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Library: Inside Photoshop

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Inside Photoshop, October 2014
 Inside Photoshop, October 2014 Issue


Pattern stamp your way to magnificent watercolor paintings

Added on Wednesday 8th of October 2014 07:39 am EST

by Amy Palermo

Everybody loves a great watercolor painting, and why not! It's a timeless art form, where layers of pigment can make plain white paper illuminate with a story of a café scene or glow with sun drenched highlights. But watercolors are difficult to master and an unforgiving medium at best. We'll show you how to use Photoshop to quickly create the look of watercolor, such as the one shown in Figure A, using one very versatile tool.

Figure A:
Article figure image

Watercolor materials

Just like there are many different techniques to watercolor paintings, there are also a number of different materials crucial to the success of a watercolor painting.

  • Paper. Watercolor paper is the canvas for the paint, and the source of light for the painting. Watercolor paper is available in a variety of weights and textures such as rough, cold pressed, and hot pressed.
  • Brushes. The most important tool in the success of a watercolor painting is the brush. Brushes are graded by the quality of the brush hair (natural or synthetic), the amount of resilience they have and how well they hold water.
  • Paint. Watercolor paints come in primarily two forms, tube (liquid) and pans (dry). They're rated on the quality of the pigment, lightfastness, and permanence. Some pigments are more opaque while others are more transparent, so an artist's choice of pigments is an important decision.

Characteristics of watercolors

Watercolors are a transparent painting medium in which light reflects through the pigment from the paper. They're most recognizable by their transparency, luminance, and clarity of color. Usually the only white in the painting is the paper itself, hence all highlights and light areas are masked out so the artist is sure not to paint over them. Paint is applied in a variety of techniques including but not limited to:

  • Wet on wet. A technique where the artist applies wet paint onto wet paper.
  • Dry brush. The artist uses a dry brush to apply paint straight from the tube onto a dry canvas.
  • Washes. The process of applying wet pigment to wet paper in a horizontal direction from top to bottom to achieve an even tone, or a gradient.
  • Glazing. The process of building up thin layers of transparent pigments while allowing each layer to dry in between applications.

Gather an image

In preparation for this technique, you'll need an image to paint. We'll use a simple subject such as the leaf in Figure B, to demonstrate the technique. To follow along with our example, download the file from the URL given at the beginning of this article. Then, extract the file leaf.psd, launch Photoshop and open the file. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.)

Figure B:


Harness these CC 2014 Smart Guide enhancements

Added on Wednesday 8th of October 2014 07:42 am EST

by Amy Palermo

If you've used manual guides in your digital illustrations, layouts, or Photoshop work, you know that you often wind up with numerous unnecessary guides on your page. The bottom line is your page would look a lot cleaner without them. Smart Guides make it possible for you to align elements from different layers without needing to pull manual guides onto your canvas. And while Smart Guides have been around since CS2, Adobe has added some noteworthy enhancements in the CC 2014 upgrade. Let's take a look at some of these new improvements!

Get smart with Smart Guides

Smart Guides appear on your screen as you move layer elements with the Move tool or the arrow keys, helping you align page elements and snap items into place. How are they smart? They instinctively know when a layer's top, right, left, bottom, or center point is aligned with another layer's, because that's when Photoshop displays the guide lines on those layer element positions. Not only are Smart Guides non-printing marks, but when you release the mouse, they go away! So if you're used to manual guides, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how Smart Guides allow you to keep a clean canvas. Plus, CC 2014's enhancements include precise measurement displays, letting you know exactly how far from the canvas edge or another layer your selected layer is, as well as the ability to set duplicate layer elements equidistant apart!

To follow along with our example while we explore Smart Guides, download the file from the URL given at the beginning of this article, extract the file smartguides.psd, launch Photoshop, and open the file shown in Figure A. To show how versatile Smart Guides are, we've inc


Capture a sense of mystery by leaving some things to the imagination

Added on Wednesday 8th of October 2014 07:43 am EST

by Jonathan Rabson

One of the most gratifying purposes a photograph can serve is to capture the emotion of a moment-the intersection of a certain place and time-so you can share it with others. But even a technically perfect photograph doesn't always convey the richness of an experience. Unless the viewer was there, she doesn't know what that special moment smelled like or felt like-whether it was cold, barren, warm, or nostalgic.

One way to capture this subjective aspect of a scene is to leave some things to the viewer's imagination, just as Romantic and Impressionist painters did to imbue a sense of mystery and wonder. Giving a viewer this opportunity to connect with a digital image can make it resonate more. Let's explore a sampling of these techniques for achieving similar effects in photographs.

It's not about being right

To start, we'll set one thing straight. While many things might be said about 'correct' composition, e.g., techniques to avoid blemishes in your pictures that might distract viewers, we aren't going to talk about that at all. Instead, we'll explore the opposite end of the spectrum. We'll start by presenting the idea of reducingcontext, depth, and color richness. Normally, increasing these things might seem the best way to produce good digital images, but we'll show how less context and depth can help convey a certain mood.

Then, we'll take a look at how back lighting and zooming in on distant objects can help evoke an impressionistic quality. Of course, if you apply these techniques to emphasize the subjective element in your photographs, you'll probably please some viewers and displease others; that's what subjectivity is all about. But for those who want more than just the perfect, sharp, technically correct photograph, these impressionistic, subjective-oriented techniques can help make viewing your photographs a much richer experience.

The flattening technique

We'll begin our journey with an idea we


Transform more than one layer at a time

Added on Wednesday 8th of October 2014 07:44 am EST

by Amy Palermo

When you need to make the same transformations to content on multiple layers in Photoshop, don't waste time editing each layer separately. We'll show you how to transform multiple layers simultaneously to save you time.

To transform multiple layers at once:

  • Shift-click t

Craft a convincing reflection by paying attention to detail

Added on Wednesday 8th of October 2014 07:45 am EST

by Jim Whitcomb

It's easy to duplicate an image and flip it, but that doesn't always yield a realistic reflection. Let's take a look at what a reflection is and explore ways to manipulate your images so you can fool your audience!

While it's true a reflection is a visual copy of an image that's flipped horizontally or vertically, there's a little more to it. By understanding a little more about reflections, you'll be able to create more convincing ones in your digital image manipulations.

When light hits an object, it bounces off in all directions. If part of it bounces directly to your eyes, you see an image. If part of it bounces off, hits a surface, and then bounces off that surface to your eyes, you see a reflection of the image. What the reflection looks like depends on the position of the surface relative to your position.

Get the correct position

If the surface is positioned behind the object, the reflection you


Reduce negative dust spots with careful scan preparation

Added on Wednesday 8th of October 2014 07:45 am EST

by Jim Whitcomb

Dust on negatives, and prints as well, are often an irritating aspect of traditional photography. Negative film is coated with a gelatin emulsion, which becomes wet during processing. Wet gelatin swells and becomes the perfect catch-all for free floating dust. When it dries, the dust can actually become embedded in the emulsion. As a result, even with careful dusting prior to printing and scanning, dust can be seen in a print. Dry negatives aren't all that much better. Because of the materials film is made of, it literally acts like a dust magnet. So with all that going against you, what can you do to reduce the effects of dust spots in your prints? The answer is plenty. Because there are a variety of issues to consider, let's look at each issue individually.


  • Because dust is a part of the environment, you shou

Quickly lighten or darken your images using the Levels command (CS4/CS5/CS6/CC/CC 2014)

Added on Wednesday 8th of October 2014 07:46 am EST

by Amy Palermo

The Photoshop Levels command creates a lot of unnecessary anxiety in many users. The reality is that you don't have to fully understand everything about it to reap its benefits.

For example, have you ever had to


Add some bling to your designs with this sparkle text technique

Added on Wednesday 8th of October 2014 07:46 am EST

by Amy Palermo

If you're looking for decorative text to enhance your designs, we have the perfect technique for you! Using Photoshop you can easily create text that sparkles, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A:
Article figure image

First you need to create a new document and set some type. A large bold font works best for this technique.

To set the type:

  1. Create a new 6.5" wide by 3" inch high RGB 300 ppi document with a white background.
  2. Select the Horizontal Type tool from the Tools panel.
  3. Set the type options on the tool Options bar. We set our options to Impact 124 pt. The color doesn't matter at this point.
  4. Click on the canvas and type diamond for results shown in Figure B.
  5. [command]-click ([Ctrl]-click in Windows) on the text thumbnail to load a selection of the text.
  6. Click on the Create A New Layer button at the base of the Layers panel to add a new layer.
  7. Press D to set the foreground and background colors to black and white respectively.
  8. Choose Filter ' Render ' Clouds.
  9. Press [command]D ([Ctrl]D in Windows) to Deselect All for results shown in Figure C.

Figure B:
Article figure image

Article figure image

Figure C: