Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving
one and all!

Luckily, I was able to convince this fowl creature to give me his camera, before he smartly turned and swam off to safety. Far better to have the photo, than to talk about the one that got away.

While I'm certainly thankful for the coming of digital photography, and for the creative expression Photoshop provides, I am most thankful for the community of fellow artists and enthusiasts who allow me to share my passion with them. Thank you for your readership and contributions.

And I am thankful for all the many talented artists who share their work across the internet to inspire, to teach, and often just to amuse us with the products of their photographic and editorial skills.

So, to thank you for stopping by on this day of celebration, I will share with you not a tip, but a bit of artistic inspiration and amusement. I hope you'll enjoy the work these talented artists have created with the technology at hand, but mostly with the greatest gift that they got for free...their creative minds.

Here is a link to their work. Enjoy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Actions...Consistant, Time-Saving Results

Everyone laughed at Bill Gates. Crazy they thought. A computer in everyone's home? What for? All they do is multiply and subtract numbers at lightening speed.

But nobody's laughing at Bill now! Bill realized how much more potential computers really had. Now, in addition to being our favorite creative tool, they are also the worlds favorite communications device.

But still, at it's core, the computer is great for performing acts of repetition. And sometimes we need that in Photoshop.

Whether we want to process a folder of 100's of photos or just repeat a special effects process that someone else created, we can do that with Photoshop Actions. At the push of a button!

Enjoy this introduction to Photoshop Actions in the video below.

Lightening Fast Word Graphics

In the previous post, I promised to tell you how to create word graphics for Photoshop with lightening speed. It's a great tip I picked up from legendary Photoshop guru Matt Kloskowski, of NAPP fame.

Hope you enjoyed that shortcut. But the fun doesn't have to end there! Get really creative by playing with the blend modes. Add shadows, bevels, and highlights. Create a clipping path, add a filter, distort with free transform.

As the holiday season approaches, I'm reminded that it is so much fun to give. That's why I give these tips!

And...that's why giving your favorite photographer a gift-boxed copy of the nationally popular "Photoshop Recipe Cards" is one of the most affordable photography gifts you can give this year.

Check out the new holiday gift offer over at:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

10 Most Common Workflow Elements

Whenever I'm asked to teach someone Photoshop, I always start with the work flow techniques I find most useful. After all, learning how to seamlessly apply the LIQUIFY tool will hardly be a good use of time if the most basic elements of your photo are out of whack.

So, here in this post I'll tell you my Top 10 Most Used, most essential techniques for creating great images. These are 10 common elements that I use 100% of the time when I edit an image in Photoshop - and why. In just a general order of importance:

To set the overall photo exposure (lightness or darkness). Use the histogram image to drag the light (rt slider mark) or dark (left slider mark) in to just  touch the edge of your histogram image. If you go beyond the touch you will be clipping pixel from your image. Sometimes that's OK, just a word of caution.

This allows me to add just a bit of contrast to create a more intense image. I've covered this elsewhere on the blog so I just restate that it basically puts just a slight "S" curve to the diagonal line. Also, I'll use CURVES to adjust the white balance if needed. Just click the white eyedropper and then sample somewhere on your photo that is supposed to be white. Zoom in if needed. The white of someones eyes are often good reference points (but not if it's you're buddy who was out drinking all night!)

3. CLONE STAMP - in the tool palette by your eraser and paintbrush. Hardly ever get an image without some spot, pimple, reflection, shadow, ghost, or intrusion that doesn't need to be covered up.

4. Ctrl-J  The ultimate layer duplication shortcut. What more can I say?

5. FILTER - OTHER - HIGH PASS, my preferred sharpening method. Use Ctrl-J to duplicate the layer you wish to sharpen. Once in, slide the marker to the left until most of the color is gone (usually pretty low on the scale, <10.) Click OK. Change the blend mode on this layer to OVERLAY. Adjust the blend mode opacity to less that 100% if it looks too sharp. Use Ctrl-E to merge this new layer down over your original and you're done.

6. MASK - the layer mask (icon that looks like a rectangle with a white circle in it) when added to a layer let's you selectively paint in or out the parts of that layer that you do not want seen. Painting with the BLACK brush will hide (or MASK) anything on that layer. 100% opacity will mask completely. Use less that 100% to fade the hiding or blend to the surroundings. But it's reversible! If you want to change what you did with black, paint it back using white!

7. RECTANGULAR MARQUEE - it's the crop before the crop. Use the rectangular marquee to copy portions of your image to a new layer for further editing. Until you figure out just how much of the photo to keep, the rectangular marquee gives you time to play with your image a bit and still undo your changes. Once you use crop, all the surrounding area of your photo, down through all the layers is gone.

8. Ctrl - New Layer Icon - this puts a new layer BELOW the one currently active. Photoshop will put your new layer always directly above the one currently active unless you give it a modifying command like Ctrl. I use this mostly for background coloring, isolating layers,  previews, or creating frames or borders.

9. Ctrl - Alt - Shift - E - this command will merge all the visible layers together into one, like FLATTEN, but with one critical distinction...all the previous layers remain in their original state. Flatten is a true merge, all of your layers will be combined into one layer which means you will lose the ability o go back and make changes if you don't like the way they blended. However, Ctrl-Alt-Shift-E will create the composite just like FLATTEN, but will do so without actually removing all the layers. It's like a great reversible PREVIEW of flatten, before the actual flatten. To use: Create a new blank layer at the top of the layers stack, then press together Ctrl-Alt-Shift-E.

10. CROP - almost everybody needs more Crop. The great photographer Robert Capa once said,  "If your photographs aren't good enough, you're not close enough."  Well, if at the Photoshop editing stage, there isn't anything we can do to physically get closer to our subject, but we can simulate the effect of closeness by zooming in. Compose your photo using the Rule of Thirds and the CROP tool to get rid of any elements that distract from the story your photo was supposed to tell.

That was a long post, but hopefully helpful.

At the risk of running on, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that from now (11/9/2010) until December 24th the beloved PHOTOSHOP RECIPE CARD books will be shipped in their very own FREE GIFT BOX!

So whether you order for yourself, or for that special shutterbug on your Christmas List, these cards will make a wonderful holiday gift. Just click on the link here > PHOTOSHOP RECIPE CARDS< or the RECIPE CARD ad at the top right.

In my next post, I'll show you how I created that crazy word graphic above in less than 30 seconds!

Robert Schwarztrauber