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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 walk-throughs, 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.)


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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 Tilt-Shift effect, since it’s new in Elements 11. 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 Tilt-Shift effect simulates the use of a tilt-shift lens and makes a photo look like a miniature model. It’s been a popular effect lately. So, go ahead and click on Tilt-Shift to start.

Step Three:

Photos taken from up high (looking down on a street or city) tend to look best for this effect. In the Tilt-Shift palette, click on the Add Tilt-Shift button and you’ll see that Elements blurs your photo, but keeps a sharp area of focus in the middle. Depending on the individual photo you’re editing, this may or may not look good right from the start (usually not). Read on and you’ll see how you can customize it.

Step Four:

Let’s say you don’t like where it put the focus area in the photo. Just click on the next button down, Modify Focus Area, and you can change it. Click-and-drag over another area that you want to keep in focus, and Elements will redraw the effect to blur everything but the area you dragged over.

Step Five:

By now you can see what I was talking about earlier when I said Guided mode is like a tutorial. It’s not doing anything that you couldn’t do elsewhere in Elements, but it just guides you through it here. Now, there’s one more button at the bottom called Refine Effect, which lets you customize the amount of blur in the photo. When you click on it, you’ll see three new sliders appear. The Blur slider controls the amount of blur added for the Tilt-Shift effect. You can increase it a little, but I wouldn’t go much above 30–40 because it starts looking too funky. Below that are Contrast and Saturation, but I rarely mess around with those—if anything, maybe increase the Contrast slider to 10–15 and Saturation to around 10, but that’s it. 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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