The latest version of Photoshop Elements— Photoshop Elements 13—was recently released. Although version 13 is considered a minor release, there are still lots of great additions and improvements for both the photographer and digital scrapbooker.
Here are some of the new features.
You'll notice one new feature— Elements Live view (eLive)—as soon as you open Elements 13.
eLive is designed to help users learn about about and work with Photoshop Elements. It does this by making information and resources of interest available from within the application itself. To this end, eLive posts links to relevant material—news and articles, relevant blog posts, and tutorials and videos—found across the web. Clicking on any of the posts opens that link in your default browser.
The new view is available in both the Photoshop Elements Editor and the Organizer by choosing eLive from the options in the bar located above the center work area.
The information is organized into channels—Learn, Inspire, and News. You can filter the links by choosing from the different categories via a drop down menu located along the left-hand side for the workspace.
A new feature in Elements 13 allows you to create Facebook cover photos and coordinating profiles photos from a single image or from a series of images.
In all honesty, the procedure can be challenging with a single image unless you happen to have a photo with something that you want to use as a profile photo in the lower left corner. So, while the single photo effect is interesting, it can be difficult to implement unless you plan on taking a photo specifically for this purpose.
But if you decide to use a series of photos, the process is almost automatic.
The Facebook Cover Photo feature is available under the Create menu in both the Editor and the Organizer workspaces.
Here's how it works.
If you are working in the Editor, be sure to have the picture or pictures that you want to use opened in the workspace. If you are in the Organizer, select the photos that you'll be using.
Now choose Create>Facebook Cover.
A dialog box will appear, giving you a number of different layout options for both a single photo and multiple photos.
Once you selected a layout, Elements will go ahead and create your cover and profile images. A workspace will then open, giving you a chance to edit the newly created Facebook photos.
Here you can:
Once you're happy with the photos, you can upload them to your Facebook account by clicking the upload icon at bottom of the interface. If this is the first time that you've used Elements to upload to Facebook, you'll need to authorize Photoshop Elements, given the application rights to post images to your Facebook account.
There's a new selection tool in Photoshop Elements 13's Expert edit workspace. It's the Refine Selection Brush and, as its name implies, it can be used to edit and hone selections made by the other selection tools.
To see how this works, first make a selection on an image using any of the selection tools. In the picture below, I used the Quick Selection Brush to select the sky. And, as you can see, my hand slipped and I accidentally selected part of the tree line.
In the past, I would have had to completely redo the selection to correct the mistake. But now, using the new Refine Selection Brush, I can edit the selection instead.
The Refine Selection Brush is nested with the Quick Selection Brush.
With the Refine Selection Brush selected, you see that your cursor changes to look like a bull's-eye or two concentric circles.
You'll notice that the symbol at the center of the cursor shows a negative sign when it is placed outside the selected area. The symbol turns to a plus sign when the cursor is moved into the selection.
Now, to refine the selection, first change the size of the brush tip to something that will be easy to work with. You can change the brush size using the slider in the Tool options bar or by using the square bracket keys. Pressing on the left bracket keys reduces the brush tip size. The right bracket key increases the brush size.
Now just click and drag the cursor along the edge of your selection, in the area that needs editing. Keep the light colored part of the cursor over the place that you want the selection edge to move to. As you drag back and forth, you'll see the selection edge pull in or push out to the correct position.
Here's my edited selection:
Content Aware Fill is a new feature in Photoshop Elements 13. It allows you to remove unwanted objects from your photos and fill the space with pixels that match the surrounding areas of your image.
Content aware fill is available in the Expert Editor workspace.
Here's how it works.
Create a rough selection around the area that you want to remove. You can use any of the Selection tools to do this, but I find that either the Lasso tool or the Polygonal Lasso tool work best in this situation.
Below, I have a photo that has a sizable dark spot in the lower left section.
I've used the Lasso tool to draw a rough selection around the spot.
Now choose Edit>Fill Selection from the top menu bar. Or use the keyboard shortcut Shift+Delete.
In the Fill Layer dialog box, choose Content-Aware from the Use drop-down box.
That's it. Here's my edited photo. You can see that the dark area was removed seamlessly.
By the way, if you don't like the results, try it again. So undo by choosing Edit>Undo (or using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Z / Command+Z) and then redo the Content-Aware fill.
Cropping images is an essential part of photo editing. It's a basic function, but it's also one that can dramatically change—and, if well done, dramatically improve—the composition of an image.
Photoshop Elements 13 introduces a new feature that can help with that.
Autocrop Suggestions will automatically display 4 cropping options whenever you use the Crop tool (keyboard shortcut: C) in the Elements Editor. If you choose to restrict the crop tool to a specific image size or aspect ratio, the cropping suggestions displayed follow those restrictions.
You can preview the different cropping options by hovering your mouse over the thumbnails. If you find one you like, simply click on the thumbnail to select it and then click on the green check mark below the photo to complete the crop.
Photomerge Compose is another new addition found in Photoshop Elements 13.
Photomerge Compose allows you to cut out an object from one image and place it into another, creating an entirely new photo.
Most of the individual tools used in Photomerge Compose aren't new to Elements 13. What is new is that the software now walks you through the process, much like the photo adjustments available in the Guided Edits workspace.
Photomerge Compose is available in all three Editor Workspaces.
Let's look at an example of how Photomerge Compose works. I want to take the two little girls out of this photo:
And paste them into this photo:
To use Photomerge Compose, I'll first open the two images in the editor workspace. Alternatively I could select the two photos from those already opened in the Photo Bin.
Now, select Enhance>Photomerge>Photomerge Compose from the top menu bar.
The Photomerge Compose dialog box will open, showing detailed step-by-step instructions in a panel located along the right side of the interface.
First, I'll drag and drop the source file into the main window.
Then, using the selection tools available in the side panel, I'll create and refine a selection outline around the little girls. Notice that the new Refine Selection Brush is available here to help perfect the selection outline.
Once I have the selection outline, I'll click Next and Elements will automatically extract the selection and paste it into the background image.
I'm now given a chance to resize the extracted piece and tidy it up a bit by hiding or revealing areas that need touching up.
And finally, I can adjust color and lighting.
Here's my merged photo:
You'll find a newly restyled and enhanced Effects panel in the Quick Edit Mode of Photoshop Elements 13.
As you may already know, the Quick Edit mode gives you access to a number of preset photo effects. These one-step, single-click effects allow you to quickly create Instagram-like images quickly and easily.
These presets can be found in the Effects panel, accessed by clicking on the fx button located in the lower right area of the Quick Mode workspace.
Here's the Effects panel in Photoshop Elements 12:
The newly redesigned Effects panel presents 10 base preset photo effects. When one of these Effects is selected, five possible variations of the base preset are displayed, allowing you to effectively 'tweak' the effect to your liking.
Here's the new Effects panel in Photoshop Elements 13:
As in the past, just click on the effect that you like and it will instantly be applied to your image.
There are some new additions to the Guided Edits included in Photoshop Elements 13.
The Guided Edits walk you through a number of different photo editing and enhancement techniques. When you work in the Guided edit mode, you are given step-by-step instructions as the software directs you through the editing task. So it's easy to see how the Guided editing mode is perfect for anyone new to image editing or to Photoshop Elements because it makes it easy to get some great effects while learning about the software. But Guided Edits aren't just for beginners. Since the file produced in this mode retains all of the layers, adjustments and masks created in the editing process, it's also great for more experienced users who may want to move into the Expert editing mode for further tweaking.
The Guided Edits can be found by clicking on Guided at the top of the Elements Editor workspace.
At this point, you will see the various Guided Edits, grouped into four categories—Touchups,Photo Effects,Camera Effects, and Photo Play—showing in a panel along the right side of the workspace.
With that quick introduction to Guided Edit mode, let's look at what's new in Photoshop Elements 13. PSE13 includes three new Guided edits, all found in the Photo Effects category and all dealing with black and white conversions. The three new effects are: Black and White Guided Edit, B&W Color Pop Guided Edit, B&W Selection Guided Edit
The Black and White Guided Edit converts colored images to black and white. By choosing from the various available presets, you can adjust the look of the converted photo and even add a diffuse glow to give your photo a soft and dreamy look.
You can use the B&W Color Pop Guided Edit to highlight one color within your image by leaving that color as is and de-saturating all the others. You can choose the highlighted color either by using one of four preset hues—red, yellow, blue, or green—or by using the color picker tool, available from within the Guided Edit.
To use the B&W Color Pop Guided Edit, open your image in the Elements Editor and then move to the Guided Edit mode. Open the Photo Effects group by clicking on the down-facing arrow in the Guided Edits panel.
To begin the process, click on B&W Color Pop.
You can then either use one of the color presets or the color picker to choose the color you want to highlight. There are also tools available to fine-tune your selection.
I'm going to show how this works by using this Guided Edit to highlight the red canoes in this photo:
I'll use the red preset and see where that gets me. So I click on the red balloon and the software does the rest.
The preset worked well for my image. The only thing I'd like to change is to edit the selection to remove the pile of rope that is currently showing as red at the very back of the row of canoes:
Using the Refine Effect tool, I can remove that area from the selection.
Here's my final photo:
The Selective Black and White Guided Edit is very similar to the B&W Color Pop Guided Edit, but here, instead of selecting portions of your photo to de-saturate based on color, you choose those areas using the selection tools that are available within the Guided edit.
Again, I'm going to use this Guided Edit to highlight a group of canoes in my photo.
But as you can see, this time the boats are different colors so I can't select them based on color. So instead, I'll create a selection outline using the tools available within the Guided Edit.
So I have my selection outline all set up. But, keep in mind that the Guided Edit works by de-saturating the area within the selection outline. But that's not the effect I'm looking for. I want to de-saturate everything outside of the selection area.
So to get the look I want, I'll need to check the Invert Effect box to invert the selection and de-saturate everything except the canoes.
Here's the finished photo:
Photoshop Elements 13 includes additional Effects presets within the Expert Editor.
As a bit of background, the Expert Edit workspace contains a number of preset filters, styles and photo effects that you can one-click to apply to an image. These presets can be accessed by clicking on the Effects (fx) button located in the lower right area of the Expert Edit workspace. When you do, the Effects panel will open. The top of the panel displays tabs for the three categories of effects—Effects, Filters and Styles. You can open the panel for each category by clicking on the appropriate tab.
Elements 13 includes additional options under the Effects tab. You can see these new in the screen shots, which show the effects available in Version 12 vs. those now available in Version 13.
Photoshop Elements 13 has added a new option when working with strokes in the Layer Style panel.
To understand this new feature, let's back up a bit.
There have are two ways to apply a stroke to an object in Photoshop Elements and both of these methods are available in the Expert Edit workspace.
The first way is by using a command available through the top menu bar. To apply a stroke this way, select the object that you want to apply the stroke to so that a selection outline surrounds it. If the object is on its own layer, a quick way to do this is hold down the Ctrl key on a PC or the Command key on a Mac and click on the layer in the Layers palette.
With your object selected, choose Edit>Stroke (Outline) Selection from the top menu bar.
The Stroke dialog box will open, presenting you with a number of options that you can use to set the look of the stroke. You can choose the size, color, and, most importantly for our discussion here, you can set the position of the stroke.
You can see that there are three choices for stroke position: inside, center and outside.
Now, at first glance, you wouldn't think that the position would have a big impact on the look of the stroke. But it actually does and it's a difference that is a very big deal especially for digital scrapbookers or anyone who wants to add a mat/border to their photos.
To see what I mean, consider this example.
The two images below each have a stroke applied. The left photo has a 50px outside stroke and the one on the right has a 50px inside stroke. I've made the stroke black to help it stand out.
To really see the difference in these two, we're going to zoom in on the corners of the photos
The difference is pretty obvious when you look up close at the corners of each type of stroke. The outside stroke creates soft, rounded corners. The same would happen with a center stroke. But the inside stroke creates crisp, sharp corners. And crisp, sharp corners are almost always what you want when you are creating a photo border.
So you can use this method to create a crisp, sharp-cornered photo mat.
But the problem with using this technique to create a photo border is that it's not editable. Once it's there, it's there. If you want to change the color of the stroke or the size or whatever, you either have to undo the effect or, if you have already saved the photo, you'll have to find another way to change it. You may need to start over with an unedited version of the photo or, if you thought ahead and added the stroke to a separate layer (always a good idea, BTW), you'll need to delete that layer and redo the stroke.
It would be much more convenient to be able to just edit the stroke. And that's where layer styles come into the picture.
You can also add a stroke to an entire layer using Layer Styles.
Layer Styles are effects that can be applied to individual layers within Photoshop Elements. Layer styles are non-destructive and completely editable. So as long as you save your work as a layered file, you can always come back and revised the layer style effects.
To add a stroke to a layer using layer styles, first make sure that the object that you want to stroke is on it's own layer.
Click on the Effects (fx) button located in the lower right area of the Expert Edit workspace.
Choose Styles from the options at the top of the Effects panel.
Click on Strokes from the drop down menu.
The Strokes panel will open to display a variety of stroke options. All of them are outside strokes. Double click on one to select and apply it.
Once the layer style has been applied, you can edit it by clicking on the Layers button located in the lower right area of the Expert Edit workspace. The Layers panel will open and you'll see that the layer now displays an fx symbol.
Above, we mentioned that all the stroke presets that show in the Effects panel are outside strokes. So if you want to use an inside stroke, you will need to edit the stroke applied earlier in order to reposition it.
To edit the layer style, double click on the fx symbol and the Style Settings Dialog box will open.And this is where the new feature in Photoshop Elements 13 comes into play.
If you are working in an earlier version of Elements, the Style Settings Dialog box will look something like this:
There is no option here to change the position of the Stroke. Compare that to the Style Settings Dialog box in Elements 13.
There is now an option that allows you to select the position of the stroke.
So, now, to change the position of the stroke, just select Inside from the position drop down.
And you're done. You now have a crisp, sharp and fully editable photo mat:
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We've seen how managing the ISO setting allows you to control the amount of grain that shows in your photos. But it does more than that. Understanding and working with the ISO setting gives us added flexibility in terms of setting the other two exposure settings–aperture and shutter speed.
The bottom line is that ISO is an important and useful tool, and one that you will want to be comfortable with if you are looking to take creative control of your exposure.