Tagged: Photoshop

Does using filters in Photoshop equal bad design?

I wanted to offer a suggestion relating to the use of Photoshop filters & effects in your designs. My comments come from many years of experience in the ad business, and reflect only MY opinion and the opinion of a handful of “old-timers” I know that are also in the biz. Please take this for what it’s worth, and not as gospel. The number one thing about a design that screams “Rookie” or “Amateur” more than anything else is the (over)use of filters & effects. I remember many years ago (sometime around Photoshop 4 I guess) a filter set was released called Kai’s Power Tools. It was an absolutely incredible set of filters that did things in Photoshop that most users could only dream about with a single click of the mouse button. The “Kai syndrome,” as it came to be known, got out of control fast.

Don’t be an idiot!

Today, we have Xenofex, EyeCandy, Splat, several plug-ins from Flaming Pear and many more. These filters produce fantastic results, I have no problem with them. But just like guns, the USER is the problem, not the actual item itself. Some designers say that if the filter becomes the focal point of the design, you’re showing everyone that you have no creativity and rely on “tricks” to get attention. I’ll just say this. Use filters sparingly. Use them when appropriate, and where it really makes a difference in your design. But don’t use them simply because they’re available. A drop shadow under a photo can really enhance a design, but a drop shadow under every stinking headline, logo and phone number in an ad makes you look like an idiot. A small bevel on a web page button can look great, but giant 15 pixel bevels on every clickable link button on your site makes you look like and idiot. Don’t be an idiot – you give us all a bad name.

Edit multiple text layers in Photoshop

Many times, you have several type layers in a Photoshop document and you want to change the font, color or size for all of them. Normally you would apply the changes to each layer individually. But did you know you could do them all at once? To perform this trick, simply link all the type layers in the Layers Palette that you want to change, select one of the linked type layers to activate it, hold the Shift key down, then change the attributes you want in the Type palette (kerning, leading, font, size, color, etc…). The attributes you change on the active type layer will be carried out on all the linked text layers at the same time.

Fade the effect of your Photoshop filter

ps_filterfadeAfter running a filter in Photoshop, you can reduce the amount of effect the filter produced by clicking Edit in the menu bar and select Fade…. This will bring up a dialog box which will allow you to customize the settings of the filter reduction.

Create a new Photoshop document with same size

If you need a new Photoshop document the same size as the one you have open, there are two ways I know of to create one without actually checking the document size dialog box. First, you can select all and copy the background layer of the open document, then Command + N for a new document. Photoshop will automatically set the size to whatever you copied to the clipboard, which in this case was the entire background layer of the open document. The second way requires a trip to a menu, but is just as easy. When you have a document already open, hit Command + N, while the new document dialog is open, click the Window Menu in the menu bar and select the open document’s name.

Bring palettes to the foreground in Photoshop

Many times, I’m in the Levels, Curves or Selective Color dialog box adjusting an image when I remember that I don’t have the Info palette open, which will show me the color readings (essential for good color correction). I used to close out the dialog box and hope that I could remember what settings I changed, but then I stumbled onto something that was right in front of my face. The Window menu is active when you’re in a dialog box such as levels, etc. Simply click the Window menu and hit the Fkey assigned to the palette you want to open, or click on the menu item itself. Any palette that isn’t already open (including ones in the palette well) should be available from the menu. The downside is that you can’t alter the palette’s position – so the info palette is usually somewhere near the edge of my screen to I can see the color readings while in an adjustment box.

Avoid “snapping” in Photoshop

Ever notice that when you’re dragging a guide into a Photoshop document that it “snaps” to the edge of an element on the currently active layer? Or when you’re moving a graphical element it “snaps” to the edge of the screen? Or maybe you have the grid feature turned on and you want to temporarily turn the grid snapping off. The easy way to avoid this is to begin dragging your guide or graphical element then press the Control key down. This temporarily disables the “snap” feature of Photoshop.

Temporarily hide the type baseline in Photoshop

When you are editing type in Photoshop, you most likely are quite annoyed by the visible baseline just under the type you are editing. You can get rid of the ugliness by activating (clicking on) the type with the Type Tool, then go to the View Menu and deselect Extras – this will temporarily hide the baseline under the type.

Copy items from multiple layers at a time in Photoshop

You can copy items from multiple layers at a time in Photoshop by simply adding the Shift key to Command + C or selecting Copy from the Edit menu. Now when you paste, it will give you results as if you had flattened all your layers before making the copy command.

Correcting washed-out color photos in Photoshop

Many times you are stuck with a washed-out photo from digital camera or scanned photo. Most people who try, find that quick adjustments in Photoshop’s Levels or Curves dialogs will certainly boost the colors up, but they also destroy all the details in the photo. Fortunately, Photoshop offers layer modes! Make a duplicate of the photo on another layer, the easiest way is hitting Command + J. Then, set the layer mode of the newly created layer to Overlay. This should really boost the color & contrast, but not mess with your highlights and shadows.

How to merge Photoshop layer sets to a new layer

Layer Sets in Photoshop are a great way to organize your layers but many times you will need to merge a set to work on its component layers as a merged, single layer. To do this, activate a layer set, go to the pop-out arrow in the upper right corner of the Layers palette, and drag down to Merge Layer Set. This will replace the set with a merged composite of the set’s component layers. But sometimes I want to get a merged version of a set to work with and maintain the set with its component layers intact. To do this, follow the same sequence above but hold down the Option key before you release over Merge Layer Set. This will merge the set out into a new layer above the existing layer set rather than replacing it.