Photoshop, The Abby Gabs Way

I recently had my very first request to do a Photoshop tutorial, from friend and fellow blogger Ryan from The Woven Moments. I excitedly took on the task, until I remembered that I’m far from a Photoshop guru. No one would ever pay me to teach them the skills I use for my blog on a regular basis. But, I figured that, for the purposes of this blog, I could at least pretend that I know what I’m talking about, and share some of my self-taught Photoshop skills to the masses. So, in my second-ever tutorial, I’m going to attempt to teach you how to make your own silly graphics using Photoshop.

Be forewarned. I don’t use real Photoshop-type jargon. I call most of the buttons “Whatzit” and “Thingymajigger.”

Let’s proceed.

I use Photoshop for 3 basic things: to superimpose myself into ridiculous situations, to salvage a photo that I like but that isn’t usable in its current form, or to add words and/or graphics to an existing but boring photo.

So, here’s how I do it.

Superimposing Myself Into Ridiculous Situations (AKA: The Magic Extractor)

You’ve seen it a hundred times on Abby Gabs…Abby with a goofy grin standing at the feet of Mordor, Abby sipping on a frilly cocktail  on the beaches of Hawaii, Abby kissing Donnie Wahlberg’s cheek. Photoshop allows me to live a dramatic, somewhat enviable, celebrity-like life. Without it, suffice it to say that you’d see a lot of boring pictures featuring me, my cats, and the terrible 1970s throwback wood paneling that covers every inch of wall in my apartment.
(My landlord calls it classy.)
So, in order to take yourself out of an ordinary picture and magically transport yourself into fairytale land, you simply need to make use of the Magic Extractor tool. (For the purposes of this blog, I’m making a life long dream come true and putting myself into the Michael Jackson Thriller video. Just go with me here.)
Step one: open up Photoshop, upload all the photos you want to use for your project, and choose the first photo you want to manipulate. In this case, it’s my face. Click on “Image,” scroll to the bottom and choose “Magic Extractor.” The following screen will pop up:

Don’t be intimidated. This little tool couldn’t be easier to use. Use the red paint tool to mark the areas of your photo that you want to keep. Use the blue paint tool to mark the areas of the photo that you want to disappear. When you’re satisfied, click “Ok.”

Now here’s where I differ with some of the Photoshop gurus on the innerwebs. They’ll tell you to be meticulous here. And inevitably, the first few times you use The Magic Extractor, you will spend 30 minutes making sure that the stray hair poking out of your left ear is most definitely NOT highlighted with red. Let me say, though, that you will have an opportunity to perfect the photo once it’s added to your chosen background. So—swirl that mouse with abandon, baby. No need to be nit-picky. Just get the job done.

Once you’ve applied the Magic Extractor, your photo will now look like this:

As you can see, there’s some schmutz around the very edges. Again, don’t panic. You can fix this later. Now, double click on your background image, figure out where you want to smoosh your face, and drag the edited face photo onto the background. Manipulate it until you get it where you want it. Then, begin your perusal of the handy-dandy little buttons on the left-hand side of your screen.

See that cute little pink eraser that looks like the kind you carried in your pencil box in third grade? That’s the answer to all your problems. Select the layer of the photo that you want to edit (most likely, it’s your face. You don’t want to erase background, right?) Then erase away those last little remnants of the original photo that you don’t want anymore. If you’re having problems seeing what you’re doing, feel free to click on the little magnifying glass and zoom in. It makes ensuring you don’t accidentally erase your left ear a TON easier.

After a few minutes, you can successfully say “Voila! I have a finished product!”

But Abby, wait! There’s a hat with flowers in that picture!! How on earth did you manage to add that to the photo? No worries, friend. We’ll cover that in the Third Section of this blog. For now, let’s move on to Section Two.

Salvaging a Photo That I Like But Isn’t Usable In Its Current Form
When a majority of the photos you use for your blog are self-portraits, you will wind up with more duds than studs. They’ll turn out fuzzy, or framed incorrectly, or just generally poopy. Case in point: this fuzzy photo I took of myself recently for my Valentine’s Day blog:
Naturally, it didn’t get chosen to go into the blog becasue it’s out of focus. However, Photoshop is GREAT for fixing those photographer-errors, and  you can wind up what I call “Artsy Fartsy” photos. The first thing I do to make any bad photo into an Artsy Fartsy masterpiece is convert it to Black and White. Click “Enhance,” scroll down and select “Convert to Black and White.” The following page will pop up:
Photoshop is already equipped with a ton of options to make your black and white photo as artsy or as fartsy as your little heart desires. Just click around until you find the optimum option, then select “ok.”
Woo hoo! This is a “self high-five” moment. You’ve just joined the ranks of self-involved, pretentious artists on the internet by creating your own creatively shot and edited photograph. But maybe you’re still not happy. Maybe you want to manipulate it even more. Let me introduce you to Photoshop’s “Artistic Effects” arsenal.

This is where clicking buttons and playing with the options on Photoshop becomes crucial. There are SO MANY DIFFERENT ways to manipulate a single photo. You can make it appear that the photo was really painted, or drawn with charcoal, or even sketched by a street vendor. Your choice. Just click the handy little buttons, apply to the photo, sit back and enjoy the show. And no worries—no changes are permanent. There’s a handy little option in the “Edit” column that allows you to undo any changes you’ve made to the pic.

(I chose Pastels for the below photograph. You’ll find it in the 3rd row, 2nd option from the left.) Now how artsy-fartsy is THAT?!?
Now you have an all-purpose black and white photo that you can use for a myriad of applications: avatars, Facebook profile pictures, Christmas cards—whatever you need! But perhaps you still feel like it’s a little lacking. Maybe you’d like to add a poem, or an inspirational quote.
That’s where adding stuff comes in.
Adding Words and/or Graphics to An Existing But Boring Photo
Psssst. Want me to let you in on a little secret? THIS IS SO EASY. Once you have the Photoshop software, you have an entire warehouse worth of fonts, colors, warping options and more right at your fingertips.
My method of finding the right font for a project goes like this: click on the font tool (it looks like the letter “T”.) Click somewhere on the photo. Type whatever you need to type. Then highlight it and scroll through the fonts, changing it when you find one that sounds interesting. You can increase or decrease the size to fit it into the photo as needed. You can also click on the color box and change the color of your font in 2 shakes of a lamb’s tail. If your text needs to be physically moved to a new location, click on the Move Tool at the very top (looks like an arrow with a compass next to it.) and drag it around till you find your inner peace. And eventually, you’ll have an image that looks like this:
It’s just as easy to add graphics to your photo. Let’s say, for this blog’s sake, that you want to add a picture of a black cat wearing a Marilyn Monroe wig. Easy enough. Let’s use Photoshop’s “Create” button, located to the right of your screen.
Using the drop-down menu, select “Graphics” and then smile when you see the balloons, banners, and baseballs load with ease. Double click on any graphic you want, and it will add automatically to the picture. Here, you can use the Move tool to manipulate the image however you need to–whether it needs to be bigger or smaller, straightened or catty-cornered. Add whatever your heart desires: mustaches, thought bubbles, hammers and ukeleles. And eventually, you’ll end up with an image that looks more like this:
And this, ladies and gents, is what makes Photoshop my favorite photo-editing software, ever.
I hope this tutorial has proven to be a helpful jump-off point for those who wonder how I create the images that drive Abby Gabs. If I’ve only managed to confuse you further, I apologize. What works for me might not work for you. Especially since I’m the kind of person who finds a black cat in a Marilyn Monroe wig hilarious.

12 thoughts on “Photoshop, The Abby Gabs Way

  1. The Woven Moments

    OMG you are so great. I am bookmarking this for future use. GENIUS!! I hope you tag Photoshop in your tweets about this post. Get yourself some traffic, girl!! 🙂

    Also? Thingymajigger is TOTALLY a technical term. It’s legit.

    1. Abby

      You’re totally right, I should tag Photoshop! I wonder if they’d get mad at my less-than-technical terms. Or maybe they can start using Thingymajigger as a term all their own. LOL

    1. Awesome Walt

      Follow this link and Elements will magically appear on your computer (for a trail period). It’s the full version of Elements 10 with all the bells and whistles.

      Hmmmm..It won’t let me leave the URL….

  2. Simoney

    You’re fun.
    Really really fun.
    This was the funnest tutorial I have ever seen.
    I have also realised how OUT OF DATE my version of Photoshop must be!!!

    1. Abby

      Simoney, I use Elements 7.0. We got it about 4 years ago, and I haven’t updated it since. But it’s definitely a newer version of Photoshop!! I love it! 🙂

    1. Abby

      That’s my only complaint about Photoshop. Every single one that comes out is totally different. It makes self-teaching yourself how to work it that much harder, because over half of the online tutorials (like this one) are for a version that you aren’t using. Frustrating.

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