Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Here at Projectwoman we’ve been busy with our sketchbooks creating some great looking hand drawn frames for Photoshop. These frames are available for Photoshop, Gimp and Photoshop Elements and we’ve included instructions for all the applications.

The frame sets sell for ninety-nine ¢ which is way less than your morning coffee — in fact you could buy three sets and have change left over.

We’ve created two sets of square frames because we think you just can’t get enough of square frames. We have a luscious floral set and a great set of speech bubble frames from our newest illustrator all ready for your photos.

There are circles, rectangles, simple frames and complex frames. Every one of them is hollowed out in the middle so that you can easily place your image in it and they are created as PNG files with opacity built into them. All you do is open your image, drag it in and it all works! And just in case you need a little more help, the step by step illustrated instructions will get you going instantly.

All the frames are lusciously sized at somewhere around 2,500 pixels in length or height so they’re a perfect size for framing all your images. Digital SLR images will pop straight into the frames and if you’re shooting with an iPhone or your brand new iPad 3, just size them down a little bit and you’re ready to go. Here are the framesets that we’ve got linked to the shopping cart page. Click a set and you’re ready to go.

Floral Frame Set

set floral 300x300l Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Simple Frame Set

set simple 300x300 Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Square Frame Set

set square 300x300 Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Circle Frame Set

set circles 300x300 Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Heavy Line Frame Set

set heavylines 300x300 Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Speech Bubble Frame Set

set speechbubbles 300x300 Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Rectangles Frame Set

set rectangles 300x300 Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Square #2 Frame Set

set squaretwo 300x300 Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Helen Bradley

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Photo fixing and painting with PhotoPad

photopad ipad opener Photo fixing and painting with PhotoPad

Download: PhotoPad by Zagg for the iPad free

This app is interesting and would be useful if it were more functional. It has a few problems and most annoying is the inability to preview changes on the image before you select them. So you have to apply the effect and then undo it if you don’t like it. It just seems a whole lot more cumbersome to use than many other apps of this genre.

The rotate tool has no grid so lining up a rotation is total hit or miss. And worse still the program adds a colored matt background around the rotated image – wtf? Most photographers won’t want an image on an angle with a colored background showing up just what you did to the image. In reality what we need and want is the option to rotate the image and, at the same time to crop or resize the image to get rid of this skewed background.

There are a range of paint tools which let you sample colors from the image or select your own color and paint onto the image. This paint goes on a layer above the image so you can erase it if desired. There are 4 brush types – soft, hard, square and line but they’re not really different enough or a wide enough range to do much – you’d go to another program if you were serious about doing real painting of an image. Here I just did some fun brush lines.

photopad ipad paint Photo fixing and painting with PhotoPad

The fixing tools are limited to color levels, saturation and hue, contrast and brightness and things like redeye.

photopad ipad fix Photo fixing and painting with PhotoPad

There are a few filters but the thumbnails don’t indicate well enough what they do so you have to apply them to the image to test them. Basically they’re a pretty lacklustre range of filters which just about sums up this app – lacklustre and hardly worth bothering with – there are far better apps out there which do all this does and more and way more to boot.

photopad ipad filter Photo fixing and painting with PhotoPad

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Find the best photo and graphic editing software

find the best graphics programs Find the best photo and graphic editing software

If you’re in the market for some new graphic software the first thing you’ll want to know is what’s the best for you. The folks at have done a lot of the work for you.

Visit the website and you can select to compare a range of applications. I’ve selected Photoshop, ArtRage and Lightroom – 3 very different applications, and then I ran a compare on them. You’ll get a heap of information including the Smart Ranking, what the purpose of the software is, the latest version and all sorts of details including ratings from the key sites such as PC World, PC Magazine, CNET and MacWorld. There’s plenty of information about supported file types, color spaces, help and online resources and whether or not the application runs on Windows or the Mac. is a great resource when you’re looking to compare different programs. Use the slideshow tab to view simplified information about each selected application and click the chart to see how the applications compare.

There’s plenty to like about this site when you need to get an overview of the kind of programs that you may want to use.

I think the interface looks a bit similar to those airline ticket site where you can sort by price, category and all sorts of things. Only here, you’ll get the best photo editing programs not a ticket to London!

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Photo-editing in Photogene

photo editing ipad photogene opener Photo editing in Photogene

Download: Photogene for the iPad $2.99

I have had Photogene now for a while but just cranked it up today to see just how it performs. I have to say it has some cool features – sort of an all-round app that could be all things to some people but which hasn’t a huge amount of depth.

It doesn’t have layers but it does have a mask you can paint on to paint on features such as the dodge and burn fixes. I got a bit confused with the presets – they are great for applying effects but they seem to have been added on rather than integrated with the program itself. It’s a minor complaint but you feel like filters and frames appear  in two different places – as regular tools and as presets. Problem is that if you use the presets you get access to some frames that you can’t get to elsewhere – which is a little frustrating if you are a DIY person and like to have better control over your images.

This image was shot in NY and I shot it specially to use for iPad editing. Here I gave it the treatment in Photogene. The image wasn’t perfectly straight so I started with the rotate tool and straightened it.

I cropped it using a 1:1 crop with the Crop tool.

photo editing ipad photogene1. Photo editing in Photogene

Then I added a vignette using the Burn brush which is a Retouching tool. The built in vignettes didn’t give me the control I wanted and being able to paint the vignette on is great.

photo editing ipad photogene2. Photo editing in Photogene

When you are dodging and burning you can change from paint to erase by tapping twice on the screen and there is an Intensity slider you can use to dial down the effect.

photo editing ipad photogene3. Photo editing in Photogene

You can also choose to see the mask overlay which helps you when you’re trying to work out where you painted.

photo editing ipad photogene4 Photo editing in Photogene

I used the Dodge brush retouching tool in the middle to lighten the image and then applied an effect from the effects collection.

photo editing ipad photogene5 Photo editing in Photogene

Then I applied a cross process effect. You can do this to the entire image or it can be painted on using the retouch tools.

photo editing ipad photogene6 Photo editing in Photogene

To finish some adjustments were made to the image saturation, vibrance and clarity.

photo editing ipad photogene7 Photo editing in Photogene

This was the end of the process in Photogene but I felt the image needed a little something extra. I saved it out of Photogene to the Photo Library.

photo editing ipad photogene8 Photo editing in Photogene

Then took it to Scratch Camera to add the final touches you see here.

photo editing ipad photogene 9 Photo editing in Photogene

Helen Bradley

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Scale a Pattern in Photoshop

pattern fill scale pattern photoshop opener Scale a Pattern in Photoshop

I use patterns a lot in Photoshop to fill backgrounds and to apply effects to my images. Problem is that ahead of time I never really know how big the pattern needs to be. If you fill an image with a pattern using Edit > Fill then you get the pattern in the image but at the size it is in the pattern swatch so you get zero control over it.

Instead, if you prefer to add your pattern in a scalable way, apply it using a fill layer. To do this, choose Layer > New Fill Layer > Pattern, click Ok and then select your pattern to fill the layer with.

pattern fill scale pattern photoshop 1 Scale a Pattern in Photoshop

You will see a Scale slider and you can use this to scale the pattern to suit the image.

pattern fill scale pattern photoshop 2 Scale a Pattern in Photoshop

If you don’t want it to stay a fill layer, right click the pattern layer and click Rasterize Layer to rasterize it so that you can then do other things with it.

While it remains a pattern fill layer you can double click the layer and rescale the pattern if desired.
pattern fill scale pattern photoshop 3 Scale a Pattern in Photoshop

Helen Bradley

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

By Helen Bradley

LR contact sheets opener e1331138212741 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Historically a contact sheet was a page of images each printed at the same size as the film negative – they were used as a reference for the images on the film roll. They were called contact sheets because the film was placed in close contact with the paper when printing them.

These days the term contact sheet loosely means an arrangement of multiple, small, same size images on a single page usually with some identifying information such as the image filename placed under the image. The purpose is to provide reference to a larger number of images. You may print them to keep or give to a client as a catalog of the images from a shoot, for example.

You can create a contact sheet inside Lightroom and here’s how to do it:

Select a template

Start by selecting the folder or the collection that contains the images that you want to add to the contact sheet.

Launch the Print module and, from the Template Browser, select one of the contact sheet options. There are a few grid layouts including two with square image cells – a 4 x 8, and a 5 x 8. There are two with landscape orientation cells – one 5 x 9, and one 5 x 11.

I chose the 5 x  8 one.

LR contact sheets 1 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Set up the print job

If you plan to ‘print’ the contact sheet to a jpg file, from the Print Job panel on the right of the screen, choose Print to JPG File. As contact sheets are just that – a contact sheet and not full scale images – select to use Draft Mode Printing to speed up their creation.

The page dimensions will be preset for 8.5 x 11in. You can set your own Custom File Dimensions but increasing the size of the page simply changes the page size not the size of the cells – you have to adjust them separately.

LR contact sheets 2 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Adding images

If you have only one image selected in the Filmstrip then the contact sheet will only display one image.

You’ll need to select all the images on the filmstrip to add them to the contact sheet. To do this, either click on the first image and Shift + Click on the last or select All Filmstrip Photos from the Use: list on the toolbar. If the Toolbar is not visible, press T to display it. You can also select Flagged photos, if desired.

The Toolbar shows you how many pages you will use and you can click the arrow keys on the toolbar to navigate the pages.

LR contact sheets 3 e1331138269451 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Add image captions

To add information below the images, from the Page panel on the right, select the Photo Info checkbox and choose the field to display. You can use one of the preset options such as Caption, Date, or Filename or click Edit to create your own field.

LR contact sheets 4 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

In the Text Template Editor, you can access to fields such as the filename, a sequential numbering or date as well as EXIF and IPTC data. You can also type your own custom text to create detailed photo info to add to the contact sheet. Here I typed some text, added a sequential number and the filename.

LR contact sheets 5 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Customize the Contact Sheet

The template contact sheets are a starting point but you do not need to strictly adhere to their design if you don’t want to and they can be easily customized.

For example, from the layout panel if you click the Keep Square checkbox you will find that in some layouts your images may change orientation so the page will be a mix of portrait and landscape images.

You can adjust the maximum cell size and width using the Cell Size Height and Width sliders in the Layout panel. As you adjust the cell size, notice that the Cell Spacing values will change.

You can decrease the number of rows and/or columns using the Page Grid options. By decreasing the number of rows or columns, you can increase the cell size.

LR contact sheets 6 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Adjusting margins

If you increase the Bottom or Top margin you can give yourself room to, for example, place an Identity Plate on the page.

Here I’ve reduced the number of rows and increased the bottom margin and added an Identity Plate from the Page panel options. In the Page panel, select the Identity Plate checkbox and then select the Identity Plate to use.

The Identity Plate will appear, by default, in the middle of the page so drag it into position on the page. Adjust its scale by dragging on the Scale slider.

You can adjust its Opacity if desired and, if it is a text identity plate (rather than a graphic), you can also select Override Color to make it any color you like.

LR contact sheets 7 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Print the result

When you’re done, you’re ready to output the result. If you selected to print to a JPG file click Print to File and type a name for the file and select a location for them. The pages will be printed to a JPG file and if there are more than one they will be sequentially numbered.

LR contact sheets 8 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Print to PDF

If you want to print to a PDF on a Windows machine you will need to have a PDF printer driver installed such as Adobe PDF or one you have downloaded from the web.

Select Page Setup, select the pdf printer driver and configure the page size so it matches the template size – such as letter paper portrait orientation. Then set the Print to: option in the Print Job panel to printer and click Print to print to a pdf.

LR contact sheets 9 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Save the Template

If you have customized a template and want to be able to use it again in future, save the design as a new template.

Click the plus symbol opposite the Template Browser panel header and type a name for your template. You can store it in User Templates or create a new folder for it. Click to create it.

In future you can save yourself the time setting up the template by starting with your customized version.

LR contact sheets 10 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Helen Bradley

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Use Lightroom Presets in Adobe Camera Raw

lightroom presets in ACR opener Use Lightroom Presets in Adobe Camera Raw

If you’re like me, you have some presets that you’ve created in Lightroom that you would like to use in Adobe Camera Raw. Unfortunately the format of the preset files in each program is different so you can’t just install a Lightroom preset in ACR. However you can make an ACR preset from a file that has had that same preset applied to in Lightroom. Here’s how:

Apply the Preset

To begin, open an image in the Develop module in Lightroom. Without applying any other changes to the image, apply the Preset that you want to take to ACR. Here I have applied one of the free Wonderland presets from

lightroom presets in ACR 1 e1331138958918 Use Lightroom Presets in Adobe Camera Raw

Export the Image

Now export the image as a DNG file so that the changes will be written to the file. To do this, right click the image and choose Export > Export to DNG and export the image to folder of your choice.

lightroom presets in ACR 2 Use Lightroom Presets in Adobe Camera Raw

Open in ACR

Launch Windows Explorer and locate the image on disk. Right click it and choose Open With > Photoshop CS5. Because it is a DNG file, it will open automatically in ACR.

lightroom presets in ACR 3 e1331139051961 Use Lightroom Presets in Adobe Camera Raw

Create the Preset

Click the Presets tab and click the Create New Preset option at the foot of the Presets panel. Type a name for your preset and then select the options that you want to include as part of the preset. Type a name for the preset and click Ok.

lightroom presets in ACR 4 Use Lightroom Presets in Adobe Camera Raw

The preset will now be available from the Presets panel in ACR and will be able to be used to adjust any image.

lightroom presets in ACR 5 Use Lightroom Presets in Adobe Camera Raw

Features not included

You should note that while most of the Lightroom adjustments that can be stored in a Lightroom Preset can also be saved as an ACR Preset, one exception is any Graduated Filter adjustment.

In Lightroom any adjustments you make using the Adjustment Brush cannot be saved in a Lightroom preset and in ACR those made using the Graduated Filter cannot be saved either. You will see the Graduated Filter adjustments that you made in Lightroom in ACR if there are any but you cannot save them in your preset as a Graduated Filter adjustment. What you can do however, is to save the settings for the Graduated Filter but not its placement as a separate setting. To do this, click the Graduated Filter icon in ACR to select the tool then click the Graduated Filter to save the settings for. Click the icon in the top right of the Graduated Filter panel and choose New Local Correction Setting and save it giving it a name.

You can apply this to an image in future using the Graduated Filter tool – just select the setting to use from this menu and drag to create the Graduated Filter for the image. The solution isn’t perfect but it can save you some work as shown here with the two Graduated Filters which are part of my Orton Preset for Lightroom. I can apply the preset then switch to the Graduated Filter and quickly apply the two Graduated Filter adjustments with their individual settings.

lightroom presets in ACR 6 e1331139121736 Use Lightroom Presets in Adobe Camera Raw

Advantages of taking Lightroom presets to ACR

One of the reasons you may want to take presets from Lightroom to ACR using this process is to take advantage of the free presets available for Lightroom. There are lots more of these than there are presets for ACR. If you use ACR as well as Lightroom then having your favorite presets available in both program will be useful.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Content aware resizing in Gimp

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale opener Content aware resizing in Gimp

In a previous post, I looked at content aware resizing in Photoshop CS4 which is the same as in CS5. I also mentioned the online application called Rsizr Today I’m going to show you a plug-in for Gimp that does pretty much the same thing.

The tool is called Liquid Rescale which you can download from here: Close Gimp, install the application and then reopen Gimp and you will see the application on the Layer menu.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 1 Content aware resizing in Gimp

This plug-in is an alternative to the crop tool. You use it to reduce an image’s size but, where the crop tool removes the data from one or more sides of an image, content aware resizing removes it from the middle of the image. This gives you basically the same looking image but smaller in one dimension. You might use this, for example, to remove some empty area from the middle of an image where the more interesting parts of the image are to either side of it.

The same tool can scale an image up to make it larger in one direction – and this time it will create extra data in the image to fill the space. You might use this, for example, where you have a rectangular image that you want to make into a square image without losing any detail.

To see how this can be done, I’ll take this beach image and size it down from 3571 pixels wide to 3000.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 2 Content aware resizing in Gimp

Open the image in Gimp and choose Layer > Liquid rescale. When the dialog appears, click the Output tab and set Output Target to a New Image. Enable the Resize image canvas checkbox and click Ok.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 3 Content aware resizing in Gimp

Set the new image width – I set this to 3000 but made sure that the link icon was disabled as I don’t want the height altered. Click Interactive and wait as the image is resized.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 4 Content aware resizing in Gimp

The program resizes the image by removing unimportant details from it and keeping what it understands to be the important bits. This is the result:

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 5 Content aware resizing in Gimp

If you find that some elements in the image are squeezed or damaged by the process, you can create a mask to prevent this from happening.

To do this, click the original image again and choose Layer > Liquid rescale and set up the Output tab options.

Click Feature Masks and, to create a protective mask, click the Feature Preservation Mask option and click New. The paint color will be set to green so select a brush, enlarge it to an appropriate size and paint over anything on the image that you do not want to change as the image is resized.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 6 Content aware resizing in Gimp

In my case, that is the swimmer at the front of the image and the lifeguard and boards at the back. I’ve added some other bits I don’t want skewed out of alignment like the vertical poles too. Anything else can be adjusted except these elements. When you’re done, click Ok.

Type the size for the new image and click Interactive and wait as the image is resized. Here I chose for the image to be reduced from 3571 to 2500 pixels wide, and the surfer, boards and flags have all reduced well. The protected areas have not been touched.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 7 Content aware resizing in Gimp

The plug-in also has a tool that you can use to remove elements from the photo. In my image let’s take out the large pole in the foreground. In this case you use a Feature Discard Mask – and paint in red over the area that you want removed from the image. Adjust the strength to the highest value, set the width value by clicking Auto size: Width so that the image is scaled to the appropriate width for the item you are removing and click Interactive.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 8 Content aware resizing in Gimp

In this case, the flag has gone but we’ve got a bit of a repair job to do with the rest of the image to fix it up. It would require some work with the clone tool to fix up the image but Liquid rescale has got us some part of the way towards where we are headed.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 9 Content aware resizing in Gimp

You can also use the plug-in to enlarge an image. In this case, we’ve enlarged the image to create a square image.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 10 Content aware resizing in Gimp

The rescaling process isn’t perfect but generally you’ll get a good enough result that with a small amount of cloning afterwards using the clone tool you’ll be able to produce a realistic result.

Helen Bradley

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Deleting catalog backup files

I’ve been talking to a few people lately about deleting catalog backup files. If you backup and optimize your catalog every time you close Lightroom then, over time, you will end up with a lot of excess catalog backups.

Each of these backups will consume disk space so the question becomes – what is in these backups? What use are they? And can they be deleted safely?

Backup your catalog

When you set Lightroom to make a backup of the catalog what it does is to make a backup of just the catalog and not your images, or your previews, or the sidecar xmp files for your raw files, or your presets. While having a catalog backup is undoubtedly a useful thing, it is incomplete so you will need to have a system backup system in place to backup what Lightroom does not.

In fact, because Lightroom’s backup is only a catalog backup, some people don’t do a backup this way and instead rely on their regular system backup to take care of backing up everything – catalog included. I prefer to at least have Lightroom do a regular catalog backup but that’s my personal preference.

Which backups to keep?

Because the catalog backup files are all stored in different folders by date they will build up over time and keeping them all is not a necessity.

Delete lightroom catalog backup 1 Deleting catalog backup files

You can be selective about which ones you keep – you should, at least, keep the most recent backups because if your catalog is corrupt you will want to be able to recover using these. If the most recent backup has issues then you would progress backwards until you get one which isn’t corrupt.

Delete lightroom catalog backup 2 Deleting catalog backup files

So, if I use Lightroom every day, I would keep the backups from this week and then one from last week and one from last month and beyond that I could feel pretty safe about deleting the others.

Delete a catalog backup

To delete a backup, locate the backup folder and identify the backup folders to delete and go ahead and delete them.

You will find your catalog backups, if you didn’t change the default location for them, in a folder called Backups inside your Lightroom catalog folder.

If you changed its location you can find the location you selected when you’re next prompted to backup Lightroom – the location is reported in the dialog prompting you to backup. Here too you can change that location if desired.

Delete lightroom catalog backup 3 Deleting catalog backup files

One issue with the Lightroom catalog backups is that the location, by default, is inside the folder that contains the Lightroom catalog. So, if the disk containing the catalog becomes corrupt you could lose your Catalog backups too. You may prefer to backup to a different disk to protect against this likelihood.

Every one of us will have different preferences for how we backup, where we backup to, the frequency of backup and what we backup. It’s over to you now – do you use the Lightroom Catalog backup tool? If you do, do you store your backups in the default location? Do you delete excess backups regularly?

Helen Bradley

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Pixel Bender Droste Filter video tutorial

droste filter pixel bender Pixel Bender Droste Filter video tutorial

I work for Practical Photoshop mag in the UK which is a totally cool job. One of the projects I did recently is creating a spiral image using the Droste filter for the Pixel Bender extension for Photoshop CS4 & CS5 – try saying that quickly 5 times!

The guys at the mag – Ben and James have added my video tutorial to the magazine’s YouTube channel. Here is the video in all its glory and I highly recommend you subscribe to the channel there are some terrific tutorials there (if I say so myself!):

Helen Bradley

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Templates in Photoshop

PS collage before after Templates in Photoshop

A short while ago I wrote an article on using templates to create a collage or montage of images in Gimp. Sometime after, the templates that I suggested you  could use were taken down from the original website.

To help out our Gimp readers, I created a new set of templates and as I was making them, it seemed like a good idea to include instructions for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements as well as for Gimp. Here, therefore is how to use a downloadable template to create a montage of images:

PS collage step 1 Templates in Photoshop

Start by visiting this site and download the template zip file:

Then unzip the templates, save them where you can find them when you need to use them and open one of them. I’ve used the template triptych.psd.

PS collage step 2 Templates in Photoshop

When you open it, you’ll find that there are a series of layers. The top layer can be disabled or deleted at this point. The next two layers are instructions for Gimp and Photoshop users. Again, you can discard these two layers.

PS collage step 3 Templates in Photoshop

Open up the three images that you plan to use for this triptych. Images that are in portrait orientation will look best but you can use anything that you like – just be aware that you’re going to take a portrait orientation slice of the image.

In the template, click on Layer A and then click on the first of your images and drag and drop the background layer from the first of your images into the main image.

PS collage step 4 Templates in Photoshop

Click on the Move tool and size and position the image so that the interesting portion of it is over the black background. Click to accept this size and positioning and then with the new layer still selected, choose Layer > Create Clipping Mask. You’ll see that your layer is clipped to the size of the underlying shape.

You can fine-tune the placement and sizing by moving the contents of the new layer.

PS collage step 5 Templates in Photoshop

Now click on Layer B and again drag and drop the background layer from the second image into this template. Again, position the interesting portion of the image over the underlying background, sizing the image if desired. Create the clipping mask for that layer by selecting the image and choose Layer > Create Clipping Mask.

PS collage step 6 Templates in Photoshop

Repeat this for Layer C using your third image.

When you’re done, you can adjust the background of the image if desired by recoloring the layer marked background recolor if desired. You can now save and print the image or upload it to the web.

This same process can be used in Photoshop Elements.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Adobe Launches Photoshop Touch for the iPad

Photoshop touch first looks opener Adobe Launches Photoshop Touch for the iPad

It has been a long time coming – way too long – but Adobe finally launched Photoshop Touch for the iPad.

I have reviewed it here for PC World and I wrote a how to for creatively editing images with it for

The app costs $9.99 so it isn’t cheap by iPad app standards but I think it is worth it. Downsides are non editable text, 1600 x 1600 px file size limit, no true editable masking tools and no adjustment layers. But it does have good layer tools (unlike Adobe Ideas you don’t have to shell out 99c for each new layer!), blend modes and it is easy to use.

Helen Bradley

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Photoshop – Replace a Face

Photoshop replace a face before after Photoshop   Replace a Face

A reader recently emailed me a couple of photographs of her children. Unfortunately, as often happens with small children, one image had two of the three children looking at the camera and smiling and the other image had the exact opposite combination – only one child looking great. Her question was – could she take the good face from one of the images and paste it into the second image.

Photoshop replace a face step1 Photoshop   Replace a Face

The answer is yes, and here’s how to do it in Photoshop without any need to cut and paste:

Step 1

Open both images in Photoshop. Drag the background layer from one image onto the other – in my case I dragged the background layer from the image with two out of the three faces correct and dropped it into the image that has only one good face.

You will have an image with two layers – the top has two good faces and the one below has the other one. Close the other image.

Step 2

Photoshop replace a face step2 Photoshop   Replace a Face

Select both layers in the image that you’re working on and choose Edit > Auto-Align Layers and select Auto.

Photoshop will now align the two layers so that the faces in both layers will be aligned on top of each other. To do this you need to have two images with very little difference between them and this image lined up pretty well as a result.

Step 3

Photoshop replace a face step3 Photoshop   Replace a Face

Click on the topmost layer and add a layer mask to it by clicking the Add Layer Mask icon at the foot of the Layers palette.

The mask is filled with white by default which means that the entire contents of the top layer is visible and the bottom layer not visible at all.


Photoshop replace a face step4 Photoshop   Replace a Face

Select black as your foreground color and choose a soft edge brush. Target the mask by clicking on it so you’re painting on it and then paint over the child’s face in the image to reveal the face from the layer image below.

Step 5

Photoshop replace a face step5 Photoshop   Replace a Face

You’ll need to make some small choices about how much of the layer below you reveal with the mask – if you take too much you can paint back on the mask with white to reveal the top layer again.

I made some small adjustments around the child’s collar to hide the fix. The red portion of the image shows the mask – I turned this on – it won’t typically be visible to you as you work.

Step 6

Photoshop replace a face step6 Photoshop   Replace a Face

Finish by taking a critical look at the final image and, if necessary, adjust the mask or add a new layer and clone elements from the layers below to fine tune the image.

I had to do a small amount of cloning of the little girl’s shirt to fix a small problem and then I cropped the image and it was complete.

The entire process took all of around ten minutes.

Photoshop Elements

Photoshop replace a face step7 Photoshop   Replace a Face

You can get similar results in Photoshop Elements 7 and above by opening the two images and choose File > New > Scene Cleaner and follow the instructions there.

Helen Bradley

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Ho-Hum to Wow! in Gimp


ho hum to wow in Gimp with LAB opener Ho Hum to Wow! in Gimp

Some time ago I wrote a blog post which involved using the LAB color space to adjust an image. In the interests of those of you who use Gimp, this blog post is a revisit on the topic of dragging color out of lackluster images this time using Gimp.

One of the hidden secrets of Gimp is that it supports the LAB color space so you can get access to the L, a and b channels in an image. This adjustment therefore produces similar results to those you can achieve with my earlier post using Photoshop it’s just that the process in Gimp is a little different.

Start out with an image that could use a color boost. This image of a statue over a door in Paris is very monochromatic so it’s a great contender for this process.

ho hum to wow in Gimp with LAB step1 Ho Hum to Wow! in Gimp

Start by making sure your Layers panel is visible – if not, choose Window > Dockable Dialogs > Layers (or Control + L) to display it. Right click the Background layer and choose Duplicate Layer. Select this new top layer.

ho hum to wow in Gimp with LAB step2 Ho Hum to Wow! in Gimp

To convert the image to LAB color, choose Colors > Components > Decompose. From the color model dropdown list, select LAB. You will want to decompose to layers so select Decompose To Layers and click Ok.

ho hum to wow in Gimp with LAB step3 Ho Hum to Wow! in Gimp

You’ll have a new image on the screen with three layers. Right now you’ll be looking at the L channel and below it in the Layers palette are the A and B channels.

ho hum to wow in Gimp with LAB step4 Ho Hum to Wow! in Gimp

Disable visibility on the L layer and click the A layer to select it. You should have a dark murky almost negative looking image on this layer. Choose Colors > Curves and adjust the curves by dragging the top right and bottom left points on the curve one, two or three boxes inwards on the grid. You can read off the values so pairs of values  like (30,0) and (225,255) or (64,0) and (191,255) are good.

You need to make sure the line goes through the middle of the grid, or you will get an unwanted color cast in the final image. This A channel controls the Magenta and Green in the image and you’re boosting it now to very high levels. Click Ok.

ho hum to wow in Gimp with LAB step5 Ho Hum to Wow! in Gimp

Repeat this by disabling the visibility on the A channel and do the same on the B channel. This is the Yellow/Blue channel. When you’re done, turn back on the visibility of all three channels. You should see no difference in the image at this stage.

ho hum to wow in Gimp with LAB step6 Ho Hum to Wow! in Gimp

If desired, you can adjust the contrast in the L channel using curves – this will give you some additional boost in contrast in the final image. The L channel is the luminosity channel and it has no color in it at all so you can create a different shape curve here and there is no requirement for the line to go through the middle of the grid.

ho hum to wow in Gimp with LAB step7 Ho Hum to Wow! in Gimp

When you’re done, choose Colors > Components > Recompose. The layers will be recomposed back into the original image.

ho hum to wow in Gimp with LAB step8 Ho Hum to Wow! in Gimp

To see it, you will need to close the LAB version and return to your original image. Because you’re working on a duplicate layer, you can now blend the top layer by selecting a different blend mode such as Overlay for the top layer and then adjust down the Opacity to suit.

ho hum to wow in Gimp with LAB step9 Ho Hum to Wow! in Gimp

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

More Flexible Lightroom to Photoshop editing

lightroom to photoshop opener e1326308705318 More Flexible Lightroom to Photoshop editing

If you work in Lightroom, at some stage you’ll probably want to take an image to Photoshop for some additional processing. How you send it to Photoshop will have an impact on the options available to you. One option in Lightroom is to take an image to Photoshop as a Smart Object and that has some advantages. Here’s how to do it and why you might consider using this feature.

Open as a Smart Object

In Lightroom, when you’ve finished processing the image and you’re ready to head to Photoshop, right click the image and choose Edit in > Open as Smart Object in Photoshop (this is available if you’re using Photoshop CS5, CS4 or CS3 – Smart Objects weren’t available in earlier versions of Photoshop).

lightroom to photoshop 1 More Flexible Lightroom to Photoshop editing

Photoshop will open with your image open on the screen. If you look at the Layers palette you’ll see the layer has an icon in the bottom right corner of its thumbnail. This tells you the image is a Smart Object.

lightroom to photoshop 2 More Flexible Lightroom to Photoshop editing

If you want to make further adjustments to the image you don’t have to start over. Instead, double click the image thumbnail in the Layers palette and the image will open in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR). The processing options in ACR are the same as you have in Lightroom so you can change how the image is processed.

lightroom to photoshop 3 More Flexible Lightroom to Photoshop editing

When you are done making changes, click Ok. The changes to the image will appear in the Smart Object back in Photoshop.

Double processing

The obvious advantage of opening an image in Photoshop as a Smart Object is being able to make changes to the image even after it has been brought into Photoshop and even after you have made changes to it – such as adding an Adjustment Layer, for example.

lightroom to photoshop 4 More Flexible Lightroom to Photoshop editing

In addition you can use this feature to process an image in more than one way and to blend the two versions together. To do this, right click on the smart object layer and choose New Smart Object via Copy. This creates a copy of the smart object layer.

Double click on the thumbnail of this second Smart Object to open it in ACR and now process it a second time to bring out detail in another part of the image. In this case I adjusted to get a better sky. When you’re done click Ok to return to Photoshop.

lightroom to photoshop 5 More Flexible Lightroom to Photoshop editing

The changes have been applied to only the second copy of the image and not the first so there is a different version of the image in each layer.

To blend the two layers together add a Layer Mask to the topmost layer – to do this, select the layer and click the Add Layer Mask icon at the foot of the Layers palette. Target the mask by clicking its thumbnail in the Layers palette and paint on the image with black to bring back detail in the layer below.

lightroom to photoshop 6 More Flexible Lightroom to Photoshop editing

If any of the layers still needs fine tuning, return it to ACR to fix it.

Because the two versions of the image are on separate layers you can blend those two layers together using a blend mode or adjust the Opacity of the top layer.

lightroom to photoshop 7 More Flexible Lightroom to Photoshop editing

When you are done, click Save to save the file, close it and return to Lightroom. Your edited version of the image will be saved in the same location as the original image and will appear in Lightroom too.

lightroom to photoshop 8 More Flexible Lightroom to Photoshop editing

If  you want to edit this image again at a later date and have the Smart Objects still in place, when you right click the image and choose Edit In > Adobe Photoshop CS5 (or CS4 or CS3), choose Edit Original.

Taking your images to Photoshop as Smart Objects gives you additional tools for working with your images in Photoshop – it’s a handy technique to add to your Lightroom/Photoshop toolkit.

Helen Bradley