Lesa Snider

Lesa Snider

Lesa Snider is the author of Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC for Photographers: Classroom in a Book (2016), Photoshop CC: The Missing Manual, Photos for Mac and iOS: The Missing Manual, TheSkinnyBooks.com ebooks, and over 40 video courses. She also writes a weekly column for Macworld.com and features for PhotoshopElementsUser.com. Lesa is an avid photographer and specializes in Muay Thai martial arts.

Photoshop’s automatic photo-stitcher, Photomerge, lets you easily merge and align multiple photos into a single image. By hiding (masking) parts of each image, you end up with a single photo containing an entire action sequence; much like a time-lapse, but with stills instead of video. It’s a practical technique for photographers and production artists alike, whether you’re a pro or an enthusiast. Read on!  If you’re photographing this technique, try using a tripod so the images have a head start on alignment; that said though, the examples used here were captured by hand-holding the cam...

How to Create an Action Sequence close

Photoshop’s automatic photo-stitcher, Photomerge, lets you easily merge and align multiple photos into a single image. By hiding (masking) parts of each image, you end up with a single photo containing an entire action sequence; much like a time-lapse, but with stills instead of video. It’s a practical technique for photographers and production artists alike, whether you’re a pro or an enthusiast. Read on!  If you’re photographing this technique, try using a tripod so the images have a head start on alignment; that said though, the examples used here were captured by hand-holding the cam...

There are (at least) two sides to most everything: day and night, stillness and movement, coins, arguments, etc. The subjects we photograph have multiple sides, too, be it happy and mad or serious and silly; however, that’s tough to capture in one pose. In this column, you’ll learn how to combine two poses into a creative portrait using nothing but color channels.  Step One: Open two photos from the same shoot on two different layers within a single Photoshop document (this technique works best if the photos have a solid dark or light background). There are many ways to do this; however,...

How to Create a Double Color Exposure Effect close

There are (at least) two sides to most everything: day and night, stillness and movement, coins, arguments, etc. The subjects we photograph have multiple sides, too, be it happy and mad or serious and silly; however, that’s tough to capture in one pose. In this column, you’ll learn how to combine two poses into a creative portrait using nothing but color channels.  Step One: Open two photos from the same shoot on two different layers within a single Photoshop document (this technique works best if the photos have a solid dark or light background). There are many ways to do this; however,...

Photoshop provides you with infinite possibilities for creativity. All you need is a photo, your imagination, and—let’s be honest—a little patience. In this column, you’ll learn how to use brushes to mask a photo so it looks similar to a watercolor. You’ll also add texture and a new background, all without harming the original.  Step One: Open an image in Photoshop. If you’d like to download the low-res watermarked version of this image to follow along, click this link, log in with your Adobe ID, and click the Save to Library button. Double-click the image in the Libraries panel (Window&...

How to Use Brushes to Add Creativity to a Photo close

Photoshop provides you with infinite possibilities for creativity. All you need is a photo, your imagination, and—let’s be honest—a little patience. In this column, you’ll learn how to use brushes to mask a photo so it looks similar to a watercolor. You’ll also add texture and a new background, all without harming the original.  Step One: Open an image in Photoshop. If you’d like to download the low-res watermarked version of this image to follow along, click this link, log in with your Adobe ID, and click the Save to Library button. Double-click the image in the Libraries panel (Window&...

Trendy graphic treatments on websites and in newsletters are both visually interesting and fun to deconstruct. In this column, you’ll learn core Photoshop skills as you re-create a technique Fast Company regularly employs to isolate a black-and-white subject, give it a colorful new background, and then add a brightly colored shadow that you can offset in any direction.  Step One: Start by opening a photo in Photoshop. If you’d like to download the low-res watermarked versions of this image to follow along, click this link for the first image that we’re using, log in with your Adobe ID, a...

How to Isolate a Subject and Add a Colored, Offset Shadow close

Trendy graphic treatments on websites and in newsletters are both visually interesting and fun to deconstruct. In this column, you’ll learn core Photoshop skills as you re-create a technique Fast Company regularly employs to isolate a black-and-white subject, give it a colorful new background, and then add a brightly colored shadow that you can offset in any direction.  Step One: Start by opening a photo in Photoshop. If you’d like to download the low-res watermarked versions of this image to follow along, click this link for the first image that we’re using, log in with your Adobe ID, a...

Using the Gradients Panel

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The word gradient refers to a gradual blend between multiple colors. Gradients are useful for colorizing shapes, creating a new background, colorizing text, adding colors (or neutrals) to a photo, and more. In this article you’ll learn how to do all that using the improved Gradients panel in Photoshop 2020, as well as how to create a custom gradient of your own.  Filling an Object, Background, or Text with a Gradient  Step One: Create a new document by choosing File>New. You can make it any size you want; however, this example uses the 1000 Pixel Grid preset in the Art & Illust...

Using the Gradients Panel close

The word gradient refers to a gradual blend between multiple colors. Gradients are useful for colorizing shapes, creating a new background, colorizing text, adding colors (or neutrals) to a photo, and more. In this article you’ll learn how to do all that using the improved Gradients panel in Photoshop 2020, as well as how to create a custom gradient of your own.  Filling an Object, Background, or Text with a Gradient  Step One: Create a new document by choosing File>New. You can make it any size you want; however, this example uses the 1000 Pixel Grid preset in the Art & Illust...

Real life is rarely perfect; but thanks to Photoshop, your photos can be. So, if that stunning shot of you (or your client) atop the ski mountain of your dreams lacks a mountainous reflection in your goggles, you can add it in post. The technique is nondestructive, so you won’t harm the photo, and covers foundational Photoshop skills. Let’s get started! Step One: In Photoshop, open an image of a skier with goggles. (If you’re starting in Lightroom, select the photo’s thumbnail and choose Photo>Edit In>Edit In Adobe Photoshop CC 2020.) If you’d like to download the low-res waterm...

Adding a Reflection to Goggles close

Real life is rarely perfect; but thanks to Photoshop, your photos can be. So, if that stunning shot of you (or your client) atop the ski mountain of your dreams lacks a mountainous reflection in your goggles, you can add it in post. The technique is nondestructive, so you won’t harm the photo, and covers foundational Photoshop skills. Let’s get started! Step One: In Photoshop, open an image of a skier with goggles. (If you’re starting in Lightroom, select the photo’s thumbnail and choose Photo>Edit In>Edit In Adobe Photoshop CC 2020.) If you’d like to download the low-res waterm...

Bokeh is a Japanese term for the aesthetic qualities of out-of-focus highlights, also known as specular highlights. You can create this effect in-camera using a shallow depth of field, which can require an expensive lens; however, you can mimic the effect in Photoshop using the Bokeh settings in the Field Blur filter. Read on to learn how! Step One: Open an image in Photoshop. (If you’re starting in Lightroom, select the photo’s thumbnail and choose Photo>Edit In>Edit In Adobe Photoshop CC 2019.) Shift-click to select the layers in your image and then choose Filter>Convert for S...

Making Highlights Sparkle with Bokeh close

Bokeh is a Japanese term for the aesthetic qualities of out-of-focus highlights, also known as specular highlights. You can create this effect in-camera using a shallow depth of field, which can require an expensive lens; however, you can mimic the effect in Photoshop using the Bokeh settings in the Field Blur filter. Read on to learn how! Step One: Open an image in Photoshop. (If you’re starting in Lightroom, select the photo’s thumbnail and choose Photo>Edit In>Edit In Adobe Photoshop CC 2019.) Shift-click to select the layers in your image and then choose Filter>Convert for S...

Ten Tips for Text

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Text has the power to make or break a design, and Photoshop has a veritable smorgasbord of text-creation and -formatting options to help you set pro-level prose. In this column, you’ll learn 10 tips specifically for text that will serve you well for the duration of your creative professional career. Read on! Tip 1: Text That Automatically Line Wraps When you click within a document using the Type tool (T), text starts at a certain spot (or point) and continues along a single line. To add a line break, you have to press Return (PC: Enter) on your keyboard. This is called “point text.” ...

Ten Tips for Text close

Text has the power to make or break a design, and Photoshop has a veritable smorgasbord of text-creation and -formatting options to help you set pro-level prose. In this column, you’ll learn 10 tips specifically for text that will serve you well for the duration of your creative professional career. Read on! Tip 1: Text That Automatically Line Wraps When you click within a document using the Type tool (T), text starts at a certain spot (or point) and continues along a single line. To add a line break, you have to press Return (PC: Enter) on your keyboard. This is called “point text.” ...

Attending to minor distractions in your portraits can add a noticeably professional touch to the final piece. Whether a portrait is plagued by stray hairs, blemishes, or even an unwanted piercing, Photoshop’s retouching tools have you covered. In this column, you’ll learn how to remove these items realistically and without harming the original image. Step One: Let’s start with the easiest retouch first: removing roundish blemishes. Open your image in Photoshop. (If you’re starting in Lightroom, select the photo’s thumbnail and choose Photo>Edit In>Edit In Adobe Photoshop CC 2019.) ...

Removing Minor Distractions from Portraits close

Attending to minor distractions in your portraits can add a noticeably professional touch to the final piece. Whether a portrait is plagued by stray hairs, blemishes, or even an unwanted piercing, Photoshop’s retouching tools have you covered. In this column, you’ll learn how to remove these items realistically and without harming the original image. Step One: Let’s start with the easiest retouch first: removing roundish blemishes. Open your image in Photoshop. (If you’re starting in Lightroom, select the photo’s thumbnail and choose Photo>Edit In>Edit In Adobe Photoshop CC 2019.) ...

Aging a Photo

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Adding years to a photo is useful in several situations. Maybe you’re matching recent family photos to those taken long ago or perhaps you’re designing a vintage ad, book cover, or event poster. In this column, you’ll learn how to use filters and custom brushes to fade, streak, and damage a photo—all without harming the original. Read on! Adding Streaks The first step is to discolor the photo so it looks faded, and then make it look streaked. An easy way to do this is to use a couple of filters: Cloud and Motion Blur. Step One: Open the image in Photoshop. (If you’re starting in Li...

Aging a Photo close

Adding years to a photo is useful in several situations. Maybe you’re matching recent family photos to those taken long ago or perhaps you’re designing a vintage ad, book cover, or event poster. In this column, you’ll learn how to use filters and custom brushes to fade, streak, and damage a photo—all without harming the original. Read on! Adding Streaks The first step is to discolor the photo so it looks faded, and then make it look streaked. An easy way to do this is to use a couple of filters: Cloud and Motion Blur. Step One: Open the image in Photoshop. (If you’re starting in Li...

Applying Creative Blurs

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Photoshop sports a wide variety of filters that you can use to blur a photo. In this column, you’ll learn: how to change a photo’s depth of field to create a realistic, in-camera blurry background; the look of a tilt-shift lens; and realistic motion. Read on for some serious fun! Using the Iris Blur Filter The first method uses the Iris Blur filter to alter a photo’s depth of field, which is handy when you want to accentuate the foreground and downplay distracting elements in the background. Step One: Open an image in Photoshop. (If you’re starting in Lightroom Classic, select the ...

Applying Creative Blurs close

Photoshop sports a wide variety of filters that you can use to blur a photo. In this column, you’ll learn: how to change a photo’s depth of field to create a realistic, in-camera blurry background; the look of a tilt-shift lens; and realistic motion. Read on for some serious fun! Using the Iris Blur Filter The first method uses the Iris Blur filter to alter a photo’s depth of field, which is handy when you want to accentuate the foreground and downplay distracting elements in the background. Step One: Open an image in Photoshop. (If you’re starting in Lightroom Classic, select the ...

Faking a Fisheye Lens Look

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A fisheye lens let’s you capture extremely wide angles of view. The end result is a heavily distorted image that looks like it’s bulging outward, much like the eyes of a fish (hence the lens name). Though expensive, these lenses are popular because of the artistic, eye-catching, and often comical look that they produce. In this column, you’ll learn two techniques for faking the effect in Photoshop. Using the Warp Command The first method uses Photoshop’s Transform command to warp the image. It’s a super-fast way to produce a look akin to a fisheye lens. Step One: Open an image in Photo...

Faking a Fisheye Lens Look close

A fisheye lens let’s you capture extremely wide angles of view. The end result is a heavily distorted image that looks like it’s bulging outward, much like the eyes of a fish (hence the lens name). Though expensive, these lenses are popular because of the artistic, eye-catching, and often comical look that they produce. In this column, you’ll learn two techniques for faking the effect in Photoshop. Using the Warp Command The first method uses Photoshop’s Transform command to warp the image. It’s a super-fast way to produce a look akin to a fisheye lens. Step One: Open an image in Photo...

Taming Distracting Edges

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In this column, you’ll learn two ways to handle distracting edges: by using Content-Aware Crop to both straighten and fill in empty areas that result from rotating an image, as well as using the Select and Mask workspace to give edges an interesting, creative look. Both techniques are wonderfully useful and excellent foundational skills to have in your Photoshop toolbox. Content-Aware Crop Step One: If you have cropping to do, it’s best to do it first, before any color correcting. Open an image and grab the Crop tool (circled) by pressing C. In the Options Bar, turn on Content-Aware (...

Taming Distracting Edges close

In this column, you’ll learn two ways to handle distracting edges: by using Content-Aware Crop to both straighten and fill in empty areas that result from rotating an image, as well as using the Select and Mask workspace to give edges an interesting, creative look. Both techniques are wonderfully useful and excellent foundational skills to have in your Photoshop toolbox. Content-Aware Crop Step One: If you have cropping to do, it’s best to do it first, before any color correcting. Open an image and grab the Crop tool (circled) by pressing C. In the Options Bar, turn on Content-Aware (...

Image Reflections

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A great trick you can perform with the Transform command is to add a simple image reflection. Though this technique takes a few steps, it’s well worth the effort. Besides adding depth to an otherwise flat photo, a reflection can make an object look as if it were shot on another surface, like a table (handy for making product shots without a proper studio setup). Step One: Open a photo, activate the photo layer, and then duplicate it by pressing Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J). If your image is comprised of several layers, as in this example, create a stamped copy instead. Think of stamping as a s...

Image Reflections close

A great trick you can perform with the Transform command is to add a simple image reflection. Though this technique takes a few steps, it’s well worth the effort. Besides adding depth to an otherwise flat photo, a reflection can make an object look as if it were shot on another surface, like a table (handy for making product shots without a proper studio setup). Step One: Open a photo, activate the photo layer, and then duplicate it by pressing Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J). If your image is comprised of several layers, as in this example, create a stamped copy instead. Think of stamping as a s...

An easy way to correct tone and color in your photos is to use the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) plug-in that comes with Photoshop. Its powerful, yet easy-to-use sliders make adjusting photos a breeze. ACR is a nondestructive editor, too, so you won’t harm your original. The following steps work with RAW files, JPEGs, and TIFFs. Tip: As an added bonus, you can use much of this workflow in Adobe Lightroom, too. Step One: If the photo is in RAW format—the unprocessed information the camera recorded—summon ACR by double-clicking the file’s icon on your hard drive. Alternatively, locate the image t...

Correcting Tone and Color in Adobe Camera Raw close

An easy way to correct tone and color in your photos is to use the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) plug-in that comes with Photoshop. Its powerful, yet easy-to-use sliders make adjusting photos a breeze. ACR is a nondestructive editor, too, so you won’t harm your original. The following steps work with RAW files, JPEGs, and TIFFs. Tip: As an added bonus, you can use much of this workflow in Adobe Lightroom, too. Step One: If the photo is in RAW format—the unprocessed information the camera recorded—summon ACR by double-clicking the file’s icon on your hard drive. Alternatively, locate the image t...

There are many methods for adding creative color to an image, but choosing colors that harmonize with each other is daunting, especially without a background in color theory. Happily, Photoshop sports a special color mode that contains a slew of scientifically spawned, creative-pro approved color combos that you can easily apply to any image. The trick lies in knowing where to find those presets. Before we dive into the technique, let’s talk a little about color modes. Grayscale mode is a color mode that doesn’t include any, well, color. Adding a single color to an image in Grayscale mod...

Creating Color Harmony with Duotone Mode close

There are many methods for adding creative color to an image, but choosing colors that harmonize with each other is daunting, especially without a background in color theory. Happily, Photoshop sports a special color mode that contains a slew of scientifically spawned, creative-pro approved color combos that you can easily apply to any image. The trick lies in knowing where to find those presets. Before we dive into the technique, let’s talk a little about color modes. Grayscale mode is a color mode that doesn’t include any, well, color. Adding a single color to an image in Grayscale mod...

Combining illustrations with photographs can produce a unique look. Because you can place illustrations as smart objects, they remain infinitely resizable, which lets you experiment with them as artful embellishments. In this column, you’ll learn how to add an illustration to a photo, as well as how to resize, recolor, and even hide parts of it using a layer mask. Let’s start by discussing the difference between a photograph and an illustration created with the drawing tools in Photoshop or in a dedicated drawing program such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW. Raster images are made...

Embellishing Photos with Illustrations close

Combining illustrations with photographs can produce a unique look. Because you can place illustrations as smart objects, they remain infinitely resizable, which lets you experiment with them as artful embellishments. In this column, you’ll learn how to add an illustration to a photo, as well as how to resize, recolor, and even hide parts of it using a layer mask. Let’s start by discussing the difference between a photograph and an illustration created with the drawing tools in Photoshop or in a dedicated drawing program such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW. Raster images are made...

Smart objects are truly amazing creatures. They’re basically containers that you can use to store just about any kind of image file format, be it raster (pixel-based photos), vector (points and paths-based illustrations), RAW (unprocessed data captured in-camera), Photoshop layers, or entire Photoshop documents. Photoshop safeguards the original content, affording you some incredible editing flexibility. Read on to learn why you should use them. Reason One: Transform or Resize an Image Multiple Times without Losing Quality If you use the Free Transform command to make an image smaller...

Five Reasons to Use Smart Objects close

Smart objects are truly amazing creatures. They’re basically containers that you can use to store just about any kind of image file format, be it raster (pixel-based photos), vector (points and paths-based illustrations), RAW (unprocessed data captured in-camera), Photoshop layers, or entire Photoshop documents. Photoshop safeguards the original content, affording you some incredible editing flexibility. Read on to learn why you should use them. Reason One: Transform or Resize an Image Multiple Times without Losing Quality If you use the Free Transform command to make an image smaller...

Creating Custom Patterns

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Photoshop includes a lot of pattern presets, though it’s surprisingly simple to create your own. You can create a pattern from just about anything that lives on a single layer: an isolated object in a photo, a brushstroke, a shape, and so on. In this column, you’ll learn how to make a custom pattern out of a leaf. Step One: Open the image or document that contains the item from which you want to create a pattern preset, like the fall-colored leaf shown here. To download the watermarked JPEG preview of this Adobe Stock image directly to your Libraries panel (Window>Libraries), click on...

Creating Custom Patterns close

Photoshop includes a lot of pattern presets, though it’s surprisingly simple to create your own. You can create a pattern from just about anything that lives on a single layer: an isolated object in a photo, a brushstroke, a shape, and so on. In this column, you’ll learn how to make a custom pattern out of a leaf. Step One: Open the image or document that contains the item from which you want to create a pattern preset, like the fall-colored leaf shown here. To download the watermarked JPEG preview of this Adobe Stock image directly to your Libraries panel (Window>Libraries), click on...

We spend a lot of time talking about color-correcting images, though there will also be times when you want to add color that wasn’t originally part of the photo. Happily, Photoshop gives you a couple of easy ways to do that, and you won’t harm the original in the process. Read on! Due to the expense of color film, full-color images didn’t become commonplace until the late ’60s. So chances are good that you have some vintage black-and-white photos lying around, just dying to be scanned. You can use Photoshop to give them a little color, which, by the way, can be a nice side business if y...

Colorizing a Black-and-White Photo close

We spend a lot of time talking about color-correcting images, though there will also be times when you want to add color that wasn’t originally part of the photo. Happily, Photoshop gives you a couple of easy ways to do that, and you won’t harm the original in the process. Read on! Due to the expense of color film, full-color images didn’t become commonplace until the late ’60s. So chances are good that you have some vintage black-and-white photos lying around, just dying to be scanned. You can use Photoshop to give them a little color, which, by the way, can be a nice side business if y...

Since CMYK channels represent ink rather than light, the grayscale information you see in your Channels panel represents the opposite of what it does in RGB mode. In CMYK mode, black indicates color at full strength and white indicates color at its weakest. Even if you’re not sending your image to a professional printing press, you can still have some fun in CMYK mode! For example, the Black channel of a portrait image in CMYK mode resembles a popular portrait effect called high-key lighting, in which multiple light sources are aimed at the subject. To create a similar effect, you can si...

Creating a High-Key Portrait Effect close

Since CMYK channels represent ink rather than light, the grayscale information you see in your Channels panel represents the opposite of what it does in RGB mode. In CMYK mode, black indicates color at full strength and white indicates color at its weakest. Even if you’re not sending your image to a professional printing press, you can still have some fun in CMYK mode! For example, the Black channel of a portrait image in CMYK mode resembles a popular portrait effect called high-key lighting, in which multiple light sources are aimed at the subject. To create a similar effect, you can si...

Creating Stroked Text

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Layer styles are great for outlining text, which Photoshop calls a stroke. You can use plain black for a comic-book-style look, or you can use a gradient to create multiple strokes in different colors. The text remains editable, plus you can tweak the stroke by double-clicking it in the Layers panel. Read on for serious creative fun! Step One: Create a new document by choosing File>New. You can make it any size you want. This example uses the 1000 Pixel Grid preset in the Art & Illustration category. Click Create. Step Two: Press T to grab the Type tool (circled), click within ...

Creating Stroked Text close

Layer styles are great for outlining text, which Photoshop calls a stroke. You can use plain black for a comic-book-style look, or you can use a gradient to create multiple strokes in different colors. The text remains editable, plus you can tweak the stroke by double-clicking it in the Layers panel. Read on for serious creative fun! Step One: Create a new document by choosing File>New. You can make it any size you want. This example uses the 1000 Pixel Grid preset in the Art & Illustration category. Click Create. Step Two: Press T to grab the Type tool (circled), click within ...

Andy Warhol-Style Pop Art

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In this column, you’ll use a Threshold adjustment layer to make a pure black-and-white image, and then colorize parts of it using Solid Fill adjustment layers to create Andy Warhol-style pop art (or serigraph). The fun thing about this technique is how creative it allows you to be, plus you’ll employ a slew of core-level Photoshop skills. Tip: This technique works better if your subject is on a solid white or light-colored background; if it is, the background disappears. If you’re a portrait photographer, you may want to shoot with this technique in mind (great for glamour or high-school...

Andy Warhol-Style Pop Art close

In this column, you’ll use a Threshold adjustment layer to make a pure black-and-white image, and then colorize parts of it using Solid Fill adjustment layers to create Andy Warhol-style pop art (or serigraph). The fun thing about this technique is how creative it allows you to be, plus you’ll employ a slew of core-level Photoshop skills. Tip: This technique works better if your subject is on a solid white or light-colored background; if it is, the background disappears. If you’re a portrait photographer, you may want to shoot with this technique in mind (great for glamour or high-school...

The Content-Aware Scale (CAS) command examines what’s in an image and intelligently adds or removes pixels from unimportant areas as you drag the resizing handles. Photoshop leaves the important bits—such as people—unchanged. This is just the ticket for scooting objects closer together or for adding more background pixels. Scooting Objects Together CAS is great for scooting objects closer together in order to convert the orientation of a photo from landscape to portrait. You could use the Crop tool, but if there’s an important visual near either edge of the image, you’ll snip it off. S...

Conquering Content-Aware Scale close

The Content-Aware Scale (CAS) command examines what’s in an image and intelligently adds or removes pixels from unimportant areas as you drag the resizing handles. Photoshop leaves the important bits—such as people—unchanged. This is just the ticket for scooting objects closer together or for adding more background pixels. Scooting Objects Together CAS is great for scooting objects closer together in order to convert the orientation of a photo from landscape to portrait. You could use the Crop tool, but if there’s an important visual near either edge of the image, you’ll snip it off. S...

Solid Color and Hue/Saturation adjustment layers are incredibly useful for changing the color of an object. The color change happens on a completely separate layer, plus you can experiment with other colors simply by double-clicking the adjustment layer’s thumbnail. In this column, you’ll use one of these handy layers to change lipstick color. Step One: In Photoshop, choose File>Open and navigate to a photo. If you’re starting in Lightroom, select a photo in the Library module and then choose Photo>Edit In>Adobe Photoshop CC or press Command-E (PC: Ctrl-E). To obtain the stoc...

Changing Colors with Adjustment Layers close

Solid Color and Hue/Saturation adjustment layers are incredibly useful for changing the color of an object. The color change happens on a completely separate layer, plus you can experiment with other colors simply by double-clicking the adjustment layer’s thumbnail. In this column, you’ll use one of these handy layers to change lipstick color. Step One: In Photoshop, choose File>Open and navigate to a photo. If you’re starting in Lightroom, select a photo in the Library module and then choose Photo>Edit In>Adobe Photoshop CC or press Command-E (PC: Ctrl-E). To obtain the stoc...

A great way to make text feel like it’s part of a photo is to tuck pieces of it behind an object in the image. Magazines such as Rolling Stone use this trick all the time to hide a bit of text behind their cover model’s head. This column teaches you how to use a layer mask to get it done. Step One: In Photoshop, choose File>Open and navigate to a photo. If you’re starting in Lightroom, select a photo in the Library module and then choose Photo>Edit In>Adobe Photoshop CC, or press Command-E (PC: Ctrl-E). In this example, the left corner of the photo was darkened using a Levels ad...

Placing Text Behind an Object close

A great way to make text feel like it’s part of a photo is to tuck pieces of it behind an object in the image. Magazines such as Rolling Stone use this trick all the time to hide a bit of text behind their cover model’s head. This column teaches you how to use a layer mask to get it done. Step One: In Photoshop, choose File>Open and navigate to a photo. If you’re starting in Lightroom, select a photo in the Library module and then choose Photo>Edit In>Adobe Photoshop CC, or press Command-E (PC: Ctrl-E). In this example, the left corner of the photo was darkened using a Levels ad...

Ever wonder how designers place an image inside text? It takes years of practice (kidding!). They do it by creating a clipping mask, which takes about five seconds. All you need is a photo, a type layer, and the secret layer stacking order. In this column, you’ll learn how to push a different photo through each letter of the word peace. Step One: In Photoshop, choose File>New. In the resulting dialog, enter the size you want, or use one of the many built-in presets. If you’ll print the piece, pick a preset from the Photo or Print categories, which use a resolution of 300 ppi (pixels p...

Pushing Photos Through Letters close

Ever wonder how designers place an image inside text? It takes years of practice (kidding!). They do it by creating a clipping mask, which takes about five seconds. All you need is a photo, a type layer, and the secret layer stacking order. In this column, you’ll learn how to push a different photo through each letter of the word peace. Step One: In Photoshop, choose File>New. In the resulting dialog, enter the size you want, or use one of the many built-in presets. If you’ll print the piece, pick a preset from the Photo or Print categories, which use a resolution of 300 ppi (pixels p...

Restoring an Old Photo

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Few image-retouching projects are as emotionally fulfilling, or as time-consuming, as restoring old photos. Happily, Photoshop has all the tools you need to color correct, add contrast, repair tears and missing areas, remove writing, zap dust and scratches, and even add color. These practical techniques let you breathe new life into treasured memories. Crop, Tonal, and Color Corrections Cropping keeps you from fixing areas you’re not going to keep. Plus, there’s a good chance you need to crop the image to a different size (say, for printing), nix a ragged border, or improve compositio...

Restoring an Old Photo close

Few image-retouching projects are as emotionally fulfilling, or as time-consuming, as restoring old photos. Happily, Photoshop has all the tools you need to color correct, add contrast, repair tears and missing areas, remove writing, zap dust and scratches, and even add color. These practical techniques let you breathe new life into treasured memories. Crop, Tonal, and Color Corrections Cropping keeps you from fixing areas you’re not going to keep. Plus, there’s a good chance you need to crop the image to a different size (say, for printing), nix a ragged border, or improve compositio...

One of the most frequently asked Photoshop questions is how to turn a photo into a painting. Unless you’re a digital fine artist, that can be a tough task. For the rest of us mortals, you can use a combination of Photoshop’s filters. This technique works especially well on landscape shots, wherein you don’t have to worry about distorting facial features. Step One: Adobe shortened the Filter menu a few versions back, so you may be viewing an abbreviated list. To repopulate the Filter menu, choose Photoshop CC (PC: Edit)>Preferences>Plug-Ins and turn on Show all Filter Gallery Groups...

Turning a Photo into a Painting Using Filters close

One of the most frequently asked Photoshop questions is how to turn a photo into a painting. Unless you’re a digital fine artist, that can be a tough task. For the rest of us mortals, you can use a combination of Photoshop’s filters. This technique works especially well on landscape shots, wherein you don’t have to worry about distorting facial features. Step One: Adobe shortened the Filter menu a few versions back, so you may be viewing an abbreviated list. To repopulate the Filter menu, choose Photoshop CC (PC: Edit)>Preferences>Plug-Ins and turn on Show all Filter Gallery Groups...

Creative Color Effects

with Lesa Snider

Many plug-ins sport creative color presets that are incredibly fun to experiment with; however, Photoshop includes a bunch of beautiful, built-in color effects, too—you just have to know where to find them. In this column, you’ll learn how to use two of the easiest ones: a Gradient Map and Color Lookup adjustment layer. Read on! Step One: Choose File>Open and navigate to the portrait of Lauren Goss, a Colorado-based professional triathlete. (If you’re starting in Lightroom, select the photo and then choose Photo>Edit In>Adobe Photoshop CC.) The first effect we’ll create is a bla...

Creative Color Effects close

Many plug-ins sport creative color presets that are incredibly fun to experiment with; however, Photoshop includes a bunch of beautiful, built-in color effects, too—you just have to know where to find them. In this column, you’ll learn how to use two of the easiest ones: a Gradient Map and Color Lookup adjustment layer. Read on! Step One: Choose File>Open and navigate to the portrait of Lauren Goss, a Colorado-based professional triathlete. (If you’re starting in Lightroom, select the photo and then choose Photo>Edit In>Adobe Photoshop CC.) The first effect we’ll create is a bla...

The Pen tool is the most precise of all the tools you can use to create a selection, though it’s difficult to learn because of how it works—it uses anchor points and control handles, which are collectively referred to as vector paths. Once you have a perfect path, you can convert it into the smoothest selection you’ll ever see. Step One: In this example, we’ll create a path around a gemstone destined for use in a catalog. Choose File>Open and navigate to an image that you’d like to use. If you’d like to use the amethyst photo from Adobe Stock that we’re using here, follow the instruct...

Using the Pen Tool to Create Selections close

The Pen tool is the most precise of all the tools you can use to create a selection, though it’s difficult to learn because of how it works—it uses anchor points and control handles, which are collectively referred to as vector paths. Once you have a perfect path, you can convert it into the smoothest selection you’ll ever see. Step One: In this example, we’ll create a path around a gemstone destined for use in a catalog. Choose File>Open and navigate to an image that you’d like to use. If you’d like to use the amethyst photo from Adobe Stock that we’re using here, follow the instruct...

Photoshop excels at removing distracting objects in your photos. If you do the removing on new, empty layers, you won’t harm the photo or bloat your document with a slew of duplicate layers. In this column, you’ll use the Patch tool, Clone Stamp, Content-Aware Fill and the Spot Healing Brush to zap power lines and more. Step One: Choose File>Open and navigate to the Santorini photo shown here. If you’re starting in Lightroom, select the photo and then choose Photo>Edit In>Adobe Photoshop CC. Press Shift-Command-N (PC: Shift-Ctrl-N) to create a new layer. In the resulting dialog,...

Removing Distracting Objects close

Photoshop excels at removing distracting objects in your photos. If you do the removing on new, empty layers, you won’t harm the photo or bloat your document with a slew of duplicate layers. In this column, you’ll use the Patch tool, Clone Stamp, Content-Aware Fill and the Spot Healing Brush to zap power lines and more. Step One: Choose File>Open and navigate to the Santorini photo shown here. If you’re starting in Lightroom, select the photo and then choose Photo>Edit In>Adobe Photoshop CC. Press Shift-Command-N (PC: Shift-Ctrl-N) to create a new layer. In the resulting dialog,...

Adding faux lights is a great way to increase visual interest in a solid color or dark background. In this column, you’ll learn how to create simple shapes that you distort, blur, and fade into realistic-looking lighting effects that can be placed behind or beside your subject. Read on for some seriously creative fun! Step One: In Photoshop, choose File>Open and navigate to the dog photo shown here. If you’re starting in Lightroom, select the photo and then choose Photo>Edit In>Adobe Photoshop CC. Grab the Quick Selection tool (W) from the Toolbox (circled), and in the Brush Pic...

Adding Faux Lights to a Background close

Adding faux lights is a great way to increase visual interest in a solid color or dark background. In this column, you’ll learn how to create simple shapes that you distort, blur, and fade into realistic-looking lighting effects that can be placed behind or beside your subject. Read on for some seriously creative fun! Step One: In Photoshop, choose File>Open and navigate to the dog photo shown here. If you’re starting in Lightroom, select the photo and then choose Photo>Edit In>Adobe Photoshop CC. Grab the Quick Selection tool (W) from the Toolbox (circled), and in the Brush Pic...

Adding a Soft Glamour Glow

with Lesa Snider

A soft glamour glow effect is incredibly useful when clients want to feel a little old-school Hollywood (think boudoir, wedding, and high school photography). In this column, you’ll learn how to use one of Photoshop’s oldest filters to quickly produce a soft and ethereal portrait effect that’s sure to please brides, prom queens, and princesses of any kind. Step One: In Photoshop, choose File>Open as Smart Object to open a photo. If the photo is already open in Photoshop, or if it consists of multiple layers, activate the layer(s) and choose Filter>Convert for Smart Filters. This pa...

Adding a Soft Glamour Glow close

A soft glamour glow effect is incredibly useful when clients want to feel a little old-school Hollywood (think boudoir, wedding, and high school photography). In this column, you’ll learn how to use one of Photoshop’s oldest filters to quickly produce a soft and ethereal portrait effect that’s sure to please brides, prom queens, and princesses of any kind. Step One: In Photoshop, choose File>Open as Smart Object to open a photo. If the photo is already open in Photoshop, or if it consists of multiple layers, activate the layer(s) and choose Filter>Convert for Smart Filters. This pa...

As you’re learning in this issue, increasing contrast globally along high-contrast edges makes a photo look crisp and sharp; however, increasing local contrast in smaller regions—referred to as a local contrast enhancement or LCE—can accentuate larger details (shapes), giving your image a three-dimensional look. This column demonstrates three super-quick ways to get it done. Step One: In Photoshop, choose File>Open as Smart Object. If your photo consists of multiple layers, Shift-click to activate all the layers, and then choose Filter>Convert for Smart Filters, which packages the ...

How to Quickly Enhance Local Contrast close

As you’re learning in this issue, increasing contrast globally along high-contrast edges makes a photo look crisp and sharp; however, increasing local contrast in smaller regions—referred to as a local contrast enhancement or LCE—can accentuate larger details (shapes), giving your image a three-dimensional look. This column demonstrates three super-quick ways to get it done. Step One: In Photoshop, choose File>Open as Smart Object. If your photo consists of multiple layers, Shift-click to activate all the layers, and then choose Filter>Convert for Smart Filters, which packages the ...

Sometimes the easiest way to make a tricky selection is to let the image do the work for you. If you have good contrast between what you want to select and its background, try using the photo’s individual color channels to create a precise selection that you can hide with a mask. Step One: In this tutorial, we’re going to select the sky in an image of hot-air balloons so we can replace it with a more interesting sky. In Photoshop, choose File>Scripts>Load Files into Stack. Click Browse, navigate to the images you want to combine, select them, click Open, and click OK in the Load La...

How to Create a Selection Using Channels close

Sometimes the easiest way to make a tricky selection is to let the image do the work for you. If you have good contrast between what you want to select and its background, try using the photo’s individual color channels to create a precise selection that you can hide with a mask. Step One: In this tutorial, we’re going to select the sky in an image of hot-air balloons so we can replace it with a more interesting sky. In Photoshop, choose File>Scripts>Load Files into Stack. Click Browse, navigate to the images you want to combine, select them, click Open, and click OK in the Load La...

Group photography can be difficult. Inevitably, someone is smiling in one photo and not in another; at least one person has his or her eyes closed in every shot; and so on. Happily, Photoshop can perfectly align multiple shots so matching areas overlap, leaving you the task of a little layer masking. Read on! Step One: There are several ways to open two photos within the same document and then align the layers; however, the easiest way is to choose File>Scripts>Load Files into Stack. Click the Browse button, navigate to the files you want to combine, Shift-click each file so they’r...

Combining Photos into the Perfect Group Shot close

Group photography can be difficult. Inevitably, someone is smiling in one photo and not in another; at least one person has his or her eyes closed in every shot; and so on. Happily, Photoshop can perfectly align multiple shots so matching areas overlap, leaving you the task of a little layer masking. Read on! Step One: There are several ways to open two photos within the same document and then align the layers; however, the easiest way is to choose File>Scripts>Load Files into Stack. Click the Browse button, navigate to the files you want to combine, Shift-click each file so they’r...

For some serious creative fun, try making your own brushes. You can make them out of anything—a stroke drawn with another brush, an image you’ve scanned to use as a texture, etc. In this column, you’ll create a brush that’s handy for adding texture to digital paintings and for adding grunge effects to a photo. Step One: Choose File>New and in the resulting dialog, enter 500 pixels for both Width and Height and 300 pixels for Resolution. Set the Color Mode to RGB and the Background Contents drop-down menu to White, and click OK. Step Two: Design the brush tip by using existing brush...

How to Create a Custom Brush close

For some serious creative fun, try making your own brushes. You can make them out of anything—a stroke drawn with another brush, an image you’ve scanned to use as a texture, etc. In this column, you’ll create a brush that’s handy for adding texture to digital paintings and for adding grunge effects to a photo. Step One: Choose File>New and in the resulting dialog, enter 500 pixels for both Width and Height and 300 pixels for Resolution. Set the Color Mode to RGB and the Background Contents drop-down menu to White, and click OK. Step Two: Design the brush tip by using existing brush...

Hair and objects with soft edges are among the most difficult items to select, but the new Select and Mask workspace is built for that task. In this column, you’ll learn how to use it to refine a selection of a subject with curly hair in order to swap in a more colorful background. Step One: Choose File>Scripts>Load Files into Stack. In the resulting dialog, click Browse and navigate to the photos of the woman and the colorful bokeh background. (Bokeh refers to the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in the highlights of photos taken at a wide aperture, say, f/2.8 or...

Selecting Hair Using the Select and Mask Workspace close

Hair and objects with soft edges are among the most difficult items to select, but the new Select and Mask workspace is built for that task. In this column, you’ll learn how to use it to refine a selection of a subject with curly hair in order to swap in a more colorful background. Step One: Choose File>Scripts>Load Files into Stack. In the resulting dialog, click Browse and navigate to the photos of the woman and the colorful bokeh background. (Bokeh refers to the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in the highlights of photos taken at a wide aperture, say, f/2.8 or...

A wonderful yet overwhelming truth about Photoshop is that there are several ways to do most things and sometimes the least obvious method works the best. In this column, you’ll learn how to use the Dust & Scratches filter to tame distracting whiskers quickly, realistically, and without harming your original photo. Step One: To use the Dust & Scratches filter nondestructively, run it on a smart object. Doing so puts a protective wrapper around your layer content so the filter happens to the wrapper, so to speak, and not what’s inside it. In Photoshop, choose File>Open as Smart...

Taming Whiskers with the Dust and Scratches Filter close

A wonderful yet overwhelming truth about Photoshop is that there are several ways to do most things and sometimes the least obvious method works the best. In this column, you’ll learn how to use the Dust & Scratches filter to tame distracting whiskers quickly, realistically, and without harming your original photo. Step One: To use the Dust & Scratches filter nondestructively, run it on a smart object. Doing so puts a protective wrapper around your layer content so the filter happens to the wrapper, so to speak, and not what’s inside it. In Photoshop, choose File>Open as Smart...

How Typekit Works

with Lesa Snider

One of the most under-utilized perks of a Creative Cloud subscription is access to Typekit, an online service Adobe acquired in 2011 that lets you access fonts for use on your computer and on websites. In this column, you’ll learn exactly how Typekit works and how you can access Typekit fonts in Photoshop. Let’s start by discussing why you should care about Typekit and what you get. Typekit is a collection of fonts in both print and Web format that you can download and use in your print and electronic documents, as well as websites. This is exciting for designers because the same font ca...

How Typekit Works close

One of the most under-utilized perks of a Creative Cloud subscription is access to Typekit, an online service Adobe acquired in 2011 that lets you access fonts for use on your computer and on websites. In this column, you’ll learn exactly how Typekit works and how you can access Typekit fonts in Photoshop. Let’s start by discussing why you should care about Typekit and what you get. Typekit is a collection of fonts in both print and Web format that you can download and use in your print and electronic documents, as well as websites. This is exciting for designers because the same font ca...

It’s no secret that it’s easier to perform some edits in Lightroom than in Photoshop. And since Lightroom is happy to manage your Photoshop files, you can include them in book, slide show, and print projects (yay!). In this column, you’ll learn how to move between the two programs at the highest possible quality. Setting up the Preferences Step One: Let’s begin by telling Lightroom how to send files to Photoshop. Choose Lightroom (PC: Edit)>Preferences and in the resulting dialog, click External Editing (circled). Lightroom automatically scours your hard drive for the latest versio...

How to Move Between Lightroom and Photoshop close

It’s no secret that it’s easier to perform some edits in Lightroom than in Photoshop. And since Lightroom is happy to manage your Photoshop files, you can include them in book, slide show, and print projects (yay!). In this column, you’ll learn how to move between the two programs at the highest possible quality. Setting up the Preferences Step One: Let’s begin by telling Lightroom how to send files to Photoshop. Choose Lightroom (PC: Edit)>Preferences and in the resulting dialog, click External Editing (circled). Lightroom automatically scours your hard drive for the latest versio...

Design trends come and go, but textured text seems here to stay. In this column, you’ll learn how to add texture to text Hollywood-style, wherein you prepare a photo for use as the texture and then plop it into a layer mask. Happily, your text remains editable throughout the technique. Read on! Step One: Choose File>New to create a new document at the size you desire. Press Command-I (PC: Ctrl-I) to invert the Background layer from white to black. Click on the Foreground color swatch near the bottom of the Toolbox, select a nice red color, and click OK to close the Color Picker. Next,...

How to Add Texture to Text Using a Photo close

Design trends come and go, but textured text seems here to stay. In this column, you’ll learn how to add texture to text Hollywood-style, wherein you prepare a photo for use as the texture and then plop it into a layer mask. Happily, your text remains editable throughout the technique. Read on! Step One: Choose File>New to create a new document at the size you desire. Press Command-I (PC: Ctrl-I) to invert the Background layer from white to black. Click on the Foreground color swatch near the bottom of the Toolbox, select a nice red color, and click OK to close the Color Picker. Next,...

If your subject has an uneven complexion, acne scarring, wrinkling, or excessive freckling, then that can be the first thing you notice in a portrait. Sure you could use the healing tools in Photoshop to remove problematic areas, but that takes time and may result in unnatural-looking skin. In this column, you’ll learn how to quickly smooth skin while retaining texture. Step One: If your document consists of a single layer, press Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J) to duplicate it. If it consists of many layers, say that you used adjustment layers to correct the image as we’ve done here, activate the...

How to Smooth Skin Realistically close

If your subject has an uneven complexion, acne scarring, wrinkling, or excessive freckling, then that can be the first thing you notice in a portrait. Sure you could use the healing tools in Photoshop to remove problematic areas, but that takes time and may result in unnatural-looking skin. In this column, you’ll learn how to quickly smooth skin while retaining texture. Step One: If your document consists of a single layer, press Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J) to duplicate it. If it consists of many layers, say that you used adjustment layers to correct the image as we’ve done here, activate the...

One of the slickest Photoshop tricks ever is to wrap one image around the contours of another. It’s great for creating conceptual imagery for ads or artistic purposes. To perform this feat, we’ll create a displacement map—a grayscale image that Photoshop uses to warp and bend one image to the curvature of another. Read on! Step One: Open the image you want to map another image onto and then choose Window>Channels. To make the best displacement map, use the channel with the highest contrast. Click each channel to view it or, if you’re in RGB mode (and you probably are), you can cycle t...

Mapping One Image Onto Another close

One of the slickest Photoshop tricks ever is to wrap one image around the contours of another. It’s great for creating conceptual imagery for ads or artistic purposes. To perform this feat, we’ll create a displacement map—a grayscale image that Photoshop uses to warp and bend one image to the curvature of another. Read on! Step One: Open the image you want to map another image onto and then choose Window>Channels. To make the best displacement map, use the channel with the highest contrast. Click each channel to view it or, if you’re in RGB mode (and you probably are), you can cycle t...

How to Add Motion to Skies

with Lesa Snider

A great way to add the illusion of motion to skies is to photograph them using a slow shutter speed. If the clouds are moving, they appear beautifully blurred. That can be a time-consuming and challenging project, however. Happily, you can easily simulate the effect using the Radial Blur filter in Photoshop, which is available in any version. Step One: The first step is to prepare the image layer(s) for use with smart filters, which protects your original image and gives you some nice editing flexibility. If the image isn’t open, choose File>Open as Smart Object and navigate to where ...

How to Add Motion to Skies close

A great way to add the illusion of motion to skies is to photograph them using a slow shutter speed. If the clouds are moving, they appear beautifully blurred. That can be a time-consuming and challenging project, however. Happily, you can easily simulate the effect using the Radial Blur filter in Photoshop, which is available in any version. Step One: The first step is to prepare the image layer(s) for use with smart filters, which protects your original image and gives you some nice editing flexibility. If the image isn’t open, choose File>Open as Smart Object and navigate to where ...

WYSIWYG (pronounced “wiz-e-wig”) is an acronym for “What you see is what you get.” For image-editing buffs, it describes the elusive goal of getting prints to match what’s onscreen. When you think about the different ways that monitors and printers produce colors, the problem starts to make sense. A monitor’s surface is made from glass or some other transparent material, and it produces colors with phosphors, LCD elements, or other light-emitting doodads, which is called an additive color system. In this system, the areas where red, green, and blue lights overlap appear white. Does that ...

The Challenge of WYSIWYG Printing close

WYSIWYG (pronounced “wiz-e-wig”) is an acronym for “What you see is what you get.” For image-editing buffs, it describes the elusive goal of getting prints to match what’s onscreen. When you think about the different ways that monitors and printers produce colors, the problem starts to make sense. A monitor’s surface is made from glass or some other transparent material, and it produces colors with phosphors, LCD elements, or other light-emitting doodads, which is called an additive color system. In this system, the areas where red, green, and blue lights overlap appear white. Does that ...

The Sketch category of filters is handy for adding texture to an image. It houses a variety of pens, crayons, paper, etc. that give images a hand-drawn look. In fact, the Graphic Pen filter generates random streaks in the direction and length you choose, which makes it perfect for adding realistic snow. Read on! Step One: If you’re running CS6 or later, choose Photoshop (PC: Edit)>Preferences>Plug-Ins and turn on Show All Filter Gallery Groups and Names. This enables you to see all the filters in the Filter menu; otherwise, the menu is truncated and you have to use the Filter Galle...

How to Add Artificial Snow to a Photo close

The Sketch category of filters is handy for adding texture to an image. It houses a variety of pens, crayons, paper, etc. that give images a hand-drawn look. In fact, the Graphic Pen filter generates random streaks in the direction and length you choose, which makes it perfect for adding realistic snow. Read on! Step One: If you’re running CS6 or later, choose Photoshop (PC: Edit)>Preferences>Plug-Ins and turn on Show All Filter Gallery Groups and Names. This enables you to see all the filters in the Filter menu; otherwise, the menu is truncated and you have to use the Filter Galle...

In this class, Lesa leads you on a journey through the most practical and non-destructive editing techniques in Photoshop Elements. Learn the truth about resolution, how to resize images without quality loss, discover the basics of layers and layer masks, how to create gorgeous grayscales, delicious duotones, festive frames, how to zap backgrounds, fix stubborn red-eye, and more!

Practical Photoshop Elements close

In this class, Lesa leads you on a journey through the most practical and non-destructive editing techniques in Photoshop Elements. Learn the truth about resolution, how to resize images without quality loss, discover the basics of layers and layer masks, how to create gorgeous grayscales, delicious duotones, festive frames, how to zap backgrounds, fix stubborn red-eye, and more!

From Photo to Graphic Art

with Lesa Snider

Lesa will show you how to quickly and easily turn ordinary photos into unique pieces of graphic art.

From Photo to Graphic Art close

Lesa will show you how to quickly and easily turn ordinary photos into unique pieces of graphic art.