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Library: Inside Photoshop

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Inside Photoshop, September 2015
 Inside Photoshop, September 2015 Issue


Abstract reality to extract nature's hidden textures

Added on Thursday 17th of September 2015 11:55 am EST

by Amy Palermo

Nature is a great source of inspiration for many photographers and artists. Trying to extract an alternate perspective from an ordinary scene keeps our creative juices flowing. Photoshop helps us take that quest even further with its snappy filters and layer blending modes. In our experiments, we’ve come up with some interesting textures of our own. We’ll show you how we did it so you can create these and other unique textures for your designs.

We’ve provided low-resolution finished files for you to follow along. Simply download the file from the URL given above, and extract the files texture1.psd, texture2.psd, texture3.psd, texture4.psd, and texture5.psd. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.)

All of the files have a copy of the original image if you want to practice, but keep in mind the settings we provide in this article are based on 300 ppi high-resolution files.

Texture 1: Blue Waves

For our first texture, we started with an ornate shell, which as you can see in Figure A, has an interesting form and pattern.

Figure A:
Article figure image

First we zoomed in and cropped out a section of the shell that contained the most contrast and texture, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B:
Article figure image

Then, we set the foreground to white and the background to a light blue, and chose Filter > Sketch > Bas Relief. We set the Detail setting to 13



Bring out your image's detail with High Pass sharpening

Added on Thursday 17th of September 2015 11:58 am EST

by Amy Palermo

While most images need sharpening, if you aren’t using the right sharpening techniques you can actually do more harm than good. As shown in Figure A, proper sharpening can increase your image’s quality, but excessive sharpening can ruin an image with excess noise and saturation shifts. We’ll show you how to harness the power of the High Pass filter for crisp images and greater sharpening control.

Figure A: No sharpening
Article figure image

Figure A: Proper sharpening
Article figure image

Figure A: Excessive sharpening
Article figure image

Why High Pass beats Unsharp Mask

When the need to sharpen arises, many pixel pushers turn to the Unsharp Mask filter. While this filter often produces good results, the effects are permanent. Unless you make a copy of your image before you sharpen, there’s no turning back.

The High Pass filter allows a greater degree of control over your image sharpening. You never alter the original image because you run the High Pass filter on a duplicated layer of the original image. You can then choose from three different blending modes for different degrees of sharpness, and you can also adjust the layer opacity for more fine-tuned control. Plus, you can paint over portions of the filtered layer to control excess noise. Let’s explore the possibilities.

Throw your imag



Export a layer group as a web or mobile device asset with CC 2015

Added on Friday 18th of September 2015 12:00 pm EST

by Amy Palermo

Working with layers can quickly become labor intensive. So when you need to reuse just a portion of your complicated design for a web or mobile device app, such as the buttons shown in Figure A, you want to be able to extract and save the design quickly. (Images provided by Creative Cloud Market. Some images modified for educational purposes.) With Photoshop CC 2015’s new export options, you can easily extract assets from a layer, group of layers, or an artboard, and prepare them for the web or mobile device in a single click!

Figure A:
Article figure image

Export a layer group

We’ll show you how easy it is to take a layer group and export it for use as a web graphic. As shown in Figure B, the small area we want to extract from the interface design is made up of multiple layer groups nested within a layer group — let’s



Create organic-like textures with the Fibers filter

Added on Friday 18th of September 2015 12:01 pm EST

by T.N. Tumbusch

Used by itself or in conjunction with other tools, the Fibers filter enables you to create some pretty amazing and realistic textures to incorporate into your designs. Best of all, it’s easy to use. With just a few minutes of practice and experimentation, you’ll be able to add it to your design Tools panel.

Introducing the Fibers filter

Photoshop artists have used the Clouds filter as a multi-purpose texture-generating tool for many years. They frequently modify the base pattern it generates to create other textures, such as smoke, marble, and even fur. The Fibers filter works a lot like the Clouds filter, using the current foreground and background colors as the basis for the pattern it creates.

Weaving your first fibers

To begin, create a new document, and make sure it’s filled with a background color. (The Fibers filter won’t affect transparent areas of a layer.) Ensure that there’s nothing in the active layer that you want to keep, because the results of the Fibers filter will replace the contents of the active layer or selection. Choose your foreground and background colors, and then select Filter > Render > Fibers. The Fibers dialog box appears, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A:
Article figure image


The preview window shows what the pattern will look like when you apply the filter. Unlike the Clouds filter, which produces a different random result each time you apply it, the Fibers filter applies the same pattern on subsequent uses until you modify it in this dialog box. As a result, you can apply the Fibers



Create 3 dynamic backdrops from scratch with Lighting effects

Added on Friday 18th of September 2015 12:03 pm EST

by Amy Gebhardt

The Lighting Effects filter can create an endless number of backdrops for your imagery. Whether you need a traditional studio background, a lighted stage, or an underwater utopia, you can set the scene in Photoshop without a lot of work. We’ll show you how to create a series of funky backdrops from scratch, so the next time you have a product or image that needs a proper backdrop, you won’t have to worry about finding the right image. You can simply make it yourself!

A studio background

To begin, we’ll create a backlit studio scene, like the one shown in Figure A. Backgrounds such as this have been used for numerous advertisements over the years, as well as for portrait and product shots. First, we’ll create the background, and then we’ll add the flat surface.

Figure A:
Article figure image

To create a studio background:

  1. Create a new 4.5" x 6" 200 ppi RGB document.
  2. Fill the Background with a dark color of your choice. We used a dark blue with R-G-B coordinates of 32-45-99, respectively.
  3. Choose Filter > Render > Lighting Effects to display the Lighting Effects dialog box.
  4. Select Soft Omni from the Style pop-up menu.
  5. Change the Intensity slider to approximately 35 and select a color for your light by clicking on the color swatch in the Light Type area. We used white for our example.
  6. In


Need a quick perspective reference? Try this easy Vanishing Point trick

Added on Friday 18th of September 2015 12:08 pm EST

by Amy Palermo

It is possible! First you’ll need to create a new layer, though. Your reference grid won’t be editable in the layers panel like it is in the Vanishing Point filter dialog box—



Quickly change the blending mode when working with the Paint Bucket tool (CS5/CS6/CC/CC 2014/CC 2015)

Added on Friday 18th of September 2015 12:09 pm EST

by Amy Palermo

The Paint Bucket tool has been around since Photoshop’s early days, and you probably use it often to fill large areas with



Here's how to merge layers without flattening (CS5/CS6/CC/CC 2014/CC 2015)

Added on Friday 18th of September 2015 12:09 pm EST

by Amy Palermo

One of the many wonderful features that Photoshop offers is the ability to select a quantity of layers from the Layers panel and merge them into one layer. Simply select all the layers th