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This chapter is from the book

Special Effects in Guided Mode (the Only Time to Use It)

When you use Guided mode, it walks you through a bunch of popular editing options, like cropping, enhancing colors, retouching, and sharpening. As I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, they’re kind of like built-in tutorials in Elements—they don’t do all of the work for you, they just explain to you what tools you should use and the order in which to use them. However, there are some other options in Guided mode that can be more useful, because they can help you to easily create some special effects. (Note: We look at some other Guided mode special effects in Chapter 10.)

Step One:

Open a photo and click on Guided at the top of the Editor window. The Palette Bin on the right is broken up into three sections: Touchups, Photo Effects, and Photo Play. Forget about the Touchups section. In fact, there’s a little upward-facing arrow you can click on to collapse that section. (Again, the options there are basically tutorials with guided walkthroughs, but they’re the kinds of things we cover in this book. So, if you weren’t reading this book [which you are, by the way], then that would be a good section to check out. Since you are reading this book [I’m psychic, you know], I’d stick with the tutorials in the book you just paid for.)

Step Two:

This brings us to the Photo Effects section. You could do some of these effects in Expert mode if you wanted to, but you’d have to use a bunch of tools, dialogs, layers, and filters to do them. So, if the effect you want is here, it’s not a bad place to get to know. Here, we’ll look at the Zoom Burst Effect, since it’s new in Elements 12. The rest of the effects pretty much work exactly the same—remember, this is “Guided” mode, so Elements will walk you through each step. The Zoom Burst Effect simulates zooming your lens while you’re taking a photo. The result is blurred streaks and lines that emanate from the center. It’s been a popular effect in photography for a while, and now you can simulate it in Elements. So go ahead and click on Zoom Burst Effect.

Step Three:

You’ll find that photos that have (or should have) some sort of action in them work best with this effect. In the Zoom Burst Effect palette, click on the Crop Tool to crop your photo so the primary subject in your photo is in the center (or at least pretty close to it). You’ll see here that mine isn’t dead-center and that’s just fine because we can tweak the effect later if we need to.

Step Four:

Now click the Add Zoom Burst button. You’ll see that it adds a blurred streaky effect around the edges of the photo. If you want to intensify it just click the Add Zoom Burst button again.

Step Five:

If you were able to place your subject in the exact center of the image then it should be pretty clear right now because the effect is applied more toward the edges. But in this example, the subject is off to the side so we’ll go to the Add Focus Area button next. Just click-and-drag from the center of the subject and Elements will gradually fade the blur from the first point in which you clicked. If you’re not happy with the effect, just press Ctrl-Z (Mac: Command-Z) to undo and try again. You can also click-and-drag multiple times to add more “in-focus” areas around the photo.

Step Six:

Lastly, a great finishing step for this style of effect is an edge vignette. You can click the Apply Vignette button and it’ll automatically darken the edges of the photo and really draw attention to your subject. Like most of the other settings, the more times you click the button, the more intense the effect will get. When you’re done, click the Done button at the bottom-right of the window and it’ll take you right back to the main Guided mode window.

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