Processing: Software Introduction


The version of Photoshop you use will have some impact on interface specifics like shortcuts and appearance, but versions CS2 and beyond are all capable of creating splendid images. In all the tutorial pages I'm using CS5.

According to some you can obtain Photoshop CS2 as a free download. Adobe says this is untrue. I don't encourage you to use the "free" version, but instead to buy a subscription to Photoshop CC (about $20 per month).

If you're tempted to use Adobe Elements instead, I suggest you don't. Elements lacks some of Photoshop's capabilities. For example, Elements lacks "Lab" color mode, which is very useful for enhancing an image's colors.

Let's begin by reviewing some useful Photoshop keyboard shortcuts:

Key strokes Action
Ctrl-0 Fits image to work area--good for basic processing.
Ctrl-1 Zooms image up to 1:1 pixel size, useful for detailed cleanup.
Ctrl-L Opens Levels tool
Ctrl-M Opens Curves tool
Ctrl-A Selects entire image
Shft-Ctrl-I Inverts the selection
Ctrl-C Copies selection to keyboard
Ctrl-V Pastes the clipboard to the selected object. If the selected object is a layer, it will create a new layer. If a mask, it will past into the mask.
Ctrl-H Toggles visibility of selection outlines. Making a selection outline invisible is not the same as Deselect
Ctrl-I Replaces an image with the negative of itself
Shift Puts some tools into "add mode" while pressed down
Alt Puts some tools into "subtract mode" while pressed down

Next, let's look at some other things we need to get started. Collections of interactive objects are grouped into Palettes. Palettes of use to us are Layers, Actions, and Info. These can be opened or closed using the menu. For example The Layers Palette is toggled with Window > Layers.

We're going to make heavy use of the Layers Palette. It looks like this:

The little symbols on the bottom of the Layers Palette are useful shortcuts, and here are a few that we'll use:

  • The white circle in the box adds a mask to the selected layer
  • The paired rectangles create a copy of the layer you drag onto it
  • The trash can deletes a layer you drag onto it.

You'll also want to have the Actions palette visible (Window > Actions).

Palettes can be anchored at the right side with careful placement. If you feel that palette floating and docking are a little difficult to deal with, you're not alone. It may seem more natural after some practice.

Photoshop Actions

Actions are essentially recorded sequences of operations in Photoshop that can be played back. We will use Astronomy Tools by ProDigital software. Another useful suite of actions is Annie's Astro Actions by Enterprise Astronomy and Photo. Annie's Astro Actions (AAA) are designed to complement the Astronomy Tools suite, and given the very low price of both packages there's no reason not to have both. Both packages work with all CS and CC versions.

Photoshop Plugins

Plugins are small programs that extend the capabilities of Photoshop. We'll make use of only one, Hasta La Vista Green (HLVG) by Rogelio Bernal Andreo.


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