Photoshop Elements

Photoshop Elements (PSE) is an excellent digital editing program.

Photoshop Elements isn't as substantial a product as it's big brother, the full versions of Photoshop, and not nearly as expensive but that doesn't really matter because it's the best selling photo editor in the world.

Also, at this point, PSE is still available as a stand alone program with an install disc while Photoshop is only available in the Creative Cloud subscription.

Despite the fact that Elements is missing some of the more advanced features of the full version of Photoshop, it's a robust program that will enable you to achieve outstanding results with your digital images.

Many Photoshop techniques can also be accomplished with Elements.

There are also some relatively inexpensive third party products for Elements that open up a lot of the "hidden" Photoshop features that are needed for the program to run properly!

The current version of PSE is Version 13 and Adobe seems to release a new version each year.  

Photoshop Elements
Super Power

Luminosity Mask

An Incredible Adjustment Based
on the Brightness of the Pixels!

Photoshop Elements and
Graphics Tablets

All versions of Photoshop Elements work with the high Dots Per Inch, pressure sensitive tablets from Wacom (Intuos, Intuos Pro, Cintiq and Cintiq Companion).  

Tablet Options

The tablet Options set how a pressure sensitive graphics tablet will work dynamically (that is, as you're changing pressure on the Pen) with Photoshop Elements.

In older versions of the program (10 and older) the Option selector is in the Option Bar at the top of the screen.  In versions 11 to 13 the tablet options have been moved to the bottom of the screen.

There are 5 dynamics that can be changed with pressure ...

  1. Brush Size - changes the size of the brush with pressure.
  2. Opacity - brush strokes become lighter or dark depending on how much pressure is being applied to the pen.
  3. Hue Jitter.
  4. Scattering.
  5. Roundness.

You can set just one dynamic or two of them or any combination.

In addition to using the Tablet Options palette to select a brush that will change size or opacity with pressure, you can also select those dynamics from the Brush Menu.  The shape of the Brush tip when the Stroke Thumbnail is visible tells all you need to know about the Brush.

These brushes change size with Pressure.

These brushes change opacity
with Pressure.

Brush Settings

With Photoshop Elements you can also change how the brush behaves other than the pressure sensitive settings.

Fade:  Sets the number of steps until the paint flow fades to nothing. A low value makes the paint stroke fade away very quickly, while a value of zero has no fading effect.

Hue Jitter:  Sets the rate at which the stroke color switches between the foreground and background colors. Higher values cause more frequent switches between the two colors than lower values.

Scatter:  Brush scattering determines how brush marks are distributed in a stroke. A low value produces a denser stroke with less paint scattering, and higher values increase the scattering area.

Hardness:  Controls the size of the brush’s hard center. Type a number, or use the slider to enter a value that’s a percentage of the brush diameter.

Angle:  Specifies the angle by which an elliptical brush’s long axis is offset from horizontal. Type a value in degrees, or drag the arrowhead of the angle icon to mark the desired angle.

Roundness:  Specifies the ratio between the brush’s short and long axes. Enter a percentage value, or drag a dot in the angle icon away from or toward the arrow. A value of 100% indicates a circular brush, a value of 0% indicates a linear brush, and intermediate values indicate elliptical brushes.

Brush Settings Video

Brush Settings - The Next Step

The next step of Brush Settings takes a close look at the Advanced Brush Options in PSE.  These options are fun and very effective.

Understanding these options is  very useful for any coloring or art project you may be doing with Elements and they work perfectly in any other Elements project as well.

The tutorial focuses on the advanced options and then works through a coloring project.  

Click the thumbnail to learn how to use these advanced options in Photoshop Elements.

The Tutorials

The PSE tutorials on the site are separated into a few broad categories to make it easier to find what you're looking for.

Individual tutorials are found in the drop-down menus at the top of the page above the main headline. The main headings and a brief description are as follows…

Essential Skills

as the name implies, these are a group of skills that is useful to know to get the most out of the program. These are the tools and techniques will use over and over again.

Digital Scrapbooking

Photoshop elements is it excellent way to make digital scrapbooks. Most scrapbooking techniques are simply normal editing techniques but there are some that are unique to scrapbooking.

Image Editing

These are the techniques that demonstrate how to modify and adjust images. The topics include such things as getting rid of shine, dodging and burning, and correcting colour to name but a few.


For many, glamorizing their own photos is a secret guilty pleasure. These tutorials will show you how to smooth at skin, eliminate blemishes, and do a whole bunch of other really cool things.

Fun Stuff

Just like the title, these are fun activities with Photoshop Elements. Imagine – turning your BFF into a Zombie or giving them a Goth makeover.

Digital Art

These tutorials demonstrate how to make some really unique pieces of art with Photoshop Elements.  They are fun and relaxing.


Like the name says, no specific category but some neat things you can do with Elements.

Photoshop Elements 13

The newest version of Elements has some interestingnew features and some old features are missing.  

Here are some of the new features ...

Pull something out of one photo, pop it into another, and the color and lighting blend for a realistic-looking scene.

Get great crops!  Elements suggests four different options and you pick your favorite.

Put a cool twist on your Facebook page by blending your profile and cover photos.

If the selection's not quite right just give it a nudge . 

Pick an effect, and Elements brings it to life five different ways.

Type text right onto your photos and tweak anytime. Choose type ranging from fun to poetic .

A handful of features from previous versions are not available in Photoshop Elements 13 due to new product support for 64-bit systems. They include:

  • Photo Mail
  • Photomerge Style Match
  • Magic Extractor tool
  • Texture Fill
  • Frame from video
  • Interactive layout mode in Photomerge Panorama
  • Photoshop Showcase

Overall, this is a really great program.  In its basic form it's not as powerful as the full version of Photoshop but there are work around steps which you'll find on this site.

There are a couple of add-on applications that open up many of the 'hidden' Photoshop tools and techniques.  These are the things that are necessary for Elements to work but are not available.  By adding in Elements XXL or Elements Plus the 'hidden' features become 'un-hidden'.

Check them out ...

Elements XXL

Elements Plus

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