to use Adobe Dimensions with Photoshop, and how to retouch a drop shadow you've added to an image. (From Inside Photoshop CS, Sams, ISBN: 0672326442.)

Author Info:
By: Sams Publishing
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 35
September 15, 2004
  1. · Photoshop Tricks, Part 2
  2. · More Fun with Pseudo-Painting
  3. · The Minimize Command and the Spatter Effect
  4. · Trick 6: Creating Organic-Looking Objects Using Photoshop Filters
  5. · Trick 7: Creating a Bronze Guy
  6. · Trick 8: Creating Images Using Adobe Dimensions with Photoshop CS
  7. · Remove the Background
  8. · Adding Elements to the Composition
  9. · Trick 9: Coping with a Horrific Photo
  10. · Trick 10: Fixing a Chopped-Off Drop Shadow

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Photoshop Tricks, Part 2 - Trick 9: Coping with a Horrific Photo
(Page 9 of 10 )

Bouton(We SEE Figure 24.56 fade up in front of us.)

(We HEAR an ancient theater organ groaning out its interpretation of the song "Feelings.")

(We HEAR a guy trying to make his voice sound deep like Vincent Price's, and with far too much echo....)


Boris Gory: Good afternoon, boys and ghouls. Today we have a very scary picture. You'll want to close your eyes and scream, but you can't. HaHaHaHa! The picture is called "Wayne and Pam.tif."

(The scene dissolves, and you are back in front of your computer. And someone far worse than Boris Gory is speaking to you; it's Bouton.)

Bouton: If you open the Wayne & Pam.tif image from the Examples\Chap24 folder, you will indeed shriek and beg Boris Gory to come back. Yaaaaaaaa...!

To put the record straight, my dad's friend Lou asked me if I could do something with this picture of his daughter and son-in-law. "I quit smoking. I don't have any matches," I said right before Lou punched me. Okay, okay. Apparently the photographer tripped while taking the picture and then landed on the camera. Then he developed it himself in a gas station sink.

Photoshop users say that there is no such thing as an impossible-to-fix image, but this one is stretching it!


Come along, and I'll show you what my own calls were for making this picture pleasant-looking—in tutorial style, of course.

Note - Flaming Pear's India Ink

You cannot finish this image without buying Flaming Pear's India Ink filter. Just so you know right now. But you will learn a lot about image filtering in this trick if you choose to read it anyhow. And you can indeed go to FlamingPear.com and download a free demo of the program so you can see what we're talking about here.

Bringing a Photo Back from Repairlessness
  1. Open the Wayne & Pam.tif image from the Examples\Chap24 folder on the companion CD. I'm using two windows here to see a long view and a close-up. You can do this, too (it's only two views of the same image), by choosing Window, Arrange, New Window for Wayne & Pam.tif. Edits made to one window are made to the other.

  2. Double-click on the Background layer and accept the default name in the dialog box. Click on OK. Press Q to enter Quick Mask mode to make a selection of Pam. With black as the foreground color and a 60-pixel hard brush, paint in Pam.

  3. When satisfied with the selection, press Q to switch back to standard editing mode and then press Ctrl(Command)+Shift+J to Layer via Cut. With the Move tool, move Pam up and closer to Wayne.


Move Pam closer to Wayne. She likes him.

  1. Switch to the Crop tool and crop the picture, as shown. Click on Layer 0 to make that the active layer. Choose the Brush tool and hold down the Alt(Opt) key to toggle to the Eyedropper tool; then sample a light blue from the background of the photo. Then paint in the area where Pam used to be.

  2. This is totally optional, but you might want to mask Wayne, move him to a new layer, and then put a nice sunset scene on the background layer. (A nice sunset image called Sunset.tif is located in the Examples/Chap 24 folder.) Then flatten the image.

Tip - Shifting a viewer's focus

Background detail, even that as simple as a sunset, helps to disguise editing work or flaws in the foreground.

  1. Choose Image, Mode, LAB Color. On the Channels palette, choose Lightness as the current channel; then go back to the Image menu and choose Mode, Grayscale. Click on OK to the dialog box asking to discard channels. Now this is the way you convert color images to grayscale. In LAB mode, the grayscale information is separated from any color information (the two other channels), so there is no color influence when you convert.

  2. Press Ctrl(Command)+J to make a copy of the Background layer on the Layers palette. Choose Filter, Artistic, Poster Edges and apply the settings. I know—Wayne looks like he has a skin condition, but what we gain here is a strong edge detection; these folks are actually beginning to show some detail in their faces!

Insider - It is a given that we cannot make this picture beautiful and in focus, but what we can do is make it beautiful and stylized—this is the aim. The colors in the picture are made up of pixels, and the nauseating focus of the picture is made up from the same pixels. Therefore, I conclude that we should work on the image in grayscale, and the finished product will be grayscale, too.

  1. Using the Eraser tool with the Airbrush option turned on and a small 21-pixel soft-edge brush, start erasing with Flow and Opacity set to 100%. If you need partial erasing in any areas, change the Flow to a lower amount such as 10%. Erase away any Poster Edges dots that are just plain ugly and contribute to making this image look bad. Remember, you're only erasing something to show the original image underneath.

  2. Choose Filter, Other, Maximum. In the Maximum dialog box, set the Radius to 1 pixel. This makes the heavy Poster Edges thinner and more natural looking while still helping facial detail definition.

  1. Blend the top copy with the Background layer. Use about 35% Opacity for the top layer, and then press Ctrl(Command)+E to merge the layers.

  2. Choose Filter, Artistic, Watercolor and use the settings shown in Figure 24.61. Then press Ctrl(Command)+Shift+F to fade the Watercolor effect to 60%. These folks are going to look real, even if we filter the picture to the ends of the earth!


Poster Edge filter

The Watercolor filter often brings out details in the shadow areas of an image, but it also creates aesthetically pleasing doodles that were never in the original photo. Have a homely client who wants to be in the Quarterly Report? Use the Watercolor filter at about 50% Opacity blended with the original base image.

  1. Here's a step you cannot do without an extra purchase, but it makes all the difference to the photograph. I heartily recommend Flaming Pear's India Ink filter. It costs a whopping $15. Let's face it, you buy wedding presents for people you don't even like for more money. And you can't make a "bad" India Ink filter image. As you can see in Figure 24.62, I'm reducing the grayscale image to black or white. This also means that this image can then be enlarged with very little loss in image content.

  2. Press Ctrl(Command)+S. If you own India Ink, save the image to hard disk. If not, well, you can close the image without saving it because you probably are not Wayne or Pam.

Here we go—the "beauty pose" is shown in Figure 24.63. Didn't think this picture would ever merit a frame, eh?


Figure 24.60 The Maximum command takes away some of the harshness left by the Poster Edges command.


Using Flaming Pear's India Ink filter is a beautiful method of reducing detail in an image but adding a sort of charm.

Making Hard Choices About Bad Images

Certainly, a massive amount of photo information has been lost to get to the Cutline version, but in this case, the color information was kah-kah; there was no way to make it contribute to the finished image. But if you examine any picture, you will notice that a flawed image usually has a characteristic missing or a characteristic that is flawed in it. You owe it to yourself to use drastic measures, when called for, to make a picture look nice. Don't waste time trying to cope. Take the route that your mind and talent tells you to take to arrive at what is usually a stylized rendition of an image.

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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