Photoshop is a well-known graphics program that has achieved the distinction of adding a new word to the English language; “to photoshop,” is a verb meaning to manipulate a photograph, to change it to look better or different from the reality. I have used other graphics programs before, such as Paint, but they were relatively easy to use compared to Photoshop. At first sight, Photoshop is indeed daunting, the amount of potential commands and parameters are overwhelming. But, there are many tutorials available on Google (yes, another verb “to google“) and with their help I was able to do things that I would never have thought possible.
For the latest book I am writing I wanted to take pictures of lemurs (don’t ask) and change them to be black and white and preferably to look like drawings. I was able to do this using instructions taken from the internet that I must admit I did not fully understand. The simplest part was that if you change the “saturation hue” to zero, then the picture becomes b/w. I then had to remove part of the background by using a “brush” with settings needed to remove all unnecessary matter.
Photoshop is not intended for the beginner and its commands are not intuitive. So for example, when you add anything to a photo or graphic it is called a layer. In order to change or manipulate that layer you have to select it from the list of layers on the rhs. In order to change the new layer there is nothing simple like “change,” the command required is “Free transform.” If you choose that then you can change the size, position and angle of the layer.
I wanted to prepare the cover for my latest book. To do this I wanted to put the picture of a lemur on the cover, repeated several times. But all the pictures I could find had extensive background. To really isolate the photo (this time in color) of the animal I used the “magnetic lasso tool.” Along the lhs of the screen are about 20 tools, one of which is a lasso tool. But, to find the magnetic lasso tool I had to click on the tiniest arrow possible that gives various choices, one of which is the magnetic lasso tool. It is an amazing tool, since it adheres to the outline of any object in the picture and you can outline it by hand, but with the tool, the outline is almost perfect. Then you can select that outlined object and copy it and use/paste it elsewhere.
I also had difficulty matching the color of the background of my cover to various objects that I added to it (as layers). At first I could not find the “Paint bucket tool” since it was hidden with the “gradient tool.” But when I did it became easy to change the color of any layer to match that of the background material. You just select the color of the layer then click on the color you want and then select the “Paint bucket tool” and click that in the layer, and voila the color matches. To an expert these things may be obvious, but to me the ability to design my cover was a major achievement.