On Learning More in Photoshop Than How to Load a Brush

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(A piece I did with Christine-Art’s beautiful hand-painted kits! Look for a related post soon!)

Greetings, fellow traveler, on this wonderful journey we call life! Well, it isn’t always wonderful, is it? But, we carry on, don’t we! We have to.

I have been learning Photoshop for the past 12-13 years. I am past the typical ‘basics’ tutorials, like installing pre-sets, how to use the Gradient Tool, installing a Brush four different ways, etc. Now, I want to learn how to use all those tools, filters, blending modes and pre-sets and all the other features of Photoshop. I want to learn techniques. If that is what you want, too, read on!

I have news for you. Be prepared to spend a few dollars, unless you are careful and diligent! I took the plunge and signed up for Photoshop Artistry, then, Awake, then Kaizen, all from the same dude, Sebastian Michaels. I must say, I think these courses were an excellent investment in myself! In addition to his course material, Sebastian has arranged, for us, a free membership to ShiftArt, a PS based artistic teaching site, as well. He worked with a site as a gallery for our works. The site, ArtBoja, is set up for art printing sales, too, where you post your own art and they do all the transactions and mailing, etc. Then, there is the magazine, “Living the Photo Artistic Life”, which features some of the best art images each month. We also receive, included in the fees, some of the nicest resources, from great photographers and designers, with artistic licenses on all but a tiny few.

Prior to Sebastian’s groups, to learn techniques in Photoshops, I searched YouTu.be. It is a treasure trove of great tutorials, but, you might want to go with some of the mainstream artists/PS Masters’ channels. Jesus Ramirez, of PTC, does a grand series of tutorial videos, as well as ColinSmith of PS-Cafe. Dave Cross is another top PS genius with his own learning site. There are so many others, but, checking the videos out is the best way to see who you like to follow. Check out ‘Marty’ from Blue Lightening TV! LOL He has the most pleasant voice and only speaks to give the steps and any explanation necessary.

Pinterest is a great place to find tutorials’ and the links to them. Many of the sites I list for resources have tutorials, as well! Sites like SpoonGraphics, Envato’s TutsPlus, PSD Vault, and PSD Box, just to name a very few, are great places to learn techniques that are a bit more involved than ‘how to install a brush’! Many tutorials will say whether they are ‘Beginner’, ‘Intermediate’ or ‘Advanced’ so you can pick your comfort/educational level. Some of these PS sites have a ‘Premium’ feature, in which, for either a monthly and/or yearly fee, you get access to premium-grade resources and/or tutorials, often with the resource files or the original .PSD file included. These range from around $7 to $20 per month, with a discount for the annual rate. It is well worth it to join the sites you get the most out of, if possible.

I must mention, too, the course sites, like Lynda.com, Skillshare, etc. are another way to learn special techniques, with a paid membership. CreativeLive doesn’t have a membership format, but, it offers some awesome courses – live, obviously! After the live course, you can purchase the course with the videos, resources used and even homework! (I have found many of my favorite ‘teachers’ on CL, then, found their websites and followed them from there.) These are priced based on the ‘value’ of the material covered. For instance, Ben Wilmore has been doing a 2 week course “Adobe® Photoshop® CC: The Complete Guide”.  There is a special price while it’s running live, but, then, after completion, the price usually goes up. The sale price on this course is around $130.00, but, trust me, Ben is a genius in Photoshop like you wouldn’t believe! These live courses are usually replayed immediately after for anyone who may have missed the day’s live version. This ‘special’ has ended now.

When I discover a new Photoshop design site/blog that I might like, I subscribe to their newsletter. Most of these sites have this feature. It keeps you abreast of new posts, which may be tutorials or resources, or both! I have done a lot of seeking! I have learned what I know from sites like these and YouTu.be. I like videos, but, reading tutorials with good screenshots can be uber helpful and you can go at your own pace.

With a background in Digital Scrapbooking,  I must mention individual blogs and/or websites. I have learned so much from them! I write a tutorial now and then. But, if your desire is to really learn Photoshop, it would take you ten lifetimes! LOL Some designers/Photoshop-users/artists know their stuff! Some have a sense of design where they have seemingly ‘invented’ techniques, which are their trademark style. These folks are priceless to have in your ‘Follow’ list! ‘Finnabair’ is one of my absolute favorites! And, Maggie Taylor!

I want to take a few lines, here, and say something on individual taught art classes. You know? Like a mini-course from some photographer or designer or another, on how to design ‘just like’ they do. You pay a fee and receive videos and .PDF’s and a dedicated forum, as a rule. I’ve seen classes involving Layer Effects, Blending, Masking, and every other feature Photoshop offers! Choose these courses wisely. One, do you really want to create ‘just like’ a certain artist/designer, or do you just want to learn their tips? Let me let you in on a secret, which brings us to number ‘Two’, most of the material in these courses can be found all over the internet, already! They may be in the designers’ main site or blog, or a dedicated tutorial part of a forum they frequent. Or, Google the term and find thousands of other sites that have tutorials on it. Think about it. How do you think they learned the techniques? I once saw a question in a forum of a shop that is no longer in business. The person was asking how the designer was able to get the brushes to paint ‘dynamically’. In other words, no matter where you paint on your document, the pattern is ‘intact’. The response from the designer was, “We designers can’t reveal all of our secrets.” I wanted so bad to direct the questioner to a tutorial! Um, check the ‘Pattern’ feature box in Brush Settings. That’s it! It is certainly not secret. You can find loads of tutorials on it!

I feel that part of the problem with finding good, helpful tutorials, for what you want to do, from my own experiences, is not knowing what techniques are called. (Do you want to know how long it took me to find out what those ‘dynamic brushes’ were called and how to create them?? LOL) Again, I learned most of the terms by reading.  Throw ‘luminosity masks’ or ‘dynamic brushes’ or ‘reverse layer mask’ into a tutorial and everyone is freaking out! “That’s too hard!” I know! But! All the latter is is a regular ol’ layer mask – inverted. Rather than white, revealing the layer’s image, it’s black, completely hiding the layers image. The beauty of this is that, often, it is easier to ‘paint in’, with a white brush, what you want to see, rather than remove what you don’t want, with a black brush on a white mask. If you lower the mask’s Opacity, you can see enough of the image to paint in what you want. Just be sure to raise the Opacity back up when done! LOL

I have to mention, too, there are some major classes put on each year by groups of designers who each offer their expertise on their given talent/feature, like real-life painting and ‘art journaling’, etc. Think ‘Photoshop Week’, but, mainly for journalers and artsy crafters. Actually, these are more ‘events’ than courses!  “LifeBook” is one that happens every year for the past several years. Scrapaneers does one, as well! Debbie Hodge has a learning website with special ‘Courses’,  loads of info and tutorials and resources. Hers is more from a designer’s point of view. Her site is GetItScrapped.

Word of mouth goes a long way, so, look at the side bars on blogs you visit. If you like the content of a blog, their links in the side bar should be a reflection of their tastes.

This is by no means a complete compilation of places to learn Photoshop. I tried to just touch on the different types of learning/teaching there is out there. I hope this helps someone!

Art Created with Christine-Art’s Kits

One of the coolest things about digital art is that you can create anything you want! It’s your creation! Aside from usage rights, there is no end to what one can do artistically and digitally! I happen to like the ‘artsy’ look on my pieces. I want it to look like I spent time drawing, sketching, cutting and/or painting my works. Of course I do spend time on each piece, but, I can choose how involved I want to be.  I decide if I want to paint with a Photoshop paint brush or find a suitable image or design kit that has the type of elements I want and like.  Christine-Art‘s ‘Art Kits’ are just that for me.

I had all these ideas of creating artsy supplies to use in my pieces. I did create a bunch of stuff that I like to use myself. It was around that time, though, that I discovered other design folks were in to the same type of thing as I am – artsy-looking layouts or art works that have the look of having been done by hand. One of these design folks was Christine who is Christine-Art. In fact, I’m not sure, but, I believe she is among just a few who actually do sketch and color and cut and scan her own art to use as a ‘Art Kit’.

I have shared about Christine’s Art Kits before, but, I want to do so again, here. I am hooked on using her kits to come up with pieces that I like and enjoy creating.

Here is one of her most recent kits, ‘Doubt‘:

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To accompany some of her kit designs Christine has ‘workshops’ on her blog, based on some aspect of our humanity, our feelings, our lives. ‘Doubt‘ was one of them. She gave ideas, prompts and suggestions to ponder. I created two pieces with the kit:

I Doubt It

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and

Doubt & Fear

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In addition to her own website/blog/shop, Christine-Art, Christine is Guest Designer right now at Digital Scrapbooking Studio (DSS). Check out her Art Kits and other goodies! There is even a ‘freebie’ section on her site, Christine-Art!

There is also a Facebook group for Christine-Art lovers, Fans de Les Idees de Christine.

Enjoy!

First Ever Post Featuring My Art

When I last posted, regularly, on this blog, I was doing the scrapbooking thing, but, making the transfer over to art journaling. I wanted to create and use things that looked artistic. I made some resources of my own to use, which I have been threatening to post for all, but, have not got to it, yet. I am currently working on gathering all my goodies from all the different host sites and putting them all in one place. I will have a page where these items can be downloaded for free. I will let you know when, so, sign up for e-mail updates in the right side bar.

One of the first ‘artsy’ designers to catch my eye was Christine, of Les Idees de Christine. Chris hand paints her pretties. Her little daughter, the apple of her eye, even gets in on it with her own line of scrapbooking good called, “The World of Justine”. Creating a cool layout is so fun with handmade elements! Well, now Christine has opened a new blog/shop, Christine-Art. She offers tutorials, freebies and previews of her work.

A few months ago, Christine came out with a lovely collection of her art, Christine-Art Dreams of Light-1. It was such a fun kit, I ended up making several layouts with it and posting them in Christine’s FB group. Yesterday, she told me she had posted a page on her blog of my layouts. (She had asked for permission prior)

Here is the kit – (Click to go to Christine’s shop):

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And, here is the link to her post of my work:

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I hope you like and, there are a lot more! My Behance Gallery is coming along nicely. With being a part of Design Cuts and enrolled in Awake, my art is starting to look like something worth looking at! I’m having fun and I need it! LOL

I wanted to share this with you as it is so flattering to have the designer of a kit post your layouts and I’m not even a CT member. Her CT girls are absolutely phenomenal!

Thank you for looking.

Smile, ya’ll!

Su

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Mask Tutorial and a Link for Coding

Hi, everyone!  I have a couple of things I want to share with you today.  They are a mish-mash of topics, but, all should come in handy.  Shall we get started?  M’kay!

First up is a series of posts, “31 Days of Coding Basics”, to help you with some of the simpler codes you can use on your own blog or on others, like in the comments section.  This series is on This Bold Girl.com.  Coding is all of the Greek, or Swahili, I’m not sure which, that allows you to create some cool stuff on your blog or website.  It’s really ‘html’!  LOL  For instance, you can add a bold heading to each sub-section of a post if you are posting on several topics, as I often do (See Below).  You can add a link to a comment you make on someone else’s blog.  You can create lists, breaks, emphasis and italicization.  The last two are useful for me since these attributes don’t exist as options on the ‘visual’ page I post on here at WP.

None of the posts/instructions are very long or tedious.  Rather, you may just learn something quickly and easily.  Gwen, the ‘Bold Girl’, writes a good tutorial!  Give it a shot and see!  I know I was envious of those folks who could place links in their comments on other folks’ blogs.  Now, I can do it!  There may be a trick in there that you can use!

Look at the sub-title just below.  I used code to get it like that.

Key-Stroke Shortcut

Next up, I want to show you something.  It is kind of a keystroke, only different.  LOL  If you use Masks in Photoshop, this is a cool tip!  Say, you are extracting an item from an image.  I almost always apply a Mask to the image I am going to extract from.  This gives me the ability to change things and clean things up more easily.  It keeps your image ‘non-destructive.  Then, I begin selecting the item with the Quick Selection Tool, getting up close to the edges as possible.  When you are satisfied with the selecting, click on the ‘Add Layer Mask’ button at the bottom of the Layers Palette.  This should isolate your item.  If, instead, you’ve masked over the image in error, just switch the masking to the item by clicking on Select>Inverse, then, add the Mask.  (Whichever area you Mask, either the background or the circle, the selected area will remain visible, while the remaining area ‘disappears’, when the Mask button is clicked.)

Here is the tip!  If you would like to check the Mask to be sure there aren’t any places missing or ragged-looking, press ‘Alt(Options-Mac)’ and click on the Mask in the Layers Palette.  The Mask will be completely visible.  This is priceless on difficult images.  You can brush over any areas that you need to, then, simple do the same keystroke to return your image mode.  Or, just click somewhere on the mask’s Layer itself and the image reappears.

Here is a simple image I whipped up to show you how to do this.  I want to isolate the circle to use elsewhere.

Select the circle with the Quick Selection Tool.  Add the Mask.  Then, press ‘Alt'(Options-Mac)’ and click on the Mask in the Layers Palette.  You should see this:

Remember, White Reveals, Black Conceals.  The Layers Palette looks like this:

When you get the Mask cleaned up, and you are satisfied, simply click the same Keystroke or click anywhere on the grey part of the Layer.  This is the result:

(Though it is hard to see, the PS background pattern is showing all around the circle.  I can now save it as a .PNG file.)

When I get the Mask work done, I can right-click on the Mask and select ‘Apply Layer Mask’.

And, here is my newly extracted circle!

Being able to tweek the Mask is a perfect way to see what you may have missed while selecting.  My eyes aren’t as good as they used to be, so, this helps me bunches!  Because Masks are editable, you can make changes by going over any areas with the opposite colors: black-conceals or white-reveals.

I think this will do for today.  I have some more things to share, so, watch for them.  Until then,

SMILE!

Hugs,

Su