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Photoshop Elements 8: Laying the Foundation

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Brie Gyncild gets you started with Photoshop Elements 8 with a walk through the basics, including opening files, undoing actions, managing color, and working with selections and layers.
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You'll accomplish your image-editing goals much more quickly—and with less frustration—if you take a little time to get to know some of the basic concepts involved. For example, many techniques require you to make selections or work with layers.

Some of the things covered in this chapter are available only in Full Edit mode (such as tabbed documents or the Layers panel), but others are of use in two or three modes. I'll let you know in each section where the concept is relevant.

Opening files

No matter which mode you're using—Quick Fix, Guided Edit, or Full Edit—you need to open an image in Photoshop Elements to make the edits.

If you know where to find the photo you want to work with, choose File > Open, navigate to the folder that holds your photo, select the image file (or multiple files in the same folder), and click Open.

If you're not sure where the photo is, or even which one you want to work with, use the Organizer (Windows) or Bridge (Mac OS) to find it.

In the Organizer, select the image or images (Ctrl-click to select more than one), and then choose Edit > Edit With Photoshop Elements. Or, if you know which mode you want to use, select the image or images, click the arrow next to the Fix tab, and choose Full Photo Edit, Quick Photo Edit, or Guided Photo Edit to open the photos in the Editor in that mode. (You can change modes once the images are open in the Editor.)

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1 Use the Fix tab menu in the Organizer to open an image in the Editor.

In Bridge, select the image or images (Command-click to select more than one) and then choose File > Open With > Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0.

Choosing an image mode

Most of the time, you'll want to work in RGB mode in Photoshop Elements. RGB stands for red, green, blue. Together, those three colors can make up a vast and flexible range of colors. However, there are other image modes available in Photoshop Elements.

To change the image mode, choose Image > Mode > [image mode]. Always make a copy of the image file before converting the image mode, so that you can return to it and make changes if necessary.

  • For most images, work in RGB mode.
  • If you're working with only black and white data, choose Bitmap mode.
  • If you're working with black-and-white images that include grays, choose Grayscale mode.
  • If you're saving the image in GIF or PNG 8 format, convert it to Indexed Color mode. Because Indexed Color mode significantly limits the colors available, work in RGB mode as long as possible.

Saving files

It's good practice to save files frequently. In fact, I recommend saving a copy of the image as soon as you open it in Photoshop Elements. If you work on a copy, you can experiment without worrying about damaging your original. To save a copy, choose File > Save As. Name the file and select a location for it.

When you make your working copy, save it as a PSD (Photoshop) file so that you won't lose any image data. Your digital camera may save photos in JPEG format, but it's better to use the PSD format rather than resave a photo in JPEG format unless you are ready to share it or use it on a web page. Each time you save in JPEG format, the image data is compressed, potentially causing some data to be lost. You may start to notice reduced image quality after saving the file as a JPEG two or three times. The disadvantage of saving in PSD format is that the file size will increase significantly because the file is not compressed.

Photoshop Elements can save images in several file formats. Which one you use depends on how you plan to use the image. If you are working with web images, the Save For Web command provides many options for optimizing images. If you need to convert several images to the same file format or the same size and resolution, use the Process Multiple Files command.

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