These are the cases of the Photoshop 911 ER where Adobe Photoshop and Elements users get tips & tricks and answers to their questions about image manipulation, painting. Since 1990 in the Design & Publishing Center, formerly called: Photoshop Tips & Tricks

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FAQ Directory

Photoshop 911 FAQ and Short tips

[9.1]   Knocking out multiple backgrounds
[9.2]   Airbrushing a Photograph
[9.3]   Selective Image Contact Sheet?
[9.4]   Shape Layers vs Work Path
[9.5]   Overprint Preview in Illustrator 9/10
[9.6]   Curing Halo caused by Blurring
[9.7]   Clipping paths to the rescue
[9.8]   Batch generating Watermarks on Photos
[9.9]   Work RGB, See CMYK
[9.10]   Bring the color back, please
[9.11]   Unlock file Security (OSX)

Knocking out multiple backgrounds
Symptoms: "I am doing a project to make 3D photo which is basically a series of photos (36) of an object taken from different angle( every 10 degree). Most of the time is spent in extracting the object from the background since there are 36 photos for each object. Is it possible if I took a blank photo of the background and use it to subtract all the other 36 photos with just a few click? Or is there a better way to do this?"
Patient: John, using 7, on 98
Diagnosis: WOW... what a great project. We'd like to see some screen shots and before/after of this project for an article in Photoshop Tips & Tricks!
      We've given some thought to this problem, and seem to keep getting back to the same conclusions you did.
(TIP: when setting up such a shoot, get a good shot the background with NO subject, then bring in a neutral gray backdrop cloth, paper or screen, to shoot the rotating subject. This makes a background that can easily be extracted with the Magic wand, or perhaps the EXTRACT filter.
See: Using the Extract Filter)
      YES. If the background doesn't change -- camera always located in the exact same spot, you should generate a standing background and keep it for all the 'lifts'
      Then you're going to just tough it out and lift each iteration of the subject up to the standing background. Sorry there's no silver bullet.
      But *please* keep us informed of progress.
From Photoshop 911 Case #9/28/2003-Canada
Airbrushing a Photograph
Symptoms: "Beginner photographer taking model pictures with a 5.0 megapixel camera with JPEG compression. I want to give my photo of a swimsuit model the magazine/airbrushed look without loosing clarity. Can you help me? "
Patient: Rico, using Photoshop 7, on Windows XP
Diagnosis: That's a lot of pixels to move around. Without more specifics, the first thing is to decide "how much" air brushing do you want? And, which areas of the image do you want to air brush.
      In general the Gaussian Blur filter will help "smooth" areas of the image. But be careful! It can be overdone very quickly.
      Also, the smudge tool with a soft, brush really works. Use a very light opacity setting (in the options bar) and stroke in the direction of the contour. Be careful that you don't disturb shadow areas by dragging darker pixels into lighter areas.
      Surprizingly, the one tool we don't recommend is the air brush tool! This adds pixels, of a given paint color, and that's the last thing you want to do.
      You can begin by "Gently" using the blur tool to see if that gets you where you want to go.
      Most people want an "instant gratification" filter, but in our experience, no filter like that exists. You can experiment with some of the filters only after duplicating the image, and carefully selecting and moving to a new layer those parts you want to apply the filter to. Then use the Opacity and Blending modes to "blend" the filtered areas BACK into the original image in layers below.
      Please keep us informed of progress, and let us see how the project turns out.
From Photoshop 911 Case #9/28/2003-Arizona, USA
Selective Image Contact Sheet?
Symptoms: "When printing a "Contact Sheet" from a CD, is it possible to select some files to print, or will they automatically print all. Reason: When adding to a CD, don't want to reprint those previously "thumbnailed". Basis for viewing is FILE BROWSER. Thanks."
Patient: Lewis Rosenfeld, using PS 7.0, on W98 SE
Diagnosis: Nope, not in Photoshop. You can confine the images to their own new folder on the hard drive, (or copy them there) and print the thumbnail contact sheet from there. Sorry, that's the best workaround.
From Photoshop 911 Case #9/28/2003-MS United States
Shape Layers vs Work Path
Symptoms: "Trying to do a cutout/clipping path and as I close cut the area fills in I've forgotten how to turn off the fill?"
Patient: JamesRice, using 7, on mac 0sX
Diagnosis: Select the Pen tool and look up in the Options Bar. There, you'll find two buttons, a hollow path and a path with a pen tool. Click on the right button to create an unfilled work path. Remember that these paths are "perishable" until you save them. The other button creates a "Shape Layer" and will automatically generate a new layer with the path object filled.
From Photoshop 911 Case #9/28/2003-Ontario, Canada
Overprint Preview in Illustrator 9/10
Symptoms: "Greetings, I know this is a Photoshop site, but maybe you can help me with Illustrator. Is there any way to see the overprint images before saving and printing? I just upgraded to version 9."
Patient: PJ Morin, using Illustrator 9, on OS 9.2
Diagnosis: You're in luck. In version 9, you can see how overprinting will look without saving it. Select the Overprint Preview option in the View menu. Now you get a good idea of what to expect when your document is printed. Be forewarned: this is not exact. The monitor cannot possibly show you the nuances of the technique. However, you can check for various results like blending or transparency.
From Photoshop 911 Case #9/28/2003-Chicago
Curing Halo caused by Blurring
Symptoms: "hi i am working on a book cover that will be offset printed i have severely blurred the cover image now when i print i get a halo effect around the edges the image is of a person upper body and the background is white i have been told to add in a small amount of noise into the image this has helped a little bit but as this is the cover of a book i really need a fool proof solution any suggestions??? many thanks . jay"
Patient: jay, using 7.0.1, on Mac OSX
Diagnosis: Without seeing the actual piece, it's difficult to predict a diagnosis.
  1. "Lift" the object to be blurred, as a copy to a new layer, then blur with all other layers turned off, viewing the subject against Photoshop's grid transparency. (A halo effect can be seen when using the Gaussian blur inside a selection, "bleeding" over into the surrounding areas. In effect it "violates" the selection boundaries.)
  2. You possibly had the subject on a different background, or had an inappropriate background color selected when you did the blur. Blurring picks up a subtle haze of the background which is almost imperceptible until printing.
  3. Blurring creates the same printing phenomena (known as "banding") caused sometimes when using the Gradients. The "halo" is not evident until the separations are made.
  4. Solution: higher resolution to the original work file, THEN set the resolution to that required by the printer. Halo or "banding" will smooth. (The addition of "noise" is a 'fix' for eliminating this problem/effect. But the higher resolution is the proper remedy when available.)
Finally, always make sure you are generating the file at the resolution (or somewhat above) required by the litho plate maker at the printer. They'll tell you what they need, just ask them. :-)
From Photoshop 911 Case #9/28/2003-UK
Clipping paths to the rescue
Symptoms: "Hi I have an image in photoshop 6 which I need to move to indesign or illustrator. I am finding it difficult as I need it in monotone (to mentain a pantone match) and so have tried saving it as TIFF and EPS but it keeps filling the transparent areas with white once I open it in Illustrator/indesign. Please help!!! thanks "
Patient: Rula abu-nasser, using 6, on Windows 2000 professional
Diagnosis: You need Clipping Path added to the image in Photoshop. Read:
Photoshop Clipping Paths These clipping paths are what you need. The short article has two links to more in-depth articles.
From Photoshop 911 Case #9/28/2003-UK
Batch generating Watermarks on Photos
Symptoms: "I have about 500 images that I would like to put copyrights on. The copyright symbol then my name right on the images. How do I accomplish this effectively? Thank you immensely. Damon "
Patient: Damon, using Photoshop 6.01, on Windows 98
Diagnosis: First you have to generate an action that inserts the copyright watermark. Create the action very carefully and try to use the fewest possible steps. Run the action over and over to make sure it's bullet proof and works every time.
    To now set up a "BATCH" action, Go to the File menu and
Choose: File Menu > Automate > Batch.
Choose "Set" and name the set
Pull down "Action" and select the action for your watermark.
Now select the source folder (where your current photos are) and the destination folder, or where to put the changed files. I don't recommend overwriting the existing files until you're sure the batch works flawlessly -- and I would recommend working on just a few files at a time until the Action and Batch Set are proven. You'll also want to turn your History states down to one (1) because you're going to need that memory.
Click "Okay" and the batch processing begins.
    You could also create a droplet from the Action you created, and then merely drop the files on it to initiate the conversion. For that, return to the File menu, pull down to "Automate" and select "Create Droplet"
From Photoshop 911 Case #9/28/2003-NJ, US
Work RGB, See CMYK
Symptoms: "Every time I have to convert from RGB to CMYK the colors go "sad" -- what can I do to avoid that?"
Patient: Jocho, using 6, on Mac OS/9
Diagnosis: The conversion from RGB to CMYK can bring some unexpected results. So, if you are creating a document that will eventually be converted from RGB to CMYK, you can work on your RGB document while previewing it in CMYK. Choose Window > Documents > New Window. Doing so opens a second view of your document. Next, choose View > Proof Setup > Working CMYK. Now you can work in RGB while previewing everything in CMYK.
From Photoshop 911 Case #9/28/2003-London, UK
Bring the color back, please
Symptoms: "I am trying to pull some color back into a very faded color photo and can't for the life of me remember how. Can you help?"
Patient: Mary Fry, using Ps5.02, on Windows
Diagnosis: A very quick fix is to duplicate the picture to a new layer (drag it in the layers palette to the "New Layer" button) and then select "Multiply" from the Blending mode pulll-down. Beware, it will suddenly look too saturated. However, by slowly backing off of the Opacity (in the Opacity Slider) you will arrive at a comfortable level of color. You'll also experience an increase in contrast, so you may need to lighten a small amount.
   This is really the only way to get color back when it's gone.
From Photoshop 911 Case #9/28/2003-Michigan, USA
Unlock file Security (OSX)
Symptoms: " I am having trouble figuring out how to unlock an image. I have a jpg file from school that is locked and I can't delete it once in my trash can. Please help."
Patient: yvonne k, using photoshop 7, on OSX
Diagnosis: Find the "Unlock" button in the "Get Info" window. Move the file out of the trash, onto the desktop, and hit Command/i In the "Info" window select "Security" and check OFF the "Locked" check box.
From Photoshop 911 Case #9/28/2003-oakville, ontario
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