Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Photoshop Tip – 5 Things to Know About Photoshop Brushes

Five Must Know Features of the Photoshop Brush Tool

Brushes are used a lot in photo editing from removing blemishes and smoothing skin to dodging and burning and painting on masks. Here are five important features of the brush tool in Photoshop.

1. Adjust Size, Opacity and Hardness from the Keyboard
When a brush is selected you can adjust its size without having to open the Brushes palette by clicking the [ and ] keys on your keyboard.

Provided a brush is selected you can change its Opacity by typing a number. For example, type 5 to set Opacity to 50%, type 1 for 10% and 0 for 100%.

To adjust the hardness of the brush hold the Shift key as you tap either the [ or ] keys on the keyboard. Each tap increases or decreases the hardness by 25% in the range 0%-100%. The results of doing this are harder to see as there is no hardness indicator on the tool options bar. However, if you have the Painting Cursor set to Normal Brush Tip in preferences you will see a difference in the brush size as you do so

2. Save the Brush
When you have a brush configured with your preferred settings, save it as a Tool preset. To do this from the Brush Preset list in the top left of the screen click the Create New Tool Preset button and type a name for the preset. Click Ok.

In future you can select this saved preset from the list and just start painting with it.

3. Disappearing Brushes
One of the very annoying things that will happen to most of us at one time or another is to have the brush appear to disappear. Instead of the regular brush cursor which shows the size and style of the brush you will see a crosshair cursor.

The issue is not with the brushes themselves but is with the Caps Lock key. If you disable Caps Lock on your keyboard the more visual brush cursor will reappear.

4. Paint a Straight Line
To paint in a straight line, click at one end of the line, hold the Shift key and click at the other end of the line. This draws a continuous brushstroke between both points.

If you adjust the spacing of your brush by using the Brush panel Spacing option to make it more than 100% you can create a line of dots this way.

This can also be used to remove power lines with the Spot Healing Brush Tool. Click at one end of the power line, Shift + Click at the other end to paint a straight line over the power line and it will be removed automatically.

5. Quickly Show the Brush Panel
You can quickly show the Brush panel so you can choose a brush to use by first selecting a tool that uses a brush such as the Brush Tool, Dodge, Burn, Eraser tool and so on.

Then right click on the image and the brush panel appears automatically. To select a brush and exit the panel in one step, double click the brush to use.

And now it is over to you. What other features of Brushes do you think are valuable for photographers to know?

Helen Bradley

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Word 2010 and 2013 Tip – Back to Where You Were

Get to Your Previous Insertion Point with This Shortcut

When you move around a Word document it can be time consuming to find the place you were previously. Word records the last places you worked and you can return to them at any time by pressing Shift + F5. Press this combination four times and you’ll be back to your current position and along the way you’ll have visited three previous editing positions.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Word 2010 and 2013 Tip – Quickly Move Paragraphs

 Move a Paragraph, at Any Time, with Ease!

To quickly move a whole paragraph up or down a Word document, click in the paragraph and press Shift + Alt + Up Arrow (or Down Arrow).

The same key combination will move an entire table row up or down a table and, when the top or bottom of the table is reached, it detaches the table row from the table to create another table which will continue moving through the page. This is a quicker and simpler way to split a table.

This tip works in just about any version of Word.

Helen Bradley

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Lightroom Tip – Discover more options with Alt (Option)

Learn to find some hidden options in Lightroom by using the Alt (Option) key

Some buttons and other features in Lightroom change depending on whether the Alt key (Option on the Mac) is pressed. For example in the Quick Develop panel in the Library module the Clarity and Vibrance options change to become Saturation and Sharpening when you hold the Alt (Option) key.

Also in the Library module the Import and Export buttons become Import Catalog and Export Catalog when the Alt (Option) key is selected. As you work in Lightroom, occasionally press the Alt or Option key to see if any useful options become visible when you do so.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Add Custom Keyboard Shortcuts in Word 2010

In Word 2010 you can set keyboard shortcuts for ribbon buttons using the program options. Choose File > Options and click Customize Ribbon. Click the Customize button at the foot of the dialog – this is available in Word 2010 but not in Excel 2010 curiously.

Click the tab that you’re interested in and locate the button on the tab that you want to customize. For example, if you choose the Home tab and click Bold as the command you’ll see that there are already keyboard shortcuts associated with that command.

Many other commands do not have keyboard shortcuts associated with them and if you want to add them you can do so.

For example, there is no keyboard shortcut for the Font Color Picker. Select Home tab and then Font Color Picker and press a new shortcut key. For example the shortcut Alt + Ctrl + Shift + C is not currently assigned.

Click in the box and press that keyboard combination. If you want to use that for the Font Color Picker, you can do so by clicking Assign. This assigns this keystroke to the Font Color Picker tool.

To test this, click Close and then Ok. Now when you select a piece of text you can apply the currently selected font color to it by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Shift + C.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

Office 2007 – DIY Keyboard shortcuts

I use Control + S to save an Office document on the fly and it’s something that is so automatic that I just do it, hundreds of times a day.

There are other things I’d like to do as quicky but which have no shortcut key assigned to them. In Office 2007 this is an easy situation to rectify.

To create your own keyboard shortcut, click the Office Button at the top left of the window and choose Word Options, Customize. You’ll see a Customize button next to a Keyboard Shortcuts option, click it and you can create a shortcut for any Word command of your choice as well as for symbols, fonts and the like.

What is particularly useful is that there’s a list of items which aren’t included on the Ribbon that you can still access if you ycreate your own custom shortcut to do so.

Helen Bradley