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Library: Inside Photoshop

Browse through Inside Photoshop library to enhance your creativity

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Inside Photoshop, June 2015
 Inside Photoshop, June 2015 Issue


Plant a forest with the Tree and Picture Frame filters in Photoshop CC 2014

Added on Tuesday 16th of June 2015 04:56 am EST

by Amy Palermo

When you’re creating unique art in Photoshop, you probably turn to filters for help. Now you can use filters to not only enhance your work but also create it! With Photoshop CC 2014’s Tree and Picture Frame filters you can create unique and realistic trees as well as decorative frame edges, for timeless illustrations like the one shown in Figure A.

Figure A:
Article figure image

Lay the foundation

You’ll need to decide how you want your background to look. You can use a layer with a solid fill, gradient, pattern, or even stock art, just to name a few choices. For our example, we’ll use the sky and grass stock art image shown in Figure B. To follow along with our example, download the file from the URL given at the beginning of this article, extract the file field.psd, launch Photoshop, and open the image. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.)

Figure B:
Article figure image

Plant a tree

Now we’ll add a tree to our background. This is amazingly easy to do with Photoshop CC 2014’s new Tree filter. Because the settings in this dialog box are fairly intuitive, we won’t explain all the options. But we’ll tell you how to select and customize a tree for this practical application.

To select and customize a tree:

  1. [Alt]-click ([option]-click on the Mac) the Create A New Layer button at the base of the Layers panel to open the New Layer dialog box. Enter Tree in the Name field and click OK to add this new layer to the Layers panel.
  2. Choose Fil


Draw viewers in with a well-defined focal point

Added on Tuesday 16th of June 2015 04:59 am EST

by Amy Gebhardt

One of the best methods to create a focal point in an image is to apply a slight blur to the surrounding elements. In a sense, this forces viewers to see what you want them to see, and it’s a subtle enough technique that the blur won’t detract from the overall image. Photoshop’s Lens Blur filter enables you to create more realistic-looking and highly controlled blurs. Let’s take a closer look.

Understanding all of your options

When you first open the Lens Blur dialog box, shown in Figure A, you may feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the different options presented to you. However, it’s these options that allow you to have a great deal of control over any alterations you make to your image. Let’s go over them now.

Figure A:
Article figure image

Depth Map

In the Depth Map section, you can specify the pixels within your image that you want blurred. For example, if you choose None from the Source pop-up menu, then Photoshop applies the blur to every pixel evenly. This is because you aren’t using a depth map; you’re just applying the blur. If you select Transparency, Photoshop applies the blur to the image based on the transparency of each pixel. If you select Layer Mask from the Source pop-up menu, then the blur is based on the grayscale values within the mask. Finally, if you select a custom-made alpha channel, the blur is based on the grayscale values within that channel. By default, any of the black areas within your image are designated as the foreground, and the white areas or transparent areas are designated as the background. The pixels established as the background will be blurred.

Along with assigning a depth map, you can also adjust the Blur Focal Distance by moving its slider back and forth. If you set the value to 0, the black pixels will be in focus; if you set the value to 255, the white pixels will be in focus. Any setting in between the two extremes will cause a gray value to be in focus. Besides making adjustments using the slider, you can also click anywhere on the image preview to take a sample of a specific value. Then, that sampled area will determine the focal distance.


If you’re a photographer or familiar with pho



Burn image edges for a classy and dramatic vignette effect

Added on Tuesday 16th of June 2015 05:02 am EST

by Amy Palermo

Living in today’s fast-paced society can take its toll on even the most entrepreneurial spirit. While you can’t turn back the clock, you can use Photoshop to allure your clients with this old-fashioned technique. So take a step back in time with this simple—yet dramatic—burned-edge vignette effect, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A:
Article figure image

Dodge and burn

Dodging and burning images in traditional film darkrooms allows film developers to control light exposure and thus how dark or light their prints get. For example, photographers can shield portions of their photo paper, a technique known as dodging, to block the light and keep sections of their photo lighter than others. Alternatively, exposing some areas of a print for longer periods of time, a traditional technique known as burning, produces darker, sometimes black, areas of a print.

Photoshop has both a Dodge and a Burn tool, but we won’t use either tool for this technique. Instead, we’ll simulate the burned look with a curves adjustment layer.

Pick a portrait

You can use any photo for this tutorial. To follow along with our example, download the file from the URL given at



Reinvent a vintage look by imitating antique labels

Added on Tuesday 16th of June 2015 05:04 am EST

by Amy Gebhardt

The appeal of antique labels lives on in the hearts of many modern-day artists. There’s just something about the aged imagery that casts a feeling of warmth and mystique. Using Photoshop, you can create the illusion of an old label using new imagery, as shown in Figure A. You can even make the wood panels from scratch for a finished effect—that works great when advertising for restaurants, vintage apparel shops, or antiques stores. Here’s how to turn a modern advertisement into a classic beauty.

Figure A:
Article figure image

Create a wood backdrop

Creating a panel background for an image is relatively simple. We’ll do this by applying the Fibers filter to a new layer in order to make a wood grain pattern. Then, we’ll add gaps between the panels. Finally, we’ll use the Satin layer style to help clean up the gaps between each piece of wood to give the wood paneling a realistic appearance.

To create the backdrop for the wood panels:

  1. Create a new 5" x 5" RGB image in Photoshop that’s at least 200 ppi.
  2. Select a dark brown for your Foreground color and make the Background color swatch a lighter version of the brown you previously selected.
  3. Click on the Create A New Layer icon at the base of the Layers panel to create a new layer on which to work.
  4. Fill this layer with your Foreground color by selecting Edit > Fill, selecting Foreground Color in the Use pop-up menu, and clicking OK.
  5. Choose Filter > Render > Fibers to display the Fibers dialog box, shown in Figure B.
  6. Set the Variance to 9 and the Strength to 18.
  7. Click the Randomize button until you’re satisfied w


Create beautiful black and white images for low-budget print jobs

Added on Tuesday 16th of June 2015 05:05 am EST

by G.H. Cloutier and Amy Palermo

When your company is trying to do everything on a shoestring-budget, four-color print jobs are just a pipe dream. But just because you’re cornered into monetary restraints doesn’t mean your images have to suffer. You can generate outstanding black and white images with a full tonal range, as demonstrated in Figure A, if you k now the right techniques.

Figure A: Poor tonal quality
Article figure image

Good tonal quality
Article figure image

When you need to keep a print job’s cost down, an alternative to printing with black and white images is to create duotones of your images. However, because you first need to convert your image to grayscale before you can make a duotone, following the steps outlined in this article will help you achieve a greater tonal range before you create a duotone.

Contrast is key

The chief difference between color images and grayscale images isn’t an absence of color, but a difference in contrasts. A grayscale image consists of black, white, and grays that form a range from light to dark. It has contrast in terms of luminosity, or brightness levels.

While color images also have luminosity contrast, they frequently have two other types of contrast as well: hue and saturation. An image with a complementary color scheme, red and green, for example, has hue contrast, but the brightness value (luminosity) of the colors may not differ significantly once they’re converted to grayscale, as you can see in Figure B. In saturation, contrast is based on how much a color differs from a neutral gray. Saturation contrast doesn’t necessarily translate to good luminosity contrast either, as you can see in Figure C.

Figure B: Hue contrast
Article figure image

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