Category: Photoshop

Create a comic book halftone-dot effect for your Photoshop images

If you’ve got a particularly “uninteresting” image you want to use in your next design project and you’re looking for a way to spice it up a bit, consider adding a comic book style halftone-dot effect to your image. It’s quick and easy, uses only Photoshop’s built-in filters, and produces excellent results.

1. Choose your image.

Images with a decent amount of contrast and midtones work best, but virtually any image will do the trick. I chose this handsome little fella:

2. Duplicate the image.

Select the background layer from the layers panel and hit Command + J (or drag the layer icon to the new layer icon at the bottom of the layers panel) to duplicate the image layer. Label the new layer “Comic effect” or something meaningful.

3. Prepare for the filter

Make sure the newly created Comic effect layer is on top of the original layer (if you left the original layer set as “background” you should be good to go). Now hit the “D” key to reset your colors to solid black & solid white. Then hit the “X” key to invert them so white is the foreground color and black is the background color.

4. Apply filter

With the Comic effect layer selected, go to your menubar and select Filter>Sketch>Halftone Pattern. For now, just leave the settings at their default, which is usually: Halftone Pattern Size: 1 Contrast: 5 Pattern Type: Dot Hit OK. Your image should now look something like this:

5. Invert the image

With the Comic effect layer still selected, hit Command + i to invert the image. It should now look something like this: If we wanted to have a black & white image, we could probably stop here, but I want color, so let’s move on.

6. Adjust the blending mode

Go to your layers panel blending mode drop-down menu and select Linear Light. You can try any of the other blending methods, but I’ve found that Linear Light works with the most predictable results and requires less tweaking. Your image should now look something like this: The image is too “muddy” like it is, so we have one last adjustment to make.

7. Set the opacity

With the Comic effect layer still selected, adjust the opacity to your liking. For this image, I chose a setting of about 60%, but it really depends on the image.

Final Image:

I added a thick black comic-style border, and a thought balloon with a comic-style font to complete the theme. There are several variations of this technique, but I’ve found that just playing around with the filter settings and layer blending modes can produce a wide-variety of effects by themselves. For instance, in the Halftone Filter settings from step 3, you could choose Line instead of Dot. Play around with it and see what you can come up with.

Photoshop Action Pack for Automator

Automator If you’re a Photoshop user running Mac OSX 10.4 or 10.5, you should be taking advantage of Apple’s Automator. Automator allows you to string a series of “actions” together to create a workflow. Think of them as shortcuts. The Photoshop Action Pack 3.7 provides 90 Actions which allow you to control a huge amount of Photoshop functions, and execute complex batch operations you just can’t do with Photoshop’s built-in Actions.

The following actions are provided in the new Action Pack:

Add Empty Adjustment Layer Flip Canvas
Add Graphic Watermark Gaussian Blur
Add Layer Glass
Add Watermark HDR Merge
Arbitrary Rotate Hue/Saturation
Assign Color Profile Invert
Assign Custom Profile Load Selection
Assign Epson 2200 Profile Maximum/Minimum
Assign Epson 2400 Profile Mono Gaussian Noise
Auto Color Motion Blur
Auto Contrast NTSC Colors
Auto Levels Ocean Ripple
Bleach Bypass Open as Raw Data
Change Bit Depth Open
Change Mode Paint Daubs
Change Pixel Aspect Ratio Photo Filter
Change Resolution Pinch
Channel Mixer Polar Coordinates
Clouds Posterize
Color Balance Purge
Convert to Profile Radial Blur
Copy Data to IPTC Reduce Noise
Copy IPTC to Spotlight Comments Render
Crop Resize Canvas
Deinterlace Resize Image
Desaturate Resize to File Size
Deselect Resize to X by 10%
Despeckle Restore Original File List
Diffusion Ripple
Do Action Scale Image
Duplicate Current layer Set Blending Mode of Current Layer
Dust and Scratches Shadow/Highlight
Edit IPTC Info Sharpen Edges
Exposure (CS2 only) Sharpen More
Filter by Aspect Ratio Smart Blur
Filter by Bit Depth Smart Sharpen (CS2/CS3 only)
Filter by Color Mode Sphereize
Filter by EXIF Strip Extra Channels
Filter by File Type Swap Colors
Filter by IPTC Threshold
Filter by Orientation Trap
Filter by Size Trim
Fit Image Twirl
Flatten Document Unsharp Mask
  Use Currently Open Documents

Version 3.7 is fully compatible with PowerPC and Intel-based Macs. In addition to the action bundle, an assortment of sample workflows is provided. The included 73-page manual gives you a reference for all of the included actions, as well as an introduction to using Automator, and strategies for building Photoshop workflows. The Photoshop Action Pack is free, but donations are accepted via PayPal.

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.

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.

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 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: