Basics of Adobe® CC: Photoshop®, Illustrator® & InDesign®


Lesson Info

Use Basic Layers in Photoshop®

This is Shot and I would like to use this in one of my layouts. But the problem is, is that, this has a white background on it. So if I were to place this in the illustrator or in the inDesign, probably place it in inDesign, I wouldn't want that white background. Because if I brought it into something it had a colored background, like this, and I wanted to put that in there, that would look really bad to have a white background in there like that. And it's like, that's not what I want, right. So I need to get rid of that white background which is very important thing to do. And somebody said, why can't you just shoot a transparent image? Well, it's always gonna capture what's behind it. So, every time I bring in something like this, if I want nothing behind there, I will need to get rid of all of those pixels to truly make it transparent. And I need to select those pixels that I want to get rid of. And actually get rid of them. So, the magic wand tool is where that works great. And the...

magic wand tool works when I click on a pixel here, it's going to go ahead, and based on my tolerance of my tool right here, it's going to go in and it's going to select pixels that are like or unlike itself. When I do this, a very low tolerance like a tolerance of zero, has no tolerance than any other pixel that we click on. So, if I click on a solid color background, I can set a very low tolerance so that it only targets those pixels. The higher the number, the more it's going to include pixels that are not like itself. So I would like to just get my white background. And I can click on there with a low tolerance and it only selects those pixels that I click on. So I clicked on the white background, low tolerance, it only look for white pixels going all the way around. So like, awesome, love it. And now I would like to get rid of that white background so that I have nothing on there so that when I bring it into my document, I can see what I'm doing. So, in order to do this, if I just click delete here, it's just not going to work for me because I have to introduce layers in the Photoshop. So, I'm gonna need my layers panel. And I go on my window Menu and call up my Layers panel. Every image that I shoot, or bring in, is always going to be, what we call a flat image. There's nothing else related to it. And in my layers panel, I have my picture here, and it's called, the background because it's a solid image. If I would like to go in, and I would like to delete pixels completely, so that they're gone, I will need to take this solid image here and I will need to turn it to a layer so that it can make the background transparent. So I can then put things underneath it if I want. Or layer things on top of it, which is what I would do when I was doing photo compositing. So, I need to do a selection around the area that I like to do something with. In this case, I would like to delete. So, I can go to my layer here and I need to turn this into a layer in order for this to work. It will not work if it's not a layer. If I hit delete, it just comes up and it doesn't delete it. It comes up with with fill, it's like I just want to delete. In all the other applications, I hit delete, it just takes it away. But until this becomes a layer, you cannot go in and delete the content. So I go to my layers panel and I'm gonna click on that lock and it's gonna unlock my layer and it now turns into a layer. It says, it's a layer. And I wanna be able to go in and I want to get my selection here and I wanna be able to delete. So now that its a layer, everything that's inside my selection, if I hit delete, now it all goes away. Awesome, I love it, great, great, great. Then I needed to make sure that I deselect under my select menu. Cause I can't have my selection active. Cause if it's active, I can only do what's inside the selection. The people got hung on that very quickly. They're done with their selection and it's like, oh, I'm done. Now, when you're done with painting, you gotta peel the tape off. Same with the selection, make sure you turn your selection off because if you try to do anything, it will be isolated by that selection. Now, that I've gone in and I've gotten rid of my background, the only way I can do it is by turning into a layer. Now, with this object on the layer, this opens up a whole new world of working with Photoshop. Now, I can move this around, I can transform it, I can flip it, rotate it, peel it, however you want to do it. But I can now also introduce other Photoshop files into here that I can put in front of or behind and begin to layer and composite my file. Now, when I'm working with layers, the tool that I work with all the time, when we're dealing with the illustrator, that was our selection tool. In Photoshop, it's the move tool. Same shortcut as the Illustrator, same location, and this is your fork. So, whatever I'm doing anything with layers, anything, it's gonna be the move tool. Because I'm gonna wanna move what's ever on that layer. When I have an object on the layer now, and I use my move tool, I can move that all around. If I wanna make it larger or smaller, simple, I go under the edit menu, and I can use my transform and I can use all sorts of transform. Scale, rotate, skew, distort, you name it. Simple, I can choose scale, I get my bounding box, and just like I scale another applications. I can scale this anyway that I want to or you wanna keep it in proportion, hold down my shift key. Can make that larger, smaller. When I'm done with the scaling, I'm not done. I have to either confirm that I'm done with it or cancel out of it. If you're doing something wrong in Photoshop, it freaks you out, the escape key, releases you of everything. If you're done with what you're doing, you have to set your transformation. I can't go on because all of the sudden, I try to go on, all my menus are gray, I panic. Well, I did my transformation but I have to go ahead and set it. Up in the control bar, I can click okay or cancel or I can hit escape, or simply hit return or double click inside and I set my transformation. If i wanna rotate something, I'm gonna have to go on the transform menu. Quick shortcut, you can use this all the time. Command or control T, transform. That calls up your transform dialogue box, rebounding box, I can hover on the outside. And I can rotate this all the around. I can scale it, but a great trick with this, if I wanna get into all those different modes of transform, right-click on the inside here. and now, I can skew distort, warp put in the perspective, all of these. So I can distort my donut anyway that I want to. Go crazy with it, make it look like it's going off into the future. Flatten the whole thing out there, you know, do some stars of trailer, land far far away, and there it is, you can do this. If this isn't what you want, and you don't wanna set this, hit escape, put you right back out of it. But I can do perspective, I can distort, I can rotate, scale, flip everything by doing this with the transform. But I have to be in my transform mode in order to do that. If I like it, I click okay. If I don't, I click escape and I get back. But every file that I come up with, if it's shot and I load it from my camera, it's always gonna have a background in it. To get that background out, I have to select what don't want. I have to turn it into a layer and then I hit delete, and then I now have a layer with a transparent background. Things can go behind this, things can go in front of this. And now, I can begin some of my compositing. Had a question? Yeah, this question had come in when you're talking about that background layer. Why aren't you not using a copy of the background layer. I thought we always had to do command J to work on that as a background layer. (laughs) So it's interesting when we're dealing with layers here. People have a lot of different beliefs. So, here is a flat image. And people think of the background layer is something sacred and something wonderful. It isn't. It's just the way the files come in. There's nothing special about the background layer. So, one way that people do this is they go in and they copy this layer, if you watch the Illustrator segment, we know that if you hold down option or alt and you click and drag, that allows you to go in and copy the file. You can double click on this as well. You can go ahead and click on the unlock and get that too. Other people will right click and then duplicate the layer and once you duplicate the layer, then that becomes an actual layer and then I could move that around and do that. I can't do that with that with the background layer. And, I think some people live in the background preservation society. There's nothing special about the background. It doesn't do anything for you. It doesn't save anything special. It doesn't give you bounty points. It, that's just how it starts off with. If you do create a copy of it, it always creates a layer cause we can only have one background or one foundation layer in there. But it really doesn't matter. If I go in and I turn this into a layer, do you see what changed? Nothing, exactly. There's no big deal about it. There's a lot of other ways you can turn into a layer, but I don't need two of everything. So, yeah, easiest way, just unlock that layer and now you have your layer. So there you have it. But, I would like to take this now and I would like to bring this donut into my other one and start creating some type of composition. So I have this donut and I need to get rid of the background. So I can use my selection or I can actually select the background. It's already a layer so when I hit delete, that checker board pattern tells me that this is a transparent background. There's no pixels whatsoever which means if I go in here and I want to do something with this, I don't have to worry about anything, whatsoever being behind it. But now I need to get this into my other Photoshop file. So, I can use my move tool here and this is a little bit tricky. A lot of different ways you can do this. One of the ways you can do this is, here's my other donut that's open. And here's the one that I just worked on. Simple way of doing this. I can take my donut with a move tool. And because it's a layer, now, I can do anything I want to with it. I can move it around. If it's a background layer, I can't touch it. I can't move it, I can't put anything behind it. I can't delete the content, nothing. I wanna bring this into my other file so I can begin stacking these and layering these. So I take my move tool, I grab my donut. And I take my cursor and I move up and I touch the tab of where my other file is. Switch this over to that file. And then the key to this is you have to drag your cursor back down in the window. You can't let go on the tab. You have to drag it into the window. And when I do, it now brings in my donut as another layer. The rule of thumb with Photoshop is, whenever you copy something, and you paste it, it always puts it on its own layer. You ever take any other file from another Photoshop file, you drag it in, it always puts it in its own layer. Layers in Photoshop absolutely critical. Absolutely necessary. Everything is based on layers. You can double-click on the name of your layer and name it whatever you want. Can't spell ... And now you can name your layers. Select your layer, then what's ever on that layer, you can move around. Do whatever you want with. You can also change the order of your layers by clicking on your layer in your layers panel. Bring it at underneath the other layer, on top of the other layer as well. I'm gonna drag my bacon in here too because bacon is so good. I grab my bacon here and I'm gonna bring this in. Here's another way that you can do it as well. You can go in, I have a lot of tabs open here and I don't know where my other tabs really are. By the way, if you have lots of tabs open, a trick with any application. Go in to you window menu, and these are all of your opened windows right here at the bottom. So if you're trying to find what you have opened, that's how you find out under your open window. Since I've so many files open here, I would wanna be able to go in and take this file. Copy it, and bring it to the other one. I don't know where my tab is, so trying to find that tab is an issue. So I'm gonna go to my layer that I would like to bring into another file. This one, I've already gone in and I've already taken the background out of by turning it into a layer, selecting that background and deleting it. And then, being able to have this on its free and transparent layer. When I right-click on this layer, I'm gonna duplicate this layer but what I can do is I can duplicate this layer and send it to another open file. If I only knew what open file it was, I think it's this one. Is it? Hopefully that is. And then, if I go to that file, I have opened, (exhales) there it is, look at that, it came in. I was lucky. Naming your files is a really good thing. So now, I can have multiple layers in here and with each and every one of these, I can move this around, I can do my transform, command T to make them bigger and smaller. And I can move that all around. Plus, I have other things that I can do with my layers. One of the great things is, I can control the opacity of everything on the layer. So, if I have my chocolate one, I can go where I can control my opacity so I can make it somewhat transparent. Isn't that great? We can do that. Here you go, kind of dozed it back a bit, if you want to. Yeah, layers, there's layers on top, that one's on top of the other one. I can drag those around, move those around, wherever I want to. You'll see that each one has this checker board which means that, that checker board allows anything that's behind there to show through. Another cool trick in Photoshop, but this only works in Photoshop. We have a lot of areas where we can go in and scrub on things for the size or the opacity or whatever it may be. And going through the drop down menus and using these little sliders are real pain to go in and adjust all that. But Photoshop allows you to, and you can just forego that, I'm gonna zoom in on this so you can see. I'm gonna hover over the actual word and I get my little finger scrubby. So I can actually go in and I can scrub back and forth on the word. Sort of using the drop-down menu doing that just go back in the word and scrub back and forth. Only Photoshop allows to do that. I know, totally awesome finger scrubby. And no matter what you use, even though, whatever you have, any tool that you use, you can just go and you can finger scrubby any place where you see a value in there. I know. Now, going in and using your layers for composition, we can also turn on or turn off any layer by going in and poking that layer in the eye. We can also go unlock that layer so we can't move it or edit it as well by using our lock feature. Unlock it just by unlocking it there as well. The key to layers, make sure you have the layer selected. One of the things with Photoshop is kind of odd. You can turn on and turn off a layer and you think, oh I turn that layer on, I haven't selected, no you don't. You gotta go in and you gotta select like that layer. I don't know how many times I do that, I turn it on I think, oh that layer's selected. No, it's not, it's on and when you go in to move something, all of the sudden, it's like the wrong layer. You gotta select the layer in order to do that. Pretty simple. If you want blank layers, you may wanna go in and put a color behind this. At the bottom of the layers panel, I have a blank layer, I can click on. Calls up a blank layer. I can fill it with a color. I can fill it with a pattern or texture. I do that very easily. Go into the edit menu and I can choose fill. I have my layer selected. And I can fill it with black, white, gray, background, foreground color pattern or a color. Choose a color, go on to my color picker, get a color here. Click okay, fill, there it is. Hides everything because this layer is on top of absolutely everything. I can drag that layer down so it's behind. Behind everything as well. If I would like to go in and I would like to put color on only one section of that layer, I could go in and I could put a selection on that layer, right there, that layer selected, I put a selection. What's inside the selection is what I can affect. What's outside the selection is left out. So if I want to put a different color in here, I could create another layer if I wanted to. But I would like to affect just this area. So I could go into the edit fill, and be able to fill that with the color as well. Put a different color, like so. And because I have my selection, it allows me to put that right in. Now, dealing with type in Photoshop. Because type is one of those things that I wouldn't recommend doing in Photoshop. But we can do things with type that we can't do in other applications. The problem with type is, is that, if we've taken to Photoshop and we saved this file and we use it, the bigger and bigger we use it, the worse and worse the type is going to get. So, we aren't going to get clean type in Photoshop. It just doesn't work. But if I need to, I can take my type tool and type in my headline. And with that, if I look at this, this is all pixel based, it looks really good. But the reality of it is, I always have it made of pixels. If I use this really big, the type is gonna look really jagged and really crusty. Usually small type, it looks horrible. So, you can use type, people do, they build posters. My recommendation is if you are gonna use type inside of Photoshop, go ahead and only use it in Photoshop is if you are actually going to integrate it with the image itself. Not just putting it on top but you actually want to go in here and for some reason, you can only do this in Photoshop so you're picking the color and you decide to do some wild and crazy thing with it, and boy is that hard to read. Yep. There we go. And then, you want to be able and go in and you wanna use some type of blending mode here where it goes in and creates some kind of, you know, crazy visual effect that you can't get any other way. That's when you wanna use it. So people do use Photoshop to create posters but when it comes the fine print and stuff like that, that's where I would draw the line. I would save this file. I would then bring it into inDesign and put all of my other type on it in inDesign so that I can scale this Photoshop file. I can use it very easily, can edit it in inDesign. But now if I wanna put type and any other graphics in there, I don't want to put it in Photoshop because if I have a logo from Illustrator, I bring it in here, it's no longer vector, it's no longer scalable, it's a fixed size. So if I make it bigger, it only gets worst. So, with this great basis to go ahead and start with. If you go back to the cheesecake picture where you Sure. outline the strawberries. Yes. Like, so let's say it, well, it's a pretty simple picture but there might be more complicated selections that you might have to make. Yes. Is there a way to save that selections? So you don't have to keep redoing it if you wanna change it. Absolutely, cause one of the things with selections is, whenever you select something and you're done with it, the second you click off it, it's gone. And there's nothing worse than spending a lot of time creating a selection and then having to go and redo it. Cause if you've done a good job the first time, save it. And you can save the selection under the Select menu. Amazingly enough. And we have the Save Selection portion where we can call the selection up at any time just in case we need to use it in the future. And when I save this, we're gonna save this selection. And I'm gonna call this strawberries and I click okay. And now, if I go about my business, and I go and I deselect this so I no longer have an active. And I go and I do something else with this and I adjust my image overall and work with that, it's like, okay, there it is. And I'd like to go back, I can do is go back under my select menu. I can load my selection back, I can click okay. And I have that selection back for future use. It's just one of those nice things to have. Alright, great. Well, first of all, I wanted to give a shout out to ME McNeil who said, "I've been using Photoshop for years but Jason always teaches me something new." So (laughs) Awesome. Fantastic. I did wanna go back, a question had come in when you were actually in the first lesson. You were showing us how to do more the adjustments. And a question had come in about trying to understand the difference between clarity, sharpening, de-hazing, and contrast in Photoshop. Those things that kind of seem similar and knowing when to use what. Yeah, so, every image is different. So when you start off when an image here, a lot of it comes from experience. So I know this is a basics class but as we start off with here, if I look at this image here, one of the things is that, I can see the strawberries are in focus but the whole thing is kinda soft overall. There's also a fairly blue cast to the plate. It's a little bit warm in the background but it also has a lot of blue to it as well. And so, it really isn't crisp. We don't have that sharpness to it right there. So each one of these things can be addressed slightly with different tools in order to go ahead and fix this. First of all, I would start off with the contrast. I'm going in and using my levels. Going under image adjustment levels. I would go in and I would adjust my levels to get the contrast. Contrast being darker darks, lighter lights. And then the brightness or the darkness overall by controlling my midtone sliders here to get the contrast looking, good. Now, in this case, I run into this problem where there's a lot of difference between my shadows and my highlights. Now I have a really bright highlight in here as well and a really dark shadow. But I also have this blue in there as well and it still kind of out of focus too. So, using my selection methods here, I can target certain areas in a very loose way. And I could go in with my selection tool and I'm going to just very loosely put a selection around the area that I would like to target. Now, right now, this is a very hard edge. So if I were to go in and I'll just show you how dramatic that hard edge would look, that's what it would look like and it's like okay, that doesn't work. But my refine edge helps me go in. And if I go into my refine edge, using the feather command here, I can see what that selection looks like. So I can get a better understanding of how the selection would work. When I just go in and draw a selection, it's gonna be very hard edge. But in this case, i wanna take out the blue out of this area here. And I don't wanna just, I mean there's no way I can select the blue because it just fades. So I draw my selection, and I create a very soft transition between that selection edge by going in. Creating the selection using my refine edge and feathering that selection. And it shows me very clearly just how that's going to feather out. It doesn't look any different but the result is very different. Then, if I go under the adjustments here, and use my levels, I'm gonna target my blues because it's very blue right there. I know by using a highlight, I'm gonna add more blue or I can take out the blue here. And I can take out the blue and turns a little bit green. So I can go in and take out some of the green as well. And kind of lessen that and you can see how I can take out the blue and the green to help reduce that. Because this is a soft transitional edge here, I don't get a hard edge here, I feather the edge, nice soft transition. This allows me to go in and target areas without making it look like I took a pair of scissors or literally taped off the area. So this is how we could go in and do this sort of thing with it. So, is should have gone ahead and clicked okay with that. So let me adjust that back, gonna take out some of the blue. I'm gonna take out some of the green as well. Kinda darken that down, there we go. Wanna do the same thing with the center here. I'm gonna put a selection around the center. And I'm gonna go to my refine edge. That would look really goofy if I just adjusted it there. So I want to feather this edge or creating much more blend effect with my selection. Don't have to have a hard edge selection. But I can do that, so now, when I do my color adjustment, it's gonna go and give me a very soft transition. So, I'm gonna go under my Image Adjustments and I do levels. And now I can go in and I can darken that area a bit. And you can see how I can darken that and get rid of my glaring highlight right there. So it's not as intense. And then of course, always, go in and deselect. So, a little bit better. Still a little bit of a hotspot in there. But overall, it's starting to work a little bit better. So I don't have to just go in and target an entire channel. Now, I can use my selections. So I have a little bit better tonal range but I'm still I'm not totally digging the out of focusness with it. And I'd like to just go in and sharpen this ever so slightly. And I can go in and I can apply sharpen filter. We're going in, and go under the Filter menu. And I can choose, I'm gonna go in and, sharpen. We have lots of different sharpens here. We have smart sharpen. I've used this for a long time. So I use what's called unsharp mask. An unsharp mask actually calls up a dialog box so I can then move my picture around in here. And I can see what the sharpening effect actually has. And really what the sharpening does, is it finds any pixels that meet at the edge of something. And all it does is it just goes in the very edge there and it creates darker darks and lighter lights, right at the very edge. You know, like you're driving over and hit the little expansion joint, it just goes ahead, and just at the very edge of those pixels, it finds the contrast, and it just gives you more contrast there. It gives the illusion of sharpening. So, if I click on something like this, and I go, and I can do the sharpening here and I set the radius, you can see what it looks like before and after on my preview of how much you sharpen them. So I can do that substantially. I can oversharpen it so it looks super sharp right there. And you can see, how it makes it really crisp. This is oversharpened at this point. But it really helps to bring that out. And then you get this kind of glowing edges, and that's one of the oversharpening effects that you get. The great with this though is that you can sharpen within a selection. I don't have to do it overall. I could go back to my save selection. I could load that selection and only sharpen in certain areas. So, maybe I'll just wanna go in and I wanna sharpen everything in my file here, around there. So that all these gets sharpened but not the very front of my cheesecake. So I can create a selection there. So that everything inside the selection will be sharpened but this is sharp enough. So I isolate that area. I soften that edge we don't have a very defined edge. Then I can go on to the Filter. I can go into Sharpen and I can sharpen this area to bring up the sharpness there and again this is way over driven. Once you start seeing what I call, this is what I call the nuclear glow, once you start seeing that, then you're getting into way over sharpened with your object. But I can sharpen that a bit and help bring that in. And I can go ahead and deselect. So now, I can see what that looks like. Helps to sharpen that in, right there. Now, we have both vibrance and we have Exposure as an adjustment. Exposure is an overall adjustment. Overexposed, underexposed. So we can use this and I can go in and do the exposure, of course, this is going to do it overall. I don't like this as much simply because I don't quite have the control with this. And being a basics class here, getting into exposure offset and gamma correction, people were like, I have no idea. So, people tend to use that is more like guess work. And then the last one I had is, going in and actually saturating things. Going in and using the Vibrance, Vibrance is quite interesting because vibrance actually goes in and starts to saturate certain colors. And I can't tell you the exact technical term of what vibrance does but saturation is gonna go in and it's going to take and it's going to really saturate the colors. And it kinda gives you that like fluorescent glow. But vibrance does that and in much better way without giving you that kind of fluorescent glow around those things. So, I can make it more vibrant or less vibrant. And it's using saturation but it isn't using saturation in kind of like an extreme way. But I can add a little bit of vibrance there and it will add a little bit more boost to the colors. Instead of kind of making everything really glow and jump out at you. So, adding vibrance to something that's kind of dull can definitely work. Sharpening can also work but also going in and getting a little bit more contrast. So if we use our cupcakes here, and this probably will work very good with vibrance. If I go into Vibrance here, I can go in and you can see how I can really bring those colors out. Surprising how great that really looks. And I can do that overall. If I wanted to get really technical, I could go and I could isolate the cupcakes by themself. And then i can go in and make those more vibrant as well. If I use saturation though, it's gonna be much more extreme. You get that really fluorescent glow overall. But vibrance is gonna be a little bit more controlled and just kind of boost those colors in a really nice way without having to use any type of levels or curves or anything else. But vibrance works really awesome.

The Adobe® Creative Cloud is a robust set of tools that can answer any number of design needs. It can, however, seem confusing to the new user in terms of when to use what program for which project. Jason Hoppe, an Adobe® Certified Expert and trusted CreativeLive instructor, is ready to clarify the process and help you dive into each of the Creative Cloud design tools.

He will teach you how to integrate Adobe® Photoshop®, Illustrator® and InDesign® into a more streamlined and easy to follow workflow, as well as:

  • When and why to use Photoshop®, Illustrator®, and InDesign® 
  • How to create shapes and lines in Illustrator®
  • Manipulating images and basic color correction in Photoshop®
  • Build multiple pages and layouts in Indesign®
The class also comes with 13 in-depth Quick Reference Guide Bonus Materials and downloadable assets so you can follow right along with Jason step-by-step.

Learn how Adobe® Creative Cloud can empower your design sensibility, work more efficiently, and save you time. 

Don't have Adobe® Creative Cloud yet? Get it now and save 20% so you can follow along with the course!

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.1.2, Adobe Illustrator CC 2015.2, Adobe InDesign CC 2015.2



  • Such an important overview that clarifies and simplifies each piece of software and its role in achieving a beautiful and organized end result. Love Jason's brilliant and funny style and I appreciate his going into the "whys" of the software design evolution so it's not just memorizing methods but truly understanding what you can do even with a eye to the future changes. Fascinating, fun and empowering! My first Creative Live purchase!
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