Category: Adobe Apps

Easily adjust transparency of layers and brushes in Photoshop

Adobe PhotoshopWhile most people know you can adjust the transparency of layers and brushes in Adobe Photoshop manually by using the sliders in the appropriate tool panels, many don’t know you can do it easily with just the keyboard. To adjust the transparency of a layer using the keyboard, simply click the layer you wish to adjust and type the percentage of transparency you wish to use. If you want the layer to be 54% transparent, just type 54. The same tip works for adjusting the flow (transparency) of brushes. Just select the brush tool (hit the “b” key) and type a number. If you want the brush to have a flow of 35%, just type 35. I love this tip for making small adjustments, rather than using the picky sliders which always seem to be a pain to make accurate adjustments easily.

Another Photoshop brush paradise

I’ve listed a ton of places to get Photoshop Brushes in the past. Today I have yet another to add to your bookmarks. PSBrushes has categorized thousands of Photoshop brushes along with convenient preview images for your download enjoyment. Categories like Grunge, Space, Plants, Oriental, and Fractals make it extremely easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. Some of the sets are quite large, containing over 80 brushes each. Others are smaller and very specific, with only 8 to 10 per set. All are quality sets.

Getting the most from InDesign transparency

Adobe InDesignLong, long ago, Adobe gave us transparency in InDesign version 2. In each subsequent version of InDesign, Adobe has added ways to enhance documents with transparency, making it even more enticing. There’s one thing that hasn’t changed, however, and that’s the need to flatten transparency for output to a PostScript device. In the article InDesign Transparency: No Longer the Forbidden Fruit over at CreativePro, you’ll learn everything you need to know to produce a successful printed layout when you download the PDF excerpt from InDesign Magazine.

Copy multiple Photoshop layers into a new document without flattening

Adobe PhotoshopIf you’re working on a multi-layer document in Photoshop and you want to copy a portion of the image into a new document, there’s no need to flatten the image first. You can easily do it by making a selection around the area you want to copy and select Edit>Copy Merged from the menu, or hit Command + Shift + C. This will copy all the artwork inside the selection area, regardless of what layer it is on. Then you can paste it into another Photoshop document. Just be aware that when you paste the artwork, it will be a flattened piece of artwork.

Learn Photoshop’s Color Replacement Tool

As you may recall if you’re a long-time reader (going back to the CreativeGuy blog days in 2005), I posted an article titled Color shifting and replacement in Photoshop covering the easiest way to change the color of objects in your image. It’s an excellent and simple overview, which I re-posted here at TGM late last year. Veerle also covered the tool in this blog post in 2006. Well here we are in 2008, and video is all the rage these days, so here’s the same color replacement tip in a video post over at Sebastian Sulinski’s Design site. This tool is often overlooked by most designers – though professional photographers are most like as attached to it as they are their favorite lens. Play around with it for a while, I think you’ll begin to see how powerful the tool can be in no time.

Underline or strike text in Adobe Illustrator

For longtime users of Adobe Illustrator, you may not have even noticed that back in Illustrator CS2, Adobe finally added a simple way of underlining text – rather than drawing a vector line with the pen tool and grouping it with your text. CS2 and CS3 users can use text underline and strikethrough by opening your Character Panel, click on the Options flyout menu and choose Show Options. Two new buttons should appear near the bottom of the Character Panel. Much easier for us old-timers!

Tilt-shift photography Photoshop tutorial

One of my favorite effects for an image is the tilt-shift effect. It makes an ordinary image appear as though it is a miniature model, as the photo of Times Square in NY above shows. Tilt-Shift Photography has a great tutorial to show you how to turn your image into a tilt-shift masterpiece, using just the tools built-in to Photoshop. Keep in mind that you want to give the impression of a miniature model. Miniature models are usually viewed from above so try and choose a photo with an elevated viewpoint.

Using “Global” colors in Adobe Illustrator

First let me start out by saying that Global process colors in Adobe Illustrator are mostly useful only if you’re doing a complex illustration or layout that uses a lot of the same color or tints of the same color. Global process colors are easily identified in Illustrator’s swatches palette by their empty white triangle in the lower right corner of the swatch. Spot colors use the same triangle, but put a small dot inside it, and process colors have no triangle at all. Global process colors allow you to create a single color swatch that you can update and have it apply, of course, globally. For instance, if you apply the same global color to many objects in your Illustrator document, then you decide you want to change the color, it only takes a click or two to update all the objects. You simply alter the global color to your liking, and everything on the page updates. You can create a Global process color by clicking the Global check box in the New Swatch dialog or the Swatch Options dialog box. Global colors are disabled by default.

Use Overprint Preview in Adobe Illustrator when using spot colors

Adobe IllustratorWhen you’re working with spot colors like Pantones in Adobe Illustrator, overprint settings can dramatically affect the output results. For this reason, it’s best to periodically go to your Illustrator menubar and select View>Output Preview>Overprint Preview and view your document for undesired overprint settings. This will give you a more accurate idea of what your file will look like when printed.

Using unsharp mask in Photoshop

There are more than a few ways to sharpen your digital images. With the release of Adobe Photoshop CS3 we were given Smart Sharpen, a new filter that makes sharpening easy. But I’m kind of old school, and I still like to use Unsharp Mask to sharpen my images. Sharpening an image is essentially taking the part of an image where two colors meet and making the dark areas darker and the light areas lighter. The results are the appearance of a sharper image, and an image with more contrast. As you can see in the image above, the highlights in the eyes, the details in the shirt collar, and the finer details of the hair are all brought out with just a little Unsharp Mask. However, as you can see by the areas around the ears, it’s easy to go a little too far and end up with a halo effect. When we open the Unsharp Mask filter dialog box, we have the opportunity to adjust how much darker those dark areas get, or how much lighter the light areas get, using the Amount setting. Adjust the Radius to enlarge or reduce the area around that color edge that the filter applies to. Be careful with this one, as you can really get some funkiness if you go too far. Threshold simply determines how much difference in the light and dark areas are necessary before sharpening is applied. PhotographyJam offers some settings as basic starting points for Unsharp Mask. Take a quick look at them and print them out, they can save you a lot of mucking around later. Remember that when you’re sharpening images for newsprint, it’s best to over-sharpen the image just a bit. This will produce crisp, high-contrast results when printing with low-quality newspapers. And don’t forget that you can use the Sharpen Tool to sharpen specific areas of your image simply by painting on the areas of the image you want sharpened. For more info on sharpening images, check out these informative pages: