Photoshop Elements Tips

Simulate Layer Mask

    1. If the layer you want to mask is the background, first convert it to a regular layer, by double-clicking the background layer in the layers palette. Type a name for the layer and click OK.
    2. Add a solid color adjustment layer using any color as the fill.
    3. Drag the color fill layer below the layer you want to mask. in the layer's palette, select the layer above that you want to mask, and press Ctrl-G to group it with the color fill layer. Your layers palette should look like the image shown on this page.
    4. Now the mask of the color fill layer will act as a mask on the layer above.
    5. Paint or fill with black on the mask to erase, white to reveal.

Blend Modes Instead of Dodge and Burn

You can do a lot in Elements without ever getting down and dirty with blend modes, but there are a lot of things you can do more effectively and easily if you take the time to familiarize yourself with them. For instance, you may prefer the effect you get using a layer in Overlay mode to that of the Dodge and Burn tools.

To adjust a photo using an Overlay blend mode layer instead of the Dodge and Burn tools, you'd first make basic adjustments like Levels or Shadows/Highlights. Then, when you're ready to fine-tune your photo by painting over the details you want to enhance, here are the steps you'd follow:

      1. Create a new layer.
      2. Go to Layer New Layer or press Ctrl+Shift+N.
      3. Before you dismiss the New Layer dialog box, choose the Overlay blend mode for your new layer.
      4. Select Overlay in the Layer mode menu and turn on the box that says "Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray)." You won't see anything happen yet.
      5. Set the foreground and background colors to their original settings.
      6. Press D to set the colors in the Foreground/Background squares to black and white.
      7. Choose a brush (set to Normal mode) and set the opacity very low, maybe 17 percent or even less. You'll need to experiment a bit to see how low a setting is low enough.
      8. Paint on the areas you want to adjust.
      9. Paint with white to bring up the detail in dark areas and with black to darken overly light areas. (Remember that you can switch colors by pressing X.) The detail on your photo comes up just like magic.

      1. Activate the Brush tool.