Converting images from color to black and white in Photoshop

There are many ways to convert an image from color to black & white in Adobe Photoshop. I’ve posted tips before about this, but with Photoshop CS3, there’s a dead-simple way to do it that produces great results, and offers you the ability to fine-tune your conversion. Instead of simply selecting Image>Grayscale to convert your image to B&W, select Image>Adjustments>Black&White (Command + Option + Shift + B for you keyboard shortcut junkies). In the resulting Black and White conversion dialog box, you’ll be presented with the opportunity to adjust various colors in the conversion process. If you’re familiar with how this works, you can adjust how each color in your image converts to gray. If that’s a little more work than you wish to do, you can simply click on the image and move your cursor around to have Photoshop automatically adjust your image based on the sampled color. As you can see in the image above, the normal Convert to Grayscale method produces a flat and quite dull image. Though this may work for some images, using the Black and White Adjustment allows you to to fine-tune your conversion to give you more contrast and retain more details in the image.

Quick Photoshop cropping tip

When you’re trying to crop an image close to the edge of the document in Photoshop, you may notice that the crop tool always wants to “snap” to the edge of the document, or close to a layer object edge. This is a result of Photoshop’s Snap To feature, which normally is quite handy! Hold down the Control key to turn off the Snap To feature, temporarily allowing you to freely size your crop area.

Using Google wildcard feature to answer questions

It seems like every other day Google releases something new, or you learn something about the #1 search engine that you didn’t know about before. Today, I hope to have something for you in the latter category. It seems like every other day Google releases something new, or you learn something about the #1 search engine that you didn’t know about before. Today, I hope to have something for you in the latter category. Google offers fill-in-the-blank searching (also known as wildcards), in it’s search engine. You can ask simple questions in your search and use an asterisk to indicate the “answer” you’re looking for. For example, in the screenshot below, I’m searching for the name of the CEO of Apple. As you can see, I worded my question simply and used the asterisk in the proper location. In the screenshot above, you can see that I got the answer to my question. The feature works quite well, though it may take a time or two to figure out the best way to ask the question. Sometimes simply re-wording the question can bring about completely different answers.

Aligning text baselines to InDesign document grids

Adobe InDesignTim Cole’s InDesign BackChannel has a great explanation of Adobe InDesign’s overlooked and underused Align First Line Only to Grid feature. While aligning text to document grids sounds techy, overrated and downright boring, trust me when I tell you that this feature can save you a lot of time when you’re designing books, training manuals and magazines. I love tips like this, but they do take a while to burn them into your memory for frequent use in your day-to-day work.

Tunebar adds iTunes goodness to your desktop

One of the things I loved about SoundJam, the original iTunes app before Apple bought it, was the ability to download customizable themes that took up little space on my screen. One of my favorites was one that was a slim bar that sat just below the Apple menu bar. It took up little space, and added all the basic controls needed. (more…)

“You TOO can become a graphic designer!”

A recent post on Creative Bits (and the subsequent commentary underneath) got me thinking about what might be required to refer to oneself as a ‘graphic designer’. Is it a college degree, a kick-ass portfolio, or is it simply because you’ve printed the flyer for the local church’s fish dinner on your home inkjet for the last 10 years running…? There’s a commercial that appears on TV in my neck of the woods for a local trade school called Gibbs College, and it manages to make my blood boil most every time. Not only because of the deafening audio levels at which all cable ads seem to run at, but because it also seems to cheapen what I do for a living. (more…)

Cool site for package designers

Package design is a niche in our industry that gets little attention, even though it’s probably one of the coolest things to design and looks great in a portfolio. There are few resources dedicated to it, so when I came across The Dieline, I knew I wanted to share it with you. The site offers inspirational samples and articles about great package design, as well as design studio spotlights.

Hiding icons and windows for screenshots

If you run a Web site, create training manuals or do something that requires you to take and use screenshots a lot, one thing you probably find yourself doing is hiding certain windows and moving icons on your desktop out of the way. It’s a royal pain in the behind. (more…)