It’s time to whip out your newly sharpened #2 pencils and get ready to get
down to some serious work. That’s right, summer vacation has disappeared, again, leaving
you nothing but a few sombrero-like vacation “gifts” and a smidgeon more
color than you had in May. Don’t despair. If you’re looking for a way to
stay in denial of those early nights and sixty-degree afternoons, we’ve got
it. This month’s article is rife with projects, tips, and tricks to distract
you. Time to bust out your photo album, or rather, that overflowing shoebox
in your closet—we’re gonna have some fun…
In Your Face Photoshop
How to Touch up with the Clone Stamp Tool and use the History Palette
While rifling through my own personal shoebox, I found this picture, perfect
with the exception of that pesky date on the bottom. It happens all the time:
a new digital camera with a manual in Greek and many intimidating buttons
and knobs. It’s kind of like programming your VCR…you could fix it if it
got annoying enough. Here is a current favorite of mine taken not too long
ago, as you can tell, with the same problem. We could always fix the camera,
re-pose the picture, and download the pictures again from the camera. Instead,
we have an option in Photoshop that should save us some time and screaming
Let me introduce you to the Clone Stamp Tool.
- Date displays
- Minor skin touchups
- Unsightly telephone poles
- Anything you want to disappear on your favorite picture without
cropping it off
Once you click on the Clone Stamp Tool (above), a toolbox will appear at
the top of the screen.
You can pick:
- brush size (the size of the area you are copying)
- mode (which changes the way you copy the pixels
- opacity (the transparency of the area you are producing)
- flow (the relation of your selected pixels to the area you are producing)
- the airbrush option and whether you want it aligned or to use all layers
The smaller the brush you have, the more precise you can be; however, you
also control the amount of pixels you select in addition to the size of the “brush” you
are using to clone the pixels. The smaller the selection area, the less flow
you may have with the rest of the image.
You may want to zoom in on the area before you begin. Click on the Zoom
Tool, which looks like a magnifying glass. This tool also has
a toolbox at the top of the screen, which you should check out if you have
By pressing Alt and clicking on the area you want to clone,
you are painting or stamping the flawed area with the original pixels from
a different part of the picture. For this picture, I selected from an area
with similar skin tone. Refer to the picture below on the right—the cross
is where the pixels are being cloned from and the circle is where you are
painting those pixels in. You may want to experiment around. Always remember
that Edit > Undois your best friend. If you want to go
back more than one step, click on Editand select Step
Backwards or go into your History Palette on
the right (accessible by clicking Window > History) and
clicking on the stage where you want to return. The History Palette records
all actions, not just those with the Clone Stamp Tool.
Work your way along the edge of the trouble area. Selecting “flow” from
the toolbar and judging the right-sized brush are vital in making the pixels
look natural. A few things to remember: 1.) The smaller the trouble area,
the less you have to worry about pixel visibility and 2.) The bigger a picture
gets, the more obvious a manipulation will appear.
Notice that in the largest version of the picture, you notice the manipulated
pixels if you look hard enough at the area where the “2004” was.
Now we just have to get rid of the “May” the same way.
There. Isn’t that much better? I could have gotten rid of the bruise on
my niece’s forehead, but sometimes the picture is just more true to life
with a few “flaws.”
Tune in next month for converting to Black and White and manipulating Levels
for dramatic effect.
That Puppy-Dog Face
Mastering the Pen Tool in Illustrator
Practice is the only way to deal with that pesky pen tool in Illustrator.
Getting a handle on the frustration that is the pen takes a tracing project.
It can turn out pretty trendy if you play around with the colors and choose
an interesting shape. If you’re having trouble coming up with example pictures,
search Google Images.
Choose File > Place to put in a picture to trace. If
the picture needs to be fitted to the page, click on a corner of the picture
and press Shift (to keep proportion—there’s nothing worse
than a warped picture) and drag to resize. Though we’re going to cover layers
more in-depth next month, this picture is automatically placed into Layer
1 if you take a look at your Layer palette (to open click Window > Layers).
Click on New Layer, highlighted in the picture below on
the Layers palette.
The basic principle of layers is what you would assume: changes made in
one layer stay in that layer. One layer can rest upon another layer (and
its contents), or rest under another layer. You can have as many layers as
you want, and have a collage of elements. You can hide the layer (click the
eye to the left of the layer title, visible in the above screen shot) and
lock it (click the box next to the eye) so that you can’t manipulate anything
within the layer.
In events like these, when you want one layer to remain unchanged, you should
lock the first layer, Layer 1, and always make sure Layer 2 is highlighted.
You can cut and paste into different layers by cutting, changing layers,
and pasting, but you should always be attuned to what layer you are working
in. You will be tracing with the pen in Layer 2.
The pen tool is tricky in the respect that each point (anchor point) can
have an axis. The further you drag on the anchor point, the further the curve.
This is demonstrated in the picture above.
To continue with the next anchor point, click on the current anchor point
again, so that you don’t have an overcorrection with the next anchor point.
Even though it is difficult to do, you’re best bet is not to just click away,
creating jagged anchor points, but to curve as you go along, being careful
not to mess up (control+z works better in Illustrator because there is no
limit to the amount of Edit-Undo unless you reset it in Preferences).
Take your time.
If you need to get rid of the white fill, click on the white box with the
red line crossing it out (highlighted above).
To close out the figure, just make sure your final click is on the first
anchor point. Now you have your outline. You can fill it with another color
or move it away from the original picture.
Now you have your own puppy face. Isn’t he cute? Next month we’ll work on
adding a few more attributes to that face and creating a background. Until
then, pick out a few more pictures in need of touching up. A suggestion?
Take the time to change the date settings on your camera…it’s not as scary
as your VCR timer, I promise.