Adobe Photoshop: top 20 secret features

16. Perspective Crop (CS6)

If a photo isn’t quite dead on, you can crop and straighten it in one go. Hold down the mouse button on the Crop tool to select the Perspective Crop tool; now drag a rectangle – or draw one with four clicks – then drag its corner points to mark out the area that should be square. Click the tick in the options bar (or double-click inside the crop area, or press Return) and the marked area will be transformed to fill the frame. Photoshop CC introduces a new Perspective Warp tool that can be used to straighten up a three-dimensional image that’s been shot at slightly the wrong angle. Click for full documentation.

17. Quick Mask (7)

Quick Mask

To activate the Quick Mask, hit Q, or click the Quick Mask icon on the toolbar (beneath the foreground/background colour swatches). Now, where you paint or draw in black, the canvas is marked in red, and when you press Q again (or click the icon again), all non-red areas turn into a selection area. While in Quick Mask mode, you can use selection and fill tools to add areas to your mask; use the eraser or paint white to remove areas from the mask; and use soft-edged brushes to create feathered selections. Click for full documentation.

18. Photomerge (CS)

If you want to turn a series of overlapping photographs into a panorama, you’ll find the option under File | Automate | Photomerge. Select your files, then choose a merge type and click OK. Photoshop aligns and combines them into a single composite image. If the images have significant distortion – for example, if they were shot at a short focal length – tick “Geometric Distortion Correction” to automatically compensate for it. Click for full documentation.

19. Zoomify (CS3)


Sharing large images on the web can be tricky. A shrunk-down version won’t show off the full detail, but a high-resolution one won’t fit comfortably in a browser window. File | Export | Zoomify produces a snippet of web code that presents your image within a Zoomify-branded image viewer, allowing the visitor to pan and zoom around your image within a convenient viewport. Naturally you can embed this into your own web pages for free, allowing convenient presentation of your images. Click for full documentation.

20. Video (CS6)

Recent versions of Photoshop support video as well as images. You can open video clips in the same way as images, and move between frames via the Timeline panel. It’s possible to paint onto individual frames, and use Adjustment layers to apply enhancements and corrections to the whole file. When you’re finished, select File | Export | Render Video – but be warned, depending on the size of your video, and the ambitiousness of your edits, rendering the file could take hours. Click for full documentation.

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