In this third installment of articles on ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2018, we look at some of the Cool Tools – either new features or ones that are particularly useful. Read my first two articles here:
Newly implemented in the latest release of the software, Actions are a range of predefined edits that you can apply to your image to achieve a specific look or effect. To assist you with this, there is an Actions Browser that lets you see the effect applied in advance, which is extremely useful.
Image with the Actions Browser open.
There are 16 different categories covering color, black and white, workflow, editing, special effects, portrait and landscape options, and more. Once you decide on the desired Action, click PLAY and it is applied.
Example of a Split-tone Action.
A black and white conversion Action applied.
To apply an Action, you need to open your image in Edit mode. On the top menu bar, look for Tools > Browse Actions.
Liquify is often used in fashion and portrait editing to change the shape of people or parts of their bodies. It is a new feature in this release of ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2018. This tool needs to be applied with a large soft brush and a delicate touch or it can look overly obvious.
I found the Liquify tool very easy to use. It worked quickly (i.e. there was no lag on processing the change) and had a gentler effect than I was expecting.
This is the before image for comparison.
Showing where the effect had been applied.
Image after Liquify applied to the arch and bowl of the spoon, and the dark side of the main blueberry.
Using the Liquify Tool
Liquify is a function in Edit mode, so you need to open your image up in there. On the top menu bar, select Filter > Geometry > Liquify.
There are four different Liquify modes:
- Shift – This moves pixels from one area to another in the direction you move the brush.
- Pinch – This moves the pixels towards the center of the brush (making things smaller).
- Brush – This moves pixels away from the center of the brush (making things bigger).
- Restore – Undo mode for any of the three options above.
Once Liquify mode is active, check that your brush is the correct size and softness (a larger and softer brush is recommended) and very gently click and nudge the area you want to adjust a tiny amount. It is much easier to do lots of little adjustments as you can undo one if you go too far.
Also be mindful that when you use Liquify it moves all the pixels within the brush, so if you have any lines or other elements, they can be affected too. This can make it obvious that you have used Liquify, so be careful about the backgrounds and surrounding elements in the area you’re using it.
3. FREQUENCY SEPARATION
This is a function used a lot in portrait and fashion photography – anywhere there is a lot of skin visible, especially faces and close-ups. Frequency separation allows you to smooth out blemishes and imperfections, to even out the skin tones, and provide a polished outcome in the image.
While it can be done manually, it is time-consuming to set up. Now with a few clicks, the software does all the layers for you, making it easy to apply the effect where necessary. I don’t photograph people or close up portraits so have never had the need to use this functionality, but for those who want to access this advanced technique, ACDSee has included it.
Using the Tool
Open your image in Edit mode and in the Layers pane, duplicate the layer. Frequency Separation is a destructive edit, so it is recommended that you work on a duplicated layer to maintain image integrity.
Select the top layer (the duplicate), then right-click and select Frequency Separation from the drop-down box. It will then create two layers – one will be grey and have (HF) in the layer description. The other one will be in color, but will be all blurry and have (LF) in the layer description.
On the LF layer, use a brush to work on any skin imperfections. On the HF layer, use the Repair tool to clone clear skin over top of the blemish areas.
4. PIXEL TARGETING
The Pixel Targeting tool allows you to select specific areas in your image based on a combination of tone and color selection. It works in conjunction with an adjustment layer.
In Edit mode, open up your image and select an adjustment layer (any of them seem to be fine). Here I am using a shot of some bright red raspberries and a Vibrance adjustment layer.
Right-click on the top layer and select Pixel Targeting and a panel will open up. The top sliders allow you to select the tones and the bottom sliders allow you to select the colors.
Adjust the tone and the color sliders to suit. It creates a mask of the subject that you want to adjust.
Save a preset for future use (use the Save option at the top of the screen) and click OK. The mask you have just created in the Pixel Targeting window is now applied to your adjustment layer, and it will only apply the adjustment to the light areas of the mask.
Here I have turned the raspberries blue simply by adjusting the Hue sliders in the Vibrance layer.
While learning how to use ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2018, there were several things about it that I found particularly useful. These are either the small things that don’t get used a lot but work really well when you do need to use them, or something that makes it much easier to do a really common task.
These are things I appreciate, especially when something you do a lot is made easier, or offers a clever alternative.
1 – Add a File as a Layer
At the bottom of the Layers pane are a whole lot of quick access icons for different layer features. The one circled here is the “Add a File as a Layer” option.
I do a couple of specific tasks that require the addition of outside images as extra layers, such as adding texture overlays and compositing.
There are lots of other instances when this could be useful – focus stacking, blending panorama or astrophotography images, time-lapse stacking, and so on.
This is a particularly common function and the way Photoshop does it is really NOT user-friendly. I have always gotten around it by using a second monitor and dragging my image in that way.
But if you are working on a laptop or only have one layer, that isn’t an option, so this feature becomes worth knowing about.
It’s really simple. Click on the Add a File as a Layer icon and a dialog box opens up asking you to select the location of the image you want to add. Even better, you can switch your view to Thumbnail and see examples of the images so you can select the right one.
Click on the desired file and select Open. The file will then open up as a new layer. It will probably need to be resized and the program has that mode already activated for you as well. Drag the yellow handles to the right size, select Commit, and you are done!
2. Heal Tool
Sometimes you might have a mark, a blemish, or a stray hair or twig in the way on your shot, and you don’t notice until you see it on the big screen when you are editing. Technology has improved so much these days that software can often take care of those issues for you, but it can still be a less than polished outcome.
When editing my blueberry shots, I was dismayed to find that I hadn’t noticed my main berry had a scratch down the front of it. Great chance to give the Heal tool inside ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate a go.
I was quite impressed with how well it works. Just right-click on a good area and then paint over the blemish area. I find doing lots of small selections gives a more natural effect usually, but ACDSee did a really good job.
After the Heal tool was applied.
Before Heal tool applied – you can clearly see the big scratch on the front of the berry.
Before writing these articles, I had never used ACDSee software at all. My background was with PaintShop Pro, Photoshop, and Lightroom. Learning about the full range and capabilities of this ACDSee program has been interesting. There are some really exciting new features and useful tools included, particularly in Edit mode.
Overall I have been impressed at the depth and capability of ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate. For a beginner wanting a one-stop-shop program at a cost-effective price (and no subscription model), it has a lot of benefits.
For anyone looking to get started in managing their photo files, processing RAW images, and more in-depth editing, this is a good place to start. If you’re looking for a non-subscription option, it is worth considering as well.
Disclaimer: ACDSee is a dPS advertising partner.
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