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Beginner Photoshop Troubleshooting

Lesson 5 of 5

Common Troubleshooting Techniques in Photoshop

Ben Willmore

Beginner Photoshop Troubleshooting

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

5. Common Troubleshooting Techniques in Photoshop

Lesson Info

Common Troubleshooting Techniques in Photoshop

And we're gonna kind of back up a little bit and go to some of the basics too because there are just some general things that mess people up. So first you might notice when you upgrade Photoshop, that on occasion, the way Photoshop looks changes. And one change that happened when they upgraded Photoshop, added new features to it is the little tabs that are found over here, where all these little panels you can get to. Suddenly all these tabs became taller. So that they took up more space and there's a setting where you can turn that off. And I wanna show you where it is. If you go to the Photoshop menu on a Macintosh, that's where you'll find preferences. In Windows, you'll find preferences under the edit minu. And then in here, I believe it's under the sub-category of workspace, you're gonna find a choice and it might not be in a workspace. It took me a second to find it but it's called large tabs. I'm gonna turn that on and watch what happens on the right side of my screen, right ove...

r here where you find things like layers, channels, all that kinda stuff. When I turn on large tabs, do you see how much taller they are? Now as far as I know the reason why they made that change and this is the default when you install the newer versions, is because now a lot of people are using Photoshop on a touch device like a Microsoft Surface device, and if you have the small tabs, it's hard to get your finger in there or tap on those tabs. But if you're using a mouse, and a normal desktop machine, then that takes up a lot more space. And so if they, in newer versions, put that in and it bugs you, go to your preferences, it's under workspace and it's called large tabs. Another thing related to this is if you've used Photoshop for a long time by chance, another change that they made is at a certain point, they made it so if you open more than one document at a time, they show up as those tabs. If you hate that and you're used to other programs that you use where every document is a separate window that you can drag around on your screen. First know that you can still open more than one file here. I'm gonna go open a couple more. And they show up as tabs but you can still tap on the name of a tab and drag down and you can get it to be a floating window like this. But then, there are some things that can mess you up. Do you notice that I have two of these as floating windows, like this, but one of them still is up here docked in as a tab. If I click on that tab, where did my other documents just go? I know I had three documents open. Usually when I have more than one document open, I can see three different tabs, I can switch between them, or if I'm used to working in a program where there are separate windows, I'd still see 'em here, and I don't. Well, if you go to the window menu, at the very bottom of the window menu, it will list all the documents you currently have open. So if you need to switch to one of those other documents, choose it from that menu, and it should come to the front where you can see it again. If I click on that tab again, switch to this other document, it's been behind that. You just can't see it. Now if I grab this tab and pull it down, so they're all separate windows, you'd think you'd be able to see those other documents, but I can't. So if I come here to the bottom of my window menu, I can get the others to come through. But it was weird that they were just gone. Now when you have it like that where there are separate, floating windows, if you happen to click on the name of one file and drag it near the top of your screen, you'll find a blue box appears around the area where the tab's interface would be, and if you let go, that's gonna go back into a tab. And suddenly I can't see the other files. So there's a keyboard shortcut you might wanna know about. It's a keyboard shortcut to switch between open documents. And what it is is control tab on both Mac and Windows. If I press control tab, you see it brought the next image to the front, I hit control tab again and it brought the next image to the front. Control tab. And if you happen to have like 30 images open and you type control tab one too many times, meaning you're just one away from the image you really wanted, you can do shift control tab to go the opposite direction through the open images. Now if you, just messes with you to have these tabs and you always are dragging things around like that, to view them as separate documents, so you can see them side by side, maybe compare them, then you should know in your preferences, there is a setting that you can change. I just went to the Photoshop menu, I chose preferences and I'm in a section of preferences that's called workspace. Do you see here a checkbox called open documents as tabs? If I turn that off, now whenever I open more than one document, they'll always show as separate, floating windows. I can also turn off this check box called enable floating document window docking. And if I do that, then if I ever drag one of my documents near the top of my screen, remember when I got that blue box and it suddenly became a tab? It wouldn't do that. Instead it doesn't matter where I drag 'em on my screen, it would never be a tab. So now with it set that way, if I close these documents and open some fresh ones... Just double-click on those. Do you see how they're all opening as separate windows? And if I drag them around near the top of my document or near each other, they're never gonna combine together and show as little tabs. And that can be useful if you ever need to compare your images and you just need to do that quite frequently, then those tabs can get in your way. But I got used to the tabs over time so I don't mind going in here and having those settings turned on. But I hate large tabs. (chuckles) Okay let's look at other issues. Sometimes you'll have an image that is relatively colorful. You see this one here? I'm not sure if you're aware of it or not, but when you're in Bridge, which is the program I'm in right now, it comes with Photoshop, it's what we use for browsing our images, you can press the space bar to preview an image. Hit the space bar a second time and you get out of that preview. Well look at the difference between this image and this one. They're actually the same image, but there's one thing that can cause the colors to look weird. I'm gonna open the one where the colors look weird, I'll just double-click on it. This contains in general the exact same information as the other file. It had been adjusted in the exact same way and there's just one thing that was different about it. Here's what it was. If I go to the file menu and choose save as, then, I'm saving my image. Doesn't matter what file format I use, but there's a check box right down here. It says embed color profile. And this is one of those settings that I believe might be sticky, meaning that if you turn it off once, it will remain off the next time you use this unless you mainly turn it back on. That should be turned on in general for every single image you ever save. If that's not turned on, then whenever you open this image next, Photoshop doesn't truly know what the colors are supposed to look like. And it'll make an assumption about your image that is not true. It's called embed color profile. You'll find it in many different areas of Photoshop but it'll all relate to saving a file. Whenever you're trying to save it, if you find embed color profile, turn it on. Well what the heck does it do? Well, you remember how I said most of your images will be in a mode called RGB? In RGB mode, those letters stand for red, green and blue. Well you can make your image out of different versions of red, green and blue. You could go with extremely vivid versions of red, green and blue. I mean so vivid that when you look at 'em, they might almost hurt your eyes, they're so vivid. Or you could go with relatively mellow versions of red, green and blue, and that choice is what's known as your color profile. Every image has a color profile attached to it, and all the color profile in general does is it tells Photoshop what color of red, green and blue is this image made out of? And turning on that check box records that information with your file, so that when you open the image again, it knows what color of red, green and blue the image should be made out of. If that's not turned on when you save your file, then when you open the image, it's gonna make an assumption. It's gonna assume that it's this thing called sRGB most of the time. And that assumption might not be true. But had I had that check box turned on at the time I saved this file, when I opened it, it would have looked exactly like the other one I showed you, the one that was more vivid. So what do I do if I have a file that when I open it, I know the colors look dull compared to what I had when I saved it? Here's what you can do. This is really a beginner concept but a beginner can easily run into it 'cause a beginner can end up not turning on that check box and then they've got it messed up, but here's something I never liked doing but it's what fixes the issue. If you go to the edit menu, go near the bottom, there's a choice down here called assign profile. Now remember when we were saving this image, the choice that we had here was embed color profile. And if that was turned off, it means it doesn't have one and it's making an assumption about it. So instead of having Photoshop make an assumption that might not be true, that's causing this image to look dull, we're gonna come here to the edit menu and we're gonna choose assign profile, and when we do, this comes up. And what you wanna do is choose the bottom choice, and there'll be a menu here. Switch through the choices that are near the top. You see how those choices near the top are separated from the rest, there's a horizontal line above that area, horizontal line down here. Switch between these and see which one makes your image look the best. Each time you choose a different one, the image will look slightly different. And you should eventually find the one that makes it look right. Then click okay and now just make sure when you save your picture, that you have that check box turned on. So that information's included in the file. It's kinda like if you had a recipe anybody sent you, and it just told you you should have this many ounces of protein, this many ounces of carbohydrates and this many ounces of fat, and it didn't say that the protein's supposed to be chicken, the carbohydrate's supposed to be rice and the fat's olive oil. And instead you're like, all it says is the stuff, it didn't tell me the ingredients to use. And you're like okay, fine, I'm gonna put in beef, and I'm gonna put in potatoes or something and I'm gonna put in butter. You're gonna get a completely different result, aren't you? Well in essence, that's what's happening here is it knows how much of each color to use but it doesn't know the exact color of red, green and blue to use and so it's just something you can easily avoid with one check box when you're saving. Another thing related to saving is if you plan to use Lightroom, Lightroom's a program from Adobe. I use it for managing my files, to keep track of all the images I shot, to organize them and do the first adjust stage on the images, well if you ever open an image and you're going to save it, and you plan to make it appear in Lightroom, when you end up saving your image, let's see if I can get it to ask me a question here. I'm gonna save it as just a TIFF file in this case. I'm gonna hit save, and when I click okay, I'm not sure if it's gonna ask me right now or not, yes. No, then it's not. On occasion, and I'm not used to thinking about how you get it to happen, it will ask you if you wanna maximize compatibility, and you're like what the heck does that mean? It doesn't tell you what it means. And somewhere in Photoshop, you will find a preference on it. It would take me a minute to find it 'cause there's so many preferences, but it might be under file handling. But you're gonna find a setting in here, maximize, here it is, PSD and PSB file compatibility. The reason it didn't ask me is I use TIFF instead of Photoshop. If you use Lightroom, come into your preferences, go into this section called file handling and change this setting to always. If you don't, any time you save a layered file in Photoshop file format, then you try to get it in Lightroom, Lightroom will not be able to display the image. You might be thinking, what does that mean? Why? Well what it is is if you ever have layers in an image, there are only certain programs that understand what layers are. Lightroom does not. When you have maximize compatibility turned on when you save a file in Photoshop file format, it saves not only the layers that make up the image, but it also saves an extra version within the same file that is what it would look like if all those layers were merged into one piece. And so therefore it has layers and it also has what's known as a flattened version. And so when Lightroom tries to look at the image, it says hey there's layers in there. I don't understand how to read that stuff. It finds this flattened version, the kind that doesn't have any layers and it can read it, it can display it and all that kinda stuff. So whenever you use Photoshop file format to save layered files and you happen to use Lightroom, it can easily mess you up if this is not set to always. It does make your file size larger, but it's needed if you use Lightroom. All right so if you've seen what we've been talking about, the whole thing's been how can Photoshop mess me up? They're not things you enjoy working with, but they're things that pop up all the time. And most of the time, you're not doing anything wrong. Instead, Photoshop happens to have a setting that's sticky that you didn't know was sticky. You turned it off once and you didn't realize that it was still off the next time. Or there's just some weird technical reason something doesn't work and you have to be aware of it. Like what mode is your picture in? What's known as what bit depth is it in, 'cause that can really limit what you're doing. Also there are some technical features within file formats that can become gotchas, like this one called maximized compatibility or if you're saving a graphic and you're used to using the file format of JPEG, you use that and it doesn't look good. And so I hope that this kinda guides you through how my mind works when it comes to getting Photoshop to actually do what you're looking to have it do. Are there any questions, comments? Yeah, we have two questions, then we'll take a question from our in-studio audience. Best file in general: RGB or sRGB? Those two are two different things, meaning sRGB is RGB. So here's, I think, let me rephrase their question. When you're creating a new file or when you're in Camera Raw and that little text goes across the bottom where I can choose between eight and 16 bit, you will find a choice here that says color profile. And the most popular choices are Adobe sRGB or ProPhoto, and most people wanna know which one's best. And I think that's in general the question. All of these choices are RGB. 'Cause what these do is to find the color of red, green and blue your picture may not have, behind the scenes. Stuff you don't wanna deal with but it does. And the only thing that this really changes in your image is what is the most saturated color you could make. If you make your image out of a mellow version of red, green and blue, then you can't make it so vivid that it'd almost hurt your eyes with how colorful it is, but if you set it to ProPhoto RGB, you could make things so vivid that your screen's not capable of displaying them, your printer's not capable of printing them and your eyes wouldn't even be able to see them theoretically, so it would be shifting the view so that it's within the range of what your screen could do and your printer would try to shift it to what's printable but you're actually trying to define a color that's so colorful that it's more theoretical. So the question is what should you use? Here's my opinion. And know that everyone has a different opinion about it and there is no right answer. If you send your images out to be printed by other people, you don't print them yourself, ask the place you send it to what they like. And if a lot of them will say sRGB, use that, and you'll simplify your life. If that's only if you send it out to other people to have things printed and you've asked them and they like sRGB, that's very common. If you print your own stuff, then I would usually use Adobe RGB. It will allow you to create colors that are a little bit more vivid because your printer is capable of printing colors that are more vivid than what can be in sRGB, so you're gonna be able to get more vivid colors. But if you send it out to other people to print it, so many of them want sRGB that you'll... Then there's not a great advantage to using this. And I would stay away from ProPhoto RGB unless you understand what it means and you know why you're using it. And so if you're asking the question, that means that you're not at that stage yet. Because ProPhoto RGB is where you can create things so vivid that there are theoretical colors that can't be really displayed or printed or even seen and so everything you're gonna try to view them on or print them on or do with are shifting those colors to make it within the range that it could display, and it's just only if you really know what you're doing in Photoshop and you really wanna push the boundaries to get the absolutely most out of your gear and you're willing to become educated about it, then ProPhoto. So for most people, either sRGB or Adobe. For me personally, might wanna know, I use Adobe RGB. And on occasion, ProPhoto. You're only gonna notice a difference if you have extremely vivid colors in your picture. Okay. I was wondering why maximize compatibility, why would you not use it sometime? I mean why isn't it default that it's already set and really the same thing with assign profile. What if you don't assign a profile, what would you use that for? Well okay, a couple things, first off, the reason why maximize compatibility usually asks you when you're saving in Photoshop file format is your file size is gonna become larger. And so if you don't use Lightroom and you don't use other programs that don't understand what layers are, then you're necessarily making your file size bigger, and so some people don't like that. But if you're a Lightroom user, it should pretty much look on your machine and say is Lightroom here? And is there a few other programs that don't understand what layers are, and if so, change the default to always. But unfortunately, Adobe doesn't always do things that way, they make us figure out what we wanna use. As far as the profile thing goes when I choose save as, are you asking why would I not wanna have this turned on? There are some things where when you're printing what's known as targets or color calibration, if you've ever seen a printer come out and it's got a bunch of little color squares on it that they end up measuring, you don't want it to have a profile attached to it. You wanna just be sending the pure data that's in your file instead of one with a profile, but it's not very common that you wouldn't want one. There would be some instances, but mainly, when you're a very technical Photoshop user, and then you would know why. And so at this stage in the game, for most people, I would say for 90, 95% of all Photoshop users, you always want that on. And the assign profile is there only if someone didn't have that check box turned on. And you opened an image and it's like, all the colors have dulled, I don't know why. That's one reason why it could have happened.

Class Description

Discover solutions for your everyday Photoshop troubleshooting. You will learn how the misapplication of Photoshop's workhorse functions - selections, layers, masks, color mode and more - can create problems that cascade throughout the rest of your project. Develop a mental workflow that will help you quickly diagnose and fix these issues in the future.  

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.1.2

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Carol Haggerty

Thank you Ben! So much great information. How much time have I wasted trying to figure out why so many of these quirky things are happening?? I'm so happy to have the reasons now! I've been using ps for a few years now and would recommend this class to beginners or any self-taught individuals (like myself). Thank you again!

Judy Mitschelen

Another excellent course from Ben. As always, he is well-organized and explains clearly with mini summaries for each section that reinforce rather than feel redundant. Love his teaching style and even though this is in the Beginner track, I picked up some new tips and locked in some good triage ideas for when things don't seem to be working right.

Vu Phan

Fantastic. These lessons are very useful to me. I appreciate for what you have done. Thank you so much