How to Avoid a Photoshop Disaster

I’ve seen a lot of bad Photoshop work in my day. And while it’s good for a laugh, it’s no fun if you’re the one whose work is being laughed at. Whether you are a graphic designer making website, or just a lay-person using Photoshop for the first time, the tips below will help you avoid the most common disasters.

When it comes to Photoshop disasters, we may have seen it all, or have we. From missing fingers to extra legs, elongated necks to misplaced shoulders, no belly buttons to a plethora of vanishing fixtures, there are more Photoshop disasters than masterpieces. It is not easy to go horribly wrong while editing a picture. How can someone possibly erase parts of a subject or an object in an image? How can an editor knowingly or unknowingly tweak the laws of nature? How can anyone not see what is obviously wrong in an edited picture before publishing it?

The answer is simple. The editor is too engrossed in the touchups and fixes to be focused on anything else. When you work hours on one image and edit hundreds of elements, many of which may have to be done manually and one subtle layer after another or one tiny pixel after another, you would almost certainly have fatigued eyes and an exhausted mind. Photoshop disasters are at times unpardonable but it is necessary to think from the perspective of the editor. Many companies and individuals come up with pictures that are a world apart from the images they eventually want to publish or share. It is often a daunting task to meet every requirement and even professional editors know how demanding the objectives can be.

Preventing a Photoshop Disaster

It is easy to say that an editor must conduct a final assessment and if the last minute check does throw up something odd then the image should be discarded or redone. This can prevent a Photoshop disaster but it effectively means all the hours spent on the image have been wasted. Hence, you ought to be proactive. You must take the right steps to prevent a Photoshop disaster. The objective is prevention and not damage control. Many editors, including professionals, get into a damage control mode, which is a natural self defense mechanism whenever there is something horribly wrong with an edited picture. As a result, they come up with fixes that either ruin the picture or simply saves the day but eliminates all possibility of the picture having the intended impact.

Save Frequently, Have Many Saved Versions

Rarely does an editor get a picture that can be deemed publishable without any edit or barely enough edit. How many steps of edits do you undertake on an average for a typical photograph? The answer could be dozens, scores and in some cases hundreds. Professional editors routinely undertake thousands of steps of edits. This may be surprising for many but you have to understand that every layer to be edited is one step, every enhancement of the color saturation is a step and every tiny stroke of brushing or smudging is also one step. When you have so many steps, it is humanly impossible to remember all the steps you have already undertaken. Even if you have a video of yourself editing the picture, it is not practical to review what you have done to find the exact point where you may want to go back to and alter the edit.

The solution is in frequent saves. You must save every time you make substantial progress. The immediate phase of progress does not have to be perfect. It may be lacking in a myriad of ways but you should still save it so you can go back to it if needed. To simplify things, you should have many versions of the image. Do not keep saving the changes to the same photo you have been editing for an hour. Every time you make a worthwhile change, make it a new version of the image. This will allow you to have multiple distinct versions of the same image and you can choose the best edit of them all. Saving frequently will also protect you from losing the progress.

If it isn’t Right, it isn’t Right

There will be many stages during an edit when you would not like something. It could be an organic element in the picture, depending on how it was taken, when, with what and by whom. It could be one of your edit effects. No matter what it is, if it doesn’t look right and if you don’t feel right about it, then don’t let it be. Change it, undo it or get rid of it unless the element is integral to your subjects and objects. Do not get rid of an arm or a leg, an eyebrow or a part of someone’s head, the crown of a skyscraper or one of the three pyramids because you don’t like how they have been captured. Try to salvage the scenario without giving in to a recipe for Photoshop disaster.

Master Photoshop, for instance History States

Nothing will empower you as much as practice. You can read as much as you want, you may be fascinatingly creative or imaginative and you may be an excellent photographer. None of these attributes will help if you don’t know every facet of Photoshop. For instance, there is a feature in Photoshop under the Edit section wherein you can set your Preferences pertaining to how many steps back you can undo your progress. Under Preferences, there is an option called Performance and therein you would find History States. This feature is set at a default twenty steps. This means you can undo your progress to twenty steps back, no further. Choose how many steps you want to retrace and which exact state you want the image to be reverted to. This will not happen retroactively. You would need the feature to be set according to your need before you start editing a picture.

Allowing yourself to undo as many steps as you want will give you the freedom to resume from wherever you want without losing the progress up to that point. It is painful to repeat the same edits that you know were fine but you had to lose due to undoing to a point preceding such progress. There are many such truly helpful, cool and smart features that you can know about as you master the software. Editing anything, a picture or video, an article or a book, is as much about creativity as it is about technicality. Both need to be honed. More often than not, honing one improves the other.

Edit with Élan

You must master a plethora of skills to edit with élan. There are many practical and smarter ways to circumvent when the going gets tough. The more you know of such strategies or tricks, the easier it would be for you to edit a perfect piece and to avoid a Photoshop disaster. Here are a few tips that will help you to edit with élan.

• You can use a bokeh to hide anomalies and to enhance the picture without paving the way for a disaster. Professional photographers can achieve the bokeh effect with the right lens, focal length and lighting without any edit effect. If you don’t have a natural bokeh, you can achieve it within Photoshop. This will enhance the aesthetics of your image without making it a disaster. When you opt for a bokeh, you don’t have to worry about the background or surrounding negative space. There may have been a building that is now hazy, there may be a part of a bridge that is now a blur and there could have been many things that are not lucid any more. The bokeh would take care of it all, unless you have actually removed any object or subject during your edit.

• There are some photos that simply don’t have the right light, the subjects may not be captured at their best or most flattering and there can be a number of issues with the picture, from the angle to the resolution to the shutter speed among others. If you absolutely must use such photos, then go for pop art elements. You can save a photo from horrible lighting. You can save an otherwise great photo but taken from a bad angle or a scene that looks amazing but with not the finest subjects. There is no definitive rule to create impressive pop art. Practice, conduct trial & error and assess the progress and the impacts in every scenario. Like Photoshop as a whole, you will master pop art edit effects in time.

• Bad light, conflicting colors, wildly varying saturation and plenty of other realities can ruin an otherwise perfect image. The minor but consequential issues in a picture don’t have to be completely wiped off or redrawn. You don’t need artificial measures every time when you have something as simple as black and white conversion. You can turn a colored photo to black and white, a step that can conceal many unsightly or jerky elements in the original. Be sure to check if those elements are really taken care of but if a simple black and white conversion is acceptable, given the ulterior objective, then there is no need to take the risk of vanishing buses or smudging the wrinkles.

How much you know about Photoshop, how much time you spend using the software and on every image, how smart and imaginative you are along with your perceptivity and objective reasoning will save you from a disaster.

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