There’s nothing better than Adobe’s Photoshop when it comes to photo editing and manipulation. Coveted by graphic designers, professional photographers and the publishing industry alike, Adobe’s professional image-editing app also comes with a professional price tag, putting it well out of reach of us fans of opportunist snapping, who simply want to crop day-to-day photos and remove red eye.
We were placated for a while with Adobe’s Photoshop Elements. Creating a stepping stone between us mere mortals and the professionals, Photoshop Elements is a pared-down version of its classier sister that’s easy enough for novices to use for making simple edits.
But now Adobe has taken photo-editing software in a new direction. Step forward Photoshop Express. This web-based beta software offers 17 of Photoshop CS3’s best tools, including red-eye removal, white balance and contrast adjustments, alongside fun functions such as sketching and distortion tools. The easy-to-use program is ideal for both beginners and the more adept.
Photoshop Express differs from its siblings by offering 2GB of online storage and direct integration with the PhotoBucket, Picasa and Facebook websites. You can edit digital photos and publish them straight to the web or even get them printed, without leaving your web browser. Better yet, Photoshop Express is totally free.
There are some limitations, however. One of these is that the software is officially offered only in the US. Provided you’re prepared to tell a little white lie about which nation you call home, however, you can access the site from the UK – although it’s sometimes a little sluggish.
On the flip side, plans are in place to officially launch Photoshop Express in other locations later in the year, so we Brits shouldn’t have to wait too long for a UK-based version of the software.
Here, we show you how to get down to the basics with Photoshop Express.
1. To sign up for a Photoshop Express account, head to photoshopexpress.com and click Join Now. Enter your details and choose, ahem, US for your country of residence. Copy the security code shown and click Continue. You’ll need to verify your email address, so be sure to give a valid one.
2. Log into the Photoshop Express website and, from the Home screen, click Upload Photos. Now browse to the images stored on your PC’s hard drive or removable media that you’d like to upload to your Photoshop Express personal library. Select the images and click Open.
3. Choose to upload the photos directly to your library or to a new or existing album. For the former, ensure that the Upload to Library box is ticked and click Upload. An onscreen bar will display the progress of the upload, showing a green tick once complete. When it’s finished, click Done.
4. To upload your images to a new album, on the other hand, ensure that the ‘Upload to New Album’ box is ticked, enter a title for your album and click Upload. As before, a bar will indicate the upload’s progress and give a green tick once complete. When it’s finished, click Done.
5. Finally, to upload to an existing album, tick the ‘Upload to Existing Album’ box, choose the album you’d like the images to be uploaded to and click Upload. Look out for the progress bar and green tick when the upload is complete. Click Done. Now uploading is complete, we can move on to editing the images.
6. To open images stored in your library, simply click All Photos under the Library menu. Move your cursor over the image you wish to edit, then click the left mouse button on the pop-up dialog’s Photo Options. A menu of options will displayed. Click Edit Photo and the image will be displayed.
7. To open images from a particular album, highlight the album in the Albums menu on the lefthand side of the browser. Move your cursor over the picture you want to edit, then click Edit Photo in the menu that pops up.
8. With an image open, click Crop & Rotate from the tool menu on the lefthand side of the screen. The tool will now become highlighted and a grid will be placed on top of the image. You can adjust the size of the selected area.
9. To increase or decrease the selected area, click and drag the square grid markers on the corners of the image. To retain the image’s original proportions, choose an aspect ratio from the Aspect menu. Clicking the reset tool (the orange circular arrow at the top right) will reset the grid.
10. To rotate the image, use the clockwise and anticlockwise rotational buttons next to the Aspect menu. The image will automatically rotate and be displayed in the main image screen. Once again, the reverse tool can be used if you make a mistake or change your mind about any edit.
11. The Crop & Rotate tool will also allow you to straighten an image. Using the slide bar located next to the rotate tool, straighten the image using trial and error. Alternatively, placing the cursor in the grey area around the photo will create a double-headed arrow, which can be dragged sideways to tilt the image.
12. If you decide, having seen the finished effect, that you don’t want to crop or rotate the image after all, click the red cross at the top righthand side of the image screen to return the image to its original state. Photoshop Express will save both the original and cropped versions, in any case.
13. To save your changes, simply click the green tick in the top righthand corner of the main image screen. The grid will disappear and your changes will be made permanent, ready for you to continue editing using other tools or to save the new image to your library.
14. Thankfully, it’s still possible to reverse changes to an image after you’ve saved it and returned to the library. On opening the image in the usual way, a tick box will appear on the tools menu next to Crop & Rotate. Simply untick the box to return your image to its original state.