In this tutorial, you’ll improve the appearance of several images in Adobe Photoshop and give them a more uniform look so they work well together in a project like a presentation, a catalog, or a website. Along the way you’ll learn basic photo editing skills, like working with adjustment layers, that you can apply to editing photographs for any purpose in Photoshop.
You can use the sample images available from the tutorial page or your own photos.
To access the images from the tutorial page, Choose File > Open. Select all three images by pressing the Shift key, clicking the first image and then the clicking the last. Click Open.
Click the document tab of the first image—in this case, the apple. As you can see, this image is a bit dull. In Photoshop, we have a lot of ways to improve the appearance of images so they are more to our liking—We’ll show you a few tips next.
You could edit a photo directly, but we’re going to do it in a way that gives you the most editing flexibility—by using adjustment layers that are separate from the layer that contains the photo. Now let’s edit the image to make it look better. There are lots of ways to do that in Photoshop or in Photoshop Lightroom. Be sure to check out all the great things you can do in Lightroom. I’ll show you a couple ways to improve your photos in Photoshop.
With the image layer selected in the Layers panel, open the Adjustments panel by clicking the Adjustments tab (if you don’t see it, choose Window > Adjustments).
This image needs some work to make it pop. First, you’ll make the image a bit brighter. Click the Brightness/Contrast button here. This adds a new layer to the Layers panel, called an Adjustment layer. The Properties panel also opens, and is where you’ll find the controls for this adjustment layer. By default, adjustment layers affect all content layers beneath them in the Layers panel.
There are lots of adjustment layers. When you’re adjusting a dull photo like this, it makes sense to start with a brightness/contrast adjustment layer.
Now let’s improve the brightness of the photo. In the Properties panel, drag the Brightness slider to the right to increase the overall brightness of the image. You’ll see the affect on the image right away.
We can adjust the look of an image with more than one adjustment layer. We can choose from any of these different types of adjustment layers—depending on what we need for our image. Next, we’ll add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change the image by adjusting its color.
In the Adjustments panel, click the Hue/Saturation button. In the Layers panel, another adjustment layer is created—a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer—above the first. And the Properties panel changes to show controls for this particular adjustment layer.
Drag the Saturation slider to the right a bit. The further you drag, the more saturated or intense the colors become in the image. When you like what you see, click the Properties panel tab to hide the panel.
I want to make the same adjustments to the other images as well to create a uniform look across them. Photoshop lets you drag the adjustment layers between documents to copy them.
First, we’ll make it so we can see all of the images at one time. To do that, choose Window > Arrange > 3-up Stacked. Click in the document window for the image that has the adjustment layers applied. You’ll see them in the Layers panel. Click one adjustment layer and Shift-click the other to select both. Drag from the layer name or thumbnail (NOT this white box—called a mask) into another image. When you see an outline, release the mouse to copy the adjustment layers in to the image. Drag the adjustment layers to the third image as well.
Each image now has the same adjustments applied. Since we used adjustment layers, we can now fine tune each image separately if we need—and that’s what we’ll do. First, we’ll gather all images into a single window again. Choose Window > Arrange > Consolidate All To Tabs. Click one of image tabs (not the original) to show that image.
Now that the photo is brighter, but the colors in the photo could be more intense. In the Layers panel of xxx.jpg, double-click the layer thumbnail to the left of the Hue/Saturation layer. This lets you edit the adjustment settings in the Properties panel again. Try adjusting the saturation of this image by dragging the slider.
Using adjustment layers is one option of many in Photoshop for polishing your photos so they look good together. You could also crop images using the Crop tool—you can see that we’ve already cropped these images to a square format… add special effects like adding a blur effect, remove or edit parts of the image, move objects around and much more. You can learn more about these different features in Photoshop by checking out the Photoshop tutorials on adobe.com.
The same techniques for polishing your images I just reviewed could be used on as many images as you need in a catalog, website, presentation, or any other project. It’s a great way to create a cohesive set of similar images that will tie your project together and take it to the next level.