Advanced Photoshop Elements Tools

Some advanced tools are easy to use and fun with Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 4.0. Here’s a quick guide to what some of these tools do.

The Magic Wand tool will select pixels in a similar color range to the ones you click on your picture. This tool is great for erasing large areas of an image that is very similar in color. I used it in my example photo to erase the clouds of the picture. I clicked on the wand tool and then clicked an area that was basically all clouds. I then got a dotted line outlining most of the clouds in the sky, then erased them using my delete button.

After the clouds are gone you can fill the dotted area using the eyedropper tool and the paint filler, or bucket. Click on the eye dropper tool and then click on a portion of the sky that is the color you want the rest to be. Looking at the color selection at the lower left of the window you can see what the color will be when you use it. Clicking on this box will bring up a window that allows you to alter or change the color. Now click on the Paint Bucket Tool and then move the bucket into the dotted area and click. It will fill the area with that color, you then use the brush tool with to smooth and fill in the color on the rest of the areas that did not get erased.

To remove the dotted lines of your selected area you have to be in the Magic Wand selection, click on the Magic Wand tool and then right click anywhere to get rid of the dotted lines. You then click on the brush and color in the areas of clouds that you did not get rid of with the Magic Tool.

The Magic Want Selection Tool is a handy and easy way to select one particular color in the picture, but beware that you only have that color of the thing you want to get rid of or alter in the area you want to be altering. This will choose any of the same colors in the entire picture. For instance if you have a picture with a person wearing a white shirt with clouds in the background and you choose the clouds to get rid of them, the shirt may also be chosen if the color is close to the one you picked.

If you want to pick and choose an area with a similar color and only in that part of the picture you would use the Magic Selection Brush Tool. This tool picks the area that is similar based not only on color but on texture to the areas near it. You can use this brush to paint the sky, not having to be careful of getting close to the trees and such of the border and it will automatically select the entire sky. You can then select a color and fill in the area to create your own sky color. You can use this tool to change the color of objects easily and quickly.

The brush shows the color that you use to see what you are selecting, let’s say someones shirt. You can change the color of the brush to anything else if it is too similar to what you are working on by using the toolbar at the top of the window. Clicking on the color block will pop up a color chart and you can choose a different color for the brush that helps you see the area you are choosing.

When you paint in an area using the brush you will have a dotted line on the edges of the areas that are similar in color and texture. Using the brush you don’t have to get real close to the edges, just paint any areas that are similar with a quick line of the brush. You can then delete that color and area and fill in with another, changing someones shirt color easily. You can alter the color using the color fill and the opacity settings by just filling over the original color and having the opacity set somewhere below 100%. With this method you can tone down a too bright shirt and not alter any of the rest of a picture.

The Lasso, Polygon Lasso and Magnetic Lasso Tool is other useful tools that selects areas using a drawn line that follows either the brush you are using or snaps to the objects that you select depending on which feature you select. These tools are very useful but hard to use and takes a lot of practice. This is one of those advanced features that takes a lot of patience and practice to become adept at. Using these tools in conjunction with the features of the tools you can select objects that have varying colors and textures to alter or edit them. This is handy for things like selecting something like a basket with a bottle of wine in it that would be different textures and colors.

The Spot Healing Brush is another very easy to use tool but is one that takes patience to use. This brush replaces the color and texture with one that is appropriate to the one that yo choose using either of the options of the tool. If you choose Proximity Match it will color over the area of the brush with the color and texture that is near it. This is useful to hide or color over blemishes or other unwanted features on people skin. If you select Create Texture the tool will automatically use the colors under the brush to make a color and texture to replace the ones there. Another very useful function of this tool is to cover over distracting portions of a picture. I have pictures of my son we are going to use for his Senior Portraits. One has him sitting on a tree and there are some large brighter and darker colored areas and knots on the tree that is somewhat distracting. Using this healing tool you can get rid of those areas and replace them with colors and like textures that are of the bark near the areas we want to replace. This quickly and easily replaces those areas you don’t want on a photo with the colors and textures near by or with ones created like the ones they are replacing.

Two other handy tools are the Blur and Dodge tools. The blur tool does just that, blurs the area under the brush at the strength that is selected at the top of the window. The size and the strength can be changed along with some other features like whether you want to darken or lighten the blur or if you want to change the color or other features like this. Blur is nice to use to highlight a person or object in a photo and make the background less busy. If the subject of your photo is in a busy background or if the colors in the background are similar to the ones of your subject you might want to blur the background to make the subject stand out more.

The Dodge tool is also a handy tool to change certain areas of a photo and keep the original texture and color, only lighten or darken the area. If you want to darken or lighten an area you would simply use this tool and paint the area. Using the brush size for the control to color the areas and dodge to lighten or burn to darken you can color an area of a photo to lighten or darken it. This is handy when an area of a picture is in shadow but you don’t want it to be or if you want to create a shadow area.

The Sponge tool is a very similar tool that changes the color saturation of an area. This will make colors appear brighter or darker without coloring over them with a white or black as in the Dodge Tool. This is handy for toning down a color or brightening one without changing the actual color. The Dodge Tool changes the color of the object by adding or taking away from the color using black and white. The Sponge tool uses the same color only it moves up and down the color scale depending on whether you are brightening or darkening.

These tools are handy ways to edit and fix photos and make the subject in your photo stand out. They also help you separate your subject so you can work on areas that need to be altered without changing other parts of your photo. Adobe’s Photoshop Elements comes with many handy tools to help you make the most of your digital imaging.

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