Photoshop CS6 For Dummies®

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Table of Contents

About This Book
How This Book Is Organized
Part I: Breezing through Basic Training
Part II: Easy Enhancements for Digital Images
Part III: Creating “Art” in Photoshop
Part IV: Power Photoshop
Part V: The Part of Tens
Conventions Used in This Book
Icons Used in This Book
How to Use This Book
Where to Go from Here
Part I: Breezing through Basic Training
Chapter 1: Welcome to Photoshop!
Exploring Adobe Photoshop
What Photoshop is designed to do
New features to help you do those jobs
Other things you can do with Photoshop
Viewing Photoshop’s Parts and Processes
Reviewing basic computer operations
Photoshop’s incredible selective Undo
Installing Photoshop: Need to know
Chapter 2: Knowing Just Enough about Digital Images
What Exactly Is a Digital Image?
The True Nature of Pixels
How Many Pixels Can Dance on the Head of a Pin?
Resolution revelations
Resolving image resolution
File Formats: Which Do You Need?
Formats for digital photos
Formats for web graphics
Formats for commercial printing
Formats for PowerPoint and Word
Chapter 3: Taking the Chef’s Tour of Your Photoshop Kitchen
Food for Thought: How Things Work
Ordering from the menus
Your platter full of panels
The tools of your trade
Get Cookin’ with Customization
Clearing the table: Custom workspaces
Sugar and spice, shortcuts are nice
Spoons can’t chop: Creating tool presets
Season to Taste: The Photoshop Settings
Standing orders: Setting the Preferences
Ensuring consistency: Color Settings
When Good Programs Go Bad: Fixing Photoshop
Chapter 4: Getting Images into and out of Photoshop
Bringing Images into Photoshop
Downloading from your digital camera
Scanning prints
Keeping Your Images Organized
Creating a folder structure
Using Adobe Bridge
Renaming image files easily
Printing Your Images
Cropping to a specific aspect ratio
Remembering resolution
Controlling color using File-Print
Considering color management solutions
Printing alternatives
Sharing Your Images
Creating PDFs and websites
E-mailing your images
Part II: Easy Enhancements for Digital Images
Chapter 5: Adding Dark Shadows and Sparkling Highlights
Adjusting Tonality to Make Your Images Pop
Histograms Simplified
Using Photoshop’s Auto Corrections
Levels and Curves and You
Level-headed you!
Tonal corrections with the eyedroppers
Adjusting your curves without dieting
Grabbing Even More Control
Using Shadow/Highlight
Changing exposure after the fact
Using Photoshop’s toning tools
Chapter 6: Making Color Look Natural
What Is Color in Photoshop?
Color modes, models, and depths
Recording color in your image
Making Color Adjustments in Photoshop
Watching the Histogram and Info panels
Choosing color adjustment commands
Manual corrections in individual channels
The People Factor: Flesh Tone Formulas
Chapter 7: The Adobe Camera Raw 7 Plug-In
Understanding the Raw Facts
What’s the big deal about Raw?
Working in Raw
Do You Have What It Takes?
Working in the Camera Raw Plug-In
Tools and preview options
The histogram
The preview area
Workflow Options and presets
The Basic panel
The Detail panel
HSL, grayscale, and split toning
Compensating with Lens Corrections
Adding special effects
Camera profiles, presets, and snapshots
The Camera Raw buttons
Chapter 8: Fine-Tuning Your Fixes
What Is a Selection?
Feathering and Anti-Aliasing
Making Your Selections with Tools
Marquee selection tools
Lasso selection tools
The Quick Selection tool
The Magic Wand tool
Refine Edge
Your Selection Commands
The primary selection commands
The Color Range command
Selection modification commands
Transforming the shape of selections
Edit in Quick Mask mode
The mask-related selection commands
Masks: Not Just for Halloween Anymore
Saving and loading selections
Editing an alpha channel
Adding masks to layers and Smart Objects
Masking with vector paths
Adjustment Layers: Controlling Changes
Adding an adjustment layer
Limiting your adjustments
Chapter 9: Common Problems and Their Cures
Making People Prettier
Getting the red out . . . digitally
The digital fountain of youth
Dieting digitally
De-glaring glasses
Whitening teeth
Reducing Noise in Your Images
Decreasing digital noise
Eliminating luminance noise
Fooling Around with Mother Nature
Removing the unwanted from photos
Eliminating the lean: Fixing perspective
Rotating images precisely
Part III: Creating “Art” in Photoshop
Chapter 10: Combining Images
Compositing Images: 1 + 1 = 1
Understanding layers
Why you should use Smart Objects
Using the basic blending modes
Opacity, transparency, and layer masks
Creating clipping groups
Making composited elements look natural
Making Complex Selections
Vanishing Point
Creating Panoramas with Photomerge
Chapter 11: Precision Edges with Vector Paths
Pixels, Paths, and You
Easy Vectors: Using Shapes
Your basic shape tools
The Custom Shape tool
More custom shapes — free!
Changing the appearance of a shape
Simulating a multicolor shape layer
Using Your Pen Tool to Create Paths
Understanding paths
Clicking and dragging your way down the path of knowledge
A closer look at the Paths panel
Customizing Any Path
Adding, deleting, and moving anchor points
Combining paths
Tweaking type for a custom font
Chapter 12: Dressing Up Images with Layer Styles
What Are Layer Styles?
Using the Styles Panel
Creating Custom Layer Styles
Exploring the Layer Style menu
Exploring the Layer Style dialog box
Layer effects basics
Opacity, fill, and advanced blending
Saving Your Layer Styles
Adding styles to the Style panel
Preserving your layer styles
Chapter 13: Giving Your Images a Text Message
Making a Word Worth a Thousand Pixels
A type tool for every season, or reason
What are all those options?
Taking control of your text with panels
The panel menus — even more options
Working with Styles
Putting a picture in your text
Creating Paragraphs with Type Containers
Selecting alignment or justification
Ready, BREAK! Hyphenating your text
Shaping Up Your Language with Warp Text and Type on a Path
Applying the predefined warps
Customizing the course with paths
Chapter 14: Painting in Photoshop
Discovering Photoshop’s Painting Tools
Painting with the Brush tool
Adding color with the Pencil tool
Removing color with the Eraser tool
Working with Panels and Selecting Colors
An overview of options
Creating and saving custom brush tips
Picking a color
Integrating Your iPad into Your Painting Workflow
Expressing yourself with PS Express
Using Adobe Nav
Getting colorful with Color Lava
Easing your way into Eazel
Connecting with Photoshop
Fine Art Painting with Specialty Brush Tips and the Mixer Brush
Exploring erodible brush tips
Introducing airbrush and watercolor tips
Mixing things up with the Mixer Brush
Filling, Stroking, Dumping, and Blending Colors
Deleting and dumping to add color
Using gradients
Chapter 15: Filters: The Fun Side of Photoshop
Smart Filters: Your Creative Insurance Policy
The Filters You Really Need
Sharpening to focus the eye
Unsharp Mask
Smart Sharpen
Blurring images and selections
The other Blur filters
Correcting for the vagaries of lenses
Cleaning up with Reduce Noise
Getting Creative and Artistic
Photo to painting with the Oil Paint filter
Working with the Filter Gallery
Push, Pull, and Twist with Liquify
Do I Need Those Other Filters?
Adding drama with Lighting Effects
Bending and bubbling
Creating clouds
Part IV: Power Photoshop
Chapter 16: Streamlining Your Work in Photoshop
Ready, Set, Action!
Recording your own Actions
Working with the Batch command
Creating contact sheets and presentations
Sticking to the Script
Adding Extensions to Photoshop
Tooling around in Bridge
Creating Fancy PDF Presentations and Multi-Page PDFs
Creating a PDF presentation
Collecting thumbnails in a contact sheet
Saving paper with picture packages
Creating Web Galleries
Chapter 17: Working with Video and Animation
Importing and Enhancing Video Clips
Getting video into Photoshop
Adjusting the length of video and audio clips
Adding adjustment layers and painting on video layers
Transitioning, titling, and adding special effects
Transforming video layers
Rendering and exporting video
Creating Animations in Photoshop
Building frame-based animations
Creating frame content
Tweening to create intermediary frames
Specifying frame rate
Optimizing and saving your animation
Part V: The Part of Tens
Chapter 18: Ten (or so) Things to Do with Photoshop CS6 Extended
Understanding Photoshop CS6 Extended
Using Smart Object Stack Modes
Working with 3D Artwork
Creating 3D Objects
Importing 3D Objects
Rendering and Saving 3D Scenes
Measuring, Counting, and Analyzing Pixels
Measuring Length, Area, and More
Calculating with Vanishing Point
Counting Crows or Maybe Avian Flu
Viewing Your DICOM Medical Records
Ignoring MATLAB
Chapter 19: Ten Reasons to Love Your Wacom Tablet
More Natural Movement
Health and Safety
Artistic Control
Extended Comfort
Programmable ExpressKeys, Touch Rings, and Touch Strips
The Optimal Tablet
The Pen’s Switch
Setting Preferences
The Accessories
Cintiq for the Ultimate Control
Chapter 20: Ten Things to Know about HDR
Understanding What HDR Is
Capturing for Merge to HDR Pro
Preparing Raw “Exposures” in Camera Raw
Working with Merge to HDR Pro
Saving 32-Bit HDR Images
HDR Toning
Painting and the Color Picker in 32-Bit
Filters and Adjustments in 32-Bit
Selections and Editing in 32-Bit
Printing HDR Images
Cheat Sheet

Photoshop® CS6 For Dummies®



About the Author

Peter Bauer is a member of the Photoshop Hall of Fame, an award-winning fine-art photographer, the Help Desk Director for the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP), and an adjunct professor of design at the University of Notre Dame. He has authored more than a dozen books on Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, computer graphics, and photography. Pete is also the host of video-training titles at and a contributing writer for Photoshop User magazine. He appears regularly as a member of the Photoshop World Instructor Dream Team, hosting Help Desk Live! As NAPP Help Desk Director, Pete personally answers thousands of e-mail questions annually about Photoshop and computer graphics. He has contributed to and assisted on such projects as special effects for feature films and television, major book and magazine publications, award-winning websites, and fine art exhibitions. He serves as a computer graphics efficiency consultant for a select corporate clientele, and shoots exclusive photographic portraiture. Pete’s prior careers have included bartending, theater, broadcast journalism, professional rodeo, business management, and military intelligence interrogation. Pete and his wife, Professor Mary Ellen O’Connell, of the University of Notre Dame Law School, live in South Bend, Indiana.


I have written (and John Wiley & Sons has published) this book for you — the many who learn and live by the written word. Whether on paper or tablet, these words and illustrative figures were put here for you. There is no irony in the fact that you’ll use these words to produce pictures.

Author’s Acknowledgments

First, I’d like to thank Bob Woerner and Linda Morris and the rest of the superb crew at John Wiley & Sons that put the book together. I’d also like to acknowledge Scott and Kalebra Kelby, Jean Kendra, Larry Becker, and Dave Moser of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP). With their support, I’m the Help Desk Director for NAPP, and get to share my Photoshop knowledge with tens of thousands of NAPP members — and with you. I also thank my Help Desk colleagues Nicole S. Young (Nicolesy) and Rob Sylvan (who served as technical editor on this book) for their support during the development of this project.

Another great group from whom I continue to receive support are my colleagues on the Photoshop World Instructor Dream Team. If you haven’t been to Photoshop World, try to make it — soon. Rather than “Photoshop conference,” think “Photoshop festival.” Where else can you see suits and slackers, side by side, savoring every single syllable? It’s more than just training and learning: It’s a truly intellectually invigorating environment. And, of course, I thank my wife, the wonderful Professor Mary Ellen O’Connell of the Notre Dame Law School, for her unwavering support during yet another book project.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments at For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Vertical Websites

Project Editor: Linda Morris

Executive Editor: Bob Woerner

Copy Editor: Linda Morris

Technical Editor: Rob Sylvan

Editorial Manager: Jodi Jensen

Editorial Assistant: Amanda Graham

Sr. Editorial Assistant: Cherie Case

Cover Photos: Cover images created by Peter Bauer

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Patrick Redmond

Layout and Graphics: Claudia Bell, Joyce Haughey, Corrie Niehaus

Proofreader: Evelyn Wellborn

Indexer: Potomac Indexing, LLC

Publishing and Editorial for Technology Dummies

Richard Swadley, Vice President and Executive Group Publisher

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher

Mary Bednarek, Executive Acquisitions Director

Mary C. Corder, Editorial Director

Publishing for Consumer Dummies

Kathy Nebenhaus, Vice President and Executive Publisher

Composition Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services


Adobe Photoshop is one of the most important computer programs of our age. It’s made photo editing a commonplace thing, something for the everyperson. Still, Photoshop can be a scary thing (especially that first purchase price!), comprising a jungle of menus and panels and tools and options and shortcuts as well as a bewildering array of add-ons and plug-ins. And that’s why you’re holding this book in your hands. And why I wrote it. And why John Wiley & Sons published it.

You want to make sense of Photoshop — or, at the very least, be able to work competently and efficiently in the program, accomplishing those tasks that need to get done. You want a reference that discusses how things work and what things do, not in a technogeek or encyclopedic manner, but rather as an experienced friend might explain something to you. Although step-by-step explanations are okay if they show how something works, you don’t need rote recipes that don’t apply to the work you do. You don’t mind discovering tricks, as long as they can be applied to your images and artwork in a productive, meaningful manner. You’re in the right place!

About This Book

This is a For Dummies book, and as such, it was produced with an eye toward you and your needs. From Day One, the goal has been to put into your hands the book that makes Photoshop understandable and useable. You won’t find a technical explanation of every option for every tool in every situation, but rather a concise explanation of those parts of Photoshop you’re most likely to need. If you happen to be a medical researcher working toward a cure for cancer, your Photoshop requirements might be substantially more specific than what you’ll find covered here. But for the overwhelming majority of the people who have access to Adobe Photoshop, this book provides the background needed to get your work done with Photoshop.

As I updated this book, I intentionally tried to strike a balance between the types of images with which you’re most likely to work and those visually stimulating (yet far less common) images of unusual subjects from faraway places. At no point in this book does flavor override foundation. When you need to see a practical example, that’s what I show you. I worked to ensure that each piece of artwork illustrates a technique and does so in a meaningful, nondistracting way for you.

You’ll see that I used mostly Apple computers in producing this book. That’s simply a matter of choice and convenience. You’ll also see (if you look closely) that I shoot mostly with Canon cameras and use Epson printers. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t shoot with Nikon, or that you shouldn’t print with HP or Canon. If that’s what you have, if it’s what you’re comfortable with, and if it fulfills your needs, stick with it! You’ll also find that I mention Wacom drawing tablets here and there (and devoted one of the final chapters to the subject). Does that mean you should have one? If you do any work that relies on precise cursor movement (like painting, dodging, burning, path creation and editing, cloning, healing, patching, or lassoing, just to name a few), yes, I do recommend a Wacom Cintiq display or Intuos tablet. Next to more RAM and good color management, it’s the best investment just about any Photoshop user can make.

One additional note: If you’re brand new to digital imaging and computers, this probably isn’t the best place to start. I do indeed make certain assumptions about your level of computer knowledge (and, to a lesser degree, your knowledge of digital imaging). But if you know your File⇒Open from your File⇒Close and can find your lens cap with both hands, read Chapter 1, and you’ll have no problem with Photoshop CS6 For Dummies.

How This Book Is Organized

Photoshop CS6 For Dummies is primarily a reference book. As such, you can check the Table of Contents or the index for a specific subject, flip to those pages, and get the information you need. You can also start at the beginning and read cover to cover (just to make sure you don’t miss a single tip, technique, or joke). To give you an indication of the type of information in each chapter, I organized the book into parts. Here’s a quick look at what sort of content you can find in each part.

Part I: Breezing through Basic Training

The first set of chapters presents the basic operation of Photoshop, what you need to know to get around in the program, and the core process of getting images into Photoshop and back out again. If you’re new to digital imaging, and particularly unfamiliar with Photoshop, make sure to read Chapter 1 through Chapter 3. If you’ve worked with Photoshop or another image editing program and aren’t quite sure about the concept of resolution or which file formats are best for which purposes, don’t overlook Chapter 2. Chapter 4 is the meat and potatoes of Photoshop: scanning and downloading images from cameras, cropping to fit specific print and frame sizes, and printing or posting your images on the web. All in one nice, tidy package.

Part II: Easy Enhancements for Digital Images

In Chapters 5 through 9, you discover ideas and techniques for improving the appearance of your images. You read about tonality (the lightness and darkness of the image), color correction (making the image’s color look natural), and making selections to isolate individual parts of your image for correction. Part II also includes a full chapter on the Raw file format for digital cameras — what it is, why it’s important, and how to determine whether it’s right for you. At the end of this part, I include a chapter on the most common problems in digital photos: red-eye, wrinkles, and unwanted objects. And, yes, that chapter includes what to do about those problems, too!

Part III: Creating “Art” in Photoshop

The chapters in Part III take a walk on the creative side. Although not everyone wants to use Photoshop as a digital painting program, everyone should understand how to get around in the complex and daunting Brush panel. Compositing images (making one picture from two or more), adding text (whether a simple copyright notice or an entire page), using paths, and adding layer styles are all valuable skills for just about all folks who work with Photoshop, even if they don’t consider their work to be “art.” You’ll also find info about how to integrate your iPad into your Photoshop workflow.

Part IV: Power Photoshop

The two chapters in Part IV are more specialized than the rest of the book. If you don’t work in a production environment (even regularly cropping to the same size for printing on your inkjet printer can count as production), you might not need to use Actions in Photoshop. But there’s far more to Chapter 16 than just Actions and scripting! It also shows you how you can use Adobe Bridge’s Output panel to create an on-screen presentation that anyone can view, generate a single page with small thumbnail images of all your photos, and save paper by printing multiple copies of a photo on a single sheet. Chapter 17 explores Photoshop’s new and improved video editing capabilities (now available in the non-Extended version of Photoshop). With more and more digital cameras and smart phones capturing video, here’s an introduction to working with both video and animation in Photoshop.

Part V: The Part of Tens

The final part of this book, The Part of Tens, was both the easiest and most difficult section to prepare. It was easy because, well, the chapters are short. It was incredibly tough because it’s so hard to narrow any Photoshop-related list to just ten items. Photoshop is such a beautifully complex and deep program that I had a very hard time restricting myself to just ten things to know about the Extended version of Photoshop, just ten reasons a Wacom tablet can be your best friend, and just ten things you need to know about high dynamic range (HDR) photography.

Conventions Used in This Book

To save some space and maintain clarity, I use an arrow symbol as shorthand for Photoshop menu commands. I could write this:

Move the cursor onto the word Image at the top of your screen and press the mouse button. Continuing to press the mouse button, move the cursor downward to the word Adjustments. Still pressing the mouse button, move the cursor to the right and downward onto the words Shadow/Highlight. Release the mouse button.

But it makes more sense to write this:

Choose Shadow/Highlight from the Image⇒Adjustments menu.

Or even to use this:

Choose the Image⇒Adjustments⇒Shadow/Highlight command.

You’ll also note that I include keyboard shortcuts (when applicable) for both Mac and Windows. Generally the shortcuts are together, with Mac always first, and look like this:

Move the selection to a separate layer with the shortcut maccmd+Shift+J/Ctrl+Shift+J.

Icons Used in This Book

You’ll see icons in the margins as you read this book, icons that indicate something special. Here, without further ado, is the gallery:

newfeature_cs6__4c.eps This icon tells you I’m introducing a new feature, something just added to the program with Photoshop CS6. If you’re brand new to Photoshop yourself, you can ignore this icon — it’s all new to you. If you’re an experienced Photoshop user, take note.

tip_4c.eps When I have a little secret or shortcut to share with you — something that can make your life easier, smoother, more convenient — you see the Tip icon.

warning_4c.eps This icon doesn’t appear very often, but when it does, read carefully! I reserve the Warning icon for those things that can really mess up your day — things that can cause you to lose work by ruining your file or prevent Photoshop from fulfilling your wishes. If there were to be a quiz afterward, every Warning would be included! (Actually, they do appear on my exams — ask my students!)

remember_4c.eps The Remember icon shows you good-to-know stuff, things that are applicable in a number of different places in Photoshop, or things that can make your Photoshop life easier.

technicalstuff_4c.eps You might notice this icon in a place or two in the book. It’s not common because I exclude most of the highly technical background info: you know, the boring techno-geek concepts behind Photoshop. But when you do see the icon, it indicates something that you probably should know.

How to Use This Book

This is a reference book, not a lesson-based workbook or a tips-and-tricks cookbook. When you have a question about how something in Photoshop works, flip to the Table of Contents or the index to find your spot. You certainly can read the chapters in order, cover to cover, to make sure that you get the most out of it. Nonetheless, keep this book handy while you work in Photoshop. (Reading cover to cover not only ensures that you find out the most about Photoshop, but it guarantees that you don’t miss a single cartoon or joke.)

Unless you’re borrowing a friend’s copy or you checked this book out of the library or you’re reading it on your iPad, I suggest you get comfortable with the thought of sticky notes and bent page corners. Photoshop is a very complex program — no one knows everything about Photoshop. And many concepts and techniques in Photoshop are hard to remember, especially if you don’t use them often. Bookmark those pages so they’re easy to find next time because you’re sure to be coming back time and again to Photoshop CS6 For Dummies.

Where to Go from Here

Occasionally, we have updates to our technology books. If this book does have technical updates, they will be posted at

Please note that some special symbols used in this eBook may not display properly on all eReader devices. If you have trouble determining any symbol, please call Wiley Product Technical Support at 800-762-2974. Outside of the United States, please call 317-572-3993. You can also contact Wiley Product Technical Support at

Part I

Breezing through Basic Training


A solid understanding of certain basic concepts and techniques makes learning Photoshop much easier. Heck, it’s difficult to understand a discussion of feathered selections when you don’t know your pixels from a hole in the ground, right?

In Chapter 1, I introduce you to Adobe Photoshop. Chapter 2 focuses on the basic concepts of digital imaging and offers a look at the primary file formats in which you save Photoshop images. Chapter 3 makes sure we’re all reading from the same menu as we discuss Photoshop’s various commands, tools, and features — and provides some critical troubleshooting procedures. Finally, Chapter 4 covers bringing images into Photoshop from digital cameras or scanners, organizing those files, and basic output through printing.