How to Use Bitmap Mode in Photoshop

Of all the image modes in Photoshop, perhaps the least used today is Bitmap mode. It’s the “true” black-and-white mode, unlike Grayscale, which is what a “black-and-white” photograph really is. And Bitmap actually has a couple of advantages, though making proper use of the mode does take a little understanding.

A color picture first has to be changed to Grayscale mode to drop color out, and then one can convert to Bitmap. (If the user knows the image is going to be put in Bitmap, it’s advisable to keep it fairly high-resolution; since Bitmap only has two colors—black and white—compensating with more pixels helps keep the image from looking too grainy.) There are a couple of other things one can do to make a grayscale image better, but that’s another story.

Color Picture Convert Arrow Grayscale Picture

When Bitmap mode is called up, another dialog box asks a couple of questions. One is about resolution—usually this should not be changed. If the image already has adequate detail, it should be left alone. Increasing the resolution should be done beforehand, if at all.

Bitmap Dialog Box

The other is “Method”—how should the pixels be handled? This is the real question, as it affects the final appearance the most.

The first choice, 50% Threshold, looks at all the pixels in the image and applies a straightforward rule: If the brightness of the pixel is 128 or less, it turns black. If 129 or more (the possible range is from 0 to 255), it turns white. But this makes the picture look very harsh and blotchy, as it doesn’t take shading or grays into account.

50% Threshold Picture

The next choice, Pattern Dither, sort of does this. It tries to distribute black and white pixels a little more evenly (in a pattern, hence the name), and can create a fairly “readable” image provided the resolution is not too low. Some people consider this to look artistic, and in some cases the image turns out pretty well.

Pattern Dither Picture

Diffusion Dither, though, is a better choice for a result which looks more realistic. “Diffusion” means the pixels are scattered semi-randomly, the same way perfume gradually drifts through the air. “Dither” is defined as “The use of dot patterns to approximate colors not available in the palette.” (Wiktionary)

Diffusion Dither Picture

Halftone Screen is another matter, and produces something else again. Half-toning was used for a long time in producing newspaper photographs such that they looked like “true” grayscale images. What half-toning really does is to remake the image as a regularly-spaced pattern of dots of varying size to simulate grayscale, rather than bunching them together to make darker (or lighter, by spreading them apart) grays. How often this comes up today depends on what the print medium is going to be, but it’s not as useful for onscreen or conventional computer printing these days since half-tone techniques were developed partly to allow for rapid mass printing (newspapers, magazines) with relatively low-res, high-speed (therefore less expensive) processes.

Halftone Dialog Box Halftone Picture

The advantages to Bitmap mode are, first, it brings the file size WAY down, sometimes only a couple percent as big as the color version, or even less. (Only two colors, after all.) Ditto the grayscale version. Second, though it won’t have color, the detail and simulated gray shades can look almost as good as a true grayscale image, and take a lot less time to print. And finally, it’ll look decent on any printer, color or no. Picking the method is the only thing one usually has to worry about, and often the choice simply depends on the desired final use.

The Anchor Point Tool in Illustrator

When working in Illustrator, drawing with the Pen tool (producing Bezier curves) is a mainstay of many documents. (And in a couple other graphics programs, too.) But sometimes the tools that go with the Pen take a little time to get comfortable with. And the one I’ve been told is frankly a little confusing is the Anchor Point tool (which used to be known as the Convert Anchor Point tool, describing what it does).

You may know there are three main kinds of anchor points: Curve points, that have a smooth curve going in and coming out; Corner points, which have a sharp angle between two straight line segments; “Hybrid” points, curved on one side, straight on the other. Converting between them is easy, but using the tool may take a little practice.

Let’s say you want to convert from Corner to Curve.

Start with the Anchor Point tool

Switch to the Anchor Point tool, find the anchor point, put the sharp end of the V on it, hold down the mouse button, and drag. As you drag, you “draw out” control handles, which tell the curve what to do.

Drag to create handles

Some people think they need to do this and get them pointing in the right direction at the same time. Not necessary, though you can if you want.

The opposite is even simpler. To go from Curve to Corner, use the Anchor Point tool to simply click on the curve anchor point, and the control handles disappear. Done.

It’s creating a hybrid point that sometimes causes a little trouble, but it’s not really hard. Usually it’s easiest to create a Curve point first. Then switch to the Anchor Point tool, put the point of the V on the end of the control handle you want to get rid of, and click. (Don’t drag, though.)

Remove a handle

That side now becomes the Corner side, as it were. Dragging from the anchor point brings both handles back.

You can even “break” the connection between the two handles and simply grab one with the A.P.T., give a short drag clockwise or counterclockwise, and the two handles are now independent of each other.

Break handle connection

Or hold down the Alt key, and click a “broken” handle to restore the connection so the two now stay in a straight line again.

Practicing a little with the tool usually makes all this pretty easy. Just take your time.

Feathering a Selection in Photoshop

One of the must-have skills in Photoshop is the ability to make precise selections, since we indicate which parts of the picture we want to work with this way, and there are a number of techniques to do it. But equally important is the ability to feather, or “fuzz” the edge of the selection. Very few normal photographs are going to be so supremely razor-sharp in focus that a selection needs to be also, and even those that are will often not be super-high-resolution (that is, naturally a tiny bit fuzzy) anyway. Aside from any specific effects you want to achieve….

Open File

Once you open your file, you can start by making a rough selection with any tool—say, the Magic Wand or the Lasso. Then, either hold down the Shift key or select the Add to Selection button in the tool’s Options at top, and click or drag as needed to add the bits you want. (I admit I like the Magic Wand for a good many items, as it lets me make color-based selections quickly.)

Selection Made

Then, having made and fine-tuned the selection, we go to the Select menu, slide down to Modify, and click Feather in the submenu.

Select Menu Modify Feather Dialog Box

The number of pixels of feather you want to use will depend on a few things: The resolution of the image (the higher the res, the lower the feather number), the area you selected (larger selection=lower feather, generally), and what you want to do with the selected area (you tell me 🙂 ). For things like tinting, a lower number is usually better as you don’t want it to look like smeared paint. For blending effects like softening filters or other non-color-related ideas, a higher number would be good to soften the edge (romantic-portrait-type photos, for example).

It’s a simple effect, but a powerful one. And it doesn’t take too much practice to get a nice result. Besides, you can make a copy of the layer in question and play around with it till you get a good combination, then apply to the final draft.

Clone Stamping in Photoshop

The use of the Clone Stamp tool, in itself, is not hard to understand. It allows the user to “borrow” or copy a piece of picture from one spot to “clone” or paste elsewhere. But some people use it like a paintbrush, and clone big swaths of picture from one place to another—which looks obviously like cloning, or stereotypical “Photoshopping”.

So is there a trick to using the tool and not making things look visibly cloned? Actually, there is. It’s a little bit more work, but it’s not really difficult. It does depend somewhat on the picture and your goals.

Elephant

Once you open the picture, examine it to see where you want to borrow from and copy to. (Here I use the example of making an elephant disappear—it’d be a cool stage illusion….)

Luckily, the surroundings lend themselves to the effect I’m going for. I start by setting the size of the tool, not too big, and the hardness (how sharp the edge is) to zero, so it blends nicely.

Clone Stamp Tool Settings

I do an Alt-click where I want to borrow from, then use a few clicks to “paste” from that area over the image of the elephant. Alt-click again, from a slightly different area, a few more regular clicks on the elephant, and continue on, each time starting with a different patch, till the modification is done.

Clone Stamping

The real trick—the main point of this kind of exercise—is to borrow a little from here, a little from there. Create the cloned area as a sort of patchwork, to get a somewhat random choice of bits from the “copy” area so the “paste” area actually consists of many small ones, chosen from no one particular part.

Mostly Gone

There is also some technique to clone stamping like this—some study of the image to determine which parts to borrow from and clone to, exactly how big the tool area should be based on the image and its resolution, and so on. But the main thing is to do a little at a time, and not too much from any one area. Nature is usually pretty random when she paints, so following her precept can give you a natural-looking result.

Adobe InDesign Text Layout Tips

Having done desktop publishing since 1985, albeit on an amateur basis, I’ve learned a few tricks which seem to help with things like layout. And the ability to control layout has come a long way since I started.

One is to understand that the appearance of the type can have an influence on the readability. Using sans-serif fonts, such as Helvetica or Arial, is better for online or screen documents, whereas serif fonts like Times New Roman or New Century Schoolbook works better for print; the serifs act as guidelines, much like those on a ruled piece of paper, to speed the eye along the text.

Serif and Sans Serif

Another is the use of leading (pronounced like the name of the element or the rock group, not the idea of “lead versus follow”); for some reason, some people seem to think that minimizing the leading, or vertical distance between lines of type, to pack more text onto a page, is a good idea. As Wolverine says in the film LOGAN, “Not okay!” It becomes almost unreadable, as the eye can’t find the beginning of the next line. Many fonts now have auto-leading ratios built in. These work reasonably well in the absence of any more specialized software or criteria.

Leading

There’s one thing we can adjust fairly easily in many DTP programs (I use InDesign here as an example): The gutter space between columns of text. It’s another of those pack-as-much-text-as-possible-on-the-page things which, again, is wrong. I’ve heard various guidelines promulgated as far as exact amounts or ratios of gutter to font size, but one broad rule of thumb I’ve found pretty viable is that regardless of font, font size, or proportion of height to width of letters, one should be able to fit a minimum of five to seven words per line in a column if possible—otherwise the writing looks rather like the visual equivalent of a song played from a scratched CD or a staticky radio broadcast…a few words, pause, words, pause, and so on. That kind of stop-and-start visual almost reminds me of trying to speak with hiccups, and can actually be irritating to someone trying to read it. (If it sounds to you like I’ve run into this sort of thing as an occasional proofreader and writer, you’re correct.) But at least InDesign makes these adjustments fairly easy.

Gutter Space

Are there actual rules or formulas for all this? Several. The specifics are easy to locate, but these bits here should provide a good start.

RGB vs CMYK–Which should I use?

Having taught and worked with Adobe Photoshop for many years, I get asked many basic but good questions about it by new users. One has to do with color, and the color systems we use in a picture. There are several that Photoshop can use, but the two most common are RGB and CMYK. The question: Which is best?

The fundamental difference between the two is, RGB is meant for use on screen, and CMYK for print. The terms used to describe how they work are “additive primaries” and “subtractive primaries”, which refer to how these systems show white. For RGB, imagine standing in a dark room with a white wall. Take three flashlights, with color filters (red, green, and blue) and shine them on the wall. Where the three colors overlap, they seem to make white light (the opposite of what a prism does with white light—see Pink Floyd’s album THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, specifically the cover—and the back cover.) So the three additive primaries add up to white.

Additive Primaries

With CMYK, the example is even simpler—a piece of paper going through a color printer may have areas where no ink or toner has landed. And the color of the paper we usually use? White, of course. So when the colors are held back, or subtracted, from a spot on the paper, that spot stays (or is) white.

Subtractive Primaries

But we need black ink too, because the dyes or pigments only sorta make black, and a normal eye can see this. So the printing folks added it for completeness.

In doing this, though, we get a couple of problems, and it takes a little thought to get round them. First, because the RGB system normally involves a screen that illuminates itself, it can show more subtle shadings of color than a piece of printed paper (which, unless you’re using radioactive inks—shame on you!—does NOT glow in the dark). The term Photoshoppers and graphic artists use is the “gamut”, which is wider/larger for RGB than for CMYK (where the ink/toner can smear a tiny bit and mess up the shadings). And a printout can’t show all the shades that a screen can. By definition, therefore, printout will always look a little less intense (“saturated”) than onscreen images.

Color Gamuts

And second, any Photoshop image saved in the CMYK system will use 33% more space on disk, regardless, than if saved with RGB. Why? Because the number of color “channels”, how many kinds of color there are in the picture at minimum, is three for RGB, and four with CMYK.

So which should we use?

If you’re scanning in a photograph you want to clean up and reprint (say, from the early 1900s), CMYK will work better, because what you’ll see on screen is what will come out of the printer. But if you’re scanning for archival purposes, scan in CMYK if possible to get a realistic version of the image, THEN change to RGB. Since RGB’s gamut is wider than CMYK’s you won’t lose any subtleties or shadings, but you will get a smaller file on disk. And you can scan in CMYK, do all your work, then save in RGB for later. Best of both worlds. Just have to make sure we understand the tradeoff of size, gamut, and storability.

Photoshop CC 2017 Property Panel Update

November of 2016 has seen an update to the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite which includes Photoshop. I have already posted one article on the changes to the New Document window and another article on the updates to the Liquify Filter.

The focus of this article will be on the changes to the Properties Panel in Photoshop CC 2017. The last couple of updates have seen improvements to the Property Panel, but this by far is the biggest change.

Take a look at this screen capture of the 2015.5 Property Panel in use.

photoshop-cc-2015-5-properties-panel

The Properties Panel contains absolutely no information about the selected layer.

The same layer selected in Photoshop CC 2017 now includes x and y coordinates as well as width and height data.

properties-2017

Here is another example this time with a text layer selected. First in the 2015.5 release.

photoshop-cc-2015-5-properties2-panel

And now in the 2017 Update.

properties2-2017

In addition to the x and y coordinates available previously we now can change the font, font size, alignment, and color. Additionally there is an Advanced button that will open the Character Panel.

All of these changes are designed to accomplish one thing, making each task more efficient by limiting the number of panels we need to open.

The Properties Panel update is a welcome change to Photoshop CC 2017.

Photoshop CC 2017 Face-Aware Liquify Update

If you remember the last update to Photoshop (Summer 2016) we shared a post about the new Liquify Filters Face-Aware feature. It turned out to be a wonderful addition.

The filter addition would naturally recognize the facial region and let you modify eyes, nose, mouth, and face shape. Working on a face or multiple faces became much easier.

face-aware-liquify-2015-5

But there was a drawback…there was only one set of adjustment tools for the eyes. Which meant the changes would be applied equally to both eyes.

Photoshop CC 2017 has addressed this issue and has fixed it. The Liquify Filters Face-Aware settings include two sets of controls for the eyes; one for the left and one for the right. Eye size, height, width, and tilt can be set for each eye independently.

face-aware-liquify-2017

Thank you Adobe. A great filter is now even more powerful and an easier to use utility.

 

Photoshop CC 2017 New Document Window

Sometimes the changes to an application are subtle, sometimes not so much. Last year’s Start Workspace in Photoshop was one of those not so subtle changes. Just a few weeks back Adobe’s Creative Cloud application suite updated to its 2017 version and Photoshop has added another one of those not so subtle changes.

Selecting File > New in the menu bar or the New button within the Start Workspace has resulted in dialog box similar to this for a number of years.

2015-5-new-file

If you expanded the Document Type menu you were presented with several choices including; Clipboard, Default Photoshop Size, U.S. Paper, International Paper, Photo, Web, Mobile App Design, Film & Video, Iconography, Art & Illustration, Artboard , and Custom.

2015-5-new-file-options

This is no longer the case. The New Document window is much larger and although some of the old menu categories remain the window is completely revamped.

2017-new-file

Each of these presents a screen with a series of default sized blank documents, and also pre-built templates available through Adobe Stock.

2017-new-photo

Many of the templates are free and there is a search option that will take you to Adobe Stock online so you can look at the other options available.

2017-new-web-download

Once downloaded the resulting file will contain a series of scenes, layers, or artboards and each item will be on its own layer ready to be used as you see fit.

2017-after-download

All the custom options are still there but Adobe has added through Adobe Stock many start-up options. You don’t have to start with a black slate if you don’t want to.

 

 

InDesign Data Merge with Images

In this Adobe InDesign tutorial you’ll learn how to merge multiple image files into Adobe InDesign to create form letters, postcards or other custom InDesign documents that use custom images for each page in the document. To learn more, visit our InDesign Training Course page to see our InDesign Training classes.

Select and Mask Workspace: Photoshop 2015.5

Photoshop has continued to refine the selection tools available and the latest update, June 2016, is no exception.

Gone is the Refine Edge tool, or better yet, not gone but improved and placed in its own workspace.

image-one

image-two

I have two images I would like to combine and masking out the unnecessary bits of the second image pictured is a simple task which has been made easier. Once photo number two has been added as a new layer to the first image and sized so our participants are approximately the same size we’ll choose the Quick Select tool. Notice there is a new choice in the Options bar, a button labeled Select and Mask.

image-three

quick-select

Clicking the Select and Mask Option takes us into a new workspace and lays out all of our tools in a new window. All the options you’ve used in the past with the Refine Edge tool are here and a few more. The View Mode now includes Onion Skin with a transparency setting that makes masking even easier than it used to be.

select-and-mask-workspace

select-and-mask-transparency

After all adjustments have been made clicking the OK button will apply the mask and return you your standard workspace.

select-and-masked-image

I’ve seen a post or two on Adobe’s Community forum concerned that the Refine Edge tool was gone. Have no fear, it’s still there it has been renamed and resides in the Select and Mask workspace.

Creating Maxfield Parrish Clouds Using Photoshop

I was recently leaving the parking lot of a local business when the cloud formation in front of me reminded me of a painting by American painter and illustrator Maxfield Parrish. If you are not familiar with his work here is a painting called Ecstasy that was commissioned for the 1930 General Electric Mazda Lamp Calendar. The model was his daughter Jean Parrish.

ectasy

The clouds I was looking at were beautiful and saturated with color because it was close to sunset. I grabbed my phone, took a picture, and went about my business. Imagine my disappointment when I looked at the photo later that same evening and this is what I had captured.

IMG_1434-smaller

No worries…that’s one of the many reasons we use Photoshop.

Step number one was to get rid of the power lines, street lights, and poles. My tool of choice was the Spot Healing Brush with Content Aware active. Simply setting the brush size and dragging over sections of the poles and power lines with this tool and next thing you know; unsightly clutter removed.

spot-healing-brush-image

I wasn’t 100% sure how much of the image I wanted to keep so the next thing that needed to go was the building in the lower left-hand corner. Selecting that area with the Rectangular Marquee tool and using Content Aware Fill was all it took. By the way, this was all being done to a copy of the background layer.

content-aware-fill-after-image

Now it was time to decide what part of the image stayed, and what would be cropped. If you think you might change your mind later don’t forget to uncheck Delete Cropped Pixels in the Options bar. That way all of the image is still available.

cropped-image

Now to enhance the image with one of those layers that almost any photograph will benefit from; a Levels Adjustment. Or some of you may prefer a Curves Adjustment. Either way we are adjusting the tonal quality of the photo. Removing the vale as it were, and tweaking our contrast. At this point I’m 90% there.

levels-adjusted-image

One more step and we are complete. Just a slight bump in saturation done by adding a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer.

memphis-clouds

When complete we have a sky that would be the perfect backdrop to any Maxfield Parrish painting. And all it took was a little imagination…and Photoshop.

Adobe InDesign CC 2015.4; Library Filtering

Using InDesign to create your publication is making your life so much easier.

The photo shoot for your upcoming article went well.

Then you realize in all the pictures taken there is one shot that didn’t happen. Timing, lighting, location…whatever it was, the image isn’t there.

Thankfully, the Creative Cloud includes Adobe Stock images. All that is necessary is opening InDesign’s CC Library Panel. It can be found in every Workspace except Printing and Proofing and even then can be opened by choosing Window > CC Libraries in the menu bar.

library-panel

Once open, the Library Panel offers a search option at the very top.

adobe-stock-search

Typing in a search term or phrase will return hundreds of results from Adobe Stock’s photos, illustrations, vectors, and videos. It certainly would be nice if I could narrow the results down to include only photos and vectors.

New to the June 2016 release of InDesign that request has been fulfilled. Immediately below the search bar you will now find a “Results from Adobe Stock” option with a spinner to the left that lets you expand your search choices to include four filters; photos, illustrations, vectors, and videos.

adobe-stock-search-categories

Checking the appropriate boxes will immediately narrow your search down to only photos, and vectors in our case. Less hunting, less work equals a more productive you.

adobe-stock-library-filtered

Oh, by the way, even though this article is about InDesign this new search filter is also available in Photoshop, Illustrator, Animate, and Dreamweaver. Enjoy!

Face-Aware Liquify: Photoshop 2015.5

The Liquify filter has been part of Photoshop since version 6.0 which was released in September 2000. Over the years there have been a variety of improvements in this filter and the newest release is no different.

There is an entirely new facial recognition portion to the Liquify filter. It works on one face or many faces as long as they are full frontal views. It doesn’t work on profiles. There are separate settings for eyes, nose, mouth, and face size.

Let’s take a look at what it can do. We’ll start with a photo from Adobe Stock.

AdobeStock_73154683_750x500

face-aware-liquify

face-eye-size-aware-liquify-

face-eye-size2-aware-liquify-

face-nose-aware-liquify-

 

face-mouth-aware-liquify-

face-shape-aware-liquify-

With a few adjustments to each of the four facial areas our original photo now takes on a new appearance. A narrower face, raising and narrowing the nose, thinner lips, and making the eyes a little smaller looks like a different person.

AdobeStock_73154683_liquified_750x500

 

Straightening an Image Using the Crop Tool: Photoshop 2015.5

Sometimes the picture is perfect…almost. You see, while the composition is excellent that slight tilt left or right throws the image off. Photoshop has offered a couple of different tools over the years that will allow us to fix this issue but not without additional doctoring.

With Photoshop’s latest release (2015.5 June release) they have knocked it out of the park. Let’s take a look at a simple example. Here is a shot of downtown Memphis, TN. taken from the observation deck of Memphis Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid.

before-crop

It’s a decent enough shot but the slight tilt of the camera puts the horizon at an angle, which you can see in this screen capture from Photoshop.

horizon-line

The tools we’ve used in the past, primarily the ruler tool, would allow us to straighten the image. But then we would end up needing to crop the image to take care of the white or transparent background that became visible where the picture rotated. The crop tool also allowed us to rotate an image to straighten it, and CS6 even proportionally cropped the picture as we rotated it. As a matter of fact, that’s still an option as you can see here. The area between the orange lines is what will be cropped.

straight-but-cropped

Ideally we could rotate the image and not need to crop the finished product.

Enter a new usage for Content Aware that is associated with the Crop Tool. The Content Aware algorithm continues to amaze as it finds its way into more and more tools. Now all you need to do is check the Content Aware checkbox in the Options Panel when you select the Crop Tool.

selecting-content-aware

Rotate the image so the horizon is level, press enter or click the Commit current crop operation button and watch in amazement as the picture is rotated and the areas that would normally be blank are filled based on surrounding pixels.

typical-straighten-content-aware

No pixels lost and a perfect horizon line. Thank you Photoshop and thank you Content Aware!

after-crop-straightened

Font Matching: New to Photoshop 2015.5

Have you ever seen an ad before and wondered what font was being used? That’s probably not the type of question you ask of just anyone, but in the world of graphic design…well that’s a different story. The latest release of Photoshop, 2015.5 June release has a new feature that will help answer that nagging font question.

Let’s use this image as our example and we’ll place some sample text above it to test our results.

font-to-test-with

With the image containing our unknown font open in Photoshop we’ll need to designate the area to sample from, so using the rectangular marquee tool simply draw a rectangle around the text you’d like to sample.

marquee-font-to-match

Next, using the menu select Type > Match Font.

type-menu-match-font

After having selected Match Font from the menu, a new Match Font dialog box will open. The dialog box will be divided into two sections. The upper section will offer suggestions from your installed fonts. The lower section will offer suggestions from the available fonts at Typekit.

suggested-installed-and-available

Then it’s just a matter of doing some comparisons’. Choose an installed font for your sample text and see how much it does or doesn’t look like the font being sampled.

local-font-selected

In a perfect world we would always find an exact match, but that’s not where we live and there are hundreds of thousands of different fonts that exist. It will find the closest suggestions it has based on what you and Typekit have.

It can be a true time saver.

 

 

Photoshop Image Adjustment Layer

The art of photography has changed dramatically with the advent of the smart phone. Today everyone is a photographer, and pretty much all of those photographs need some adjustment. Enter Photoshop with the ability to adjust your pictures in a non-destructive way.

The Adjustments Panel in Photoshop includes 16 different types of adjustments that can be applied to your image as a separate layer. By doing this as a separate layer none of the pixels in the original image are altered. The benefit to you of course means you always have your original.

Let’s take a look at two of the most common adjustments: levels, and hue/saturation.

Here is a beautiful image of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco taken from a passing plane. At first glance everything looks great but truth be told it could use a little help.

base-image

This image shows the histogram, or tonal range of or picture. Notice the two orange triangles on either end. They indicate where black should start on the left side (0) and where white should start on the right side (255). By moving the sliders, the circled options, we have re-established those tonal beginning points. The mid-tone slider has also been adjusted to drop the mid-tone just a touch. The resulting changes have a dramatic impact on the image.

levels-histogram

base-levels

One additional adjustment to our image will be beneficial. We’ll bump the saturation (color intensity) just slightly to improve the coloring in the lower left-hand corner.

saturation-adjustment

base-levels-saturation

The difference is subtle but just enough to help the image pop.

Change Colors Using Blending Modes in Photoshop

There are times when everything about the picture you’ve just taken seems to be perfect. Then, when it comes time to use it, you discover one key color just doesn’t work. Or you need the same item in more than one color.

Using Photoshop one solution is to apply the color needed to a new layer and change its Blending Mode.

Take our automobile example for instance. The photograph captures the essence of the car but the ad needs to feature a new, hot color.

telsa-base-color

Our first step is to add a new empty layer above the car layer. There are several ways to do this but we are only going to mention one which is the keyboard shortcut; Ctrl+Shift+N on Windows , or Cmd+Shift+N on a Mac.

This adds a new layer above our background layer. We’ll rename this new layer “paint job” by double clicking the name in the Layers Panel and typing the new name in its place.

Next we’ll change the foreground color in the Tools Panel to the new color we want on our car. If you know the RGB color value you can click the foreground color swatch to open up the Color Picker Panel. Then type the RGB values in the appropriate location and click OK.

tesla-color-picker-window

With a new layer in place and the color we what selected the next set would be to use the Bruch Tool to paint over the car on the new layer. It doesn’t have to be perfect, we can clean things up later.

tesla-color-layer

The magic happens in our next step. Once we’ve painted over the existing color and it looks like our next example image we change the Blend Mode of this new “paint job” layer from Normal to Color.

tesla-blend-mode-menu

Voila! A new car with a new paint color. There may be a little clean-up work needed on the “paint job” layer, but that can be handled with the Eraser Tool.

tesla-blend-mode-color (more…)

Photoshop Interface Easter Egg

Easter eggs in software have been around since 1978. The term was made popular by developers at Atari after game designer Warren Robinett placed his name as a hidden message within the game Adventure. Finding the message was like going on an Easter egg hunt.

Today, Easter eggs are hidden gems within software applications, operating systems, and DVDs. The developers at Adobe are no strangers to this concept.

The new dark interface settings within Photoshop have given the development team a wonderful location to place an Easter egg. To get to these settings we need to open the Preferences panel and we can do so by selecting Edit > Preferences > Interface on a Windows computer, or by clicking the Photoshop menu and going to Preferences > Interface on a Mac.

edit-preferences-interface

Inside the Interface portion of the Preferences panel there are four square buttons at the top of the dialog box. They represent our four different color settings. Clicking on each one allows you to lighten or darken the UI (User Interface). The Easter egg is changing those buttons to either coffee cups or slices of toast.

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Hold down Ctrl+Alt+Shift on Windows or Cmd+Opt+Shift on a Mac and click on one of the buttons…they change into coffee cups. Do the same thing again…they change back into square buttons. One more time…they change into slices of toast. A fourth click while holding down our key combination and they return to square buttons.

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photoshop-preferences-interface-toast (more…)

Photoshop; Finding an Image Center

There are times when it would be helpful to find and mark the exact center point of an image. Let’s discuss a few ways this can be done.

The most manual way of doing it can be done by opening the menu option, Image > Image Size, or using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+ Alt+ I on Windows, or Cmd+ Opt+ I on a Mac. Using the width and height you can determine the halfway mark and drag a couple of guides into place.

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image-size-dialog-box

Another way of doing this would be to open the image. Show the rulers either using View > Rulers in the menu or the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+ R on Windows or Cmd+ R on a Mac. Then using the menu option Select > All or Ctrl+ A on Windows or Cmd+ A on a Mac, select the entire layer. Using the Move Tool check the Show Transform Controls checkbox in the Options bar. You should now see a “target mark’ in the center of the image. Drag a horizontal and vertical guide to this position and you are set.

target-mark

 

How about a third option? Using the same first two steps as the above method, while the background layer is selected, choose Edit > Free Transform in the menu, or Ctrl+ T on Windows, or Cmd+ T on a Mac. This will show the same “target mark” in the center of the image. Place your horizontal and vertical guides and you are good to go.

Here’s one last way of showing and marking the center of an image. Using View > New Guide Layout in the menu, select two rows and two columns with a 0px gutter for each, click ok and you are done.

center-point-guide-layout (more…)

Photoshop Tips and Tricks; Rotate View Tool

There are times when you discover a tool or technique that has been there for a while. I believe all Photoshop users experience this at some point. The Rotate View Tool is one such tool for me.

It was introduced with Photoshop CS4 and I must admit I was blissfully ignorant of its existence for a long time.

Having come from a fine art background I have spent many hours drawing, and painting. When you cannot rest your hand on a part of the canvas because of wet paint, or need a better angle of attack to finish a sketch the easy approach is to rotate the canvas on the easel or the paper on the desk. Sometimes it is more about the flow of a line because you are left or right handed. The left side of a curve is easier to draw than the right side because of wrist motion. Rotating the paper or canvas makes that easier to accomplish.

When you are using some of the same drawing tools in Photoshop the same issues arise. Whether you are drawing with a mouse or a tablet it would be great to have some of that same flexibility on a computer that exists working on paper.

That is where Photoshop’s Rotate View Tool comes to the rescue. In Photoshop CC 2015 pressing the letter R as a keyboard shortcut, or left clicking and holding the mouse button down on the Hand Tool will reveal the Rotate View Tool.

rotate-view-tool

Now you can move your cursor onto the image, left click and rotate the image while a compass like symbol displays the direction of the rotation as you drag. You also have the option of typing the degrees of rotation in the option bar. Now your natural left or right handed flow is easier to control.

rotating-image

Once you have finished using the brush you can return the image to its normal position by clicking on the Reset view button in the option bar while the Rotate View Tool is active.

It is a simple tool, but like all tools, invaluable when you need it. I am happy to have stumbled upon it and wanted to share it with you. Enjoy!

Adobe Animate CC, Coming Soon to the Creative Cloud

an_appicon_192From its creation at FutureWave to Macromedia to Adobe, Flash Professional has given us 20 years of animation and video for the web. The development of HTML5 and the proliferation of mobile devices has lead Adobe to retool the application to better serve our needs. No longer a tool to output just SWF files, but also HTML5, and JavaScript based animations using Canvas, Adobe has decided a new name will better represent its purpose and position. Beginning with the early 2016 release Flash Professional will be renamed Adobe Animate CC.

It will continue to support SWF and AIR applications, and also will include the ability to output animations in any web based format including SVG (via extensions).

 

Adobe Animate CC will offer:

  • New vector art brushes
  • Improved pencils
  • 360 degree rotation of the canvas
  • Controlling audio syncing without coding
  • Color tagging for quick updating throughout a project
  • Access to Adobe Stock images, illustrations, and vector graphics
  • CreativeSync integration with CC Libraries
  • Support for 4K+ video export
  • Support for .OAM files

When it becomes available through the Creative Cloud application it will be listed as Adobe Animate CC. After you download it you will find it among you applications as Adobe Animate CC 2015.

The future of web animation looks bright and with this new release Adobe Animate CC is poised to continue the legacy that was Flash Professional.

Paragraph Shading in Adobe InDesign CC 2015

Select only the paragraphs you want shaded.

Having a background color for a paragraph in InDesign has always been possible. Just use the selection tool and set the fill color to the background color of your choice. If there were several paragraphs in the text frame, use the rectangle tool to draw a rectangle the size of the paragraph you wanted shaded. Set the fill color to the appropriate shade and then place it behind the paragraph.

Just remember to group the rectangle with the text frame, otherwise moving one will not necessarily move the other. Do this a dozen or more times within a document and it just creates more pieces to keep up with.

Along comes the June release of InDesign CC 2015 and all this changes…for the better.

There is a new added feature to the Paragraph Panel that makes this so much easier. Simply use Type > Paragraph, Window > Type & Tables > Paragraph in the menu or the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+T on Windows or Cmd+Opt+T on a Mac. Any one of these methods will open the Paragraph Panel.

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indesign-cc-2015-text-frame-window-menu

You will now notice a new section at the bottom of the panel with a Shading checkbox and a color drop-down menu. All you need to do is select the paragraph you want shaded, check the box and select a color.

indesign-cc-2015-text-frame-paragraph-panel

If you need to do any fine tuning there is a separate Paragraph Shading Panel that can be found in the Paragraph Panels menu. Adjustments such as tint, offset in all four directions, and shading alignment with each line, as well as a few others are available in this panel.

indesign-cc-2015-text-frame-paragraph-panel-menu

indesign-cc-2015-text-frame-paragraph-shading-panel

Now the shading is part of the paragraph, not a separate piece that we need to keep track of.

Auto-Size Text Frames in Adobe InDesign CC 2015

Eliminate overset text when editing content in InDesign.

Your document is finished, your layout is perfect, and you get that last minute email or phone call telling you there are six copy changes that need to be made. We have all been in this position before. Shortening content will not cause as many problems as adding content, usually.

Adding a sentence or two in our perfect layout will generally result in pushing content beyond the bounds of our text frame, and that is called overset text. The information is there it is just truncated. Also preflight is informing us we have errors in our file (thank goodness for preflight).

indesign-cc-2015-styled-textframe-overset-text

Fixing overset text problems is not difficult, it is just time consuming. It would be nice if there was a way to eliminate this problem, especially when there is available space for content to grow.

Such a fix exists, and it can be found in the InDesign Text Frame Options panel.

indesign-cc-2015-object-textframe-options-menu

This panel can be found by selecting Object > Text Frame Options in the menu or using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+B on Windows or Cmd+B on a Mac. The panel contains three different tabs and we are referring to the third tab labeled Auto-Size.

textframe-options-autosize-default

At the top of the panel you will find a drop-down menu that offers the auto-size options: Off, Height Only, Width Only, Height and Width, and Height and Width (Keep Proportions). After making a choice from this menu your next option is to control the direction of text flow. Let us say we have chosen height only. By default text will be allowed to expand vertically in either direction. You can modify your setting to direct text to remain anchored to the top flowing downward or anchored to the bottom flowing upward. Similar options are available if you choose width only as well as height and width.

textframe-options-autosize-height-only

 

textframe-options-autosize-anchored-top-preview

In addition to these setting you have three optional constraints: Minimum Height, Minimum Width, and No Line Breaks.

These settings can make life so much easier, especially when text added to page 3 pushes content on page 27. Auto-size text to the rescue.

Creating Fractions, Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.1

Photoshop’s Glyphs Panel can create custom fractions.

In a previous post we talked about the newly added Glyphs Panel to Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.1. Now let us take a look at using fractions from this panel.

Most fonts will supply a few fraction glyphs like our example using Arial, but you and I both know that those 7 fractions will not cover all of our potential needs. That means we will need to create a custom fraction for our text.

photoshop-glyph-fractions

We will begin by opening the Glyphs Panel either from the Type menu, Type > Panels > Glyphs Panel or the Window menu, Window > Glyphs.

photoshop-glyph-fractions-1

For our example I have chosen to undock the Glyphs Panel and place it to the left of our text. Undocking a panel is as simple as left clicking on the tab with the panel name and dragging it where you would like to use it.

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Our next step is to narrow down the glyph choices. You will find a drop-down menu in the center of the panel. We are looking for Numerators.

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The only thing we will find within the Numerators category will be numbers 0-9 all classified as numerators or the upper value of a fraction. Double clicking the number you need is all it takes to insert it into your text, as long as your cursor is in the correct location.

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Now we need a slash to separate the top number of our fraction from the bottom number. That can be found in the Glyphs Panel drop-down menu under Math Symbols.

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Double clicking the fraction slash will insert it wherever your cursor is.

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That leaves the denominator, which can be found in the Glyphs Panel drop-down menu under Denominators.

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Double click the value you need and as simple as these few steps have been you now have the exact fraction your text requires.

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Glyphs Panel, Adobe Photoshop CC 2015

A Glyphs Panel has been added to Photoshop

Those of you that use Illustrator or InDesign have had access to this panel for some time now. But, Photoshop for some reason has taken it’s time in making it available.

Well, it’s finally here! The June 2015 release of Photoshop has seen fit to include a Glyphs panel. We defined glyph in another article so we will just direct your attention there.

We have two different ways we can open the Glyphs Panel. We can select Type > Panels > Glyphs Panel in the menu or select Window > Glyphs in the menu as well.

photoshop-type-panels-glyphs

photoshop-windows-glyphs

Once the Glyphs Panel is open it gives you access to all the alternative characters the selected font makes available. Adding an accented character, fraction, or decorative character is as simple as finding it in the panel and then double clicking it to insert it into your text.

photoshop-glyphs-panel