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Library: Inside Photoshop

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Inside Photoshop, November 2014
 Inside Photoshop, November 2014 Issue


Freshen up your style with this fresco painting technique

Added on Sunday 9th of November 2014 11:45 am EST

by Amy Palermo

As with many of Photoshop's artistic filters, the Fresco filter doesn't create a true fresco look. The results look more like a calculated Photoshop filter than as if you painted your image on plaster. We'll show you how to achieve an authentic fresco look for your digital paintings, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A:
Article figure image

The fresco look

In its simplest definition, a fresco is a painting done on wet plaster, traditionally limestone. The painter mixes pigments with water only, as the drying plaster acts as the binding agent. The wet plaster absorbs the pigment and, as it dries, a chemical reaction takes place bonding the pigment to the plaster to create a permanence unmatched by other painting mediums.

The fresco look is defined by subdued, muted colors, an organic texture of peaks and flats, which cast shadows over the work, and occasional cracks and darkening, which show the plaster's weathering.

True fresco art dates back to the Greek Minoans of Crete circa 1500 BC. Frescos gained popularity in early Christian art, circa 100 - 500 BC as they were painted on the walls of catacombs, but the fresco style reached its height of popularity during the High Renaissance period with artists like Botticelli and Michelangelo.

Because an artist creates a fresco on wet plaster, he can only lay as much plaster as he can paint over during a painting session. This condensed time creates a sense of urgency, lending itself to spontaneity and improvisation in the artist's work, because he must paint quickly.

Strike a composition

To create your own fresco, you'll need to choose an image. You can use a photo exactly as it is, or you might decide to replace the background or compile your own composition. You can also follow along with our example! Simply download the file from the URL given at the beginning of this article, extract the file fresco.jpg, launch Photoshop, and open the file shown in Figure B. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.)

Figure B:
Article figure image

Apply the brushstrokes

In a traditional fresco, you'd lay down the plaster first and then apply the p



Give the Spin Blur filter a whirl for great circular motion effects

Added on Sunday 9th of November 2014 11:48 am EST
Give the Spin Blur filter a whirl for great circular motion effects

Producing custom blur effects used to require some fancy Photoshop footwork. With Photoshop CC 2014's Spin Blur filter, creating elliptical shaped motion blurs like the one shown in Figure A is now easier than ever! Let's take a look at how the Spin Blur filter works so you can use this tool to create believable blurs in your images.

To follow along with our example, download the file from the URL given at the beginning of this article, extract the file wheel.tif, launch Photoshop, and open the file shown in Figure B. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.)

Figure A: Original
Article figure image

Article figure image

Figure B:
Article figure image

Preserve the original

First we'll convert the image to a Smart Object. Applying the filter to the Smart Object layer allows us to edit the filter settings or revert to the original image at any time.

To convert the image to a Smart Object:

  • Right-click ([ctrl]-click on the Mac) on the Background layer in the Layers panel.
  • Choose Convert To Smart Object from the pop-up menu, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C:


Stamp a harvest of color with Photoshop leaf prints

Added on Sunday 9th of November 2014 11:54 am EST

Who says kids should have all the fall fun? Creating leaf prints is a favorite pastime during the autumn months, but it's a process not limited to paint and paper (or fabric). We'll show you how you can easily create awesome leaf prints in Photoshop, as shown in Figure A, for a look your client will fall in love with!

Figure A:
Article figure image

Go leaf picking

To make a leaf print in Photoshop, you simply need an image of a leaf, any color or variety. Then, you will need to remove any background pixels and isolate the leaf on its own layer. To follow along with our example-in which we've already isolated the leaf-download the from the URL given at the beginning of this article and extract the file leaf.psd. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.)

Make a stamp

To make traditional leaf prints you paint the underside of a leaf with a water-based paint-usually acrylic-and then press the painted side of the leaf onto paper or fabric. How heavy or light of a print you get depends on how thickly you apply the paint. The first step in this technique is to create the initial leaf print. We'll use the Stamp filter to accomplish this.

To create the initial leaf print:

  • Open the file leaf.psd, shown in Figure B.
  • Press D to set the foreground and background colors to black and white respectively.
  • Choose Filter ' Sketch ' Stamp to open the Stamp dialog box.
  • Set the Light/Dark Balance slider to 5 and the Smoothness Slider to 6, as


Don't just adjust curves-understand them!

Added on Monday 10th of November 2014 12:10 pm EST

Photoshop is chock full of image editing tools, one of the most sophisticated being the Curves command. And while you can float by with a limited knowledge of the tool, you'll make more precise image adjustments when the Curves dialog box isn't Greek to you. So let's dive in and uncover why curves do what they do.

Access the Curves dialog box

We're big fans of non-destructive image editing. So while we'd normally apply a curve via an adjustment layer, the point of this article is to explain how the curve actually changes your image.

Because the CS4 Adjustments panel looks a lot different from the Photoshop Curves dialog box-even though it works in the same way-for our example we'll use the Curves dialog box. To access this dialog box, open any RGB image and then select Image ' Adjustments ' Curves. You can also press [command]M ([Ctrl]M in Windows) to access the dialog box. The Curves dialog box appears, as shown in Figure A. While there are some interface differences between versions, our focus is on the actual curve box, which is the same in all versions.

Figure A:
Article figure image

Read the curve

The Curves dialog box graphs the values of your image's pixels. Every image channel is essentially a grayscale image. When combined they provide your image its color. But every pixel in every channel has an intensity value between 0 and 255, 0 representing black and 255 representing white. The points along the curve represent the full tonal range of the selected color channels from dark to light, as shown in Figure B. In RGB mode, the graph represents brightness values from 0 to 255. In CMYK, it shows ink density values from 0% to 100%.

Figure B:


Call attention to an area in an image with a circular stroke

Added on Monday 10th of November 2014 12:15 pm EST

by Renee Dustman

Although you might think there should be a tool that automatically creates a stroked circle for you, there really isn't. The next time you want to circle some text or a graphic, here's what to do:

  • Open your image in Photoshop.
  • Create a new layer (to preserve the image detail) by clicking the Create A New Layer button on the Layers panel.


Set Quick Mask options to suit your needs

Added on Monday 10th of November 2014 12:20 pm EST

by Amy Palermo

There sure is! As with most Photoshop features, you can customize the Quick Mask color option.

To change the Quick Mask color option:

  • Double-click on the Edit In Quick Mask Mode button located at the base of the Tool


Share the burden of brushing curves with the Pen tool for smoother edges

Added on Monday 10th of November 2014 12:25 pm EST

by Amy Palermo

Painting perfect curves with the Brush tool and a mouse is cumbersome at best. One small hiccup and your curve will look like your three-year-old nephew got a hold of your designs. To paint smooth edges, think beyond the Brush tool-put the Pen tool to work!

Instead of simply brushing a stroke and leaving the results to fate, you'll make this a two-step process. It might seem like a little extra work to draw a line and then stroke it, but the results are worth the effort as you'll have much more control over your curve's smooth edge.



Turn to Giclee printing for archival prints

Added on Monday 10th of November 2014 12:36 pm EST

by T.N. Tumbusch

Giclee is a multi-color, archival-quality printing process developed for fine art reproductions. In recent years, its popularity has also grown among photographers and digital artists. A typical Giclée prin



Make a quick color swap and keep painting (CS4/CS5/CS6/CC/CC 2014)

Added on Monday 10th of November 2014 12:39 pm EST

by Amy Palermo

Time is of the essence when you're trying to maintain top Photoshop form, and there isn't a second to spare to change tools. So when you



Make a quick shift between the Zoom tool modes (CS4/CS5/CS6/CC/CC 2014)

Added on Monday 10th of November 2014 12:41 pm EST

by Amy Palermo

When you select the Zoom tool, you'll always be in a zoom mode to zoom in closer to your image. Hover the Zoom tool over yo



Deactivate that text box so you can use keyboard shortcuts (CS4/CS5/CS6/CC/CC 2014)

Added on Monday 10th of November 2014 12:43 pm EST

by Amy Palermo

In Photoshop, when you have the Text tool selected, pressing v on the keyboard switches to the Move tool. However, if you have an active text box (bounding box showing), you'll fi