Saturday, August 21, 2010

Understanding Panels

The panels in Photoshop are really mini-applications with their own windows, controls, and menus. You rely heavily on the Photoshop panels to do most of the editing. Photoshop has many panels, each of which provides its own set of functionality. The purpose of this section is to familiarize you with how panels work in general and how to organize them.

Panels tend to take up quite a bit of the workspace, so efficient management helps with how easy it is to get things done. Because panels tend to take up quite a bit of space in the work area, Photoshop allows them to be visible, collapsed into an icon, or hidden. To hide or unhide a panel, select the panel from the Window menu. Figure 2.10 shows a collapsed panel group and a visible panel group. To collapse the panel group, click the Collapse button. To expand a panel in a collapsed group, click the icon.

Panel groups can be collapsed to icons to reduce their footprint on the workspace.

You typically only have a small number of panels that pertain to your current workflow open at a time. This makes finding the panels you need much easier.

A panel group is one or more panels that are connected to each other. To add a panel to a group, drag the panel or icon onto the group. To remove a panel from a group, drag the panel out of the group. Organizing panel groups is really no different that organizing the items on your desktop. You can decide which panels go in which groups. The bottom line is, if you know where to find a panel, you can use it much faster.

The panel groups have the following basic components, as noted in Figure 2.10:
  • Panel tabs: The panel tabs are used to select which panel is visible in the group and to drag panels out of the group.
  • Collapse button: This button collapses the panel to an icon to reduce the footprint in the
  • work area.
  • Settings: The settings area contains the controls used by the panel to perform various tasks. Each panel has different settings.
  • Panel menu: All panels have a menu that pops out when you click the menu button in the top-right corner. The panel menus usually include additional features that are not included in the main settings area. If you can’t find something, it is probably in the panel.
  • Panel buttons: Panels often have buttons on the bottom that do things such as add or delete items or perform common tasks needed by the panel.
Another way to organize panel groups is to dock them either together or to the sides of the Photoshop workspace. Panel groups can be docked by dragging the groups to the side or bottom of another group. They can be docked to the side of the workspace by dragging them until the mouse is on the workspace edge.

The functionality of each individual panel is far too much to cover in a single tutorial. Figure 2.11 shows the icons for each of the panels, and the following list describes them and where they are covered in the book to give you a quick guide:
  • Swatches: Provides a simple way to manage sets of colors that you use in different documents.
  • Color: Allows you to quickly select any color in the possible ranges that Photoshop supports.
  • Styles: Allows you to manage the style sets that can be applied by various tools when painting or applying filters.
  • Brush: Provides a robust interface that allows you to define different types of brush qualities and behaviors that are used by Brush tools.
  • Brush Presets: Allows you to easily manage sets of brushes that can be used by the various Brush tools.
Photoshop provides several panels that each act as individual utilities. These panels can be viewed by selecting them from the Window menu or clicking their icons.

  • Clone Source: Provides a dynamic interface to control the source used by the Clone tools to heal areas of photos and remove unwanted items.
  • 3D: Provides a powerful interface that allows you to manipulate 3D objects and lighting.
  • Animation (Timeline): Provides a timeline-based utility that adds animation to images.
  • Character: Provides options to quickly format character styles, fonts, and spacing of textual elements in images.
  • Paragraph: Provides options to quickly format paragraph styles and spacing of textual elements in images.
  • Character Styles: Allows you to create and save character style settings that allow you to keep text consistent between documents.
  • Paragraph Styles: Allows you to create and save paragraph style settings that allow you to keep text consistent between documents.
  • Mini Bridge: Provides a portion of the functionality of Bridge that allows you to quickly select and organize images files.
  • Layers: Allows you to select, create, edit, and mange layers. This is one of the most common panels you’ll use.
  • Channels: Allows you to view and manage each of the different color channels in an image as well as create additional channels such as alpha channels.
  • Paths: Allows you to manage and utilize vector paths in images.
  • Histogram: Provides a simple-to-understand view of the overall distribution of color and levels in an image.
  • Info: Allows you to view color and other information about individual pixels in the image by hovering the mouse over them.
  • Layer Comps: Allows you to easily create, manage, and view multiple versions of a layout in a single Photoshop file.
  • Adjustments: Allows you to apply several adjustments to a layer in an image.
  • Masks: Provides a simple interface to create masks from selections and vector data. Masks shield areas of an image when certain effects are applied.
  • Actions: Allows you to record and then reapply a series of commands that perform common tasks such as applying filter settings.
  • History: Provides access to the history states of the document that are recorded each time the document is changed.
  • Navigator: Provides a simple interface that allows you to quickly zoom in on areas of an image. The interface includes a slider control at the bottom that zooms in on the image. It also displays a miniature of the images with a red rectangle that you can move to pan to a specific area of the image, as shown in Figure 2.12.  Measurement Log: Keeps track of measurements as discussed earlier in this tutorial.
The Navigator panel allows you to quickly zoom in on the image in the document window and then pan to specific locations.

  • Notes: Allows you to view and manage notes that are created by the Note tool.
  • Tool presets: Allows you to quickly view and select presets for the tool that is currently selected in the Toolbox.
In this tutorial:
  1. Photoshop Workspace 
  2. Workspace Overview 
  3. The Document Workspace 
  4. The Application Bar 
  5. The Workspace Presets 
  6. The Toolbox and Tool Options Bar 
  7. Cruising Main Menus 
  8. Understanding Panels 
  9. Understanding Tools in Toolbox 
  10. Using Presets 
  11. Setting Preferences 
  12. Interface Preferences 
  13. File Handling Preferences 
  14. Transparency Gamut Preferences 
  15. Customizing Shortcuts and Menus 

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