Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
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.
Labels: burn, color threshold art, contrast, curves, dodge, fill color layer, lighting, monochrome, photo edit, Photoshop, photoshop techniques, threshold, video
Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
Learn to add multiple fills and strokes to a single shape in Illustrator
Illustrator can be a challenge to learn and once you get hold of the basics you may be so relieved that you have progressed this far that you forget to dig deeper for better and smarter ways to create designs.
One feature of Illustrator is the ability to add multiple strokes and fills to a single shape, to order them so they appear on top of each other correctly and even to blend them using Blend Modes.
This video shows how to turn a star into this vintage inspired free pattern filled shape in Illustrator. It’s simple to do when you know how – just a few minutes of video can open up a wealth of opportunities for being creative in Illustrator – Enjoy!
Labels: blend modes, fill, Illustrator, layer effects, multiple fills, multiple strokes, offset path, offset stroke, pattern fill, rounded edges, star, stroke
Saturday, January 25th, 2014
Click the Twirl tool and it twirls your path – but how to you twirl the other way?
To reverse the twirl tool in Illustrator so you can twirl clockwise double click the Twirl tool in the tool panel and just set the Twirl Rate to a negative value – so if you love the twirl rate amount but want it to go the other way just add a minus in front of the current value – so go from 40 degrees to -40!
Click Ok and then twirl away to your heart’s content.
Easy when you know how!
Labels: change direction, Illustrator, reverse, tool setting, twirl, twirl rate, twist
Tuesday, January 21st, 2014
Learning Illustrator is different and easier if you already know Photoshop
So, you’re pretty handy with Photoshop but Illustrator is different – isn’t it? It is not easy to understand when you first start and you might be scared off by an interface that looks both familiar and foreign at the same time. I certainly was when I started out. Illustrator was like a foreign language and it took a lot of time to learn it.
But learning Illustrator when you already use Photoshop can be simplified. You see you already know a lot about Illustrator so we can start out with that knowledge and build on it. You need to know what is the same and what is different between the two programs and you need to know what is important and what you can ignore for now.
So, to help you, I created this video. It’s for anyone who knows Photoshop and who wants to learn Illustrator. I will build on your knowledge so we don’t waste time on things you already know but so you learn quickly how Illustrator is different and how to get started with it.
No laborious “how to use the Pen tool” stuff here. Just quick and fun and interesting stuff guaranteed to get you on your way to loving the creative potential of Illustrator.
Labels: appearance, artboard, Expand Appearance, fills, fun with illustrator, illustrator 101, illustrator for photoshop users, Layers, learn illustrator, new document, pathfinder, quick and easy illustrator, rgb vs cmyk, save an ai file, shapes, start illustrator, strokes, vector
Sunday, January 19th, 2014
Create Archimedes spirals with evenly spaced lines in Illustrator
Illustrator’s Spiral tool creates quick and easy spirals but they aren’t Archimedes spirals – the latter have evenly spaced lines. Now it is possible to create an Archimedes spiral in one of a few ways. Here is what I have discovered.
Multiple lines make a spiral (well they did once, they don’t any longer)
Ignore the multiple line solution. There are a few posts on the web that suggest you create a spiral by making a series of parallel lines, move them so they are on a slight angle and then save as an Art Brush. You then use them to stroke a circle and voila! a spiral. Well no. Sorry, it just doesn’t work. It used to work but it doesn’t seem to work in later versions of Illustrator. There is a video here on YouTube that shows some of the problem – for now just ignore what looks to be the simple (if inexplicable) solution.
I like Deke McClelland’s stuff if you ignore that he calls some Illustrator tools by made up names like black arrow and white arrow tool (seriously?) but if you can put this technicality aside, see his approach by visiting this Lynda.com tutorial video. It’s a somewhat complex approach but you can use it to create two interlocking spirals or just a single one. Once you’ve done it a few times it’s pretty easy to do. It also introduces the Polar Grid tool which is interesting and which you may have use for in other circumstances. I just don’t like the middle of this spiral so I prefer some other solution.
The best solution – a Spiral Script
Now let’s step into voodoo territory and talk scripting. While it might sound difficult it is so totally ridiculously easy that I can’t recommend it more highly. Better still, once you see how easy it is to run scripts you may be tempted to find and use more of them from time to time.
So, start by visiting this page where you will find the script to use. Copy the script from the box and paste it into a text editor – not Word, but WordPad or Notepad. Save it as a text file and give it a .jsx extension. You can save it anywhere, but if you want to be able to find it easily in 6 month’s time I suggest you save it in the Presets/Scripts folder for your Illustrator installation (ie in the Programs folder in Windows). Then restart Illustrator so it will find it easily.
Regardless of where your script is stored, start a new document and choose File > Script and select your script from the list (if you installed it in Presets/Scripts) or browse to find it. Click it and it runs and creates your spiral. Now I like this one a lot as the middle is awesomely cute and curly. It’s my favorite and once you’ve created the script file and saved it all you need to do to make one in future is to run the script. It is awesomely easy and look at how cute the middle is…
Now that you are a scripting guru – here’s more scripting fun
The script above makes great spirals but I’ve found another script set here that you can explore now that you’re a scripting guru! Well nearly one, anyway.
These scripts are zipped so all you need do is to download and unzip and place the scripts into your Presets/Scripts folder. Then run them. Some will need objects to act on but you will find information on how they work on the script page itself. I suggest you copy it to a document or print it out so you have it for reference.
One of my favorites is the Meatball script which joins two circles into a sort of meatball shape. There is a spiral which makes a nice Archimedes spiral and one called Round Any Corner which lets you select one or more points or an entire shape and round the corners – this gives a different result to the Round Corners Effect so might be of interest to you.
Another script in the zip is one that creates trees automatically for you.
Finally – create a rectangle the size of the artboard
Over at the Adobe forums there is a short script from a user called moluapple which creates a rectangle the size of the artboard. It’s a winner! I use this all the time! I suggest you copy and paste the code from the forum into a text editor and make a script file from it so you have it handy to use anytime you need it. The code below is just a screenshot of the code, I captured it just in case the forum thread ever disappears because this is one awesomely useful script:
So, now it is over to you to enjoy your new ability to download, unzip, locate and run scripts in Illustrator.
Labels: archimedes spiral, deke mcclelland, easy to make, fractal trees in illustrator, free download, js, jsx, meatballs, perfect spiral, polar grid tool, rounded corner script, script, scripting
Monday, January 13th, 2014
Learn to add multiple strokes to a shape in Illustrator
One way I force myself to extend my knowledge of Illustrator is to take an existing illustration and to try to reproduce it. I don’t use these for anything but for learning and improving my skills. It’s a great tool because, when you try to copy someone else’s illustration you have to work out how to do things you may not typically do. You can’t just fluff yourself off and do the same old thing – if you don’t know how to achieve an effect you have to think about the problem and work it out using your existing skills or go research solutions.
Today I’ve been working on shapes that have neat edges and, in particular shapes with solid edges and dots – all in the one shape!
Start by drawing your shape – mine was a speech bubble but you can do it with anything. Then add a fill color and a stroke – this stroke is the thick band around the shape so make it the right size for the edge effect.
Now open the Appearance panel and add a second stroke by choosing the Add New Stroke icon. Make sure this is the top stroke – if not you can drag it up as if it were a layer. In the Appearance panel select a different color for this stroke and size it smaller than the previous one. You can now make it dots by setting up the panel so it looks like this – just note that your gap value should be the same or just larger than the stroke to make dots and that the cap shape is rounded – to get dots!
Labels: appearance, dot, how to, Illustrator, layered strokes, multiple strokes, solid color, stroke, technique, tip, trick, Tutorial
Monday, January 6th, 2014
So, you know how to make a sunburst in Illustrator – here’s how to color it
Some time ago I wrote a post and created a YouTube video to show how to make a sunburst in Illustrator. This is one of my most popular posts and the video has been popular too – seems like it really hit a spot with a lot of readers.
Now, today I received an email from a reader asking how to make the sunburst multicolored. Turns out it isn’t as simple as selecting a ray and recoloring it – because when you select one ray you select them all. However, once you know how to break them up, it works just fine.
To do this, follow the instructions to create the circle, add the dashed line, expand it, select the inside anchors and choose Path > Average. This gets the sunburst made.
Now, to break the shape up, select it and choose Object > Live Paint > Make. Now you can use the Live Paint Bucket tool to color each piece of the sunburst – or not. You see the Live Paint > Make command breaks up the shape (in a way that Object > Expand does not) so you can now select each ray in turn and color it.
If you want to see the change happen, watch the Layers palette when you do the Live Paint > Make command – it turns the compound path into a set of individual vector objects – just what you need to have to be able to recolor them. The plus is that once the shape is broken up like this you can recolor it in the usual way by selecting each shape and color it or you can use Live Paint. You get to choose which works best for you.
Now, one side effect of this is that the spaces between the rays is filled with color – typically white. So you can’t put a solid color behind the rays and have it show through. There is a solution – open the Layers palette and locate the filled white circle shape at the bottom of the expanded sunburst shapes and delete it. Once it is deleted you can add your own background filed shape behind the sunburst.
It’s one of those things that is simple when you know how but not immediately obvious how you do it.
Thanks to the reader who asked the question!
Labels: burst, color, colored, how to, Illustrator, multi-color, multicolor, rays, sun burst, sun ray, sunburst, sunray, Tutorial
Friday, December 20th, 2013
Curious or confused about where brushes go? Here’s the info you need and how to do it
It’s pretty easy to find the wrong place to install brushes on the PC and the Mac. The Adobe program file folders are more accessible than the user areas where you really should be installing your brushes. So, to help you out, here is where the brushes should go and a couple of tips for showing the hidden and hard to find folders on the PC and the Mac:
In Mac OS X:
~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS4/Presets/Brushes
~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Presets/Brushes
~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS6/Presets/Brushes
~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CC/Presets/Brushes
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.
On a Windows PC:
Follow these instructions to install the brushes where they can be found by both 32 and 64 bit versions of Photoshop (this is the prefered method of installing downloaded brushes):
C:\Users\<your name>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS4\Presets\Brushes
C:\Users\<your name>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS5\Presets\Brushes
C:\Users\<your name>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS6\Presets\Brushes
C:\Users\<your name>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CC\Presets\Brushes
To locate your c:\users\<your name>\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.
Labels: brush, brush preset, brushes, download, free, how to, install, location, mac, pc, Photoshop brushes, preset folder, step by step, Tutorial
Thursday, November 21st, 2013
Create fractal trees in your browser using this free download
I love Fractal Trees and I love finding new ways to make them. Today I found a handy download for creating some cool trees.
I’ll explain how to find and download it and then how to run and use it.
This program is browser based but you need to download the code for it. You will find that here at Github.com.
On the bottom right look out for a download Download Zip link – click it and download the zip file. Double click the download and extract the files into a folder.
When you do this, look for the Index.html file in the download. Double click it to open it in your browser. This launches the program which runs now in your browser.
All you need to do is to adjust the sliders and click Preview to preview your tree. You can use the color pickers to set the colors for the trunk, leaves and background.
Experiment with different settings – the Randomness setting will give you some randomness in the tree so each time you click Preview the tree will change even if no other settings are changed.
When you get a tree you like, click Make Image and the tree will open in a new window. You can click the tree, right click and then save it as a .png image – they aren’t transparent though.
Then you can use it anywhere you like – I use mine in collages in Photoshop. They are very small images but they scale up pretty well.
If you are interested in seeing Anna’s images head over to her website to see her page of fractal trees - here is a sampling of what you will find there – awesome!
Labels: collage element, draw a tree, draw fractal tree, Fractal Tree, make fractal tree, Photoshop, recursive tree
Sunday, November 10th, 2013
Tidy up, rearrange and delete brushes in Photoshop
A reader just contacted me to ask how to delete a brush in Photoshop. It is an interesting question and one worthy of a post I think!
To do this, choose Edit > Presets > Preset Manager to open the Preset Manager dialog. From the Preset Type drop down list choose Brushes to view your brushes. Now you can click a brush to select it – it’s hard to see but it does get a narrow blue line around it. Click Delete to delete it.
Now, something else that is really handy about this dialog is that you can also move brushes! So drag a brush and you can move it to your chosen place in the panel. So, you can put those brushes you use most often at the top of the Brushes panel where they are nice and handy.
Labels: delete brush, move brushes, Photoshop, preset, preset manager, rearrange brushes, remove brush
Thursday, October 24th, 2013
How to get the color picker to look the way you want it to look
or How to fix the Color Picker when it looks all funky
Sometimes when you open the color picker in Photoshop it looks one way and other times it looks a different way. It might even seem like there is no rhyme or reason to how it looks and that it changes without (what it may seem like) no input from you.
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth but knowing that won’t solve the problem of why it changes and how to change it back!
To change it, don’t go looking under Preferences for all the Color Picker choices. While some preferences can be found in the Preference area the secret changes are made inside the Color Picker itself.
To see them at work, click to open the Color Picker. What you see here depends on what is clicked in the right of the dialog (when you realize this everything becomes blindingly obvious).
Click H for Hue to see this:
And S for Saturation to see this:
And B for Brightness to see this:
Each of R, G and B make the picker look different:
As does choosing L or a or b:
And each looks different if you have the Only Web Colors dialog checked:
Now you know what affects how the Color Picker looks you can choose the one that makes the most sense to you.
Labels: cc, change the color picker, color picker, color picker preferences, colour picker, cs6, hsb, HSL, LAB, Photoshop, rgb
Saturday, October 12th, 2013
Remove all the edits you’ve made to a raw or dng image in Adobe Camera Raw
No doubt you’ve encountered the situation where you have a raw file or a dng that you’ve worked on in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom and you one day look at it and think – “what was I thinking?”
You decide you want immediately to remove all the changes you’ve made to the image. Easy? Not really!
If you’re working with a raw image then you can locate the image on disk and alongside it will be its sidecar xmp. Shall I say that again, because to the uninitiated ‘sidecar xmp’ just sounds so cool doesn’t it. What it is is an .xmp file with the same name as the raw file and it contains the edits you made to your image. The sidecar xmp file is used because you cannot write data to a camera raw file so the edits have to go somewhere. They go in this little xmp file as a set of text entries – delete the file and you remove the edits, permanently – in fact just remove the xmp file to another folder where ACR can’t find it and you’re done.
In Lightroom you can wind back edits to an image from the Develop module in the History panel on the left of the screen. Open the panel and select the bottom-most entry to wind back the changes you made to the image.
Unfortunately this won’t work if you made changes in a program that wrote an .xmp file and it won’t work if the changes were made to a dng file, written to that file and then the file was imported into Lightroom.
In that case, go to the Library panel and open Quick Develop and click Reset All – that removes all the edits.
In ACR, go to the small menu in the top right of the edit pane and choose Reset Camera Raw Defaults. This removes the edits and returns the image to its out of camera state (see image at the top of this post)
This is also very handy for teachers who teach using a set of images – if you need to start over editing an image with a new class, this option will help you start over with a clean image.
Labels: ACR, adobe camera raw, Camera Raw, dng, History, Lightroom, Photoshop, quick develop, raw+, remove edits, reset, reset all, xmp
Thursday, October 10th, 2013
Adjusting your White Balance in Lightroom
Lightroom has a set of tools that you can use to adjust white balance in your images. To see these at work open an image in the Develop module. At the top of your Basic panel are the white balance adjustment tools.
White Balance Options
The dropdown list will show you some options for adjusting white balance – what is shown here will vary depending on how your images are captured. If you capture in raw then the white balance dropdown list will contain the same options as you have on your camera for setting white balance. If you’re capturing jpg images then there are fewer options – As Shot, Auto and Custom.
On the left are the options for a raw image and on the right those for a jpeg image.
The Temperature and Tint sliders also have different units of measure depending on whether you’re working with jpgs or raw images. For jpg images both the sliders range from +100 to -100. If you’re working on a raw image then the Temperature slider shows degrees Kelvin from 2000 – 50,000 and the Tint slider ranges between + 150 and – 150.
Kelvin is a measurement of the color of light – daylight is around 5,500 degrees Kelvin. Lights we consider to be warm or pink/orange in color including tungsten globes are around 3,000 degrees Kelvin and cool lights which are blue in color such as overcast daylight are around 7,000 degrees Kelvin and higher.
Adjust White Balance
To adjust the white balance in the selected image you can select an option from the White Balance dropdown list to use to fix the image or you can use it as a starting point and then fine tune the result.
You can also manually adjust the Temp slider to add warmth or remove it from the image. Drag the sider to the left to add a blue tint to the image (to cool it down), or to the right to add a yellow tint to it to warm the image.
Use the Tint slider to balance out any excess magenta or green in the image. Drag towards the right to add magenta to the image cancelling out any green tint and drag to the left to add a green tint cancelling out any unwanted magenta.
White Balance Selector
You can also use the White Balance Selector to adjust white balance. You can select the tool by clicking on it or press W.
From the White Balance toolbar under the image you can select options that make the White Balance tool easier to use. I suggest you deselect Auto Dismiss as you can then click on the image in various places to attempt to fix it. If you have Auto Dismiss enabled you’ll only be able to click once before the selector is dismissed so, if that fix isn’t perfect then you’ll need to select the tool again to attempt another fix. This is a cumbersome way to work so I prefer to disable Auto Dismiss and put the tool away only when I am done with it.
If you click the Show Loupe checkbox then you’ll see a 5 by 5 pixel grid beside the mouse cursor. The center point in the grid is the pixel that you are currently targeting and which will be used to adjust the image if you click. This grid makes it easier for you to pick the correct point in the image to adjust to. The scale itself can be increased or decreased using the Scale option on the toolbar.
At the bottom of the loupe itself are the RGB percentage values of the pixel under the cursor. These values tell you if the pixel is neutral or not. If it is neutral then the percentages of R, G and B will all be equal – if they are not equal then there is color in that pixel.
To balance the image using the White Balance selector, click on a pixel that should be neutral grey – not white or black. When you do so, Lightroom will adjust the image so that the selected pixel is a neutral grey and, as a result, all the color in the image will change. At the same time Lightroom adds an entry to the image History for that adjustment. This means that you can wind back the history to return to an earlier white balance fix, if desired.
You should be aware that adjusting image white balance is to an extent a subjective assessment – so there is no one value that is “correct”. There are, instead, a myriad of different results that can be achieved so look for one that is it pleasing to you. In most cases viewers prefer to see some warmth in photos as they are more pleasing to the eye if they are warmer rather than cool.
I find that a good approach to take is to experiment with the white balance selector to see the effect on the image by selecting different pixels to adjust to. Then choose the most aesthetically pleasing result.
Labels: adjust, balance, Develop, Develop Module, Kelvin, Lightroom, Loupe, Photoshop, pixel, rgb, Selector, temperature, tint, tip, trick, Tutorial, w, white, white balance, White Balance Option, white balance selector
Saturday, October 5th, 2013
Save Time in Lightroom when Resizing and Cropping Large Amounts of Output Images
If you’re working on a large shoot and need to output a lot of images at a fixed size then Lightroom can do the work for you. It isn’t obvious how you can crop all your images to a fixed size and output them at a certain set of pixel dimensions but it is easy to do when you know how. Here’s how to do it:
First locate the folder with your images in it. I prefer to make virtual copies of my images and put them in a new collection but you can do whatever makes sense to you.
Select all the images in Grid view in the Library module in Lightroom.
Open the Quick Develop panel on the right and, from the Crop Ratio dropdown list, select the crop ratio that you want to crop to. For example you can crop to fixed ratios such as 1 by 1 or printing sizes such as 5×7, 4×6 and so on.
Here I’ve selected 5×7 and when I do so all the selected images are automatically cropped to this 5 x 7 ratio.
Lightroom is smart enough to understand that some images are portrait orientation and others are landscape. Portrait images are cropped to 5 x 7 and landscape orientation images to 7 x 5.
Step 3 (optional)
If desired, you can now move to the Develop module and check the crop for all the images. By default, Lightroom will center the crop rectangle on the image and this may not be exactly what you want for some images. However, it is easy to go to the Develop module, click the first image and click on the Crop Overlay Tool so you see the crop marquee in position on the on the image.
Now from the filmstrip you can click on each image in succession to preview it in the crop window and you can easily identify if any of them need an adjustment to the crop rectangle. If they do simply drag on the crop rectangle to reposition it. When you’re done return to the Library view.
As the images are now all cropped to size, press Ctrl + A to select them and then click Export. Choose a folder to export the images into or click New Folder to create a new folder.
You can now set your desired preferences in the Export dialog.
To control the output size – in pixels wide and tall – of the images easily because you already know the crop ratio. To do this, select the Resize to fit checkbox and choose Long Edge from the dropdown list. Then type a pixel dimension for the long edge. So, for example, to prepare 5 by 7 ratio images for printing at 300 dpi the longest edge will need to be 2,100 pixels (7 x 300) so type 2100 and set the resolution to 300.
Click Export to export your images and they will be exported to a folder at the chosen size and resolution.
This process allows you to quickly and effectively prepare a batch of images for printing. It manages portrait and landscape images so that you don’t have to separately handle each type. It’s a simple workflow and a fast way to prepare images from a large shoot.
Labels: batch, batch resize, bulk, crop, Develop, Develop Module, export, image, Library, library module, Lightroom, output, Photoshop, quick develop, resize, tip, trick, Tutorial