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There are panels and tools you will work with every day when you do digital photo restoration in Photoshop, so it makes sense to set your work area up efficiently. There are certain panels you will use consistently, day after day, project after project. These are my top three can't-do-without, have-to-be-open-all-the-time panels. The most obvious of course is your Layers panel. Keep it up at all times and give it lots of space to expand so you can see lots of layers. Your layers can add up, and then you will have to scroll a lot up and down, and you don't want to do that so much.
Another panel you want up is your Adjustments panel. This is only available in CS4 and CS5, but it's really helpful to have that right in front of you without having to go to another area to bring it up. My third must-have panel is Channels. Channels are a really good assessment tool. When I open a damaged image, I run through them really quick, just to assess the damage, and they're great to have right in front of you. Those are my must-have panels, but there are some others that can be helpful in your restoration workflow, like the Navigator panel.
This panel is really helpful if you're working on a very large file and are zoomed in close. This red area right here tells you where you are in the image. You can even move it here to find different areas. It helps you to not get lost. The last panel that I have up all the time is my Brush panel. Here you can change your brush size, change the tip, shape with scatter and texture, even change the direction--and these are just a few of the many settings in your Brush panel. Once you have the panels you will use in restoration work selected and where you want them, you will want to save them so they're available to you every time you open Photoshop.
To do this, go to Windows > Workspace > New Workspace. Then name your workspace something like Restoration and hit Save. Your custom workspace name appears at the top now and is available for you every time you need to go back into Restoration mode. You can make other custom workspaces, and you can also choose from one of the presets. When you work with the same tools and panels every day, it makes sense to have them near at hand. Become familiar with where your most-used tools are on the toolbar and customize the panels you use the most into your own personalized restoration workspace.
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