Image Processing Program – Work Space

In this article, you will find an overview of the classical build-up of an image processing program, Photoshop Elements. Using this program, I will show you the fundamental processing options for digital photographs. A large amount of the information can also be applied in other processing programs. Photoshop Elements was chosen as it is easy to operate and is a well-documented processing program that provides almost every processing option for beginners to advanced image processors. In this article, the work area is illustrated to offer a first overview of the basic build-up of an image processing program.


The work space of an image processing program [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements]The work space of an image processing program [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements]


The work space is divided into sections:

  • Menu bar
  • Options bar
  • Editing window
  • Toolbar
  • Layers
  • History panel
  • Image area

Menu bar
The menu bar provides an array of processing and management options. It is divided into menu sections: file, process, image, edit, layer, select, filter, view and help. Especially for frequently used commands, be aware of whether or not there are short cuts you could use, they are shown in the menu. Short cuts make the process of working the program much more convenient and less time consuming.

Work space with menu bar [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements] Work space with menu bar [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements]


Editing window 
The editing window shows the image being used. At the edge of the top of the editing window, the document’s name is displayed. Using “Shift“ + “Ctrl” + “R“ you can remove or restore the tabulator. View size can be regulated using zoo tools or using various view options in the menu bar. Important short cuts for doing this are e.g., “Ctrl” + “0” (the number zero) for the full image or “Ctrl” + “Alt“ + “0” for the 100 percent view size. If the image is larger than the editing window, a scroll bar appears and you can choose the desired image section.  On the bottom left edge of the editing window is more information about the opened file (e.g. file size) and about the chosen view size (e.g. zoom factor).

Work space with editing window [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements] Work space with editing window [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements]


Tool bar

The tool bar provides you with a large selection of image processing tools. The tools are divided into different sections: measure and navigate, select, text, release, retouch, draw, shapes and colours. Should the tool bar not be displayed, you can select it using the category “window” in the menu bar. The tool bar and the most important tools for image processing are explained in detail in their respective chapters.

Work space with tool bar [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements] Work space with tool bar [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements]


Options bar
The options bar is connected to the tool bar. When you select a tool from the tool bar, the settings options change for each individual tool. It only displays tool options that are relevant to the selected tool. The options bar is as an important tool in image processing.

Work space with options bar [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements]Work space with options bar [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements]


Layer management

The option of working with layers is the main difference between high quality image processing programs and simple photo software. Simple photo software’s main focus is on viewing angles. Although layering can be somewhat confusing for a beginner at first, it quickly becomes clear how many possibilities layering offers. Nowadays, professional image processing would be unconceivable without layers. In simple terms, you can think of layers as transparencies that can be placed one on top of each other. Their order can be changed and their transparency remains the same. In image processing, you will also come to appreciate layers and find them indispensable. If the layer panel is not displayed, you can select it by clicking on the category “window” in the menu.

Work space with layer management [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements] Work space with layer management [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements]


History panel

In image processing, it is often the case that you need to undo processing steps. Photoshop Elements provides the option to undo steps. If the history panel is not displayed, click on the category “window” in the menu bar. Take care, as the number of steps that can be undone is limited. Additionally, you cannot undo steps using the history panel after the processing steps have been saved. Therefore, you should never edit the original files, but instead only use copies of the original.

Work space with undo panel [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements] Work space with undo panel [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements]


Image area – Overview of the open files

Beneath the editing window is an overview of the files that are open. This helps you keep track of the files opened and allows you to switch from file to file easily. If you are only working on one file, you can close this overview. You then have a larger editing window which allows you to work more easily. You can open and close the “image area” by clicking on the category “window” in the menu bar. The size can be adjusted using the mouse on the edge of the image area.

Work space with an overview of the open files [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements] Work space with an overview of the open files [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements]

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