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Three Short Tutorials for Photographers and Photography Lovers

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Since its very beginning, Photoshop is the best tool for photo editing and this time I'll take you through a few of short tutorials with some very basic yet practical techniques about using Photoshop with your pictures. Won't take you more than 10 minutes each! Want to try?

Create a quick Panoramic Picture with Photoshop

Take a look at the image we'll be creating. Want access to the full PSD files and downloadable copies of every tutorial, including this one? Join Psd Plus for just $19/month. You can view the final image preview below.

Final Click

Step 1 - Before Getting Started

Creating a panoramic picture is about taking several pictures and merging them in Photoshop. You can use the automatic Photoshop merging tool, or do it by hand using the Clone Stamp Tool. As any automate process isn't 100% accurate, we'll combine both techniques here.

Obviously, the first step is take the shots, but when you're taking a panoramic photo, it isn't as simple as just pressing the shooter. For this picture I've got the help of my friend Alvaro Gumucio aka Gumo who took the shots with his Nikon d700 especially for Psdtuts+. He said: "I traveled around 3 hours to find a suitable place, with both tripod and camera in hand. I climbed a small hill and set the tripod in the right place to start shooting."

For this kind of pictures you need a clean view, without obstacles like trees, wires, or any other natural object.

Step 2 - Set Up and Align the Camera

You'll need a stand alone tripod to put the camera in. If you don't have a tripod, use any static object like a box, table, etc. with a horizontal surface to rotate your camera. Try to level your tripod as best as you can, aligning it with the horizon, otherwise the outcome may result with a little angle distortion (as we'll see shortly). Once you've got everything set up, start taking the pictures.

Step 3 - Take the Shots

There're several things to care about taking panoramic pictures, you can see further information over the web, click here to read a very complete article about the subject.

Anyway you can start taking the shots. Rotate the camera a few degrees between shots. In this tutorial the photographer took 7 pictures rotating the camera around 20 degrees between each shot from right to left; that means a 140 degrees panorama. Trust your photographic instincts to measure the angles or use some math and trigonometry to obtain an accurate final width. You can take as many shots as you want, even rotate 360 degrees. It's always a good practice to name the pictures with some descriptive name like: "panoramic-1" or something.

Step 4 - The Files

Now you must have a bunch of pictures, if you scramble the photos you hardly can re-order them again, that's why you give each picture a sequential name. You can download the pictures here or a larger version in the Plus section. Those pictures are licensed using a Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution - No Commercial License (View).

Step 5 - Automate Photomerge

Now the automate part of the process. Open Photoshop, and go to File > Automate > Photomerge. A new window will appear with two columns. The first one about the merging Layout, you can chose several optical modes to adjust the layout of the final result, often the best election is Auto but you can try with the others options as well.

The second column is where you'll put the files in, you can select a group of files or a folder with your source pictures. Just Click on Browse and add all the pictures you want to merge, in this case, add all the pictures of the previous step, from 1 to 7. Once you've added the files ensure the Blend Images Together option is selected and then Click OK.

Step 6 - Check the Merging Result

After clicking OK in the Photomerge window, Photoshop will automatically adjust the pictures to fit a panoramic view. When the process ends you'll have something like the image below.

Aside from the Layers palette, there will be a folder with the modified pictures inside. You'll see the resultant panorama isn't a straight horizontal image, that's because we've failed to perfectly align the camera with the horizon (see Step 2), but it's not the end of the world, we'll fix this issue in the next step.

Step 7 - Fix the Angle

There are several ways to fix the angle variation, the easiest is using the Crop Tool, my favorite way is using the Lens Correction filter, but we'll talk more about it in the next short tutorial. Meanwhile: select the Crop Tool and mark a wider portion of the picture, then Rotate the Crop just a little bit taking care to cover all the image. Finally, hit Return to commit the Crop and save your file anywhere on your computer.

Step 8 - Clone Over the Imperfections

One of the most important steps of this process is about fixing the little areas without any image on it. You can easily find them because Photomerge uses a transparent background by default, so just zoom to the borders and look for those ugly transparent areas.

Create a new layer above all the pictures and name it "Fixes" and select it. Then select the Clone Stamp Tool (S) and ensure the Sample All Layers option is selected. Once you've found a transparent area, grab the Clone Tool, Alt-click anywhere near it and start painting over. Remember, paint only on the "Fixes" layer.

Repeat this process as many times as needed. If you're working with large images, you must be very careful with this step because there are many small transparent areas near the border.

Final Touches

Finally merge the folder into a new layer named "Panorama."

By now you've got a nice panoramic picture ready to print. If you ever printed gigantography, a really big print format like Panaflex™ or on high definition Plotter, this picture is really practical for creating huge letters, posters, banners, and more. As a final touch I've added some text on the right side of the panorama and set its blending mode to Soft Light.

Conclusion

And that's it, simple right? try your own!.

Final Click

Part Two - Fix the Perspective with the Lens Correction Filter

Take a look at the image we'll be creating. Want access to the full PSD files and downloadable copies of every tutorial, including this one? Join Psd Plus for just $19/month. You can view the final result below or view a larger version here.

Final Click

Step 1 - Open your picture

For this tutorial you'll need to download this picture or any other, try to work on a picture with some kind of perspective distortion. Once you've opened the file, double-click on the "Background" layer to make it editable and name the layer with a creative name like "Building."

Step 2 - Open the Lens Correction Filter Window

Now, go to Filter > Distort > Lens Correction. In the Lens Correction window you'll see a grid over the picture and several options at the right side. We'll work with the right side values to modify the picture perspective and more.

Step 3 - Adjust the Perspective, Without Repeating Edge Pixels

Now, on this filter you can easily adjust the perspective by changing its horizontal or vertical values, the filter will automatically adjust the picture. Probably you'll need to fill the distortion edge using one of the options shown at the bottom.

This time, we'll Transform the Vertical Perspective form 0 to -50. This is variable and depends on the picture you're editing. Set the Edge value to Transparency this time, that means no pixels will be added to the edge of the picture. I'm adjusting the correct distortion by eye, using the columns on the picture as a visual reference.

Step 4 - Crop

Now use the Crop Tool to select only the main picture area. You must use the Clone Stamp Tool to fix the transparent areas.

Step 5 - Adjust the Perspective of Repeating Edge Pixels

A quick way to avoid cloning is setting the Edge value to Edge Extension. Since it's a little bit linear, the edge extension can often optimize the perspective adjustment process.

Step 6 - Crop

Crop the picture, you'll notice there are less areas to clone or even none.

Step 7 - Adjusting the Lens Angle

You can draw some guides to see if everything is going well. I've made two guides for the columns, and one for the baseline. As you can see, the baseline isn't straight, there's a little angle variation that we'll fix by using the Lens Correction filter once more. Go to Filter > Distort > Lens Correction and modify the Angle Transform on the Perspective area to around 0,4 degrees.

Step 8 - Dark Vignette

As a final visual touch add a dark vignette by setting the Amount to -70 and Midpoint to +60.

Conclusion

Fixing the perspective with the Lens Correction Filter is an easy, accurate and quick process that you can use anytime with any kind of picture, try it!

Final Click

Part three - Use Photoshop's CS4 Color Range Selection and Adjustments Layers to Create a Gothic Portrait

Take a look at the image we'll be creating. Want access to the full PSD files and downloadable copies of every tutorial, including this one? Join Psd Plus for just $19/month. You can view the final image preview below or view a larger version here.

Final Click

Step 1 - Open the Picture

We'll be using for this tutorial this beautiful picture of binababy1 from stock.xchng. Double-click on the background layer to make it editable, name it with some creative name like "Picture" and duplicate it. Put the copy below the original layer.

Step 2 - Select a Color Range

We'll increase the red intensity of the model's lips, go to Select > Color Range... Select the option Sampled Colors, and click somewhere over the lips to sample the red Color Range, now slide the Fuzziness where it fits better, for this picture at its original size is 144.

You can change the selection preview to see how the selections looks. Finally when you click OK you'll obtain a selection around the red lips. Select the "Picture" layer and move forward.

Step 3 - Mask the Selection

Without deselecting anything, select the "Picture" layer and go to Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All, then fill the selection with White (#FFFFFF) to make the lips visible and hide the rest of the face.

Step 4 - Show the Adjustments Panel

Go to Window > Adjustments to show the CS4 Adjustments Panel or select the Essentials Workspace at the top-right of the Photoshop window, this will show the Adjustment panel by default. We'll use this panel to add some Adjustments Layers to the "Picture copy" layer. Select it in Layers Panel (Notice the Palettes are called Panels now in the CS4 layout) and go to the next step.

Step 5 - Advanced Black and White

Once a Photographer told me: "never adjust only the Saturation to create a grayscale picture," to create a really stunning black and white picture you need to work with alpha channels, before the Adjustment Layers even exists the way to do it was only by hand.

Now we've got the Adjustments Layers. Select Black & White from the Adjustments panel, and then you'll see the Default values. With the Default settings the skin tone is a little bit gray, so we'll try another Black & White Filter to obtain a whiter skin tone.

I'm choosing the Green Filter, then I increased the Yellows, Greens, Cyans, Blues and decrease Magentas, to obtain something like the bottom image below. Ensure the Clipping Mask Button on the Adjustments Panel is clicked (that's because the adjustment only needs to be applied to the "Picture copy" layer) and then move forward.

Step 5 - Change Lips Blending Mode

In order to give a more Gothic look to our image, change the masked "Picture" layer Blending Mode to Overlay.

Step 6 - Adjust the Curves

Now we'll adjust the Curves a little bit to make the girl's nose a little bit more visible. For this, in the Adjustments Panel click on the tiny Arrow on the left to see the adjustment filters again, then select Curves and draw a curve as show below.

Step 7 - Final Touches

As some few final touches we'll add two more Adjustment layers: Vibrance and a Photo Filter. This time, place them above the "lips" layer, but ensure the Clipping mask button is deselected in the Adjustments Panel in order to apply the filter to all the layers.

For the Vibrance filter, decrease the Vibrance value just a little bit and increase the Saturation. And as an optional final step, you can add a tint to your photo by using a Photo Filter of Color: #C2A200 and Density of 50%.

Conclusion

Of course you can use this very same technique to select different areas on any picture, and create outstanding results.

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