Hidden Power Monthly
March 26, Vol.10
The Newsletter for Elements Users
THE MONTH IN HIDDEN POWER
LONG ANSWERS (4)
More age-old questions get answered, but with a somewhat new twist. Learn how resizing works, what Quick Mask is great for, and how customized effects can be achieved.
SHORT ANSWERS (16)
These short answers are all over the map, from questions about the book and tools to getting serious about image editing. One thing they have in common: the answers are short.
MEND TOOL CORNER (11)
Questions and answers about the Mend tool, installation and function.
The Mend tool has surprised both me and users. I was surprised at the inital interest in the tool, and users seem generally surprised that it works as well as it does! If you haven't gotten the Mend tool yet, the general consensus of those that I have heard from is that it is worth the money and then some.
Get more information on the Mend tool for Elements here: http://hiddenelements.com/Mend
If you are a Mend tool user and you'd like to contribute a quote or other information to appear in the next newsletter and on the Hidden Power website, please contact me (email@example.com). If you like the Mend tool, and want to see more additions to Elements, let people know about the tool! Successful distribution will allow me to spend more time developing even more stuff. If you haven't gotten Mend, get it now...
In other news, two more tools will be released shortly. One is a type tool which adds in controls that you just don't have in Elements now: tracking (the space between letters) and leading (the space between rows of type in a paragraph). There is more to it than that, but the end result is, you will finally have much better ability to control type in Elements layouts!
The second tool is one that may be more exciting to a broader range of users: Auto-Adjust. The tool uses some good processing sense to make adjustments to drab images, punching up the contrast while making sure not to lose highlight and shadow details. It isn't anything like a levels or contrast auto-adjust...it is smarter and can really help blah images. This one is ready to go, but I want to get up a good tutorial before I roll it out to users.
I am hoping for a release of both of these within the next month.
If you have any suggestions, feel free to forward: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hidden Power website: http://hiddenelements.com
The Hidden Power forum at RetouchPro.com
The Hidden Power newsletter archive
Free Hidden Power Tools: http://hiddenelements.com/freetools.html
Get the Hidden Power book: http://aps8.com/hppe.html
Buy Elements: http://aps8.com/elements.com
Get the new Mend tool for Elements: http://aps8.com/mend.html
1. Is Elements better than Photoshop?
> I want to be able to make elements that I can't do
> in DIP 9. I use DIP 9 for all my scrapbook pages,
> but know I can do things in PS7 or PSE I can't do
> in DIP 9. What is your opinion based on the fact
> I do have access to PS7, should I struggle learning
> it or go the easier route of PSE???
I have to be honest, I am not really sure what DIP 9 is.
People make a bigger deal out of the difference between Photoshop and Elements than there really needs to be. I don't know that I consider one program easier than the other as they are different variations on a theme. One has more tools and different ways to do things, and the other is a bit stripped down so there are potentially fewer things to get in the way. If the latter is attractive, stick with Elements. If you are a professional with sophisticated needs, Photoshop may be something you should consider.
If you already have PS7, I would consider sticking with that rather than moving to Elements -- if you will be doing things with four-color printing, spot color, web design (Image Ready), and writing your own actions (though you can write them and run them in Elements). Either program can probably do what you need, and I am not entirely sold on one being easier than the other...Elements may actually require a better understanding of manipulation to use it in advanced arenas and with tough projects. Either will require that you develop your skills and understanding over time.
2. Using Quick Mask
> After installing the tools and found the quick mask, but
> was unable to actually use it. I suspect it is because I
> just don't understand how. I wish there were some better,
> or expanded, tutorials for the Quick Mask tool (from the
> free download) and some of the others as well.
Time has been a factor in supporting the free tools. The idea is, I have lots to do, and when I have to make a decision as to how to use my time, the thing that gets left behind are the freebees. I regret that, actually, as they are usually a lot of fun! However, I don't always have the time to commit...and regretfully, there are bills to pay.
Be that as it is...Quick Mask was included with Hidden Power Actions III. You can get that by downloading the free package from the Hidden Power website.
Using Quick Mask, pretty much goes like this: 1. Make a selection. 2. Click To Rubylith (on the Welcome menu ... using HPAIII).
Step 2 converts the selection created in step 1 to a quick mask. The selected area will be transparent and the unselected area will be ruby (50% transparent red, by default). You can make changes to the mask by painting with white to clear areas or painting with black to add back ruby.
To convert back to a selection: 1. click To Selection (on the Welcome menu ... using HPAIII).
This converts the rubylith back to a selection based on any changes you may have made.
The Quick Mask tool is good for seeing the softness in your selections and lets you use pixel editing tools to adjust your selections. For example, if you make a hard selection of an area using a standard tool, the selection line on screen shows what the selection masks. If you make a feathered selection, the selection line only shows where 50% or more of the image is selected. Switching to Quick Mask can give you a better visual idea of what is being masked, and by how much.
3. Customizing Effects
> The Effect settings in Elements are pretty limited. Is there
> any way I can expand these functions? I am especially
> interested in applying glows.
Effects were actually included with Hidden Power Actions III. For these I customized the way you can apply Effects and the result doesn't have to be limited by the measley settings you get in Elements. Sometimes it is just better to create your own effects.
In this case it is actually pretty easy -- if you already have the object you want to apply the glow to isolated. If not, try this:
You can now change the transparency, mode, color and even apply other effects on the inner glow -- as well as change the positioning -- to get the effects you really want without depending on the presets.
If anyone were interested I might be coaxed into creating a set of actions that would allow users to control their own effects without having to rely on the presets.
4. How does resizing work?
> What does PSE do to get from 3200 to 500 pixels?
> Are pixels combined, eliminated, shrunk?
Elements will interpolate your information based on the interpolation method you select when downsizing your image. Usually you will use Bicubic interpolation, which downsizes and "sharpens" at the same time.
Interpolation affects how the choice is made between merging pixels. Pixels are a standard unit within the image (pixel = picture element), so they are not shrunk. In a sense they can either be combined (bicubic and bilinear interpolation do averaging between pixels to determine new values) and/or eliminated (Nearest Neighbor chooses from the best representation of pixels currently in the image without averaging); in going from a larger image to a smaller one, in some sense image information has to be removed.
Sizing down should not have as great a visible effect on the final image as sizing up would. While sizing down is common (repurposing for less demanding output) sizing up should be a relative rarity (when you size up, information is added to the image -- representing the application flat-out guessing at what should be there...). In other words, while both interpolate and 'guess', you see less of the image as it gets smaller--and what is dismissed by the application will weigh less on the result. Sizing up is like using a magnifying glass to zoom in on the flaws in the process.
> I am having an installation problem on Mac.
> Your tool install from the CD hangs with the spinning
> ball, whether I run it from the flash screen or the
> fscommand folder.
What you are suggesting is a 'hang' is more likely the installer looking for a place to install. Please try this:
What this will do is make sure the installer is not searching external equipment and the internet for a place to install. It will also create at least one place to install to (the desktop folder). You SHOULD be offered a choice during the installation. If not, check the name of the program folder. If so, Please choose the ACTUAL program folder and complete the installation.
If you still have trouble, please tell me what happens.
There has not been ONE SINGLE INSTANCE where a user failed to be able to install the tools. We'll get them in.
- 2 -
> I am trying to get my printing back under control (Epson 1280).
> I had it working and then bought a new system, and
> it doesn't work anymore -- and I forgot what I did!
> 1) my print out of CMYK.pdf is a good bit too
> saturated, even tho' both grey scales are fine.
> 2) blacks tend to block up and get blotchy with
> hints of blue or green.
> I admit to going against your recommendation and buying paper
> that was on sale...
It is clear just from this that something is wresting control from your printout. You need to get into the printer settings and figure out how to pry it back. It has been a while since I used a 1280, so I don't know the settings off-hand. You'll have to go in and look around a bit. the book makes suggestions around page 217 (is this hidden power or special edition using?). You may have to shoot a couple sheets to find the problem.
Note that the book specifically suggests NOT buying paper on sale. If you switch papers and brands, you will get different coatings, absorption rates, and results. My goal in printing is to keep the variables to a minimum so I always know what I will get. Here, you have changed several variables, which makes locating the problem all that much more difficult. You'll have to run through the whole process to figure it out and get back on track.
> I have PSE v1 that came with my scanner.
> Will the tools in HPE work for me with
> version 1, or will I have to buy version 2
> to use the tools?
My Hidden Power tools were developed for Elements 1. They had to be updated to work on Elements 2, and actually install differently. The book and CD include installers for both Elements 1 and Elements 2 for Mac and PC.
- 4 -
> I am an Elements 2 user. Is there a Healing Brush
> (band-aid icon) tool available for Photoshop Elements
> Version 2? That is the one item I would like to see
> in Elements. Otherwise I don't have a need for Photoshop
> (at my given talent level!!!). I heard somewhere this
> is available. Is it easy to install?
You caught me just at the right time! In February I released what I call the Mend tool. This tool does essentially what the Healing tool does in Photoshop. You can get it for just $10 if you order online, and it works in Elements 2 (I would assume it works in Elements 1 as well, but I haven't tested it there).
To find out more and place your order, visit: http://hiddenelements.com/Mend
Installation requires unzipping a file and placing the resulting files in the Elements Effects folder.
- 5 -
> I've spent 2 days searching forums and trying to
> figure out how to use the tools on my own. I can't
> find this information anywhere. Surely, somewhere
> there is basic information on how your tools work.
> ie. quick mask, selective color, and the other
> tools that appear on the help menu. Please help me.
> I really want to learn how to use the masks especially.
Feel free to ask questions about how to use the free tools in the user forum on retouchpro.com (http://www.retouchpro.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&daysprune=&forumid=142). I did not provide a lot of documentation (not really more than a description), as I added these tools by request of readers. If I had thought they were really more valuable than what I put in the book, I'd have included them there. My point: the tools in the book cover these situations, and pretty much consistently with better versatility. The main thing the free tools set out to accomplish was to provide an interface for using Photoshop actions. I documented that in several readme files included with the installation.
I would much rather approach image problems per the image, rather than tool first. If you have any examples of things you can't seem to correct, I'd be glad to look at those and work something out! However, if you want information about a specific tool, ask about it...chances are I'll try to give an answer.
- 6 -
> I had firm impression when reading the
> specifications of Hidden Power Tools II
> that the set includes one called Non-Printing
Well, it was supposed to! Annotations was announced as being part of the tool set as I almost released it, but then my testers had trouble with the tool. I couldn't really figure out what combination of operating system and versions was throwing off the function, so I decided not to keep it in...then forgot to remove some part of it, possibly from the release notes (?). It is something I should try again, but right now the only method of working with annotations that I found was so cumbersome that it would be something I would not want to support. I get so many "how do I unzip a zip file" questions (and continue to get them though I hand out instructions in the readme) that I can't see putting out a truly complicated, multi-step tool. Feel free to prod, it will help me remember to try. Just because I haven't found the solution yet doesn't mean it isn't there.
- 7 -
> Thank you for the HPE Jan. newsletter. For some
> reason your email newsletter came through with
> strange "=" signs embedded in the email, which
> made it very difficult to read.
You can get the newsletter in text format from the website: http://hiddenelements.com/newsletter.html
Regretfully, the number of email clients and the way email is handled can sometimes cause incompatibilities. This should be a simple thing, but never seems to end up that way. Hopefully I provide enough alternatives so you can read the newsletter one way, or another.
- 8 -
> Any chance I'll be able to get a pen tool for
> Elements to help me make selections?
Having a Pen tool is unlikely for Elements 2, and I am guessing it will not be included in future Elements upgrades. Hidden Power leverages functionality already in Elements, it doesn't really create new features. This way, what you use is Adobe tested.
You can convert to Paths from selections using the tools provided with Hidden Power, and this will automatically limit the number of nodes depending on the settings you choose. Effectively you can edit paths by switching to selections from paths and re-creating those paths. You take a shape, convert to a selection, alter the selection and convert back to a path. In this way, any shape you can make by selections you can convert to a path.
- 9 -
> Does your program give support for printer, camera, and scanner
> profiles? Can you specify cmyk conversion options and rendering
You can completely customize black generation and separation weighting for CMYK. I use an example of a simple separation and generate black based on darkness and lack of saturation. You can get more or less complex. Profiles don't come into play.
- 10 -
> Do all PS actions work in Elements with your addins, or only a subset?
All Photoshop actions can be made to work -- at least in essence. These may have to be edited. You can edit actions using a PS6 demo. Look on Jumbo.com and other program download sites. Many actions work with just a name change. I am attempting to get more people to write actions and convert them for Elements, but few people have joined in with my enthusiasm. If you know anyone who is enthusiastic, I'd like to talk to them!
- 11 -
> Any way we can get a tool similar to the nozel/hose
> sprayer feature in painter?
I am sure this can be simulated...However, I'd need a good example of use. I've not found a real use for this type of thing -- that is not to say anyone else might not. It is, however, more difficult to solve those problems that I don't use as a matter of course. Have an example?
- 12 -
> Can you have partially selected areas in a mask? In clipping groups
> it is an all or nothing effect. Fades and masking are much easier
> with partially selected areas of a layer.
Yes, you can have partial masks. I disagree that clipping is all or nothing in that a partially opaque base to a clipping group will partially mask an area.
- 13 -
> I understand 16 bit editing vs 8 bit is somewhat controvercial, but
> my own tests show some benefit, especially with gradients and
> extensive post processing. The benefits may be subtle, but they are
> there. FWIW, PS has much better gradients than Photopaint (better
> addition of noise)
You can't output at 16 bit. If you are finding better results with 16 bit, it is probably partially due to handling during editing. The end point is: if you can get a result using 16 bit when printing to 8 bit technology, those same results are technically possible with 8 bit editing. CMYK, no matter how you process your images, always has the same number of color combinations.
But, if you insist on 16 bit editing and it is a sticking point, you won't be getting it right now in Elements (I am not convinced that it is impossible.)
- 14 -
> Selection is my biggest gripe with Elements. With PS (and Knockout),
> there is just no comparison. There are far more ways of selecting,
> and these can be combined in so many ways.
If you learn to use what Elements has, there really is very little difference along this line. I believe that the saturation masking and Blend Mask tools I provide in Hidden Power will do more than any standard Photoshop tool in tone or color based selection with greater ease. In short, the tools are there in Elements, you may need to use them differently. I would be glad to see an example of what you think Elements can't do.
- 15 -
> I think advance blending options were left out of Elements layers.
> This is useful if you can't to copy into one of the channels
> associated with your mode (like R, G, or B for an RGB image)
They also say CMYK was left out of Elements :-) . You can separate anything you need to as long as you know the theory -- or if you have the tools I created to help you implement that theory.
- 16 -
> Is there a History brush in Elements? Not only
> can be set to any mode in PS, but set to snapshot
> versus multiple previous states.
Using Hidden Power, you have a history snapshot that can be taken and stored in a layer. You can apply it in modes, modify it, duplicate it, mask it, unmask, apply filters...really it is MORE versatile than the static snapshot you get in Photoshop. You can apply it with and brush or brush setting. This is available with the book on the CD.
MEND TOOL CORNER
- 1 -
> Can I buy the Mend tool without using PayPal?
I added a payment option for purchase through the mail using a check (US funds). I still deliver the tool as an email attachment, but this allows you to pay by check or money-order without having a PayPal account. I still think Paypal is the best option, and you really get a 33% discount by purchasing that way. It is far more convenient, and WAY quicker.
Both options are explained here:
- 2 -
> How well does the Mend tool work?
Many have asked for more details about how Hidden Power Mend works, and are curious about its healing power. In case you wanted to see a bit more, I posted a tutorial, demo and explanation here:
Let me know if you have questions or need more information.
- 3 -
> When I click on the 'Patron' button I get an error
Though I tested this, some people are having trouble. Don't mind it. The Patron portion of the tool is an information file which I'd hoped you could use to check your registration info. At the same time, it really doesn't matter to the working of the tool. I've only heard isolated complaints, and I assume it has to do with Elements not handling missing system fonts. In other words, a bug in Elements.
- 4 -
> When I try to install the tools, I put the file in the
> right folder, but they don't appear in Elements...
> any idea what the problem can be?
If you mean that you are just putting the ZIP file into the Effects folder, then you are missing a step. You need to download the ZIP file (save it from your email to your hard disk) and use a utility to decompress the file. I don't know how your email client works, but the zip file might already be on your system. If you have a look around for it using your computer's Search feature, you may find it lurking in some obscure folder. Once you unzip the file, have a look at the instructions in the readme. In case you have trouble with that, I have posted the entire readme file here:
- 5 -
> About unzipping...I am using Windows XP, which has a
> built-in unzip feature. Do you know if the XP unzip
> feature works for the Mend tool?
Try it. If it doesn't work the first time, you can try dropping the Mend folder on the utility a second time. The problem with unzipping is less that something does it wrong (in ruining it) than that it stops before all levels of unzipping are complete. Worse comes to worse, just take the folder and drop it on another extraction utility. Chances are it will take care of the files which are probably just not fully expanded.
- 6 -
> You instruct deleting the Cache in step 3 of the
> install instructions. Do I gather your instruction
> intends removing all aspects of the Previews Cache
> from PSE2 prior to installing your Mend tool? If so,
> I assume the removal of the Previews Cache is of
> no real consequence to PSE2's performance?
I'd never tell you to do anything that would harm your program...my goal is to do the opposite. The only thing that will be noticeable is that the cache will rebuild when the program starts up again. This may take a minute or two. Once rebuilt, you have actually just refreshed the cache...nothing bad about that.
> In Step 4 of the install instructions you say to
> rebuild preferences. Do I gather correctly from your
> instructions that this will be a "wizard like"
> process which is basically self evident in execution?
Rebuilding the preferences is automated. All you do is hold down the suggested keys when restarting, and click [Yes] when prompted to rebuild. The program will delete the preferences and rebuild them, requiring no input on your part. The upshot will be that palettes and preferences will return to default positions. You may need to change color management and other preference settings.
> Just tried the Mend tool once and it seems a bit
> cumbersome(a lot of steps), but as I say that
> was only one quick time.
Well, just to let you know what is going on behind the scenes: in order to get the right results, some 80 or more steps were necessary. These steps do some pretty sophisticated checking between the sample and the target to determine what the best result will be. Simplifying the tool further would be, in my estimation, dumbing it down. I wanted to get the best result for users.
Elements executes all those steps with input from the user at 5-6 different points. Elements is not built for scripting, or I'd have been able to build a much neater result (e.g, completely automated). I am guessing that for $10 it is a better choice than spending $600 to upgrade and get something a little faster and not any better in Photoshop.
I think you'll see with a little use that the tool will make short work of corrections by helping you fit in changes without a lot of alteration -- especially in areas that may be difficult to clone to -- like knees, cheeks, or other body areas where there are a lot of curves. I am not sure what you tested the tool on, but try a few different images...I think you'll be surprised what it can do given the opportunity.
> When I use the Mend tool, the previews sometimes
> look worse before I get to the end result (which
> always looks better). How do I know what to do?
The nature of this Mend correction is that there has to be a comparison between the original area and the clone. The things you see on screen don't really matter as the correction is occurring -- as you say, it improves by the end, which is the point. The instructions on screen are meant to give you some sense of what to do when using the Mend tool. Most adjustments will be based on brush size. Don't worry so much about what you see on screen and in previews, as layer modes will sometimes affect what you see. Adjustments to tone that happen will tend to be black-and-white...but by the time you get the the end of the application, the color is re-introduced. The color and tone have to be worked separately to get the best result.
- 10 -
> I have ordered the tool, how do I download it?
When you place an order for the tool, I have to customize it for you. This takes some time, and I like to do it in batches, so I do it just once or twice a week. This lets me work on other development without breaking my time into tiny splinters. You will receive the tool by email...this is explained on the Mend tool order page: http://www.hiddenelements.com/Mend/mend_buy.html
- 11 -
> Can this tool run on the Macintosh platform?
All of my tools are cross platform. Most (or all) work on Elements 1 and Elements 2.
Do let me know about questions and comments, and let me know what you think about the newsletter. email@example.com
Brought to you by Richard Lynch in conjunction with The Hidden power of Photoshop Elements 2
Copyright © 2004 Richard Lynch