Photoshop Q&A

by | 3 years ago

Q: I’d converted my document to Lab mode and added an adjustment layer, but when I converted back to RGB, everything was flattened so I couldn’t keep the adjustment layer. Is there any way around this?

A: Unfortunately, when you convert a Lab document back to RGB, you have to discard the adjustment layer or Flatten the image, but there’s a way around it (and it’s not as complicated as it might sound). In the original RGB document, convert the layer(s) to a smart object: Select the layer(s) and from the Layer menu choose Smart Objects>Convert to Smart Object.

Then, double-click the smart object thumbnail in the Layers panel to open its contents in a separate window. In the contents window, go to the Image menu and choose Mode>Lab. Now you can add an adjustment layer and when you save and close the contents document, the smart object will update. This way you can continue to take advantage of the adjustment layer in the contents document (that remains in Lab mode) while working on the main smart object document in RGB mode.

Q: I’ve been asked to scan and enlarge an old photo. How do I determine the best resolution for scanning so it resizes properly?

A: Ideally, you know the final size and resolution that you need. For example, let’s say that you need to end up with a 16×20″ print at a resolution of 300 ppi. We’ll use that information and let Photoshop do the calculation.

Start by making a new document (File>New) and enter the size you need for the final scanned file. You can create the document in grayscale, even if you’re going to scan in color, just to save on file size. Click Create.

Once the document is open, go to Image>Image Size, and if necessary, change the unit of measurement to Inches. Uncheck the Resample box so that the Width, Height, and Resolution fields are linked, and enter the Width (or Height) of the original photo you’re going to scan. The Resolution field will change to show you the resolution at which you need to scan the photo. Just round up to the nearest hundred; in this example you’d scan at 1500.

Note: If the resolution needed is higher than the capability of your scanner, then it won’t be possible to scan the photo at a high enough resolution, so you’d have to compromise. You’d either have to use a final resolution lower than 300, which may be acceptable, depending on the output method you’re using for the final document, or use the Image Size command after scanning to “artificially” increase the document to the resolution of 300.

Q: What’s the difference between duplicating a smart object using Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J) and duplicating it using the New Smart Object via Copy command?

A: When a smart object is duplicated using the Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J) shortcut, or by any other means of duplicating a layer, an exact duplicate is created. This means that if you make a change to any of the smart objects, all the smart objects will update. This can be quite helpful if you need, for example, several copies of the same logo laid out in a document and you want all the logos to update at the same time if you make any changes to it.

But what if you want to make copies of a smart object and edit each one independently? That’s where New Smart Object via Copy comes in. This command makes a copy rather than a duplicate, which allows you to edit each instance of the smart object separately. For example, you could open a Camera Raw smart object and use the Layer>Smart Objects>New Smart Object via Copy command to make a copy of the smart object. Then you could make separate edits, say, one for the sky and one for the foreground, and then do some masking to combine the layers.

Q: This has never happened to me before, but when I enter some text, I can only see the first line of type; the rest doesn’t show up. What’s causing that and how do I fix it?

A: There are two factors that may be causing this to happen. First, Photoshop “remembers” the last setting you used with every tool, so a previous setting is causing the problem. In this case, the last setting you used for leading (the space between lines of type) is still being used, even though you changed the font size. Leading is the other factor in play here: unlike other apps, Photoshop doesn’t automatically change the leading setting based on the font size. For example, say you have used a font size of 300 pt and leading of 280 pt. If you later change the font size to 40 pt, the leading will remain at 280 pt until you change it, and sometimes that means the next line of type is so far down you don’t see it.

You can use the Character panel (Window>Character) to change the leading. It’s the field on the right with an A stacked on top of another A. You have to select the type with the Type tool before changing the leading.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to have the leading (or any other type setting) automatically update, so you just have to remember to check the leading and other type settings each time you change the type size.

Q: I just made a complex selection and realized that my Lasso had feathering turned on. Is there any way to “unfeather” a selection?

A: It depends on your selection. If your selection doesn’t have any sharp corners, it may be possible to remove the feathering. Press Q to enter Quick Mask mode and then use Image>Adjustments>Threshold. The feathering will be removed and you can use the slider in the Threshold dialog to drag left or right to adjust the size of the selection. If your original selection had sharp corners, then the feathering will be removed, but the corners will be rounded, meaning you’d lose the accuracy of the original selection. Click OK, and then press Q again to exit Quick Mask mode.

One way to avoid this from happening is always to leave Feather set to 0 in the Options Bar for all selection tools. If you need to feather the selection, wait until you’ve made the selection, Right-click in the document, and from the contextual menu, choose Feather. That way you can add feathering to this selection in the Feather Selection dialog but keep the default at 0 in the Options Bar.