Sam’s Easy Guide To Photo Tweaking #1

Posted by OneSound on November 30, 2001 at 22:54:16:

TZ Classics Forum Number: 1863
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Here is a very simple and effective way I like to use to tweak my scans.

This is the original picture we’re going to use. Thanks to Heat for allowing me (I hope) to use his scan of his wonderful watch.

First, you take your original picture :

Then let’s duplicate the layer by right clicking on the original layer (named background layer by default) and choosing “duplicate layer” from the menu.

It’s always good to name all your layers. It will save you a lot of time when you are working on a project with lots of layers. Lets name the bottom one “dial” and the top one “case and bracelet.” We’ll turn off the case and bracelet layer for now by clicking on the eye button on the left of the layer.
Once you have clicked off the case and bracelet layer, choose the dial layer by clicking on the layer. We will work on the dial first.

Let’s play with “curves” to make the dial look a little better. The short cut for curves is Ctrl+M. Since the dial in the original picture was too light, I made it darker and gave it some high light using the curves. Obviously the whole picture changes when you change the curves, but lets only focus on the dial. This is why we have separate layers for the dial and the rest.

Okay, the dial looks better now, so let’s move on to the case and the bracelet by clicking on the layer. Hey, the changes I made to the dial is gone! Don’t worry, it’s all still there hidden under the dial and the bracelet layer.

Let’s play with some curves again, but focus only on the case and the bracelet and not the dial. In this case, watch out for the background also because we don’t have a separate layer for the background.

Since we’re done making both the dial and the rest look better, we’re going to add something called a “mask” to the case and bracelet layer. This will allow us to see the fixed dial that’s under the dial and bracelet layer.

Okay, we now have a white box next to the little picture in the layers menu. Make sure you choose the mask by clicking on the mask. We’re going to work on the mask.

Now, take a nice paintbrush and start painting right on the dial. You’ll have to paint it using the color black. You can set it to default color (black foreground and white background) by pressing “D”. Here you can see that I painted half of the dial. By painting on the mask layer, everything will masked off except for the black parts. If you mess up and paint over the case area, don’t panic. All you have to do is to paint it white and it will be masked again. This masking feature is the strongest and most effective feature of photoshop. Shortcut for switching back and forth from black and white is “X.”

Once you are done masking the dial, let’s flatten the two layers into one layer so we can play with some colors. I personally don’t flatten any of my layers, but that’s because I like having the option to go back to my project and having total control over all the elements.

Let’s bring up the color adjustment menu by using the shortcut “Ctrl+B.” Play with the sliders until you are satisfied with the way your watch looks. If you are anal retentive (like me), use “selective colors” instead of the regular color adjustment. In this case, color adjustment will do just fine.

And here’s the finished product! That wasn’t so hard was it?