Tools of the Trade

By Nancy Hendrickson Premium

Clone (or rubber stamp): The Clone tool does exactly what it implies: It replicates good areas of an image, so you can hide damaged areas. The source (the “good” area) can be from the same photo or an entirely different one.

Airbrush: The Airbrush tool simulates an actual airbrush or spray-paint can when applying a color. The longer you hold the airbrush over the image, the greater the effect. Airbrush options include the size and shape of the brush, as well as the spray’s intensity.

Dodge: This lightens too-dark areas and brings out detail. Dodge takes its name from the traditional darkroom technique of holding back some of the light when printing a photo.

Burn: The Burn tool is the opposite of Dodge: It darkens areas of the image that are too light.

Smudge: Smudge softens an image by smearing details (rather than lightening the color, as the Blur tool does). Smudge is great for tackling tiny imperfections.
The Capacity of Opacity

Opacity measures a tool’s intensity: in other words, how strong an effect you get each time you apply the tool. High opacity means you’ll produce the tool’s full effect with one or only a few clicks (or strokes). Low capacity means each application will yield a more subtle result.

If you’re using a mouse to control airbrush or cloning toots (see box, opposite page), try setting the opacity to about 25 percent. Set your dodging and burning tools to no more than 3 to 5 percent per application. With your mouse set for subtlety, you may have to go over an area many times to build up exactly the effect you want. Why take it slow? Remember the warning on cans of spray paint: “For best results, apply many thin coats.” It’s true in the digital realm, too.


From the April 2004 Family Tree Magazine