Posts Tagged ‘Photoshop’

How to Remove Glare in Photoshop: A Step-By-Step Guide

14 Oct

The post How to Remove Glare in Photoshop: A Step-By-Step Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

how to remove glare in Photoshop

Are you looking to understand how to remove glare in Photoshop? While glare does have its creative uses, when it’s just distracting from the main subject, it’ll only harm your images – and that’s where this article comes in handy.

Glare presents in many ways, so it can be removed with different techniques. Below, I’ll share the most popular methods to reduce or remove glare in Photoshop – as well as some tips to prevent it in the first place!

Let’s get started.

What is glare?

Glare is when light impairs visibility. For example, if you’re driving and the sun bounces off the metallic surface of the car in front of you so you can’t see, that’s glare.

Sometimes, glare occurs when the light reflects off a subject in the frame, such as water, glasses, or a metal object. That’s why you often encounter a glare effect when you’re photographing people wearing eyeglasses.

glare on glasses

Other times, glare is caused by light bouncing around inside the lens. This usually happens when you photograph toward the light source (e.g., the sun). In such cases, you’ll often hear the term “lens flare” – but from a retouching perspective, it’s really all the same thing and can be fixed with some of the techniques mentioned throughout this article.

Glare on a photograph can be a single bright spot, a number of circles and shapes in different colors, or a light haze. Sometimes, glare can be used as a creative effect; other times, glare can ruin your picture.

So let’s see how to remove glare in Photoshop!

How to remove glare in Photoshop: 4 methods

Let me start with a quick clarification: Completely removing glare from a photo is very difficult. Most of the time, you can just reduce the glare, though it all depends on the amount of detail you have to work with.

Each photo will require a slightly different approach, so I recommend you learn all of these methods. Then, with each new image, you can apply different techniques or even combine them as needed.

Method 1: Adobe Camera Raw

Adobe Camera Raw is a digital darkroom where you can develop all the unprocessed data from a photograph taken in RAW format. It offers the best chance to recover glared-out detail because you still have plenty of information available from the shot.

How to remove glare in Photoshop using ACR

By default, if you open a RAW file in Photoshop, ACR launches automatically. Here, you can develop the picture before moving on to Photoshop. Of course, while ACR is designed for standard post-processing, there are a couple of tools that are particularly helpful when dealing with glare.

Dehaze: Sometimes, glare presents as a glow in the overall image, like there’s a fog (haze) over the shot. Here, Dehaze is your best friend. Simply move the Dehaze slider, and watch how the contrast increases (and the glare disappears!).

Move the Whites slider to reduce glare

Whites: In the Basic panel, you’ll find the Whites slider. It adjusts the whitest whites in your image (also known as the white point). So by working with this slider, you can darken the brightest areas of your shot to regain some of the details.

By the way, if you’re not working on a RAW file, you can still launch ACR from within Photoshop. Just go to Filters and choose Camera Raw Filter. This will give you access to the same tools as ACR, but keep in mind that your photo’s information will be reduced compared to an original RAW file.

Method 2: Adjust Shadows and Highlights

How to remove glare using shadows/highlights

Shadows and Highlights is a tool that allows you to fix images with high contrast or restore details in overexposed and underexposed areas.

You can find this option in the menu Edit>Adjustments>Shadows/Highlights. I recommend you duplicate the background first; that way, you keep the original image intact, plus you can mask out different areas.

When you choose Shadows/Highlights, a pop-up window appears, which lets you control your adjustments. For further control, select Show More Options.

Then simply move the sliders to eliminate the glare in your image. Remember to check the Preview option to see the effects of your adjustments in real-time.

The Amount sliders control how much correction you’re applying. To remove glare, you’ll want to work on the Highlights. Of course, you’re welcome to change the Shadows as well, to decrease the contrast and make the glare less noticeable.

The Tonal Width controls the range of tones that will be affected by your adjustments. To fix glare, set a small value in the Highlights Tonal Width to restrict the changes to the brightest parts of the image.

The Radius changes the size of the area considered around each pixel when Photoshop considers whether it belongs to the highlights or the shadows.

Pro tip: If you want the adjustments to be applied to the glare and nothing else, add a Layer Mask. Then, fill it with black and paint white over the glare. That way, you’ll see the original image – but the layer with the Shadows/Highlights adjustment will be visible only on top of the glare.

Method 3: Dodge and burn

There are different techniques for dodging and burning in Photoshop. In fact, there is a Dodge and a Burn tool, but I prefer to use layers.

Here, I’ll show you a couple of ways to do this. You can use these dodging and burning methods on their own, but for my example image, I use both for a better result.

How to remove glare in Photoshop using dodge and burn

Dodging and burning with Curves

The goal is to darken areas where glare is present, so you’ll need to do some burning.

Add a Curves adjustment layer on top of the original photo. Pull the center of the Curve down to darken the glare. It doesn’t matter if the rest of the image becomes too dark – you’ll fix that in the next step.

When you have sufficiently dark glare, select the Curves mask, go to Edit>Fill and choose Black. That way, the Curves adjustment will be hidden. Then grab the Brush tool, with white as the foreground color, and paint over the glare. This will reveal the burning effect in select places.

Before/after of glare removal in Photoshop

Dodging and burning with Soft Light

Add a new layer on top of the original and change the blending mode to Soft Light. Now, everything you paint with white will get lighter and everything you paint with black will get darker – so paint over the glare with a black brush!

Remember: If you make adjustments and you don’t love the results, you can reduce the opacity to make the effect less evident.

Method 4: Clone and Heal

How to remove glare in Photoshop using the clone tool

If the glare completely overexposes certain pixels, leaving you without any information at all, or if you’re having a hard time matching the colors and level of luminosity, you can try the Clone Stamp and Healing tools. These take information from surrounding areas and either blend or replace the information for each given pixel.

The Clone tool copies the information from an area that you select and pastes it on top. There’s no blending, so you need to be careful about visible borders or creating patterns.

The Healing tools grab information from a different area and blend it with the existing information. If you use the Spot Healing Brush, Photoshop gathers the information for you, though the Healing Brush allows you to choose the source point.

Usually, a combination of both tools gives you the best results, though it really depends on the situation.

How to prevent glare in your photos

Now that you’ve learned how to remove glare in Photoshop, I’d like to go back to the beginning. Because the best way to improve glare? Knowing how to avoid it right from the start.

So here are a few quick ways to prevent glare in-camera!

Canon camera on a tripod with a lens hood

Use a lens hood

You can attach a hood to the front of your lens to block the light coming in from the sides. There are plenty of great options: cylindrical and petal hoods, rigid and rubber hoods with collapsible segments, and more. The specifics don’t matter much; no matter which hood type you choose, it’ll help you prevent glare in your images.

Position yourself in the shade

If you don’t have a lens hood, consider adjusting your position so you can shoot from the shade. If the glare is coming from a reflection of an object in the scene, this won’t help you. However, it will prevent light from coming into the lens from an angle.

Change your angle of view

Don’t be afraid to move your camera from side to side or even up or down. Try different positions that won’t majorly affect the framing of your shot but will change the angle at which the light is hitting your lens. This usually helps to prevent glare!

Use a polarizing filter

A circular polarizing filter helps reduce or remove glare. Just attach it to the lens and turn it until you see the glare disappear. Keep in mind that you will need to adjust the camera settings to let in more light.

How to remove glare in Photoshop: final words

Learning how to remove glare is a useful skill – after all, even if you’re highly vigilant, it tends to find a way into your photos!

So I hope this article was helpful, and that you can now confidently deal with glare in your own images.

Now over to you:

Which of these glare-removal methods do you plan to try? Do you have any tips of your own? Share them in the comments below!

The post How to Remove Glare in Photoshop: A Step-By-Step Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

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Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 2022 announced with new Sensei-powered technology

07 Oct

Adobe has announced the 2022 versions of its Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements software. The applications are designed to make creative photo and video editing accessible and fun.

To that end, Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements include what Adobe calls ‘Guided Edits.’ These are step-by-step interactive tutorials you can use on your photos and videos to achieve specific editing tasks. The new applications add four new Guided Edits, bringing the total to 87.

There’s a new Guided Edit in Photoshop Elements 2022 for editing pet photos. Credit: Adobe

The four new Guided Edits include a couple in Photoshop Elements, and the other two are in Premiere Elements. In Photoshop Elements, you can use a new Guided Edit to edit pet photos and extend photo backgrounds. For pet photos, you can adjust color and lighting, select and refine detailed edges like fur, remove collars and leashes and more. In the Guided Edit for extending photo backgrounds, you can use Content-Aware Fill technology to extend your image beyond its original crop, either to change an aspect ratio or just change up the framing.

Using Content-Aware Fill, you can extend the background of your photo. Credit: Adobe

In Premiere Elements, there’s a new Guided Edit to add animated overlays to your videos, such as fun butterfly animations. The other new Guided Edit shows you how to adjust shadows and highlights in your video, allowing you to bring out additional details.

Looking now at just Photoshop Elements 2022, the new software uses more Adobe Sensei AI technology than last year’s release. You can use Adobe Sensei to transform your photographs into painting-inspired images. You can select from different artistic effects inspired by famous artwork and other popular styles.

Credit: Adobe

Another Sensei-powered feature is the ability to warp photos to fit any shape. You can place one photo inside another by wrapping it around an object, like a mug, or fit the image into shapes, like the sunglasses example above.

Within Photoshop Elements 2022, you can combine still and motion photography with animated frames. You can place different moving overlays like snowflakes, hearts and sparkles to your still photos and then export the motion image as an .MP4 to share on social media.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 2022 also includes new slideshow styles, a revised Organizer that lets you view GIFs in motion, and automatic software updates.

Premiere Elements 2022 includes animated overlays. Credit: Adobe

Adobe Premiere Elements 2022 includes new aspect ratio options. Many users share videos on social media, which sometimes includes vertical video and square aspect ratios. In Premiere Elements, you can edit and export videos in social-friendly formats without losing content. You can also add motion titles, mattes and backgrounds designed for vertical videos.

Premiere Elements 2022 includes new aspect ratio options for editing and exporting. Using these ratios doesn’t affect your original video file. Credit: Adobe

Another new tool is Sensei-powered auto-reframe. This tool allows the software to automatically re-frame your subject to ‘keep the most important part of the action in the frame.’

Premiere Elements 2022 includes a slider for video compression. If you’re editing and exporting a video for social media, you probably don’t need it to be a high-quality 4K video. Instead, you can use a compression slider in Premiere Elements to reduce the size of your movies, making them more suitable for uploading to the web or social media or sending to friends and family in a message.

Auto-reframe is powered by Adobe Sensei AI technology and keeps your subject front and center in different aspect ratios. Credit: Adobe

Adobe Photoshop Elements 2022 and Premiere Elements 2022 are available now. The applications are available for macOS and Windows and can be purchased standalone or in a bundle. Standalone versions are $ 99.99 for new users and $ 79.99 to upgrade. The bundle is $ 149.99 or $ 119.99 for eligible upgrades. Education pricing is also available. For the full details and to purchase the software, click here.

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Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop: Which Editor Is Right for You? (2021)

07 Oct

The post Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop: Which Editor Is Right for You? (2021) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

Photoshop vs Photoshop Elements

Which editor should you pick, Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop?

It’s a tough question, and the answer will depend on your post-processing preferences. In this article, I’ll break it all down for you; I’ll compare and contrast Photoshop Elements and Photoshop and see where they both fit in the grand scheme of image editing.

By the time you’re finished, you’ll know which program is the better buy!

Let’s get started.

Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop: overview

Photoshop has become the industry standard for editing on Windows and MacOS systems – so much so, in fact, that the phrase Photoshop is now used as a verb. Photoshop gives users the ability to create and enhance photographs, illustrations, and other digital media. As a critical utility for graphic artists, photographers, designers, web developers, etc., Photoshop has become an integral part of many creators’ processes.

The Photoshop layout
Layout of Photoshop 2021

So where does Elements come in? Photoshop Elements is a simplified version of Photoshop, designed primarily for photographers who want a quick and easy way to edit and organize images. The program came out in 2001 (long after Photoshop first debuted), and is also great for consumers who are just getting started with photo editing.

The Photoshop Elements layout
Layout of Photoshop Elements 2021

While there are numerous incarnations in the Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements lines, for this article, I’ll compare the most recent versions: Photoshop Elements 2021 vs Photoshop version 22.3.0.

Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop: key features

Now that you’re familiar with the purposes of both Photoshop Elements and Photoshop, let’s take a detailed look at what these two programs offer, starting with:


While both Photoshop Elements and Photoshop are owned by Adobe, the sales models couldn’t be more different.

Adobe Photoshop Elements is sold as a one-off program, and the 2021 version will set you back about $ 100 USD. Photoshop Elements can be bundled with Premiere Elements 2021, a simplified video editing software (see the screenshot below). Upgrade pricing for existing Elements customers in the United States is also available.

Photoshop Elements pricing

Adobe Photoshop, on the other hand, is offered only as a (monthly or yearly) subscription. At present, the best value is the Creative Cloud Photography Plan, which includes Photoshop, Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, plus 20 GB of cloud storage, and costs $ 9.99 USD per month.

Creative Cloud pricing for Photoshop

Note that Adobe offers a 30-day trial of both Elements and Photoshop if you’d prefer to try before you buy.

Ease of use

Although Elements and Photoshop offer many overlapping features, Elements is geared toward an audience looking for a newcomer-friendly editing application.

Photoshop is the industry standard, but this can make it harder to approach for first-time users. Enter Photoshop Elements, which is designed to enable simple, streamlined editing processes while maintaining an accessible interface. This simplified application can help ease a budding creative into the world of digital editing without plunging them headfirst into a sea of pixels.

Bottom line: Photoshop is designed for in-depth, manual editing operations. Elements is a photo processor, better suited to quick and easy refinements that don’t require intensive editing.


Photoshop offers six pre-made workspaces for different creative requirements: 3D, Essentials, Graphic and Web, Motion, Painting, and Photography.

Photoshop Elements divides the editing process into three workspaces: Quick, Guided, and Expert:


In Photoshop Elements, Quick view is a simplified interface with basic adjustments. This layout lets you quickly perform common editing tasks and includes basic photo editing tools neatly distributed across the workspace.

Quick mode enables users to access the Healing brush, fix exposure, sharpness, color, and lighting, and even provides the option to apply effects, filters, enhancements, textures, and frames.

Elements Quick interface
The Quick interface of Adobe Photoshop Elements.


The Guided workspace offers step-by-step instructions for Photoshop Elements users. With over 50 tutorials and counting, this workspace will help you apply a range of effects to a photograph.

Elements Guided interface
The Guided interface with editing functions to select.

With the option to introduce Tilt-Shift, Black and White, Orton, and Lomo effects (and many more) to an image, Guided provides a user-friendly interface for applying relatively customizable effects.

To access these tutorials, switch over to the Guided interface in Photoshop Elements, pick an effect, and go from there.

Black and White effect Elements
The Guided interface with the Black and White effect in action.


Expert mode is designed for users who are more experienced with image editing. The Expert view unpacks all of the editing tools available in Photoshop Elements and neatly organizes them around the user interface:

The Expert view in Elements.
Photoshop Elements interface in Expert view.

Expert mode has an expanded range of tools compared to Quick mode, enabling you to apply complex editing effects. Draw and Enhance tools, Graphics, Layers and Styles, Histograms, additional Filters, History, and more are all available in the Expert workspace.

Other tools and functions

While Photoshop Elements packs a considerable amount of power, some tools are still reserved for Photoshop. For instance, chromatic aberration correction, which fixes unwanted fringing, is a Photoshop exclusive.

Elements doesn’t support vector formats, either – so the Pen tool, which creates advanced paths and shapes, is not an Elements feature. (Because Photoshop supports vector and raster files, users can add vector-based Smart Objects into a Photoshop file.)

In addition, Elements doesn’t offer the Content-Aware Patch tool (which sources nearby content to blend a region with the surrounding image area) or the Channel Mixer (which is often used for advanced black and white conversions).

Other significant differences include the lack of 16-bit and 32-bit image support in Elements. Lens geometry profiles aren’t included in Elements or in the accompanying (and also pared-back) Camera Raw utility.

Sample moving photo

A new feature in the 2021 version of Elements is the AI-powered Moving Photos function (used to turn static pictures into moving GIFs, as displayed above). While GIFs can be created in Photoshop, the process is a little less streamlined, though Photoshop does offer more flexibility in making these GIFs.


An additional point of difference in the Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop comparison is printing. Unfortunately, Elements is missing a few key features for professional print production. Unlike Photoshop, Photoshop Elements can’t export files in CMYK, and the program also excludes in-depth soft-proofing.

Plus, Elements supports a simplified color management system compared to Photoshop; while Elements has RGB, Grayscale, Bitmap, and Indexed Color, Photoshop features all of the aforementioned color options, but also Duotone, CMYK, Lab, and Multi-Channel, which allows for greater control when printing.

Elements vs Photoshop: the two programs compared
A game of image modes! Photoshop on the left, Photoshop Elements on the right.

Time management

Photoshop can be more labor-intensive than Photoshop Elements, though the number of guided edits available in Photoshop Elements do streamline the process.

However, although Elements includes quick, automated processes and adjustments, it sometimes sacrifices the manual customizability and creative precision achieved through editing in Photoshop. Put simply, the hands-on approach of Photoshop can pay off, depending on the level of tweaking you require to create an effective image.

Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop: final words

Photoshop can create stunning photographic work, but that doesn’t rule out the capabilities of Photoshop Elements. While Photoshop Elements offers to do the heavy lifting with a few clicks of the mouse button, Photoshop proper offers a larger range of detailed editing features.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a simple editing program, Elements works well. However, creative professionals in need of precision editing software should jump for Photoshop instead.

Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop FAQs

What is the difference between Photoshop Elements and Photoshop?

Put simply, Photoshop Elements is a simpler version of Photoshop. Elements is easier to use but lacks the full-fledged creative control that Photoshop delivers.

Who uses Photoshop Elements?

Photoshop Elements is primarily aimed at beginner or intermediate users looking to edit photographs. Professional photographers and designers generally invest in Photoshop for more in-depth editing capabilities.

What are some features in Photoshop that aren’t in Photoshop Elements?

There are a good amount of utilities available in Photoshop Elements, but some tools are still reserved for Photoshop. Chromatic aberration correction, the Content-Aware Patch tool, and the Channel Mixer don’t feature in Elements. Elements doesn’t provide vector format or 16-bit and 32-bit image support. Lens geometry profiles aren’t included in Elements or in the accompanying Camera Raw utility. Photoshop Elements can’t export files in CMYK, Lab, Duotone, or Multi-Channel color modes.

How much does Photoshop and Photoshop Elements cost?

Adobe Photoshop Elements 2021 costs around $ 100 USD for a full license. Photoshop is only available as a subscription, which costs $ 9.99 USD per month (at minimum).

The post Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop: Which Editor Is Right for You? (2021) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

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Photoshop “Could Not Save Because Disk is Full” but Disk is not Full: Solutions

02 Oct

Many photographers make use of Adobe Photoshop for all their editing work, and any issues with the program can have a huge impact on productivity. If you are seeing the message “Photoshop could not save because the disk is full”, even when you have sufficient space on your hard disk, it can be due to multiple reasons. I used to Continue Reading

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Photoshop Eraser Tool: A Comprehensive Guide (2021)

26 Aug

The post Photoshop Eraser Tool: A Comprehensive Guide (2021) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Photoshop Eraser Tool: a comprehensive guide

Are you wondering how to use the Photoshop Eraser Tool? And more importantly, are you wondering when you should use it?

You’ve come to the right place. In this guide, I’ll show you how the Eraser Tool works – and I’ll give you some tips that’ll help you master it. You’ll also learn when to use the Eraser Tool, along with several helpful alternatives.

Let’s get started!

The Eraser Tool: 3 different versions

Nearly every tool in Photoshop comes in several different versions; to reveal these options, click and hold a tool icon. A menu will appear with each tool variation:

Photoshop Eraser Tool tutorial

In the case of the Photoshop Eraser Tool, you’ll find three variations:

  • The regular Eraser Tool
  • The Background Eraser Tool
  • The Magic Eraser Tool

Let’s see what each can do and how they are different from each other, starting with the standard Eraser Tool:

1. Eraser Tool

Photoshop Eraser Tool in action

The standard Eraser Tool is as straightforward as it gets. It erases the pixels underneath the cursor – whatever they are.

You can determine whether to use the Eraser Tool as a Brush, a Pencil, or a Block. For the Brush and the Pencil, you can choose the size, hardness, and opacity of your cursor’s brush.

Click once, and you’ll erase whatever is underneath the cursor (though a big brush will delete more than a small brush, of course).

Make sure the layer you’re working on is unlocked, and that transparent pixels are unlocked, too (the transparent pixels can be locked or unlocked via the checker icon on top of the Layers panel; see the circled icon in the image above).

2. Background Eraser Tool

Background Eraser Tool example

The Background Eraser Tool tends to confuse and disappoint Photoshop beginners. The name suggests that it automatically erases the background of your image, thus eliminating the tedious work of selecting – but I’m afraid that’s not how it works.

Instead, the Background Eraser Tool samples whatever is underneath the middle of the cursor (marked with a +) and deletes areas that match the sampled color.

You can adjust how the Background Eraser Tool conducts its sampling. Continuous Sampling means that it will update the sample as you move the cursor. On the image above, for example, I can drag the Tool along the edge between the sky and the trees and it will delete only the blue from the sky. However, if I touch the branches, the Background Eraser will start deleting the trees.

Switch the sampling to Once, and the Background Eraser will erase anything with the color it sampled upon your first click. This is ideal when you want to remove intricate areas like sky between leaves.

Finally, the Background Swatch sampling mode will delete anything matching Photoshop’s current Background Color. This is best used with solid colors because a graduated blue – like the one in the sky, above – will leave a lot of areas untouched.

The Background Eraser Tool is only available as a brush, but you can adjust the Limits and Tolerance to fine-tune according to your needs.

3. Magic Eraser

using the Magic Eraser Tool
With one click on a sample point, the Magic Eraser deletes bigger areas where the pixels have the same or a similar color.

The Magic Eraser works like the Magic Wand selection tool, except it erases pixels instead of selecting them; one click, and it erases anything that matches the color under the cursor.

You can adjust the Tolerance to delete more or fewer shades of the sampled color. You can also determine if you want to erase only adjacent areas or if you want to delete anything with that color, regardless of its location in the image. Check the Anti-alias option if you want to minimize jagged edges.

How to use the Eraser Tool: the basics

Using the Photoshop Eraser Tool is dead simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Unlock the layer you want to eraser. Make sure transparent pixels are unlocked, too.

  2. Select the Eraser Tool you want to use (regular Eraser, Background Eraser, or Magic Eraser).

  3. Customize the tool. Depending on the type of Eraser you’ve selected, you’ll have different customization options.

  4. Click and drag to erase the desired area.

  5. Check for any remaining pixels. If necessary, go back and erase over areas again.

  6. Save the image as a PNG file to preserve the transparency of deleted pixels.

Tips for using the Photoshop Eraser Tool

Now that you’re familiar with the Eraser Tool basics, I’d like to share some simple tips and tricks to improve your results:

1. Always keep an original backup

creating a backup layer
The Photoshop Eraser is a destructive tool, so always work on a copy.

The Eraser is a destructive tool. In other words, if you delete pixels, they’ll be gone for good. You can bring them back with the Undo command, but that’s only if you haven’t closed and re-opened the file.

So before using the Eraser, always, always, always make a backup of your work.

For instance, you can duplicate the layer you plan to Erase; that way, if you mess up, you can always delete your worked-on version and start over with the duplicated layer.

Another option is to work with a copy of your file, rather than the original. Then, when things go downhill, you always have the original to save the day.

2. Use the keyboard shortcuts

To move more efficiently through your editing process, you can use the ‘E‘ key to activate the Eraser Tool.

Then tap ‘Shift + E‘ to toggle between the different types of Erasers.

painting with the Eraser tool

3. Erase to History

If you’ve saved a state or made a snapshot, the Erase to History option will erase the changes made since that last save.

You can find this feature in the Options bar of the Erase tool.

When should you use the Eraser Tool in Photoshop?

The Photoshop Eraser Tool has limited applications. But for those few times when you need it, you’ll be happy it exists!

Here are several situations when the Eraser Tool can make a big difference:

1. When you need transparency

Sometimes, it’s not enough to hide pixels in the current document – you actually need to keep the area empty and transparent for use on images elsewhere.

This can happen when you’re preparing several images for a photo composite, or when you’re creating a logo to place on top of other images.

(Remember to save your file as a PNG. Otherwise, the transparent areas will be filled with white pixels by default.)

saving as a PNG file
Always use a PNG format to save a partially erased image.

2. When you need to fine-tune channel masks

When you make a layer mask, you’ll notice that a new channel is created.

If you head to this new channel and use the Eraser Tool in Block mode, you can make adjustments to the black pixels to modify the mask (though make sure you zoom in for better results).

Eraser Tool alternatives

Not sure if the Eraser Tool is the right way to go? Here are several alternatives to the Eraser Tool that will help you achieve similar results.

Photoshop Layer Masks
Layer masks hide the pixels instead of deleting them.

1. Layer masks

Layer masks are a non-destructive way of “erasing” parts of your image. Technically, you’re not deleting those pixels – that’s why it’s non-destructive.

Instead, you’re just hiding the pixels you don’t want. If you change your mind and decide to make them visible again, you can disable the layer mask – or unmask the parts that you want visible.

2. Auto Erase

Despite the name, this isn’t a feature found as part of the Photoshop Eraser Tool. Instead, you’ll find it in the Pencil tool.

When you activate the Pencil and enable the Auto Erase option, you paint – with the background color – any pixels that have the foreground color. And if you paint over an area that doesn’t have the foreground color, you replace that color with the foreground color.

The Photoshop Eraser Tool: final words

I hope this article clarified your doubts about the mysterious and often underestimated Photoshop Eraser Tool. Go ahead and test it out the next time you’re in Photoshop. See how it goes. Yes, it has something of a niche effect, but it’s occasionally very helpful.

Now over to you:

Do you have any tips or advice for using the Eraser Tool? Share them in the comments below!

The post Photoshop Eraser Tool: A Comprehensive Guide (2021) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

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How to Save Transparent Background in Photoshop? The Easy Way

21 Aug

Are you looking to create an image with a transparent background in Photoshop? Which is the best method? How do you save the final image in different file formats? Which formats allow saving transparent backgrounds? What are the use cases for transparent backgrounds? If you need help with any of these, the following article will answer all of these questions Continue Reading

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How to Correct White Balance in Photoshop: A Guide

04 Aug

The post How to Correct White Balance in Photoshop: A Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

how to correct white balance in Photoshop

When you think of white balance corrections, Photoshop probably isn’t the first program that comes to mind. In most cases, white balance is dealt with early in the workflow. And because the tools in Lightroom and other RAW processing suites do a great job, Photoshop isn’t necessary.

That said, there are occasions when you might need to alter your white balance in Photoshop – which is where this article will come in handy.

Specifically, I’m going to share four non-destructive methods of correcting the white balance.

And by the time you’re done, you’ll be able to adjust white balance in Photoshop like a pro.

Let’s dive right in.

Disclaimer: As you are no longer working on a RAW file in Photoshop, when you use these tools, you are technically not altering the white balance data in your images. Instead, you are altering the colors and tones of a PSD, JPEG, etc. Even so, the end result will appear the same as a white balance adjustment, and I will refer to it as such for the purposes of this article.

white balance adjustment example

Why correct the white balance in Photoshop

There are many reasons you may want to alter the white balance in Photoshop, rather than in a standard RAW processor (such as Lightroom).

Perhaps you’re halfway through your workflow and you change your mind about some of the choices you made at the RAW stage.

layers in Photoshop
One reason you might want to alter your white balance in Photoshop is if you need to make changes in the middle of a workflow. Instead of heading back to your RAW processor and starting from scratch, you can make the adjustments in Photoshop.

Perhaps another adjustment altered the image colors in a way that you don’t like, and you want to make white balance corrections.

Perhaps you don’t shoot in RAW at all, so you only edit your files in Photoshop.

Whatever the reason, Photoshop offers a huge variety of tools that will let you deal with this task easily and without needing to scrap any of your previous edits.

Four (non-destructive) ways to adjust the white balance in Photoshop

non-destructive adjustments in Photoshop
All of the techniques mentioned in this article are non-destructive – three by way of adjustment layers and one by making use of Smart Objects.

Below, I outline four simple techniques to correct the white balance in Photoshop.

Note that every technique is non-destructive – or it can be, as long as you use layers and Smart Objects.

Starting with your very first option:

1. Camera Raw filter

Let’s get this one out of the way right off the bat.

After all, when it comes to altering your white balance in Photoshop, the Camera Raw filter might be the most obvious option. Why? The filter opens an interface that allows you to use Adobe Camera Raw inside of Photoshop.

If you use ACR or even Lightroom, you’re already familiar with the filter interface, and it should be a piece of cake to work with.

the Camera Raw filter in Photoshop
If you’re already familiar with Lightroom, finding your way around the Camera Raw Filter is going to be easy.

To get started with the Camera Raw filter, create a new layer, then use Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E (Cmd+Alt+Shift+E on a Mac) to copy all of your previous layers and place them into your just-created layer. If you want this adjustment to be non-destructive, right-click the new layer and select Convert to Smart Object.

Now, from the filter menu, select Filter>Camera Raw Filter.

selecting the Camera Raw filter from the menu

This will open the Camera Raw filter window:

the Camera Raw filter window in Photoshop

From here, all you have to do is locate the sliders labeled Temperature and Tint:

adjusting the Temperature and Tint
Assuming the white balance was close to accurate, any changes you make at this point will be quite minor.

Adjust these sliders as you see fit – this is your opportunity to make white balance corrections – then press OK. Job done!

a white balance adjustment in Photoshop before and after
Easy and intuitive, the Camera Raw Filter might be all you need for a quick white balance adjustment in Photoshop.

Note: The Temperature slider in Camera Raw does not correspond to the white balance Kelvin scale. Remember, as you are not using a RAW file, there is no white balance data for you to manipulate at this stage of your workflow.

2. Color Balance

The Color Balance adjustment is the least intuitive option in this article, and its sensitivity takes some time to get used to. Once you get your head around it, however, it can be a quick and powerful way to make changes to white balance in Photoshop. 

To get started, create a new Color Balance adjustment layer:

Photoshop Color Balance adjustment layer

You’ll see a selection of sliders, like so:

Color Balance in Photoshop
Although the Color Balance sliders seem intuitive, they can cause massive changes to your images with minor tweaks.

There is also a dialogue box labeled Tone; by clicking the box, you can switch between altering the shadow, midtone, and highlight colors.

Now, to warm up your image, select a tonal range and move your sliders toward the reds, magentas, and yellows. To cool down your image, push the sliders toward the cyans, greens, and blues. Adjust the shadows, midtones, and highlights until you’re happy with the results.

Color Balance sliders in action
Here, you can see how small changes make a huge difference. I barely moved the sliders, and yet look at the effect on the image below.
before and after Photoshop Color Balance
Color balance: before and after.

Tip: The sliders in the Color Balance adjustment are very sensitive. To get your desired effect, you may only need to move them a tiny amount. Also, because of this sensitivity, altering the midtones can lead to drastic results very quickly. Keep a close eye on your image and don’t be afraid to dial it back if you go too far. Also, don’t forget: if the effect does seem too strong, you can always lower the opacity of the adjustment layer when you’ve finished.

3. Photo Filter

The Photo Filter adjustment is a bit of a wild card and you may never choose it over the other options outlined here, but it’s a good example of Photoshop’s incredible versatility. Plus, who knows? Maybe you’ll like the effect.

The Photo Filter tool aims to replicate the effect of various filters used in film photography to manipulate white balance in camera. Common examples of these filters are warm-up and cool-down filters (which add warm and cool tones to your images, respectively). 

To get started, create a new Photo Filter adjustment layer:

Photo Filter adjustment layer in Photoshop

Then, in the Filter dialog box, you will find several options, including warming and cooling filters:

Photo Filter in Photoshop
Altering the Photo Filter settings can change your results drastically. Apart from the Filter presets and the density, you can also choose a custom color to apply as a filter.

In this example, I chose a warming filter to (you guessed it!) warm up the image. Note that the photo was taken during the blue hour, and that’s deliberate – I want to show you just how powerful the Photo Filter adjustment can be.

The initial effect will almost always require some adjustment; move the Density slider left to reduce the filter’s impact, and move the Density slider right to strengthen the filter.

adjusting the white balance on a mountain landscape
Here you can see a dramatic result from the Photo Filter; this blue hour shot instantly became far more neutral.

That’s pretty much all there is to it.

4. Curves

The Curves adjustment layer is one of the most powerful tools that Photoshop offers. You can use a Curves layer to adjust exposure, contrast, dodge and burn, color grade, and adjust your white balance in Photoshop.

In short, if you are not yet familiar with the Curves adjustment, I recommend taking the time to learn it in depth.

Using Curves to alter white balance is fairly straightforward. To start, create a new Curves adjustment layer:

Curves adjustment layer in Photoshop

Click the box labeled RGB to see options for Red, Green, and Blue:

adjusting Curves in Photoshop

To warm up your images, select the Red curve. Drag it slightly upward to increase the red tones in your images. Do the same to the Green curve. Then drag the Blue curve downward to de-emphasize any cool tones:

Curves RGB adjustments
Although these adjustments seem slight, they’ve had a huge impact on the image. This should show you just how powerful the Curves adjustment can be.

This process can be finicky, so keep adjusting each curve by small amounts until you get your desired effect.

If you want to cool down your image, the process is the same, but you will simply move each of the three curves in the opposite directions.

before and after Curves adjustment
The original image (left) was cooled down a bit with some minor tweaks in a Curves layer.

Correcting white balance in Photoshop: conclusion

Now that you’ve finished this article, you should be able to see that altering the white balance in Photoshop needn’t be a complicated process.

You now know four simple ways to make white balance adjustments, and while Photoshop probably shouldn’t be your first choice when working with white balance, it’s good to have a few tricks up your sleeve just in case.

Now over to you:

Which of these methods of adjusting white balance in Photoshop do you plan to try first? Do you have a favorite? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

White balance in Photoshop FAQs

Can you use Photoshop to change the white balance for an image that isn’t a RAW file?

Yes and no. Technically speaking, only RAW files grant you the ability to change white balance settings. However, you can use Photoshop tools such as the Camera Raw filter, Curves, Photo Filter, and Color Balance to alter the colors of your images – and the effect is similar to a white balance adjustment.

What’s the easiest tool for altering the white balance in Photoshop?

The Camera Raw filter. This tool offers an interface similar to Lightroom and features easy-to-use sliders.

How do I use Curves to correct colors in my images?

Work on the Red, Green, and Blue curves individually. Drag each curve until your colors look exactly as you want them.

Why would I want to use Photoshop to correct my white balance?

Maybe you’ve already started post-processing an image and only later decide you want to alter the white balance. Instead of starting over, you can use tools in Photoshop to get the job done in the middle of your workflow.

The post How to Correct White Balance in Photoshop: A Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

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How to Blur the Background in Photoshop: Step-By-Step Guide

29 Jul

The post How to Blur the Background in Photoshop: Step-By-Step Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

how to blur the background in Photoshop

Do you want to know how to blur the background in Photoshop? While it’s generally best to create a shallow depth of field effect in camera, there are ways to create a realistic blur in Photoshop.

In this article, I’ll share two easy methods to produce a Photoshop blur effect, and I’ll also discuss when and why you should think about blurring the background in the first place.

Let’s get started.

How to blur the background in Photoshop: Field Blur

Photoshop’s Field Blur filter allows you to place pins on an image, which will introduce a blurred background effect.

To begin, open an image in Photoshop. For this example, I’m using a starter image with a relatively even degree of sharpness. The image also has room for significant foreground and background blur, so with the right tools, the effect should look very realistic.

Blur the background in Photoshop Field Blur starter image
Canon 5D Mark II | Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM | f/8 | 1/40s | ISO 200

Step 1: Convert the layer to a Smart Object

First things first:

Before you create any blur, convert the Background layer to a Smart Object. In a moment, you’ll be applying a Field Blur filter – and if your layer begins as a Smart Object, you’ll be able to adjust your blur filter at any time (long after it’s been added to the image).

So right-click on the Background layer (in the Layers panel) and select Convert to Smart Object:

convert to smart object

The layer name will change from Background to Layer 0. The Smart Object icon will also appear in the bottom right corner of the layer’s thumbnail preview:

smart object in Photoshop

Step 2: Add the Field Blur filter

With Layer 0 selected, click the Filter menu, select Blur Gallery, and then Field Blur.

The Field Blur window will open, and you’ll see an initial pin positioned in the center of your image, creating a uniform blurred effect.

To start customizing the blur, reposition the initial pin by dragging it around the image. Also, by dragging the outer ring clockwise and counterclockwise, you can increase or decrease the intensity of the effect.

Field Blur pin Photoshop
A Field Blur pin.

To build up the Field Blur effect in the background of a photograph, you’ll likely need more than one pin. In the Field Blur window, position your cursor over an area in the image and click once; this will add a new pin.

Then move the pin and/or adjust the intensity of the blur accordingly. To maintain sharpness in the foreground, place a pin over a foreground subject or zone and set the blur to 0.

(Note: You can delete pins by selecting them with the mouse and hitting the Delete key.)

As you work with the Field Blur filter, Photoshop will automatically assess the space between each pin to create an even result. In the example below, the difference in blur between the foreground pin (with the blur set to 0) and the background pin (with the blur set to 25) is blended to create a smooth effect that transitions across the entirety of the image.

However, some images will require more pins than others (depending on your desired outcome), so don’t be afraid to experiment a little.

Blur the background in Photoshop Field Blur Stairs pins

Also, the Filter Gallery screen does contain a few extra adjustment panels, including Bokeh sliders and a Blur slider. The Bokeh effect is a little hit and miss, but it can be used to enhance the appearance of points of light, while the Blur slider works the same as adjusting Blur on a pin. And noise can be adjusted through the use of sliders on the Noise tab.

Field Blur extra tools

Once you are happy with the Field Blur effect, click OK. To make additional adjustments to the filter at a later time, simply double-click on the Blur Gallery effect in the Layers panel. The Field Blur window will open again, and you’ll be able to add further refinement.

Here’s my result:

stairs with background blur applied in Photoshop

How to blur the background in Photoshop: Iris Blur

The Iris Blur filter is another tool included in Photoshop’s Blur Gallery. It enables the selective blurring of an image, and it offers a more customizable range of depth of field controls compared to Field Blur.

Step 1: Convert the layer to a Smart Object

As with the Field Blur effect discussed above, start by opening your image in Photoshop and converting it to a Smart Object.

First, right-click on the image layer and select Convert to Smart Object. The name of the layer will change from Background to Layer 0, and a Smart Object icon will appear in the bottom right corner of the layer’s thumbnail preview.

Here’s the image I plan to blur; it has a bit of background blur already, but we can make it more impactful with the Iris Blur filter:

Blur the background in Photoshop Iris Blur starter image
Canon 5D Mark II | Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM | f/4 | 1/125s | ISO 200

Step 2: Apply the Iris Blur filter

With Layer 0 selected, click on Filter>Blur Gallery>Iris Blur.

The Iris Blur window will open, and the first Iris Blur pin will be positioned in the center of your image.

You’re free to reposition the Iris Blur by dragging the pin. You also have a number of options for customizing the effect; by carefully manipulating the various handles surrounding the central pin, you can introduce a realistic background blur. I’ve labeled the handles below:

Iris Blur filter

And here are the corresponding effects:

  1. A = Roundness Adjustment. Dragging makes the blur shape either circular or square.
  2. B = Blur Ring. Controls the degree of blur applied to the image.
  3. C = Feather Points. Dragging adjusts where the blur effect begins.
  4. D = Ellipse Handle. Dragging makes the ellipse rounder or more oval in shape.

As with Field Blur, multiple Iris Blur pins can be placed on the image to exaggerate or limit the spread of the blur effects. However, unlike Field Blur, the amendments made to each Iris Blur pin are global, so every pin’s blur level is adjusted to match the active pin.

To customize the blur of an individual pin, adjust the Focus dropdown slider located at the top left of the Blur Gallery window:

Iris Blur focus slider
The Focus slider is located toward the top left of the Blur Gallery interface.

When you are finished, click OK. If you want to go back and edit any Iris Blur effects later, double click on the Blur Gallery filter layer (beneath the main image layer) in the Layer Panel. The Iris Blur window will open, allowing you to rework your edits.

Here’s a slightly exaggerated example of the results obtained with Iris Blur:

Iris Blur effect

When is blurring the background a good idea?

The Field and Iris Blur filters are simple and impactful Photoshop tools. But when should you use them to blur the background in Photoshop, and when should you leave the background as-is?

You might want to use Iris or Field Blur if

  • you want to draw attention to a subject;
  • you want to delineate between a foreground and background;
  • you want to convey depth;
  • you want to create an abstract effect.

Of course, there are plenty of other times when a Photoshop blur effect will do the trick. In general, look for images that feature a strong subject and/or exhibit a degree of open space or perspective that helps differentiate between foreground and background. You might even select an image already exhibiting a moderate amount of blur and enhance the effect in Photoshop.

How to blur the background in Photoshop: conclusion

Now that you’ve finished this article, you should be able to produce a realistic background blur using Photoshop.

Of course, it’s generally best to create blur using in-camera effects (e.g., a wide aperture for a shallow depth of field). But the Iris Blur and Field Blur filters offer a simple and effective way to create beautiful effects in post-processing.

So experiment with the Blur filters. Test out different effects. And your photos are bound to turn out great!

Now over to you:

Do you have any tips for blurring the background in Photoshop? Do you have a favorite background blur method? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post How to Blur the Background in Photoshop: Step-By-Step Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

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12 Tips to Master the Clone Stamp Tool in Photoshop

09 Jul

The post 12 Tips to Master the Clone Stamp Tool in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jim Hamel.

12 tips to master the Clone Stamp tool in Photoshop

The Clone Stamp tool is one of Photoshop’s most useful editing options. After all, it can get rid of all sorts of unwanted objects! Yet for beginners – and even more experienced photo editors – it can be intimidating, frustrating, and discouraging.

That’s why, in this article, I’m going to share everything you need to know about the Clone Stamp tool, including how it works, how to use it to remove unwanted items from your photos, and the simple tips and tricks that will make you a Clone Stamp master.

Let’s dive right in.

When should you use the Clone Stamp tool in Photoshop?

Photoshop offers several tools for making minor adjustments to your photos (e.g., the Healing Brush tool and the Spot Healing Brush tool). But while such tools are great for minor edits – such as removing spots and power lines – when it comes time for serious, intensive surgery on your photos, the Clone Stamp tool is the way to go.

You can use the Clone Stamp tool to:

  • Remove people standing in the background of a portrait
  • Remove people walking through your travel shots
  • Remove cars that are positioned in awkward places
  • Remove distracting street signs
  • Remove distracting shadows
  • Remove distracting reflections

And those are just a few of the many applications of the Clone Stamp tool.

Clone Stamp Tool example on the Palais Garnier interior
You will not often find the stairs of the Palais Garnier in Paris free of people, so you will need to put the Clone Stamp tool to work if you want a clean picture. This applies at many other tourist destinations, as well.

How to use the Clone Stamp tool: the basics

Getting started with the Clone Stamp tool is simple. You just tell Photoshop two things:

  1. The area you want to target for removal (i.e., the target area).
  2. The area Photoshop should use to supply replacement pixels (i.e., the source area).

So if you were removing a person from a staircase (as I did in the example above), you would set the source area as some nearby stairs, and you would set the target area as the person you wanted to remove.

Here’s the step-by-step process for using the tool:

Step 1: Select the Clone Stamp tool from the Tools panel

You’ll find the Tools panel on the left-hand side of your screen (the Clone Stamp tool looks like a rubber stamp):

selecting the Clone Stamp tool

Once you have the tool selected, click on the Brush menu dropdown:

opening the Brush settings

And set both the Size and the Hardness.

adjusting brush size and hardness

Step 2: Select the source area

Remember, the source area refers to the portion of the image you will use to source replacement pixels.

So hover your cursor over the source area, hold the Alt/Option key (your cursor will now become a target), and do a single click.

Step 3: Paint over the target area

Release the Alt key and move your mouse over to the area you’d like to remove. Hold down the mouse button and carefully paint in the new pixels.

And that’s it. You’re done! But while the process sounds simple, there’s a lot to understand, especially if you want to become a Clone Stamp expert.

So let’s take a look at some tips and tricks to help you conquer this important Photoshop tool, starting with:

1. Work on a new layer

Before making changes with the Clone Stamp tool, always create a new layer. Then make sure your adjustments all happen on the layer (you can flatten the image when you’re done).

Why should you do this?

There are many reasons. First of all, Photoshop layers are nondestructive – so changes to the layer won’t change the underlying pixels of your image. In addition, if you don’t like where the changes are going, you can always delete the layer and start over.

And if you later decide there are portions of the Clone Stamp changes you don’t want, you can always use a layer mask to selectively delete those changes. Plus, you can apply adjustments specifically to cloned areas if they are on a new layer (as will be explored in more depth below).

Now, creating a new layer is easy. Simply press Ctrl/Cmd+J to create a duplicate of your current image layer, or press Shift+Ctrl/Cmd+N to create a new blank layer.

Working on a new layer with the Clone Stamp tool

Note: If you do create a new blank layer, make sure you have All Layers selected as your source in the Clone Stamp tool settings.

selecting All Layers for the Clone Stamp tool

I personally prefer working on a new layer (as opposed to a duplicate layer), but either way will work.

2. Zoom in (way in)

When working with the Clone Stamp tool, you should always zoom in – in fact, I recommend you zoom way in (potentially to 100% and beyond).

zoomed in image with Clone Stamp tool on the side
I tend to do my Clone Stamp work zoomed in to 100% or more.

Zooming in will help isolate the area you are working on, and it will allow you to work with far more detail and precision than would otherwise be possible. Make your changes look as good as you can with this higher level of detail, then when you zoom back out, the changes will blend in perfectly.

A shortcut for zooming quickly is to hold the Alt/Option key with your left hand while using the scroll wheel on your mouse to zoom in and out. You can also use Ctrl/Cmd and the + or key on the keyboard. That way, you can zoom in and out with speed.

3. Set your brush size using shortcuts

When working with the Clone Stamp tool, you’ll need to change your brush size often.

Why? You should always make sure your brush size fits the changes you’re making. Big changes require a big brush, whereas small changes require a fine brush for detail work.

Unfortunately, changing the size through the Brush panel is cumbersome, but there are some easy keyboard shortcuts:

  • The left bracket key [ makes the brush smaller
  • The right bracket key ] makes the brush larger

Thanks to these shortcuts, you’ll be able to rapidly tailor the tool to your specific circumstances.

4. Set the proper brush hardness

The Clone Stamp tool can be set to whatever hardness you desire. Simply open the Brush panel, then adjust the Hardness slider:

Setting the hardness of the brush

Now, hardness determines the extent to which your cloning will blend in with the surrounding pixels. If you set the hardness toward 100%, the cloned edges will be hard and definite:

hard-edged Clone Stamp brush example

If you set the hardness toward 0%, the edges will blend in with the surroundings:

soft-edged Clone Stamp brush example

In general, keep the hardness at 0%. It will help you seamlessly blend in your effect. There will be times, however, where you are working near a defined edge, in which case you should increase the hardness. Even then, around 50% will usually do. Setting the hardness any higher creates harsh transitions, and these often look unnatural (they’ll also make it very clear you’ve used the Clone Stamp tool).

5. Clone before making other adjustments

Here’s a quick Clone Stamp tool tip:

Do your cloning before making adjustments (via adjustment layers) to contrast, color, etc. If you apply the Clone Stamp tool after creating those adjustment layers, you’ll bake the changes permanently into your picture when you clone – which can be a problem if you later decide you want to remove some of your earlier adjustments.

However, in some cases, you’ll need to clone, yet you will have already made changes on an adjustment layer. So what do you do? Photoshop actually lets you decide whether to include adjustment layer changes in your cloning, and I generally recommend you don’t include these changes.

Simply select the circle with a line through it in the Clone Stamp tool Options bar:

preventing the Clone Stamp tool from being affected by adjustment layers

And Photoshop will ignore adjustment layers when you clone.

6. Grab the low-hanging fruit

Most of the time, your pictures will have some easy items to clone out – along with some harder items.

Clone out the easy items first, such as small blemishes on a portrait subject, dirt in a landscape, trash in a street scene, etc.

For one, this will give you confidence in your Clone Stamp tool abilities (always a good thing!). Plus, removing unnecessary items will help when the time comes to make hard changes.

How will it help? When using the Clone Stamp tool, the cleaner the space you have from which you can draw pixels, the better. So by making the easy changes first, you’re cleaning up the areas that may feature in your more difficult clone jobs later.

Make sense?

7. Watch for patterns

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to include patterns in your cloning; for instance, if you’re removing a person from in front of a building, you’ll want to use a similar building as your cloning source.

However, there are often times when you don’t want discernible patterns in your cloned areas. For instance, if you get rid of a bird in the sky, you don’t want to replace it with an obvious set of repetitive clouds – that would look super unnatural and would immediately indicate to viewers that you used the Clone Stamp tool.

There is an easy way to avoid patterns: as you clone, frequently choose a new source point. Sample from one area and clone one part of your image, then sample from another area and clone another part, and so on. Keep it up until you’ve finished all the necessary cloning, and you’ll end up with an image featuring zero repetition and an invisible clone job.

removing distractions from a lighthouse photo without creating a pattern
The right side of this image was filled with distractions, and the Clone Stamp tool eliminated them. But I had to be careful not to create patterns in the rocks or in the trees/water!

8. Follow the lines

A key to the successful use of the Clone Stamp tool is making all the lines in your picture match. Even slight deviations from the correct lines will look fake and destroy the effect you are trying to achieve.

For example, if you’re cloning parts of a landscape, make sure the edges of the tree branches match up. In an urban context, follow lines on buildings such as roof edges, doorways, and brickwork.

When you’re using the Clone Stamp tool, I recommend you start with – and stay focused on! – the lines. Let the rest of the pixels fall where they may. Afterward, if you need to go back over other areas, you can do so.

removing a person from an interior shot
Here, I’ve zoomed in on a portion of an architectural shot. As you can see, I’ve used the patterns on the floor and door to recreate the space behind the distracting person.

9. Avoid selecting from adjacent areas

As previously mentioned, a dead giveaway of the Clone Stamp tool is repetition.

Of course, in a sense, the Clone Stamp tool is all about repetition – you’re repeating a part of your image to cover up a part you don’t like – but you need to do it in such a way that the viewer doesn’t notice. If you draw pixels from an immediately adjacent area, you risk the viewer noticing the repetition. So take the pixels from somewhere else in the image instead.

Inadvertently creating a pattern is an easy trap to fall into when using adjacent areas, but at the same time, using non-adjacent areas can be tricky. The immediately adjacent areas are usually the closest in color and tone to the area you want to replace, and as you move farther away, tones and colors change so the pixels get harder to match.

So work hard. Find a way to use pixels from somewhere else in your photo, especially when the adjacent pixels contain obvious patterns. It might take extra time, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

10. Muddle through (and accept the messiness)

Once you’ve made the “easy” changes to your photo, it’s time to tackle a bigger problem – a crowd of people, for instance, or a car that takes up a large portion of the scene. And I get it: it’s the scary part of using the Clone Stamp tool.

The key is to just dive in. Don’t try to figure it all out beforehand (you never will). You can use a couple of different approaches:

  1. Go big first. Set your brush a little larger than is strictly necessary and just replace the entire area in one fell swoop. You should then go back and clean up with a smaller brush.
  2. Go small and steady. Stick with the smaller brush and paint over the problem area gradually. Here, the key is to keep going. Remember that you can go over the area again if necessary. Whatever you do on your first pass, while probably not perfect, will undoubtedly look better than what you started with.

You’ve just got to do it. There is a tendency to freeze up and to try to map out the entire clone job, step by step, before actually doing anything. But this just causes you to stare at the computer screen for long periods of time and isn’t especially helpful.

Remember, you can always undo what you’ve done! In addition, because you hopefully followed the first tip in this article and are working on a new layer, you can always mask out certain areas or even delete them if you don’t get the result you want.

11. Mirror your source pixels

The Clone Source panel contains lots of adjustments you can make to your brush when cloning.

To access the panel, go to Window, then click on Clone Source:

opening the Clone Source window

Once in the panel, you can change the angle of the replacement pixels, you can give the tool an offset, and more.

One of the most useful features in the Clone Source panel is the Flip Horizontal option:

using the Flip Horizontal setting in the Clone Source panel

Click on this, and the pixels will be replaced in the opposite horizontal direction to the source.

Confused? Don’t be. You’re basically just mirroring source pixels. For example, in the crop below, I selected the road line on the right as my source, then cloned it off to the left. You can see how the pixels are flipped horizontally:

example of Flip Horizontal in action

While this may seem like a pointless trick, it can actually be very useful. Imagine you’re dealing with a symmetrical object; instead of sourcing pixels from above or below the clone target, you can simply use pixels from its opposite (reflective) side.

Here’s a typical example: A person is covering one side of a doorway, and you want to get rid of them. By clicking on Flip Horizontal, you can use the other side of the doorway as your source, and you don’t have to scramble for pixels all around the frame.

12. Change the cloned areas with adjustment layers

Sometimes, your cloned areas just won’t look exactly like the surroundings. Perhaps the source areas you used were too bright or too dark, or perhaps the colors were just a bit off.

But don’t worry; you can fix this without affecting the surrounding pixels. You just need the power of adjustment layers.

Simply create a new adjustment layer (e.g., Levels, Curves, or Hue/Saturation):

creating a new adjustment layer

Make sure it’s positioned above your cloning layer. Then hold down the Alt/Option key and click on the spot between the two layers:

clipping an adjustment layer to the cloning layer below it

This will clip the adjustment layer to your cloning layer. Now any adjustments you apply will only change the layer below it, and you’re free to brighten, darken, add contrast, adjust colors, etc.

Mastering the Clone Stamp tool: final words

Remember: Using the Clone Stamp tool can be a messy process. So don’t worry if you find yourself having to redo changes or make things up as you go along. There is no magical “clean” method – instead, the Clone Stamp tool involves a lot of experimentation, a lot of problem-solving, and a dose of determination.

Take your time and just keep moving. You can always undo your changes (or, if you are working on a new layer, you can delete the changes without losing the rest of your work).

And have fun!

Now over to you:

Do you have any tips or tricks for using the Clone Stamp tool? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post 12 Tips to Master the Clone Stamp Tool in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jim Hamel.

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ACDSee releases free beta of Gemstone, its brand-new Photoshop competitor

08 Jul

ACD Systems, the maker of image software like Photo Studio and Photo Editor, has launched a free beta version of its all-new photo editing software, Gemstone.

Gemstone is a new standalone multi-document interface, similar to Adobe Photoshop. Gemstone features a layered image editor and up-to-date RAW image support. Gemstone will include a combination of all-new features and familiar features from ACDSee’s Photo Studio and Editor products, including:

  • Light EQ
  • Frequenty Separation
  • Path text
  • Pixel Targeting
  • Color Wheels
  • Tone Wheels
  • Liquify Tool

Beyond these features, Gemstone offers full RAW development support for more than 500 camera models. The multi-document interface (MDI) allows users to have multiple documents open simultaneously and supports split view. Images can be edited across multiple layers, allowing users to perform complex adjustments and add layered effects within a non-destructive workflow.

Gemstone can work with RAW images from more than 500 cameras. Credit: ACDSee

‘We are expecting tens of thousands of users to try Gemstone and provide input. Gemstone is complete with a multi-document interface, layered editor, and RAW support. We are excited to share what we have built so far, and what is to come,’ said Frankl Lin, COO and CTO at ACD Systems.

The Gemstone beta is available now for free. You can download the beta by signing up here. To run Gemstone, you must be using Windows and have an Intel or AMD processor with 64-bit support. 4GB of RAM is required, although 8GB is recommended. You must have a DirectX 10 compatible graphics adapter. For the full list of system requirements, visit the Gemstone product page. ACDSee expects the full Gemstone product to release this fall.

ACDSee has published numerous videos providing an overview of Gemstone, which can be seen below.

Alongside product overview videos, ACDSee has published a Gemstone beta review with professional photographer Alec Watson. In Watson’s review, you get a great look at Gemstone’s user interface, layers, RAW editor, and more. You can even see Watson use a sharpening adjustment layer, something not available in Photoshop. He calls Gemstone ‘super easy to use’ and gives it a thumbs up.

That is, of course, just one photographer’s opinion in a video published by the manufacturer. If you want to try Gemstone for yourself, visit ACDSee.

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