Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 Pre-Beginner I.II
Now that you’ve survived a basic picture edit, I’ll circle back and cover some of the useful, but slightly more complicated features of Elements.
Get the File Browser open again. If you want to change the style of the thumbnail presentation, click the More button in the upper right corner of the Browser and choose one of the other options.
If your File Browser is too big for your window, or you don’t want all of the data that is showing on the panel on the left side, collapse that part by clicking the double-headed arrow at the bottom of the Browser.
Remember that bunch of digital photos with numerical names shown previously? You can rename them without opening them by clicking directly on the name that is showing under the thumbnail. The text will become editable and you can type in a new name. Be very careful to retain the file format ending (the period followed by the file extension such as .jpg or .tif or .psd).
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could rename them all at once? You can. I find it best to rename selected groups rather than doing an entire folder at once (though you can do that, too).
Start by clicking on the first picture that you want to rename. Then press and hold the Ctrl key as you click on all of the other pictures to which you want to give similar names. Selected thumbnails will show a thick black outline. When batch renaming, you can only use the same name with an alpha or numerical suffix or prefix, so pick pictures that can go under a single name ‘type.’
When your group is all selected, right-click on the group and choose Batch Rename from the menu, or click the More button in the upper right corner of the File Browser and choose Batch Rename.
Once in the Batch Rename dialog, you can type the name that you want to use into one of the two text boxes. From the menu of the other one, you must pick one of the incremental options so the files can all have some part of their name that is different. Click OK to rename all of the files.
When you’re working on a picture, there are two tools that you’ll rely on heavily—the hand tool, and the zoom tool. Use the hand tool to pan the image within the document window if the picture is too big to show all at once (usually because you’ve zoomed in).
You can get the hand tool at any time (except when using the type tool) by pressing the spacebar on your keyboard.
Use the zoom tool to get in close to details in your picture so you can see what you are doing. Note that zooming is a display effect, only. It has nothing whatsoever to do with how your picture will print. It is strictly a means for you to get a close-up view of the picture while it’s on-screen.
The keyboard shortcut for the zoom tool is to press both the Ctrl and spacebar keys at the same time and then either click on the area that you want to zoom to, or drag a box around that area after which the boxed area will fill your image window.
To zoom out (make the picture smaller/ farther away), press Alt along with Ctrl and spacebar, or choose the minus option on the zoom tool’s options bar.
If you zoom way in or out on a picture and your document window size gets huge or tiny, you can make the window smaller or larger again by dragging on its lower right corner (or any corner, but the lower right one has a cute little corner-drag thingy).
Once you get into any kind of editing beyond the very simple steps given in the first section of this tutorial, you’re going to be using selections. They’re easy to use, and you’ll catch on to how they work in no time. Just be aware that the animated dotted line outline (the ‘marching ants’) indicates what is within the selection.
When a selection is active, tools and commands will work only on the area within the selection. So, if I drag the paintbrush all the way from side to side on the image shown above, the paint stroke will only be applied to the area within the selection outline, even though I dragged across the whole thing.
That’s what selections are supposed to do. However, you need to pay attention to which part is selected and which is not. Look carefully at the marching ants in this picture. Which part is selected?
A selection outline is always a closed boundary, so you can follow the outline all the way around to see which part is selected and which is not. I’ve painted across the entire image, below, to show you which part was selected and which was not.
The selection shown was created by making the square selection in the center and then choosing Select > Inverse which turns a selection inside out.
Elements is packed with features specifically designed for novice image editors. There is an excellent Search feature at the top of your window; just type in what you’re interested in.
The results will appear in the Search Results palette, sorted into relevant Recipes (brief tutorials), and Help Topics.
The Hints palette not only displays a short description of whatever tool or palette that you’ve just clicked on, if you scroll down in the palette, you’ll find links to related topics in Help.
The How To palette (commonly known as Recipes), contains step by step mini-tutorials that should make it easy for you to do popular and useful edit sequences.
Pick the category that you’re interested in, then pick the particular recipe that you want to try. I’d recommend doing them all as a learning exercise.
In the Effects palette, you’ll find effects that can be applied with one click. If you see something in parenthesis after the effect name, that means there is a requirement such as having a selection active or a type layer selected in the Layers palette. For example, the Vignette frame requires a selection.
You’ll usually want to use the elliptical marquee to make a vignette selection. The elliptical marquee is hiding under the rectangular marquee.
Or you can select the rectangular marquee and then click the elliptical option on its options bar.
Make your selection by clicking on the upper left corner of where you want the selection to be, then while holding the left mouse button down, drag diagonally across to where you want the lower right corner to be. Release the mouse button to create the selection.
Note that Effects’ results will vary considerably according to image resolution, so expect variation in results for low resolution versus high resolution pictures.
The new, improved multi-picture Picture Package feature in Elements 2 has to be the most requested item that was missing in version 1. Find it at File > Print Layouts > Picture Package.
Once in the dialog, be very sure to set Resolution to something above 150 ppi, preferably something between 200 and 300 ppi. The default 72 ppi is not what you’d want to use for prints.
There are a ton of package size options for you to choose from. If you don’t like any of them, you can make your own (see Help).
If you choose Frontmost Document from the Use menu, Picture Package will start out by setting up the layout using the currently active image.
You can then add other pictures to your package by clicking directly on the preview. The Open dialog will appear and you can browse to pick a different picture for that slot in the package.
If you want to make a package starting with a file other than the currently active document, choose File from the Use menu.
Note that if you choose Folder, Picture Package will generate a picture package page for every file in that folder, but each individual package page (layout) will only use (multiple copies of) that single image.
The last thing I can think of that new users find perplexing, is Elements constant attempts to update itself via Adobe Online. If you don’t like this or it doesn’t work, click the sunflower picture at the top of your toolbox. From the first dialog that opens, click the Preferences button.
Once the Preferences dialog opens, choose Never from the Check for updates menu.
If Elements ever starts acting really weird, and you can’t figure out what the heck is wrong, try deleting your preferences file. It’s a common, and perfectly safe cure for many mysterious ailments—always worth trying before calling tech support. To delete preferences, hold down the Ctrl, Alt and Shift keys immediately after you launch Elements (after you double-click the shortcut on your desktop). You have to be fast. An alert will ask if you’re sure.
Click the Yes button. After Elements opens, be sure and go into Edit > Preferences > PlugIns & Scratch Disks and reset the Scratch Disk to something other than your startup drive.