Adobe Photoshop Elements Workflow
copyright 2006 by Tracy Marks

See also Elements 4.0 Links     Boston area classes

Note: Instructions below are for my Boston area pc Photoshop Elements courses. Most of my classes are taught on the pc. The alt key on the pc is option on the Mac; control on the pc is command (apple) on the Mac.

Preliminary Preparation
for Photoshop Elements Work

Before doing any Photoshop Elements work, you are advised to calibrate your monitor and choose your color management settings. For Windows users:

  1. To calibrate your monitor, double click on Adobe Gamma in the Control panel (which is installed with Elements) and follow the instructions.
  2. To choose your color management system, go to Edit, Color Settings.
    1. If you are primarily doing work for  a computer screen and for the Web, or printing on a standard home printer, use the sRGB color space, which is what digital cameras use.
    2. If you are primarily aiming for quality print work from a high-end home printer that works in AdobeRGB1998 or a printing company, choose the AdobeRGB color space option.
    3. If you are doing both, select  allow me to choose.

Recommended Workflow
in Photoshop Elements

Not all steps must necessarily be done in this order (nor or all steps necessary for all pictures) although this order is advised for quality work.

Initial Steps

  1. Open Photoshop Elements. Unless you want to use exactly the same tool settings you used the last time you used Elements, click on whatever tool is on the top left of the Options bar, and choose Reset All Tools.
  2. Open your image using File, Open or the Photo Browser/Organizer.
  3. Resave it as a .psd file using File, Save as. Be sure to choose Photoshop.psd under file format. Use a naming method to help you to locate it in the future.
  4. Evaluate your image. Using the INFO palette may help. You want to determine what kind of changes you wish to make to it before deciding what tools and techniques to use to make those changes, and before beginning to work.  This includes deciding whether you want to use your finished image primarily on the computer, or also to print it. You will make different choices for each option, and will need to prepare two images if you want both print and the Web.
  5. If needed, rotate your image and straighten the horizon line. Use image, rotate and/or image, straighten image.
  6. Do your preliminary crop and resizing. You may wish to resize to the proportion you want and do a final resizing later if you intend to reduce the height and width of your image, so that you will have the option in the future of keeping a larger copy.
    1. To crop the image to a size of your liking, simply use the rectangular marquee tool and drag it around the area you want to keep, then choose image, crop. (You could also use the crop tool and press enter afterwards).
    2. To crop to a specific dimension/proportion such as 4x6, use the rectangular marquee tool, and under mode on the options bar, choose fixed aspect ratio. Type in your chosen proportion to right on the options bar.
  7. In image, resize image size, change the resolution of your image to your chosen resolution – normally 72 or 75 for the Web and 250 or 300 for print. For computer screens and for the Web, you will have resampling turned on; for print, you will turn it off.
  8. While in image, resize image size, you may want to reduce your image to its final size now, or wait till later so that can also retain a larger copy if you intend to reduce the size. To resize your image, resize in pixels in the top part of dialog box for Web or computer work; use the middle area with measurements in inches for print. Again, for computer screens and the Web, have resampling turned on; for print, turn it off.
  9. OPTIONAL: Open your layers palette and duplicate the background layer by dragging it to the new layer button on the layers palette. This way you will retain a copy of your current image which you can revert to if you wish to revert back to this step.
  10. OPTIONAL: If your image has a lot of noise or grain,  you may wish to use filter, noise, dust and scratches or filter, noise, reduce noise (the latter for digital images).

Color Adjustments and Retouching

  1. If you will be making color adjustments or doing retouching to small portions of your image, you may wish to use the lasso, magic wand or selection brush to select that portion now.
  2. Use the levels slider in enhance, adjust lighting, levels to alter exposure (brightness/darkness). The input sliders increase contrast, darkening the darks, lightening the lights and altering the midtones (very useful). The bottom output slider decreases contrast, lightening the darks and darkening the lights.
  3. Color correct hue and saturation if necessary with image, enhance, adjust color options, especially adjust hue and saturation and variations. You may also want to use the manual dodge, burn and sponge tools on the toolbar.
  4. If you are working with layers, do your layer work at this stage or after retouching. You may need to use a selection tool to select a portion of your image if you haven’t already.
  5. Retouch your image if necessary using the clone tool, healing brush and other retouching tools.
    (To protect your original image, you might want to create a new layer and use the clone tool on that layer, with use all layers checked on the options bar. If you have additional layers that you don’t want to use, turn off their eye so they are temporarily invisible first).
  6. You may choose to work on your type now, if adding type on your image – or you could do it before retouching. When done with type, save a copy of your image with type layers intact before using layer, simplify to simply type and before flattening layers.

Final Steps

  1. If you are making a .jpg and almost done with your editing, save your image with layers intact, using save as. Then right click more on the layers palette (or use the layers menu) to flatten your image. You may not need to flatten your layers if you are printing home or only using a few other photoshop tools on the image.
  2. If you have waited till the end to do a final resizing, do so now in image, resize image size.
  3. Sharpen your image (be sure you’re at 100% view) using filter, sharpen, unsharp mask.
  4. Using  file, save as, save your image in the format you wish, or use file, save for the web to save it as .jpg or .gif file.

Go to Elements 4.0 Links
Effective Silhouetting in Adobe Photoshop
(also relevant for Photoshop Elements)
More Photoshop and Elements articles coming soon.

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is copyright 2006 by Tracy Marks. All rights reserved.

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Last updated  December 15, 2006