It’s time to adjust the values. I intentionally do not adjust color balance because I want this to look as close to my original painting as possible.
Go to “Image” on the top menu, then “Adjustments,” then “Brightness/Contrast”
I move the brightness until I see black in the darkest part of the painting, which is the inside of the ears. Then I adjust contrast for the blacks as well. Click OK. Compare it with your original by using the History palette and returning to where you opened your picture. If you aren’t satisfied, try again and use either Undo or the History palette until you are happy with it.
If you’ve been doing this for a while, you probably have your own way of getting a good photograph of your artwork. I’ll tell you what I do.
To me it is important to photograph my painting in natural light only. I have a bedroom that has two nice windows. I turn off any lights and place the painting flat on the bed, hoping to avoid any light coming in from the sides. I use my Nikon SLR and do my best to hover over it so the picture is square and not skewed. The hardest part is not casting a shadow. I take a few pictures and then open them in PhotoShop.
Open PhotoShop. You are greeted with a page with a large “New…” button and a large “Open…” button. Click on the Open button and navigate to where you have your photographed picture. If you don’t have this screen, then go to the top menu and click “File.” You’ll find “New” and “Open” here, too.
When you locate your picture, click on it and then “open” at the bottom of the little screen.
And then the picture opens in PhotoShop.
Whether I have scanned a picture or taken a picture of it, I find that the blacks are washed out and the picture needs a slight value adjustment. In this case, the brightness and contrast are way off.
You can see a grid because the first thing I do is crop it with the crop tool on the left, 3rd one down on the left of the tool palette. After you have determined how you want it cropped, move your cursor to the top left icon, the “Move” tool, and click on it. You’ll see a little menu pop up that says “crop?” and “don’t crop.” Click accordingly.
The History palette shows you every step you’ve taken since you opened your picture. At the top you see that I’ve opened the picture of Hunter. I changed the brightness/contrast and vibrance, then I changed the image size and saved it as a new file.
If I decide against changing the image size, I just take one step back to Vibrance. Often I’ll make a few changes to a picture, then go back several steps to see if the changes I made were better or worse than the picture I had before. It isn’t infinite, so be aware that you can only go back in time so far. Why can’t this be real life?
The two palettes you need are Layers and History. Go to the “Window” menu on top and click on those two palettes and they will show up on your workspace.
It is important to always be aware of what layer you are on in a PhotoShop image. When you add type, it automatically creates a new layer. If you paste another image into this one, it automatically creates a new layer. If you become frustrated because nothing you’re doing is working, it’s probably because you’re not on the right layer.
If you open your image and the layer labeled “Background” is locked, it means you can’t make any changes to this layer. Just click on the lock icon next to the word “Background” and it will become a normal layer.
Instead of introducing all the PhotoShop tools to you, I’m just going to tell you about the ones you’ll need for cropping, changing brightness/contrast, and changing the resolution of your image.
Over to the left on your workspace should be a floating Tools Palette. It may be shown as one long column, or a shorter two-column palette. If you want to change to either format, just click on the right side at the very top.
The Move Tool
The Move tool is very important. If you aren’t in the middle of using a different tool, like cropping a picture, you should be using this tool. Get in the habit of clicking on it when you finish with a function.
The Crop Tool
Usually when I open a new picture, I crop it first. If I don’t like it, I use Edit > Undo until I get it right. When you are done cropping, click on the Move tool and you will get a screen that asks if you want to crop, or cancel? Click accordingly.
The Hand Tool
The Hand tool moves your image around, just like if you placed your hand on it.
The Zoom Tool
There are several ways to zoom in and out. You can use this tool, or, since I have a Mac, I use command + or command -. If you use the zoom tool, look up at the top of your screen and you’ll see a magnifying glass with a “-” in it for zooming out.