Helen Bradley - Photoshop and Lightroom tips and techniques
I'm Helen Bradley - I'm a photographer and Photoshop professional. In this Photoshop and Lightroom blog you will find powerful Photoshop and Lightroom tips, tricks and techniques that will help you get more out of both programs. You will also find step by step guides for working creatively with your photos in Lightroom and Photoshop and any other cool applications I know you will be interested in knowing more about.
Learn how to use the color sliders to get a great Black and White image
You can convert any image into black and white by pressing the letter V or select B&W. However, you can also craft your own black and white image to get a better result than you get with the default settings if you drag on the color sliders in the Black & White Mix panel.
Each slider controls one of the underlying colors in the image. Drag to the right to lighten a color in the black and white or to the left to darken it.
Using the sliders, you can get a crafted black and white image that looks the way you want it to look.
Sliders for which there is not corresponding color in the underlying image will have no effect or little effect when you drag on them.
Lightroom has two types of collections: regular Collections and Smart Collections. Smart Collections are live and they are created as a result of filtering your photos according to rules that you write. You cannot add an image to a Smart Collection by dragging and dropping it into the collection. You can’t remove an image from a Smart Collection just because you don’t want it in there – it can only be removed if it fails to meet the criteria you set up for the collection.
Smart collections are a handy way to create collections and to manage your photos and here I’ll show you how to make use of them.
Shipped Smart Collections
There are a few Smart Collections which ship with Lightroom. To find these, click the Collections panel in Lightroom and click on the Smart Collection Set. Click the Smart collection called Without Keywords. As its name suggests, this collection shows you all the images in your Lightroom catalog that do not have keywords associated with them.
If you’re like me you’ll want to close this one pretty quickly – it can be scary to see just how many images aren’t keyworded!
You can learn more about this collection by right clicking its name and choose Edit Smart Collection. You’ll see that the Smart Collection is configured to contain all those images for which the Keywords property is empty.
There are other collections which are shipped with Lightroom including Recently Modified which is a collection of images that have been edited recently.
You can, if desired, change the Recently Modified Smart Collection to span a different number of days. Click this collection , right click and choose Edit Smart Collection. You can see that the collection criteria is set to be Edit Date > Is in the last
When you do so, Lightroom checks the images in your catalog to determine which images meet this criteria and it displays these in this Smart Collection.
Make your own Smart Collections
In addition to those shipped with Lightroom you can create your own Smart Collections. For example, if you color your images red meaning a certain thing you can create a Smart Collection that contains all the images which are colored red.
To do this, click to open the Collections panel, click the plus symbol and choose Create Smart Collection. Type a name for it such as Red Images, click Inside a Collection Set and choose to add it to the Smart Collections set. From the options below select Label color is red.
Click Create to create the collection – it will contain all images in your collection which have the red label color associated with them.
Remove an Image from a Smart Collection
The only way you can remove an image from a Smart Collection is to configure it so it no longer meets the criteria for the Smart Collection. For example an image will no longer appear in the Without Keywords collection if you add a keyword to it.
You can remove an image from the Red Images collection if you remove or change its color label. When it no longer has the red color label associated with it, it will no longer appear in the collection.
Similarly, if you apply the red color label to an image in Lightroom it will be automatically added to the Red Images Smart Collection.
One of the benefits of Smart Collections is that they’re continually updated by Lightroom. So Lightroom ensures that all the images which match the criteria you use to define the Smart Collection are in that collection.
How Smart Collections differ from Regular Collections
Smart Collections behave differently to Regular Collections in a few key ways. One difference is that you cannot arrange images in a Smart Collection into your own custom order.
The collection order can only be set to one of the Lightroom default Sort Order options; Capture Time, Edit Order, Edit Time, Edit Count, Rating, Pick, Label Text, Label Color, File Name, File Extension, File Type and Aspect Ratio. Regular collections, on the other hand, can be sorted into User Order which is useful for slideshows and web pages for example.
You also cannot set a Smart Collection as the Target Collection because you cannot add images to a Smart Collection manually. It can only be added if it matches the criteria which describes that collection.
Over to you .. Do you use Smart Collections in Lightroom and, if so, how do you use them? Do you use the shipped collections or make your own?
Quickly Converting your Image to Black and White with this shortcut key
The simplest way to convert an image to black and white is to press the letter V. This is a toggle so press it once to turn the image into black and white and again to make it a color image.
You can also convert an image to black and white by clicking the B&W option in the HSL/Color/B&W panel.
If Auto is enable click it to get a black and white conversion tailored to the needs of the image.
And, if the sliders are already all at different values you can reset them all to zero by holding Alt (Option on the Mac) and then click the ‘Reset black and white mix” option. Choose which is the best starting point for your conversion and progress from there.
If Auto is enabled, click it to get a black and white mix appropriate to the image.
Here I show you how to create works of art using your images in Photoshop. Included is how to find and select texture images to use, how to blend these into the image and, how to add a lightening effect to highlight areas of the image to draw attention. Also, included is one method of adding a vignette to an image.
Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this video tutorial. In this tutorial I’m going to show you how you can make art from your photos using textures in Photoshop. Before we get started with this video tutorial let’s have a look and see what we’re aiming for. This is the image that we’re aiming for. And quite often when I’m doing these tutorials I’ll play around with a few images before I come up with something that I really want to share. But today it was just this one image, this one texture and the whole thing just blew my mind. So here it is in video form.
To start off with I’m going to show you where I got my textures because these textures are totally awesome and I love this guy’s work and I want to introduce it to you. So this is a Flickr photo stream and the guy is called Skeletal Mess. And he has a whole lot of textures that you can download. Now I downloaded this one. It’s very big but I just want to show you his set that he has on Flickr so you can see the sort of potential for what there is available. Now with this particular image I was having a look through his sets and just having a look to see what I might use. And this one really spoke to me and I’m going to show you why because we’ll go back to the image that I have and we’ll see why blue worked particularly well for this image. So let’s just wind back what I’ve done.
So I’m just going to the layers palette for this image and let’s go and create a brand new image. Okay, so here’s our duplicate image that we’re going to work with. That was what we were aiming for so now I’m going to take away the pieces that went to make up this image. Now you’ll see why I thought that that blue texture would work particularly well here because this image has no sky and if we can borrow the blue from this texture then that would give us an awesome result. We could have used this one too or this one and perhaps just rotated them. But this one really spoke to me so I downloaded that. So I’m just going to grab it now because whenever I download an image even though I can just drag and drop it into Photoshop I’ll also save it just in case I want to use it again later on.
So I’m just going to bring it in here. It’s a whole lot smaller than my image but because it’s a texture that doesn’t really matter. So now I’m going to grab the move tool and just size it to fit all the way across my image. And again because it’s a texture it doesn’t matter that it’s pulled a little bit out of square. So it’s been pulled a little bit wider than it was tall. The next thing I’ll do is just run down these blend modes and just see what it gives me because this is like totally the most exciting thing that you get to do. So I’ll just select Dissolve and then we’ll just run down these blend modes until we get what we’re looking at. And Multiply I think is probably the one I’m going to come back and use but let’s just see what there is in this list. And it was at the point at which I got to that Multiply blend mode that I thought I actually had something I really wanted to work with but you might find other things here that are speaking to you. There’s a whole lot of potential. I usually run down the list and then come back up and by then I’ve pretty much made my choice as to what is working for me. This one possibly but it’s not nearly as good as the Multiply one. So here’s the Multiply blend mode applied to this image.
Now having achieved that I thought in actual fact the middle of the image could be a bit lighter. So what I did was I added a brand new layer and from my tools palette which has gone walkabout here I just grabbed the elliptical marquee tool and just dragged out an oval on that image. I switched so that white and black would be my colors and I also added a feather to this. So I’ll choose Select and then Modify Feather. This is not a very sophisticated feather option but I’ll just add a 100 pixel feather radius to it. That just really softens this edge so now when I fill it by pressing Ctrl Backspace, Command Backspace on the Mac, it’s going to have this feathered soft edge. So now Command or Ctrl D to deselect the selection.
Now I have a big white splat right in the middle of image. That’s obviously not going to work but what I’d want to do then is to blend it in so again I’ll just select the first blend mode in the list and then just run down until I find something that works for me. And here’s Overlay blend mode. That’s lightening that image really well in the area where the lightening effect was. I’m thinking that’s probably the blend mode of choice. But let’s just go and check these others particularly in this lighter area with soft light, hard light, vivid light and pin light. You’re never really sure that they’re not going to give you something so I always run through those just in case one is better than the other. So we’re pretty much to the end and Overlay is going to be our choice. So I’m going back up to pick up Overlay. Now this is too white for me so I’m just going to drag down on the opacity of that layer just to make it a little less opaque. I’m also going to test around this area. I’m thinking that some of this lightness is coming through from this layer and it’s probably a bit more than I want.
So again I’m going to add a layer mask to this layer, go and grab a paintbrush and just paint with black with a very small opacity brush, you can see it’s only 26 percent opacity, just to knock out the bits where I think the lightening effect is too much. I really just want it on the front part of this boat. So once I’ve neatened that effect up now I’m thinking a vignette around the edge. Now there’s umpteen ways of adding vignettes. I’m just going to show you one of them. So a brand new layer, I’m going to go back to my marquee tool, this time the rectangular marquee, I’m just going to drag in around about probably an inch into the image and then I’m going to invert the selection, select Inverse so everything that was selected is now not selected.
So I’ve got this outside edge selected. Now I’m going to sample a color from the image by clicking the eyedropper. I’m thinking one of the colors around here is kind of pretty good. It’s sort of dark but not really, really dark. I’m thinking that color was pretty good. And now I’ll Alt Backspace, Option Delete on the Mac, to create that as my fill color. Now I can deselect my selection with Ctrl or Command D. Now this is not looking like a vignette but that’s fine because we’re going to again run down our blend modes and look for something that is going to give us a darkening effect at the edge. Things you would look for are going to be in this light field. Obviously Overlay is going to do it. Multiply will do it as wells. That will always darken everything up a little bit.
So they’re the ones to look out for but also look out for any surprises as you run down. You might see something that gives you an effect that makes you go oh, wow, that is just too amazing. So I’m headed towards probably Overlay. So now it’s still not the vignette effect that I want but I’m going to blur this. So with that layer selected I’m going to go Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Gaussian Blur is an awesome blur for just blurring things to almost oblivion. So here it is at zero radius effectively and now we’re just going to wind it up to soften this edge and pretty much just blend it into the image. And at some point it just becomes a really, really nice soft vignette effect for our image. So I’m just going to click Ok.
So there we have the effect. It’s very, very simple. This is a throwaway image. It’s just the sky is gone. It’s Hong Kong. It’s smoggy. It’s an overcast day. The sky is just nonexistent and I really wouldn’t have given this image a second look except that I was looking for a challenge. Add a really nice texture from Skeleton Mess free online textures from Flickr, add a bit of a highlight in the middle and then add this vignette effect and we’ve got an image that is now a keeper.
I’m Helen Bradley. Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial. Look out for more of my tutorials on this YouTube channel. Please subscribe and also visit my website at projectwoman.com for more tips, tricks and tutorials on Illustrator, Photoshop, Lightroom, iPad and a whole lot more.
How to use the Color sliders to change color and remove color casts
When an image has a colorcast or a color that you’re wanting to play down in it, select the Color option in the HSL/Color/B&W panel. Here you can select the color to minimize the impact of and reduce its impact by dragging on the Saturation slider to reduce its saturation. Drag to the right on the Luminance slider to lighten the color.
This tool also allows you to take one color and alter its hue. So, for example you can target yellow and drag it towards green or towards orange by dragging on the Yellow Hue slider. In this way, any color in the image can be adjusted to one of its adjacent colors.
Five Must Know Features of the Photoshop Brush Tool
Brushes are used a lot in photo editing from removing blemishes and smoothing skin to dodging and burning and painting on masks. Here are five important features of the brush tool in Photoshop.
1. Adjust Size, Opacity and Hardness from the Keyboard
When a brush is selected you can adjust its size without having to open the Brushes palette by clicking the [ and ] keys on your keyboard.
Provided a brush is selected you can change its Opacity by typing a number. For example, type 5 to set Opacity to 50%, type 1 for 10% and 0 for 100%.
To adjust the hardness of the brush hold the Shift key as you tap either the [ or ] keys on the keyboard. Each tap increases or decreases the hardness by 25% in the range 0%-100%. The results of doing this are harder to see as there is no hardness indicator on the tool options bar. However, if you have the Painting Cursor set to Normal Brush Tip in preferences you will see a difference in the brush size as you do so
2. Save the Brush
When you have a brush configured with your preferred settings, save it as a Tool preset. To do this from the Brush Preset list in the top left of the screen click the Create New Tool Preset button and type a name for the preset. Click Ok.
In future you can select this saved preset from the list and just start painting with it.
3. Disappearing Brushes
One of the very annoying things that will happen to most of us at one time or another is to have the brush appear to disappear. Instead of the regular brush cursor which shows the size and style of the brush you will see a crosshair cursor.
The issue is not with the brushes themselves but is with the Caps Lock key. If you disable Caps Lock on your keyboard the more visual brush cursor will reappear.
4. Paint a Straight Line
To paint in a straight line, click at one end of the line, hold the Shift key and click at the other end of the line. This draws a continuous brushstroke between both points.
If you adjust the spacing of your brush by using the Brush panel Spacing option to make it more than 100% you can create a line of dots this way.
This can also be used to remove power lines with the Spot Healing Brush Tool. Click at one end of the power line, Shift + Click at the other end to paint a straight line over the power line and it will be removed automatically.
5. Quickly Show the Brush Panel
You can quickly show the Brush panel so you can choose a brush to use by first selecting a tool that uses a brush such as the Brush Tool, Dodge, Burn, Eraser tool and so on.
Then right click on the image and the brush panel appears automatically. To select a brush and exit the panel in one step, double click the brush to use.
And now it is over to you. What other features of Brushes do you think are valuable for photographers to know?
Change the Tone Curve to allow it to behave as a draggable Point Curve
In Lightroom, you can make the Tone Curve behave as a Point Curve clicking the Click to edit the Point Curve indicator at the foot of the Tone Curve panel.
When a tone curve is set to be a point curve you can drag on any point on the curve to adjust the tones in the image at that correspond to that point on the curve.
With the point curve selected, click on the Targeted Adjustment Tool in the top of the Point Curve dialog and drag on the image to lighten or darken the image at that point. Drag upwards to lighten, down to darken.
To delete a point on the curve, hold your mouse over the point, right click (Command + Click on the Mac), and select Delete Control Point.
Using the Tone Curve, you have the choice of preset settings: Linear, Medium Contrast or Strong Contrast. Use these as a starting point for adjusting the image.
Select the starting point then drag the Highlights and Lights sliders to the right to lighten these areas. Drag to the left on the Darks slider to darken the Darks. To bring detail out of the shadows, drag to the right on the Shadows slider.
When you’re printing, you’ll want a good range of tones across your image from the blackest of blacks to the lightest of lights. Use the Blacks adjustment slider to ensure that you will have some black tones.
To see the blacks in the image, hold the Alt key (Option on the Mac) as you drag on the Blacks slider and stop when you see the first few colored pixels appear on the screen
Learn how to create a layered image effect that can be reused any time. The process can be done in most versions of Photoshop and it uses smart objects, simple to create clipping masks and some layer blending. It is pretty easy to create and can be used over and over again.
Hello, I’m Helen Bradley.
Welcome to this video tutorial. In this tutorial I’m going to show you how you can create a quick cut and layer image effect that’s sure to turn any image into something that looks just a little bit more spectacular.
Before we get started with this project let’s look and see what it is that we’re aiming at. Here is my original image and this is the effect we’re going to create. We’re going to create a number of layers or what look like layers of the image and we’re going to blend them together. Now this effect is customizable.
It’s really easy to select one of the shapes and to move it so that everything gets rearranged and it’s also really easy to replace the base image. So let’s get started. And I have a new image to work with here. I’m going to start by converting the image to a Smart Object.
So I’m going to right click the background layer and choose Convert to Smart Object. And now we’re going to start adding our layers of shapes. So I’m going to click to add a new layer. Let’s get my tool bin. I’m going to select the Rectangular Marquee tool. And let’s create a shape. I’m going to create this big rectangle here.
With this layer selected I’m going to make white my foreground color and Alt Backspace, Option Delete to fill the shape with white. Now in each case I need the layer and the image so I need multiples of this pair of image. So I’m going to right click and choose Duplicate Layers and click Ok. Now I’ve got my second shape up here.
I’m just going to turn off my images so that we can see the shapes alone. And I’m going to move this shape out of the way and I’m just going to resize it to a different size shape here. I’m going to select these two layers, right click and duplicate them again. And now I’m going to this top version and I’m going to again alter it a little bit.
You don’t have to alter it. You can leave it exactly the same shape if you want to. Select the two layers, right click, Duplicate Layers, click Ok, again selecting this top one and just moving the shape into position and resizing it to suit. Now that we’ve done this we can start to create the effect.
And what we’re going to do is we’re going to crop these images. So I need one more of this Smart Object layer so I’m just going to duplicate this layer once more and drop it on the top. Now I’m going to create a clipping mask. So with these layers all visible and all selected first of all I’m going to select the topmost layer and I’m going to choose Layer > Create Clipping Mask. And what that does, let’s just have a look, is it clips the top layer to the shape and size of the layer below.
So when we turn these two on and create a clipping mask here, Layer > Create Clipping Mask, we’re going to get a built up effect. Let’s do that again here and create a clipping mask. First of all we need to turn these two layers on and then with the picture layer selected we can choose Layer > Create Clipping Mask or you can do it using the keys.
What I do is hold down Ctrl and Alt, which is Command and Option on the Mac, and just hold my mouse over the intersection between these two layers until I get this icon and then click once. Now I find that a whole lot easier and you may too if you create a lot of clipping masks. It’s really important that the clipping masks are filled with white.
Now in normal circumstances it doesn’t matter too much what you fill your clipping mask layer with but in this case it’s going to because we want to reduce the opacity of the layers a little bit so that we can see some of the background through. And so when we add two layers together, when we overlap two layers, we’re going to get a darkening in the area where they overlap.
So first of all I’m going to adjust the opacity down a little bit and now I’m going to select all of these layers by Ctrl or Command clicking on each of them in turn and set their blend mode to multiply. And what that does is it multiplies the fill layers so that the layers are built up so that we get some overlap between these layers so we can start seeing where they’re overlapped.
And from here you can just tweak the effect to darken or lighten the individual layers as you want to so that you get the effect that you’re looking for. And you can also fill in the background. So we can add a new layer, drag it to the very bottom of the layer stack and then fill it with whatever we like. I’m actually going to sample some of the yellow color from this leaf and with the layer selected I’ll Alt Backspace on the background layer to fill it with that.
But I could also fill it with a gradient. I could do all sorts of things. Now the important thing to know is that once you’ve created this effect it is fully customizable. So it’s very easy to replace this image with another image. All we need to do is to right click the layer, one of these layers that is a Smart Object, any one of them will do, and choose Replace Contents. So now what I’m looking for is an image to replace the contents with.
The image doesn’t have to be in the exact same proportions. We were using a landscape image but these are square images. But they do need to be good size images. So I had a really large image that I was working with so I want this image to be nice and big. And this one is 3,100 pixels so it’s pretty big. So I’ll select it and click Place and when I do it’s replacing the original image.
And I may want to adjust the opacity of these so that I get the effect that I’m looking for. For example, I mightn’t get enough of a layering effect without adjusting the opacity. And I may also want to adjust the background of this image to give it a darker background in these circumstances.
But it’s very easy to just reuse all of the basic work that you’ve done with this image and just replace it with another image. So I’m just sampling a color to use, Alt Backspace to fill the background. And there we have our effect. You could also use a color for these clipping mask layers but be aware that any color that you use is going to come through the images.
So let’s just make black our foreground color. Let’s just target this particular layer here and I’m going to Alt Backspace to fill it with black. Well you can see that the multiply effect has totally blackened that out. But if I use a sort of fairly light color here, well this is sort of a pale blue, but you’ll get the same effect, and fill it here you’ll see that we get a slightly darker look.
So we can darken this and have an effect on the image. The darker the color we use we’re going to not only see the color itself or example if we use pink we’re going to see the color through the image but we’re also going to darken up the effect.
Now it would be possible for example to choose different colors. So I’ve got some pastel colors that I’m filling these with. Let’s go for a sort of pastel blue here. And you can see the effect that it’s having, well I chose the wrong layer there. Let’s just undo that. Let’s go to this one and actually select the layer and fill it with a pastel blue.
So you could do that as well. And of course any time you choose to replace the image these color layers are going to stay in place so that you’ll get the effect on the new image that you’re replacing this one with. So there’s plenty of creative possibilities here in creating a layer image effect in Photoshop.
I’m Helen Bradley.
Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial. Subscribe to my YouTube channel so you’ll be advised when new videos are released.
And visit my website at projectwoman.com for more tips, tricks and tutorials on Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, Photoshop Elements and a whole lot more.
Understand the differences between Vibrance and Saturation
The difference between Vibrance and Saturation is often misunderstood. If you drag the Vibrance slider to the right, you increase the saturation in under-saturated colors in the image. Fully saturated colors are adjusted less and skin tones are protected.
In contrast, increasing the Saturation boosts the saturation across the entire image which can destroy skin tones and which can oversaturate already saturated colors.
Typically you’ll use Saturation if your image needs an overall boost to all colors and use Vibrance to boost under-saturated colors.
Recover Detail with the Recovery Slider for Clipped Highlights
When you have clipped highlights you can recover detail from them in Lightroom 3 if you hold the Alt key (Option on the Mac) and drag on the Recovery slider.
As you do this you will see the clipped highlights in the image and they will disappear as you drag to the right. Do not adjust the Recovery slider any further than you need to to recover your clipped highlights.
In Lightroom 4 you can achieve the same effect if you hold Alt or Option as you drag on the Whites slider – the whites are the lightest portion of the image.
Exposure vs. Brightness vs. Whites Vs. Highlights – Understanding the differences
When you increase Exposure, you’re increasing the exposure across the image and the entire histogram will move to the right. When processing it is best to adjust Exposure until the histogram moves to the right but stop short of clipping the highlights. So make sure the right hand side of the histogram doesn’t hit the right wall of the chart.
Brightness in Lightroom 3 is a midtone lightening tool, which protects the highlights more so than Exposure does. So, if you can’t get the image bright enough without blowing out highlights using Exposure, adjust the Exposure but without blowing out the highlights and then use Brightness to lighten the image further.
In Lightroom 4 you can adjust the Whites slider to lighten the whites or the Highlights to lighten the next brightest areas of the image.