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  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,




Introducing New FreeSpirit Blog Features

With everything that has been going on, it has been a while since I wrote on the Photoshop aspect of design and creativity.  As my new domain comes into fruition, I will introduce more Photoshop-related content, especially as it applies to digi-scrapping and other digi-art.  As it is, now, I spend about half of my time with digital scrapbooking and the rest on digital art.  I like to try photo-manipulation tutorials, with an emphasis on learning techniques.  In this manner, I feel, I have learned more about this program than any other means.  At Digital Whisper I focused the challenges on a tutorial that showed how to use some PS feature or technique that, once learned, can be used for any application – not just the final image of the tutorial.  Jumping in, following the instructions(tuts), getting a first-hand knowledge of the technique, is the best way to learn anything.  With Photoshop, it is almost a requirement.

There are several key elements I want to focus on with the PS-related content.  One is just to get across to the readers more PS content for other design purposes, other than digital scrapbooking, like digi-art, web/blog design, etc.  The other thing I want is to share tips that can make any design work/play run smoother.  One can easily create an action, for instance, that automates any repetitive task we use frequently, such as image resizing or preparing a preview for the web.  You know.  Those mundane, yet, necessary tasks we spend a great deal of time doing.  There are key shortcuts one can pick up to cut down on steps to accomplish most anything!  There are issues that come up that, with awareness, can be diverted or downplayed.  For example, how many times have you tried to click on a certain menu item, only to discover it ‘greyed-out’, with no idea why.  This one is common when learning PS!

I want to introduce a feature, here, that I hope to make a regular thing – “Did you know…?”  Sometimes, I run across some neat little tid-bit of info that has the potential to help with design.  There are some I want to share and, hopefully, readers will share some of the jewels they find.  Eventually, there may be a wealth of valuable tips and ideas that will inspire anyone.  So, here is the first in what will hopefully become many.

Did You Know…?

You can open and use ‘vectors’ in Photoshop.  The ‘.ai’ and ‘.eps’ file extensions are vector images, as opposed to ‘pixel’ images.  Any time you zoom in real close to an image in PS, you can clearly see the image is made up of tine little squares – pixels.  The process is called ‘rasterization’, thus, pixel-based images are referred to as ‘rasters’.  Vectors are points, lines, curves and polygons on an algebraic grid.  Vectors exist in a mathematical space, as opposed to the more literal space that pixels exist in.  As a result, there aren’t any pixel edges or other quirks to restrict in the size of the image.  You can enlarge a pixel image and it will look horrendous.  With vectors, size is not an issue.

Having bored you with all that, when you open a vector image in PS, you will see something like this:

As the box is titled, PS has to ‘rasterize’ the vector in order for the program to be able to use it.  All you have to do is hit ‘OK’ and the image will open in raster form that you can work with.  I use this opportunity to open the image as more of what I want.  I usually work in RGB color mode, so, I go ahead and change that in the little box.

I also prefer 300ppi resolution, so, I change that here, too.

This will obviously change the image size, so, pay heed to the new size.  If it is a single image, realize how it will appear at the new size.  Is it entirely too large?  Reduce the numbers until you end up with a size that you can work with.

If, on the other hand, the image is compiled of smaller images, you may want to keep the large size.  When you have the size at an acceptable level, click ‘OK’.  Here is the outcome, the rasterized version of the vector I used.

And, here is the image all prettied up for you.  Feel free to use for PU.  Click on the image, then, right-click to save.  Thank you to for this image!  If you’ve never visited them, you really should.  Check out their resources, like this free pattern I used for this post.

So, whatcha think?  Adding the ability to incorporate vectors into one’s design opens all kinds of possibilities, eh?

I’m not through with you, yet!  LOL  There’s more!  In addition to adding this new feature to my blog, I also want to implement another little pet project in here – ‘key-stroke shortcuts’.  Wait!  Before you decide they are just not for you and that you just don’t have the time, etc., read on, please.  I have a lousy memory!  My short-term memory is useless!  LOL  And, if you folks are like me, you tend to go with what you know, rather than trying to learn a whole new way of doing things.  You don’t have to!  By learning ‘key-stroke shortcuts’ my way, it is a breeze!  All I do is learn one at a time!  That’s it!

Key-Stroke Shortcut – Copy Layer

As I learn PS, there are certain things I find that I do all the time!  Ever copy a layer?  You know, create an exact duplicate of a layer just above the existing layer for whatever reason.  I do it every day.  As with many other things in PS, there are several ways of accomplishing this.  I used to go to the top menu bar, click on ‘Layer’, go to ‘Duplicate Layer’, then, when the box pops up, click ‘OK’.  Bah!  ‘Ctrl/Cmd(Mac)’+’J’.  Done!  Two keys!  In the new CS6, you can duplicate entire groups with one click of these two keys!  If you only want to copy one part of another layer, select that part with any of he ‘selection’ tools in the ‘Tools Palette’.  Then, when you hit ‘Ctrl/Cmd(Mac)’+’J’, only that part of the layer will copy.   It is so easy!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, I intend to post one ‘key-stroke shortcut’ a week or so.  By adding a new one every so often, getting accustomed to using each, soon, you’ll see a marked increase in productivity.  Try out each new key-stroke.  See how easy it is.  Open an image and play.  Familiarize yourself with typing the required keys so that it becomes automatic for you.  You know.  Take it for a spin.  Kick the tires!   By performing some action whilst learning something new, it stays in your memory far better!  Your time spent on a project will lessen with each new stroke you add to your arsenal of knowledge.  C’mon!  Give it a whirl with me!  I already have a nice little list of strokes I have learned and use all the time.  I can’t imagine going back to my old ways!  LOL  I will give you those, then, we’ll go on to learn others.

So, there it is.  This is where I plan on taking things with the new blog.  I still plan on offering the monthly freebie kit that Miss Edna and I do together each month.  Scrapbooking is a big part of my digital design life.  However, by learning to use Photoshop in new and better ways, it is adding to my experience, thus, my expertise, when it comes to creating any kind of new designs – hopefully.  I hope you like and can benefit from the new added features.  If you ever have any questions or something to add, just leave me a comment.  I will act on it asap!

An article I found online gives some of the best-known shortcuts, with images!  We’ll learn them all!

Sign up for my RSS Feed, in the right side bar.  Every time I post, you’ll get an e-mail of that post!  Easy-peasy and you don’t miss a word!  LOL

Until next time…



Some content absorbed and interpretted from: