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A quick way of improving your composition skills by using the rule-of-thirds.
Tags:How to Use the Rule of Thirds,Photography composition,camera,grid,photoanswers,photography,photos,photoshop,rule of thirds,transform command
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Hello, I’m Jon Adams, editor of Digital Photo Magazine and welcome to this Photo Answers video tip.
We’re going to talk a bit about composition and in particular about using the rule of thirds. Now normally, when you choose to crop an image in Photoshop or Elements, you simply go to the crop tool and drag out a crop around the image, but you’re still guessing just like you were when you use the camera to frame up in the first place. So if you want to be a bit more scientific in how you compose you images or rather how you crop your images, let’s have a look at a way we can set up the grid in Photoshop Elements so we can really correspond to the rule of thirds.
Now I just hit the escape key to get rid of that. The rule of thirds itself is a rule that says if you divide an image into 9 equal segments by doing kind of a knots and crosses grid across the image, you should have you r main point of interest on one of the intersections of the two lines.
So if we go to ‘edit’, ‘preferences’ and choose ‘grid’, we can set up our grids to correspond to the rule of thirds. Now for the color, you can have anything you’d like there. Let’s pick a bold color so we can really see what we’re doing. I’ll just click on that and then we’ll go for a nice bold red, like so, and click ‘OK.’ That’s got our custom color set.
The style, we want lines really that you can choose from dash lines or dots, but lines give you the best view so you can really see what you’re looking at. Now, to grid line every box, so the moment this is set to centimeters, if we change that to percent, we can then put in 33.33%. That means that one-third across the image will have a line and two-thirds will have a line, and that’s the same whether we’re going horizontally or vertically. So as long as subdivision is set to one, this will give us a rule of thirds grid. Let’s just click ‘OK’ to that setup and see how the grid looks.
Now to see the grid on your picture, just go to ‘view’ and select ‘grid’ and there we have it, we have a rule of thirds grid superimposed on our image. These lines won’t come out on print or anything like that. They’re just there as part of Photoshop’s viewing structure.
So now, we can actually get a little bit clever with the transform command and recompose our image to really hit the rule of thirds. So let’s first just create a bit of room around the canvass by holding down the ‘Ctrl’ key and tapping minus (-) just a couple of times there. Now we can pull this bottom corner out so we could really see what we’re doing.
Next step is to hit to ‘Ctrl-A’ which selects the entire image and then ‘Ctrl-T’ which opens up the transform bounding box around the image. Now to transform the image in proportion, all we have to do is hold down the ‘shift’ key and then we can pull on any of the corner handles to actually make sure that the aspect ratio is maintained. So if we go for something like that, that should do for the time being. Now I can click inside the transform bounding box and move the image around to suit. Now, that’s looking a bit more like it. That’s a more attractive looking crop.
If you find moving the transform box around, it’s snapping to the sides and all that kind of thing, just use the cursor keys on the keyboard and you can notch it one pixel at a time.