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Photoshop Killer Tips

Painting a Gaussian Blur

Okay, technically it’s not a Gaussian blur, but in Camera Raw CS5, you can now paint with a blur effect by lowering the Sharpness amount (in the Adjustment Brush panel) below 0 (actually, I’d go all the way to –100 to get more of a Gaussian-type blur look). This is handy if you want to add a blur to a background for the look of a more shallow depth of field, or one of the 100 other reasons you’d want to blur something in your photo.

Why There Are Two Cursors

When you use the Adjustment Brush, you’ll see there are two brush cursors displayed at the same time, one inside the other. The smaller one shows the size of the brush you’ve selected; the larger (dotted-line circle) shows the size of the feathering (softening) you’ve applied to the brush.

Double-Stacking Adjustments

If you apply an adjustment with the Adjustment Brush, and you drag the slider all the way to the right, but it’s not enough, just click the New radio button (at the top of the panel), and paint over that same area with the same setting again. It will double-up the amount of the adjustment (this is great for those high-contrast effects on clothes, where it exaggerates every little wrinkle, highlight, and shadow).

How to Set the Color to None

Once you pick a color using the Adjustment Brush’s Color Picker, it’s not real obvious how to reset the color to None (no color). The trick is to click on the Color swatch (in the middle of the Adjustment Brush options panel) to reopen the Color Picker, then drag the Saturation slider down to 0. Now, you’ll see the X over the Color swatch, letting you know it’s set to None.

Hiding the Edit Pins

To temporarily hide the edit pins that appear when you use the Adjustment Brush, just press the V key on your keyboard (it toggles the pins’ visibility on/off).

Save a “Jump Back” Spot

If you’re familiar with Photoshop’s History panel, and how you can make a snapshot at any stage of your editing, so you can jump back to that look with just one click, well...good news: you can do that in Camera Raw, too! You can save a snapshot while you’re in any panel by pressing Command-Shift-S (PC: Ctrl-Shift-S). Then you can jump back to how the image looked when you took that snapshot by clicking on it in the Snapshots panel.

Starting Over from Scratch

If you’ve added a bunch of adjustments using the Adjustment Brush, and you realize you just want to start over from scratch, you don’t have to click on each one of the edit pins and hit the Delete (PC: Backspace) key. Instead, click on the Clear All button in the bottom-right corner of the Adjustment Brush options panel.

Changing Brush Size with Your Mouse

If you Right-click-and-hold with the Adjustment Brush in Camera Raw, you’ll see a little two-headed arrow appear in the middle of your brush. This lets you know you can drag side-to-side to change the size of your Adjustment Brush (drag left to make it smaller and right to make it bigger).

Seeing Paint as You Paint

Normally, when you paint with the Adjustment Brush, you see the adjustment (so if you’re darkening an area, as you paint, that area gets darker), but if you’re doing a subtle adjustment, it might be kind of hard to see what you’re actually painting (and if you’re spilling over into an area you don’t want darkened). If that’s the case, try this: turn on the Show Mask checkbox (near the bottom of the Adjustment Brush panel). Now, when you paint, it paints in white (the default mask color, which you can change by clicking on the color swatch to the right of the checkbox), so you can see exactly the area you’re affecting. When you’re done, just press the Y key to turn the Show Mask checkbox off. This one’s worth a try.

Add Your Own Color Swatches

When you click on the Color swatch in the Adjustment Brush panel, you see that there are five color swatches in the bottom-right corner of the Color Picker. They’re there for you to save your most-used colors, so they’re one click away. To add a color to the swatches, first choose the color you want from the color gradient, then press-and-hold the Option (PC: Alt) key and when you move your cursor over any of those five color swatches, it will change into a paint bucket. Click that little bucket on any one of the swatches, and it changes the swatch to your currently selected color.

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