An Introduction to Photo Editing with PhotoLine:  Basic Concepts

Document vs. picture

In PhotoLine, simple graphics are pictures.  Documents may contain many pictures; an example would be a brochure.  And documents may consist of multiple pages.  For photo editing, we are going to focus on pictures.

Somewhat confusingly, what are called the Document panels show the attributes and list of pictures as well as documents; if a document’s mode is listed as Mode: Picture Mode, it is a picture.


The first layer in a picture is always an image layer.  This layer is called the background layer and defines the size of the picture, as well as having some other special properties.  Layers may be added on top of the background, including additional image layers, text layers, and adjustment layers.  They may each have their own size, position, and opacity.  We will spend most of our time on adjustment layers.


When resizing, setting or changing color profiles, or converting between image types, one may be offered a choice between Layer, Page, and Document.  If Layer is selected, the changes will be applied only to the active layer, which may not be what is intended.  Page refers to the active page of a document, and Document to the entire document (which for us will be a picture).  Most importantly, the latter two apply to all of the layers in the current picture.

Adjustment layers

These are the workhorses of image editing.  They adjust things like luminance, contrast, and color saturation, but non-destructively; they are just a set of instructions that are applied to the image.  After creating an adjustment layer, you may go back and adjust it some more if you change your mind.  The two you will probably use the most are Curves and Hue/Saturation.

Layer masks

These make adjustment layers especially powerful.  If you want to darken just the sky, for example, you would use curves to make the adjustment.  But the adjustment is applied to the entire image by default, so you would mask the foreground using the layer’s mask; the adjustment would then be applied only to the sky.

Color vs. luminance

Most images that one encounters are RGB, meaning that Red, Green, and Blue channels are combined to create the colors that you see on the display.  (Other options include grayscale, which PhotoLine calls “gray,” and CMYK, which is intended for printing.)  When editing an RGB image in what is called Normal blend mode, the three color channels are adjusted together.  This may or may not be the best way to do it, because even if you just want to adjust the brightness or contrast, the color will probably change as well, and vice versa.  There are several ways to prevent this; one is to use either the Luminance or Color blend mode for adjustment layers.  Another, which will be discussed further, is to make adjustments using image modes other than RGB.  (It is not difficult, and PhotoLine excels at this.)

More color terms that we will use include hue and saturation (subsumed above as “color”).  Hue refers to “what color” an object is, such as red, yellow, green, etc.  Saturation (a related and probably more accurate term is “chroma”) refers to how intense the color is.  A stop sign and a brick may both be the same hue (red), but the stop sign is more saturated than the brick.  “Day-glo” colors stand out because they are intensely saturated; gray is completely unsaturated.

As a general principle, separating color from luminance in your mind is a useful skill to develop.

Opening an image

File – Open, or Open Recent.  Or, right click the image file, Open with PhotoLine.

Look at the Document panel to see the image’s ICC profile, or none as the case may be.  If none, set one by clicking the ICC-Profile entry on the Document panel, or via Tool – Color – Set Color Profile (NOT Convert With Color Profile), making sure Page or Document is selected.  If unsure, use sRGB.  At this stage, Rendering Intent should probably be Perceptual.

image   image

If an image has no assigned profile, its colors may appear bizarre if its intended color profile is different from the default set in the Color Management dialog.  For example, the first image below started out identical to the second, but had no assigned color profile when it was opened using ProPhoto RGB as the default.  This is why every image should have an assigned color profile.

image   image

Saving an image

We are going to look at two ways of saving an image:  File – Save as, and Web – Web Export.

PhotoLine uses some unique methods for adjusting images, such as masks for layer masks.  The only way to save an image as-is, with all of its layers and properties intact, is via File – Save as – PLD: PhotoLine Document.  But note that PhotoLine may be the only application that can reopen it.  Even if you also save the image in another format as described below, save the master file as a PLD.

If you need to open the image in another application, save it as a TIF for compatibility; but note that the adjustment layers will no longer be adjustable.  To save just the final image, such as for printing, use Layer – Flatten Image, then save as a TIF.

To save for the web, use Web – Web Export, choose JPEG for conventional photographs, and adjust the quality to taste; higher quality means a larger image file.  For general purposes, 80% usually works.  Web images should all use the sRGB profile or an equivalent as this is what browsers use; if the image has a different profile, first convert it to sRGB via Tool – Color – Convert With Color Profile (NOT Set Color Profile), making sure Page or Document is selected.  Compare Perceptual and Relative Colorimetric to see if there is a preference.  Select Add sRGB Profile on the Web Export dialog.


Panel Layout

Next:  the toolbox