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What’s the best part of Photoshop is the fact that you can do practically everything in the software, and this, without the aid of any other external software or plugin.
With advancements, some of the in-built plugins have taken the task forward, but even now, some of the designers across the world use Photoshop 7. It isn’t straightforward to understand the basics of
Photoshop, so we will go through some of the menus and features to get to know them in details.
Menus in Photoshop
File menu consists of creating and opening files, saving them or exporting them, automating and using scripts among others. The new file creation tool for Photoshop is really simple. It involves hitting Ctrl/Cmd + N (or File>New), and a dialogue box opens up.
The new file in the Photoshop CC 2019 opens up various options, like clipboard, custom, or default Photoshop Size (which is 7 x 5 in @ 300 PPI). There are also different fixed standards of sizes like A3, A4, A5 in international sizes, 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720 in cinema mode, etc.
Photoshop provides all of those, while also providing an option to look for templates on Adobe Stock from New File menu itself.
Open Menu in Photoshop
The Open Menu is equally varied. Along with the usual open, there’s open recent – useful while working on recent projects. Photoshop showcases last 20 files which can be opened at 1 click.
Even on the home screen in new Photoshop, these 20 files are visible with the thumbnails, making it easier to open the files.
There’s also closing and saving options, along with the export menu. Quick export as PNG and Save for Web are two tools highly used to save files to exact specifications, and as per the size.
Options to automate the process, place the files, print, are all within the File Menu. Automating includes creating a PDF Presentation, Batch processing, Lens Corrections, Merge to HDR, among others. Batch processing is perhaps one of the most underused but highly valuable tools, along with Actions, which makes Photoshop useful.
When you specify the input file folder, output file folder, and the action to be used, you can sit back and relax while Photoshop carries out the process with ease.
The Edit Menu in Photoshop
The Edit Menu is one of the basics of Photoshop. Apart from the Undo, Redo, and Going to last state (different than Undo because you can specify the number of levels you can do). Copy and Paste commands are there, along with Paste Special.
What Paste Special does is opens various options like Paste Into Place, Paste Into, Paste without Formatting, and Paste Outside. These can be useful for particular purposes while working on Photoshop.
Fill and Stroke
Fill, and Stroke are two of the most common tools in Photoshop. Content-aware Fill, now given separately, is an addition to Fill only. We use Fill to fill the parts of the subject with a colour, a gradient, a texture, or even a pattern. Content-aware fill is used to extend the background of the image or fill out unwanted parts or spots of the picture.
Stroke, on the other hand, creates a stroke around the pen markings made via Pen tool. Content-Aware Fill (and scale) work only with a selection, unlike other forms of Fill.
Image Menu: Defining Colors & Modes
Some of the important menu items of Image Menu are:
Image Mode: Be it Grayscale (black and white), Indexed Color, RGB Color, CMYK Color, Lab Color, or Multichannel, the software provides options for each professional. A digital artist would use more of RGB Color, while someone inclined towards printing will go for CMYK. Each colour mode has a specific reason.
Similarly, there’s an option for 8 Bits/channel, 16 Bits/channel and 32 Bits/channel option.
Adjustments Tab in Photoshop
Apart from this, there is an Adjustments tab (colour, exposure, contrast, etc.) and options of auto-adjusting images on the basis of tone, contrast, and colour. Image Size and Canvas Size options are there too. While they may appear to be the same, but Image Size resizes the full image, including all layers, while Canvas Size resizes the Canvas, keeping all the layer data intact.
So if you reduce canvas size, your layers will be the same, but the pictures and elements will appear bigger. However, if you reduce the image size, all the layers will be proportionately reduced in size (with regards to each other). Rotation, crop, trim, etc are some other functions.
One of the most important tools that are the base of high-end retouching is Apply Image. With apply image, you can create a high-frequency layer, the layer that contains the details. Without this, there’s no accurate way of creating details data.
Layer Menu in Photoshop
Photoshop Works on layers. It is one of the most important features of Photoshop, making it a non-destructive form of editing, and allowing to go back or edit any parts of the image later.
In CC 2019, Adobe has added many new features to Layers, like:
Artboard from Layers
Frame from Layers
Delete Hidden Layers
Frames and Layers
The work on Frames has been so specific that the Photoshop Professionals who moved between Photoshop and Lightroom for framing will be happy with the work they’ve done with frames.
There’s also a beautiful feature added – of deleting Hidden Layers. It is one of the most helpful features that will reduce the clutter and file sizes for artists who work hard and long on single files.
Create New Fill Layer
There are also options for New Fill Layer and New Adjustment Layers. New fill layer allows you to fill a layer with a pattern, gradient, or solid colour – to start a new file perhaps. New adjustment layer, also available as one-click control in the layers tab, adds an adjustment layer above the current layer.
There is masking option available as both layer and vector mask. The layer mask is scalar as Photoshop is a pixel-based program. Grouping, arranging, and merging layers in various ways is also another option available in the layers menu.
Type Menu in Photoshop
Adobe CC 2019 offers Type as a separate menu, and some of the new features added consistently over the progression of Adobe Creative Cloud, are worth looking at.
Some of them are:
Typekit: Typekit is an Adobe Cloud feature which involves colours and fonts as a series to provide for a better branding experience as well as helps club fonts used together in the same place.
Match Font: This feature is one of the best features which allows you to crop to the area of the text and let Adobe find the font – or closest options.
Other font menu options were there earlier too, but are now better organised in proper menus.
Select Menu Tab in Photoshop
The select menu is all about various types of selections. There are, in all, over 20 different ways of preferences in Photoshop. You can reach the same result in different ways if you wish so.
Selection, de-selection, re-selection, layer-based selection, inverse selection are some of the common selection tools. Then there’s the quick mask mode which helps in refining your masks in a simple way where the unselected portion has a red translucent mask over it.
Colour Range and Focus Area
There’s also colour range and focus area selection option – which are some of the finest ways of selecting the most difficult selections. With select and mask, you can reach a new menu where choices are straightforward.
Hidden beneath it is refine edge tool – the tool that had revolutionised the hair and fur selections. Select the basic part of the subject, and then go to select menu, and press shift while hitting select and mask. You get hidden, and much requested refine edge tool.
There’s transform selection, which works in the same way as transform does – only that the transformation is applied to selections only. Modifying selections, saving and loading selections, and creating 3D objects from selections are other options.
Filter Menu in Photoshop
Photoshop has plenty of filters. There’s also a provision to add more. The new Adobe Extension has made it even easier to find filters and plugins to make the image editing and manipulation easier.
Some of the standard filter options are:
Convert for Smart Filters: This converts the layer into Smart Object, and you can add filters one after another. You can also hide filters just like you hide layers, rearrange them sequentially, and mask the filter later overall.
Filter Gallery: Adobe Filter Gallery is a goldmine full of endless ways of editing or manipulating an image. There are 46 individual filters, each with different controls, and each could be added one after another. Although it is only 46 filters, the possibilities are endless.
Camera RAW Filter: The Adobe’s Camera Raw Plug-in for Photoshop gives it all the tools of Lightroom with an option to expand more. Why this tool is great is because it contains all the possible retouching and manipulation tools you will need, but they can be applied to any layer. It doesn’t have to be RAW, although RAW responds better to the plug-in.
Liquify: The best manipulation tool, used since ages by cartoonists, digital artists, and professional retouchers, liquify is hugely underrated, yet overly used. It is overly used because it appears to be an easy tool to make someone’s body look flattering. However, it is underrated because there are so many applications of this tool that you can use it, for one thing, a day, and still, feel ready to explore more at the end of the year.
Some of the other filters include:
Blurs: Various types of blurs, including Gaussian, lens, directional, and motion blur can be found here.
Distort & Noise Filters help in adding some distortion or noise.
Render Filters help in generating fibres, flares, frames, etc.
Pixellate and Other Filters help in creating mosaics and high-passes (used in sharpness)
Sharpness filters provide various ways of enhancing or reducing the sharpness of the subjects.
3D Menu in Photoshop allows for whole new controls in 3D, which help in creating 3D Logos, and working with 3D text and extrusions from layers, etc.
This menu is designed especially for those working in print. With gamut warning, proof set-ups, guides and rules, and ability to snap and lock guides, it is all about finetuning the designs for print. For example, below, we are looking at an RGB image with a Working CMYK Proof Setup.
There are also options to view this for other machines and digital systems, but for most of them, an Adobe RGB or sRGB work well. ProPhoto RGB can’t be seen by most monitors, while sRGB is the global standard.
Window Menu in Photoshop
Window Menu consists of all the options available for us to see or hide. Some of the windows we commonly keep on, while others we hide or show depending on the present usage. Window Menu also helps in arranging the workspaces and tiling the image tabs.
Some of the workspaces in Adobe are:
Essentials (Default): Containing only the essential windows for use.
3D: As the name suggests, it has all the 3D Menus and Windows for ready-use.
Graphic & Web: For graphic and web designers, Adobe has simplified the Adobe user interface.
Motion: One lesser-known fact about Photoshop is that it is also a useful tool for videos. Motion workspace helps in achieving the direction.
Painting: Be it matte painting, digital painting, or realistic oil paintings, Photoshop has the tools, the means, and the menus and windows for all of them.
Photography: Obviously, Photoshop can’t miss Photographers, who are most likely to hear the verb ‘Photoshop the pics’.
Apart from these, there’s an option to reset, create new, or delete a workspace. This allows for more control on personalising the software. Window menu also helps in hiding and showing windows, like character, actions, styles, swatches, etc.
Without the Help Menu, Photoshop would be incomplete. The extensive software is also backed up by extensive help guide. You can simply press F1.
Online forums of Adobe where experts from all over the world try to solve queries is another way. You can also look for updates, manage the account, add or remove plug-ins via this Menu.
Is a self-taught photographer and cinematographer, whose idea of using creative tools is to showcase his vision. Modern-day technology has made this art easier and more accessible, and therefore, one needs to put in more effort to carve his or her niche in the present generation. His motivation for work comes from real life.
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