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Preview precision cursors on the fly (7/CS/CS2)

  • Most people know that you can change the preference settings to customize how the tool cursors display when selected. To access these preferences, choose Photoshop > Preferences > Display And Cursors (Edit > Preferences > Display And Cursors in Windows). The Standard option displays the tool as a cursor, the Precise option displays a cursor with crosshairs for precision editing, and the Brush Size option is available for the painting tools to display the cursor in the size of the brush while you paint or make other edits.
  • But if you want to change your tool settings to Precise for on the fly precision editing donít hassle with your preferences, simply press the [Caps Lock] key. This doesnít change any settings in your preferences, but it temporarily changes the display of cursors to Precision cursors. Then, to change it back to your custom settings, simply press [Caps Lock] again to disable it.

The hidden benefit to the Sample All Layers option (7/CS/CS2)

  • Many tools in the Toolbox such as the Smudge, Blur, Sharpen, Healing Brush, Spot healing Brush, Clone Stamp and Smudge tools provide you with an option in the tool options bar, to Sample All Layers (Use All Layers in 7/CS). This is useful if youíre retouching a photo that has multiple layers and you want to sample pixels from all the visible layers and not just your active layer.
  • Itís especially useful when you want to put all of your retouching edits on a separate layer. You can create a new layer above the other layers, select the tool of choice, and then select the Sample All Layers checkbox. With your new layer active, make all your cloning or other retouching so that all the edits show up on the new layer.
  • This serves a dual purpose. First, and most obvious, it allows you to sample from your entire document without the need to merge the layers. Second, it shows just how much retouching was necessary for the image in the event that you have to sow proof of your extensive efforts to your client.

Quickly reset a tool to its original default setting (7/CS/CS2)

  • When your adventurous nature takes over and youíve experimented with a toolís setting to the point where you canít remember what the original default was, shrug it off. You can easily go back and restore a toolís default setting.
  • To reset a tool to its default:
    • 1.Select the tool in the Toolbox.
      2.Click on the toolís icon located at the far left of the tool options bar to open the Tool Preset Picker.
    • 3.Select the pop-up menu in the Tool Preset Picker and choose Reset Tool.

Save time when color correcting multiple images (7/CS/CS2)

  • Most digital photographs will need some level of color correcting. If youíre an avid photographer, this can translate into a lot of hours in your digital darkroom. Rather than start from scratch for each image, why not copy your color corrections over from an image youíve already tackled? Itís easy to do and can be quite effective if your images were taken under the same indoor or outdoor lighting conditions.
  • To copy color corrections from one image to another:
    • 1. Open up the first image that needs color correcting.
    • 2. Make your necessary color corrections on adjustment layers.
    • 3. Open up the second image that needs color correcting.
    • 4. Arrange your images so they are both visible and then click on the first image to make it the active image.
    • 5. Click on the adjustment layerís layer thumbnail and drag it over to the second image and release. The adjustment layer is now added to the second image.
  • At the point, depending on the image you may be done or you may have to tweak the color just a little further. In any event, this is a good way to get a jumpstart on color correcting multiple images with the same needs.

Display full color when editing a single channel (7/CS/CS2)

  • Images store color detail in their individual channels. By default, all the channels in a Photoshop document are selected to show the full color of the image. Sometimes, though you need to work on an individual channel in the Channels palette for editing purposes. What isnít necessary is for you to view just the color on the selected channel while editing it. After you select the channel, you want to edit, simply press the Tilde key [~]. Now, you can view the image in full color while editing only the selected channel.

8 CS3 interface changes you donít want to miss

  • Aside from an abundance of new features, there are many smaller scale interface changes in Photoshop CS3 that will certainly affect your workflow. From the minor changes to the welcome improvements to the downright annoying, we'll reveal eight of CS3's new changes that you should know about.
  • Read More About This Tip Click Here > Photoshop Tips

Take your photos to the next dimension with this outside-the-box technique

  • You many not necessarily capture a great composition in every photo you shoot, but that's okay. You can add a new dimension to your images in Photoshop with this out-of-the-box technique.
  • Read More About This Tip Click Here > Photoshop Tips

Save your presets or you may lose them! (7/CS/CS2)

  • Any time you create a new preset, whether itís a brush, action, or pattern, keep in mind you actually need to save it in order to preserve it.
  • Just because you can access a newly created preset the next time you launch Photoshop, doesnít mean itís saved. Itís simply stored in the Photoshop preference file. If you donít take the time to save it, the next time you replace an existing brush or pattern set, or delete a corrupt Photoshop preference file, youíll lose it for good.
  • Any palette that allows you to create a preset has a Save option in its pop-up menu. For example, click on the Brushes paletteís pop-up menu button and youíll find the option to Save Brushes. Click on the Actions paletteís pop-up menu button and youíll find the option to Save Actions. Once you save the preset, youíll be able to load it at any time.

Give your image a soaking with this rainy-day technique

  • You can't always count on the weather to shoot the photo that you want. So here's a trick to add the rainfall to your images when the skies are sunny and bright.
  • To create a rainy effect in Photoshop, we'll:
    • Show you how to prepare the layers in preparation for this technique.
    • Teach you how to add simulated raindrops to your imagery.
    • Explain how to boost colors for a more realistic effect.
  • Read More: Photoshop Tips

Tip: Confidently identify color shifts before you flatten a file (7/CS/CS2)

  • Itís an unfortunate reality; layer styles and blending modes donít always look the same in a layered file as they do once the file is flattened. Oftentimes flattening a file causes the imageís colors to shift, even if just slightly. The problem is that itís almost always necessary to work on a multi-layered PSD file initiallyóleaving you to cross your fingers as you flatten your file.
  • But donít leave the appearance of your artwork to chance, take charge and identify any color shifts in your image as you work on it. From time to time, produce a merged layer containing a flattened version of your work and check to see if any of the layer styles or blending modes youíve used are causing color shifts when the file is flattened.
  • To create a merged layer:
    • 1. Turn off the visibility for any layers you donít want included in the merged layer. Photoshop CS/CS 2 users proceed to step 3.
    • 2. If youíre using Photoshop 7, click on the Create A New Layer button located at the base of the Layers palette to create a new layer, and keep that layer active.
    • 3. Click on the Layers paletteís pop-up menu button, then press and hold [command][option] ([Ctrl][Alt] in Windows), and choose Merge Visible from the pop-up menu to create a merged layer.
  • Now you can study the merged layer and compare it to the layered file. To do this, simply toggle the merged layerís visibility icon on and off to see if you notice a color shift. If you do identify a color shift, you can then investigate which layer style or blending mode is responsible, and adjust it accordingly.

Tip: Get more accurate crops by zooming when you crop (7/CS/CS2)

  • Everyone knows the crop tool is handy and quick for cropping an image. But once you have the area you want to crop selected, your only options are to transform the bounding box handles on the crop box, commit or cancel the crop. You canít zoom in or out for a better preview of what youíre cropping. Or can you?
  • Itís true, you canít select the Zoom tool from the Toolbox when you have an active crop on your image, but you can still use its functionality with a modifier key.
  • To zoom in or out while cropping:
    • 1.Choose the Crop tool CROP from the toolbox.
    • 2.Create the selection that you wish to crop.
    • 3.Press [option][spacebar] ([Alt][spacebar] in Windows) and click on your image to zoom out, or press [command][spacebar] ([Ctrl][spacebar] in Windows) and click on your image to zoom in.

Tip: Get a quick preview of a large fileóopen a composite version (7/CS/CS2)

  • Isnít it a pain when you have to open a big, multi-layered file just to take a quick look at it? For example, you may need to sample a color from a multi-layered high-resolution TIF or PSD file, but donít want to wait for the 100MB file to render onscreen.
  • Whenever you need to take a quick peek at a file but donít need to edit the layersóand donít intend to save over the fileóopen a composite of the file instead and skip the wait.
  • Whether you select the file from the Open dialog box, Adobe Bridge or from the File Browser, the command is the same. Press and hold [option][shift] ([Alt][Shift] in Windows) and double click on the file to open a single layer composite of the image.
  • Tip: Always select the Maximize Compatibility checkbox when saving PSD files. If you donít, this feature may not work.

Tip: The fastest way to delete a layer (7/CS/CS2)

  • Your time is precious and youíre always looking for ways to increase your productivity in Photoshop. Itís only natural then, that you want to know how to do things as quickly as possible.
  • Learning keyboard shortcuts is one way to do this, but there currently isnít a keyboard command for deleting a layer. You could set one up, but why go through the hassle, when there is a hidden shortcut you can use instead?
  • First youíll need to select the layer you want to delete from the Layers paletteóthereís no getting around that part. Then press V to select the Move tool and press [delete] ([Backspace] in Windows) to delete the layer. Itís that quick!

Tip: Use this shortcut to quickly position a new Photoshop layer

  • Whenever you add a new layer to the Layers palette, itís always placed above the current active layer. Or, in the case of CS2, itís placed above the top most active layers when multiple layers are selected. But there are ways to override this and precisely control where your new layers are placed. First, select the layer just below where you want the new layer placed and add your layer. Or, if you already have a layer active and want the new layer to be located below it in the stacking order, simply [command]-click ([Ctrl]-click in Windows) on the Create A New Layer button at the base of the Layers palette.

Tip: Pull out an image from within a PDF using Photoshop CS2

  • Unless you have Adobe Acrobat Professional, you canít edit PDF files. You can, however, open PDFs in Photoshop CS2. But what if you just want to repurpose an image thatís in a PDF file? No problem!
  • To extract an image from a PDF:
    • 1. Launch Photoshop and choose File > Open.
    • 2. Select the PDF file that contains the image you want to use and click Open.
    • 3. Select the page in the preview window on which the image exists, and choose Image from the Select pop-up menu.
    • 4. Click OK to open just the image and not the entire page.

Tip: Take a shortcut to apply blending modes to layers (7/CS/CS2)

  • How many times have you found yourself trying out every single blending mode in the Layers palette? How else do you determine which one works the best on your image? It can be quite time-consuming to individually select each mode from the Blending Mode pop-up menu on the Layers palette. Luckily, thereís an easier way to quickly preview blending effects without having to reach for the mouse every time.
  • To quickly preview blending modes:
    • 1. Click on the target layer in your Layers palette.
    • 2. Select a non-drawing tool in the Toolbox, such as the Move tool. (Otherwise Photoshop cycles through the Mode pop-up menu on the tool options bar.)
    • 3. Press [shift][+] to select the next blending mode in the menu and apply it to the active layer.

Tip: Produce sharp text for the web (7/CS/CS2)

  • Have you ever noticed that small text looks blurry on the web? The next time youíre formatting text for the web thatís smaller than 12 points, you may want to increase the spacing between characters by adjusting its tracking.
  • To change the Tracking value of text:
    • 1. Select the text with the Horizontal Type tool.
    • 2. Click on the Toggle The Character And Paragraph Palettes button on the tool options bar.
    • 3. Enter a value of 20 or higher in the Tracking text box on the Character palette.
  • Basically, this reduces the blurriness by lowering the effects of anti-aliasing. The more you space out your letters, the crisper theyíll look onscreen.

Tip: Lighten a color without changing its hue or saturation (7/CS/CS2)

  • The Adobe Color Picker allows you to select foreground, background, and text color in Photoshop. To open it, simply click on the Foreground or Background box in the Toolbox. By default, the H (Hue) option button is selected, so you can select a color using the Color slider and Color field or by entering numeric values. Donít stop there, though.
  • Once you select a color, you can adjust its saturation without changing the hue or brightness. Simply select the S option button and adjust the color values in the same way you picked a hue.
  • You can also lighten a color without changing its hue or saturation. Simply select the B option button and adjust the brightness values. Click OK to apply the color.

Tip: Preview your changes more naturally by turning off marching ants (7/CS/CS2)

  • Marching ants can be distracting when working on a selected image area in Photoshop. An easy solution to this problem is to hide them. After you create the selection, simply choose View > Show > Selection Edges. This turns off the selection edges, giving you a more natural and pleasing view of your image. When you want to see the selection edges, simply choose View > Show > Selection Edges again, and the marching ants return.

Tip: Choosing a Byte Order when saving a tiff in Photoshop (7/CS/CS2)

  • When saving a file as a tiff in Photoshop, there are two choices for how you want the byte order saved. They are IBM PC or Macintosh, despite the fact that IBM stopped making computers and operating systems years ago. Essentially, most modern computers and applications will open a TIFF saved in either format just fine. However, itís best to stick with the operating system youíll be using when you work with the file.

Tip: Let your paper stock be your guide to choosing image resolutions in Photoshop (7/CS/CS2)

  • The paper you're having your piece printed on influences the resolution needs of your image. Paper tends to absorb ink that's applied to it, which causes halftone dots to spread and become larger after the ink is added. Printers call this effect dot gain. Thus, the more porous the paper is, the greater the dot gain, limiting the quality of the finished image. Paper with lesser dot gain can emulate higher detailed images. Three common types of paper are:
    • Newsprint. Requires an image resolution of 85Ė100 ppi.
    • Uncoated paper. Requires an image resolution of 266Ė300 ppi.
    • Coated paper. Requires an image resolution of 300 ppi or more.

Tip: Rescue your original even after you save over it in Photoshop (7/CS/CS2)

  • Have you ever made changes to an original image and then accidentally saved over it without making a backup copy? Well, if this sounds vaguely familiar, then we have some good news for future accidents. To recover your original image, go to the History palette, and click on the opening snapshot to make it active. Next, click the Create New Document From Current State button at the bottom of the palette. Upon doing so, your original image displays in a new document. Choose File > Save. Now, go back to the History palette and click on the last History State listed in the History palette. At this point, itís a good idea to save your file with a different name to ensure the safety of the original file.

Tip: Search for a word with Find and Replace in Photoshop (7/CS/CS2)

  • You can use the Find And Replace Text feature as a simple word search tool. To do so, choose Edit > Find And Replace Text. Then, simply enter the word you want to find in the Find What text box, leave the Change To text box blank, and then click the Find Next button. Click Done to exit the tool without making any changes.

Tip: Save time by creating your own tool presets in Photoshop (7/CS/CS2)

  • Creating a custom tool is a great way to become more efficient in Photoshop. Not only can you save one set of settings, you can create as many custom tool settings as you want.  To create a custom tool, choose Window > Tool Presets to display the Tool Presets palette, and select a tool to customize from the Toolbox. On the tool options bar, set your toolís options just the way you want them. Then, choose New Tool Preset from the Tool Presets paletteís pop-up menu. In the resulting dialog box, give your tool a descriptive name and, depending on your preference, select or deselect the Include Color check box. Finally, click OK. Now, whenever you want to use that tool, you can select it from the Tool Presets palette or even better, just click on the tool thumbnail at the top-left corner of the tool options bar to display all of your tool presets.

Tip: Utilize Color Dynamics to control color changes with your brushes in Photoshop (7/CS/CS2)

  • Once you create a new brush tip using Photoshopís New Brush command, you can then add a variety of brush dynamics options that control the properties of the brush tip as you paint. You find the brush dynamics options in the Brush Tip Shape section of the Brushes palette. One of these is the Color Dynamics option.
  • To add the Color Dynamics element to a brush tip, select the Color Dynamics check box. Then, click on the Color Dynamics option so the five Color Dynamics option controls appear. By default, each of the controls is set to 0%. Letís examine each, one at a time, to get a better idea of how they affect the stroke of the brush tip:
    • Foreground/Background Jitter. Sets the amount a stroke varies between the foreground and background color.
    • Hue Jitter. Sets the amount a stroke varies in hue from the foreground color.
    • Saturation Jitter. Sets the amount a stroke varies in saturation from the foreground color.
    • Brightness Jitter. Sets the amount a stroke varies in brightness from the foreground color.
    • Purity. Increases or decreases the saturation of a stroke from the foreground color. Purity increases when you move the control slider to the right and decreases when you move the control slider to the left.

Tip: Produce the sharpest text for the web in Photoshop (7/CS/CS2)

  • Have you ever noticed that small text looks blurry on the web? Well, if you find you have to use text thatís smaller than 12 points, you may want to increase the tracking between your letters. To do so, enter a value of 20 or higher in the Tracking text box on the Character palette. Basically, this reduces the blurriness by lowering the effects of anti-aliasing. The more you space out your letters, the crisper theyíll look.

Tip: Preview individual channels using your keyboard in Photoshop (7/CS/CS2)

  • If youíd like to view an individual channel, but donít want to deal with the hassle of opening the Channels palette, use the keyboard shortcuts shown below. Not only will these shortcuts help you view your channels, but they can also help you check selections and layer masks that are stored as alpha channels. To get these to work, youíll need to press the [command] key ([Ctrl] key in Windows) in combination with the keys shown in the table.
    • RGB/CMYK composite: ~ (tilde)
    • Red/Cyan channel: 1
    • Green/Magenta channel: 2
    • Blue/Yellow channel: 3
    • Black channel (CMYK only): 4
    • Alpha channels: 5-9
    • Layer mask of selected layer: \

Tip: Use the Navigator palette for precise movements (6/7/CS/CS2)

  • When you need to edit fine detail in Adobe Photoshop, it's helpful to magnify the area with the Zoom tool. Doing so, however, makes it difficult to know where you are in the image. You could expend time and energy scrolling around, trying to find a particular image area, but there's a better way. At a time like this, you need the Navigator palette. To show this palette, choose Window > Navigator. A thumbnail of the entire image appears in the palette and a border (red, by default) frames the area in which you're working. To quickly move to another area in your image, simply click and drag the frame to the image area in the Navigator palette.
  • You can also zoom in or out on the framed image area using the Zoom slider, the Zoom text box, or the Zoom In and Zoom Out buttons, all of which are located at the bottom of the palette. To quickly zoom in at 1600%, the maximum magnification level, [command]-click ([Ctrl]-click in Windows) on the frame. See how easy it is to get where you're going when you know where you are?

Tip: Learn how to differentiate Fill from Opacity (7/CS/CS2)

  • Have you ever wondered what the Fill option on the Layers palette is for? It seemingly does the same thing as the Opacity option just above it, which is to control a working layer's level of transparency, but there's a little more to it.
  • When you set the Opacity value for a selected layer, the change applies to the entire layer. This means that any layer styles and the blending mode are also affected. When you set the Fill value, however, only painted pixels and vector shapes are affected.
  • For example, when we set the Fill value for a selected shape layer to 66% and set the blending mode to Overlay, only the fill pixels inside the shape are affected. The black Stroke effect on the same layer isn't.
  • To set the Opacity and Fill values for a selected layer (other than the background layer) via the Layers palette, do one of the following:
    • Use the Opacity and Fill sliders to set the percent of opacity.
    • Enter a value in the Opacity and Fill text boxes.
    • Hover your cursor over the option's name and click and drag the resulting icon right to increase the value or left to decrease the value.
    • Select the Move tool and then type a number on the keyboard.
    • Click the Add A Layer Style button and choose Blending Options from the resulting pop-up menu. In the Layer Style dialog box, use the General Blending options to adjust the blend mode and opacity for the entire layer; or use the Advanced Blending options to adjust the fill opacity for specified items.

Tip: Get a clear view of a bounding box that extends beyond the Photoshop canvas (6/7/CS/CS2)

  • In Photoshop, when you use the Free Transform or Transform commands in the Edit menu or the Transform Selection command in the Select menu, a bounding box is added to the target object. You can then resize or rotate the selection by dragging the handles on the bounding box. Sometimes, though, this is easier said than done when the handles on the bounding box extend beyond the canvas area that fills your document window. When this happens, you can switch viewing modes to display anything in your document window that extends beyond the canvas.
  • In the Toolbox, click the Full Screen Mode With Menu Bar button to display the gray area that surrounds the live canvas, or click the Full Screen Mode button to hide the menu bar and display the canvas against a black-filled window.

Tip: Custom shape your Photoshop images with clipping masks (6/7/CS)

  • There are many obvious reasons to use layers in Photoshop. And then there are the not-so-obvious-but-really-cool reasons to use layers. For instance: Do you know you can clip the contents in one layer with the contents in another? This technique, referred to as a clipping mask, enables you to create interesting graphics, and it's so easy!
  • To create a clipping mask in Photoshop CS, do one of the following:
    • ē Choose Layer > Create Clipping Mask or press [command]G ([Ctrl]G in Windows). (This command turns into Create Clipping Mask From Linked when working with linked layers.)
    • ē In the Layers palette, place your pointer on the line between the two layers and then [option]-click ([Alt]-click in Windows) on the resulting overlapping circles.
  • To create a clipping mask in versions 6/7, do one of the following:
    • ē Choose Layer > Group With Previous or press [command]G ([Ctrl]G in Windows).
    • ē In the Layers palette, place your pointer on the line between the two layers and then [option]-click ([Alt]-click in Windows) the resulting overlapping circles.
  • When done correctly, the Clipping Mask icon points from the topmost masked layer to the layer doing the masking.

Tip: Eliminate white backgrounds in your Photoshop documents the easy way (6/7/CS)

  • When you create a new Photoshop document, the default background is white. A white canvas is easier on the eyes, but it often becomes a problem after you place the file in a page layout application. The white background tags along for the ride and becomes quite a nuisance. To get rid of the white background in Photoshop, you can take the time to silhouette the subject matter with a clipping path or mask the background with an alpha channel. Doing either of these things takes time, though, and results aren't always favorable. Instead, let's start from the beginning.
  • To create a transparent layer:
    • 1. Choose File > New to open the New dialog box.
    • 2. Specify the image size, resolution, and color mode as usual. Then, choose Transparent from the Background Contents pop-up menu. (In versions 6/7, select the Transparent option button in the Contents pane.)
    • 3. Click OK.
  • In doing so, you create a document with a transparent working layer rather than a white background layer. Now, you just have to keep it that way in the page layout program. The secret is in how you save the file.
  • To preserve transparency in a file:
    • 1. When you're ready to save your document, choose File > Save As.
    • 2. Name the file and specify where you want to save it. Then, choose Photoshop or TIFF from the Format pop-up menu and make sure the Layers check box is selected. (In version 6, you must first select the Saving Files preferences option Enable Advanced TIFF Save Options check box to save layers and transparency in a TIFF file.)
    • 3. Click Save.
    • 4. If you selected a TIFF format, also select the Save Transparency check box in the resulting TIFF Options dialog box.
    • 5. Click OK.
  • Now, when you place the file in a page layout application (that supports transparent layers, such as Adobe InDesign), it imports without a white background and transparency effects are preserved.

Tip: Prevent specific words from breaking in Photoshop (7/CS)

  • When a word reaches the edge of a text box, Photoshop may hyphenate it to maintain the selected alignment. However, you should never hyphenate some words (including proper nouns and words that change meaning when taken apart). To restrict a word from breaking across lines:
    • 1. Highlight the desired word on your canvas using the Horizontal Type tool.
    • 2. Open the Character palette (Window > Character) if it isnít already open.
    • 3. Select No Break from the Character paletteís options menu.

Tip: Remove unwanted background detail from images in Adobe Photoshop (6/7/CS) 

  • Layer blending allows you to control the range of light or dark pixel values in the active layer and in underlying visible layers that appear in your final image. Among other things, you can use this feature to remove a dark background from a light image or vice versa.
  • To remove a range of dark pixels from the background layer, open an image in Photoshop. In the Layers palette (press [F7] to show), convert the background layer to a working layer by double-clicking on it and clicking OK in the resulting New Layer dialog box. Next, access the Layer Style dialog box by clicking the Add A Layer Style button in the Layers palette and choosing Blending Options from the resulting pop-up menu. Now, on the Blending Options panel, choose Gray from the Blend If pop-up menu to specify a blending range for all channels. Finally, move the black triangle on the This Layer slider to the right and watch the background disappear! Pixels with brightness values less than your specified setting remain unblended and are excluded from the final image. This, however, is creating a blunt edge between dark and light pixels.

    To create a smoother blend, start by [option]-dragging ([Alt]-dragging in Windows) on the This Layer black slider to split it in half. Then, drag the left half of the slider to 80 and click OK.

Tip: Merge your layers but preserve your layer styles (Photoshop 6/7/CS)

  • Have you ever tried to merge a layer with the layer below it and lost all of the effects applied to that upper layer?  This is because when you choose Merge Down from the Layers palette's pop-up menu, Photoshop only applies the blending mode of the bottom layer to the merged version.  However, if you select Merge Visible, and hide any layers that you  don't want combined, all of your blending modes are preserved and your merged layer will look exactly as it does onscreen.

Tip: An easier way to angle and position drop shadows in Adobe Photoshop (CS)

  • A drop shadow in Photoshop is a layer style--an effect that applies to layers, not objects directly. While editing the Drop Shadow settings in the Layer Style dialog box (Layer > Layer Style > Drop Shadow), you can set the angle of the light source using the Angle option and set the offset for the shadow using the Distance option. However, you may find setting these two parameters is much easier if you simply click and drag the shadow in your document window where you want it. As you click and drag the shadow with your mouse cursor, the Angle and Distance options reflect the current settings.

Tip: Take advantage of adjustment layers (Photoshop 6/7/CS)

  • Have you ever adjusted the Curves of an image or tweaked the Levels and found the results less than appealing?  Or maybe you just wanted to experiment with a few different adjustments without actually applying them to your image.  Well, you can do this quite easily using adjustment layers.  just open the Layers palette and click the Create New Fill Or Adjustment Layer button resulting pop-up menu.  Upon doing so Photoshop creates an adjustment layer in the Layers palette, where you can make changes with out actually affecting your original image.

Tip: Add the 3D Transform filter to Photoshop CS (Photoshop 7/CS)

  • For whatever reason, Adobe didn't include the 3D Transform filter in Photoshop CS.  However, you can add it to CS.  All you have to do is add the plug-in to the Filters folder.  If you still have Photoshop 7's application folder on your hard drive, navigate to the Plug-Ins folder.  Open the Plug-Ins folder and then open the Filters folder.  Select the 3D Transform filter plug-in and drag and drop it into Photoshop CS's Filters folder (Photoshop CS > Plug-Ins > Filters).  Restart Photoshop and choose Filter > Render.  The 3D transform filter is now there for you to use.
  • If you deleted the old version completely from your hard drive, get the Extras disk that came with the application.  Then, navigate to the Optional Plug-Ins folder for Photoshop CS.  Next, open the Filters folder and there you'll find the 3D Transform plug-in.  Drag and drop it into the Filters folder as we just explained and you're good to go.

Tip: Resize your paths quickly (Photoshop 6/7/CS)

  • After creating a path in Photoshop, you can easily resize the path if needed.  To do so, select your path with the Path Selection tool, located in the Toolbox.  Then, on the tool options bar, select the Show Bounding Box check box.  Doing so places a transform bounding box around your image, which you can then use to adjust the size of your path.

Tip: Increase your canvas size relatively (Photoshop 7/CS)

  • The next time you have to increase the size of your canvas, check out Photoshop's Relative option.  Just choose Image > Canvas Size.  Then, in the resulting Canvas Size dialog box, select the Relative check box.  Now, just enter the how much space you want added to the Width and Height text boxes.  It's much easier than trying to add 1.57 inches to 22.35 inches (not that you should create documents with such random sizes, but you never know).

Tip: Lighten dark images with ease (Photoshop 6/7/CS)

  • When faced with the challenge of lightening an overly dark image in Photoshop, there are numerous techniques you can use. However, for those instances when you have no time, we have the perfect technique for you. Just open the image in Photoshop and make a copy of it in the Layers palette. Then, change the copied layer's blending mode to Screen. This significantly improves the colors within your image. If necessary, adjust the opacity of the layer until you're satisfied with the results.

Tip: Add to or subtract from your selections with ease (Photoshop 6/7/CS)

  • Oftentimes, when making a selection using any of the selection tools, you may find that you have to add or subtract a portion of the selected area.  You can do this easily using key commands.  To add to a selection, hold down the [shift] key while making the additional selection.  To subtract from it, hold down the [option] key ([Alt] key in Windows).

Tip: Adjust the tracking of your words and separate letters (Photoshop 6/7/CS)

  • Did you know that when typesetting in Photoshop you can fine-tune the spacing between letters or words in your document?  Well, you can.  To do so, after setting your text, open the Character palette by clicking the Toggle The Character And Paragraph Palettes button on the tool options bar or by choosing Window > Character.  In the Character palette, go to the Set The Tracking For The Selected Characters text box and either click on the arrow icon to the right of the text box to assign a preset number or enter a number of your choice.  If you want to adjust the spacing between each word, highlight all of your text before making any adjustments.  If you want to adjust the spacing between specific letters, just select those letters.  Then, adjust the tracking.  Now, If you don't want to be bothered with actual numeric values, adjust the tracking space by space using key commands.  Just highlight the text you want to modify, and then press [option][left arrow] ([Alt][Left Arrow] in Windows) to make the spacing tighter or [option][right arrow] ([Alt][Right Arrow] in Windows) to space out the text more.

Tip: Change colors of your images in the blink of an eye (Photoshop 6/7/CS)

  • How many times have you been asked to change the color of element within an image?  The next time this happens, we have the perfect technique for you.  Just select the area of the image that you need to change.  Then, choose Image > Adjustments (Adjust in version 6) > Hue/Saturation.  In the resulting dialog box, select the Colorize check box, and then drag the Hue slider back and forth until you get the color you want.  It's that easy!

Tip: Watch out for incompatibility issues between versions of Photoshop (Photoshop 6/7/CS)

  • Although you can set a preference in Photoshop to maximize compatibility, unsupported features are discarded when you edit or save an image using an earlier version of Photoshop. For this reason, it's best to work and output your documents in the same version. Before you create a new document that will be viewed and/or printed by someone else, make sure you're working in the same version of Photoshop.

Tip: Fill in an object with color using just key commands (Photoshop 7/CS)

  • When filling an object with color, you can select the object and then choose Edit > Fill, or you can simply use a key command. First, with the object selected, set your foreground color to the desired fill color. Now, press [shift][option][delete] ([Shift][Alt][Backspace] in Windows) and Photoshop instantly fills your object. This action turns on the Lock Transparent Pixels option and then fills the unlocked areas.

Tip: Sample wisely with the Eyedropper tool (Photoshop 6/7/CS)

  • The Eyedropper tool is great to use when you want to take a color from one part of an image and use it somewhere else.  With that said, when sampling colors, for the best result, set the Sample Size pop-up menu to 3 By 3 Average on the tool options bar.  This will give you a nice color representation.

Tip: Avoid color shifts when converting RGB to CMYK (Photoshop 7/CS)

  • A precautionary step you can take to avoid significant color shifts when converting images from RGB to CMYK is, while working in RGB mode, to set your Proof Setup to Working CMYK. You can do so by choosing View > Proof Setup > Working CMYK. This allows you to work in RGB mode, while seeing the CMYK interpretation of your document onscreen.

Tip: Using digital sticky notes on your files (Photoshop 6.x/7.x/CS)

  • Did you know that you can attach notes to your Photoshop file without exiting the application?  Well, you can.  The next time you have a file that's going to be modified by another designer or reviewed by someone else, and you want to include a note, just attach a digital annotation to it.  To do so, select the Notes tool from the Toolbox and click on your document where you want the note to appear.  It's that easy! Also, keep in mind that these notes are compatible with Adobe Acrobat.

Tip: Use Free Transform to resize an image with specific dimensions (Photoshop 7/CS)

  • You can resize your selections to an exact measurement using the Free Transform function. Just select the area you want resized. Then, press [command]T ([Ctrl]T in Windows) to access the Free Transform function. Next, go to the tool options bar and enter the appropriate measurements in the W (width) and H (height) text boxes, making sure to follow up the value with inches, pixels, etc. Then, press [enter] to apply your changes.

Tip: Resolving memory issue when using filters (Photoshop 6.x/7.x/CS)

  • Filters take up a lot of memory, especially when you apply them to large files.  If you've found that Photoshop gets a bit choked up when you apply filters, there are a couple of ways to help things run more smoothly.  First, try to apply the Purge command by choosing Edit > Purge > All.  If that doesn't help, try just applying the filter to a small selected portion of your image to preview the results before actually applying it to the entire image.  Finally, as a last resort, try applying the filter to individual channels, rather than the composite channel.

Tip: Use the Measure tool to straighten a crooked image (Photoshop 7/CS)

  • Select the Measure tool from the Eyedropper tool's flyout menu in the Toolbox. Click and drag along an image line that should be horizontal or vertical. Choose Image > Rotate Canvas > Arbitrary, and the correct angle and direction to make that line match the edge of the image frame is displayed. Click OK and Photoshop straightens the image.

Tip: Create a shape on a new layer (Photoshop 7/CS)

  • Photoshop automatically fills a shape layer, which you can make with any Shape, Line, or Pen tool, with the foreground color. However, you can change it to a different color, gradient, or pattern. Be sure to click the Create New Shape Layer button on the tool options bar. Photoshop stores the shape outline in a layer clipping path that appears in the Paths palette.

Tip: Duplicate your documents in the blink of an eye (Photoshop 6.x/7.x/CS)

  • When photo retouching, you should always keep a copy of the original image, just in case you have to go back to it for any reason.  With that said, a fast and easy way to duplicate an image that you want to adjust is to simply choose Image > Duplicate.  In the resulting Duplicate Image dialog box, name the duplicate image and click OK.  Upon doing so, Photoshop opens the new document and you can retouch it without worrying about altering the original image.

Tip: Remember to save your Work Path before you lose it (Photoshop 7/CS)

  • When you use a Pen or a Shape tool to make a new path, it will show in the Paths palette as a temporary Work Path. If you deselect this Work Path and start drawing another path or section, the first path is lost. If you want to keep any Work Path while you create others, save the Work Path first and then start drawing again. To save a Work Path, simply drag its icon to the Create New Path button at the bottom of the Paths palette.

Tip: Make an image catalog using an automated task (Photoshop 6.x/7.x/CS)

  • Do you have a lot of images stored on your computer or CDs that you're constantly sifting through to find what you want?  If so, you should take advantage of Photoshop's ability to create contact sheets.  Basically, this feature allows you to print out thumbnails of all your image files stored in a folder, including images in subfolders.  Even more importantly, you can print the filename along with the thumbnail.  Then, when you want a certain image, just glance through your thumbnail printouts, find the image you want, and then access it on your computer.
  • To make a contact sheet, choose File > Automate > Contact Sheet II.  In the Contact Sheet II dialog box, select the folder containing your images from the Source Images section.  Then, adjust the document settings for your needs and enter how you want your thumbnails to be laid out.  Finally, select the Use Filename As Caption check box and choose a Font and Font Size.  Click OK and let Photoshop go to work creating your contact sheet.

Tip: Align or distribute linked layers to a selection marquee or the image space (Photoshop 7/CS)

  • If you want to align or distribute images on separate but linked layers, you can use either the image frame as a reference point or a selection marquee. Make a selection marquee. Then, switch to the Move tool and click the Align or Distribute button on the tool options bar. The linked images align or distribute as if the selection were the image frame. You can also select Layer > Align To Selection.

Tip: Sample pixels from more than just the active layer (Photoshop 7/CS)

  • You can sample pixels from layers other than the active one. To do so, select the Magic Wand, Smudge, Blur, Sharpen, Paint Bucket, or Clone Stamp tool from the Toolbox. Then, select the Use All Layers check box on the tool options bar. The tool you chose samples pixels from all visible layers, not just the active layer.

Tip: Add a border around your images (Photoshop 6.x/7.x/CS)

  • Every once in a while you may find that you have to add a 1-point border around your Photoshop files.  there are a couple of different ways you can do this.  the quickest way is to select the entire document and add a stroke around it.  To do so open the Layers palette, and if your image is on the Background layer, convert it to a working layer by double-clicking on it.  Then, click the Add A Layer Style button and choose Stroke from its pop-up menu.  In the resulting Layer Style dialog box, set the Size slider to 1 and the Position pop-up menu to inside.  Then, in the Fill Type section, choose the color you want your stroke to be.  Click OK and you'll have an instant frame.
  • If you don't want to cover up any part of your image, you can add an outer frame to your image by making the canvas larger.  First, set your background color to whatever color you want the stroke to be.  Also, for this technique, make sure your image is on the Background layer.  Then, increase both the Width and Height by 1 pixel.  Leave the remaining setting as they are and click OK.  Photoshop automatically fills the outer pixels of your canvas with your background color.

Tip: Use the [esc] key to make Photoshop behave (Photoshop 7/CS)

  • If you try to use a keyboard shortcut and Photoshop ignores it or delivers an alert message when you know the command should work, you probably have a palette option or a field active. Instead of trying to track down the interference, simply press the [esc] key and try your shortcut again. With any luck, your command will execute as expected.  

Tip: Fill your document using only key commands (Photoshop 6.x/7.x/CS)

  • There are a number of shortcut key commands you can use to fill your documents.  they are as follows:
    • If you want to fill a layer with your foreground color, press [option][delete] ([Alt][Backspace] in windows).
    • To fill a layer with your background color, press [command][delete] ([Ctrl][Backspace] in Windows).
    • To fill a layer with black, press the D key followed by [option][delete] ([Alt][Backspace] in Windows).
    • To fill a layer with white, press the letter D followed by the letter X and the [option][delete] ([Alt][Backspace] in Windows).

Tip: Keep two views of the same document onscreen (Photoshop 7/CS)

  • When retouching a photograph, it's usually a good idea to keep one view of the image at its actual size while you work on a second view of it at an enlarged size. The changes you make in the zoomed window will appear in the normal-size window. To do so, choose Window > Arrange > New Window [filename] (Window > Documents > New Window in version 7).

Tip: Hide that distracting checkerboard pattern (Photoshop 6.x/7.x/CS)

  • Working with an image on a transparent background can be rather frustrating because of the annoying checkerboard pattern that signifies transparency.  This is especially true if the image is grayscale and you're trying to do detail work.  To hide the checkerboard, press [command]K ([Ctrl]K in Windows) to display the Preferences dialog box.  Then, select Transparency & Gamut from the main pop-up menu that's set at the default of General.  In the Transparency Settings section, select None from the Grid Size pop-up menu and click OK.

Tip: Save JPEGs as PSDs to preserve quality (Photoshop 7/CS)

  • If you start with a JPEG image, perhaps from a digital camera, and alter it, don't save it again as a JPEG; you'll lose image quality every time you re-save an image in JPEG format. Instead, save the altered image as a PSD file and make a JPEG copy if you need to post the image to the web, for example. In the meantime, you'll have a good copy of your altered image in PSD format for use in other applications, such as for printing photos or using them a printed brochure.

Tip: Export layers to files (Photoshop CS)

  • New to Photoshop CS is the ability to export layers of a file to individual files by way of the Scripts command in the File menu. In the same menu, you can export layer comps (as flattened images) to flat files in any of six file formats, PDFs, or even images as a Web Photo Gallery for conversion to web pages.  

Tip: Replace old colors with new colors (Photoshop CS)

  • The latest and greatest version of Photoshop has added a new tool for you to abuse--the Color Replacement tool.  Using this tool you can make quick color changes in seconds.  To see it in action, open a document to experiment on.  Then, choose the Color replacement tool from the Toolbar (it's hidden on the healing Brush tool's flyout menu).  Then, go to the tool options bar and set the Mode pop-up menu to Color, the Sampling pop-up menu to Once, and the Limits pop-up menu to Find Edges.  Also, adjust your brush settings if necessary.  Next, [option]-click ([Alt]-click in Windows) on the color you want to replace.  Now, click on the Set Foreground Color swatch in the toolbox and choose a new color to use in your image.  Finally, just paint away the old color with the new.  It's that easy!

Tip: Open a flat version of a layered file (Photoshop 7/CS)

  • When you want to open a layered file as a flat composite instead, hold down [shift][option] ([Shift][Alt] in Windows) as you open the selected file. Photoshop displays an Adobe Photoshop dialog box that asks, "Read the composite data instead?" Just click OK and your file appears as a flattened version of the layered file.  

Tip: Open a flat version of a layered file (Photoshop 7/CS)

  • When you want to open a layered file as a flat composite instead, hold down [shift][option] ([Shift][Alt] in Windows) as you open the selected file. Photoshop displays an Adobe Photoshop dialog box that asks, "Read the composite data instead?" Just click OK and your file appears as a flattened version of the layered file.  

Tip: Make smoke with ease (Photoshop 6.x/7.x/CS)

  • Have you ever needed to add smoke to an image and struggled to come with an easy way to do so?  Well, now you don't have to even think about it.  To make instant smoke in Photoshop, first open a new document and fill the Background layer with black.  Next, create a new layer to work on in the layers palette and name the layer Smoke.  Using a small, round brush tip, paint a white vertical strip in the center of your document.  Then, use the Smudge tool to push and pull your line around until it looks like smoke.  The more you smudge, the better your smoke will look.

Tip: Take snapshots of your work for precautionary measures (Photoshop 6.x/7.x/CS)

  • When you're working on an extensive project in Photoshop, it's always a good idea to take a few snapshots as you go.  That way, if you want to backtrack or something goes awry, you can click on a snapshot and get to work again.  To create a snapshot, open the History palette and click the Create New Snapshot button at the base of the palette (it's the little camera icon).  Upon doing so, Photoshop places a saved version of your file in the History palette.  then, if you need to access that image, just click on it.

Tip: Rasterize all of your text at once (Photoshop 6.x/7.x/CS)

  • If you have multiple layers of text that all has to be rasterized, you can do it in one fell swoop.  Just choose Layer > Rasterize > All Layers.  That's all there is to it!

Tip: Helpful key commands make your work more efficient and enjoyable (Photoshop 7/CS)

  • Hold down the [spacebar] key and the current tool changes to the Hand tool. Double-click on the Hand tool and the image fills your screen. Double-click on the Zoom tool and the image displays at 100% of its size and resolution on your screen. Press [command][+] or [-] on the keypad ([Ctrl][+] or [-] in Windows) to enlarge or reduce the image and frame by preset percentages: 25%, 33.3%, 50%, 66%, etc.  

Tip: Adjust the position of a drop shadow with the mouse instead of entering values (Photoshop 7/CS)

  • As you apply a drop shadow layer style, you can use the mouse pointer and drag the position of the shadow to change its angle and distance. You can do this rather than entering number values in the Layer Style dialog box.  


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