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

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Multicolor Sunburst in Illustrator

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!


Helen Bradley

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Lightroom Tip – Add a Vignette Effect to an image

Learn how to darken the edges of an image using a Vignette in Lightroom

Vignettes are a darkening or lightening of the edges of an image – they can make an image look very attractive.

To add a vignette, open the Effects panel, set the Style to either Highlight Priority or Color Priority – Paint Overlay is the least attractive option. Drag to the left on the Amount slider to add a dark vignette and to the right to add a light one.

The Midpoint slider adjusts how the effect is applied to the edges of the image. Increase it to remove the vignette from the edges leaving it mainly in the corners.

Roundness controls the roundness of the vignette, drag to the left to make it more square, to the right to make it more circular. Feather controls the softness of the edges so use 0 for a hard-edge and 100 for a very soft edge.

Highlights applies when you use a negative Amount to create a darkened vignette. Zero gives no change and larger values preserve highlight contrast when you select Highlight Priority or Color Priority.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Lightroom Tip – Using a Split Tone effect on a Black and White Image

Split Toning a Black and White Image – learn how to make the Highlights and Shadows Different Colors

Split Toning applies one color to the highlights and another to the shadows in an image.

Good color choices when applying a split tone are colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel such as magenta and green, blue and yellow, or red and cyan – although you can choose any combination you like.

To apply the split tone effect, drag on the Hue slider or click the color picker to choose a color to use for the Highlights and then choose something else to use for the Shadows.

Adjust the Saturation of the colors as desired.

Balance allows you to fine tune how the colors are applied to the image – drag to the left to adjust the balance towards the shadow color and drag to the right to add more of the highlight color.

Helen Bradley

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Photoshop – Create an Oval Frame Effect

Learn how to create an oval frame effect in Photoshop. This video includes how to use a clipping mask, sample a color from an image, make a leaf brush, paint multi-color leaves on an image, add a stroke border to the oval frame and even change its color. This is a jam packed tutorial suitable for a competent beginner or intermediate level Photoshop user.

Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this video tutorial. In this tutorial I’m going to show you how you can make an oval framed photo effect in Photoshop. Before we get started doing this effect let’s have a look and see what it is that we’re aiming for.

What I’m going to do is take this image here and frame it inside an oval frame. And we’re going to add a little border stroke around the frame and then add these decorative elements. The colors for each of these elements is going to be sampled from the image and this is just a single brush that paints in different colors. So if you’re ready let’s get started with this tutorial. So if you’re ready let’s get started with this tutorial.

I’m going to begin here with a new image so I’ll click File, New and I’m just going to do an 11 by 8-1/2 letter size image. But you can make yours whatever size that you like. And here’s my image.

I’m going to center the oval so I’m going to start with a couple of guides. I want a 50 percent guide horizontal and a 50 percent vertical. It’s just a little bit easier to do this with guides. Then I’m going to target my marquee tool. I want the elliptical marquee tool. It shares a toolbar position with the rectangular marquee. But it’s the elliptical marquee that you want. I’m going to hold my mouse pointer over the intersection of these two gridlines and then hold Alt down as I drag out to create my oval. This creates an oval that’s centered over those lines. Of course if I add a Shift key at this point I’ll have everything constrained to a perfect circle centered on this document. But I want an oval so I’m going to let go of the Shift key but make sure that I keep the Alt key held down until I’ve finish drawing my shape. I’ll let go the left mouse button and then let go of the Alt key. This is my shape.

I’ll need a new layer so I’ll click the New Layer icon here and I’m going to fill this with black. So I’m just going to set black as my foreground color and Alt Backspace, Option Delete on the Mac. You can fill it with any color at all but I’m just using black. Now I can get rid of my guide so I’m going to click View and I’m going to clear my guides. I’m going to bring in my image here so I’m just going to drag on the background layer and just add it to this image. Now I want it centered so I’m going to press the Shift key as I center it over this image. I can now close this because I don’t need it any longer. I have my oval still selected. You can probably just see the marching ants there. Now that’s going to get in the way when I start to resize and move this image so I’m going to press Ctrl or Command D to deselect the marching ants. Now I’m going to target my move tool, Ctrl T, Ctrl 0 so I can see my handles. I’m just going to drag everything into position. I’m going to use the Shift key with that corner handle because that will drag everything in proportion. I’m now going to create a clipping mask.

So with this layer selected, Layer, Create Clipping Mask. Now I need to select that checkmark before I can do that so let’s create the clipping mask. And now let’s just fine- tune this image. And I think that’s a pretty good position for it. Now I want to focus on the background layer because I want to sample one of the colors from this image for the background layer. Now the image that we saw had a background which was sampled from the image. So I’m going to target the eyedropper tool here and I’m just going to target this little girl’s dress to get a color from her dress. And when I do you can see that the color is in the top of the ring here. That’s the one I’m going to select. And I have a 3 by 3 average so I’m averaging out the colors under the cursor. So I could go for a slightly lighter blue if I wanted. Let’s select that. And now with the background layer selected I’m going to Alt Backspace, Option Delete to add that color. Now let’s go and add a border around this oval. And to do that I’m going to need to reselect the oval. So I’m going to target the oval shape here, click on the magic wand tool here, it shares a toolbar position with the quick selection tool, but we want the magic wand. We want to make sure that Contiguous is selected. And now I’m just going to click here on this underlying shape which is this black shape here and that gives me this selection.

I’m going to add a new layer so I’m just going to make sure that my new layer goes in at the top and it’s not part of this clipping group. If it were I would have to right click it and choose Release Clipping Mask but it’s now not part of that group. You could see that the marching ants are in position so what we need to do now is to select the color to use. So again I’m going to use the eyedropper and I’m going to select a greeny color from the grass in the background here. So we’ll select that, Edit, Stroke. And you’ll need to experiment a bit with the stroke to see what works best with your image. But I found that a 20 pixel stroke on this particular image is pretty good so I’m just going to settle for a 20 pixel stroke. And I’m doing it over the center and I’ll click Ok. And there’s my stroke. To deselect the marching ants Ctrl or Command D. Now we’re in a position to brush on some leaves around the edge of this image. But to do so we’re going to need to create a brush first up. So let’s go and create a brush. If you’ve already created a brush or you have a brush that you want to use you can skip this step but I’m just going to show you quickly how I created my brush.

I’ll choose File, New and just click Ok. I just need any old document here. I’m going to select the custom shape tool here. It shares a toolbar position with the rectangle tool and these other tools. But it’s custom shape that I want. From the options here on the toolbar I want to select Pixels and I’m going to select black and white as my colors. In earlier versions of Photoshop you’ll still have these three options but they’re going to be side by side here. You just want to make sure that you select the fill pixels or the pixels option. Here I’m going to select a shape which is a leaf shape.

Now last time I selected this shape so let’s make a different shape this time. I’m going to select this one here and then I’m going to drag to draw it on the image. And I’m going to hold the Shift key down as I did so it’s constrained to a nice proportion. Now all I need do is to select Edit and then Define Brush Preset. And I’m going to call this leaf and click Ok. And that is now that shape is now saved as a brush so I can just discard this image. I don’t need it any longer. Now I can go and select my brush. So I’m going to target the brush tool and from the brush dropdown list here I’m going to select my brush. And my brush is always going to be the very, very last one in this brushes palette if I’ve just created it. So this is my brush.

I’m just going to click to select it and then just click outside here to hide that window. Now you can see that the brush is huge and way, way too big right now. So I’m just going to press the square bracket key, the opening square bracket key, to just size it down to size. Now if I start painting I’m first of all going to add a new layer and I’m going to just sample a color from this image. So let’s sample this orange color and let’s just see what happens if I start to paint. Well it’s not looking anything like what it is that we want it to look like. So I’m just going to Ctrl Z to get out of there and let’s go and set up our brush so it paints a little bit more intelligently. I’m going to click here to open the brush panel.

Now in the brush panel here the first thing I want to do is go to brush tip shape, tap on it and I’m going to increase the spacing because I want this brush to be spaced out quite a bit. I could change the size at this point if I wanted to but I’ve already measured this and it’s a pretty good size so I’m going to leave that. I’m going to enable Shape Dynamics and click on Shape Dynamics. Now I want the size to vary a little bit so I’m going to adjust the size jitter. That will make it size in different size brushes as I paint. And I’m also going to adjust the angle jitter. Now I can adjust it to quite a high value here because I don’t mind if these leaves point in completely the opposite direction. In fact that’s going to look pretty good for my leaves. And then I’m going to tap Scattering to enable that and to go to get the Scattering controls. I’ve got Scattering enabled here on both axes and I can just pull it out or push it in to see what I’ve got. I think I want a little bit better control than adjusting count because this is going to give me way too many leaves so I think I’d rather paint more and have less of a count. So I think that’s going to be pretty good.

The last thing I need to do is to enable Color Dynamics. What I want with Color Dynamics is I’d really like this brush to do all the work for me and I want it to paint in color. So I’ve got orange as my background color. Now I’m going to tap here and I’m going to select a color from the image to be the foreground color. So I’m thinking sort of a lighter yellow, maybe I’ll just pick it up from the palette here. So this is my foreground color. This is my background color and I have Apply per Tip enabled and foreground, background jitter at 100 percent. I’ve got hue jitter, saturation jitter and brightness jitter all at zero percent and purity at zero percent as well. What this brush is going to do is it’s going to toggle its colors between these two and so I won’t have to do any of the work myself. I’m going to close this dialog, make sure that I’m painting on a brand new layer, and I’m just going to start to paint. And you can see that the colors are toggling between the foreground and background color. And that just lets me paint my autumn leaves without having to do really much work at all.

Now I can paint as much or as little of these leaves as I want. I’m painting over the edge a little bit here because I’d like some leaves to be eventually underneath this stroke border so I’m just going to add plenty of leaves in there. And I’ll add a couple of stray leaves in the bottom here as well. I can add them by just single tapping or I can paint. When I’m happy with that the last thing I need to do is to get rid of the leaves that are actually over the image here. So I’m going back to my magic wand tool and I’m going back to my stroke layer here and with Contiguous enabled I’m just going to click inside this stroke layer. And what that does is it selects everything inside that layer. And now I can come onto my paint layer and I could do one of two things. I could just press Delete to delete the leaves that are inside this shape but perhaps if I wanted to add some more leaves later on it would be a better idea if I actually added a mask. And that’s very easy to do.

I’m just going to click here the Add Layer Mask icon. Now when I add my layer mask it’s working the wrong way around. You can see what it’s done is it’s clipped and hidden all the leaves around the outside and just left the ones in the middle. We want the exact opposite to be the case so I’ll click on my mask and press Ctrl and I and that just inverts the mask. So you can see now we’ve got the leaves on our image and they’re all around the edge of the image. It’s just that the stroke is underneath the leaves. There’s a very, very easy solution to that. I’m going to select the layer that contains the stroke and just move it up above the leaves and now the stroke is over the leaves. Before we leave this tutorial let’s have a look and see what would happen if we decided that instead of this green edge we would like a pink edge perhaps sampling the pink from this little girl’s headband. Well let’s go first of all and sample the pink. And this is the pink that I’m going to use so I have it selected as the foreground color. I want to make this stroke which is now green into pink.

Now if I press Alt Backspace I’m just going to make the whole layer pink and that’s not what I want to do. I just want to fill the pixels that are already filled on that layer. So I can click here to lock the transparent pixels on this layer, looking for this lock icon to appear. Now if I press Alt Backspace I’m just going to change the color of that stroke. And it’s picked up the foreground color in the image. And now I would just either drag this lock icon into the trash can here or I can just click this icon again. That would unlock it. So there you have an oval framed effect with some autumn leaves that you’ve created using a brush of your own in Photoshop.

I’m Helen Bradley. Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial. Look out for more of my video tutorials on this YouTube channel and visit for more tips, tricks and tutorials on Illustrator, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom and a whole lot more.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Lightroom Tip – Getting a better Black and White image

Learn how to use the color sliders to get a great Black and White image

You can convert any image into black and white by pressing the letter V or select B&W. However, you can also craft your own black and white image to get a better result than you get with the default settings if you drag on the color sliders in the Black & White Mix panel.

Each slider controls one of the underlying colors in the image. Drag to the right to lighten a color in the black and white or to the left to darken it.

Using the sliders, you can get a crafted black and white image that looks the way you want it to look.

Sliders for which there is not corresponding color in the underlying image will have no effect or little effect when you drag on them.

Helen Bradley

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

Lightroom Tip – Shortcut key to make your Image Black and White

Quickly Converting your Image to Black and White with this shortcut key

The simplest way to convert an image to black and white is to press the letter V. This is a toggle so press it once to turn the image into black and white and again to make it a color image.

You can also convert an image to black and white by clicking the B&W option in the HSL/Color/B&W panel.

If Auto is enable click it to get a black and white conversion tailored to the needs of the image.

And, if the sliders are already all at different values you can reset them all to zero by holding Alt (Option on the Mac) and then click the ‘Reset black and white mix” option. Choose which is the best starting point for your conversion and progress from there.

If Auto is enabled, click it to get a black and white mix appropriate to the image.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Lightroom Tip – Adjusting color and removing colorcasts

How to use the Color sliders to change color and remove color casts

When an image has a colorcast or a color that you’re wanting to play down in it, select the Color option in the HSL/Color/B&W panel. Here you can select the color to minimize the impact of and reduce its impact by dragging on the Saturation slider to reduce its saturation. Drag to the right on the Luminance slider to lighten the color.

This tool also allows you to take one color and alter its hue. So, for example you can target yellow and drag it towards green or towards orange by dragging on the Yellow Hue slider. In this way, any color in the image can be adjusted to one of its adjacent colors.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Lightroom Tip – Vibrance vs. Saturation


Understand the differences between Vibrance and Saturation

The difference between Vibrance and Saturation is often misunderstood. If you drag the Vibrance slider to the right, you increase the saturation in under-saturated colors in the image. Fully saturated colors are adjusted less and skin tones are protected.

In contrast, increasing the Saturation boosts the saturation across the entire image which can destroy skin tones and which can oversaturate already saturated colors.

Typically you’ll use Saturation if your image needs an overall boost to all colors and use Vibrance to boost under-saturated colors.

Helen Bradley

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Photoshop – Make a Reusable Layout Template

Learn how to make a reusable layout template for your photos in Photoshop. This is part one of a two part series.

The second video/post shows how to use the template to populate it with images. This can be done with any version of Photoshop.

Click Here for Part 2

This technique shows a quick way to create even complex layouts using selections and layers in Photoshop. It is simple to achieve for any one with advanced beginner skills or better in Photoshop.

Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this video tutorial. In this tutorial I’m going to show you how you can use Photoshop to make a reusable layout template. In a later video I’ll show you how you can go ahead and reuse that template.

This is the type of template that I’m going to show you how to create in this video and in the next video I’m going to show you how to populate it. Basically the template is made up here of a background layer which can be any color you like and you can also change the color if you want to. And into the template we’re going to put two black boxes and these later on are going to be filled with images. Here’s one image and here’s another. And it’s going to be done in a way that’s going to be very easy for you to limit the size of these images to match these black boxes. And then you can add copyright symbol.

Now I’ve got two in this particular template because I’m not sure whether I’m going to need a black one or a white one. And that will pretty much depend on what the images are that I’m using. So into this template I’m going to put both of them so they’re both available. So in this particular video this is the point at which we’re going to have the template created. We’ll have a backing, the two boxes and then two alternate copyright symbols that we can use. So let’s get started.

The first thing to do is to choose File, New and then make a size for your template. I’m using one that could be used for a blog so it’s a mere 650 by 300 pixels in size, 72 pixels per inch because this is going to the web, RGB color mode, and because I want a white background I’m just going to select Background Contents White. But we could color that later on if we wanted to, and I’ll just click Ok. And here is my new document. It has just a background layer.

The next thing to do is to add a guide that I’m going to use to make it just a little bit easier to make those black boxes. I’m going to choose View and then New Guide and I want this one to be at 40 percent vertical. So that’s a little bit more than one-third of the way across this document. Now I’m going to add a new layer by clicking the Add New Layer icon here at the foot of the layer pallete. I’m going to target the Rectangular Marquee tool. And making sure that I’m pointed to this new layer I’m going to drag over to create a rectangle. Now I’m going to do that again so that you can see that I start my rectangle here outside the edge of the image to make sure that I get all the image up to this line. And because View is set to Snap I’m snapping to this guide so I’m making sure that I’m filling this exact area.

I have black selected here as my foreground color so I’m going to press Alt Backspace or Option Delete on the Mac to fill my rectangle with that black color. Now I’m going to add another new layer and this time I’m going to choose Select, Inverse because what that does is to select everything that I didn’t have selected before. Now I’m going to fill this with black again, Alt Backspace, Option Delete.

Now right now I’ve got two black boxes. And if I turn off these guides, I’m just going to clear the guides, you’ll see that these two boxes in fact butt onto each other so they’re creating an entire document. That’s not what I want. I want a marker between the two of them.

So I’m going to click on the topmost layer, click the Move tool and then just tap with the right arrow key and I’m just visually deciding how much space I want between these two boxes. And I think that’s a pretty good amount. So having done that I’m just going to select a different tool and that will turn this off. So here I’ve got my two layers and my background layer.

And all I need to do now is to add the copyrights so I’m just going to choose File, Open Recent because I recently opened my black and my white copyrights. So here they are. I’m going to just pull these images out of the way so that I can see my main image. And this is the white copyright here that is selected so this is its layer. So I’m just going to drag and drop it into my image. It’s way too big but we’ll worry about that in a minute. I’ll close it down. And now this is my black copyright image and I’m going to drag and drop its background layer into my image. And again, it’s way too big too. I’m now going to select the black copyright layer here and I’m going to press Ctrl and T and then Ctrl and zero. And what that does is it lets me see my sizing handles because this image this copyright image is really, really huge.

So I’m just going to size it down so it’s going to fit better in this area here. I’m going to make sure that I click this link here so that it’s sized in proportion. And now I’m going to just drag it back to approximately where I want it to be and click the checkmark. I can hide that now. And now let’s focus on the white layer exactly the same, click the layer thumbnail to select it, Ctrl and T and then Ctrl and zero. Now I’m going to drag in on the sizing handles to make my copyright small enough to position it in place on my image. I’m just going to click this link again just to make sure that this is scaled in proportion and click the checkmark.

So this is my template. It’s all done and now I can save it. So I can choose File and then Save as and I would give it a name such as 40, 60 something, like that to indicate to me that this is a template that I can now use to create other documents in future. In the next video I’ll show you exactly how to do that.

I’m Helen Bradley. Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial. If you liked the tutorial please click Like. Think about subscribing to my YouTube channel and look at my website at for more tips, tricks and tutorials on Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, iPad and a whole lot more.

Helen Bradley

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