Skill level: beginner
Program used: PS7
Notes: This tutorial is part three of a series that I am going to do that covers the more common tools in Photoshop 7. This series is intended for those who are learning PS7 for the very first time. I can't say right now how many tutorials there will be when the series is complete but they will be posted 1-3 days apart. Be warned, this is image AND text heavy.
When we last met, we finished up with the Art History Brush. So today we start in on the next section. For this part of the tutorial I will be using this picture of Keanu Reeves.
The eraser tool does exactly what you would expect it to do - erase parts of your picture. You can use any brush tip to do this. If you wanted to you could use a non-standard brush. Here is the image cropped down that we'll be working with.
And here is the same image using the eraser a bit. When you use the eraser tool what shows through is whatever the background colour is set to. In this case, my background colour was set to a purple colour so that's what is showing through. It is not showing a transparent background because I simply cropped the picture. If you wanted a transparent background layer you could either create a new document and drag this image to that document or go to Layer>New>New Layer from background and that will turn the image into it's own layer. Then create a new layer, and drag it below the image. Anyway, here is the picture where I've used the eraser tool. The top left bit was done with a regular round brush. The Xs and >>> were from a brushes alleycatfish so you are not limited to erasing with a "regular" brush.
Background Eraser Tool
The background eraser tool lets you erase to transparent. This means that rather than whatever the background colour is set to, it will erase those parts of the image and leave them transparent. This would be helpful if you had a layer below your working image and wanted to erase bits to show that layer through.
I've highlighted a few things here. Up at the top are some options that you can use to configure how to use this tool. I have put a checkmark in "Protect Foreground Color" and selected a dark grey from Keanu's jacket. With this turned on and this colour selected, if I am erasing and I accidentally start erasing on his jacket, it will be spared because it matches the foreground colour. Let's look at the settings I've highlighted.
Limits: Choose Discontiguous to erase the sampled color wherever it occurs under the brush; Contiguous to erase areas that contain the sampled color and are connected to one another; Find Edges to erase connected areas containing the sampled color while better preserving the sharpness of shape edges
Tolerance: A low tolerance limits erasure to areas that are very similar to the sampled color. A high tolerance erases a broader range of colors.
Sampling: Continuous to sample colors continuously as you drag; Once to erase only areas containing the color that you first click; Background Swatch to erase only areas containing the current background color.
That information is all taken from the help file but let me break it down a bit. Discontiguous under limits means it acts similar to the regular erase tool. Anything that comes under the brush will be erased (but to transparent instead of the background colour). Contiguous is like similar to using the magic wand tool in that it finds the colours that are connected. Find Edges allows you to better define edges around an image. Below is the visual representation. Imagine the white parts are the transparent parts.
Raising or lowering the tolerance says how close to the sample colour (first click) the colour on the image has to be for it to be erased. Again, here is a visual representation. The highlighted part on the left had the tolerance set to 5%. The erased bits on the right had a tolerance of 79% so you can see that a high tolerance will start erasing colours you may not want it to.
For sampling, if you choose continuous it will keep choosing colours as you drag your mouse around. That means unless you have other things configured correctly, you may erase bits you don't want to. Choosing Once means you click once and that is the colour you will erase. (Set to foreground) Background Swatch allows you to choose a colour that will be set as the background colour and it will erase areas containing that colour. Again, here is another visual representation.
Tolerance was set at 50% for those.
Magic Eraser Tool
The Magic Eraser Tool combines the magic wand tool with the eraser tool. So with one quick click you can select AND delete big chunks of colour. Very useful! :D One thing to note: If you're working in the background, or in a layer with locked transparency, the pixels change to the background color; otherwise, the pixels are erased to transparency.
As you can see there are similar options here as for the background eraser tool and they work the same way. You can also see chunks of the background colour that I have erased.
Even if you've never used Photoshop before you probably know what this tool does. The paintbucket! It fills a layer or a selection with a colour or pattern that you define.
As you can see, I selected a part of the image and filled it with the purple colour. What I actually did though, was create a new layer and fill that selected area on the new layer. Anyway, let's look at the options we have for this tool.
Fill: This is where you choose foreground or pattern. Foreground fills it with a solid colour and pattern fills the selection with a chosen pattern. (There is an example a bit farther down)
Pattern: This is available only if you have chosen pattern. Here you choose the pattern you with which you wish to fill.
Mode: This is where you can choose the blending mode. We'll talk more about this when we get to the layers palette tutorial :)
Opacity: This is how opaque/transparent you want your fill to be. 100% means that there is no transparency at all. (There is an example for this as well)
Tolerance: This is the same as with the eraser tool but rather than erasing we are filling. The tolerance defines how similar in color a pixel must be to be filled
Anti-Alias: This defines whether or not to smooth the edges of the fill. If it is unchecked you will see more ragged edges. For example, 98% of text on graphics should be anti-aliased to keep a nice smooth look. (Bitmap fonts generally aren't anti-aliased)
Contiguous: Again, similar to the contiguous option for the eraser tool. It finds the connected colours and fills those with the colour you have chosen.
All Layers: To fill pixels based on the merged color data from all visible layers, select All Layers. Basically it takes a sample of the pixels in all areas and fills the common ones. (There is an example of this as well)
You can see the marked areas giving examples of the various ways you can use the fill tool.
The gradient tool is similar to the fill tool with the exception that you are filling with two or more colours. Gradients can be used to create neat colouring effects over images.
Let's look at the options we have available with this tool. The 5 icons in the upper left beside the gradient that I chose represent the type of gradient. By default linear is selected but you have the option to select Radial (circular), Angular (which looks like the top of a cone), Reflected (which is basically what it sounds like - the right mirrors the left), and Diamond (which makes a diamond shape).
Mode is again the blending mode. You can see one area that I have added a gradient to, I have set the layer to Overlay just to give you a hint of what kind of neat things can be done, colouring-wise. Opacity is the same as it is in any other feature - how opaque or transparent a layer is. Dither allows for a smoother blend and less "banding". Reverse switches the order of the colours. This is more noticeable on the non-linear options. This is probably more noticeable in gradients with 3 or more colours. Transparency allows you to use a transparency mask. Here is a visual example of these different options.
The blur tool does what it's name implies - it blurs areas that you "paint". Again, you can use any type of brush type you like, I generally use a small round brush. A lot of people use the blur tool for smoothing out skin after sharpening and this can be done but you want to keep the strength very low if you do. I find it more useful for smoothing out the backgrounds on images rather than on skin.
Here I have blurred part of the background near Keanu's face and also the left side of his face. This image hasn't been sharpened at all so in my opinion, the smoothed skin is too smooth, it doesn't look realistic. So if you're going for realism - at least a bit - use the blur tool on skin sparingly. Using it on the background here, it would be much more effective if I had used a larger brush.
Here I have used a size 31 brush and blurred the background. You will probably want to be a bit more careful around his hair but I am just trying to give you an idea of what it looks like. I actually like this sort of thing because the image is sort of dreamlike. :D
The sharpen tool is generally used for helping to define lines in an image. In icon making, the most common use seems to be to make "sparkly" eyes and lips. The easiest way to describe it is to show you. :)
Now I did this very quickly but I have blurred the skin and then sharpened the eyes and the lips. I just brushed over the eyes and the lips with the sharpened look. Now personally, I don't use this tool. I think I've used it maybe once or twice and that was just to pull out a line in the icon - like the line of a coat or something - and that's it. I find that if you really want sparkly lips and eyes then to do a sharpen either by sharpening twice and using the smudge tool and just not touching the lips and eyes (they look sparkly comparatively) or using the unsharp mask to sharpen the image. You *may* want to dab once on each eye but I wouldn't recommend it. Stick to picking out lines with this tool or if you want to sharpen your image, use the unsharp mask. ;)
The smudge tool simulates the actions of dragging a finger through wet paint. The tool picks up color where the stroke begins and pushes it in the direction you drag. I can't really describe it any better than that. You will find a lot of people use the smudge tool set to a very low strength to smooth out skin.
You can see the smoothed out skin on the left hand side. I've saved it as lower quality to try and preserve the load on my server but you can still see the difference. Over on the right I have enabled the "finger painting" option (which is on the option bar) to show you what that looks like and then in the middle right I have set the options to the settings listed.
In the simplest of terms, the dodge tool is used to lighten areas on your image.
I used the dodge tool on his jacket as you can see by the circled area. The "wtf?!" area is also a lightened area. Doesn't it look like his jacket is mouldy? Ew! Anyway, when I did the lightening, the Range was actually set to Midtones. As you can see you can set it to Shadows and you can also set it to Highlights. (Midtones to change the middle range of grays; Shadows to change the dark areas; Highlights to change the light areas.) The Exposure is similar to the Opacity option in other tools. The Airbrush tool at the end of the options bar allows you to use the tool as an airbrush rather than a regular brush.
The Burn tool is the opposite of the dodge tools. It is used to darken areas on your image.
Poor Keanu! He's either got a very horrible tan or he's very dirty! Ah the joy of the burn tool. I used it on his skin because it would be the most noticeable. The options that are highlighted at the top are exactly the same as they are for the dodge tool except of course with the burn tool you're darkening areas.
The sponge tool subtly changes the color saturation of an area. In Grayscale mode, the tool increases or decreases contrast by moving gray levels away from or toward the middle gray. Can't get much simpler than that? Let's take a look!
Flow is similar to Opacity in the other tools and Exposure in Dodge and Burn. I don't have any other information on this tool because honestly, I have never used it. Although it does seem like you can do some pretty neat things with it if you play around with it.
And that's it for this section! Next time, Path Selection Tool, Text Tool, Pen Tool and Shape tool!
Before we end this completely, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. The easiest and best way to figure out how to work these tools? Aside from reading tutorials like mine? Play with them! I'll be honest again and say that I haven't used a lot of these tools - either at all or very sparingly. But I spend some time playing with them to figure out what they do and that's what you should do too. Writing these tutorials has taught me all sorts of neat things - it usually takes me 2-4 hours to write one of these because I want to know what the heck I'm talking about ;) - so hopefully they are helping y'all as well!
Look for the next tutorial in the next few days. :)