Pick-up stray pixels with the Magic-Wand tool in Photoshop

When you’re editing your images in Photoshop, and you’re trying to make a selection using the Magic Wand Tool, you may find that the tool leaves behind a few stray pixels. The easiest way to pick them up is with you selection made, choose Select>Modify>Smooth from the menu bar.

Backing up your iTunes library on multiple CD/DVDs easily

In the creative business, you tend to have a few late-nights. One of the things that gets you through them is music. Personally, I have a few thousand songs, but my wife has something in the very high 5-figure range. I regularly back up her collection to an external hard drive and DVD. But many times, neither of those is an option. Thanks to Bryan at the MacMinute forums for providing the obvious and easiest way to do your iTunes music backups:

iTunes backups

Backing up iTunes libraries

Go to iTunes>Preferences and select the Burning tab. Click the Data CD or DVD button. Now all you have to do is create a playlist and drag your entire library into it and click the Burn button. iTunes will figure out the best way to split up the songs, burn the CDs and ask for another blank CD when it’s ready.

Combining Photoshop layers losslessly

PhotoshopIf you have the occasion to combine all your layers in your Photoshop document, yet still have access to all the layers at the same time, you can use this little trick to do it. Create a new blank layer on top of all your other layers and hit Command + Shift + Option + E. This merges all the visible layers onto that new layer you created AND keeps all the old layers intact for further adjustment.

Add round corner effects to any path in InDesign

Did you know the Corner Effects feature in Adobe InDesign works on ANY corner, not just rectangular shapes? You can get a rounded corner effect on a path shaped like an L – without having to hand draw it with the Bezier Curve tool to edit it for the effect.

OSX Dashboard keyboard shortcut

OS X Dashboard

OS X Dashboard

Once you’ve used F12 to view your opened Dashboard widgets, it’s a pain to have to grab the mouse and click the “+” sign to open the Dashboard bar to view other widgets you have installed. Luckily, there is a keyboard shortcut: Command = (equal). This will toggle the Dashboard bar on and off.

Adjust skin tones in Photoshop easily

One of the most difficult color adjustments to do is skin. Too much red and you look sunburnt, not enough and your skin takes on a shade of yellow that can only be compared to an infants dirty diaper after eating peas. In the photo below, the handsome devil on the right looks pretty good, but that ugly guy on the left looks like he spent a little too much time in the sun the day before.

Original image with redish skintones

Original image with redish skintones

Many times, adjustments made with either Levels or Curves can destroy detail and affect colors you don’t want to change. Here’s another way that isn’t quite as drastic and limits the adjustment only to the colors you want. Hue/SaturationFirst, select the area you want to edit (in this case, the face) and feather the selection a little to create a soft edge. Now, create an Adjustment Layer using the adjustment layer button at the bottom of the layers palette and select Hue/Saturation. By using an adjustment layer, we don’t lose the original and don’t have to bother saving the adjustment as a copy. Next, from the drop down menu, select the color you wish to adjust, in this case it’s Red. Now start moving the sliders around and watch the unwanted color disappear. Or if I really WANTED to look sunburned, I could add more red to the already red areas. You can see the results of a slight Red adjustment in the photo below. Notice that only the red areas were affected.
Adjusted skintones

Adjusted skintones

The changes I made were purposely drastic (the skin tone now looks too flat) to show the differences. Obviously, you must look at each image individually and adjust accordingly. The guy on the left is still ugly, but at least he doesn’t look sunburned!

Quick & dirty duotones in InDesign

If you’ve created the “quick & dirty” duotones in Quark XPress by placing a grayscale image and coloring it in QX, then this InDesign tip is for you. You can do the same thing in Adobe InDesign by selecting the picture frame with the Selection tool (solid arrow tool) containing your grayscale image (warning: this tip will convert your spot color image to CMYK) and choosing a color to fill the box with from the Swatches palette. Then, click on the image again with the Direct Select tool (the hollow arrow tool) and choose Darken in the mode drop down menu in the Transparency palette.

Changing fonts & sizes with arrow keys in InDesign

Did you know you can change fonts, font sizes, leading and more in Adobe InDesign using the arrow keys? Simply click in the field you want and use the arrow keys to increase measurements, select the next or previous font, etc.. Perfect for making small adjustments.

Cool Web site: Erik Otten

Cool Web site As a rule, I don’t like the use of Flash for the entire Web site. I think it’s overkill, and it usually means that someone is trying to overcome their lack of creativity with bells & whistles. But every once in a while, I come across a site that is done completely in Flash, is creative and easy to navigate. Erik Otten has such a site. It’s his personal Web portfolio of design work that he’s done from his home in the Netherlands. I particularly like the Flash pre-loader graphic of the pencil scribbling progress bar. Very clever. Once loaded, the tabs on the left take you to the various sections of his site, and a scroll wheel appears on the right when there is more to read. Give it a quick once-over, it may provide some inspiration.

Creating compound paths in Illustrator

One of the most confusing things to do with Illustrator for new users is working with Compound Paths, which are responsible for taking two solid objects and combining them to make one of the objects a “hole” in the other. Let’s say you want to make a donut. You first draw a larger circle, then draw a second smaller circle over the first one which will be the hole. Now, simply select the objects and go to Object>Compound Path>Make. That’s it.