Q: What are the best settings to use for the Patch tool in the Options Bar?
A: The first two settings to consider using for the Patch tool (which can be found nested under the Spot Healing Brush tool [J] in the Toolbar) are Patch: Content-Aware (as opposed to Normal) and Sample all Layers, which will allow you to add a blank layer, where the results of the Patch tool will appear. It’s best to change the settings for Structure and Color once you’ve used the Patch tool. Note: This is one of the few tools where the settings in the Options Bar can be changed once the tool has been used; with the majority of tools, you change the settings before using the tool.
Select the area you want to patch, and then drag it to the area from which you want to generate the patch. Before doing anything else, change the Structure and Color settings and the patch will update:
Structure: Enter a value between 1 and 7 to specify how closely the patch should reflect existing image patterns. If you enter 7, the patch adheres very strongly to existing image patterns. If you enter 1, the patch adheres very loosely to the existing image patterns.
Color: Enter a value between 0 and 10 to specify the extent to which you want Photoshop to apply algorithmic color-blending to the patch. If you enter 0, color blending is disabled. A Color value of 10 applies maximum color blending.
Q: Can I create a keyboard shortcut for the Mixer Brush for settings such as Load Brush, Clean Brush, etc.?
A: You can, but what you’re really doing is reassigning an existing tool shortcut to these commands, so you’ll have to evaluate the relative importance of shortcuts for your tools. To apply a shortcut to these tools, go to Edit>Keyboard Shortcuts and change the Shortcuts For drop-down menu to Tools. Scroll down past all the tools, and you’ll see the following options for the Mixer Brush: Load Mixer Brush, Clean Mixer Brush, Toggle Mixer Brush Auto-Load, Toggle Mixer Brush Auto-Clean, and Toggle Mixer Brush Sample All Layers. To apply a single letter shortcut to any of these, click to the right of the option (under Shortcut) and type the letter you want to use. You’ll see a warning message that indicates which tool currently has that shortcut. If you’re willing to reassign that particular shortcut, click Accept to apply the change.
Tip: You can save different sets of keyboard shortcuts, for example, a “standard” set and a Mixer Brush set, and then switch between them. Use the save set button (circled) and then switch between them using the Set drop-down menu at the top right of the dialog.
Q: What’s the difference between Paste and Paste Into?
A: Paste (Command-V [PC: Ctrl-V]) will create a new layer from the copied pixels, positioned in the center of your document. Paste Into, found under Edit>Paste Special (Command-Option-Shift-V [PC: Ctrl-Alt-Shift-V]), will paste the copied pixels into an active selection, and will create an unlinked layer mask from the selection.
Sky replacement would be one example of when to use Paste Into. After making a selection of the existing sky, select and copy the replacement sky, and then use Paste Into. A new layer will be created containing the new sky with a layer mask made from the original sky selection. The mask is unlinked with the layer, making it easy to use the Move tool (V) to reposition the sky within the mask. (Bonus Tip: Paste in a sky that’s more saturated than you need, and then lower the Opacity. That will help small details like tree branches look more realistic.)
Q: How do I use the templates that are in the New dialog?
A: To use one of the templates in the New dialog (File>New), click on the template to see a description that includes the dimensions and other details. You can also click the See Preview button to view a larger version of the template. Click the Download button and once the download is finished, click Open in the New dialog.
Depending on the template, you’ll see a layered file with frames, groups and/or smart objects that can easily be replaced. In this example, the template contains smart objects for each book. Simply double-click on the smart object thumbnail to open a temporary file, replace the placeholder with your cover, save and close the temporary file, and the book artwork updates in the original document.
Q: When I saw someone using Photoshop, there were far fewer choices appearing under their menus. He said that he had just customized Photoshop. How do I do that?
A: Look for Menus under the Edit menu. Then navigate to the menu (or menus) that has the items you wish to hide, and click the Eye icons beside those items to turn off their visibility. It’s important to note that these menu items are simply hidden, and can easily be shown again. Whenever there are any items hidden in a menu, you’ll see an option at the bottom of the menu to Show All Menu Items.
Some people use this function to “simplify” the menus and only show the functions they use the most. For example, there are six options under Filter>Sharpen, but realistically, only three offer the level of control we really want, so one could argue that there’s no reason for the other three to appear under that menu. (Similar to customizing keyboard shortcuts, this is very much a personal preference.) Once you’ve customized the menus in this manner, they’ll stay this way until you reset the menus to their default setting. And, just like the shortcuts mentioned previously, you can save sets of menus
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