From iPhones to the Oculus Rift, the 21st century has brought us numerous tech developments that have worked their way into the cultural consciousness.
Take a look at the art world and you’ll notice how technology has even made its imprint here too. Digital tablets and styluses have changed animation and illustration, while Photoshop has forever altered the way we look at photography.
The problem is, unless you’re a qualified graphic designer or artist, it can be hard to know where to start with this kind of software. So, in the name of helping you create your own masterpieces and get them on your walls in a beautiful picture frame, we’ve assembled an easy-to-follow beginner’s guide to Photoshop.
Using the Toolbar
The first thing to familiarise yourself with in Photoshop is the toolbar. Your exact selection of tools will depend upon the version you are using. However, the ones described below tend to be common features.
The first tool to know about is the move tool. This usually resembles an arrow and a cross and it lets you move objects around by clicking and dragging. This tool is particularly useful if you are using layers, or separate images on top of one another. You can switch between layers, normally by using a toolbar on the right of the screen. When you are in a certain layer you will only be able to edit and move objects existing there.
The marquee tool looks like a dotted rectangle. It allows you to select square or rectangular sections of an image, which you can then crop or edit. You can also select the elliptical marquee tool, which allows you to select oval or circular areas of the image.
The lasso tool is similar to the marquee tool, but normally looks like a looped rope or a scribble. It is a free-form selection tool that allows you to select any area and shape. Simply click on a point and drag the cursor around until you have selected the desired area. If you do not make your start and end points meet, the tool will automatically draw a straight line between these two points.
You can also select the magnetic lasso, which attempts to detect edges and snap close to them. The polygonal lasso, meanwhile, allows you to select points on the canvas and create a close outline, similar to the magnetic lasso. Both these tools are useful for neatly cutting out images from a background.
The magic wand tool looks – surprisingly enough – like a wand! This tool allows you to click on an area of image and select anything similar to it. It’s useful for removing large areas of similar background from an image, e.g. an expanse of blue sky. You should be able to alter the exact effect the magic wand has by changing its tolerance.
The higher the tolerance value, the less “picky” the wand will be about what it associates as similar and therefore selects (i.e. it will select a large area of the image). The lower the tolerance, the more rigorous the wand is about selecting similar areas. That means if you’re editing a photo with a background that’s a very different colour from the foreground (and you want to select the background) you can use the magic wand with a high tolerance. If the background is a similar colour to the foreground you will need a lower tolerance.
Drawing, Painting & Erasing Tools
If you’re creating an image within Photoshop, or editing one that requires you to make some adjustments, you may require the brush tool. This looks like a paintbrush and, as standard, creates a thin round-edged line resembling a pen mark. You can alter the brush style, diameter and opacity, and change the colour of the “ink” by selecting your colour palette and choosing a shade.
The paint bucket tool looks like a tin of paint and is used to fill large areas with colour. Like the magic wand tool, it has a tolerance – meaning the higher the tolerance, the larger the area it will fill.
The eyedropper tool resembles a pipette and is used to select colours from your image. Simply select the tool, click on an area of your image containing your desired colour, and that shade will show up on your palette. You can then use the brush tool or paint bucket tool to draw or fill with it.
Lastly, there’s the eraser tool, used to rub out areas of your image. Like the brush tool the opacity and size can be altered. Just remember that the eraser will reveal areas of your background colour (the default is white but can be changed).
Adjustments and Filters
Once you’ve got to grip with the toolbar, spend some time playing around with your top menu. Again, this will vary depending upon the version of Photoshop you have, but you should find that you can do things like convert to black and white, adjust red eye and alter the contrast levels very easily. You will also be able to use the filters or adjustments menu to create striking artistic effects with the click of a button.
The main thing to remember with Photoshop is that there’s no substitute for trial and error. Give yourself two evenings a week to play around with the various tools available and you’ll be an expert in no time.
Getting your Masterpieces in a Picture Frame
Once you’ve got the hang of Photoshop and created some fantastic artworks, it’s time to get them printed and start thinking about your picture framing options.
At EzeFrame, we can supply custom-made picture frames and picture mounts fitted to your precise specifications. With a variety of materials, sizes and finishes to choose from you’ll be spoilt for choice. We can even supply custom made multi aperture picture frames, perfect for showing off holiday photos that have been expertly touched up.