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Editing Images with Adobe Photoshop Elements

If you're a graphics professional, you use Photoshop. It's a given. If you're an entry- to mid-level video producer, you might already—or someday will—use Photoshop. If Photoshop is not on your PC, try its younger, leaner sibling: Photoshop Elements.

Photoshop Elements offers standard photo touch-up tools that are found in many consumer-level photo products. Some software bundled with digital cameras even has features on par with Photoshop Elements.

But Photoshop Elements goes beyond simple touch-up. It offers professional graphics-creation tools that can come in handy as you increase your video production and DVD menu creation skills.

I will give you only a brief overview of what this full-featured product has to offer. I strongly suggest you download and install the trial version and then follow along. You can find the trial version at http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshopelwin/main.html. Click the Tryout link under Downloads.

Photoshop Elements' opening interface, shown in Figure 3.25, eases users into this powerful program.

Figure 3.25FIGURE 3.25 Photoshop Elements offers extra help not found in Adobe's professional product lines.

Fixing photos is its forte. Access its file browser by selecting File, Browse in the main menu. As shown in Figure 3.26, the file browser is an excellent way to preview photos while also viewing image data.

Figure 3.26FIGURE 3.26 Photoshop Elements' file browser improves image access.

I chose an old photo full of imperfections. To make repairs, I selected Filter, Noise, Dust & Scratches in the main menu (see Figure 3.27).

Figure 3.27FIGURE 3.27 Photo touch-up is a powerful feature.

I also used the Clone Stamp, which is accessible in the toolbox and shown in Figure 3.28. It grabs image data from a selected area and then lets you apply it over a flawed region in the photo to repair it. In that way you can select skin tone right next to a scratch on the photo and use that skin tone to repair the scratch.

Figure 3.28FIGURE 3.28 The Clone Stamp lets you fix photos using other portions of the same image.

Other touch-up tools include

  • Sponge—This tool subtly changes the color saturation.

  • Focus—This tool sharpens or blurs an image.

  • Dodge and Burn—These darkroom-style tools change the exposure in specific areas of an image.

  • Red Eye Brush—This tool repairs that vampire glow caused by camera flashes reflecting off the back surface of your subjects' eyes.

  • Color and Contrast

  • Straighten and Crop

Photoshop Elements has several drawing tools, which you can use to create buttons for your DVD menus. As shown in Figure 3.29, I used the rounded rectangle tool, applied color, applied a bevel from the Style drop-down menu, and added text. The options are endless and readily accessible. You can create multiple identically shaped buttons in layers.

Figure 3.29FIGURE 3.29 Photoshop Elements provides several tools to create DVD menu buttons.

One other handy tool is the video frame importer shown in Figure 3.30. You can use it to capture an image from your video.

Figure 3.30FIGURE 3.30 Use the video frame importer to grab freeze frames that you can alter and use as DVD menus or backgrounds for titles in your video.

After saving the freeze frame, use Photoshop Element's tools to change its characteristics: Alter the color; replace or remove features; or apply any of the many filters, some of which are shown in Figure 3.31. After you've altered it, the frame can make an excellent-looking DVD menu or background for a title.

Figure 3.31FIGURE 3.31 Elements offers dozens of filters and effects that you can easily apply to images, graphics, or text. In this case, I used Sumi-e to create an abstract oil painting look.

Make Your Image Safe for NTSC Viewing

I mentioned earlier that your colors need to be "safe" for NTSC viewing. Photoshop has a simple tool to accomplish that. With your color frame selected, click on Filter, Video, NTSC Colors. Done.

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