Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Lightroom – Process an image

Process an Image in Lightroom

Learn how to process an image in Lightroom. You will see how to evaluate an image, how to process the entire image and then how to bring out details in the image using the Graduated filter.

See how to add multiple graduated filters to the photo, how to stack them and how to get around the problem where a filter which adjusts the skies also affects areas in the image you don’t want to affect.

Helen Bradley

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

Lightroom – Hand Tint a Photo Effect

Create an Old Time Hand Tint Effect to a Photo in Lightroom

Learn how to apply an old time hand tint effect to a photo in Lightroom. You will see how to convert the image to black and white and then how to color it using the  Adjustment Brush. This technique can be applied to a range of images and the effect works well when you want a hand tinted look for your photo.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Illustrator – Paint Vector Shapes with the Blob Brush

Paint Vector Shapes in Illustrator Using the Blob Brush

Harness the power of the Blob Brush in Illustrator

Learn how to paint vector shapes in Illustrator using the Blob brush new in Illustrator CS4. This cool tool lets you draw shapes as easily as painting them and doesn’t require you to use the Pen tool – which lots of Illustrator users hate!

This video also covers use of the Smooth and Pencil tools for reworking vector paths in Illustrator.

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Remove Edits to a Photo in Camera RAW

Screen Shot 2014 06 26 at 7.50.38 AM e1403794338543 Remove Edits to a Photo in Camera RAW

It’s not easy to find, but you can strip away the camera raw edits from a photo

Sometimes I look at the edits I’ve made to a photo a few months later and I think – What was I thinking? I simply hate what I did to the photo. I want the original image back so I can work on it again. But how to do that? You see there is no reset button in Adobe Camera RAW that matches the Reset button in Lightroom. It’s easy to do in Lightroom but not obvious how to do it in ACR.

If you get stuck like this and you want to reset an image in Camera RAW, first open the image in Camera RAW and then go to the Presets panel:

Screen Shot 2014 06 26 at 7.45.00 AM Remove Edits to a Photo in Camera RAW


Open the flyout menu and choose Camera RAW Defaults. Instantly all your fixes will be removed from the image – whether they were applied in Camera RAW or Lightroom and the image will be back to how it looked out of the camera – Yeah!

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Thank You Font Creators!

Free fonts for commercial use – thank you!


I’m making this post in celebration of the wonderful typographers who have made their fonts available for use in my projects. Creating an elegant and legible font can be very difficult; giving it away for free must be even harder. I would like to present some of my favorite fonts to help give them the exposure they deserve and pay the authors back for all of their hard work (and so you can enjoy them too!). These fonts are all free and take seconds to install. They’re also really really great.


Chalk Hand Lettering Shaded Font

chalk hand lettering shaded0 Thank You Font Creators!

Scrappy Looking Font

scrappy looking demo0 Thank You Font Creators!

Cutie Patootie

cutie patootie2 Thank You Font Creators!


Saturday, May 17th, 2014

My Illustrator Brush Strokes won’t change Color

Screen Shot 2014 05 17 at 1.44.16 PM My Illustrator Brush Strokes wont change Color

Learn  how to change brush colors in Illustrator

Ouch! I’ve been plagued with this issue for a few hours today and when I finally solved it I wanted to thump myself on the head! It was a real duh! moment.

The problem was that I made a line and wrinkled it and then shrunk it down and turned it into a brush – this one was an Art Brush. When I came to use it, it wouldn’t change color. I tried, well I thought I did, but nada.

After musing on the problem, I came up with the solution and it involves the brush color setting.  You see, I created my brush using black – real black black, and then I set its colorization method to Tints and Shades. Then when I changed color it didn’t change – well it actually did but I couldn’t see the difference as any color rendered as a shade of solid black is pretty much black!

Turns out the problem is in Tints and Shades as a setting and changing it to Tints lets the color be applied as you expect it to. I consider the problem to be, in a big part, the colorization settings info in the dialog. They make absolutely no sense to me and it’s always a bit of guesswork to choose the colorization method. Basically the choice you (and I) should make is to set it to Tints and then it will recolor as you expect it to.

If you’ve already made the brush you can change the setting by double clicking on it in the Brushes palette, change the colorization method option and click Ok. You can choose to update the strokes you’ve already made in the document or not.

To change just one instance of the brush, select the line then click the Options of Selected Object button at the foot of the Brushes palette – you can now change the brush behavior for just this stroke.

Screen Shot 2014 05 17 at 1.43.57 PM e1400359631929 My Illustrator Brush Strokes wont change Color


Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Photoshop Basics: Learning About Layers

sxchu 1097090 20705536 Photoshop Basics: Learning About Layers
image credit © 2008 lockstockb,
Guest post

Understanding how layers work is crucial to being able to work effectively in Photoshop and in this post I will cover everything related to Layers including,

How to Create a New Layer

How to Duplicate a Layer

Add a Layer style

Using Adjustment Layers

How to Merge Layers


This is a very basic function in Photoshop which is elaborated further in this Photoshop tutorial. On the menus choose Layer > New > Layer to create a new empty layer right above your image. On that brand new layer, you can paint, create shapes, etc… all in a non-destructive way. This means that if you don’t like what you just did, hide or delete that layer on your image underneath will still look like it did at the start.


To duplicate a layer click on the layer you want to duplicate then go to Layer > Duplicate Layer and voila, you now have two identical layers!


Say you added a button or some text on your image and you’d like to add a shadow to it. To do this, choose Layer > Layer Style and choose Drop Shadow. Other popular options are Inner Shadow, Outer Glow, Inner Glow and Bevel & Emboss. I suggest you play with each of them to really understand how they can benefit you.


Adjustment layers are one of the most powerful tools in Photoshop. Use these to change the look of your image in a non-destructive way by, for example, adjusting the colors as well as the shadows, highlights and contrast. To add an adjustment layer to any image, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer and choose the type of adjustment layer. Here is a list of the adjustment layers I use most frequently:

Brightness/Contrast: This lets you make simple adjustments to the tonal range of your image. In layman’s terms, when you move the Brightness slider to the right your image gets brighter, when you move it to the left the image gets darker. If you move the Contrast slider to the right, your image becomes more contrasty, you move it to the left, contrast is reduced and the image becomes more grayish.

Levels: A Levels adjustment allows you to adjust the intensity levels of shadows, midtones, and highlights in your image. Drag the slider on the left inwards to darken the shadows and drag the slider on the right inwards to brighten the highlights. If you drag the middle slider to the left you will brighten the midtones and drag it to the right to darken the midtones in your photo.

Curves: Use can use Curves to adjust the image tonality with more precision than by using Levels. By adding points on the curve, you’ll be able to adjust the brightness or darkness of the Highlights, Midtones and Shadows.

Hue/Saturation: This one is really helpful for adjusting colors. You can either adjust the saturation of all colors at the same time (this is the default and occurs when the Master channel is selected) or select individual colors from the dropdown menu to adjust the saturation of that color and also its Hue and Brightness.

In adjusting the hue you can, for example, with red selected, drag the slider to bring the red towards either pink or orange. The Brightness slider will either brighten or darken specific colors or the entire image – depending what you have selected in the dropdown menu.

Color Balance: Perfect for color correction, Color Balance changes the mixture of colors in a photo. You have the option here to adjust the colors in the Midtones, Shadows and Highlights. Let’s take the color blue for example, if you want to adjust the color of a blue sky, choose Highlights, a blue shirt, choose Midtones, a blushish shadow, choose Shadows. To color correct an image, I suggest you try each slider and move to the next slider once you like the look of the image.

Selective Color: This is another powerful tool for color correcting or color grading. Selective color will allow you in a very precise way to fine tune color. For every color (Reds, Yellows, Greens, Cyans, Blues, Magentas, Whites, Neutrals/Gray, Blacks) you’ll be able to fine tune them by adjusting the Cyan/Red, Magenta/Green, Yellow/Blue, Black/White found in each of those colors.


Sometimes you want to duplicate a layer, other times you want to merge them together. To do this, from the Layer menu choose Merge Layers, Merge Visible, or Flatten Image:

Merge Layers: Use this option when you want to merge layers you have selected.

Merge Visible: Use this when you want to merge all the visible layers.

Flatten Image: Use this when you want to flatten the entire image/all the layers.

Helen Bradley

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

Luxuriating in chalkboard goodness

opener1 Luxuriating in chalkboard goodness


Find all the resources you need to create and print your own chalkboard designs.

Grocery stores and cafes seem to be chock-full of hand drawn chalkboard menus these days. Of course, who can blame them when they look so great? While most of us are not skilled enough artists to reproduce the fancy flowing chalkboard fonts, our computers certainly are. Recently the chalkboard craze has come online, and font artists across the internet have given us dozens of wonderful chalk-like fonts to choose from. I’ve compiled a list of my favorites of these fonts, including some special symbol fonts for text dividers and flourishes. I’ll step you through the process of finding these fonts so that you can get to work on your own chalkboard designs.

Chalk Board Backgrounds

To create a chalkboard you’ll need a background. I have a couple of recommendations here. There are some nice backgrounds available from – these are available in black, blue, and green: foolishfire chalkboards. If you wish, you can do a search and find your own. I like to use Compfight ( – it’s an easy way to find images with commercial and creative commons licences and many of them are a good size. Just be sure to check the licence for any image you download. If you want a fast solution, lots of choices and you’re prepared to shell out a few bucks, then buy a chalkboard background from

Of course, if you’d like to make a chalk board design for commercial purposes you’ll have to ensure the image owner has given you the right to do so – in this situation cases using a Shutterstock stock image might be the prudent choice.

Chalk Board Fonts

Fortunately there are many great fonts available for free on the web. The following list contains only free fonts (although some charge for commercial use) that I think look great on a chalk board. If you don’t know how to add new fonts to your computer check out my font installation tutorial first. It’s really easy and once you do it a couple of times you’ll be an ace at doing it!

Chalk Hand Lettering Shaded

chalk hand lettering shaded0 300x37 Luxuriating in chalkboard goodness


appleberry0 300x53 Luxuriating in chalkboard goodness

Grutch Shaded

grutchshaded0 300x34 Luxuriating in chalkboard goodness

Return to Sender

return to sender0 300x40 Luxuriating in chalkboard goodness

Drawing Guides

drawingguides0 300x32 Luxuriating in chalkboard goodness

These two fonts are comprised of symbols that are perfect for breaking up text and adding some extra flair to your design.

Adhesive Nr. Seven

adhesive nr seven0 300x23 Luxuriating in chalkboard goodness

From this Moment

from this moment0 300x19 Luxuriating in chalkboard goodness


And that’s it! With these wonderful fonts and a chalkboard background the possibilities for your chalkboard designs are endless. If you find yourself wanting more, a quick Google search for chalkboard fonts should turn up lots of fun fonts to use.


Helen Bradley

Helen Bradley

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

Create a new Default Custom Swatch in Illustrator CC

illustrator swatches opener Create a new Default Custom Swatch in Illustrator CC

Learn how to quick start a new document with your preferred swatches in place automatically

By default Illustrator starts all new documents with a preset set of swatches in the Swatches palette. If you prefer, you can create your own custom set of default swatches, save them and have them show up when you start a new document. Here’s how:

Create a new document – the size you create it as being will be the default for all documents created based on this profile as will the other settings in the New dialog.

Now choose Window > Swatches and select all the swatches you don’t want and drag them onto the Trashcan icon to delete them.

Add all the swatches you do want to have available to the Swatches palette. If you want some colors to be global colors, select them, click the Swatch Options button and click Global.

illustrator swatches 1 Create a new Default Custom Swatch in Illustrator CC

You can add any type of swatch at this point including pattern, gradients and solid colors.

Then when you are done, choose File > Save As and save the file to one of these locations depending on your version of Illustrator and  your operating system:

On the Mac save the file to:

~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Illustrator 17/en_US/New Document Profiles.

The tilde (~ ) indicates your hidden user library.
You can open it this way:
1 Launch Finder
2 Choose Go > Go to Folder
3 Type ~/Library and click Go
4 This opens the ~/Library folder and you can now navigate to the appropriate folder listed above.

In Windows 7:

First make sure you can see hidden folders and locate this folder (the exact folder structure may vary slightly but it should be pretty easy to find):

C:\Users\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Illustrator 17 Settings\en_US\x64\New Document Profiles

illustrator swatches 3 Create a new Default Custom Swatch in Illustrator CC

To locate your c:\users\\AppData folder, launch Windows Explorer and type this in the address bar :
This automatically opens the AppData folder for you so you can now navigate to the desired folder as detailed above.

The name you give to your file is the name that the document profile will appear as in future so make it descriptive of the purpose of the document.

Once this is done, you can close the document.

In future you can open a new document based on this profile by choosing File > New and choose the document profile from the Profiles list.

illustrator swatches 2 Create a new Default Custom Swatch in Illustrator CC

When you do so, your swatches will appear automatically. You can have multiple custom profiles so create them for the tasks you do most often.

Helen Bradley

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Create a stepped edge gear shape in Illustrator

gears in illustrator Create a stepped edge gear shape in Illustrator


Here’s how to easily create a shape with a stepped edge much like a steampunk gear, in Illustrator

I love steampunk and I’ve even been known to create and give away a set of free steampunk brushes here on Today, however I’m talking about  how to make your own steampunk shapes. A reader approached me and kindly drew out the shape he was interested in achieving and this is what he wanted:

create a gear shape in illustrator design Create a stepped edge gear shape in Illustrator

Here’s how to do it easily using the Stroke options in Illustrator.

Draw a circle by clicking the Ellipse tool and holding Shift as you draw out a circle. I filled mine with black and added a thick grey stroke around the circle. You can make your stroke and fill the same, I’ve made them different so you can see what is happening.

create a gear shape in illustrator 1 Create a stepped edge gear shape in Illustrator


Click the underlined word Stroke on the Tool Options bar to open the Stroke panel. Set the Cap to Butt Cap, enable the Dashed line checkbox, set the Dash and Gap values to your preferred values.  A good place to start is to set the Dash and Gap to the same (or nearly the same) value as the point size of your stroke. Then alter the Dash value to change the length of the dashes and the Gap value to change the gap amount. Click away when  you are done.

create a gear shape in illustrator 2 Create a stepped edge gear shape in Illustrator


Now, with the shape still selected choose Object > Expand Appearance, then Object > Expand, leave Fill and Stroke checked and click Ok.


create a gear shape in illustrator 3 Create a stepped edge gear shape in Illustrator


Now, with the shape still selected, in the Pathfinder palette (view it by choosing Window > Pathfinder), click the Unite icon (top row, far left). This creates a single shape with the edges you have described.

create a gear shape in illustrator 4 Create a stepped edge gear shape in Illustrator
And that does it – there is your circle with a stepped edge and gear-like shape:

create a gear shape in illustrator 5 Create a stepped edge gear shape in Illustrator


Helen Bradley

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Create Guides Accurately in Illustrator


iStock 000010283194Small 300x199 Create Guides Accurately in Illustrator
image credit ©ezza116,

Learn to place guides in Illustrator in the position you want them to appear

Sometimes the differences between Illustrator and Photoshop are really annoying. In Photoshop it is simple to place guides in exactly the position you want them to appear but in Illustrator it isn’t easy at all.

I want to create a square document with guides half way vertically and horizontally so, I’ll start with a new document of a fixed and known size such as 1000 x 1000.

Then choose View > Rulers > Show Rulers so you can see the rulers top and left. With the Selection tool selected, click and drag on the ruler and drag a guide into position. You probably won’t be able to get it exact but that’s ok for now. You can go ahead and drag a guide from the other ruler too.

Guides are, by default, locked so you need to unlock them to move them. Choose View > Guides > Lock Guides to disable the check mark. Now you can drag the guide into position. On the Tool options bar you will see values for X and Y. For the vertical guide, X should be half your document width – in my case 500 and for the horizontal guide the Y value should be 500.

illustrator guides create move 300x198 Create Guides Accurately in Illustrator

If you open the Layer palette you will see that guides are objects in the current layer. This means that you can click on a guide to select it in the Layer palette and use the tools at the top of the screen to align the guide. So, clicking on it and choosing Horizontal Align Center will center the vertical guide and Vertical Align Center will center a Horizontal guide.

Once your guides are in position, choose View > Guides > Lock Guides to lock them so they won’t move. On this same submenu you can hide guides – this locks them when they are unhidden again or clear guides to remove them from the document entirely.

illustrator guides create move hide 300x147 Create Guides Accurately in Illustrator


Other handy tricks include being able to create a vertical guide by dragging down from the top ruler  and hold Alt or Option to change if from horizontal to vertical.

You can make new guides (but not existing ones) snap to dividers on the rulers if you hold Shift as you draw them by dragging down from the ruler.
Helen Bradley

Helen Bradley

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Photoshop – Recover an Unexposed Subject

Add an Artistic Effect to the Overall Image in Photoshop

Learn to recover an unexposed subject in your photos and how to add an artistic effect to the overall image in Photoshop.

Helen Bradley

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Scroll though Blend Modes in Photoshop – Mac and PC

Screen Shot 2014 03 15 at 6.36.43 PM Scroll though Blend Modes in Photoshop   Mac and PC

scroll through blend modes on the mac

by Helen Bradley

Learn the keystrokes that help you quickly scroll through blend modes in Photoshop on the PC and Mac

On the PC, being able to scroll through the blend modes in the Layers palette is a simple as selecting one blend mode in the list then use the Up Arrow and Down Arrow key to go from one to the next.

On the Mac, it isn’t as easy but it (thankfully), can be done.

On the Mac, click in the Blend Modes list and select a blend mode. Then use the Shift + + or Shift + – keys to scroll up and down the list. Unlike on the PC, the Mac keys roll you around the list so, when you reach the bottom and press Shift + + once more you go right back to the top. Neat huh?


Helen Bradley

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

Create a Graffiti Wall Effect in Photoshop

Learn to paint graffiti without a risk of being arrested

See how easy it is to create a graffiti effect on a wall in Photoshop. The video shows you how to use a graffiti font to create graffiti writing and how to use styles and colors to format the test to make it look like real graffiti. Then see how to use the Vanishing point filter to place the graffiti text onto a wall in a photo. Finish the effect by blending the text with brushes, blend modes and textures all created using layers and masks so that the effect can be edited in future.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Photoshop – Color Threshold Art Effect

Adjust Color and Contrast to make your Image Pop

by Helen Bradley

The threshold filter in Photoshop lets you turn an image into a black and white image where pixels are either black or white. It is a great tool when combined with some color for creating artistic effects with your photos.

The only issue with this filter is that you have no fine control over how the conversion takes place. This video solves the problem by showing you how to work with the image to give better results with the conversion.

Here you will learn how to use the threshold filter to adjust the image to make a black and white and how to pick out areas of the image to adjust them separately so you retain the details in it.

You will use masks and adjustment layers to lighten and darken those areas of the image that you wan to keep and highlight.

You will also learn how to create a reusable noise layer to give the final image a more grainy look.

You will also learn why using a fill layer makes better sense than filling a layer with color.

In all, this video is jammed full of handy Photoshop tips as well as showing you how to create a great color effect.

Helen Bradley

Helen Bradley

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