I have to keep it realI space out at the screen often when I edit my photos. Once that happens, things get tricky, and I usually end up missing some areas that need to be touched up. Thankfully, there are some overlooked features in Photoshop that have helped me catch those areas! Although these features won’t immediately change how everything looks on a picture, these will help tune your eyes and bring attention to troubled areas.
I don’t know how much time you spend editing your pictures. If you spend anymore than 10 minutes working on an image in Photoshop, your mind will start playing tricks on you– especially if you’re caught staring at it blankly (like me) for a while. Rotating an image midway during your editing will help refresh your brain’s attention to some detail that may have slipped your mind. In Photoshop, use the R key, then click and drag to rotate the canvas. While you’re like this, you can edit as you please. To return to normal, press the ESC key.
Zoom is a great tool, but quite often causes a lot more work than you really need to do on an image; sometimes people over edit details specifically in portrait retouching and landscape detail that won’t be seen. The way to avoid this is by using the zoom tool to view your image at what you intend the viewer to see the image at. If the image is only 300px, zooming into the tiniest corner to perfect edit 7 pixels isn’t going to make a big deal at all, so you can save time by not even worrying about it! While you can use the zoom tool in the tool bar to quickly magnify or demagnify an area, I don’t really use it much much at all. Instead, I hold the ALT key and I use the scroll wheel to zoom in and out. Also, CMD+0 will fit the image to the window, and CMD+1 will make the image actual size in pixels, so keep those in mind as well.
I really like symmetry. I’d say that my eye is pretty good at figuring out what is dead center, although it’s often that I’m just a smidgeon off. Smart guides differ from normal guides in the fact that they “snap” into place at certain distances, like at the hallway points of the canvas, or at the edge of a layer. They typically help partition your image, or line up different components of composite images, if you’re doing that sort of thing. Photoshop CC 2014 automatically turns this on, but if you have CS2-CS6, you’ll need to turn it on. To enable Smart Guides find the menubar at the top of the window, navigate to View –> Show –> Smart Guides (make sure it is checked(. Then you need to turn rulers on: Command-R or Control-R. Finally, click on a ruler (the top ruler gets you a horizontal line, the side one gets you a vertical) and drag it out to where you want it to be! To get rid of a guide, hit the Move tool (V), then off on the side of the canvas, grab the guide and move it back to the ruler.
The Hand Tool
When I used to develop film on my own and do my own enlargements, I’d always find my perfectionistic personality kicking in. I would continually work on one image and spend so much money in paper just to get it right. What what didn’t make those prints right was dust. That’s still an ongoing battle, but I helped push my prints to perfection by finding all the little dust spots. I would look at the print and slightly shake it, and immediately, spots where would appear that I didn’t see before.
The same method applies within Photoshop. If you’re zoomed in just enough to where the image exceeds the window, you can hold spacebar and the Hand tool will always pop up. From there, you can click, hold and shake the canvas to help reveal spots on the area that you can see. You should be able to spot one little white spot on the right of the image.
Change the Background color
I’m sure you’ve mistakenly right clicked outside of the canvas, got a selection of colors that represent your really depressed friend’s closet and thought something like, “Oh hey, look! I can customize the background!” Well, there’s more to that than just matching your desktop’s wallpaper or your room’s curtains. The relative luminosity of colors and shades change based off of the adjacent colors. In English, that means that some colors and shades appear darker or lighter depending on what colors are next to them. If you have dark print on a black background, then compare the same print on a white background side-by-side, the print on the white background will appear darker than the one on the black, even though they are the same exact print. Changing the background color or shade can help you really focus on the highlights or shadows as you edit.
So there you have it! Those are the overlooked tips that I have built into my hands when I’m retouching and editing pictures. I really had to think of these things since they’re second nature to me. If you have any tips like these that you do in your workflow and would like to share, comment below!