One of the many fantastic tutorials for Adobe Photoshop that can be found at PSDTuts is this Flaming Text Effect. It’s probably the easiest and most realistic-looking fire effect I’ve come across – mostly because it uses an actual photo of fire to create.
Russell Brown has a great video tutorial showing you how to create a life-like mirror image using Photoshop’s built-in clone source tools that goes a bit beyond just flipping the image and adjusting opacity.
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 Watermark||HDR Merge|
|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|
|Channel Mixer||Polar Coordinates|
|Convert to Profile||Radial Blur|
|Copy Data to IPTC||Reduce Noise|
|Copy IPTC to Spotlight Comments||Render|
|Desaturate||Resize to File Size|
|Deselect||Resize to X by 10%|
|Despeckle||Restore Original File List|
|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|
|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.
While 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.
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.
If 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.
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.
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.
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:
One of the more popular text effects to use in Adobe Photoshop is chrome text. You can search for hours to find the perfect Layer Style to make your job easy, but you may never find it. Instead, try this Metal Text Tutorial over at PSGallery.co.uk. The tutorial is easy to follow and can produce fantastic results with a little experimentation. From personal experience, I’ve found that your results will vary widely depending on the font you choose to use. Some areas to play with are the bevel settings and variations. While the tutorial does give you exact settings to use, you will most likely find that they don’t produce the desired effect on all fonts. Play around with them to get it to look the way you want.