Friday, November 30th, 2012

Trevor’s Quick Photoshop Tip – Entire Layer a Selection

original photo by: Gisela Royo

To select the content on just one layer of your image to work on it or to make a mask from it, Ctrl + Click on the layer thumbnail on a PC (Command + Click on the Mac). Once the contents of that layer is selected you can work with it.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Photoshop’s Amazing Circles

Learn to turn 360 degree panoramas and other images into Amazing Circles, mini planets—whatever you want to call them.


Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this video tutorial. Today I’m going to show you how to make amazing circles in Photoshop. Before we look at how you can create an amazing circle let’s have a look and see exactly what we’re talking about. This is one of the Flicker set on amazing circles and this is a really, really nice amazing circle. And we’re going to create something like this but not with a white background. And there’s these here. They’re in black and white and they’re showing you There are two sorts of amazing circles we can create, either one that has all the detail on the outside or one that has all the detail on the inside.

So now you’ve seen what we’re aiming for let’s go and see how we would create this effect ourselves. I’m just going to open Photoshop and I have an image already prepared here. This is a panoramic image. It’s actually of the Seine in Paris. Now you could use any panorama to do it. Now the problem with my panorama is that of course it doesn’t wrap around but I have begun to create a duplicate of the tree on this end of the image so it will sort of partially wrap around. I’ll need to do a bit of cloning to fix it when I’ve actually done my amazing circle but this is a strip. If you’ve got a 360 degree panorama it will be even better. Add a little bit of image to the top and bottom of your panorama. What you want is an image that’s roughly four times as wide as it is high so I’ve added a bit of white on either side. And this will be either the outside or the inside of the amazing circle when we create it.

The first step is to resize the image. So I’m going to choose Image and then Image Size. I’m going to deselect Constrain Proportions because although this image is 8,000 x 2,000 I want it to be square but without losing any of the content. So I’m going to be deselect Constrain Proportions and type 8,000 in here because that’s the largest of these two values, so now I’m going to get a square image quite a bit larger than it was, and click Ok. And let’s just zoom out a bit so that you can see that this is the image just all squeezed up.

Now what we do next is to rotate the image and that gives us one of two possible amazing circles. So before we do that I’m just going to duplicate this image so that we have two images that we can make circles from. So you can see the two alternative shapes. Let’s start with this one and we’re going to just rotate it 180 degrees. So I’m going to choose Image, Image Rotation 180 degrees just to flip it upside down. And then all the work is done by what’s called a polar coordinates filter. It’s Filter, Distort, Polar Coordinates. And let’s just squeeze this up because rectangular to polar is the option that we want. The other option is polar to rectangular and that’s not the one we want. So now that we’ve got rectangular to polar I’m just going to click Ok. And that’s our amazing circle. That’s as easy as it is. You’ll see I’ll need to clone a little bit through the seam area because I didn’t do a very good job of making a circular panorama. But there is our amazing circle.

Now because we’ve flipped it upside down this one has the sky area on the outside and the river on the middle. This one’s going to be the opposite. Let’s just run the filter on this one without turning it upside down before we start. Just size the display, we can see what it’s going to look like and click Ok. And as you can see here the sky is on the inside and the river Seine would be on the outside. You can use whichever you like for your amazing circle.

I’m Helen Bradley. Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial. Please if you enjoyed the tutorial, like it on YouTube. Look out for more videos on my YouTube channel. Subscribe if you will. You can also visit where you’ll find lots more tips, tricks and tutorials on Photoshop, Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, Illustrator and lots more.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Google Docs & Microsoft Word – Increase typing efficiency with automatic substitution

Do you find that you often make the same typos over and over again? You can increase your typing speed and accuracy with Google Docs and Word’s automatic substitution tool.

To start, if you are using Google Docs, go to Tools > Preferences and ensure that the box next to “Automatic Substitution” is checked. If you are using Microsoft Word, go to File >  Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options > AutoCorrect tab and check “Replace text as you type”. The rest of the process is the same for both word processors.

This is the automatic substitution dialogue in Word

Now you simply insert any potential typos into the “Replace” table and place the corresponding corrections in the “With” table. For example, if you tend to type “wiht” instead of “with”, you can add “wiht” and “with” to a row on your substitution table. Every time you type  “wiht” it will be automatically corrected to “with”.

You can also use this tool to quickly type long strings of text. If you find yourself writing out your email address repeatedly, you can create an automatic substitution for it. Create a short phrase such as “em#” or “email#” for the Replace field, and put your email address in the With field. It is important that your phrase include a special character, such as the number sign at the end, so that the substitution will only occur when you intend it to. If your phrase were simply “email” you would never be able to write the word itself without the substitution taking place!

Your list is also preloaded with some useful substitutions that are worth reviewing, such replacing “(c)” with “©”.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

5 Techniques for taking better photos

These 5 techniques can help you improve your photography today

Here are 5 techniques you can put to work today to help take better photos:

Tip 1 – Capture Moving objects

When shooting a moving object, capture it as it comes towards because as your camera can focus more easily this way.

If an object is travelling across your field of vision, follow the movement with the camera as you capture the shot. The object will be in focus and the remainder of the background will be pleasantly blurry. Or do it in reverse and focus on the background and let the subject move across the image.

In this photo I opted to keep the background in focus and the vehicles in motion:

 Tip 2 – Create a frame

When shooting an object in the distance, frame it using an object in the foreground such as an overhanging tree or an arched window. The frame will invite the viewer to look into the image.

Tip 3 – Focus and shift

To focus on an object off centre in your photo, point to the object and press the shutter release halfway down to focus on the object. Move the camera to reframe the scene and continue to depress the shutter and take the photograph.

In this image I focused on the boat on the right then reframed the image before capturing the shot.

Tip 4 – Reflections

Look for interesting items to reflect your subject in. Faces can be reflected in a car’s rear vision mirror and buildings can be reflected in a puddle on the footpath. Images of objects reflected in shiny surfaces often result in more compelling images than would be the case if you simply photographed the original object.

 Tip 5 – Get down low

When photographing pets and children get down to their level so you capture the child or animal face on rather than photographing the top of their head. If shooting from above, get a lot higher and get your subject to look up as you take the shot.


Helen Bradley

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Trevor’s Quick Photoshop Tip – Resize an image

original Photo By: Gisela Royo

To resize the content on a layer or an object in Photoshop CS6 bring up the bounding box or transform controls by pressing Ctrl + T on a PC or Command + T on a Mac. When the controls appear you can drag on them to resize the object. To resize the background layer of an image you’ll first have to transform it to a regular layer by double clicking it in the layer palette and click Ok.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Trevor’s Quick Word Tip – Undo – Redo

Made a mistake? Undo it with Ctrl + Z and, if you change your mind yet again, redo the undone command by pressing Ctrl + Y. In most programs you can press Ctrl + Z repeatedly to roll back your changes.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

First 24 hours with your new Mac

Ok, yep, I just bought a brand spanking new MacAir – for a few reasons and one is its weight – it is so so light with its solid state drive. I got a 13 inch one with 8GB ram and 256 Gb drive but on reflection I really think I could have done with the 11.6 version except this larger screen does have a higher resolution.

So enough of my new toy – it’s a while since I’ve owned a Mac and while some things are all so familiar, many are not. Here’s my take on what I’ve learned so far.

1 Download Chrome and use it – I don’t like Safari much at all.

2 When you install Office 2011 Mac you’ll get an error asking you to close Safari. The red button in the top corner might close the screen but it doesn’t actually close the program – go figure! Instead you need to find it on the dock and right click it and choose Quit. Oh! your mouse only has one button? – Yikes! The shortcut is to Control + Click on the Safari button and then you can choose Quit. Then Office installs just fine.

3 Weather! If you swipe to the right (or press Control + Right Arrow) a cute little desktop appears with a calculator, calendar, weather and clock. Problem is that the weather is inevitably going to be the wrong city. Well check and look for the little i icon – it is the information/settings option. Click it and you can select the weather for the place you are interested in viewing.

4 Keychain – it’s a tool for storing passwords so you don’t have to enter them every time – but the dialog doesn’t make it clear exactly what it does and it talks about ‘private’ information so it looks scarier than it is! Bottom line – I use it.

5 Open a web page in a new tab – Command + click on the link.

6 Take a shot of the Mac Screen – Command +Shift+3: Capture the screen to a file on the desktop – if you add Control to this the capture goes to the clipboard instead. Or Command+Shift+4 to select an area to be saved as a file on the desktop – add Control to save it to the Clipboard. There are other options but that’s the basics to remember.

7 Can’t find your newly installed Mac apps – click the Launch Pad icon and you’ll see everything that is installed. Once you know how to do this you can start cleaning up the dock and get rid of the things you don’t use to make way for those that you do – but that’s another day’s post!

Helen Bradley

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Photoshop – Quick Portrait Makeover

Touch up your portraits with this quick video tutorial. I’ll show you how to remove blemishes and soften skin tones.


Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this video tutorial. In this tutorial I’m going to show you how you can do a quick and easy portrait makeover.

Let’s have a look and see before we begin exactly what we’re going to achieve. So this is the starter image that I started off with. And I did some spot fixing on it to make sure that I had removed the skin blemishes and then I brought out the detail from the shadows. And this is the starting point that I then had and this is the effect that we’re going to look at creating. We’re going to soften the skin and brighten the eyes in our model. So let’s have a look and see how we would start off with spot fixing this image.

I would go into this image and then I would start by selecting the spot healing brush tool here because this is a tool that you can simply just paint over problems on the skin and it will fix them. So I went over this image really, really carefully. I zoomed in and I got every single one of the blemishes on this model’s skin and it’s probably a five minute job to just neaten the image up and just to get a really good starting point for it. And then having done that I did a shadows and highlights adjustment to bring some detail out of the shadows. So I’ll choose Image, Adjustments, Shadows/Highlights. And the default setting is 35. Now I used that. It was probably a little bit high. So you could probably bring it down a little bit perhaps to around 23 or 24, but there’s a good starting point for your image. And from there you’re ready to go ahead with the softening effect.

So let’s go back to the image that I’ve spot fixed and now let’s get rid of the two layers that are the fixed layers. And we’re just going to work from the point at which we opened up some of the shadows and highlights. So the first thing that we’re going to do is to create a duplicate of this background layer, just duplicate it and then we’re going to blur it. So I’m going to choose Filter, Blur, and then Gaussian Blur. I’m going to set the blur value to sort of a lowish sort of value. What I want to do is blur the model’s skin and use that in a minute to paint over her skin. So I want something that’s sort of a little bit over what I want my final effect to be but not totally over. So I’m thinking here about 9 or 10 pixels will be a good amount for this image, so I’ll just click Ok.

And having blurred that layer a little bit I want to add a bit of noise into it and I’ll do Filter, Noise and then Add Noise. And we want to bring in monochromatic noise and we want it to be Gaussian. Gaussian noise applies more noise to the lighter areas of the image and less to the darker areas. And we want probably somewhere between 5 and 10 percent noise. And this slider is really hard to adjust at that level so I’m just going to type in 7.5 percent and that’s giving us a nice little bit of noise in her skin tones, so I’ll click Ok.

So we do not want the image to look exactly like this. We just want that to be a starting point. So let’s add a mask to this layer. I’m going to Alt or Option click on the Add Layer Mask icon. And what that does is removes the blur. it will remove the entire effect from the model. And we’re going to paint on this mask to bring back in the softening where we want it to be. So I’m going to select my brush tool and select a nice soft brush, this one’s a good brush to use, and I’m going to paint with white. I’m just going to size the brush up a little bit. Now you’ll be a bit more careful than I am being, but what I’m doing is selecting over all the areas, painting over all the areas that I want the skin to be softened. So that is basically everywhere but her nose and mouth and eyes. Although I want the skin on her nose to be softened, I don’t want to soften this detail around here. And I may want to soften this area, but I don’t want to soften her eyebrows themselves. So very carefully softening by painting on the image with white in the areas that you want it to be softened. And you can see on the mask here the areas that we’ve got and perhaps any areas that we might have missed out on at this stage. Again, I don’t want to soften that jaw line too much. that’s a nice strong line and I want to keep that there.

Now that I’ve done that I can adjust the opacity of this layer a little bit. I’m going to adjust it down to zero which is totally removing the sharpening effect. And now I’m just going to march it up using the scrubby slider until I get the amount of softening that I want. So I really want a subtle softening, not totally obvious but just subtle softening of the skin. And I think probably about 30 percent is a good value for this image.

Now I’m going to make another duplicate of this background layer and drag it to the top because what I want to do now is to fix her eyes. So all I’m going to do is focus on this top layer and I’m going to look for some stronger color and contrast in her eyes. So I’m going to choose Image, Adjustments, Curves. Curves is a good adjustment for this and again I’m going for slightly more than I need. So there is some more whites in her eye. Now I know that the blue color of her eye is in this area, so let’s add a bit more contrast through that area.

So let’s see. That’s the before and that’s the after on her eye. So I’m just going to click Ok to accept that, but of course that’s not the image effect that we what. We want more of this effect, but we’d like to borrow some of the eyes from this effect. So again I’m going to Alt or Option click on the Add Mask icon to add a layer mask. And again with my paintbrush which is already preset and my white paint I’m going to target the mask and paint over her eye. Now again this is probably going to be too much, but we can tone it down a little bit by again adjusting the opacity of the mask. So we’ll just take it up to what we want it to be. I am thinking it’s probably going to be a little too much, maybe about 50 percent.

So let’s have a look at the starting point for the image. This is post having been spot fixed and post having had shadows and highlights applied to it. Then we added the skin softening and finally we added a little bit brighter eyes in our portrait.

I’m Helen Bradley. Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial. If you liked the tutorial please click to like it on YouTube. Consider also subscribing to my YouTube channel. You’ll be advised when new videos are launched and right now that’s about twice a week. You can also visit my website where you’ll find more tips, tricks and tutorials on Photoshop, Photoshop Elements. Lightroom, Illustrator and more.

Helen Bradley

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Help! Lightroom Lost My Files

If there’s one thing that confuses new Lightroom users it is that quite often files that should be in Lightroom appear to have gone missing. Here are some things to look out for when this happens to you.

Is a Filter Hiding Things?

If you think a folder should be displaying more images than it does, check that there is not a Custom Filter in place. In the Library module, make sure the Filmstrip is visible and if there is a filter listed in the Filter box then that’s affecting what you’re seeing. To return to showing all your images in the currently selected folder, select Filters Off from the Filters list.

Are you looking in the right place?

While Lightroom’s folders mimic the folder structure on your computer and external drives sometimes you really want to look through all the files in Lightroom. To do this, open the Catalog panel in the Library and select All Photographs. This selects all the photographs in the Lightroom catalog as the basis of your search.

Images in Subfolders

If you click on a folder that has subfolders but you see nothing or none of the images in the subfolder that is typically caused by a Lightroom setting. This setting lets you control whether or not you see photos in subfolders when you click that folder in the Library module. To view the current setting choose the Library menu > Show Photos in Subfolder. The setting can be enabled or disabled depending on your preferences but it’s often the cause of photos in subfolders not showing when you think they should be there.

Look in Folders and not Collections (or vice versa)

Lightroom has folders and collections and they can have the same name. You’ll find Collections in the Collections panel and folders in the Folders panel. A collection can include files from a number of folders but a folder can only contain images which are stored in that folder on your disk, so make sure you’re looking for the right folder or collection.

Contents of Smart collections Change

Regular collections are fixed so that the images, once placed in the collection, remain in that collection until you remove them. Smart Collections are dynamic so the images in them change depending on the criteria you have set for them. For example, the 5 Star Smart Collection shows all images that are 5 Star images. If you make an image a 5 star image it automatically gets added to that collection. If you change a 5 star image to a 4 star one then it no longer appears in that Smart Collection and that might be the cause of images going ‘missing’.

Search for Lost Images

If you’ve lost photos and you know roughly when they were captured or which camera you captured them with it is possible to search your Lightroom collection for them. Start in the Library and click the Catalog panel and click All Photographs. Then choose View > Show Filter Bar. Click Metadata and you can then locate images by their metadata. For example if you know the approximate capture date was January 2012 then make sure that the first filter is set to Date and click 2012 and then January. This will show only those images that you shot during that time.

It’s also possible to filter by camera, lens and other metadata. You’ll just need to make sure that the primary field that you are filtering on is the one on the left of the Filter Bar. Images are filtered from left to right so, if the leftmost panel is Date and the one to its right is Camera type – you’ll see the camera types for only those photos shot on the specified date. If Camera type is the leftmost column and Date the rightmost one, then you’ll filter out all the images captured with a certain camera and see only those dates you actually captured images with it.

Lightroom Can’t Find the Image

Sometimes Lightroom will display an image with a question mark in its corner indicating that the photo is missing. This means that the image was imported into Lightroom but Lightroom can’t find it any longer. To return it to Lightroom, click its question mark icon and you’ll be prompted to locate the image on disk. Click Locate, find the image on disk, select it and it will appear again and it will be editable inside Lightroom.

Lightroom Lost the Entire Folder

If you move or rename a folder on your disk outside Lightroom then Lightroom won’t know what you’ve done. If there are photos in the Lightroom catalog in that folder it will report the entire folder as missing when you launch it next. Missing folders will have a question mark beside their name. If you know where you moved the folder or that you renamed it, you need to tell Lightroom where it is. To do this, right click the folder in Lightroom and choose Find Missing Folder then locate the folder on disk and Lightroom will update accordingly.

A Folder is Missing Some Files

If you have a folder which you think should have more images in it than are currently showing in Lightroom this could well be the case. The Lightroom folder structure mimics the disk folder structure but only those images you import into Lightroom will actually be in Lightroom. It is also possible to remove images from Lightroom but in such a way as they remain on disk.

To check to see if there are additional images in a folder that aren’t showing in Lightroom, right click the folder in Lightroom and choose Synchronize Folder. Make sure that the Show Import Dialog before Importing option is enabled and select Synchronize. This shows the import dialog and those images that are in the folder but not in Lightroom so you can synchronize the contents of the folder with Lightroom.

Now it’s over to you. Have you ever experienced missing files in Lightroom and, if you did, what was the cause and how did you resolve the issue?

Helen Bradley

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Trevor’s Quick Illustrator Tip – Edit in a Group

When you want to edit a specific part of a group of shapes without ungrouping everything to do so double click the grouped shape to enter isolation mode. Now select the object that you want to edit and make your changes. When you’re done double click outside the grouped shapes to exit isolation mode. This works for groups contained within groups as well.

Helen Bradley

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