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Topaz Detail - Pro Level Photo Sharpening Plugin - 50% Off Sale

Topaz Detail is like giving your computer an upgraded set of instructions telling it exactly what "detail" looks like in your image. With these instructions, your computer learns how add real sharpness to your images, instead of just naively increasing edge contrast. Because of its unique technology, Topaz Detail naturally makes your photos look more "three-dimensional". So don't make another flat picture. Instead, use Detail to create a deep and rich moment in time, frozen in the frame of your photograph... so vivid that you feel like you could just walk right in. Topaz is running a 50% promotion on Topaz Detail. Use coupon code "aprdetail" during checkout. READ MORE... (posted by Jennifer Apple for www.PhotoshopSupport.com)

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Creating Realistic Eyes using the Iris Parts Photoshop - Video Tutorial

This tutorial will explain how to use my Iris Parts brushes to create realistic looking eyes. Great for both paintings and photos! Make sure you click the “full size” button and watch this at a high resolution, so that you can follow along. READ MORE... (posted by Jennifer Apple for www.PhotoshopSupport.com)

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Iris Parts Brushes for Creating Eyes in Photoshop and GIMP

Rings, striations, and various other effects that you can put together to create a realistic looking iris. Includes a base layer for the basic eye color, various layers for adding rings of color, some brushes to add imperfections, striations (the ridges and “burst effect” look that you see on irises), pupils, and even reflections of light. READ MORE... (posted by Jennifer Apple for www.PhotoshopSupport.com)

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20 Amazing Collage Photoshop Tutorials

There are some good ones here: "I discovered some really amazing collage Photoshop tutorials and decided to share them with you. These collages are incredible and very eye-catching! You’ll learn lots of new tricks from these tutorials and hopefully, you’ll improve your Photoshop skills." READ MORE... (posted by Jennifer Apple for www.PhotoshopSupport.com)

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12 Free Photoshop Actions for Fashion Bloggers

This is really nice — 12 Free Photoshop Actions for Fashion Bloggers from Jennine Jacob. You can use them in any projects you want commercial usage is allowed. These are good for fashion photographers and also they work perfect on baby photography. READ MORE... (posted by Jennifer Apple for www.PhotoshopSupport.com)

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Free, Free, Free — Floral Bursts Photoshop and GIMP Brushes

You can download them for free from Obsidian Dawn: Floral designs, including several flowers and filaments, as well as a few light bursts to use as you choose. There’s any number of things you can do with both — and you can see in the preview image how they appear together. READ MORE... (posted by Jennifer Apple for www.PhotoshopSupport.com)

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50% Off DeNoise - Photoshop Plugin

Topaz is pdating and running a 50% promotion on Topaz DeNoise, their image noise reduction plug-in designed to fix heavy image noise and grain. Other NR software tend to strike a good balance between processing speed and quality. By contrast, Topaz DeNoise focuses entirely on the quality of the results you get. READ MORE... (posted by Jennifer Apple for www.PhotoshopSupport.com)

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Create Raindrops on a Frosted Window in Photoshop

In today’s tutorial, I’m going to show you how you can create raindrops on a frosted window in Photoshop, using Layer Styles, filters, and masking techniques. This is a great effect to add to your rainy day photos! READ MORE... (posted by Jennifer Apple for www.PhotoshopSupport.com)

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Watching How-To Videos May Boost The Brain’s Plasticity, Enhancing Learning

A new study sheds some light on how visual demonstrations help us master new skills. Even as an adult, your brain is able to better learn skills just by watching the activity take place. With a dramatic increase of videos available through mobile phones, computers, and other newer technology, this topic should be the focus of more research. Now watch a great video from Terry White, Adobe worldwide evangelist, who gives an overview of his 5 favorite features in Photoshop CC. READ MORE... (posted by Jennifer Apple for www.PhotoshopSupport.com)

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How To Get Started With Lightroom 5 - 10 Things Beginners Want To Know How To Do

In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV, Terry White shows how to get started with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 - 10 Things Beginners Want To Know How To Do. READ MORE... (posted by Jennifer Apple for www.PhotoshopSupport.com)

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Redesign Tutorial - Using Photoshop To Mockup A Better Interface

Here's a nice look at a redesign idea — REDESIGNING THE UNITED FLIGHT SEARCH INTERFACE IN PHOTOSHOP. Lots of good ideas and inspiring results. READ MORE... (posted by Jennifer Apple for www.PhotoshopSupport.com)

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Topaz Simplify - 50% Off - Fine Art Photoshop Plugin

Topaz is running a 50% promotion for Topaz Simplify. Simplify enables people to get a fine-art painted look without spending tons of time in Photoshop, and there’s lots of really cool things that you can do with it. All in all, Simplify is probably one of my favorite products. I think lots of people will find this promotion very attractive, especially considering the $19.99 price. READ MORE... (posted by Jennifer Apple for www.PhotoshopSupport.com)

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10 Things Beginners Want to Know How To Do In Photoshop CC

In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV, Terry White shows you how to get started with Adobe Photoshop CC and covers the 10 things that beginners want to know how to do. If you're new to Photoshop, this is the video you've been looking for. READ MORE... (posted by Jennifer Apple for www.PhotoshopSupport.com)

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to change eye colour in Photoshop

Here's a good tutorial on how to change the colour of a person’s eyes in a portrait shot in Photoshop. READ MORE... (posted by Jennifer Apple for www.PhotoshopSupport.com)

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Video Editing for Photographers using Photoshop CC

This “how to” video will take you through the journey of taking footage from the DSLR/compact systems camera and turning it into a 40 second video, as well as showing how you are able to use standard Photoshop re-touching techniques to solve a few technical issues. It will also show how to take footage from a YouTube/Vimeo channel and host onto your Behance page to show other creatives your story. READ MORE... (posted by Jennifer Apple for www.PhotoshopSupport.com)

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Russian Mother Takes Magical Pictures of Her Kids With Farm Animals

Elena Shumilova, from Andreapol, Russia, began taking pictures of her sons Yaroslav and Vanya in early 2012 when she received her first professional camera. These beautiful photos capture the tender moments between two young boys who share a unique bond with animals. READ MORE... (posted by Jennifer Apple for www.PhotoshopSupport.com)

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Make an eBlast Promotion with Photoshop and HTML/CSS

(Tue, 22 Apr 2014 02:13:15 +0000)
Authors: 
Susan Neuhaus
Rating: 
5/5
Body: 

Like many designers, I work on a wide variety of projects, from websites and brochures, to ads and emails. Recently, a client’s book was getting great reviews and they wanted send out an eBlast promotion through a third party. Due tomorrow. So I needed to design, markup, and test the eBlast as quickly as possible.

This article outlines the process I used for the eBlast, and it assumes:

• You’re pretty comfortable in Adobe Photoshop, you know how to use layers and guides, the Eyedropper Tool, Save for Web and Devices
• You know basic HTML and CSS and have an HTML editor, such as Coda, Dreamweaver, TextWrangler or BBEdit for markup
• You have access to a web server and can upload files and images

1. First up, Planning

Read the publication’s specs carefully

When you’re working with a tight schedule it’s tempting to dive in and start working. But on quick jobs, there’s no time to redo anything.

For the sample project the publication specified, among other things:

• using a single JPG for the eBlast is not allowed
• maximum file size 75k or 100k
• no CSS in the header
• may not reference a remote CSS file
• images must be hosted on the advertiser’s server
• maximum width 728px
• maximum image size 300px x 600px

The easiest solution would be making a single JPG image for the eBlast, but the publication didn’t allow this. Easy solution number two, using an existing template, didn’t pan out either. All my templates had CSS in the header, again, not allowed. That leaves creating an HTML eBlast with inline CSS styles.

Choose your tools

Old-school HTML layouts in tables are rendered pretty consistently in email clients. Photoshop outputs HTML tables and images slices, using the “Save for Web and Devices” command, so it is a good layout tool for this eBlast project. The HTML can be opened in an editor for final markup.

Decide how to speed the process.

Can some tasks be done concurrently?

There are probably a few labor-intensive elements in your project. In the sample project, the artwork features detailed cut-paper illustrations that require meticulous silhouetting. I didn’t have time to do this for each design iteration, so I asked the client to trust, based on past projects, that I would silo the art properly. Also done concurrently: online testing and proofreading. Once the layout is approved, any text changes are unlikely to affect the overall appearance and function of the HTML markup.

What features are not absolutely necessary and could be scrapped if time runs out?

In the sample project we saved responsive conversion for last. We felt most people will be reading this eBlast at work on their computers, the layout would be pretty simple and bold with little text, and it would feature strong images that will be distinguishable on a small cell phone screen. So converting the HTML to a responsive layout was a “we’ll do it if we have time” task.

Decide where the images and the online version will be hosted

If the images will be saved to client’s server and served to the email client from there, get necessary logins. For the sample project, I hosted the images on my web server. Either way, to test the eBlast, it will need to be uploaded to a web server. Create a folder for your project within your local website folder.

2. Make the Photoshop Layout

Layout to fit the table

For the sample layout, I created an RGB Photoshop document 600px wide, planning a 6-column table of 100px per column. Using the colspan attribute I could set cell widths from 100 to 600 to work with for layout variety. Pull out vertical guides to indicate the maximum number of columns you expect your table rows to have.

Now design your eBlast, keeping the table in mind. Each table row has to have a total of 6 columns. For instance, in the first row, the headline spans 5 columns, a bird image fits into 1. 5+1= 6. In the next row has text and art spanning 3 columns, art and book specs spanning 2 columns, art spanning 1 column. 3+2+1=6.

Before finalizing the layout, set horizontal guides where you expected rows to be.

 

When your layout is approved, its time to make the images and the HTML.

Prepare to export the HTML and Images

Decide which text is best as HTML and which is best as JPGs

Some people may view the eBlast with image viewing turned off, so all text as images will be readable only if the alt tag is filled in. However, there are style limitations to live text in email clients. For the sample project, we kept the headline treatment and client tagline as JPGs, and plan to put the text in the alt tag. The starred reviews and book information will be live text so they are readable without images on, and they can be typeset with the email client’s default san-serif font without much design degradation. (Arial haters may need to take a deep breath here.)

Hide the Photoshop layers with the live text.

Note Styles and Colors

To make markup easier, take some notes now about the parts of your layout that will be specified in CSS and HTML. Use the eyedropper tool to sample and make a note of the colors you’ll be using for the background of any text cells, as well as the colors of text or any other HTML elements you plan to use, such as borders or horizontal rules. If you cut and paste the hexadecimal values (six digits in the # field) into a blank document in your HTML editor you’ll have them for later use.

Measure the distance between live text and your column guides, so you’ll know what the cellpadding should be, and make any other notes about your layout that will be helpful later, such as font sizes. You can always go back to the Photoshop layout, but you’ll markup faster if you’re not switching back and forth while writing CSS styles.

Slicing Your Layout for the Table

Using the Slice tool, manually set slices so you can control colspans. Drag diagonally with the knife tool from guide to guide to define your cell as a slice.

Export with “Save for Web & Devices”

Select “Save for Web & Devices” under the File Menu

Check that your slices look right, using the Toggle Slices Visibility Button.

In the Save for Web dialog box, choose:
Format: HTML and Images
Settings: Default settings (background images are not well supported in email clients)
Slices: All User Slices

Select the project’s folder in your website’s local folder (the one you made in the planning phase).

Photoshop will automatically create an HTML document, and make a JPG of each of your slices. The JPGs will have your document name plus an incremental number, and be in a folder labeled “images.”

3. Adjust tables in an HTML editor

Open the HTML from Photoshop in your HTML editor. Add a 2px border to the table to see your table cells clearly in preview mode. You’ll take this out later as it is really, really ugly.

 

If the table structure is not as you expected, it could be faster to redo your slices in Photoshop and Save for Web & Devices again. And even if the table looks pretty good, you’ll probably still need to do some clean up. Fix any images that don’t fit quite right. If they’re almost the right size, you can adjust the height or width in the img tag with minimal distortion. Note: during testing images that were exactly the width of the combined columns sometimes caused misalignment of the table. Making images just one pixel less wide (499px instead of 500px) solved the problem with no visible spaces.

Add a background color to the cells where you will have live text using bgcolor in the table, or td tags and the notes you took while preparing to export from Photoshop. Add a background color to the body tag, if desired.

Crop and add images that will be below or above your text

In the sample project, there are birds below the starred review text. Photoshop makes an image the size of the whole cell.

Open this image and crop it so there’s room for the text. Since the birds are silhouetted on the same color as the table background, the birds will appear seamlessly on the background with the text.

Add live text

Add text “View this on the web.” above your table. This will be a link to the file a web server. The destination <a href=”#”> can be blank for now. You can put in the static URL when you’ve uploaded the file.

Copy and paste text from your Photoshop layout into the appropriate cell. Go back and forth between the preview with the ugly borders and the HTML to confirm you’ve pasted the text into the right place if necessary.

Add “Please do not respond to this email, it is from an unmonitored email address” with opt out information and a link below the table.

Style your text. The sample project uses inline CSS to conform to the publisher’s specifications. (See Three Ways to Insert CSS at W3schools.com)

Change the table border back to “0.”

4. Send for Review

Upload the HTML and images to your server

Replace all image links with absolute URLs: “http://www.yourserver.com/clientfolder/images/eblast-design_11.jpg” so that they can be served when the eBlast is opened. If your web-editing software doesn’t track versions for you, be sure to do this both in the HTML on your hard drive and the HTML on the web server so the editions are in sync.

Add the static link to your eBlast to the link for “View this on the web.” It might seem weird to add a link to an HTML document into the HTML document, but it will be needed when you send the page to be reviewed in an email client.

Send the eBlast as an email

View your eBlast HTML in Safari. If you don’t use Safari, there are add-ons available for Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Chrome that will allow you to email a page.

Under the file menu, select “Mail Contents of this page” or command+I

5. Testing

It’s always best to test in as many actual environments as you can. In this time frame, we tested in available email clients and used an online testing service, emailonacid.com. In addition to previews in multiple desktop and mobile environments, they have FAQs, plus support and community threads for troubleshooting.

Issues in the sample project

Adding a 1px-tall fifth row with width specified in pixels for all 6 columns helped the table to hold together in some email clients (I’m talking to you, Windows Mail). Specifying what I didn’t want was as important as specifying what I did want. For web design projects, I use the Meyer Reset  in my CSS. Here, that was not possible since I could have no CSS in the head of my document. So I had to specify things like  style="border:0;" for the logo and style=”list-style:none;”  for the awards.

In some tests, HTML entities, like ”&rquo” for right quotes, displayed as junk characters if the viewer had chosen a font for email viewing that didn’t have a large character set. The entity number might have worked, but we chose to substitute common characters—inch marks instead of curly quotes for example—just to be on the safe side.

6. Finishing up

When the eBlast tests results are satisfactory, send the HTML to the client. Leave the HTML and images in place on the web server. The images will be called by email clients when your eBlast is viewed. Leave the HTML in place so the eBlast can be viewed on the on the web if needed.

The final result is here: Parrots over Puerto Rico eBlast sample project.

Thanks to Lee & Low Books for graciously allowing the use of their eBlast for the sample project. Thanks also to Brian Maya for help with the eBlast and the article.

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The CreativePro Weekly Top 10, vol. 11

(Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:45:34 +0000)
Authors: 
Mike Rankin
Rating: 
0/5
Body: 

1. We begin the 11th edition of the CreativePro Top 10, with a nod to Mr. “These go to eleven,” Nigel Tufnel.

I was unable to locate a worthy approximation of the Spinal Tap font, but the amazing Typodermic fonts offers some great heavy metal fonts that are free for commercial use (along with many other free and commercial fonts of all kinds). Check out Squealer, Metal Lord, and Die Nasty when you need a design that’s “one louder.”

2. Well, this didn't take long. In some quarters, folks are already tiring of flat design and calling for a return of skeuomorphic drop shadows, gradients, and the like—at least in moderation. Mmm, do I detect a whiff of rich Corinthian leather?

3. What do you get when you pair classic typefaces with iconic architecture? I dunno, “architypeture”? Whatever you call it, it’s très cool, and it’s the brainchild of Swedish engineer Per Nilsson, the man behind the brand POP. You can order his prints of Helvetica, Garamond, and Futura at Nordic Design Collective for about $60 a “pop.”

4. I loved this Photoshop video from Phlearn on enhancing an image with Shadow/Highlight and Apply Image. It is stuffed with great tips and shortcuts. It is also a bit on the intermediate/advanced side, but follow along with an image of your own and you’ll see how to rescue shadow detail and create convincing lighting effects with just a few minutes of work.

5. Looking to create or edit a font, but you don’t want to make a major investment? There are a few browser-based tools out there, including Glyphr Studio and FontArk. And soon those two will be joined by Prototypo, an open source font editor now being funded on Kickstarter. 

6. And while we’re Kickstarting, let’s also mention the ridiculously successful project by Ben Barrett-Forrest to create The Design Deck: a Playing-Card Guide to Graphic Design. Ben is the guy who did the super-cool History of Typography animated video. Each card will feature a curated nugget of useful design information, along with a visual example. Deal me in! And by the way if I ever start a band, I’m going to call it Curated Nuggets.

7. Quasith is a free (for personal use) font from Egidio Filippetti. Grab it and another free (for commercial use) font called Focus at his Behance page.

 

8. CMYK is a short film created by Vancouver-based filmmaker Marv Newland and animator Kunal Sen. Constructed from common symbols used in print production, and accompanied by music from the Quatuor Bozzini quartet, the film is described as an “unrestrained riot of colour and energy.” I do not disagree. Don’t watch it right before bedtime, or you might have nightmares about moiré patterns.

9. As both a connoisseur of burritos and a man with way too many gadget cords stuffed into plastic bags, I am feeling compelled to purchase a Cordito from Photojojo. Wonder if I can get one with extra jalapeños.

10. “Sexy” and “storage” are two concepts that don’t exactly go together, but the new Studio line of external hard drives by G-Technology are sexy and they know it. The Studio drives come in sleek black enclosures and feature multiple RAID options, removable 7,200 RPM drives, 20 Gbps Thunderbolt 2 interfaces, and up to 24 TB of storage.

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The CreativePro Weekly Top 10, vol. 10

(Fri, 11 Apr 2014 16:21:41 +0000)
Authors: 
Mike Rankin
Rating: 
0/5
Body: 

1. Ever struggle to recolor artwork in Illustrator? Designer Keri Labuski did, so she reached out to the members of the Illustrator LinkedIn group for help. And Mordy Golding replied with a fantastic video showing how to use the Recolor Artwork feature to achieve the desired results. Check it out below or at Mordy’s Real World Illustrator blog post.

2. Not to be outdone, Deke McClelland offered up the funniest Photoshop video ever. Unless you’re still using Photoshop 1.7. In that case, it’s probably serious cutting-edge material. Nah, it’s still the funniest video.

3. Meanwhile, folks at Adobe are hard at work on the next version of Photoshop, which will mark the end of some tools and features. Better get some use out of the Oil Paint filter soon (hint: make some tree bark with it). It’s not long for this world. Read the Spring Cleaning post at the Photoshop.com blog to learn what else is getting cut.

4. Back in my Photoshopping days, I was once asked to add an extra section to the White House to make it look “better.” I refused on the grounds that a) someone would notice, and b) it was an insane thing to do. But apparently the digital artists at Rolling Stone have no such a slavish devotion to authenticity, as they put John Hancock’s signature under text from the U.S. Constitution on the naked back of Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. Clearly, the artist needs a lesson in using the History Brush.

5. Lightcase is a nifty pop-up photo studio that allows you to photograph small objects quickly & professionally with a smartphone. Or it will be, once the successful Kickstarter campaign wraps up. Currently, you can get in on one for $41 (£25).

6. Got a great idea for a t-shirt design? Check out this classic post, How to Break into T-shirt Design and grab some of the 15 Free PSD t-shirt templates rounded up by Spoongraphics.

7. Somewhere in the list of graphic design crimes and misdemeanors, there is a special place for that time-honored technique of cheating text spacing. Specifically, I’m talking about using paragraph returns, word spaces, tabs, thin spaces, etc. to move text into the desired position. It might be a temporary fix, but it’s a time bomb waiting to blow up in the face of the poor chump who inherits your files. Read David Kudler’s Plea to Book Designers: InDesign is Not a Linotype Machine for the gory details. And don’t space out.

8. In this week’s Hoefler & Frere-Jones item, Tobias Frere-Jones started a blog and wrote an enjoyable post called My Kind of Neighborhood on his accidental discovery of a “typography neighborhood” that once existed in 1800’s New York.

9. It’s hard to imagine how much time and effort went into the amazing stop motion film A Girl Named Elastika. Fortunately, you don’t have to. Just sit back and be amazed.

A GIRL NAMED ELASTIKA from Guillaume Blanchet I Filmmaker on Vimeo.

10. Working with type is both and art and a science. I can’t help you with the art, but for the science, check out Thomas Phinney’s article Know if a Font Sucks, and learn how spacing, kerning, shapes, intersections, and more can make a font suck (or not).

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How to Create Trees in Photoshop, Part 2

(Tue, 08 Apr 2014 16:33:20 +0000)
Authors: 
Steve Caplin
Rating: 
3.7/5
Body: 

In part 1 of this tutorial, we saw how to use the new Tree feature in the 14.2 update to Photoshop CC to create trees directly within the program, using an enhancement to the Scripted Fill dialog box.

The trees created in this way are good physical representations of over 20 different types of tree, right down to the arrangement of the trunk and branches and the shape of the leaves. But they never look quite right in a montage, because they don’t have that degree of realism that makes them truly blend into your chosen background. 

Here, we’ll see how to take the tree we created earlier and make it look much more like a true part of this urban environment.

Where we left off

Here’s the tree as we created it in part 1. The size is appropriate for a young tree, and both the angle of view and the lighting are correct; but it doesn’t look enough like a real tree to be a convincing part of the scene.

Select the bark

Hide the background layer so that just the tree is visible, and open the Select > Color Range dialog box. Click on the trunk of the tree, and you’ll see the selection area shown in white on the thumbnail. Hold the Shift key and drag over the trunk until all the bark color is selected. Hit OK, then choose Layer > New > Layer via Copy to make a new layer from the selection.

Oil the wood

It may seem surprising, but the Oil Paint filter does a good job here—you’ll find it near the top of the Filter menu. Choose a Cleanliness setting of zero, and a small scale; adjust the Angular Direction so that the bark looks like it’s lit from above. When you’re happy with the result, click OK.

Tone down the leaves

The leaves on our tree are far too brightly lit for this shady scene out of direct sunlight. While it would be possible to change the color when generating the tree, it’s a lot easier to open Adjustments > Hue/Saturation, and then drag the Saturation slider to the left.

Fix the background

There’s a lot of mess behind the trunk of the tree—we can see pieces of the original bollard, and part of a pedestrian. Make a new layer just above the background, and switch to the Clone tool. On the Options Bar, set this tool to sample Current & Below, and then sample small areas of the background with which to clone out the offending objects. Because you’re working on a separate layer, it’s easy to erase and correct any mistakes.

Build the shadow

To make the shadow, first duplicate the tree layer. The easiest way to do this is to hold Option/Alt and (with the Move tool) drag the original tree to the side. Press D to set the foreground color to black, then use Command+Option Backspace (Mac) Ctrl+Alt Backspace (Win) to fill the tree with the foreground color. (Adding the Shift key prevents the black from leaking out of the existing pixels on the layer).

Finish the shadow

Use Free Transform to distort the shadow so that it appears to lie flat along the ground, and in the Layers panel, reduce its opacity to around 30%. You’ll need to erase the shadow where it appears over the side of the bollard’s plinth, and paint in a little more right in front of the tree.

Add some more trees

While you’re at it, why not plant a few more trees, using exactly the same technique as before. Here, I’ve added a selection of trees, and masked them so that they appear behind the railings. As we’ve done here, I’ve also desaturated all the trees so that they don’t jump out of the scene.

The finishing touch

Adding elements to a montage always looks more convincing if part of the background image comes in front of the new layers. Here, it makes sense to tuck the tree behind the traffic light. But the tree is now in two layers—as well as the existing one, there’s now a separate layer for the trunk. So make a new Layer Group from these two layers, and add a Layer Mask to the group. Paint in black with a small, hard-edged brush to hide the group, and paint in white to reveal it again. 

The finished image

Here’s the completed image. With the shadow in place, with the new bark and toned-down leaves, the trees look far more like they could be a real part of this view; and bringing the traffic light to the front does the job of fixing the main tree more firmly into the scene.

***

Steve Caplin is the editor of the 3D printing blog 3DGeni.us and the author of How to Cheat in Photoshop CC.

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How to Create Trees in Photoshop, Part 1

(Mon, 07 Apr 2014 13:03:41 +0000)
Authors: 
Steve Caplin
Rating: 
4.1/5
Body: 

One of the more surprising features in the latest update to Photoshop CC is its newfound ability to create trees. You’re able to pick from 22 different varieties, and to control many aspects of their appearance including the amount of leaf cover, the color of the leaves and the lighting direction. To a limited extent, you’re also able to set the angle of view.

The tree generator is a curious enhancement, with a live preview showing some but by no means all of the available effects. Despite its quirks, it’s an excellent way of adding foliage to your montages. In the first part of this tutorial, we’ll see how to use the settings to control the effect; in Part 2, we’ll go on to see how to make the tree look more like it belongs in this environment.

The starting scene

This is the environment we’ll work with. It's a view of London’s Houses of Parliament, and it’s just crying out for some natural enhancement. We'll plant a tree to replace that yellow traffic bollard on the right.

Make a new layer

It may sound obvious, but before you start building trees, you should make a new layer for them to sit on. Otherwise, your tree will be burned into the background layer, and you won’t be able to either move it or adjust it easily. Choose Layer > New > Layer, and call the layer Tree so you can identify it easily later.

Open the Tree dialog box

The Tree dialog box is well hidden. To access it, choose Edit > Fill, then choose Pattern from the Contents/Use pop-up menu at the top of the window. A Scripted Patterns pop-up will appear at the bottom; choose Tree from the bottom of the list. Click OK to continue.

The tree dialog box

Here’s how the dialog box looks when you first open it. You’ll see a rendering of your tree in the large preview panel. Sadly, this is only a partially live preview, as we’ll see; that’s because it takes a while for Photoshop to generate each new tree, and it only does that when you press the OK button.

Choose your tree

You can select your tree type from the pop-up list, and there are 22 varieties in all—everything from oaks to palms. You don’t need to make a final choice at this stage, as it’s easy to switch between tree types on the fly. I’ve chosen an Elm, as it’s appropriate to London.

Adjust the light and angle

The lighting on the background image is coming from the right of the picture, as can be seen from the fact that the building facing us is in shadow, and from the shadows cast by the bollard and the railings. So drag the Light Direction slider to the right to match. You won’t see any corresponding change on the large preview. Instead, the only indicator is the position of the sun on the small gray icon within the preview area. The same goes for adjusting the Camera Tilt position: only the icon changes, not the preview.

Choose your season

Dragging the Leaves Amount slider will move the tree from summer (with a value of 100) to winter (with a value of 0). As you drag the slider, you can see the number of leaves changing in the main preview. Pick a setting that looks attractive to you.

Custom colors

Check the two tick boxes to set custom colors for both the leaves and the branches. Default green and brown will be used initially, but if you click the swatches you’ll open the standard Color Picker, from which you can choose any colors you like. Go for a dazzling pink if you want an artificial-looking tree, but for general purposes you’ll probably want to leave these options unchecked.

More customization

There are checkboxes to set flat leaf and branch shading for more stylized trees, and to add noise if you want. At the bottom, there’s a Randomize Shapes checkbox. Ticking this will produce a slightly different shaped tree each time you click the OK button. A better method is to drag the slider to alter the Arrangement value, which will produce different shapes each time; the difference now is that if you find a shape you like, you can reproduce it exactly by typing in its number value.

The finished result

Here’s the tree as generated on the image. You can see how the lighting is now appropriately from the side, and it’s tilted forward slightly to match the angle of view of the scene. But this is just the first stage of the process. It’s not a bad tree, but it needs a little work: the leaves are too highly saturated, the bark isn’t very convincing, and it doesn’t cast a shadow on the ground. In part 2, we’ll look at how to address both of these issues.

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