We will soon get back to the nuances of Pixel Targeting, but first we need to take a break and make time for checking out the next big thing: ACDSee Ultimate 8! This is a brand new product that combines the digital asset management and editing power of ACDSee Pro with a layered editor. This is a big deal because, not only is there no other product out there like this, but it blows the ceiling off the limits of what was possible with your photo editing. You can make some crazy stuff, you can make useful/practical stuff, you can do whatever the heck you want. Now let’s get started.

Layers allow you to work on a single element of an image without disturbing other elements. This makes it possible to add effects, shapes, text, watermarks, etc, and edit them all individually. You can perform photo manipulations, create composites, and pretty much whatever else you can dream up. You can make every layer as transparent or opaque as you want, and stack each element to hide and reveal what you want. You can use layers in conjunction with image effects and adjustment tools, drawing tools, text, and more. Effects and adjustments will be applied to the layer selected in the Layers pane. You can also create a blank image and layer other elements on top of it.

Let’s do something fun to start with. Let’s generate our own meme. In my opinion, a good meme should touch on a shared experience, no matter how silly, and perhaps make us laugh or feel assured that we’re not alone in our silliness. We all make mistakes, and, personally, I find that if I’ve attempted to learn from my mistake and things still go wrong, it’s time to blame an inanimate object. Thus, my Scumbag T-Shirt meme will be created!

Step one: Take your base photo — in this case, the object, but sometimes the subject, of the meme — and open it in Edit mode. If the Layers pane is not already open in Edit mode, go to View | Layers. You will see your image as Layer 1 in the Layers pane on the right side.

layers_pane

At this point, personally I would do any adjusting that I felt the base photo needed, just because I like to keep things simple. Step Two: I’m going to add the next element, which I will have on the second layer so that I can edit it independently. In order to do this, I drag the image from the Filmstrip at the bottom of Edit mode, or, if the image I want is stored in another folder, I can go to Layer | Import from File…

add_second_item

I add the scumbag hat, which has a transparent background. This automatically appears in the Layers pane as Layer 2. Step Three: To move and resize this element, I first ensure that I have Layer 2 selected in the Layers pane, and then I enter the Move tool, which you’ll find amidst the Selection and Drawing tools on the top of the Edit mode tools.move_tool Yellow squares and circles appear around the scumbag hat. I can click and drag on the squares to resize the hat. Observe that in the bar above the image there is a checkbox that says Lock Aspect Ratio enabled by default. Leave this checked if you would like to make sure that your element doesn’t end up a wonky shape when you drag it to the size you want. Use the circular handles to rotate the element one direction or another. To simply move the element, click in the middle of it and drag to where you want it to go.

move

Once I have the hat just where I want, I press the Commit button, (up in the top Context bar near the Lock Aspect Ratio button), to exit out of the Move tool.

Step Four: I want to add my text. So, I click on the Text tool under the Add group.

add_text_next

I would like my text to remain as a separate element that I can move, rotate, resize, or change its layer order, blend mode, or opacity on a whim, so at the bottom of the Text tool, I check the Add text as a new layer checkbox. I configure the text settings as desired. Then I press Apply. This allows me to add a second set of text at the bottom, and it will also be on its own layer. I press Apply and then Done and I exit out of the tool, and now I can continue to move the text by selecting its layer and using the Move tool.

layers_are

And that’s that! My meme is complete. I press Done and press Save As. In the Save Image As dialog, ACDSee Ultimate offers to save it as a .acdc file. I choose Save, as this format will allow me to edit the layers individually again, should I choose to open this image in Edit mode in the future.

I present my Scumbag T-Shirt meme!

79711545a

 

If you don’t know what a scumbag meme is, just smile and nod. It’s not essential information. All you need to know is that shirts that shrink are jerks. What is important is that you now know how to create an image with several layers!

Now, let’s move on to something a bit more complicated. I want to make something along the vein of a pamphlet. Let us now pretend I own a vineyard (I wish!) and I want to promote my sauvignon blanc.

I know I want to blend two images at least, so to save myself extra work, I make sure they are the same size. Or rather, I choose the image that I want to be the size of the final product as the basis for resizing the other photo. (You don’t have to do it this way.) I can see that that photo is 2736 x 3648, so I open the image I want to blend with it in Edit mode and go to the Resize tool in the Geometry group. Here, I uncheck the Preserve Aspect Ratio checkbox, because I want these images to match up properly. This may not always be the case, but it is for me in this scenario. Then under Pixels, I enter 2736 x 3648 and press Done. So why don’t I just open both of these images in the Layers pane and do the resizing then? Well, in that case, resizing affects the whole canvas that the images are being stacked on. So, if I make the canvas smaller than one of the images already is, bits of that image could get cut off.

All right, now to begin. I will start with a background photo of some grapes, which I took (in somebody else’s vineyard, OK).

base_photo

First, I make the adjustments I need to in order to get that bit out of the way. Now I’ll add my second layer: a wine bottle and glass. To do this, go to Layer | Import from File… This new photo will appear in the Layers pane as Layer 2. Select the Hand tool.

hand_tool

Then go to Layer | Mask | Add White Mask. A layer mask will allow you to control a layer’s transparency. Since we aim to put two images together, this is exactly the sort of tool we need. Because I added a white mask, I will now use a black brush to brush “holes” through the mask to reveal the layer beneath. So, I select the Brush tool, followed by the color box, which I will change to black, if it’s not already.

pick_colour

I can now brush the background of the wine bottle image to reveal the vineyard image below.

mask

What if I screw up? What if my hand slips and I brush over the bottle, as seen here:

screw_up

I really don’t sweat it. All I need to do is switch my brush color to white using the switch arrow at the color box. switch_arrow Then I’ll “brush the mask back on”. By using white, I am making the mask visible once more.

brush_mask_back_on

Once I’ve revealed the vineyard behind the bottle and glass, I’ve decided that I don’t want the bottle and glass centered as they are now. So, i click the Move tool, move_tool and then drag the wine bottle image to my desired location. Then I press Commit in the Context bar when I’m finished moving it. I am also going to make the wine bottle and glass somewhat transparent by selecting their layer and adjusting the Opacity slider in the top of the Layers panel.

As I’d like to make this an ad, I’m going to add a vignette. I go to Layer | Add New Layer so that the vignette will be made on its own layer. Then under the Add group, I choose the Vignette tool. In the Vignette tool, I configure the sliders until I get the vignette to cover just the area I want. When the vignette looks how I desire, I press Done.

Next, I’m interested in adding some text. For this, I will add a new layer, so that I can edit the text independently. However, I can do this from within the Text tool. I choose the Text tool under the Add group. I enter text and add it as a new layer, as detailed earlier. Hint: Check the Add text as new layer checkbox. I can configure the text settings to make it look exactly how I want. I press Apply. Then repeat, to add more text elements.

wine2

Lastly, I am going to add a logo. This is a .png file with a transparent background. Same deal as above. Layer | Import from File…, then use the Move tool to place it. I press Commit in the Context bar, and bam! We’ve got ourselves an ad.

wine_ad

Power kitteh!!!!!

DSC_0089aPhoto credit: Lauren Beason

 

Pixel Targeting, available in ACDSee Pro 8 and ACDSee Ultimate 8, selectively adjusts pixels with a variety of Edit mode tools by targeting specific colors and tones within the image. You can even target skin tones. This is a quick look at how you can put Pixel Targeting to work for you, including how you can combine it with the Edit Brush for ultimate precision editing.

 

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This 52 week challenge offers inspiration for both photography and business endeavors. Somewhere within these ideas just might be the kick in the pants we all need to make the most of our 2015!

Hey Everybody,
ACDSee Ultimate 8 is now here! What’s it all about? As the first digital asset management software with layers, it’s able to answer an unparalleled number of creative graphic and image composition needs. And it has all the editing power and the digital asset management capabilities of ACDSee Pro 8. Check out this video for a quick peak at what you can do with the layered editor:

Stay tuned for a more in-depth look on how you can get layers working for you.

As you may or may not have heard, ACDSee Pro 8 (and ACDSee 18) are now available! There’s a ton of new features to explore, but let’s start with the biggest. Pixel Targeting!

Generally, you use Edit mode tools to make a variety of global adjustments to your images. Pixel Targeting, on the other hand, allows you to target distinct tones, colors, and skin tones, and then select any number of Edit mode adjustments and apply them to those targeted pixels. Pixel Targeting itself does not do anything to the image, but allows you to specify which pixels the tool that you are working with will affect in your image.

What am I talking about? Well, the best way to understand is through example. There are so many applications for this that it’s hard to know where to begin. But this time, let’s start with something really simple — a targeted exposure adjustment.

I start by finding an image that could use some exposure adjustment in specific areas, but that I’m hesitant to make a global exposure adjustment to because I’ll blow out parts that are already light enough. I then open that image in Edit mode, and click on the Exposure tool.

exposure_tool

In the Exposure tool, on the top left, I press the Pixel Targeting button.

pixel_targeting_button

On the Pixel Targeting panel, you will see the Targeted Tones, Targeted Colors, Skin Targeting, and Target Mask sections. Targeted Tones allows you to target pixels based on their brightness. Targeted Colors let you pick which colors you want to be affected by the current tool, (in this case, the Exposure tool). Skin Targeting, we’re going to return to in a later tutorial. And lastly, the Target Mask, which displays in white which areas of the photo are currently being targeted.

at_neutral

You will notice that at the moment, the Target Mask is all white. This is because I haven’t specified any targeted tones or colors. All of the sliders are at Max. And if I made exposure adjustments right now, they would still by applied to the entire image.

Under Targeted Colors, I press Min. This deselects all colors. Now I can choose the specific colors I want to target. You will now observe that the Target Mask is entirely black. This means that no colors are being targeted.

at_min

Let’s take a quick moment to learn about the Target Mask. Now, let’s say that I wanted to target just the green of the grass and trees. Under Targeted Colors, I would move the green slider up somewhere between 0 and 100, depending on my desired intensity. In other words, just play with the sliders until you see the area you want to target in the Target Mask in white.

target_orange

Maybe I want to expand the target to include yellows to make sure I get all of the yellow flowers, etc.

target_orange_yellow

Hopefully this is becoming a bit clearer. Now, let’s get back on task. The sky of my selected image is very light. A lot of detail is lost. By experimenting with the Targeted Colors, I can figure out which setting I need in order to apply an exposure adjustment to just the background — the sky and the sea. Once I see the area I want to target in white in the Target Mask, I can configure the settings on the Exposure panel. These adjustments are only applied to the area that I targeted.

exposure_target

Beacon Hill a

And, the before and after.

before_after

Ta da!

Next time we talk about Pixel Targeting, I’d like to take a look at how you can use it to achieve natural, but augmented color. I also want to talk about how to combine it with the Edit Brush for absolute precision adjusting. And let’s also talk about using Pixel Targeting for fun with some effects. And targeting skin tones. And—and—There’s so many applications to explore!

 

 

 

 

 

ACDSee Pro 8 and ACDSee 18 are here! These babies are jam-packed with new features to accelerate your photography management and editing workflow. And by “babies”, I kind of mean the opposite of babies. They’re colossal applications — yet somehow move swiftly and stealthily like great golden eagles!

Check out photographer Peter Pereira’s first look at ACDSee Pro 8.