If you’re like me, you tend to end up with many layers in your Photoshop files. I generally create layer folders to organize them, but sometimes that still isn’t enough, so I turn to color coding the layers. You can color-code layers in the Layers panel by right-clicking (Control + Click) on the layer icon, selecting Layer Properties, clicking the color drop down menu, and finally selecting the color you want before hitting OK. That’s a lot of work to stay organized. Thankfully, there’s a much quicker way. Right-click on the Eye icon of the layer you wish to color code. A flyout menu appears in which you can select the color for the layer. Keeping your layers organized is key in an agency environment where more than one person will work on a file before it is made into a high resolution PDF to send off for printing. Having 37 layers all named “Layer 1, Layer 2, Layer 2 copy” is a real pain when you’re looking for one specific object.
Whenever the need arises to make a natural element white or whiter (such as in portraits of people), it’s tempting to set the foreground color to white and reach for the brush tool. This works if applied with care, but it’s easier to achieve a more realistic effect using other Photoshop tools. Here, a small amount of whitening applied to the model’s teeth and eyes will lift the whole image. PhotoshopSupport has a quick tutorial on how to whiten the eyes and teeth of your subject in Photoshop.
While I don’t consider it a big deal, I thought I would mention that Adobe has removed a few items from Photoshop CS4 that were found in CS3 and earlier, as well as changed some keyboard shortcuts. Extract, Pattern Maker, Web Photo Gallery, Contact Sheet, Picture Package and PDF Presentation have all been removed from the default installation of Photoshop. The latter four have been replaced by the Output module in Bridge CS4. Several of the CS3 optional plugins have also gone missing, but you can download them here. The plugins include:
- Bigger Tiles
- Force VM Compression
- Force VM Buffering
- Overscroll Always
- Overscroll Floating Windows
- Texture Fill
- Unlimited Clipboard Size
- Unlimited Preview Size
You may also notice that Command + 1 now resets the view to 100%, making it consistent with other Creative Suite tools. You can see a larger list of keyboard shortcut changes at John Nack’s blog. There are very good reasons for the keyboard shortcut changes, but John also provides a link in the article to download a plug-in to switch the commands back on a few of them. That being said, I would avoid using it because it most likely won’t work forever, so you might as well get used to the new commands.
When you’re working with Photoshop brushes such as corner shaped or otherwise directionally oriented, you can easily rotate the brush to fit your needs without manually rotating them with the Transform command. In the sample image above, I want to use a brush that was meant to be used in the lower right corner. But I want to use it in the upper right corner, so I need to rotate the brush. First, open the Brushes panel by going to Window>Brushes. When the panel pops up, select the brush you wish to use. Next, select Brush Tip Shape from the Brush Presets list on the left side. Finally, click the arrow on the crosshair icon in the lower right and drag it so the arrow points in the direction you wish to have the brush point. You can preview the brush direction change simply by moving your cursor over the canvas area – the brush outline will give you the visual feedback you need.
If you’ve ever tried to expand the size of a selection in Photoshop, you’ve no doubt come across a nasty result. Using the Expand Selection menu item results in the corners of a rectangular selection being rounded off. It’s quite frustrating. Creativetechs has the solution. Rather than choosing Select>Modify>Expand from the menu, choose Select>Transform Selection instead. Doing so will result in Photoshop’s normal transform box appearing around your selection. Now you can drag a corner to resize, or enter new values in the Options Bar to give you a new selection area with the squared-off corners you expect.
The Grunge look is all the rage right now, so don’t miss out on this huge collection of free grunge brushes for Adobe Photoshop at YouTheDesigner. Many of these brushes are of very high resolution, making them perfect for Web and print design work.
Top-notch Photoshop tutorials sites offer 30 beautiful illustration tutorials for Adobe Photoshop users. While you may not have the need to create a shiny green apple any time soon, the techniques used in all of these tutorials will surely give you a better grasp of what is possible.
Adding a little spark to your image is simple with Grinder Sparks, a free high-resolution Photoshop brush set from Nathan Brown at Room122. I love Photoshop brushes because they’re so versatile, and I can see that this brush collection offers many possibilities. The 8 brushes in the set are all of high quality, and large enough for most print resolution uses.
PanosFX Fan is a complex Photoshop action that will create a hand-held fan using any landscape oriented image. The action creates 20 slats, making use of semi-transparent layers and a number of decorative elements. I used the small image to the right to create the final image you see above. The action not only gives you a straight on view of the fan, but two perspective options as well. The results are fantastic, which is no surprise considering how many great Photoshop Actions PanosFX has to offer.
I’ve written a tutorial on how to create scanlines across your images before, but I found another great tutorial on using the scanline effect on text and wanted to share it. PSDLearning offers a tutorial that shows you how to easily create a nifty scanline text effect in Photoshop. The tutorial is easy to follow and uses only a user-created pattern and layer effects to create some really nice results.