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Home / Tips and Tricks / The basics of photo editing: 6 tips for polishing and perfecting finished images

The basics of photo editing: 6 tips for polishing and perfecting finished images



You have many choices among photo editing programs, whether it be Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, Paintshop Pro, GIMP.net and more – all of which now have very similar feature sets. These basic photo editing tips will help you work in almost every application available.

Working with layers in photo editing

"Magic" in Photoshop and its clones is the Layer feature. It is analogous to color separations, where each of the four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) in the four color process is printed on separate plates and then printed on top of each other to create a full color image. Each "CMYK plate" is a layer in the four-color process.

When you open a photo in Photoshop, it only has one layer, the background layer, and it's called a flat image. If you use the Lasso tool to outline a tulip in a field of many flowers, then cut and paste the tulip into the same photo, Photoshop pastes it as a new layer, displays it in the layer palette, and names it layer 1

Right-click this box, select Layer Properties and enter a new name for this layer.

Each time you cut and paste a flower from the photo's flower field, Photoshop creates a new layer so you can edit, resize, resize, add a filter as a watercolor or a style from the style palette, or a dozen other features. Only the "selected" layer is affected. This way, you can apply different effects and filters to each separate layer – and a mistake on one layer does not affect the other layers.

Why you should keep your original intact

The first, most important tip I can share with you is this: Never edit your originals. Always make a copy and save that copy as a storage file, if possible, because layers can be adjusted and edited individually.

The best layer formats are PSD (Photoshop) and TIFF (tagged image file format). All popular photo editing programs will either Save as or Export to one of these two formats.

Why not save images as JPG? Because JPG is a "lossy" format, which means that the image is compressed, which creates smaller file sizes (to accommodate applications with limited resources such as email and mobile phones). Each time it is saved again, the image quality deteriorates a bit and it does not support layers.

The remaining image formats, such as BMP, GIF, PHG, EPS and more, are not suitable "working" formats. In other words, they are not suitable for editing images.

NOTE: RAW and DNG are in a completely different class of formats, usually used by professional photographers and are not supported by all phones, cameras or applications. [19659012] Resizing images without losing image quality

Resizing the image – or making images smaller – is no problem. It is the size of up that destroys everything. When you try to make images bigger, the pixels explode, creating fuzzy glosses around everything. This is called photo compression noise or pixelation.

To avoid this, is never enlarged without adjusting the pixels to compensate. For example, if you have a 4×5 inch photo that is 600 pixels per inch (or 2400×3000 pixels) you can enlarge the image to 8×10 if you reduce the pixels per inch to 300 (note that the pixels are still 2400×3000) and loses no image quality. If you enlarge to 8×10 and leave ppi at 600, the image will be slightly blurred and will continue to do so each time you try to resize without reducing ppi. / IDG] above is an example of resizing; that is, the number of pixels in the image does not change and; therefore, image quality remains intact. Re-sampling changes the image by adding more pixels (upsampling) or subtracting pixels (downsampling), which means you add or remove information and details from your image. Unfortunately, this is not an exact process, so Photoshop offers three options for resampling: Bicubic, Bilinear or your nearest neighbor. There is no "right way" or "right answer" to this process. All you can do is experiment and save the image with the best results.

How to remove recorded backgrounds

Editing unwanted background images is always a challenge. You can use the Polygonal Lasso tool to select objects in the foreground, then flip the image to make the background the active layer, and then press the Delete key. Or, you can cut and paste the image into a new layer and choose a special effect to fill the background, such as Gaussian blur or Exercise blur, or choose a nice filter.

  01b lasso tulips JD Sartain / IDG

Use the Lasso tool t o remove recorded backgrounds

Another option is to use the pen tool to describe the object and create a clipping path . When the object has been fully described, press and hold the Ctrl key and simultaneously click on the vector mask in the Layers palette. Marquee surrounds the selected area. Move the cursor to the background layer, invert the image, and then press the Delete key. Both options give the same results and both are fairly easy to perform, so it's just a matter of personal preference.

You can also use Magic Wand for images with distinct light and dark areas. This can be difficult and often selects areas that you do not want selected. But you can use it for the large areas and then fine-tune it with Lasso.

How to use the Clone Stamp to smooth and polish surfaces

The Clone Stamp tool, not to be confused with the blur or smudge tool, is about the correct brush style, brush size and location of the brush. The brush should be smaller than the eraser head for a pencil (size 40 for a photo of 8×10, 300 ppi is good), round and slightly blurred. The location should be as close to the stamped area as possible.

  03 use the clone stamp with a fuzzy brush for faces Gabriel Silvério / Unsplash

Use the clone stamp with a small, thin brush to edit the faces.

Place the brush on the surface you want to clone (for example, a smooth, smudge-free part of the face). Press the Alt button and click the mouse once. Move the tool over a dotted area and click again. The stain disappears.

If you want it to look natural and consistent, you must stamp the tool in a clean area directly above, below or next to the stain. Otherwise, the skin tones fluctuate too much, and the results start to look "stamped and mottled." Our sample removes the spots and freckles only, but it still needs an image adjustment feature such as skin smoothing to blend the cloned areas more evenly. [19659034] How to save blurry, out-of-focus images

For this process you can use a Sharpen / Sharpen More filter, but note that every time you use it the image becomes grainier and starts to look like sandpaper. It is not necessarily a bad thing if you like "artistic" photos. Most programs even provide multiple "Grain" filters as part of the Special Effects package.

  04 for blurred images use a sharpening filter or a brush pull filter Roksolana Zasiadko / Unsplash

For blurred images, use a Sharpen, Artistic, Style or Brush Stroke filter.

You can also use one of the many artist filters, Brush Stroke or Stylize filters, which make the photo look like a painting. Based on how much out of focus the original image is, and how much you really want to keep that specific image, a "painted" filter can actually enhance the original photo.

Learn more by exploring and doing

In addition to these basic tips, learning more about photo editing is as easy as exploring and playing with your software. For example, have you ever noticed the border of purple light around the objects in your pictures? It's called Purple Fringe, and it's now easy to correct. Chromatic removal of aberration (caused by lens distortion), backlighting and a variety of distortion corrections such as Barrel, Fisheye, Depth of Field and Pin Cushion are now easy to repair. Explore your photo editing software selection to find the features to correct these flaws.

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