Photoshop Q&A

by | 1 year ago

Q: I’d like to add a 100×100-pixel grid to a document, but have it visible when I save it as a JPEG. How can I easily do this? 

A: If you want a grid on its own layer that’s part of a design (rather than the reference Grid that’s built into Photoshop), your best bet is probably to create a custom pattern. Start by creating a new document (File>New) that has a Width and Height of 100 pixels. Assuming you want just a grid with no background, add a new layer and click the Eye icon next to Background layer in the Layers panel to hide it. Then, press Command-A (PC: Ctrl-A) to Select All, and from the Edit menu, choose Stroke. Choose the Color and Width of the stroke, and use Center as the Location. Click OK to close the Stroke dialog. Finally, go to the Edit menu and choose Define Pattern. In the Pattern Name dialog, give your pattern a meaningful name, and click OK. 

To use the pattern in your image, go to Layer>New Fill Layer>Pattern. Click OK in the New Layer dialog, and the Pattern Fill dialog will pop up. Click on the pattern preview thumbnail to open the Pattern Picker, choose your new pattern at the bottom of the Picker, and you’re good to go! (In this example, the pattern layer was set to the Overlay blend mode in the Layers panel.) 

Q: I used to use the Preset Manager to delete and change the order of my brushes and swatches, but they aren’t there any more. It only shows Contours and Tools. How do I organize these presets in Photoshop 2020? 

A: Rather than having to go to the Preset Manager, management of most presets in Photoshop 2020 is done right in the panel for each type of preset. For example, to change the order of the brushes, click-and-drag them in the Brushes panel. 

Q: I’d like to create swatches based on the colors in a photo. Is there a way to do that automatically? 

A: You can, by temporarily changing the mode of your photo to Indexed Color. Go to the Image menu and choose Mode>Indexed Color. If your image is in 16 bits, you’ll have to first change it to 8 bits, and if you have layers, you’ll have to flatten them, but don’t worry, you’ll undo all of these steps at the end. 

In the Indexed Color dialog, enter the minimum number of Colors you want, using the preview to see the number of colors that keeps your photo looking the way you want (or includes the colors you want as swatches). Once you’ve found and entered the ideal number of colors, click OK. 

Go back to the Image>Mode menu and choose Color Table. Keeping in mind that there may be a few repeating colors (we’ll fix that later), click the Save button, give your set of swatches a meaningful name, navigate to where you want to save them, and click Save to create an .act file. Click OK to close the Color Table dialog. Now step backwards, revert the image, or close without saving to make sure you don’t permanently change the file to an Indexed Color document. 

In the Swatches panel (Window>Swatches), click on the flyout menu at the top right, and select Import Swatches. Navigate to your saved .act file, and click Open. You’ll see a new folder appear in the Swatches panel that’s named the same as the .act file. Then, if necessary, click on unwanted swatches and click on the Delete Swatch icon (trash can) at the bottom of the panel to delete the swatches you don’t want. Tips: Command-click (PC: Ctrl-click) to select multiple swatches, and hold down Option (PC: Alt) when you click on the trash can to avoid the “Delete the Swatch?” warning dialog.) 

Q: Two of us share the same computer, so every time one of us uses Photoshop, he has to rearrange the other’s panel layout; plus I want to make my own shortcuts and the other user doesn’t. Is there a way to have two different users on one Photoshop? 

A: Sounds like a job for Workspaces! Each of you can go through these steps: Create the custom keyboard shortcuts you want, rearrange panels to suit your needs (you can also customize the Toolbar if you like), and then go to Window>Workspace>New Workspace. Name your workspace and check what you’d like to include in addition to the panel locations: Keyboard Shortcuts, Menus, and the Toolbar. 

Once you’ve both created your own workspaces, it’s a simple matter of choosing your workspace from the list under Window>Workspace. When you do, it will automatically change to your panel layout and your keyboard shortcuts. Then, when your colleague chooses his workspace, everything will change to his saved settings. 

Q: How do I fine-tune a selection that’s been made with the Object Selection tool? 

A: You can try using the Object Selection tool (W) itself. To add to the selection, hold down the Shift key. If you need to remove areas from a selection, hold down Option (PC: Alt) and “surround” the area that you want to fine-tune. Success will depend on factors such as contrasting edges. If using the Object Selection tool doesn’t work the way you need it to, you can also switch to the Lasso tool (L) or the Quick Selection tool (nested below the Object Selection tool in the Toolbar), and use the same shortcuts to fine-tune the selection: Shift to add to the selection, Option (PC: Alt) to remove from the selection. 

Q: I’ve tried using the Dust & Scratches filter to fix an old scanned photo that has lots of small spots on it, but it makes the overall image look a little blurry. Any suggestions?

A: One way to use the Dust & Scratches filter is to apply it as a smart filter and use its mask to apply it where you need it. To do this, convert your photo to a smart object by going to the Filter menu and choosing Convert for Smart Filters. Then go back to the Filter menu and choose Noise>Dust & Scratches. If you hover your cursor over the main image, you’ll see it turn into a small square. Use that small square to click on an area of your photo to set the preview area of the Dust & Scratches filter dialog. 

Ideally, you want to use the lowest number possible for the Radius and the highest number possible for Threshold to remove the spots. After clicking OK, click on the Smart Filters mask thumbnail in the Layers panel, and press Command-I (PC: Ctrl-I) to Invert the mask (fill it with black) to hide the effect of the Dust & Scratches filter. 

Now use the Brush tool (B) with white as the Foreground color (press D) and a small brush size to paint over all the spots. If necessary, you can double-click on the Dust & Scratches smart filter in the Layers panel to edit the settings.