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!

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Easily Install Photoshop Pre-sets – All in One Place

I wrote this tutorial one day after reading another online tutorial for installing brushes via the Adobe files on one’s C-drive.  That way works great, cut and dry!  But, it adds to the program’s size and, eventually, this can really slow down the loading and performance of the PS program.

Did You Know…?

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I want to show you all, once and for all, how easy it is to load presets into Photoshop.  This method works for all presets, is semi-permanent and takes very little space on your hard drive.  It’s called the ‘Preset Manager’.

(Note:  I use CS6.  It’s possible that you don’t see all the presets listed in CS6 in Elements.  It is my understanding you can access some others by clicking on ‘More’ in Layer styles/effects.  This may not be correct, so, the best I can do is tell you to Google installing these.  Sorry!)

We already know that a ‘pre-set’ is a brush, style, pattern, color palette, shape, etc.  What better way to deal with these than through the Preset Manager(PM).  You can access the PM by going to Edit>Presets>Preset Manager.

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Or, you can access it by going to any of the preset tools and clicking on the tiny icon at the top on the right.

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The Preset Manager

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This is where all the action takes place.   I have my ‘brush’ manager open.  It’s getting full!  LOL

Now, obviously, as with the tutorial that inspired me to write this one, you can drop the individual presets into their perspective folders in Adobe’s files on your hard drive.  They are inside the program and will be until you manually remove them from that folder.  Follow this path, or one similar, on your pc:  C:Program Files (x86)AdobeAdobe Photoshop CS6Presets.  But, this adds them to the program ‘permanently’, in a way that makes it load slower.  (If you have too many loaded this way, when you try to change or ‘Re-set’ a preset, often, the entire list/menu isn’t viewable.)  I would only recommend doing this for special presets that you use all the time – as in every day.  By adding them to the PM, they stay in the program until you remove them, but, they don’t count near as much, if anything, against the program as far as taking up space and taking longer to load.

Check out the options you have with the PM:

If you want to load a new preset:

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A window will open, then, navigate to the preset you want on your hard drive.

If you want to save an assortment of presets you frequently use, click on the ‘Save Set’ button.  (I save the ‘best of’ certain brushes, like ‘clouds’, for example, into one set for frequent use – making sure the designer’s name is on the individual preset for crediting, then, I label the set accordingly and save):

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First, click on the preset you want to save.  If there are multiple presets, like if you just created a set of 24 gorgeous rose brushes, you need to click on the first preset, then, hold down the Shift key and click on the last preset you want.  All of the presets in between should be highlighted, too.  Or, you can hold Ctrl/Command and click on each preset, one at a time.  Either way, when you have selected all the presets you wish to save, click on the ‘Save Set’ button. (Some buttons will appear ‘grayed-out’ until you select at least one of the presets.)  Navigate to the place on your hard drive where you want to save and name it something catchy. Be sure to include your name or initials in the title!   Click Save.

Similarly, to Rename or Delete a preset, or presets, highlight the specific preset(s) and click on the appropriate button:

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WHEN YOU DELETE A PRESET FROM THE PRESET MANAGER IT DOES NOT GO AWAY FOREVER!  It is just no longer in your manager.  If you need it again, go through the steps to ‘Load’ it again.

When you are done with all your presetting, click ‘Done’.

I use the term ‘preset’ throughout this tutorial.  Replace it with whatever you like – Brush, Style, Custom Shape, etc.  The same PM can be used for any and all presets, except Actions.  Here’s how!  At the top of the PM is a drop down menu.

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You can go to any of the other presets via the same manager.  (Exception:  Actions – no PM.)

So!  Any time you want to know how to load a brush or a pattern, maybe, the only thing you need to remember is the Preset Manager.  You don’t even have to reboot PS when you add a preset via the PM!  Jus’ keep on goin’!  LOL

Any time I can find a way to expedite the actions I perform with Photoshop, it is good.  Keystroke shortcuts are real helpful in performing many tasks quickly.  We haven’t learned any new one’s lately, so, how about this one?

Key-Stroke Shortcut

Ctrl/Cmd>’E’

This keystroke shortcut is one you can use to merge selected layers together.  Say, you are working on a layout and you have created the textured background.  With all the blending modes and adjustments, like Levels and Color Balance, often, when done, you may want to merge those layers together.  This can save space in the Layers Palette for the rest of the layout.  There are other ways to Merge – right-click and select Merge Layers, Flatten, Merge Down, Convert to Smart Object, etc.  This shortcut allows you to select multiple layers (hold Ctrl/Cmd and click on each layer you want to include in merge), then, hold Ctrl/Cmd and hit ‘E’.  Takes care of that!  LOL

I hope these things help you!  If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will respond ASAP.

Thank you so much for your visit!

Su

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

Final Parts – ‘Vintage Garden’ and Texture Panel for PS

A good morning to you!  I hope everyone is well and in good spirits.  Me, I’m so lost!  LOL  That’s really nothing new, tho!  Seriously!  Lately, there have been changes in my life.  Big changes.  I feel like I am struggling to stay sane!  Ah, well!  “Life goes on!”  “This, too, shall pass!”  And, finally, “What doesn’t kill us will only make us stronger!”  I have been reminding myself of these ‘catch-phrases’ over and over.  It is helping – somewhat.  LOL

So!  I have been looking at Adobe Exchange and some of the new features of CS6.  Wow!  Did you know you can download an ‘Adobe Exchange Portal’ that would enable you to visit the Exchange while inside Photoshop?  I am finding things to do with PS that will help in design and my art.  There are all types of things you can add on to PS!  I wanted to tell ya’ll about one ‘Extension’ that I have used since CS5 that I love!

Textures appeal to me!  I don’t know what it is, but, there is something about adding a texture and tweeking the ‘Blending Modes’ that just thrills me.  You can come up with some awesome designs/effects!  I am a sucker, too, for downloading about every ‘texture freebie’ I see.  When I first started playing with PS, I looked for the panel that had the textures.  LOL  You can add a style, a pattern, even create a ribbon with an action, but, there was not a panel/feature that would bring up and apply textures.  There’s the ‘Texturizer Filter’, but, I am speaking of something that would give the artist complete control as to what kind of texture we want.

Then, I read something about an extension that brings textures in to PS.  I went on a search and found it!  It’s called ‘Texture Panel’ and it works in conjunction with ‘FlyPaperTextures.com’.  I know it works in CS5 and CS6, but, any other versions, I do not know.  You can find the script on Dr. Brown’s Script page.  Russel Brown is such an awesome guy!  He’s funny and smart!  I am fuzzy on who came up with the idea and all that, but, I know it is a gem!

When you download it, which I do through the Extension Manager that comes with CS, and open PS, you will find it under ‘Windows’>’Extensions’.  It will open as a panel.  You’ll see something like this:

The textures that come installed are from FlyPaperTextures.com.  The assortment is very nice!  I use them a lot!  For a while they were the only textures you could use in this extension.  Now, though, they have added the capability, with Texture Panel open, to navigate to your hard drive, so, now, you can use all of your own textures!  Talk about easy-peasy!  LOL  On Dr. Brown’s Scripts page, he warns you about size.  I guess larger textures take a really long time to open.  It’s best to go with smaller size textures.  As with anything, you’ll have to experiment.

What is cool is, when you want to use a texture, you open the Texture Panel window/palette.  Either select one of the FlyPpaperTextures that comes installed, or navigate to your own with the drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner of the palette.  Once you decide on a texture, and bring it into Texture Panel, just double click on the desired texture’s thumbnail.  Wallah!  The texture not only opens up, but, it goes on top of the stack of layers you currently have open.  What ever layer you have selected, it goes on top of it in the Layers Palette.  (I have not tried to open a texture as a stand-alone document, yet.) Then, it applies a Blending Mode; ‘Multiply’ is default, but, you can always change the mode.  Then, once the texture is applied, it closes.  You are left with your creation plus a texture!  You really must see it!  It is awesome!  While I have interspersed this article with links, I repeat them here:

Texture Panel (download is second in the list) – http://russellbrown.com/scripts.html

Fly Paper Textures –  http://flypapertextures.com/

Adobe Exchange Panel – http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/exchange/

Now, the final two parts to ‘Vintage Garden’.  This wraps up the kit.  Next month, we have something neat!  So, do plan on coming back the second week of September!  My previews are linked to the downloads.  The first preview, the ‘elements’ lead to Part 5, and the second preview, the papers, lead to Part 6.  Then, if you haven’t already been to Miss Edna’s Place, click on her preview to go to her blog to download her two parts.  If you missed it, I made a layout using Miss Edna’s goodies for the photos we took of the children’s first day of school.  I shared it a few posts back or click on this link.

Part 5

Part 6

Miss Edna’s Preview and Link (click on image)

There ya go!  You’ve learned something and been able to download a freebie!  So, kick back and enjoy!  It has been raining here in sunny Florida for weeks!  So,

until next time…

Hugs,

Su