Adobe Photoshop: top 20 secret features

6. 3D (CS3 Extended)

Photoshop can open 3D files in a variety of formats, including 3DS and Google Earth KMZ files. Each 3D object sits on its own layer, and can be moved, rotated and scaled via the 3D panel (Windows | 3D). You can also extrude 2D objects into 3D meshes, a technique called repoussé in older versions of Photoshop. To do this, pick the area you want to convert and select 3D | New 3D Extrusion from Current Selection (alternatively, you can extrude a whole layer). You can adjust its appearance in the 3D and Properties panes, and move it around in 3D space with the option bar. You can also distort and transform 3D objects. The latest version of Photoshop CC adds 3D printing capabilities, so you can bring your three-dimensional designs to reality. Click for full documentation.

7. Proof Colors (5)

Gamut Warning

When View | Proof Colors is ticked, Photoshop tries to display your image as it will appear in your chosen colour profile, rather than as it would look by default on your monitor. This can be helpful if you’re working with images for print: select View | Proof Setup | Working CMYK, and Photoshop will simulate a CMYK representation of your image, while allowing you to keep working in RGB mode. Activate View | Gamut Warning and colours that can’t be rendered in the selected profile will be marked in grey, so you can correct them by hand. Otherwise, when you convert the image to CMYK, these colours are recoloured to the nearest in-gamut shade. Click for full documentation.

8. HDR Pro (CS5)

Photoshop can combine a series of photos taken with different exposure settings into one high-dynamic-range (HDR) image. Select File | Automate | Merge to HDR Pro… to open the file import dialog. Choose two or more images to combine, then click OK to open the HDR Pro window. Here you can choose from 16 preset algorithms – the “Scott5” setting gives the sharp, high-contrast results many photographers seek. Or, you can adjust the settings yourself. A tickbox lets you remove “ghosts” if something moved between shots. Click for full documentation.

9. Variables (7)

Variables can help you create multiple variations of an image. Start by creating your base image, putting the variable element on a layer of its own. Then select Image | Variables | Define and select whether you want the layer’s visibility to change, its contents to change (Pixel Replacement), or both. Finally, click onto the Data Sets tab and set a state for your Variable layer. You can now switch between states by selecting Image | Variables | Apply Data Set. You can export a set of files, corresponding to the datasets you’ve created, using File | Export | Data Sets as files. It’s also possible to create datasets in Excel or Notepad and import them in CSV format. Click for full documentation.

10. Copy Merged (3)

Copy Merged

This is a simple trick, but it’s still easy to overlook. When copying and pasting, select Edit | Copy Merged – or hold down Shift while pressing Ctrl+C – to copy everything that you can see inside your selection area to the clipboard, rather than just what’s on the currently active layer. Click for full documentation.

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