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In Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training, Jan Kabili highlights the key features of this comprehensive image organization and photo enhancement application. She shows how to correct and enhance photographs, and how to organize a growing collection of digital photos. The course also explains how to use photos in creative projects like photo books, calendars, and greeting cards, and how to share work online and in print. Exercise files accompany the course.
There are some photo problems that are so common and frequent that Adobe included some tools in the Quick Fix workspace designed specifically to fix those problems. The tools are located here in the toolbox. These are called the Touch Up tools. The first of those tools is a Red Eye Removal tool. I'm sure you've seen red eye in some of your snapshots of people. It's the red glow in a person's eyes that's caused by on camera flash. The easiest way to remove that is to select the Red Eye Removal tool and then to go up to the Options bar for that tool and click the Auto button there.
Now keep your eye on her eyes and you'll see the red in her eyes automatically replaced by dark gray. If you get a result that you don't like, you can always undo it and try to apply this tool manually. I'll undo by clicking the Undo button at the top of the screen and her red eyes are back. Then I'll go up to the Options bar for the tool. Here, I could darken or lighten the gray that's used to replace the red. In this case, I might reduce the darkness of that gray. You can also change the size of the area that's filled with dark gray increasing or decreasing the Pupil Size option.
I'm going to leave that at its default. Then I'll move into the image. Now exactly where I click on her eye can change the results. I'll click on one eye and then I'll click on the other. So that's the Red Eye Removal tool. There's another Touch Up tool that comes in handy when you're retouching portraits and that is the Whiten Teeth tool. This tool has a really subtle effect because you don't want people's teeth to be so white that they are glowing, but it does help reduce the appearance of yellow stains on teeth. I'm going to zoom in, so that you can see that better by clicking the Zoom tool here in the toolbox and then clicking on the image.
With the Whiten Teeth tool, I'm going to move over the image and right away, I can see that my brush tip is too big. I want the brush tip to just cover her teeth, not her lips as well. One way to change the size of the Brush tool is to go up to the Options bar and click the arrow on the Brush picker and then to move the Diameter slider, but the problem with that is you don't know how big or small to make the brush. So I recommend closing the Brush picker by clicking in a blank area and then coming into the image and using this keyboard shortcut to change brush size on the fly.
This is a shortcut you'll use not just for the Whiten Teeth tool, but anywhere that you are using a brush type tool in Elements editing workspaces. So here's the shortcut. I'm going to press the Left Bracket key on my keyboard which is the key just to the right of the P key and each time I press that key, the brush gets a little smaller. If I wanted to enlarge the brush, I would press the Right Bracket key. Now that the brush is the right size, I'm going to click and drag and that creates a selection over the girl's teeth. At the same time that the selection is created, an effect has applied inside the selected area and that effect is to whiten or lighten the teeth.
Now I can see that I didn't make a very careful selection, I've included some of her lip as well. To remove that area from the selection, I'll go up to the Options bar and there I can see that by default, the Add to selection icon is selected for this tool. I want the Subtract from selection icon. So I'll click on that one and then I'll come back into the image and I'll carefully move over the area that I want to remove from this selection and that's all there is to it. Now I can deselect by pressing Ctrl+D on the PC keyboard or Command+D on a Mac keyboard.
Now that's a really subtle effect, but it has reduced some of the yellow in the teeth. The next of the Touch Up tools is called the Blue Skies tool. This is a tool designed to make a dull sky look more blue. To show you that, I'm going to open another image by double-clicking it here in the Project Bin. It's typical that you'll get a really light sky like this if you're shooting during the day in bright sunlight. To make the sky a bit more dramatic, I'm going to select the Blue Skies tool in the toolbox and then I'll move into the image, I'll make my brush slightly bigger by pressing the Right Bracket key and then I'm going to click and drag over the sky and as I do, the sky is selected based on its color and tone and at the same time, a gradual darkening effect is applied inside that selection only.
I can see that I missed a bit here, so I'll just move over this area and click and drag and that's added to my selection. I'd rather not include this boat in the selection, so I'll go up to the Options bar and as for the Whiten Teeth tool, there is an Add to selection icon targeted by default, I want to select the Subtract from selection icon and then I'll move into the image and I'll click and drag over the boat to subtract it from the selection. Now I'm not being as careful as I would be if I were doing this for real, but I wanted you to get the idea of how the tool works.
I think that the Blue Skies tool can often make an image look artificial. So let me show you how you can modify its effect. To do that, I have to exit the Quick Fix mode and go into Full Edit mode. So with the selection still active, I'll move over to the column on the right and I'll click Full and it opens the image in Full Edit mode with that Blue Sky effect applied. If you look in the layers panel, you can see how the effect was applied. It was added as a separate layer above the Background layer that contains the photo.
That separate layer contains a blue-to- transparent gradient and a layer mask that is hiding that gradient from all of the areas except for the selected sky. We'll learn more about layers and layer masks later in the course, but for those of you who know a little bit about it already, I wanted you to see how this effect works, so that you can lessen the strength of the effect by selecting that Blue Skies layer and then going up to the Opacity field at the top of the layers panel, clicking on the word Opacity and dragging to the left to reduce the opacity of this layer and that will reduce the strength of the blue sky effect.
So now it is darkening the sky a bit, but I think it looks more natural. I'll go back into the Quick Edit mode by clicking click Quick, here at the top right of the screen and there is my final image. I have one more Touch Up tool to show you and it is this tool which will convert an area of an image from color to black-and-white. I am going to open another image for this tool, double-clicking it down here in the Project Bin. What I'd like to do here is to make all of the background black-and-white, but leave the old mailbox in color and that will set the mailbox off from the background.
I'll select the Black And White tool and then I'll move into the image and click and drag. This tool works on the same principle as the Whiten Teeth and Blue Skies tool. It selects based on color and tone and at the same time that it's selecting, it's applying an effect, in this case, converting from color to black-and-white. I see that I have gone a little too far and included some of the schoolhouse in my selection, so I'll go up to the Options bar where again I have a Subtract from selection icon. I'll select that icon and then I'll move into the image and go over the areas that I want to subtract from the selection.
If I go too far like this, I'll switch back to the Add to selection icon in the Options bar and move my mouse over that area again. I would continue to fine-tune up here as well, but for now, I just want you to see how this tool works. I'll press Ctrl+D on my keyboard, that's Command+D on a Mac keyboard to deselect. So if you have a photo that has red eye or in which the subject's teeth are discolored or in which there is a sky that's too dull or a photo in which you'd like to convert part of a scene to black-and-white, then head for the toolbox and try out one of the Touch Up tools that I just showed you.
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