Photoshop Elements
Not Quite Photoshop - But Pretty Darn Good!

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Photoshop Elements is an excellent digital editing program.

It's not as substantial a product as it's big brother, the full versions of Photoshop, and not nearly as expensive!  Adobe says that Elements is the best selling photo editor in the world and they may well be right on that.

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.

Luminosity Adjustment With Elements 

Photoshop Elements
Super Power Adjustment

Luminosity Adjustment

An Incredible Adjustment Based
on the Brightness of the Pixels!

Is Elements Pressure Sensitive?

All versions of Photoshop Elements work with the pressure sensitive tablets from Wacom - as a matter of fact, many versions of the tablets include a full copy of Photoshop Elements..

This is how you set pressure sensitivity.  Actually there are two different ways to set the brushes to react to pressure ...

Brush Tablet Options

This is a little drop down menu on the options bar.  When it is selected the different brush dynamics can be set.  The dynamics are:

elements options
  • Size
  • Opacity
  • Hue Jitter
  • Scatter
  • Roundness

At the risk of stating the obvious, all you do is choose the dynamic that you want! The nice thing about these terms is that they describe exactly what the dynamic does

Brush Selector

You can also select pressure sensitive brushes in the brush selector.  The thumbnail shows exactly how the brush will react to pressure.

elements brush size elements opacity
Brush changes size with pressure Brush changes opacity with pressure

And this is what all of this means ...

elements size change The brush stroke changes size
with pressure.
elements opacity change The brush stroke changes opacity
with pressure

Brush Settings

Brush Settings Version II

Version II of Brush Settings takes a close look at the Advanced Brush Options in Photoshop thumbnail digital coloringElements.  These options are fun and very effective.

Understanding these options is  very useful for any coloring or art project you will 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.

Photoshop Elements Gotta Know!

There are not many photo problems that will not yield to one or more of the Elements gotta knows (specifically understanding Layers, working with the Blend Modes and the Levels adjustment to modify contrast and color).

The Selection Brush is not an adjustment but rather an amazing way to make a selection, in fact, it may be the best way to make a selection.   And know this for sure - your ability to make accurate selections is a vital skill.

Granted - the Histogram is not an adjustment but it tells you a great deal about an image.

Elements Workflow

photoshop elements workflowThis is a suggested procedure for working with Elements.  No two images are the same so the workflow for one will be completely different from another.

What will remain the same from image to image, however, are the big picture adjustments - start with overall Global Adjustments, move to some Local Adjustments and finish with some additional Global Adjustments.

Click on the thumbnail to follow along with an Elements Workflow example.


elements thumbnail layersIf there is one thing you absolutely need to understand when working with Photoshop elements is how to use layers!

So many new users avoid them at all cost and you know what - Layers are our friends!

They protect our original image, they apply modifications that can be changed, they save time - they are our useful and faithful friends.

Click on the thumbnail to learn how to use layers in all of your Elements projects ...

Blend Modes

Now that you have a complete understanding of layers its time to move on to the next subject - Layer Blend Modes.

photoshop elements blend modesBlend modes determine how one layer will react with the layer below it and they blend in unique and fabulous ways.

Elements has 25 blend modes but you only really need to understand 5 of them to make dramatic changes in your images.

Elements and Photoshop use the Layer Blend Modes in the same way so this tutorial uses Photoshop screen shots but is pertinent to Elements as well.

Click the thumbnail to learn more about layer blend modes in Elements.

Exposure Problems

photoshop elements darkroomThe Elements Darkroom is an easy place to work - for sure it's far easier than back in the day when real chemicals and photographic papers were the norm.

Anyone who worked in a wet darkroom knows just how onerous it could be to fix an under or over exposed image.

Click the thumbnail to find out how to quickly and effectively fix exposure problems.

Levels Adjustments

elements levels thumbnailThe levels adjustment in may be the most powerful adjustment tool in the program.

With levels you can adjust brightness, contrast and even have a positive effect on the overall color of the image.

Click the thumbnail to learn all about the levels adjustment in Photoshop Elements.

The Histogram

The histogram inside Photoshop Elements is a very useful but not well understood piece of photoshop elements histograminformation.

It tells you valuable information about the brightness and contrast of your image and provides a road map in the digital editing process.

Do you know all you need to know about the histogram?

If not then click on the thumbnail to learn more (Note - a Photoshop histogram screen shot is used on the page but all the information is relevant to Photoshop elements as well)

Selection Brush Tool

photoshop elementsThis is an incredibly powerful selection tool with many advantages over the standard lasso and marquee tools.

It is accurate with lots of options and it is just dead easy to use.

Click the thumbnail to lean about the Selection Brush Tool.

Background Removal

thumbnail background removalElements has a few different methods to remove the background from an image built right into the program - the Background Eraser, Magic Eraser and Magic Extractor.

Each of the methods has strengths and weaknesses and its best to have an overall understanding of how they work.

Click the thumbnail to learn more about these three methods.

Scrapbooking With Photoshop Elements

More and more, scrapbookers and crafters are coming to understand how powerful and fun Elements is in supporting their favorite hobby.  The latest versions of Elements (7.0, 8.0  and 9.0) offer some really great pre-sets for creating backgrounds and framing images.

The following tutorials are aimed at the scrapbooker but these techniques are also valid for folks who just want to edit and present their images using Elements.

Scrapbook Home Page

photoshop elements thumbnail scrapbook
The main page of the scrapbooking section provides an overview of the tools in Elements and links to the digital editing tutorials on this page.

Click the thumbnail image to visit the scrapbook home page.

Scrapbook Layers

photoshop elementsIf you are going to do any scrapbooking then you will really need to understand and use layers.

Unfortunately, layers give people more fits than pretty much any other aspect of working with Photoshop Elements.  

Click on the thumbnail to learn how to used layers in your scrapbooking projects.

Pre-Set Backgrounds

photoshop elements creating scrapbook backgroundsPhotoshop Elements has 262 built in backgrounds you can use in your scrapbook projects! They range from formal and understated to wild and colorful.

Click on the thumbnail to learn about this great feature of Photoshop Elements 6.0 and 7.0 and how to create a fabulous background for your projects.

Making Your Own Backgrounds

photoshop elements make backgroundsThe advantages of making your own backgrounds are that they are totally unique and they reflect your creative abilities.

There are a variety of different methods to making backgrounds and they can be combined in many, many different ways.  

The techniques you will learn include filters and tools like the Pattern Stamp Tool as well as some adjustment layers.

Click the thumbnail to learn how to make your own backgrounds.

Inserting Images

Photoshop elements thumbnail imagesAdding images to your scrapbook background is straight forward once you know how.  Images can be added using a simple drag and drop method and they can be added using clipping masks.

Photoshop Elements eliminates the hassles of resizing images with Smart Objects. Click the thumbnail to learn more about the unique features of Elements including Clipping Masks and Smart Objects.

Adding Layer Styles

photoshop elemnets layer stylesAfter the images are on the page, Layer Styles are the next step.  They add cool effects like Drop Shadows, Inner Glows and all manner of things to help your images stand out on a scrapbook page.

Layer styles are not confined to scrapbooking because they can be used effectively in digital imaging as well.  Click the thumbnail to learn more about adding Layer Styles.

Working With Text

photoshop elements text stylelsProbably the last thing your will enter on your scrapbook pages is the text.

Text can be plain or it can be fancy and it should never overpower the other elements on the page.

Click the thumbnail to learn the basics of adding text.

Three Picture Frame

photoshop elements photo frame thumbnailThis photo frame template tutorial will lead you through the steps necessary to create a really effective way to present your images both on-screen and in print.

The nice thing about the template is that it is a versatile and can be used over and over again with different images, text and colors.

Click the thumbnail to learn how to create a three image photo frame.

Portrait Series

link to portrait page
There are a number of different portrait/glamor tutorials listed in the right hand column of this page.

If this is a topic of particular interest to you then check out the Portrait Series page.  It's a listing of these tutorials all in one place to make it easier to locate the one you want.

The topics cover pretty much everything from tooth whitening to a zombie conversion!

Click the thumbnail to check out the different portrait tutorials.

Working With Photoshop Elements

Many Photoshop Elements techniques are exactly the same in Photoshop. Good to know, right? The following techniques work with both programs.

Changing Color
color change thumbIf you have ever wanted to change the color an something in an image - well - you have come to the right place.

There are a couple of ways to replace the color in an image - one is OK and the other is very effective.

Click on the thumbnail to discover some techniques to change color in your images.

Creating Reflections

reflection thumbnailEveryone likes to create a nice reflection under an object and this tutorial will show you how to do it.

It was written for Photoshop but the techniques are the same in Photoshop Elements.  It is fun to do and will create a dramatic reflection.

Click the thumbnail to learn how to create a nice reflection of an object.


photoshop elements selectionsWorking with selections can be very frustrating but it is a necessary part of successful digital editing with Photoshop Elements.

Elements has 8 selection tools in the tool bar - here is your chance to learn more about how to use these tools.

Click the thumbnail to learn more about selections.

Photoshop Elements Tutorials

Remove Shine
shine thumbnailHave you ever had a perfect digital shot except for one minor flaw - the shiny spot on a forehead or nose or cheek or even glasses caused by the sun or a flash?

It seems that eliminating that shine is a real problem for a lot of folks - so - here is a tutorial that demonstrates how to eliminate those annoying hotspots.

Click the thumbnail to learn the deep, dark secrets of shine removal!

Changing Hair Color

change hair colorHere is your opportunity to enter the exciting world of digital hair dressing.

No muss, no fuss and this is the only training you need!

Click on the thumbnail to start learning about changing hair color with Photoshop Elements.

Dodging and Burning

Elements dodge and burnDodging and burning is a time honored method of improving an over or underexposed image and has its roots in the darkroom.  

It is a lot easier using Elements to dodge and burn that it was back in the day when photographers used pieces of cardboard to do the work.

The thumbnail is a picture of my dogs playing outside and I did an awful job with the exposure.

Click on the thumbnail to learn more about dodging and burning and to learn a different method of dodging and burning.

Retro Comic Effect

photoshop Elements retro comicHow would you like to take a picture of one of your favorite people and turn it into a retro comic book page?

Imagine how they would react to that.

This tutorial will show you exactly how to do a retro comic book page with any version of Elements - it's fun and looks great.

Click the thumbnail to discover how to make a retro comic page.

Digital Dental Hygiene

elements tooth whiteningMaking teeth whiter can have a dramatic effect on the overall look of an image.  There are a couple of different tooth whitening methods.

This tutorial presents two different approaches - one uses a soft light layer and the other uses the dodge tool.

Work through them with your own image to find the one that works best for you.

Click the thumbnail to start your digital dental hygiene career!

Color Correction

If you have ever had an image with a nasty color cast then you know how resistant it can be to photoshop elements correcting colorchange.  Elements has a built in Auto feature to correct color but what do you do if that does not work?

You do it manually, that's what you do.  This method of color correction is surprisingly quick, easy and effective.

It makes use of the Average Filter and the technique will probably become part of you everyday Elements work flow.

Click the thumbnail to go to the tutorial and video.

Color Curves

Photoshop Elements curvesI didn't think that Photoshop Elements had the very powerful and useful curves adjustment in the program.  

While prowling about the menus one day I came across something called Color Curves and what do you know - its a method to adjust the curves.

The curves adjustment in Elements is not as comprehensive as they are in Photoshop but they do a pretty darn good job.

Click the thumbnail to lean how to use Elements curves adjustment.

Shadows Highlights

photoshop elements shadows highlightsShadows Highlights in Photoshop Elements is a very useful method to deal with lighting problems.

It is particularly effective with blocked up shadows and too bright highlights.

Click the thumbnails to learn about this amazingly easy to use adjustment.

Layer Masks

layer mask thumbnailLayer masks are not normally available on normal layers in Photoshop Elements.

There is a way, however, to add a layer mask to any layer which provides a ton of creative uses.

Click the thumbnail to learn how to add a Layer Mask to any layer.

Restoration Of A Badly Damaged Photo

Photoshop elements spot and cloneI found a really badly damaged photo in a pile of slush next to my car a few weeks ago.  It had been driven over, walked on and generally abused.

I rescued that photo from that nasty pile of slush, brought it home, gave it a bath, scanned it and then set to work with the Spot Healing Brush and Clone tool.

The project took about one week to complete and the end results were well worth the effort.  The interesting thing is that I only used two Elements tools plus one selection.

Click the thumbnail to follow along.

Painting A Mandala

photoshop elements mandalaDo you know what a mandala is?

In common use, it has become a generic term for any plan, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically,  a microcosm of the Universe from the human perspective.

They are also a blast to paint with Elements.

Click the thumbnail to learn more about painting these beautiful artistic pieces.

Glowing Pet Eyes

Photoshop Elements glowing eyes
This short tutorial will show you how to get rid of those nasty green, blue or yellow demon eyes that often adorn your favorite pet when you take a picture with a flash - just like this shot of Maisie.

It's not particularly difficult and will likely make use of most of the Photoshop Elements tools and techniques you already use.  Of course, a Wacom pen makes the job much easier.

Click the thumbnail of little Maisie to follow along with the tutorial.

Elements Line Drawing

photoshop elements line drawingIf you love hand drawn line art but have no real artistic skill then this is the tutorial for you.  It demonstrates how to take an ordinary image and through the magic of Photoshop Elements turn it into a passable line drawing.

There are also some embellishments at the end of the tutorial to really spice up you drawing.

Click the thumbnail to learn how to make a line drawing with Photoshop Elements.

Watermark Brush

photoshop elements watermarkThis tutorial will demonstrate how to make a watermark brush that you can use on all of your photographs to confirm your ownership.

It will also show you how to make a brush from an image, a selection and from something you have drawn or painted in elements.

Click the thumbnail to learn how to make a watermark brush.

Zombie Conversion

photoshop elements zombieThis tutorial demonstrates how to convert a normal, good looking image into a nasty looking zombie. 

You can do the conversion on an image of yourself, your friend or your significant other (if you dare).

This is a long tutorial and makes use of a lot of different Photoshop Elements techniques.  If you are new to Elements it may be a bit of a challenge for you, however each step is thoroughly explained so take your time and have some fun with the conversion.

Click the thumbnail to learn some methods to convert an image to a member of the living dead.

Change Eye Color

photoshop elements eye color
This is an effective method to change eye color.  The technique is exactly the same as you would use to change hair color and that is - you work on the eyes!

Click the thumbnail to learn about changing eye color using a Hue and Saturation Adjustment Layer.

Smart Brush Tools

The Smart Brushes in Photoshop Elements may appear to be magical or confusing - or both!
photoshop elements smart brush
When you take a good close look at the two brushes and how they work you'll soon discover that they are simply Adjustment Layers with specific settings.  Being Adjustment Layers means they can be modified to suit your needs in many different ways.

The Smart Brushes are a wonderful addition to Elements so take some time to learn more about them by clicking the thumbnail.


photoshop elements portrait
The Smart Brush tool in Elements has a Portrait category.

It is useful because it includes the seven most needed adjustments to clean up and improve a portrait. The Smart Brushes use Adjustment Layers for all of their modifications and that means it is easy to stray from the pre-set adjustment which is often necessary.

Click the thumbnail to learn more about this fascinating category in the Smart Brushes.

Smooth Skin

photoshop elements smooth skin
This technique makes use of the Portrait adjustments, applies an easy to use blur filter that will smooth out the skin and then uses a Layer Mask to selectively apply the blur.

The amount of smoothing can be modified in a couple of different ways - when the filter is applied or by changing the opacity of one of the layers.

Click on the thumbnail to learn how to smooth the skin.

Coloring Black and White

photoshop Elements coloring black and whiteThis is just flat out fun - coloring an old (or new for that matter) black and white image.

The easiest way to do this is to use the Detail Smart Brush with a Wacom Pen to make the painting a easy and effortless as possible.

Once the black and white is nicely colored you can change blend modes and layer opacity to change the look of your coloring.

Click the thumbnail to learn about coloring black and white.

The Clone Tool

photoshop elements clone toolThis is one of those tools that Photoshop Elements folks love to use.  It can produce wonderful results in the hands of a careful editor and the results can look very amateurish.

The Clone Tool moves pixels from one place to another to add an object or remove an object and you can even move an object from one picture to another.  The Clone Tool is particularly easy to use with a Wacom pen tablet.

This tutorial will cover the Clone Tool and then a couple of other adjustments to really make the picture pop.

Click on the thumbnail to learn more about using the Clone Tool.

Elements Camera Raw Adjustments

photoshop elements raw adjustmentsAdobe Camera Raw in Photoshop Elements allows you to easily process pictures that were shot in raw format.

The Raw Adjustments can quickly save what may, at first, appear to be an image that cannot be rehabilitated.

These raw adjustments are very versatile and they can even be removed from an image if you do not like the end results.

Click the image to explore the fascinating world of Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop Elements.

Black and White Conversion

photoshop elements greyscaleBlack and white images can be really awesome.

Photoshop Elements has a couple of different methods built into the program that do a passable job converting to black and white.  There are, however, other techniques that will do fabulous conversions.

Click the thumbnail to learn about using two Hue and Saturation Layers to do a conversion.

Hi Key Conversion

photoshop elements hi key conversionA hi key image is one where the blacks are toned down, the mid tones are toned down and the highlights are accentuated.  They are very dramatic images that always elicit a positive comment.

Creating an Elements hi-key image requires a different technique than the full version of Photoshop because Elements does not have as many ways to adjust an image.

Having said that - you can do a really effective and attractive Hi Key conversion with Photoshop Elements and this tutorial will demonstrate how to do it ...

Click the thumbnail to learn how to convert an ordinary image into a hi key image.

Goth Conversion

This page took a long time to write and came about ecause of a couple of requests from Elements users.

photoshop elements goth conversionTwo different methods of converting an ordinary image into a goth are presented - one uses a Gradient Map adjustment layer and the other usesselections and Hue and Saturation adjustment layers.

From my pointr of view one of the two methods is easier and provides superior results and if this type of conversion appeals to you then give them both a try and use the one you like the best, or better yet, simply combine elements from each method.

Click the thumbnail to learn how to comple a goth conversion of your favorite person!

Composite Line Drawings

photoshop elements composite line drawingsComposite line drawings are a fascinating study of a specific location or a subject using line art.
With Elements you can easily duplicate this really interesting look.

Click the thumbnail to learn how to make a composite line drawing, how to create a quick and easy line drwing and how to tone your work.

Links To Elements
Tutorials On This Page

Pressure Sensitivity

  "Gotta Knows ..."

Portrait Series

Tutorials (that are the same for Photoshop and Elements).
PSE Tutorials

 learn elements

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