Clear, easy, and practical teaching to help YOU master Adobe Photoshop.
IMPORTANT NOTE! THE LINKS I HAVE GIVEN IN THIS TUTORIAL REQUIRE YOU TO CREATE A FREE ACCOUNT AT A STOCK IMAGE WEBSITE. I DID NOT REALIZE THIS WHILE WRITING THE TUTORIAL. I AM WORKING ON A FIX NOW AND IT IS PENDING TO BE PUBLISHED. UNTIL THEN, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND CREATING AN ACCOUNT AT THE WEBSITE THE LINKS DIRECT YOU TO. IT IS A GREAT PUBLIC DOMAIN STOCK IMAGE SITE WHERE YOU CAN GET QUALITY IMAGES FREE OF COPYRIGHT PROTECTION FOR YOUR WORK. THANKS YOU, AND SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.
Let’s cut to the chase: you get hired to do a little project for a wind energy company. They want you to make an image for them to place on their new flyer. They give you a great source image, but they want you to make it look more real… you’re sitting in your office, contemplating what it means to make an image look more “real.” Then you think, birds! You have this great idea to add some birds flying in the background. Next thing you know, the company shoots you an email asking you to add in a photograph of the company CEO in the field, so people will recognize his face. So now you’re swamped. You have a huge project to do. Do you have what it takes to tackle this project? Let’s find out!
Note: All images used in this tutorial are free public domain stock images, free of any copyright restrictions.
and copy the image by right clicking it and pressing copy. (That may sound obvious but hey every step counts.)
Open up a new photoshop document. Make it 2000 pixels wide by 1500 pixels tall. Keep the resolution at the default setting. Paste in the image of the wind farm. You will need to resize it. To do this, press Command T (Mac) or Control T (Windows) and then, holding shift, click on a corner of the proxy box and drag the box in to make it a reasonable size for the 2000×1500 image. Holding the shift key down preserves the aspect ratio – instead of your image squishing of squeezing together (like often times in Microsoft Word) your image will stay together in the same ratio, length to width.
My image scaled down to look like this.
So this is the image I am starting with. Let’s move on.
Let’s add in those birds! Adding in the birds will make these wind farms look more “real” and natural, which is just what the corporation wants.
To download the birds image, copy and paste the image from here:
Paste the birds image right into your wind farm file. One great thing about photoshop is that when you paste in new images, it automatically adds the image into a new layer!
Scale the image down (Control T (Windows) or Command T (Mac), then shift and drag in the corner) to completely fit inside the art board. You’ll see why in a minute.
Side note – make sure to commit that scale command to memory: you will end up using it all the time.
Now would be a great time to pick up learning some of the selection tools. In this tutorial we will be covering the magic wand tool. Selecting an image is the process of taking bits and pieces out of an image, leaving only certain parts behind. That is why movies often use green screen. They can select the green background, delete it, and then add in a new background image. The magic wand tool is a photoshop that selects a solid color and then allows you to do what you want with it.
Give it a try by selecting the magic wand tool, and then clicking on the sky behind the birds. Click Edit > Undo. Now try clicking on a single bird. Click Edit > Undo. See how the selection tool selects only certain localized color clusters? We can use this tool to our advantage. There are even a few sweet tips we can find under the Select bar at the top of your screen. Let’s try the magic wand again. Using the magic wand tool, click on a single bird again. Then, go to Select > Similar. Look at how now every single bird is selected! Isn’t that awesome! That saved a whole lot of time compared to having to click each individual bird. Here is another cool feature that we are going to use. Inverse. Now that you have every bird selected, go to Select > Inverse. This is hard to see at first, but what photoshop is doing is now selecting everything but the birds. This is an extremely handy feature. Now we have the whole sky selected. Therefore, with the whole sky selected, simply press delete. (The delete feature can be accessed in several ways. Depending on the version of photoshop you have, delete could be any number of backspace, delete, command X, or Control X. Also, Edit > Cut always works.) Wow! Look at that – all we have left is the birds. To get rid of that annoying dotted line (known in photoshop lingo as “marching ants”) go to Select > Deselect or Control D (Windows)/ Command D (Mac).
Now we have to scale down the birds to a reasonable size and place them someplace nice. You should be an expert at scaling by now. Don’t forget to hold down shift!
So now take a look at your layers palette. We now have the background layer (useless) with the wind farm on top (essentially our background) with the layer of birds on top of that. These birds look like part of the picture, no one would suspect otherwise. See how helpful layers are?
Let’s add in our company CEO. The image I chose isn’t the best looking… but hey it’s copyright free. :)
Go ahead and copy and paste your image right on in there, and scale it to a size that looks nice.
Using your magic wand tool, select the background.
Uh-Oh… looks like there are some selection problems. I have circled mine in red to highlight them. Yours may be slightly different depending on where you clicked.
In the bottom left and right, parts of the background where our CEO’s shadow lies did not become selected. In the top middle, part of his shirt color became selected, and we don’t want that, or else we will have a CEO with a floating head when we delete the background! To add on areas to a selection, using the magic wand tool, hold down the shift key and simply click the areas that need to be added. To take away areas from a selection, hold down the Alt key and click on the areas that need to be removed. Sometimes the magic wand tool adds or takes away too much though. If this is the case, click on the lasso tool (right above the magic wand tool) and the same rules apply except instead of clicking you are tracing. Hold shift and trace areas that need to be added, hold alt and trace areas that need to be removed. This is how you clean up selections.
Now that is a much better selection. I used shift and the magic wand tool for the lower right and left corners while I ended up having to use alt and the lasso tool for the shirt collar. Now press delete to delete the background content.
Great! Now we have our CEO!
Because you were in such a good mood at the office today, you decided to add in a nice little text layer. A great feature about the text tool is that it automatically adds type in a new layer. Let’s add two text layers: a slogan layer and a company name layer.
Click on the text tool, and click anywhere on your image, preferably around where you want your text to be.
For your first line, type in your slogan of choice. To get out of the type interface, click on any other tool. I usually choose the move tool, which is the very top tool that looks like a mouse cursor. I choose the move tool because then I can move my text around to exactly where I want it to be – it’s literally a point and click process.
Then select the text tool again and click where you want your company name to be. Type in your company name, click the move tool, and move it into place.
Woah – look at how tiny my text came out! Not to worry – changing fonts and sizes is easy. It is just like in Microsoft Word. Using the text tool, highlight your text (remember you can only highlight what is in that layer so you will have to do this twice) and then you can change your font, size, and color all at the top of your screen. After doing this, you can use your move tool again to place your text back in a suitable location. An viola! We have an ad!
Let’s look at our layers palette real quick and take a look at what we have accomplished.
Check it out. We have our useless background layer which we can forget about. Moving on, we have out base image of a wind farm. All we did to it was scale it on its own layer. Next we placed a layer of birds on top of it. We were successfully able to delete, scale, and move portions of the bird image without affecting the base wind farm image because the birds were on their own layer. We were then able to successfully complete the same tasks on our CEO because he was on his own layer. Then we added in two text layers and were able to modify them independently of one another again without disturbing the layers beneath. Dang aren’t layers great?! Hopefully now you are beginning to understand why layers are such an important concept. Yes, in this lesson alone we learned the magic wand tool, the lasso tool, and the text tool on top of some nifty little features such as Select > Similar – but they all served the purpose of enhancing our layers. Without layers, photoshop is worthless – instead of spending the money, just stick to Microsoft Paint.