Featured Image
Final image created for the Photoshop Task: Editing Images.

Exploring Photoshop tools to improve existing images

Design Ideas and Design Process:

For this chosen task ‘Editing Images’, I created three images that presented a change from the original. My first design focused on editing colours within an image to change them from their original or natural state. This would make them stand out and could be used for a number of reasons. However, the two designs that were more confident and ambitious focused on removing parts of an image to improve the attention on the desired focal points and, therefore, the overall compositions. But my most confident image also focused on changing colours to draw and remove a viewer’s attention. Editing images is the primary function of the Photoshop software, so choosing this task was inevitable as it allowed me to enhance my skills with the software overall as well as learning new functions within it. I began the task aiming to create three images that successfully demonstrated a change from the original; either to create a sense of surrealism, draw attention to a specific part of the image, or to simply improve the composition of a photograph.

Design 1:

Figure 1: My first completed image for this task. Involving an anatomical diagram.

For my first image in this task, my approach was to change the colours within an existing image to draw attention to a specific section of it. I began by finding a suitable image that could be edited for a specific purpose. I aimed to edit the colours in a specific area of an image to give it significance and possibly have an educational purpose. This would stand out against the rest of the image by making it black and white elsewhere. Therefore, I chose an anatomical image as often these types of images are labelled or used for demonstrations in an educational setting. For me to create this image (shown in Figure 1) successfully, I investigated different techniques in changing colours within an image. The most effective for a simple image was by using the Hue and Saturation adjustment layer within Photoshop. To begin my design process, I first opened the raw image in Photoshop (Figure 1.2). I decided the area I was going to highlight was the pectoral muscles as they were in view on both figures shown in the image. I then utilised the Hue and Saturation adjustment layer to change the colour of the image to an unrealistic blue tone (Figure 1.3). This stood out from the original red tones. Next I edited the layer mask which was a new skill for me as I had never explored the function before. I used the brush tool to paint in black on the layer mask so that only the areas of the muscles I wanted were affected by the Hue and Saturation adjustments (Figure 1.4). I tested different hues further and eventually changed it back to a red colour so that it followed the themes of anatomy which were present in the original image. However I shifted towards a brighter red hue and increased the saturation to make it pop from the rest of the image (Figure 1.5). I found that the selected muscles could have stood out more so I developed the image further by changing the rest of the body to black and white. This encouraged me to use a similar technique to before which meant adding a black and white adjustment layer and masking out the areas I didn’t want to include by using the brush tool on the layer mask (Figure 1.6). To complete the image, I adjusted the contrast so it wasn’t too bright and affecting the image quality. I finalised it by adding labels using the text and line tools to point out the highlighted areas and put a name to them (Figure 1.7).


Figure 1.2: Opening the image in Photoshop.


Figure 1.3: Changing the hue of the image.


Figure 1.4: The hue area on the masked section.


Figure 1.5: Experimenting with the hue and saturation to make a red area.


Figure 1.6: Adding a black and white adjustment layer.


Figure 1.7: Adding labels and lines.

Design 2:

Figure 2: My second completed design including a primary photograph with a subject removed.

For my second design during this task, I wanted to remove a subject from an image to move the focal point or attention away from it. In this case, I wanted to use a primary image because I had a number that were suitable for these techniques. I chose an image of a street which originally had a person on the left hand hand side. I aimed to remove this figure to draw attention to the landscape and centre the attention onto the mountain in the background with the leading lines which already existed. In order to create the image shown in Figure 2, I had to investigate techniques in removing parts of an image. I therefore investigated the clone stamp tool and the healing brush tools. To begin my design process, I began by opening my selected image in Photoshop (Figure 2.1). I decided I was going to remove the person on the left hand side because it was a large figure and obstructed lot of the image. It mainly drew attention away from the background and the mountain in the distance which was the most interesting part of the image. I began using the clone stamp tool to remove the person from the shot. I did this by alt-clicking to select an area I wanted to copy and then dragging my cursor over areas I wanted to replace to cover it up using existing parts of the image (Figure 2.2). Eventually, I fully removed the figure by using the clone stamp tool but it left an area that could’ve looked much smoother and more seamless (Figure 2.3). To develop the image further and improve my use of the software I cleaned up the area where the person had been previously by using both the clone stamp and healing brush tools in similar ways to each other. This made the image look more realistic as if there was never a figure in the foreground (Figure 2.4). Next, in order to make the image feel more complete, I experimented with things like saturation and levels to create a more accomplished composition. I also increased the vibrance and decreased the contrast to make the sky stand out more. This creates almost a set of leading lines which moves the viewers attention to the mountain in the distance (Figure 2.5). To finalise the image editing process, I added shadows and lighting to the pavement using the brush tool. I lowered the hardness of the brush and the opacity of the layers so it looked softer and more natural. This completed my image and made it feel more natural overall (Figure 2.6).

Figure 2.1: Opening the image in Photoshop.


Figure 2.2: Using the clone stamp tool to remove a subject from the image.


Figure 2.3: Person fully removed from image using clone stamp tool.


Figure 2.4: The remaining area after being cleaned up.


Figure 2.5: Experimenting with colours and vibrancy.


Figure 2.6: Adding shadows and lighting to the pavement.

Design 3:

Figure 3: My final edited image which involves edited colours and parts removed.

For my third design, which I used as my final, most successful design, I wanted to remove parts of the image that took attention away from the focus of the mirror and the scenery. I also wanted to lighten and darken parts of the image to transfer a viewer’s attention towards a specific part of an image. I again chose a primary photograph to edit because it had an appropriate layout. Throughout this design process I wanted to experiment with the dodge and burn tools to create a change from the original. I began the design process by placing the appropriate image in Photoshop (Figure 3.1). Next I cropped it slightly and edited the rotation to make it straighter and so it followed the rule of thirds more effectively (Figure 3.2). To develop the image, I used the clone stamp tool again to remove parts of the image within the mirror. I think it makes the image look more pleasing because it removes distractions (Figure 3.3). When I began editing the image colours, I started by using the burn tool on the mid-tones of the image. I applied it over the hill background to make it darker and draw attention away from it (Figure 3.4). Next I used the dodge tool on the highlights of the image. I was able to experiment with a higher exposure to make the mirror area of the brighter and therefore make it more of a focal point (Figure 3.5). To complete the composition, I edited the contrast of the image to make the mirror stand out further. Adding the contrast adjustment layer also improved the colours in the overall image, making it feel more dynamic (Figure 3.6).

Figure 3.1: Placing the image in Photoshop.


Figure 3.2: Cropping and straightening the image.


Figure 3.3: Using the clone stamp tool to remove parts of the image.


Figure 3.4: Using the burn tool.


Figure 3.5: Using the dodge tool.


Figure 3.6: Adding a contrast adjustment layer.


Software Tutorials:

The software tutorials I used helped me with various editing techniques within the Photoshop software. I already had some previous experience with Photoshop, however it covered only basic techniques and common processes. I used a tutorial I had found to secure my knowledge with layer masks because I had previously never used masks to make selections. After following this tutorial I was able to apply adjustments to selected areas rather than whole layers. Consequently, I was able to create my first design from this knowledge. It made the design process much faster and more accurate than my previous techniques which would have involved using direct selection tools to select a certain area and then duplicating them to edit in a new layer.

I used this tutorial to learn how to remove unwanted objects from an image. It simply stated how to use the clone stamp tool and spot healing brushes to retouch an image. This was a crucial skill for my second and third designs which required me to erase parts of images and replace them to make it look more natural. I was then able to create seamless removals of details or people in my second and third images. I was able to reassure my knowledge in using the clone stamp tool by following  this tutorial too.

Another tutorial I used was able to teach me the crop tool effectively. Although I previously knew how to use the crop tool, I was unable to optimise its use. This tutorial allowed me to improve my third image and make it different from the original by cropping it and then rotating it using the given grid when in the tool interface. I then was able to use the rule of thirds and created a more accomplished image.

I was able to use this tutorial to find ways of changing the colours in an image. I vaguely knew about the hue and saturation adjustment layers previous to seeing this article but this showed me how they could be used to brighten and even change colours completely. This was very useful for my first image in this task which required a drastic change in image colours to highlight something specific.

By using a tutorial on the dodge and burn tools, I was able to see how the tools could be used to edit an image’s colours. I had never used these tools in previous design work so this tutorial was extremely helpful in enhancing colours in areas I wanted to highlight whilst also darkening areas I wanted to set back. This became extremely useful in my final, most confident design which used both of these tools effectively to make the mirror stand out from the scenery without removing detail.


Design Resources and Articles:

I found the design article below on enhancing colours in Photoshop. Although I didn’t follow the steps provided, I was able to take inspiration from the given example within the article which showed enhanced and more vibrant colours after editing an image. This helped develop my ideas for my second and third compositions which went on to use various techniques to brighten areas of an image and increase things like saturation and vibrancy. This source also displayed successful edits which improved the look of the sky in an image. I was able to take direct inspiration from their example to improve my second image which had a vibrant sky in the distance.


Learning Throughout the Module:

Throughout this module, I was able to develop various design skills in Photoshop. On top of this I was also able to work with InDesign, Illustrator and After Effects. I improved my knowledge of the software overall and became more efficient when getting the effect I desired. Some skills I developed include:

  • Enhancing colours using dodge and burn tools
  • Cropping an image to make a more effective composition
  • Using adjustment layers effectively for various purposes
  • Making use of layer masks to make adjustments to selected areas rather than complete layers
  • Creating projects in After Effects
  • Animating text with combinations of animations
  • Combining letterforms in Illustrator
  • Creating coherent designs from initials
  • Building tables from scratch in InDesign
  • Editing table design elements to make more visually aesthetic tabular content