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Reframing, Retouching, and Recomposing Images

Chapter Description

This sample chapter from Adobe Photoshop Elements 2019 Classroom in a Book teaches a range of techniques for cropping, retouching, and rearranging the composition of images.

Creating effects with filters

The guided edits in the Fun Edits and Special Edits categories give an image a completely new look by applying several adjustments and filters in combination. You can have a lot of fun devising your own special effects and sophisticated photo treatments in the Filter Gallery, where you can combine multiple filters and tweak the way they work together to create unique new custom effects.

Use the Filter Gallery to reinterpret an image and present it in an entirely new light. This can be a great way to redeem a technically inferior photo, enabling you to turn even a flawed or uninteresting image into a work of art. The possibilities are limitless!

Before exploring the Filter Gallery, set up a work file with some extra layers for working copies of the image.

  1. In the Organizer, isolate the images for this lesson, if necessary, by clicking either the Lesson 7 folder in the left panel’s Folders list or the check box beside the Lesson 07 keyword in the Tags panel. Right-click the image 07_09.jpg in the Media Browser and choose Edit With Photoshop Elements Editor from the context menu. Make sure that the Editor is in Expert mode, and then choose Window > Reset Panels.

  2. Many filters make use of the foreground and background colors set in the toolbar to create effects, so start by resetting them to the default black and white. Click the Default Foreground And Background Colors button beside the overlapping swatches at the bottom of the toolbox; then, click the arrows to switch the foreground and background colors.

  3. Drag the Background layer to the New Layer button (common55.jpg) at the left of the Layers panel’s header to create a second layer. Drag the Background Copy layer to the New Layer button to create a third layer. Click the eye icon (common66.jpg) beside the top layer, Background Copy 2, to hide it from view in the image window. Click the middle layer, Background Copy, to make it active for editing.

  4. If you don’t see the Quick Selection tool (common51.jpg) at the right of the Lasso tool in the toolbar’s Select category, Alt-click / Option click whichever tool is currently active to cycle through the variants until the Quick Selection tool is foremost.

  5. With the Quick Selection tool, select the girl’s lips and shirt. Use the left and right square bracket keys ( [ , ] ) to decrease or increase the brush size as you work. Hold down the Alt / Option key as you paint to subtract from your selection.

  6. When the selection is complete, choose Select > Refine Edge or click the Refine Edge button in the tool options bar. In the Refine Edge dialog box, set both the Smooth and Contrast values to 0, the Feather amount to 1 px, and the Shift Edge value to 1%. These settings will soften the edges of the selection without reducing its effective area. Click OK.

  7. Choose Select > Save Selection. Name the new selection color details. Under Operation, activate New Selection; then, click OK. Choose Select > Deselect.

  8. Choose File > Save As. Name the file 07_09_Work, to be saved to your My CIB Work folder in Photoshop format, with layers intact. Make sure the image will be included in the Organizer but not as part of a version set; then, click Save.

Using the Filter Gallery

  1. Choose Filter > Filter Gallery. If necessary, use the menu at the lower left of the Filter Gallery window to set the magnification to 100%. If you can’t see the whole photo, drag in the preview pane so that most of the girl’s face is visible.

  2. If you don’t see the center pane with its list of filter categories, click the arrow beside the OK button at the upper right.

  3. If you see more than one filter listed in the right pane, select the top filter and click the Trash icon to delete it. In the center pane, expand the Artistic category and choose the Watercolor filter. Experiment with the full range of the sliders. Set the Brush Detail to 5, the Shadow Intensity to 1, and the Texture to 1.


  4. Click the New Effect Layer button (common55.jpg) below the right pane in the Filter Gallery dialog box. Collapse the Artistic category; then, expand the Texture category and choose the Texturizer filter. The Watercolor and Texturizer filters are applied simultaneously. Choose Canvas from the Texture menu; then, set the Scaling value to 200% and the Relief to 4. From the Light menu, choose Top Left.

  5. Click OK. The combined Watercolor and Texturizer filters are applied to the layer Background Copy. From the Enhance menu, choose Adjust Color > Remove Color; then, choose Adjust Lighting > Brightness/Contrast. Set the values for both Brightness and Contrast to 50, and then click OK.

Layering filters and effects

Although the Filter Gallery offers endless possibilities for combining filters, you can achieve even more sophisticated results by using it in tandem with the Layers panel—applying combinations of filters to multiple duplicate layers, and then blending the layers using partial transparency, blending modes, or masks.

  1. Click the eye icon beside the layer Background Copy 2 to make it visible; then, click the layer thumbnail to make it active. Reverse the swatches at the bottom of the toolbar so that the background color is white. Choose Filter > Filter Gallery. Be careful to choose the second listing for the Filter Gallery—the first listing simply applies the previous settings without opening the Filter Gallery.

  2. The Filter Gallery window opens with your previous filters, and all their settings, exactly as you left them. Click the New Effect Layer button again. Expand the Distort category and choose the Diffuse Glow filter. Set the Graininess and Glow Amount values to 10, and the Clear Amount to 15. Click OK.

  3. In the Layers panel, select the layer Background Copy. At the top of the panel, decrease the layer’s opacity to 70%. Select the top layer, Background Copy 2. Choose Overlay from the Blending Mode menu and then set the opacity to 30%.

  4. Right-click the layer Background Copy 2 and choose Duplicate Layer from the context menu. In the Duplicate Layer dialog box, type Color Details as the name for the new layer, and then click OK. Change the new layer’s blending mode to Multiply, and its opacity to 70%.

  5. Choose Select > Load Selection. In the Load Selection dialog box, choose your saved selection, Color Details, from the Selection menu under Source. Make sure the New Selection option is activated under Operation, and then click OK. With the top layer selected in the Layers panel, click the Add Layer Mask button (common57.jpg) at the top of the panel. The selection is converted to a layer mask.

In the Layers panel, a layer mask icon is added to the top layer, Color Details, which is now masked so that only the girl’s lips and shirt remain visible.

  1. Toggle the visibility of each layer in turn, watching the effect in the Edit window. Choose File > Save, and then close the file.

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