LMW1 Photoshop Demos

Jump to Photoshop 1: Intro :: Jump to Photoshop 2: Type tool, paths, layer styles, masking :: Jump to Photoshop 3: preparing images for other software.


Digital Images

Know the tools you are working with.

Using Google images

In general, you need large files to work with. Use Google's filter: Search Tools > Size > Large. 

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Be sure to download the full size image — wait for it to load, then drag it from the browser to your computer, or View Image, then drag.

  • You can drag an image directly from a browser to Photoshop, but it may come in as a Smart Object, which may limit your editing options.
  • Solution: rasterize the layer. Layers > Rasterize > Smart Object (or Smart Object > Rasterize).
  • To make it so you don’t have to do this every time, go to Photoshop > Preferences > General and turn off “Place or Drag Raster Images as Smart Objects”.
  • If you use a gif file, the Image > Mode may be set to Indexed Color. Set it to RGB Color so you can work with it.
  • Adobe Photoshop is the most widely known image editor for raster-based or bitmap graphics. A raster is simply a grid — an image is a grid of pixels.
  • More pixels = larger image = larger file size = longer load times on the internet. In web design, the designer must know the issues with quality versus speed.

What’s a pixel?

For our purposes, a pixel is the smallest unit in a picture. Each pixel has a color value using RGBA — red, green, blue and alpha (alpha = transparency in Photoshop).

Some image file formats:

  • JPG (RGB) (note: JPG has no alphas channel, transparent parts are replaced with black (RGB = 0,0,0). JPG images downloaded from the internet are highly compressed – makes Photoshop tools struggle to find edges)
  • PNG (RGBA) (Use PNG when you need a transparent background.)
  • PSD (RGBA) (contains layers)
  • GIF (RGBA) (of these four, this is the oldest image format. GIF compression uses limited colors and dithering).
  • TIFF (RGBA) (uncompressed, can contain layers)



Photoshop part 1: Intro

Setting up a new Photoshop file.

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File > New. Name your file Lastname_Firstname. 1280×720 pixels. 72 pixels/inch. RGB Color.

Don't forget to change units from inches to pixels — in inches, 1280 x 720 creates a huge file that will make your computer slow, and everything you drop into it will appear tiny in relation to the canvas.

Opening images

  • If you use File > Open, your image file will open in a new tab.
  • If you drag a file to the dock icon, the file will open in a new tab.
  • If you drag a file into an open document, it will “Place” the file as a new layer in your documnet (same as File > Place) and show as a bounding box — double click or hit Return to accept it. will be on a new layer (as a Smart Object you will have to rasterize if the preference is set).


There are a couple of ways you can place your image in a file:

  1. Select all or part of a layer in one document, Copy it, then go to another open tab/window and Paste.
  2. With the move tool active, drag your image to the collage tab and wait for to switch, then release. (Ctrl+tab to navigate between files.)


Saving your work

You can't save a .psd to your WordPress site. To make sure your images are suitable for your site, use File > Save for Web. Select JPEG, quality: 60. Make sure your image is the right size.

In LMW, you also need to save your "master file" .psd to the Assignment Dropbox.


To rescale or distort, use the Free Transform tool

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(Edit Menu > Free Transform or Cmd-T). Right click inside the bounding box to see the contextual menu: Distort, warp, rotate, flip, etc.


Image Menu and Canvas Menu

Image Size. We are only concerned with Pixel Dimensions in the top part of the window. Document Size is for print. Changing the Image Size “hard codes” (crops) canvas to new dimensions.

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Use Canvas Size to change your document size without distorting or changing your layer sizes. This changes only the canvas view, leaving any pixel data existing beyond edges of canvas.

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Layers Panel

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  • Layer you are working with must be selected
  • Can select multiple layers with shift or command key
  • Stacking order, top = front
  • Visibility (eyeball)
  • Opacity (vs fill, which only effect layer styles)
  • New layer/delete layer
  • Duplicating (Cmd+J, cut/copy/paste, option-drag)
  • Merge down (Cmd+E)
  • Shift select or Cmd-select for multiple layers
  • Blending modes
  • Alignment

Layer Styles

  • Blending Options panel (double click layer)
  • Non-destructive

Adjustment Layers

  • Top row effects lights and darks (luma), middle row effects color, bottom row “special fx”
  • Default: when added effects all layers below
  • Clip to single layer – option hover between layers (or select two tone circle icon in Adjustments panel)


Selection Tools

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  • Marquee tool (rectangle and ellipse)
  • Hold shift to constrain, option to draw from center
  • Lasso Tool (free draw, polygonal, magnetic)
  • Magic Wand and Quick Select tools
  • Select Menu:
  • Select All
  • Invert selection
  • Transform selection
  • Select by color range
  • Quick Mask mode (icon at bottom of tool bar or Q key, use brushes to draw selection (B key), X to switch between add/subtract, Q to exit back to selection “marching ants”)



Bracket keys to resize

Brush menu

Import brushes


Eraser Tool

Uses brush size


Stamp tool

Use the Stamp Tool to sample an area from an image and paint with the sample.


Blur/Sharpen/Smudge Tool

For touch up and blending layers into a background.


Smart Filters (non-destructive) allow adding filter effects to layers then changing settings when needed.



Part 2: working with type, paths, masking, layer styles

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Layer Styles

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Layers styles access the "Blending Options" menu.

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The Layer Mask button turns a selection into mask, which gets added to ther selected layer:



Part 3: Preparing images for Final Cut Pro and After Effects

  • Make sure your images are large enough and compatible with the aspect ratio of your video project in FCPX or After Effects. 
  • When using stills in video, you simply need clean "data".
  • Use Photoshop to clean up your images, but do any color correction, typography, efects, etc. "in context", i.e., in FCPX and After Effects along with other media elements.
  • In Photoshop: create clean layers, Name each layer.
  • Make sure anything you wish to animate is on a separate layer. That might mean cutting out an image from its background into two layers — one clean layer image and one clean background layer with area filled in.
  • For After Effects, you can edit a Photoshop file and update your changes in AE, just be sure to keep the layer order intact.


Color Correction: Adjustment Layers

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Top row deals with tone (lights and darks, "luminance"): Brightness?Contrast, Levels, Curves, Exposure, Vibrance

Middle row deals with color (hue): HSL, Color Balance, Black and White, Photo Filter, Channel Mixer, Color Lookup

Bottom row is "special effects": Invert, Posterize, Threshold, Selective Color, Gradient Map