PHOTOSHOP TIPS

 brush rotation

This issue, I decided to give you a bunch of stuff that works in Photoshop CS6. There are so many goodies packed into this program that it would be a crime not to let you in on some of the fun. Of course, I also have something for everyone, so there are some tips here that work in other versions of Photoshop, as well.

PRECISE IRIS BLUR

When using the Iris Blur filter (Filter>Blur>lris Blur) in Photoshop CS6, we re able to keep a portion of the image nice and sharp, while blurring the rest. In some ways, it simulates what you would get using a Lensbaby optic. One of the things you might find is when you move one of the four little white dots that set the blend, they all move together. Normally this is a good thing, but what if there s a portion of the image that goes off in the distance, like the sky along the horizon. It suddenly feels fake to have the shallow depth of field with part of the sky sharp. Here s the tip: If you hold down the Option (PC: Alt) key, you can move any point independently from the others. Ah! The control you were looking for is now here.

HOW TO CONTROL BRUSH ROTATION ON A TABLET

If you do any painting or compositing and you use a Wacom tablet, hopefully you ve explored the options in the Brush panel. You might have noticed that you can change different brush dynamics to Pen Pressure, Pen Tilt, or Rotation (if you re one of the few people lucky enough to possess Wacom s Art Pen) in the Control drop-down menus. Here s the tip: Most people don t do anything with brush rotation, and if they do, they have the rotation dynamic set for Pen Pressure. The problem with this is you have no idea what angle the brush will be, as there s no way to preview the result of rotation and pressure. Instead, set the brush rotation to Pen Tilt. Now you can tilt the pen and see the angle before you tap and apply the brush. This is a good substitute for the majority of people who don t own the Art Pen (the only tool that supports barrel rotation).

WHERE ARE MY PLUG-INS IN CS6?

I know a few people who have freaked out when they went to their Plug-ins folder in Photoshop CS6. Instead of seeing every single Photoshop filter and more in the folder, they find an empty folder. Don t fear, this is a good thing. Adobe has cleaned up the default install of Photoshop and decided not to have every default filter stored in the Plug-ins folder. When you want to install third-party plug-ins, you still put them in the Plug-ins folder and everything will work just fine.

TRIMMING IMAGES TO FIT

How many times have you placed an object in a document and then decided to crop the document s bounds to the edges of the placed image? If you engage in Web design, you ll do this all the time. Rather than using the Crop tool (C) and zooming in really close to precisely shave off every extra pixel, try this: Go to lmage>Trim. If the placed image is surrounded by transparent pixels, choose Transparent Pixels in the Trim dialog. If the image is surrounded by a solid color, select either Top Left Pixel Color or Bottom Right Pixel Color. Make sure all four boxes in the Trim Away section are checked, and click OK. Photoshop does all the work and trims the image perfectly.

CHOOSING THE EXACT SAME COLOR MORE THAN ONCE IN THE COLOR PICKER

Have you ever been designing something and find that you need to use the same color more than once, or worse, match it to a color on a webpage? Okay, sure, you could create a color swatch, but if you re only using it this once or twice, why create a swatch that you won t need later? You could use the Eyedropper, but if the color is applied to a blend or a very thin line, it will be hard to select. When you open the Color Picker, you ll see a bunch of numbers and boxes. It used to be that we wrote down the RGB or CMYK numbers to replicate a color. When the Web came along, a new way of writing colors was created in the form of hexadecimal colors. They use six digits to describe a color. This value is in the field labeled # at the bottom of the Color Picker. Simply copy these characters, and when you need to return to the Color Picker to select this exact same color again, paste the hexadecimal value to perfectly replicate the color.

A NEW WAY ТО STRETCH 3D TEXTURES: CONTENT-AWARE MOVE

If you re doing any 3D work in Photoshop, you should be well aware of using images as textures. You can place an image on the face of a 3D object using the diffuse option, and the image s colors and pixels will map to the shape. For example, say you re working on a building and the texture needs to be a bit taller; you have the option of stretching the texture, which you really shouldn t do because it will look bad. You could use the trusty Clone Stamp tool (S) to extend the texture. If you have CS6, try this: make a selection with the new Content-Aware Move tool (nested under the Spot Healing Brush tool [J]). Change the Mode drop-down menu in the Options Bar from Move to Extend. Drag in the direction that you want to extend the texture, and watch your texture grow like magic. You may have to change the Adaptation from Medium to Strict or one of the other options.

FIND THE DARKEST AND LIGHTEST PIXELS IN AN IMAGE

When using Levels, many times you ll want to identify the darkest and lightest pixels in an image. This helps to make good editing decisions. To reveal these pixels, hold down the Option (PC: Alt) key and drag the black Input Levels slider to show shadows. As you slide, you ll see a white page with pixels appearing that represent clipping on the canvas. The same is true when you re moving the highlight slider, except the document appears black, and pixels will appear as the highlights are clipped.

PREVIEW TIME-LAPSE IN BRIDGE

Do you shoot time-lapse? This is where you take a sequence of photographs at a timed interval, and then play back all the images in sequence, giving the appearance of fast-moving time in a video. I bet you didn t know that you can preview a time-lapse sequence in good old Bridge. Here s how it works: Select all the images in the time-lapse sequence. Right-click and choose Stack>Group As Stack. When you roll over the stack, you ll see a little arrow and a timeline. Click the arrow to play. Right-click on the arrow and choose a frame rate (Stack>Frame Rate). Change it to 24 or 30 frames per second. Enlarge the thumbnail and click play to preview your time-lapse. How cool is that? And it only took a second or two.

THE FASTEST WAY TO CONVERT A BACKGROUND TO A LAYER

There s one layer in your Layers panel that you can t do much with: the Background layer. Because it s a locked layer, you have to convert it to a regular layer in order to get transparency effects. This allows masking and opacity adjustments among many other things, such as the ability to apply layer styles and move it in the layer stack. I have seen many techniques for converting the background, including dragging the padlock that appears on the layer to the trash, or doubleclicking the layer and then clicking OK. Here s what I believe is the fastest possible way of making the conversion. Hold down the Option (PC: Alt) key and double-click. Done! It s instant and easy.

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