How to Lighten up an Image

How to lighten up a dark photo

This very simple tutorial is based on Photoshop CS4. It will work on a CS3 and CS2 version as well.

A very easy and effective way to lighten up a dark photo is to use Shadows/Highlights! You will be surprised about the impact!

This exercise will explain in easy 3 Steps how to lighten up a dark photo:

  • Use a dark photo or use our sample photo
  • Use the Shadows/Highlights (Image Adjustments)
  • Save file as a jpg

Step 1

lmage-correction-01Either use a photo that you have and open it in Photoshop (Ctrl + O or File>Open)

Alternatively just use our sample photo. You can right click it and choose copy and when in Photoshop start a new document (Ctrl + N or File>New Document) and paste the image with Ctrl + V.

Step 2

To actually lighten the image up go to Image>Adjustments>Shadows/Highlights and change the amounts of the Shadows (I chose 57%) and Highlights (I chose 9%). If you untick and tick the Preview box you can see the changes that will happen.
Okay the changes!



Step 3

Save the image as a jpg (Ctrl + S or File>Save).


May 13, 2009 at 5:19 pm Leave a comment

Masking For Beginners

Learning how to apply masks for the ‘Masking Impaired’

by Jonathan Scutt

If you want to remove a small or large area of an image, you might automatically think of using the erase tool erase-tool1 .

This will of course permanently alter the image & you’ll never get those bits of Aunty Dora back again!

A better way is to apply a mask to the image which will remove parts of the image by covering them.

The original image will remain intact & Aunty Dora will remain untouched!

Only when you select the apply mask option will the image be altered forever, but before then you still have the original image to copy or modify to your hearts content.

We will select an image & then mask a selected part of it.

We can then take the selected part & make multiple copies of it to add to the original image.


We can also modify these new copies so that they will not simply be identical repetitions of the first image.

To begin we will open one of the images stored in Windows My Pictures folder.

In this case some water lillies. (I’m sure the guys will want to use something more macho but for now we’ll just use pretty flowers.)


Step 1 – Finding an Image

1. Go to File > Open

2. My Documents > My Pictures > Sample Pictures > Water Lillies.

Shared Pictures menu

If your computer doesn’t have the Water Lillies photo then just pick something similar that has objects like flowers that can be masked & copied (dogs, trees, buildings whatever).

It’s not the image that is important, it is the concept of masking.


 Step 2 – Creating a selection around an image.

Now we are ready to apply a mask to the flowers.

Water Lillies

 3. In order to create a mask we must first create a selection by lassoing the flower at the bottom left.

4. Go to the tool menu on the left. Click & hold on the Lasso button . lasso-tool2

5. This will open the Lasso menu where you should select the Polygon Lasso Tool for drawing around the edge of the flower.

Polygon Lasso Tool

6. Left click  on the edge of the flower & then pull the mouse along the edge to produce a line.

 To turn the corner simply release the mouse &  left click again to start a new line.

Lassoing flower

7. When you reach the point you started at join both ends of the lasso by double clicking the mouse.

This will cause the line to become dashed. The selection is complete.



Step 3 – Creating a Mask

8. Now that the flower is selected go back to the Tool Menu & choose the Move Tool Button arrow-button

9. Use the Move Tool to click on the image & go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection.


By selecting this option, the background image will become invisible leaving only the selected flower ‘revealed’.

Masked Image & selected flower

Step 4 – Editing your selection

Having created this mask which reveals only the flower you can see that the original image is still safely intact with its mask layer-mask-thumbnail1 attached.

Image layer & mask

As mentioned before, only when you Apply Mask will it alter the image permanently. But we want to play around with our flower first.

10. Above the Layers panel is the Mask panel. Open this & move the density level to around 5%.

100% completely masks the background image whereas 0% will completely reveal the background image.

Mask settings

11. We’ve forgotten to reveal the stem of the flower. If we want to produce multiple flowers to add to the image we will need the stem as well.

(Well how was I to know you wanted to reveal the stem? You should have said. I can’t be expected to think of everything!)

Anyway the damage has been done but it can easily be repaired.

12. With the background image at 5% density it is easy to reveal the stem using the paintbrush.


13. Select the brush tool  brush-tool1  from the tool bar then go to the brushes button  brush-setting-button  next to the color panel on the right.

14. Open this drop down menu & choose a brush size.


15. Select a brush size such as 9 with only a little feathering around the edge & is less than the width of the stem.

Always make the brush smaller than the area to be brushed out.

Also the color of the brush must be white. If it were grey it would only reveal some of the background image.

reveal-the-stem stem-revealed-1
16. If the end results aren’t as good as you were hoping for then just go windows > history & step back to before you started using the brush tool.
history-1 history-2
This is the benefit of using a mask, you can change it until you get it right without damaging the background image.
17. To make sure you reveal the edge of the stem, zoom in to see it better when you are using the brush tool on it.
To zoom in use the ctrl + & to zoom out again use the ctrl -.
Finally we have revealed the mask.
18. Return the density in the mask layer to 100% to hide the background & reveal the flower.
The results are not too bad. (Usually I demand nothing less than perfection but in this case I’ll make an exception).
Now that we are reasonably happy with the mask we have created we can apply it.
This is where the changes will be made permanent so if you haven’t made a copy of the original water lillies then do it now or loose it for all eternity!
19. Go to the Layers >Layer Mask >Apply or right click on the mask & follow the same prompts.
apply-mask-menu apply-mask-menu-21
Now that we have our water lily on its own we can make copies of it & insert on top of the background image.
We will do this with the duplicate layer option by right clicking on flower 3.
Step 5 – Creating multiple flowers.
We will make 3 copies of the flowers & label them ‘flower 1’, ‘flower 2’, ‘flower 3’.
We will keep ‘flower 1’ the same & modify flowers 2 & 3.
20. With flower 2 we will use the Polygon Lasso Tool  polygon-lasso-tool  to lasso the petal & put it on a new layer marked ‘Petal‘.
21. The petal layer will be moved below flower 2 & rotated using the Free Transform tool in the Edit menu.
The petal is moved into a new position.
22. Then we will lasso the stem & put it on a new layer labled ‘stem‘.
23. Place this layer below the petal layer & use the Free Transform tool to move the stem into a new position.
24. Select flower 5, petal & stem layers & group them together with ctrl G. Name this ‘modified flower 2’.
25. Use the Free Transform tool to move this flower into a new position.
26. Finally we will select the ‘flower 3’ layer & reverse it using Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal.
27. Duplicate ‘modified flower 2’ using duplicate group & call it ‘modified flower 4’.
28. Use Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal
This will reverse this flower as well.
29. We can shorten a few stems with the Erase tool  erase-tool  & fiddling with the flowers some more using the Free Transform tool. 
The end result is 4 different looking flowers to populate the original image.
30. We can then duplicate these flowers as many times as we like & put them on top of the background image.
Step 6 – Using a hide selection mask.
31. Apply a mask to one of the flowers that will hide selection so that when applied the lassoed stem is hidden.
To ensure that all of the stem is hidden, make the polygon lasso bigger than the stem.
32. With hide selection chosen, brushing over the stem will remove the area that is hidden, thus revealing the stem underneath.
In this way we can reveal only part of the stem so that the flower can be made to look as if it is hiding behind another flower in the background image.
33. Create a pointy end to the stem by changing to a smaller brush size with a hard edge.
100% is a completely hard edge.
Now the stem has a pointy end .
Step 7 – Nearly finished.
34. Position flower 3 above a flower in the background image so that it appears to be sitting behind it.
35. You can now add other flowers & manipulate them to your heart’s content!
Here is the finished product compared to the original image.
water-lilies-finished water-lilies1
So, was it all worth it? Did you learn something? I hope so. I know I did (I think).

February 20, 2009 at 1:30 am 2 comments

Photoshop Exercise – Combining Filters

By Chris Reeves

Step 1: Opening a new file

When opening a new file make sure your settings are 15 by 10 cm and 150 pixels per inch. Make Sure it is set to RGB colour.



Step 2: Foreground Colours

Set the foreground colour to blue and the background to white.



Step 3:  Filter 1

On the toolbar go to filter, select render and then fiber. After that is selected set the variance and strength options both to ten and click ok.



Step 4:  Liquify

In the Filter menu you then select liquify which will open up another menu which  will then allow you to select the twirl icon on the left to manipulate the image.



Step 5 : Duplicating the background

Now you need to create a duplicate of your background layer.

If you drag the layer (eg click and drag by the name of the layer) in the Layer Panel to the New Layer Icon (see image below) you will automatically create a duplicate of the layer.

copy layer

Alternatively you can just left click on the menu button in the top right corner of the Layer Panel (see image below) and select ‘Duplicate Layer’.

copy layer 2


Step 6: Filter 2

Once again go to the filter menu but now  go to the sketch section and select chrome.


You will then get a menu with the option Detail on it. Set it to 0.

Step 7 : Inverting the image

Now you must invert the image. Select image, adjustment and then click invert



Step 8: Layer Blending

Now to blend the layers. To do this you select  LayerLayer style and then blending options.


Once you’ve made the selection you  then chose linear light.

Step 9: Final Product.

You should now have and image like this.


February 5, 2009 at 2:11 pm 1 comment

Layer Management – Renaming, Converting and Deleting Layers.

By Flyingroxy

This is a very basic exercise for absolute beginners that will simplify your Photoshop experience. 

Each layer is automatically given a generic name. It is a good idea to rename each layer with a descriptive name to avoid confusion later. 

Step 1 – Renaming layers

Double-click the layer name and the name should highlight.


Type in a new name for the layer. (Name it anything) and then click elsewhere.

Remember that you can’t rename or move the Background layer.

Step 2 – Converting the background layer

The Background layer acts like the canvas of an image. To be able to manipulate the Background layer just like other layers, you can convert it to a layer.

Double-click the Background layer and type in a new name (optional) and Click OK.

Step 3 – Deleting layers

Select the layer in the Layers palette and click on the Delete layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and click Yes on the warning box.  Alternatively you can drag the layer on the Delete layer icon.


Step 4 – It’s Finished                                                                                                  Those are the basic steps you need to know about layers.

January 29, 2009 at 10:29 am Leave a comment

Feathering an Image

By Chris Reeves

This is a simple exercise to demonstrate how to feather an image.

Step 1 New File

Go to the Menu bar, select File and then New.

Step 2  Choose an image

Select an image to be feathered



Step 3  Change Feather setting and use Elliptical  Marquee

First change the Feather setting to 15 px


Next use the elliptical marquee to select the desired area.

Its best to have your cursor at the center of what your selecting then you can hold down the ALT button as well to make it easier.




Step 4  Final steps

After using the Elliptical marquee  on the desired area you then

Use control C  to  make  copy what you’ve done

Press control N to open a new file

Then control V to paste it into the new file

Your final image should look something like this.


January 16, 2009 at 3:49 pm 2 comments

Make a Ball-like Shape in Adobe Photoshop CS3 – by xjh

 Step 1 – Open a new document


Menu path: File > New,  then you get Figure 1; then click OK.

Open a new doc

Figure 1: Open a new doc








Step 2 –  Select Elliptical Marquee Tool

Select Elliptical Marquee tool

Figure 2: Select Elliptical Marquee tool

Step 3 – Draw a Perfect Circle
Hint: While drawing the circle, hold the SHIFT key, this will let you draw a perfect circle.
Draw a circle

Figure 3: Draw a circle

Step 4 – Fill the circle with 50% grey
Menu path: Edit >Fill…, then you get Figure 4.1; then click OK.
Fill the circle with 50% grey

Figure 4.1: Fill the circle with 50% gray

A gray circle

Figure 4.2: A gray circle

Step 5 -Add noise to the gray circle
Menu path: Filter >Noise >Add Noise…, then you get Figure 5.1; then click OK.
Adding noise to the circle

Figure 5.1: Adding noise to the circle

The noise added circle

Figure 5.2: The noise-added circle

Step 6 – Select the filter  Spherize
Menu path: Filter >Distort >Spherize…, then you get Figure 6; then click OK.
The Filter Spherize

Figure 6: The filter - Spherize

Step7 – A ball-like shape
Hint: Usually, Step 6 should be repeated 4 or 5 times or so in order to make the shape much more like a ball.
A ball-like shape

Figure 7: A ball-like shape

 That is all.

December 19, 2008 at 9:51 am 1 comment

Create Your Own Photoshop Brush – Basic Tutorial

By Flyingroxy
Here is a very simple exercise to try out when you you have time. It’s quick and easy and a very necessary tool to know how to use.

In Photoshop, There is a big range of brush types to choose from. Not all are regular round shapes. 

Step 1 – List of Brushes

Select any tool that uses the brush options, display the brush options and you get a list of custom brushes as seen below.


Step 2 – Custom Brushes and Create Own Brush

Scroll far down the list and you’ll see some custom brushes that simulate various types of brushes, pens and charcoal.

So how do you make your own? You just need to start with the picture you want to use as the beginning for your brush and then begin.


Step 3 – Select Image

In the example below, we’ve opened a picture that represents one of the finest logos going around, MTV. You, however, may select a different image.


Step 4 – Copy the part that you want to use as a new brush

Start by selecting the image that you want to use and then go to Edit>Copy (in the drop down menu) or use the short cut Ctrl + C  to copy the selection to the page.

From the Edit menu>Define Brush Preset and Enter a suitable name (such as image) in the Pattern Name box>Click ok. brush-name2

Step 5 – Test And Save Brush

Create a blank image to test your brush on and save it and then your new brush will be selected in the brushes palette and will be at the end of the list. brushes2


If you want to make sure your brush is kept in case you need to re-install photoshop, you can save it. From the Brush options, display the menu (top right corner of the options. About halfway down the list you will see a Save Brushes option, which allows you to save the set.

December 4, 2008 at 4:15 pm Leave a comment

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