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Photoshop Killer Tips

Painting a Gaussian Blur

Okay, technically it’s not a Gaussian blur, but in Camera Raw, you can 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.

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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.

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How to Set the Color to None

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Once you pick a color using the Adjustment Brush’s Color Picker, it’s not really 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.

How to See Just One of Your Layers

Just Option-Click (PC: Alt-click) on the Eye icon beside the layer you want to see, and all the others are hidden from view. Even though all the other layers are hidden, you can scroll through them by pressing-and-holding the Option (PC: Alt) key, and then using the Left and Right Bracket keys to move up/down the stack of layers. Want to bring them all back? Just Option-click on that Eye icon again.

Painting Straight Lines

If you want to paint a straight line using the Adjustment Brush, you can use the same trick we use with Photoshop’s Brush tool: just click once where you want the line to start, press-and-hold the Shift key, then click once where you want the straight line to end, and the Adjustment Brush will draw a perfectly straight line between the two. Really handy when working on hard edges, like the edge of a building where it meets the sky.

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.

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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.

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Changing Brush Size with Your Mouse

If you Right-click-and-hold with the Adjust ment 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 Adjust ment Brush (drag left to make it smaller and right to make it bigger).

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Seeing Paint as You Paint

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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 mostused 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.

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).

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