Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Illustrator – Find, Download, Install and Use Scripts

Harness the power of scripts to automate tasks in Illustrator

Where Photoshop has Actions, Illustrator has Scripts that help you automate complex and tedious tasks. You don’t need to know how to write code – just how to copy and paste it to harness the power of scripts to automate your workflow in Illustrator.

From scripts which make a rectangle the size of the artboard, which make metaball shapes and divide text frames you’ll find lots of practical use for scripts every day. I’ll show you how to find  scripts online that you can use. I’ll show you how to find free scripts for Illustrator, how to download scripts and install them. I’ll even show you how to make a script file if you can find the code but it’s not in a downloadable format.

So you will  learn to make use of .js and .jsx scripts and how to copy and paste script code from a web page and save it correctly so you can install it into Illustrator. I’ll also show you how to run the scripts you download.

Some of the scripts discussed include join reasonably which joins paths better than Illustrator does and a range of other handy scripts.

Helen Bradley


Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Illustrator – Cartoon Style Illustrations

Create Cartoon Style Illustrations in Illustrator

Learn to create cartoon style illustrations in Illustrator.

You will see how to make shapes using the line tool and ellipse tool in Illustrator then how to fill the shapes using the Live Paint tool.The process is simple to do and fun.

Because it uses simple shapes and does not require extensive use of the pen tool it is a great way to learn more about using Illustrator without needing to be able to draw or use complex tools.

Helen Bradley

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Illustrator – Create Curly Shapes

Curly Bracket Style Frames in Illustrator

Learn how to create curly frames in Illustrator – the sort that resemble curly brackets that you use in your word processor.

You will see how to take a bracket or brace character from a font, add it to an Illustrator file and turn it to Outline type so you can work with it. You will then break it apart to get the curly shape, copy it, rotate, reflect and join it to make a curly bracket frame shape.

You can then do with it anything that you can do with a regular shape in Illustrator.

This technique is handy for scrapbookers and graphic designers and it looks great on invitations including wedding invitations. It is a fun and easy to create effect.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Illustrator – Tricks of the Appearance Panel

Tricks for Using the Appearance Panel in Illustrator

Learn tips and tricks for using the Appearance Panel in Illustrator.

You will see how to add multiple fills, how to add extra shapes to a single shape, how to move and resize a shape.

You will also see how to make part of a shape transparent using a transparency mask effect created inside the Appearance panel.

This video is ideal for intermediate level Illustrator users and will expand your knowledge of Illustrator tools.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Illustrator – Create an abstract dimensional flower

Create a Multi Layer Dimensional Flower in Illustrator Using Just One Shape

Learn how to create a multi layer dimensional flower in illustrator using just one shape.
You will see how to use the Appearance panel to duplicate the shape, fill it with partially transparent gradients and then blend it all together.

The shape also has an optional dotted stroke offset inside all the petals – all done using the Appearance panel.

This is an intermediate level Illustrator tutorial so you will need some basic Illustrator skills to be able to follow along.

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.

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 26th, 2014

Excel – Replace charts with pictures

Enhance your Charts with Visuals

by Helen Bradley
Why have boring old column and bar charts when you can have picture charts instead?

Learn how to replace bars and columns in Excel charts with small images stacked up to show the values being compared.

Image charts like this are one of Excel’s secrets so let me show you how to make them.

In the video you will learn how to replace columns and bars in Excel charts with images. You will see how to find images to use and how to stack and resize the images to fit the chart’s columns and bars.

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

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

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