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Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac Essential Training highlights the important features of this comprehensive image editing application. Photographer Jan Kabili shows how to use Photoshop Elements 8, along with its companion program, Bridge CS4, to organize and edit photos, build projects like web galleries and photo collages, and share photos with family and friends. Jan dives deep into the application's editing tools, which rival those of the full product, Photoshop, in their ability to take snapshots and turn them into great photos. Exercise files accompany the course.
If the main thing that you do in Elements is work with your photographs, most of the time you'll be opening existing JPEG's and other files into Elements, but once in a while you may need to start a new file from scratch, and you can do that from here in the Full Edit Workspace. You'll need a new blank file from scratch, if you're creating buttons for a webpage or a logo made of graphics or text, or maybe a scrapbook page. To create a new blank file, I am going to go up to the File menu, choose New and go over to Blank File, or I could use this keyboard shortcut, Command+N. That opens the New dialog box.
In the Name field, the default Untitled name is highlighted, and I can type over that with a more meaningful name. I'll call this 'mynewfile', and I don't have to type an extension because when I save this document later, the extension will be added to the file automatically depending on which format I save it in. Next, I'll specify the dimensions of the file. One way to do that is to go to the Width field and the Height field here, and type in the dimensions. But first, I want to make sure that I'm using the unit of measurement that makes the most sense for my output.
If I'm creating an image that I'm going to print, then I'll want the units of measurement here to be inches, which I can select from this menu. If I'm creating an image for the web or to be shown on a screen, I would change the unit of measurement to pixels. But I am going to leave this at inches. Then I'm going to type in the dimensions I want. In the Width field I'll type 8, and in the Height field I'll drag over the default amount and I'll type 10, to make an image that is 8x10 inches. Another way to set the image dimensions is to go up to the Preset menu here and click and choose the kind of document that I'm making.
So, let's say I'm making a printed scrap booking page, I'll click on Scrap booking and then I'll go to the Size menu where I have several common sizes for our scrapbook pages to choose from. I'll leave this set to 12x12 inches and you can see that those numbers are now filled into the width and height fields. That preset also set the Resolution field to 300 pixels/inch. And I'll talk about resolution in just a moment. But for now, I'll just mention that 300 pixels/inch is compatible with most Inkjet printers.
Now, if I were making a webpage layout, I would go up to the Preset menu and instead of Scrapbooking I would choose Web, and then I would go to the Size menu and choose a document size in pixels. Up here, our document size is for typical webpages and down here some common web graphic sizes. I am going to choose 1024 pixels wide by 768 pixels high, and that sets those numbers here in the Width and Height field, and sets the unit of measurement to pixels. It also sets the Resolution field to 72 pixels/inch.
But actually it doesn't matter what number is here, because Resolution in this field means the number of pixels that would be assigned to every inch, if the document were printed. So when I am creating an image in pixels, I don't have to worry about what's in the resolution field here. I am going to go back to the Preset menu, and this time and going to choose Default Photoshop Elements Size. That sets the Width and Height to 6 inches by 4 inches and the Resolution to 300 pixels/inch, which is a typical size for a photograph that you'll print on a Desktop printer.
Now let's talk about Resolution. I mentioned that in this dialog box resolution means the number of pixels/inch, and that is the number of pixels that would be assigned to every inch of this file, if and when the file were printed. Every file as you see it on your screen is composed of pixels, which are tiny squares of color information. When you go to print a document, you have to translate that number of pixels into inches, so that the printer knows how big to make the document. Most often, you'll be printing to an Inkjet printer on your Desktop, and as the generalization most Inkjet printers need somewhere around 300 pixels/inch to produce a print that looks good.
So, this default of 300 pixels/inch that comes with the Default Photoshop Elements Size is a safe number to put in the Resolution field when you're printing to Desktop printer. There are a couple more file characteristics to choose when I'm creating a new document from scratch. One is Color mode. Color mode is a description of the color model that the file will use. There are just three choices in the Color mode menu: Bitmap, which you're likely never to use, Grayscale and RGB Color. I recommended that in almost all cases you leave Color mode set to RGB Color, and that's true even if you're making a document that's ultimately going to be black-and-white, because RGB Color will give you more tonal information to work with than Grayscale.
And then there's the Background Contents field that determines what color the background layer of the new blank file is going to be. The choices are White, whatever color happens to be in the background color box in the toolbar, and I'll show you that by clicking this double arrow on the toolbar, so that you can see what's in the Foreground and Background fields at the moment. So, right now, if I choose Background Color, I'll get an image with a gold background. There's also the choice of Transparency as the background, but this isn't available when I'm using this particular preset because this is a preset meant for print.
If I'm making a graphic for the web and I'm measuring that in pixels in these fields, sometimes I will choose Transparent to make the area around the graphics see-through, so a viewer can see the webpage background behind. But I'm going to leave the Background Content set to White for now, and when I'm satisfied with all these fields I'll click the OK button and that creates a brand new blank file ready for me to start creating content.
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