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Photoshop vs. Photoshop Elements

Uncategorized May 25, 2016

Welcome to an essential post about Photoshop & Photoshop Elements.

The goal for this post is to help you achieve your best online visual presence through what I believe to be the best and most professional photo editing software, which is Photoshop. You may already use it or want to use it but don't necessarily know how to.

I totally understand, since I am also still developing my own Photoshop skills on a daily basis! Learning technical skills like these can be annoying, daunting, not so exciting, so I will try to make it as pretty and enjoyable as possible! 

Most of the time, you will be able to achieve pretty much anything within Photoshop. So much that sometimes you might want to think that Photoshop is like a magic wand!

However, some of you have Photoshop Elements and may want to stick to it. As much as possible, for every step explained in Photoshop I will give the suggestions on how to achieve either the same effect or similar in Photoshop Elements. In some cases, it might not be possible and it will be up to you to decide, for your business's sake, whether you want to go one step further and get Photoshop, or not.

The first topic is the one you have so often asked me about:

Can Photoshop Elements be used with smart objects in mock ups?

Let's say it: it's quite confusing that Adobe created 2 different types of software that are called the same: Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.

Here's the first thing you need to know: they are not the same thing.

As its name says, Photoshop Elements is a photo editing software that has some elements of Photoshop. Let's say Photoshop Elements is like the little brother of Photoshop.

Just to let you know, this post is not going to be a tutorial or a How to use either Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. I am only highlighting here some of the things you can and cannot do as small business owners and entrepreneurs looking to enhance your visual online presence.

I am a graphic designer in the first place, so I learnt directly on Photoshop. It is a very, very big tool. I was so scared of it in design school actually! But with time, patience and practice, you can achieve amazing things. You need to expect that it will take a lot of time and have a learning and patient mindset. Then it can become a great tool that you will use for pretty much anything. It is the kind of software that is so powerful that you can achieve one effect in a few different ways, which means it adapts to your preferences and your way of working.

I downloaded Photoshop Elements and played a bit with it for the last few days to see what you can actually achieve with it. If you would like to add your own tips or share your experience, please feel free to leave a comment below and I will happily update this post as we go along (with credits of course).

For now, here is what I found about Smart objects:

  • There is a Smart Object function in Photoshop Elements (at least it is in the latest versions 13 and 14. Some earlier versions had it and some did not). However, the Smart Object function here is simplified and will not carry the same results as if you were using Photoshop.In Photoshop Elements, the Smart Object function allows the user to resize an object without losing its pixel quality. Getting lost? Let's pause here one second: you know when you add a photo to a canvas and you want to stretch it out to make it bigger, sometimes it becomes all grainy and pixelated and well, that's not so convenient. So when a photo is added onto the canvas as a Smart Object, its original size and quality is saved in a hidden file, and when you change and rechange its size, it does not get all pixelated and ugly. That is the only use of the Smart Object function in Photoshop Elements. It is not possible at this stage to edit a Smart Object within Photoshop Elements.
  • What is the solution to use the mock ups that have a Smart Object within them? Sadly, you are limited here, but you have one option that can work in some cases, but not necessarily every time.In Photoshop Elements, make sure you are on the Expert panel. You open the .psd file, click on that smart object layer, go to your layers panel, and click on Simplify layer. You will still have a white box in that layer. You can then add your design on a new layer, right click on it and use the clipping mask function. The image will get clipped onto the white rectangle or shape underneath. Then you can resize and adjust your artwork.Where it is limited is that it might not give you the exact effect depending on the mock up or the situation. If the mock up is a mug, or a magazine etc where the artwork needs to be at an angle, then you will have to play around a lot more until you achieve the professional look. However for flat lays, cards, frames etc it should be good enough.

  • To sum up, I would really recommend to use Photoshop to work with mock ups that come with a Smart Object layer, or familiarise yourself with layers and the transform tools in Photoshop Elements.There will be a short tutorial explaining how to insert your artwork on a mock up with a smart object within Photoshop Elements within the next few days and I will insert the link here. If you have Photoshop and would like to see how to use the Smart Object function in mock ups, then you can watch this short tutorial here.

Thank you for reading and don't hesitate to post your questions or comments below.

Lucie x


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