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Import Images

  • star.jpg ACA Objective 4.2

Previously, you opened files directly in Photoshop, which places the image as the background layer of the document. (You’ve already learned about the special challenges of the Background layer.) But now you’re going to import images into an open document. You can open images into Photoshop in many ways:

  • File > Open: Opens the file as a new document with the image as the background layer.
  • File > Open As Smart Object: Opens the file as a new document with the image as a smart object.

  • Dragging onto an open document: Opens the file on a new layer of the open document.
  • Dragging into an empty area of the interface: Opens the file in a new document window.
  • File > Place Embedded: Places the image on a new smart layer in its current saved state.
  • File > Place Linked: Places the image as a smart object and updates it as the original image is updated.

Depending on your needs, you might want to open a document in one of these specific ways.

Browse with Bridge

  • star.jpg ACA Objective 5.2

Bridge is an important application for designers because it enables you to browse, manage, and view Adobe documents without the need to open the application that created it. When you’re browsing a folder full of Photoshop, Illustrator, and/or InDesign files on your desktop, you see only the icons for those files. When using Bridge, you can preview the files, so you can choose the right shot from a photo shoot or the correct layout for a flyer (Figure 4.9).

Figure 4.9

Figure 4.9 Unlike system file browsers (left), Bridge makes it easy to locate your design documents by displaying previews of all supported file types.

Aside from the ease of navigating and viewing your documents, Bridge also makes it easy to view each document’s metadata. Metadata is a collection of information about a file that is invisibly attached to the file. It can include copyright information, color swatches used in the file, camera and lens information, and even GPS coordinates that identify where a photo was shot.

Modern operating systems are getting better at connecting with and previewing files when browsing, but Bridge provides a reliable way to locate and preview any of the images you might want to bring into your Photoshop project. The browsing options in Bridge are also more full featured and easier to use.

To browse for a document in Bridge:

  1. Choose File > Browse In Bridge to open Bridge.
  2. Browse for the file you want to open into Photoshop. For this project, you locate the file GH-JohnBass.CR2 in the Downloads folder.

  3. Right-click the image thumbnail and choose Place > In Photoshop (Control-click in Mac OS).
  4. Your image is placed in the current Photoshop document on a new layer as a smart object.

    Because this file is in the RAW format, it opens into Photoshop as a Camera RAW file that is ready for processing in the RAW window. Let’s explore what’s special about files in RAW format and learn how to process them.

Work with RAW images

RAW files are images that can be created only in a camera, and they contain the unprocessed image data directly from the camera’s image sensor. When your clients are providing images, always get the RAW files when you can. Although RAW files are much larger in size than a JPEG file, they’re also much more useful and versatile. Because they contain all of the original image sensor data, nothing is thrown away—even the unseen information in the shadows is retained! You can often recover image details from a RAW file that you would not be able to recover from a JPEG file. You can open a RAW file in Photoshop as you would open any other file. Choose File > Open or File > Place to open a RAW file directly into Photoshop. You already told Photoshop to place this image, so let’s look at the Camera Raw Interface.

To develop RAW images in Camera Raw:

  1. Using the Camera Raw interface (Figure 4.10), fine-tune the image settings.

    Figure 4.10

    Figure 4.10 The Camera Raw interface in Photoshop

    You can automatically set the white balance, and then manually set each development setting to meet your image needs.

  2. Click OK to place the image in your document as a smart object.

Once the image is in your document, notice that the layer has a small icon in the corner of the thumbnail smart.jpg. The icon indicates that this is a smart object. Let’s talk about the advantages of using this special type of image layer in Photoshop.

Understand Smart Objects

Opening a file as a smart object is often the smartest way to work because the image opens as a smart object. You can identify them by the Smart Object icon (Figure 4.11). Smart objects are nondestructive layers in Photoshop—no matter what you do to them, you can always return to the original image, even after the document is saved. This is a huge advantage that has very few drawbacks. If you need to change a smart object into a regular layer, you can simply rasterize the image and change it into pixel data. Smart objects offer a few distinct advantages over regular layers:

  • They are nondestructive, so they can always be returned to their original state.

  • Filters applied to smart objects become smart filters that can be edited after they are applied.
  • Smart objects can be linked, so that if the original file is updated, the update will automatically be reflected in the document.
  • Smart objects can be used across Adobe applications.

    Figure 4.11

    Figure 4.11 Identify smart objects by the Smart Object icon in the lower-right corner of the layer thumbnail.

Create a Solid Fill Layer

Since our image is fairly dark, you’re going to create a dark background you can fade your image in to. To create a plane of solid black that will always fill your image, you will again create a solid fill layer as you did previously.

To create a solid fill layer:

  1. Choose Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.
  2. Select black as the solid color.
  3. Click OK to create the layer.
  4. Move the solid fill layer below your smart object layer.
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