Troubleshooting & Advice

 

Adobe® Photoshop® CC: The Complete Guide

 

Lesson Info

Troubleshooting & Advice

And we're back with our last session together for Photoshop CC The Complete Guide. Let's think back over what we've done. We've spent a month together. In the first week we talked about starting from zero, where, if you haven't even launched Photoshop before, you got a little bit of an overview. We got into some of the absolute essentials like Camera Raw, where I hope I can finish 70% of my images in one screen. Then we got into selections, layers, layer masks. We progressed then to week two, where we got deeper into adjustments, both tonal and color adjustments, and we started getting into retouching and blending modes. The third week we headed into filters and a lot of other features, one of my favorites though is Smart Objects, they can completely change the way you think about Photoshop. So lots of great features. Then this week we've been doing a bunch, we've been learning all about advanced layers, advanced features, automation, tips. So what's left? Well, it's our last day, so w...

hat are we going to spend it doing? Well, we're going to talk about troubleshooting and just some general advice because not everything will always work the way you expect it to in Photoshop, as you probably learned the first day you started using it. So we'll talk about what can go wrong and how might you troubleshoot your way through something so you can get it to work. We're going to jump into Photoshop, spend as much time as we can there. Here we go. I'll actually have to use my iPad here to read my notes because otherwise I will skip little bitty things of troubleshooting because I've been using Photoshop for well over 25 years that it's been out and that means that I'm so used to doing all these little things, there are little parts I can forget, so I will be referring to my notes, hence the glasses. When we talk about just working in Photoshop in general and about troubleshooting, first why don't we talk a bit about general advice in Photoshop as far as how I think. We'll review a little bit of what we've done this week as far as building up by combining a few of the features we've used in the past. Then we'll wrap up with more of the troubleshooting. Here we have an image and what I'd like to do is just talk about my general mindset in Photoshop and how I think about getting an image from its original state into something I really truly like. In this case, I was in the Galapagos islands, and I saw this iguana and what I noticed was the tail of the iguana bending around kind of mimicking the shape of the edge of this area. So I actually got down on my stomach, and with a fisheye lens, a fisheye lens is what's causing the horizon to become bent, I captured this. You've got to be careful because these little guys, they spit salty spit (laughs), but he held still for a while. Let me show you the end result though. If this is the before, this is the after. Now when you see the after right after staring at the before, it feels like the iguana sitting there is kind of odd because you're comparing it to what you saw before. Had you'd never seen the original, if you look at this image, just ask yourself: Where does your eye go first? Well, a lot of people when they see the original picture, if I don't describe it and I just put it up there as if it's nothing, they don't even see the iguana, they just see it's an interesting picture and then after a while they may notice it. But in the after, there's no ignoring it. That's because one of the things that I do when I work my images in Photoshop, at least my fine art and travel images, is I realize that there's usually a reason why I picked up my camera to take a picture, something in the scene attracted my attention, and when that happens, my eyes kind of block out other ideas and they don't notice all sorts of other details, but when I show the same picture to somebody else, they're not interested in the same things as me. Therefore, usually I like to give them a little bit of help to encourage them to look where I want them to and, often times more importantly, to not look in areas that I find to be unimportant. I do a process that I just call directing the viewer's eye and that's usually where I modify my images so that I really try to almost force the people that view them to look where I wanted them to and to ignore the stuff that I thought was unimportant. Let's look at a few of the ways that, that can be done. I'm not going to actually adjust images to show you because we've already talked in all the other lessons about what kind of adjustments we can do, how they can be applied, and all the features, so now we can talk just a little bit more conceptually about them. In general, I find my eye is usually drawn to either the brightest or most colorful area in a picture. And so, when I think about where I want somebody to be looking in my photographs, I think about what is currently the brightest area and if it's not where I want them to look, is there any way I can influence that? I could possibly brighten my subject and darken what used to be the brightest part of my picture. It doesn't always mean that my subject is going to become the brightest area, but at least I'm going to think through it. The other thing is, I'm attracted usually to colorful areas, and so I will end up going in and making sure that either my subject has a good amount of color in it, or more commonly, that the surroundings don't have as much color. In this particular case, if you look at how much blue the water was above the iguana here, the reflection of the sky in all that water, that's something where, when I look at this image, my eye is attracted to all the blue and all the detail and it runs around here, and then I notice there's an iguana sitting there. But in this version, do you see how toned down those blues are? My eye isn't as excited about those colors, instead it's searching for something of interest and it looks for it in detail and color. Very commonly, I will end up toning down the color in the rest of the image. Usually that's either with a black and white adjustment layer that has it's opacity turned really low, or just a hue and saturation adjustment layer with the saturation turned down. I'll just turn it down and say, "Well, when would I actually start noticing, "realizing this has been done, "versus just not realizing that anything has been adjusted?" I try to get it to that point where I'm like, "This is the most I think it can get away with, "before somebody might say, "wait a minute, has something been done?" Now this image, you would notice that, that guy is really standing out only if you see the original picture, I think. Otherwise, it'd just look like, "Wow, yeah he's standing there and he just happens "to look quite different than his surroundings." Let's look at some other images. I'll show you a more stylistic, it's an older image, that I did from route 66. This is an HDR image, where this is back when HDR software, HDR is when you merge more than one exposure that varies in brightness, was at its very basic stage. That was like 10 years ago, now the software is much more sophisticated, it's much easier to get a photographic looking end result. This is more back when you got things of more of an illustrative nature and when HDR was more of a novelty, when people overused it, over-pushed it, but let me show you just the part where I'm trying to direct your eye. If you look at this image and just think about what's the first thing you look at. My guess is each person might have a slightly different answer. Some would say the cool broken glass. Other people would say the steering wheel and something inside. Whatever it is, I think it's going to vary. Let's see how I could end up influencing that. For me when I looked at this, the first thing about the image that I simply didn't like, I didn't want you to be looking at, if I remember correctly, was on the dashboard. Just below the dash there is this area of just a bunch of clutter and gear under the dash, and so the first thing I did was tone that down to make it less colorful. By making it less colorful, you see the difference? I made it so it was most likely of less interest because I find most people are attracted to bright, colorful things, so if I want my viewer to be less attracted to it, I'm usually going to make it darker and/or less colorful. In that case, I ended up going a little bit darker and a lot less colorful. Then the next thing was the glass surrounding this. I felt my eye really wanted to explore it and wasn't going inside as much, inside the truck. I find that the more the color varies in an area, the more time it takes to take it in. If there's blues and yellows and oranges and all these colors, it takes a little longer to process it and the less an area varies in color, then your brain can just kind of get it, where it's just there's not much to interpret. On this outer glass, I didn't want you to spend as much time on it, and so I didn't want to have the variation of, I can see a reflection of a truck here of a different color, the hood is a different color, there's blue up here, and so on. So, I did a tinted black and white on that to bring it down to one color. That's more of an obvious technique, where it looks like tinted black and white, but the moment I did, at least from my brain, my brain would look at the glass for a moment and say, "Yeah, broken glass." But then it would be interested in the areas where it varies in color, which is the interior. I don't know if your brain does the same thing or not. The main thing is I'm trying to think through that, I'm trying to think what could I do to get the person that's viewing this image to look where I wanted them to, to whatever made it interesting to me. Then, I believe I did some more refinement. I adjusted the windows, just because that was an area I simply didn't like. The window surrounds were the rubber, they were a bit on the bright side and so I darkened them up, just so it wasn't distracting that they were that way. Then the final thing that I did was that, since I find people are attracted to bright colorful things, often times I end up darkening the edges of my picture. It's known as vignetting, and it just darkens the edge. What I find is the simpler the image is, the less I can get away with darkening the edge. If it's just a blue sky and some waves at the bottom, then if I darken the edge, you start noticing it almost immediately because where the sky is, it doesn't vary very much, but the more busy and detailed my picture is, the more I can blatantly darken the edges without people noticing it. In this particular case, if you watch the edges, I ended up darkening the edges, known as a vignette. Like that. By doing so, now, at least my brain, gets pulled to this little visor that's up here because it's the most colorful area in the image, as well as down in here and I get pulled through the broken glass mentally. I don't know if it's doing the same thing for you or not, but the main thing is I'm thinking through it, I'm trying to think, how will someone else interpret this? Because if I don't, then you're letting them be free to interpret however they want and some people are interested in the weirdest stuff, they'll be like, "The only thing I cared about "was the texture in the dirty window, or something." Then I'm like, "Well that's not why I picked up my camera." Therefore, I'm not really giving them my vision of what was there. This is just how I somewhat use Photoshop to do this. Now this isn't the actual layered file that allows me to show you how it was done. Now let's look at a few other examples where I'll show you how I structure my documents a little bit and how we've used some of the features we've already spoken about to do some of this. With this particular image, I wanted to show you how I occasionally structure a document, and that is, if you look at my Layers panel, at the very bottom of my Layers panel is my original picture. It originated as a raw file and you can tell that it is a Smart Object because of this icon right here. We had an entire session about Smart Objects, if you haven't seen that one yet, you can go back to learn more about it, but if you have a raw file and it's opened as a Smart Object, you can double-click on that bottom layer, it'll send you right back into Camera Raw, and this is done with an older version of Photoshop so that the adjustment sliders are actually called different things over there, but we can still get an idea of what it looked like from beginning to end. I'm going to go to this side menu on the right and choose Camera Raw Defaults to see what it would look like if it had never been adjusted before. You see the difference? That's my original, that's what my camera captured. Now when I look at that, my eye explores the surroundings, the area that's detailed in the doorway. I notice the kids and I glance at them for a second and then I start exploring all this detail around the edge. I'm not sure if that's what your eye does or not, but I wanted your eye to do is to look at the kids, these monks, and see the surroundings as a nice accessory to it, but not the primary thing to explore. In Camera Raw, if I choose Undo, I'll see what my end result was. This is as far as I got it in Camera Raw, which is quite a ways, but when you look at this version of it, now when you think about what do you look at, I spend a lot more time looking at the two monks that are there. I believe the reason why that is, is because my eye is attracted to bright colorful things, and so I made sure that the area where I wanted my eye to go was where it was bright and colorful and that anything else became darker, less colorful. Now this is as far as I got it here in Camera Raw, when you're in Camera Raw, if you're just opening the picture for the first time, instead of editing a Smart Object like I am right now, in the lower right you usually have a button that says Open Image. If you hold down Shift, it'd change to Open Object, and that means it would open as a Smart Object, which is how I opened it here. Just so you're aware, I'm not sure if it'll show it to me right now or not, but there's some text at the bottom of my image down here and if I click on that text, it'll bring up some settings. In one of the the settings right here, this would make it open as a Smart Object by default, that would be the default behavior, then you'd have to hold down the Shift key to open it as a normal layer instead of as a Smart Object. Therefore, the button at the bottom would say Open Object always, unless you held Shift, so that's the default. The way I got to this is at the bottom of the Camera Raw window, there's a line of text that's underlined, and I clicked on it. I'll click Cancel there to get back to this. Then, I didn't have the masking features built into Camera Raw to do what I next wanted to do, which is to get you to have fewer distractions if you were to look away from the subject. Let's see what I ended up doing to adjust this. If you look at the top of the image, I can see some yellow, a little hint of yellow in the very corner and a little bit of yellow here. Well, your eye is drawn to color and to brightness, and so even that little hint of yellow is something where your eye will most likely flick up there just to see what it is. So I had an adjustment layer called Hue and Saturation, where I lowered the saturation and I painted it in just up there. Do you see how the yellow is being lessened? Therefore, if your eye is attracted to color and brightness, now what are your only choices? The monks, right? Then I wanted to make these edges stand out and I also like to have the edges of my photograph to be the darkest areas on a lot of the images just because then your eye is drawn more to the bright center. In this particular case I did a Curves adjustment layer and I darkened, and look at the edge of the photograph. You see how that really darkened it up. I just try to make it so the interesting stuff is concentrated a little bit closer to the middle and I try to make it so the least interesting part of a lot of my images are right around the edges. Then the final thing that I did to this image is at the very top, and it's really hard to see right now, but up here there's the littlest bit of areas that are brighter than their surroundings, so the top one, just darken the very top edge. If I turn it on and off, you might be able to see it at the very top edge. If you think about what the original looked like, with the original, that one, when I looked at it, my eye explored the wood and that was the primary thing that I did, I just jumped all over the wood. But in the after, my eyes go to what I was interested in as a photographer, the reason why I picked up my camera. The stuff in the surroundings, I chose to put these two monks there to have something interesting along with them, but I didn't want it to distract from them so much and I felt that I was able to accomplish that, but only through my vision of what I could do in Photoshop. Does that make sense? So that's kind of how I think about Photoshop a bit. Let's look at another example that I think I've shown you before, but at least I can show you, in this image, when you look at it, just think about where does your eye go. My eye looks at a blatant trailer that's in front of me and then it starts jumping around to flowers, to a chair, and then the trailers in the background, and it keeps exploring. Look at my end result and tell me where your eye goes. It should, I hope, go to the trailer, the flowers, and the chair, that's what I was interested in. If we compare it to the original, part of it is what I call weeds be gone, which is pull the weeds out of my photograph. The weeds are the things that I didn't care about at the time I took the photo and I might not have even noticed at the time I took the photo, but I know if I present the photo to someone else, they have totally different interests than me and they're welcome to look at anything and they're going to start looking at all that stuff. So I ended up retouching out the trailer on the right, the trailer on the left, and this little red hose, and I wanted the area for you to look at to be the brightest part of the photograph. In this case, I put a texture over the background. What did that texture do? It made it so the color in the background didn't vary as much. If you make it so there's not as much varied color, it doesn't take as much time for your brain to absorb the contents that are there. I usually find it takes more time for me to interpret where the color varies a lot, and so I made it so where the subject of the photo is, where I wanted you to look, is where the color varies. It is also where it's brightest and most colorful. That's how I work when I try to direct people's eye to things. I'm not saying that's what you should do in all your photographs, what I'm just saying is it would be useful to think through it and to either develop a personal style is one part of it, and that's kind of my personal style is to help direct you into my photos and share my vision of what the photo should be, but part of it can just be stylistically presenting them with something different each time. But if you can get more of a unified look to what you photograph, then you'll find more people might come to you to hire you to create something because they don't see that same look in other people's images and so that's some of what I try to do. Now let's look at how some of the features we've already talked about can be used to get to different end results. This is a panorama that I stitched. It's, if I remember correctly, of the Badlands in South Dakota. I'm going to turn off the top so many layers here so we get down to the base image. That's what the original looked like and I probably could've done a lot more in Camera Raw with a modern version of Camera Raw, but this image was created a long time ago when our tools were still pretty basic. What's not important so much is that I could do better now, it's that let's look at what's in my Layers panel to see if it looks at all familiar based on what we did over the last month. First, I have a layer in here called Retouch and that gets rid of just tiny little areas. If I Option Click on it, do you see it's parts of the sky? Option Clicking on the eyeball, hides everything else. Those are most likely camera dust specks, although it could be a blurry bird flying by or something else. So you notice, I put my Retouching layer directly above the original. Then on top of that, I have a layer here that's called Mountain Contrast. I'm going to turn that on, and do you see how we start getting contrast in the mountains? That is most likely a Curves adjustment layer. When you have a panorama and you open it, you might find that your adjustment layers look different. Do you notice my adjustment layer here has a generic half black and half white icon? If you ever see that, it means that there's not enough space in the Layers panel to show you the full normal icon. If you were to go to the area below your layers and right-click and get larger thumbnails, you might see the normal icon. But when you have a panorama, often times the thumbnail images for your layers end up looking really wide, but not very tall. When that's the case, this icon might not look normal, instead it will show you the generic adjustment layer icon. That's a Curves adjustment layer. When we did Curves adjustment layers, the majority of time did I not add two dots to a curve? And they represented the brightest and the darkest areas of the part I was concentrating on. Well if I double-click on this Curves adjustment layer, I don't know for sure that it's two dots, but I'm assuming it is. Do you see two dots? I mean there is always two dots to begin with in here on the ends, but you see them down here. That means I clicked on the brightest and darkest parts of the mountains, most likely, and I adjusted it. Looking at what we have here, I made the darkest parts even darker. That also caused some bright areas to get a lot brighter. The next layer up is actually a folder full of things and it's full of adjustments. So let's turn it on and then off, and you see the difference. Well let's see if we can figure out what's in there to see if it's anything we've experienced before. At the bottom, I have a layer called Mountain Contrast, but that's the one we already turned on, sorry (laughs). Above that I have one called Sky Contrast. Watch what happens to the sky when I turn it on. Do you see it change? My guess is if I were to look at this Curve, there's going to be two dots on it. Do you see the two dots? All that is, is clicking on the brightest and darkest areas of the part I was thinking of and adjusting them separately. They're like having dimmer switches for those two areas. Next is a Hue and Saturation adjustment layer. I'll turn it on, and do you see how the sky suddenly became colorful? If I double-click on it, it's just turning up the saturation, we've done that, haven't we? Then I keep building the image. Here's a Curves adjustment layer I'll turn on, let's see what it does. It's adjusting the brightness of the sky. If I double-click on it, it's usually two dots, whichever two areas I was thinking of in brightness and fine-tuning them. I just keep building it up. Here we have one that's barely using any of the image. If you look at the mask, it's mainly black. If I hit the backslash key, I can see where it's affecting the image. You see that tiny little area? Okay, let's turn off the backslash key and see what it's doing. Do you notice that this part of the mountain range right here looks very much more orange and lighter than this side over here? Can you see that? Over there it's lighter, I'm sorry, here it's more similar. Do you see it? Well, do you remember when we were in Curves and we tried to match the color of two things? I think I had two pairs of pants and I made one pair of pants match a pair of shorts in brightness. Or I had a green sleeve on an arm and I put in a new arm and I had to get the two to match. That's the exact same technique, which means just you click on one area with Curves and it writes down the amount of red, green, and blue. You move somewhere else and you type in the amount you saw that you wanted to match. I have another adjustment layer, this one also affecting a small area. If I do the backslash, I can see it's the same area. If we were to zoom up there, it means that when I was done adjusting the brightness I wasn't satisfied with the color, so I can see it's becoming a little bit less colorful when I turn this on, so if I double-click on the adjustment layer, it's just making it less colorful. No rocket science. But then if I look at this image, do you see the blue sky? What would I do if I wanted it to not be blue, instead I wanted it to match the color that's near the sun? Well, do you remember that we've had a car before? I think it might have been a red car and we somehow shifted it to blue. The way we did it, there's multiple ways to do it, but one method was to create a brand new empty layer and to paint on that layer with the color I wanted. Then to change the pop-up menu at the top of the Layers panel to a choice called Color. Up here let's see, what would I have? If I show you just this layer, do you see it's just paint? You see the color of the paint, that color was stolen from near the base of where the sky hits the mountains. If I turn it on, look at what mode it's in. Color means use the color from this layer, but the brightness that's below. So if it turn that off and back on again, now it's feeling like its more integrated throughout the whole image, I think. Then the stuff at the very top is just very small refinements. This is when I think I'm done with the image, if I'm going to be making a print. I mean if the only use of the image is to post it on Facebook or Instagram, it's time to post kind of thing, but if I'm going to make a big print, it's time to refine it. What I would do is zoom up to 100% view and scroll around the entire image looking for any problems, any little areas that need to be retouched. I think what I noticed in this case, if I can find out where it is, is on the left side. Over here after darkening the sky so much and doing all that, I could see a little halo-ish thing where it just didn't quite look like it belonged, so this is actually a little retouching. You see how it's fixing that? And that layer is set to Color mode. So what was I doing? Well, I noticed that the color there looked like it was either green or white, or I don't know what it is, but it didn't look like the surroundings, so all I did was I created a new layer, I used my eyedropper tool and I grabbed a color either from in here or in there. I painted on that layer and I set it to Color mode, meaning use the color from this layer, the brightness that's below. So when I turn that on, it shifted the color to make it like the surroundings. But then I noticed another problem and that was also in that area, but found also up in here. This is when I'm getting really picky because I was thinking of making a big print of this. When I looked around here I saw something I didn't like. If I turn this on, you'll see the after, but do you see just that edge? It felt like it had, I just didn't like the look, so I retouched it a little bit to make it much more well-defined. And that took time. Then finally, I just realized this area right here felt different than the sides and everything else. I usually like the edges of my photograph to be relatively dark, so the attention is more in the middle, so here we did a Curves adjustment layer to darken up the top. Keep you in by the sun and such. If I double-click on that one, anytime you see all the different colors and different positions, that means I did the same technique we used to make a pair of pants match a pair of shorts, where we click on one area, where Photoshop measures the color, and we use Curves and we type in the numbers, the RGB numbers from another area. All that means is I clicked on this area near the top of my image and the numbers I typed in were either similar to here or maybe here to get that to shift. You can see how that was rather transformed. I'm just trying to show you how the same techniques we used apply. Here's another image. This one, the Layers panel ends up looking very complicated, but let's just turn it all off and we'll turn on one at a time. Bottom layer, that's one of my original pictures. With that original picture, what I ended up having is these guys were taking a break in really tall grass, so all you could see is their antlers, but they would move around every time that I would take another photograph, they'd be looking slightly different directions. You can see here they're looking in a different direction, like this guy is looking over at me. There it's a slightly different direction again, and so on. So I just took more than one photo and I decided to combine them together to get the best expression of each of these animals. Here's my bottom layer. I decided to retouch out one of those guys. Like that. That could be something like Content-Aware Fill, or something similar. As a replacement, I plopped another one in from another photograph and I masked it so that we're only using that area. If you want to see the mask, it's just that piece. But then when I did that, I noticed the colors just weren't exactly the way I wanted them. If I turn on this adjustment layer you'll see, you'll have to look at the base, look right in here and compare it to here. Look at what I did there, do you see it getting more brownish and stuff? That's the same technique I showed you before to make a pair of pants match a pair of shorts, which means you click on one area and then you grab the numbers from the other area to get the colors to match. Then I came in and put another one of these in right there on the right side. I did a similar adjustment because if you look at the base of that, it's not as yellowish as the other two. I have another Curves adjustment layer and if I turn it on and off, do you see it change? Each one of those is clipped to the layer below, see the down-pointing arrows? That's to say that it's only affecting that one layer. Then I wanted to make it so there's not something of detail near the edge of my picture because I don't want your eye attracted to the edge. I saw this dark area here that looked different than everything else, so I grabbed another portion of one of these images, or I don't remember, I might have grabbed a completely different image taken in the same location, and I've used that to cover up a few areas that I find to be distracting. At this point I'm starting to like the image and I just want to refine it a little bit. I notice that right up here in the upper right, I'm assuming this is the next thing I changed because it's the next thin I think about, this area of green looks different than it's surroundings, so I have a Curves adjustment layer right here, I just brought that in to make it look like the others. Exact same technique of making a pair of pants match a pair of shorts, if you go back to that video. Then I like to have the edges of my photograph darker than the middle, so here I vignetted it. I did it in a way where I painted just where I wanted your eye to look. It's obvious if you see me turn it on and off, but if you never saw me turn it off, it's not as obvious. Then finally, I have one final adjustment. I'm not certain what that's doing, but it might be taking this yellowish grass here and making it more like the greenish up here, I'm not certain. Yeah, okay. My brain still remembered this somewhat similar to what I have. Let's take a look at a single exposure. That's what my camera gave me. That's where Photoshop brought me. Okay? But I thought that might be helpful because we end up looking at the features in isolation, we end up doing an entire session about adjusting color, but we don't talk about how that relates to other features, so I just wanted to give you a little feeling for how I think through that. Those are the same features I use for directing the viewer's eye. I say where would I want somebody to look and I end up saying how can I use those features we've talked about to suppress the color everywhere else, maybe to enhance the color where I want them to look, and so on, that's my kind of process. So now why don't we look at some ways that Photoshop can get messed up, where you try to do something and it won't let you and how you can work around it. I'll simplify some of these documents to use as examples and all I'm going to do is merge some layers together. I'll select some layers and there's a command under the Layer menu called Merge Layers, the keyboard shortcut is Command + E and I just type that to simplify this document. The first thing that might mess you up, if you need to troubleshoot, is when you're thinking of doing something and you go to do it and Photoshop just won't let you. You see a No symbol? Sometimes when you click it'll let you know why. Here it tells me no layers selected, meaning if I look at my Layers panel there, it doesn't know what layer to put this on. But just as easily, that can happen if I tried it now, it says no layers are selected, but it's lying. What it should say is: "More than one is "and I don't know where to put the paint "you're asking me to paint with." Does that make sense? The first thing you need to do if something is not working is glance at the Layers panel and make sure that what are you are truly thinking of is active. Often times it's just that the wrong layer is active, or no layer, or more than one layer is active because there are certain things that you can't do when more than one layer is selected. I can move more than one layer, I can transform to scale or rotate more than one layer, but if I paint, in the end that paint has got to go somewhere, and it doesn't know how to put it on more than one layer at a time. The other time it can happen is if you have a different kind of layer active. For instance, if I have a Text layer in here, let's say I have a tiny little copyright notice in the corner of my picture, if I could even spell, and it's down in the corner somewhere, I can't see it unless I zoom in on the picture, so I don't know it's active. But now I try to paint on the image, or I try to come up here and do an Adjustment, why are all my Adjustments grayed out? Well, because you can only adjust layers that contain pixels. Pixels are things you can change. You could always use and adjustment layer, which goes on top and affects everything underneath, but I can't directly adjust a layer full of text. The content needs to be full of a solid color and the way I change the way it looks is change the colors in there, I can't do that. So you need to look at what type of layer might happen to be active. A layer can also be locked. If you go to the top of your Layers panel, there are a bunch of icons right here and we didn't really cover those in depth during the class, so let's take a brief look at what they do. If you ever want to know what an icon does, move your mouse on top of it and hover without clicking. You should eventually get a tool tip that tells you what it means. That means lock the areas that look like a checkerboard on this particular layer, and that's useful if you want to fill the areas that already contain something. Like you have a layer and in that layer you wrote your signature with a graphics tablet, but you wrote it in black, and you really, really wish you would've done it in red. So you turn on that icon, which means lock the empty parts of the layer, then you just go to Edit>Fill, fill it with whatever color you want, and then turn that back off. It just means lock the transparent areas, so it can be useful. If I remember correctly, there are keyboard shortcuts for filling, if you want to know what they are, there is Command + Delete, means fill with your background color. That's Control + Delete in Windows. And there's Option + Delete, which means fill with your foreground color. That would be Alt + Delete in Windows. If you want to use that feature that locks the empty parts, add the Shift key, Shift + Option + Delete, only fills the parts that already have information. We could do month-long of the Photoshop tips, I'm just throwing in a few so that you get some extra. Then other things we have up here, that ends up locking the empty parts. This one locks the actual pixels that make up the layer, that means you can't change the contents of that layer. You can't paint on it, you can't adjust it, there's a lot of things you can't do. That can be useful if you always have your original picture at the bottom and you might accidentally forget to create a new layer before you do retouching, or something like that. As a little insurance policy, you might come and tell it you want to lock the pixels that make up a layer. Now in this particular case, this layer doesn't contain normal pixels, it's a Smart Object, so some of those lock symbols might not be available, but this one contains a normal picture, it's not a Smart Object, and so I can come up here and with this, I can lock the image pixels, which means just lock the content that's already on the layer. Often times it's a useful thing to do with the very bottommost layer to make sure you don't accidentally change it. If that represents your original picture, then it forces you to do what some people call non-destructive changes, by putting them on the layers above. The other things in there is this one will lock the position of a layer. Any time you turn on one of those symbols, you will find a lock symbol over here on the right side, which will indicate it's locked, but if you're trying to move something and it won't let you, it might be that, that's turned on. We do have others. This one here is going to relate to a feature related to creating user interfaces or websites, that we didn't cover during this class, called an Art Board. But if that's turned on, it could mess you up. Then finally this one on the far right is Lock All. That's what I might decide to do to the bottom layer, Lock All so it can't change it at all. That's one thing that could mess you up, if you didn't realize that one of your layers is locked. The bottommost layer in most images is locked because it has the name Background and if you need to unlock it, just click the lock symbol that's found on the right edge of the layer. Another thing that can mess you up when you're trying to work is, if you're trying to paint on an image and you expect your paint to show up on that picture, and you paint and you don't see any white showing up on your picture. You've got to look in your Layers panel to see what's active and know that the little brackets around the corners will indicate is a layer mask active, or is it the actual image itself. So often you might be thinking about the layer mask and assuming your paint is going to show up there, but you didn't realize that you just happened to switch between two layers and those little bracket things moved over there. So you've got to glance at what you would like to have visible. I'll see if I can share a shortcut with you. It'll take me a moment to find it because it's not one that I use daily, but for those of you that do a lot of this, it might be useful. If you constantly switch between working on a layer mask and working on the image itself and you do it all the time, there is a keyboard shortcut for switching between those two things. To work on the image itself, type Command + 2. Command + 2 means don't work on the mask, work on the image instead. Command + 2, that's Control + 2 in Windows. Then Command + / will give you the mask. Command + 2, Command + /. That'd be Control + / in Windows. Just make sure that if you think you're working on layer mask, before you start painting, just glance at the layers, see what you're working on. Also you can tell what is active by looking at the top of your document right up here, see it says Layer Mask, and if I type Command + 2 it says RGB. RGB is what your image is made out of if you're in RGB mode, so you can see Layer Mask versus RGB. You don't have to have your layers open to know, you could look at the text on the end to see is it the mask or is it the image itself. Another thing that can really mess you up is that, on occasion you won't realize it, but you might have a selection active somewhere on your screen. Often times what happens is either you accidentally click when you're trying to move your mouse across your screen and you select a tiny area, like I happen to have right now, right there, or you make a selection and then later on you zoom up somewhere where that selection is off the edge of your screen and you just don't realize it's there. Whenever you have a selection, the only area of your image you can change is the area you've selected, so you might be trying to make a change over here, but it won't let you because it would only let you work on what's selected. One of the first things I do, especially when working with a student, when they say this isn't working, I go to the Select menu and see if Deselect is available. If it is, you know there's a selection somewhere, even if you can't see it, it's there somewhere. Often times it happens because you might have typed Command + H to hide the edge of your selection, and then you worked extensively painting it and all this kind of stuff, and then you just forgot that you typed Command + H. So the selection might be a blatant selection that you would usually see, but the edges are hidden with Command + H. So if you choose Deselect, if you see it available, you know there's a selection somewhere, so just choose Deselect. Another thing that can mess me up, sometimes I try to use my keyboard to do something and it simply doesn't work. Right now I'm trying to change the size of this brush by using the bracket keys, which always works. It's not working. Usually the reason for that is because something on your screen has what's known as focus. When you click on a place where you could type in text, it's known as having focus and it will remain having focus until you're done typing in whatever is there. At the moment, if you look at the top of my screen, the setting called Opacity has focus. So if I type right now, that's where I'm typing, and I just didn't realize that I'd clicked up there. So that now when I'm typing those bracket keys, it thinks I'm trying to enter them up there in that field where I usually put a number and it's ignoring what they usually would do. How do I get out of that? Well, I might not see the text field, it might so small or on the side of my screen that I don't notice it, is somehow selected. What I do is one of two things. I can either hit Escape and that aborts what I was just doing, or I can press Return or Enter, which means accept the number that's in there. Escape or Abort. If you ever find that your keyboard shortcuts just aren't working, especially things like changing brush size, hit Escape or Return, or heck, hit them both, and then try it again and see if it works because most likely whatever text field was active is suddenly going to be inactive. Same thing can be true because you happen to have made a selection somewhere and you're typing Command + T to transform it, rotate something, or do something, and then you just ignore that, it's over on the side, and you try to do something else. I want to change my brush size, or I want to switch to a different tool, or do whatever it is and it won't let you, well hitting Escape would abort that, or hitting Return would finish it. So Escape or Abort is always a good thing if things just seem to be a bit locked up because you just might not realize that you're in the middle of something that Photoshop needs you to finish before you do more. This is a common one. If you ever by chance bump the letter Q on your keyboard, Q turns on a special mode that's called Quick Mask mode. When I'm in Quick Mask mode, it thinks I want to paint on my picture to create a selection, where when I paint with black, a red overlay shows up on my screen, when I paint with white, it takes away from that overlay. But if I don't have a selection active at all and I type the letter Q, it doesn't look like anything happened, but then suddenly you might realize that a lot of features aren't available, all the ones having to do with color, because you're working on something that's a black and white thing, it's a Quick Mask, it's made out of black and white. You might realize that when you do certain things it just doesn't seem to make sense, it doesn't react the way you want. You can't see it on my screen, but if you're on a normal screen you usually can and that is at the bottom of your Tools panel, way down below, your foreground and background colors. You can almost see it. Right down here would be an icon for Quick Mask. If I type the letter Q, you can actually see it turning on and off, even on my screen, but it's being cutoff because when we do the video for CreativeLive, we artificially make the screen smaller in a way that cuts off Photoshop's interface at the very bottom of the Tools panel. But what I would do is if you notice that just stuff is not working out, it seems like nothing that relates to color is available and the things that are available don't see to do what I expect them to, just glance down there and see if that Quick Mask icon is pushed in. If it is, click on it, turn it off, or type the letter Q, that does the same thing. Another clue that you might be in Quick Mask mode is if you click on your foreground color and choose a color, like bright red, and when you click on OK, you don't get a color, it's a shade of gray. That means whatever is active right now is something that can only handle shades of gray. You're either on a layer mask, or Quick Mask is turned on. Of course you're not ignoring that, that makes you look more intently (laughs). It's just like when we passed around the stick around today with the files for class, I had a file on there called Do Not Copy This and I bet you six people opened it and started looking in there, you know, same kind of thing when I say ignore this. But if you attempt to apply a filter, and you find that, that filter, like in my case, Filter Gallery or some of these other filters, like Smart Blur down at the bottom, will just be grayed out. Lighting Effects is grayed out. If whatever filter you want isn't available, I would go to the Image menu, choose Mode, and first see if you're in any unusual mode up here. The filters usually work best in RGB mode. But then down here you have eight versus 16 Bit, and we have a whole bonus video about what that stuff means, but know that all the filters work in eight Bit, and a few of them don't if you're in 16 Bit. If you need a particular filter, if that's really important, and you're in 16 Bit, you might need to switch to eight because then when you go to Render, now Lighting Effects is available, whereas before it was grayed out. See what mode you're in and see what Bit depth you're in. As far at the mode goes, if you ever download an image from the internet and open it, you might find that all sorts of features in Photoshop don't work. If that's the case, I bet you that image is in a mode called Indexed Color. Indexed Color is a special mode mainly used for the internet. It's used to reduce the amount of information your image is made out of and you're going to find that any time you open a GIF file, G-I-F, which is what a lot of company logos are on the internet, if you do that, you open it up, just nothing seems to work in Photoshop, change from Indexed Color to RGB, then everything will become available. I teach on cruise ships, it's part of what I do, and the little map for the cruise ship is always saved as a GIF file. I download them and I want to like combine, if I'm doing three cruises in a row, I want to combine the maps to see the whole vision. But if I try to do that, it won't let me use layers if I have Indexed Color mode, so I just choose Image>Mode>RGB and suddenly it's a normal file. If you ever try to open an image in Adobe Camera Raw and it won't let you, I bet you the file has layers. Camera Raw can't work with those layered files, it doesn't know how to read layers, so you'd have to flatten the image, or use a different feature. Just so you know, in Photoshop you can go to the Filter menu and there is a filter called Camera Raw Filter. We didn't use that, but that would give you the same adjustments that you usually find in Camera Raw, but can be applied to any layer you have in your Layers panel. If you just wanted to open that image, you could click on any layer you want, go the Filter menu, choose Camera Raw Filter. If you're trying to use any particular tool and it doesn't act the way you expect it to, then there's a good chance that the options in the Options bar across the top aren't setup to what you expect them to be. If a tool is not acting the way you want it to be, go to the far left of the Options bar, where you see a copy of the Tools icon, and right-click on it. If you choose Reset Tool, it will reset all the setting in the Options bar to the defaults, and therefore, it'll probably start acting normal again because you just might have had a weird setting in there. Usually it's the Blending mode, or your Opacity is turned down, or something similar. (laughs) Here's one that I constantly get questions about and that is sometimes people will be using the Paintbrush tool, or any other tool that would usually present them with a brush, but instead they see a crosshair. Some people have had this problem where they're trying so hard to fix it, they reinstall Photoshop and it still has the problem and they don't know what to do. Well, there are a couple reasons why you might have a crosshair. The first one is if you happen to have a brush that is larger than your screen. It usually happens when you're zoomed up really close like this and you just happen to have a brush that would be larger than your computer screen. Then it's only going to show you where the center of the brush is because otherwise it would show you nothing because the big circle that mentions your brush, would be outside your screen. But the second and more common reason is if you hold down or just press the Caps Lock key on your keyboard. Caps Lock gives you a precise cursor, and so if you press Caps Lock, you get a crosshair with your painting and retouching tools. It doesn't matter if you reinstall Photoshop, if Caps Lock is still turned on, you're still going to have a crosshair. Now on occasion it still gets stuck in that mode, under not fault of yourself, just Photoshop gets tired and sticks on it, and on occasion you'll need to reset your Photoshop preferences, so just clear them up to just kind of wake Photoshop back up. You can reset your preferences when you launch Photoshop. At the moment you launch Photoshop, you have to hold down three special keys on your keyboard. The keys on a Macintosh are Shift + Option + Command. That means you click Photoshop to launch it and immediately start holding down those keys. And then Photoshop should bring up a little window that says: "Would you like me to reset the preferences?" And you say yes. But on fast computers these days, the kind that SSD drives built in, you've got to be so fast, it's crazy because it launches so quick. On Windows that would be Shift + Alt + Control that you'd hold down. Can you push the keys before you launch the Photoshop? Not usually because your operating system has different uses for those keys. So for instance, holding down Shift when you click, and then if you click again, it's just going to select and then deselect that particular thing. Shift means toggle, is this selected or not? It depends. I don't know, on Windows there's a small chance you can, but on the Mac, if I have those keys held down before I double-click on Photoshop, it thinks that I'm not double-clicking, it thinks I'm doing something else because those keys have other meanings. But you can try, just in case. There is also a physical file on your hard drive that is the preferences file and I you can find out where it is on your hard drive, you can drag it to the trash when Photoshop is not running. Then when it next starts up, it will realize there's no preferences, so it'll create a brand new preferences file from scratch. But I can't think of exactly where it's stored, I'm sure you could Google it and somebody will tell you. If you create and image in Photoshop and you end up using Lightroom to manage your images and you find that, that image will not show up in Lightroom. What you should do is go to your Photoshop Preferences, and in your Preferences, I bet you it's under File Handling, but if it's not it'll take me a minute to find it, there is a choice called Maximize Compatibility. I'm looking for it, let me know if you see it, yeah here it is. Maximize PSD, that means Photoshop file format, and PSB, that means Photoshop Big, meaning if you make massive files, you might be forced to use that, File Compatibility. Always, that's what I have this set to. With default settings, when you save a Photoshop file image, it will ask you each time you save, do you want to maximize compatibility? But there will be a checkbox that says, "Don't Show Again." I always turn on Don't Show Again and I tell it, "Yes, I want to maximize compatibility." that has to be on when you save your images in Photoshop file format in order to make them show up in Lightroom and in a lot of other programs. The reason for it is, the Photoshop file format does not have to save within it a flattened version of your image, meaning a version that doesn't have layers. It doesn't have to do that, it can save only the individual pieces that make up the layers. If you try to load that file into a program that doesn't understand layers, it doesn't know how to read those individual pieces and make the composite or the final result. So maximize Photoshop compatibility, that saves not only the individual pieces, the layers that you have within your document, but also a flattened version of the image that's sitting there just for programs that do not understand what layers are. Then they can read that in and they'll just ignore the layers. Layers will only be used if you open the image in Photoshop. Now that setting is not needed for the TIFF file format. The TIFF file format, by default, always saves a flattened version of your picture within and then it's optional to have the layered information in there, but it always has the flattened version, so there is no maximize for TIFF, it's always got that piece in there. Otherwise, if something doesn't show up in Lightroom, and you saved it into a folder that has already been imported into Lightroom, then in Lightroom, in your folders list, if you see the folder sitting there, you know you've put a file in there from Photoshop and it's not showing up, right-click on that folder in Lightroom and there will be a choice called Synchronize Folder. Synchronize Folder means compare your hard drive to what Lightroom is showing to make sure they're in sync, and if they're not, that means there's a file in there it'll realize it's missing, it will import it into Lightroom. So two things, we need to make sure we have maximized compatibility, that's for all images that are in Photoshop file format and then if it still doesn't show up in Lightroom, right-click on the folder you know it's in, and choose Synchronize Folder, or it might just be called Synchronize. If you ever get an error message that says your scratch disks are full, that means your hard drive is full and Photoshop is trying to use your hard drive to keep track of what you've been doing to your picture and it run out of space. It won't let you do any more to your picture because you want to be able to undo things, and in order to undo things, it needs to remember what your picture used to look like and it's doing that in a little file that it calls the scratch disk. If it says your scratch disk is full, the first thing that I would do is empty your trash. Whatever files are sitting in your trash you've already decided that you want to get rid of, so clear that space, that'll clear a little bit of space. Then another thing you can do is in Bridge, I think it's in Bridge, there's going to be in your Preferences, and it'll take me a moment to find it. Somewhere in your Preferences, right down here under Cache there is a choice called, so I went to Bridge, I went to the Bridge menu and chose Preferences. In Windows it would be under the Edit menu. And in the section called Cache, click this button called Purge All Cache Now. When you browse folders using Bridge, it stores some information so that if you revisit a folder later, it doesn't have to take the time to read all those files to figure out what they look like and create the previews, so it caches them, meaning stores them. That can take up some space, so if Photoshop is totally out of space, it says scratch disk is full, we need to do something to free up space on our hard drive. So we've emptied our trash, now I've gone to my Bridge Preferences and I clicked that button, that's going to make it so now Bridge is going to clear out some space on my hard drive. It's going to also make it so when I next revisit a folder, it'll take a little bit longer for the images to show up because it's got to remake the cache. Then in Photoshop, go to the Edit menu, there is a choice under Purge, and this is where we can purge our Undos, this just means our last undo, if the last thing we did was huge. I have a, I don't know, a 40 megabyte image or something and I just duplicated the layer and it wants to be able to undo that, so it stores all that memory. I could purge my very last undo, or I could purge all my undos by purging history. Had I copied a huge picture, the place it gets stored is the Clipboard and I could purge my Clipboard. I haven't copied anything, so there's nothing there right now. Or I could Purge All, and when I Purge All, that means there's just less information that Photoshop needs to keep track of in that scratch disk, so now you're hopefully going to be able to complete what you're doing. The worst time to have scratch disk is full happen is when you're done and you want to save your picture, and now there's no space on your hard drive to save it. You're like, what can I do now? That's when you empty your trash, you purge the other things, you go looking on your hard drive for all the junk you don't need. You throw it away, empty your trash, whatever it happens to be. There are a bunch of little tricks we can use related to that. (laughs) Here's one of those, if you want to mess up a coworker, (laughs) I'll show you a lot of those where if you use and adjustment a lot, sometimes do an adjustment, I don't know what I'm adjusting here, I probably should make sure I'm viewing it, I might be adjusting a mask, we'll see. Okay, you see I'm adjusting an area. A lot of people turn the Preview checkbox in their adjustments off and on to see before and after, like that. If you happen to leave it off when you click OK, that setting is sticky, meaning it will remember. So if you choose Image>Adjustments, what was I in, Levels? The next time I go in there and I try to make a change to my image, whatever I do, it doesn't matter how far I move these sliders, I see nothing. Why? Because it's not Previewing the change. I'd only see the change when you click OK. If you want to mess with a coworker, go into each one of their Adjustments, turn off Preview, click OK, then they'll be like, "Nothing's working." You get the idea, there's a whole bunch of ways that Photoshop can get in your way and that you have to think through some stuff. Now I'm sure there's more than what I've shown you here, but hopefully I've shown you a fair amount that gets your mind a little bit used to what kind of stuff might Photoshop be picky about and what kind of features could get in your way. Question or comment. She's trying to do something and when she does, it warns her that something is going to be rasterized in the process. One of the reasons that will happen is, let's say I turn something into a Smart Object, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to get the warning to show up because I've got to think through exactly when it would happen. What rasterizing means is to take away the special qualities of that layer that make it either a Smart Object or make it a shape where it's defined by straight lines, as opposed to little bitty pixels that make up an image. Rasterize means turn it into a normal layer that's just got a picture in it, just made out of pictures like a normal JPEG or something. You can manually rasterize something by going to the Layer menu, choosing Rasterize, and these are all the different kinds of things that might end up getting rasterized. Certain things would make text so it's not longer changeable, where instead it's just like a picture of text, that would be rasterizing the text. When might that happen? If I merge the layer that contains the text with another layer underneath. It can't keep it as text and also combine it with whatever that layer that's underneath is, even if it's more text, it turns it into normal pixels and that means it rasterizes. Same thing can happen to a Shape, a Smart Object, and other things, so I'd have to look at what specifically were you doing at the time it happened, but that's what it means. And there's just some things that Photoshop can't do while keeping that quality of the image where it's still text or still Smart Object, so sometimes it has to. It's simply warning you in case you want to choose Undo and try that a different way. Or maybe you want to duplicate the layer and hide the original so that you rasterize it, because of whatever feature required that, but you still have the original hidden in there in case you need to get back and use it while it's in special quality where it hasn't been rasterized. But without knowing exactly what you chose to get to it, it's hard for me to tell you exactly why it needs to, okay? And let's wrap things up a little bit. Because if you think about what we've done today, I tried to give you a little bit of advice when it comes to Photoshop, how I think about working with it. So instead of just looking at technical features that are built into Photoshop, you get more of my mindset with that. Then we looked at a bunch of troubleshooting.

Class Description

Join one of our best software instructors, Ben Willmore, to learn how to work effectively in Photoshop. Ben has made a profession out of teaching Photoshop and has been doing it for over twenty years. 

In this series, you'll learn:

  • Retouching
  • Compositing
  • Masking
  • Layers
  • Troubleshooting 
You'll also learn how Photoshop's adjustment capabilities are essential and how they go way beyond what is available in Adobe Lightroom. By the end of class, you should feel proficient in the workings of this complex program. If you've been paying for Adobe's Creative Cloud Photography plan every month and only use Lightroom, then it's time to take full advantage of your investment by learning Photoshop.

Don't have Photoshop yet? Get it now so you can follow along with the course!


Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.5

Reviews

Mary
 

Ben Willmore is exceptionally and intimately knowledgeable about Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, including Bridge and Camera Raw, and how they work together. He's also a wonderful photographer. That's great, but what's even better for us is that he's an incredible and generous teacher. He shares his knowledge and experience in an organized, thorough, thoughtful and relatable way. I envy his efficiency with words and ideas! He isolates hard-to-understand concepts - things we'd be unlikely to figure out on our own - and explains them in simple terms and with on point and memorable examples. I completely enjoy Ben's teaching methods and his personality. His admiration and appreciation of his wife, Karen, are telling of what a good guy he must be, and he's got just an overall pleasant personality. I love his amusement when something "ridiculous" happens during an edit! This bootcamp is fantastic and just what I need. It's only one of Ben's many CL classes that I've watched and learned from - they are all excellent. Thank you, Ben Willmore. (And Karen!)

Lynn Buente
 

I purchased this course ---SMART MOVE!--because, at 74, I learn more slowly and need more practice. While I've had some "novice" experience with PS, this course is moving me along in a totally different way. Most tutorials just tell you what to do. Ben tells you not only WHAT to do, but WHY (--or why not) and HOW. Understanding better can lead to using the practices in PS more fluently AND to greater freedom to be creative. I find Ben's approach to be kind of a "come as you are" session. No matter where you are on the learning spectrum, there is something to review, something new, or a brand new challenge. The relaxed manner of presentation is great, but doesn't minimize the content of the class. I appreciate the additional explanations and theory. These help to make total sense of the tools and practices of good editing. I would really recommend that, if possible, you purchase the course. The practice images, the homework, and the evolving workbook are great review and reference points. Personally, I have downloaded the classes by week so I can view, re-view, and stop, start, and repeat segments as often as I need to --which is often! Also, sometimes I like to view and work on one segment of the class at a time. My study of this course will be a LOT LONGER than four weeks, and I know I'll be referring to it as long as I'm a Photoshop user. Thanks, Ben! (And thanks to your wife for her contribution as well.)

Carol Senske
 

I've used PS for about five years in many of it's various versions. Learning on your won is a tough proposition, and I've struggled the whole time. Seeing work I admired and that inspired me to strive for great er things then not being ablr to figure out how to do them was a major frustration. The jargon was sometimes foreign, the complexity of the program overwhelming but I soldiered on and learned bits and pieces. A friend recommended Ben's course and I immediately came to CL to see what she was so thrilled about - I was amazed! Ben is down-to-earth, explains each step, gives shortcuts, defines terms, and shows how to accomplish what he's teaching. After two weeks I bought the class. I not only bought the Photoshop course but I added the Lightroom course as well. I'll do that, on my own, when things slow down a bit, and I have no doubt that course will help me even more than the PS course. I'm totally at sea with LR. I like Ben's teaching style, appreciate all the homework and extras included, and greatly appreciate the magnificent, easy to use, workbook by Ben's wife. I give my wholehearted endorsement for this course!