The Ultimate Photoshop Resource

Photoshop Tips for quality and speed

Photoshop Tips

Colin Smith has been writing the regular monthly column for Photoshop User magazine for over 13 years. As founder of PhotoshopCAFE, he thought it only right to share some of his best tips with you here.

Tip Tuesday

New! Weekly video tip.

Each Tuesday, I am going to post a brand new Photoshop video tip here. These will be short, less than 3 minutes, in fact, most will only be a quick 1 minute tip to help you work faster and better in Photoshop.

Photoshop Tip: Force new text placement anywhere

How to add new text without selecting existing text in Photoshop.

Photoshop Tip: Lens Flare Precision 

Making non destructive lens flares with exact precision placement in Photoshop

Photoshop Tip: Turbo and snail scrubby sliders, PhotoshopCAFE Tip Tuesday 

Scrubby sliders. How to activate turbo and snail mode for exact precision in Photoshop.

Photoshop Tip: Non Destructive Cropping


Automatically Trim and Reveal you image

Instantly expand or crop the canvas to the exact size of the image in Photoshop.

Photoshop Composite Layers

This one is all about taking control over multiple layers to easily apply effects while maintaining complete flexibility. Composite Layers, Stamp Visible and stamp selected layers

Shadow Highlight Adjustment layer
Shadow Highlight is a great adjustment for bringing back some of the areas that have become plugged up in our photos. The good thing about this adjustment is that we don’t lose any of the detail in the midtones. Perhaps you’re disappointed because its still not an adjustment layer. Don’t worry because if has that exact functionality with a little workaround. Make your layer a smear object and now apply Shadow Highlight as a Smart Filter. You now have a re-editable Shadow Highlight. This also works for the Variations Adjustment

Hide and seek
Have you gotten used to the new interface yet? Heres’s a tip that will make you love it. As you probably already know, pressing the Tab key will hide all the palettes. Ok you knew that, so it’s not the tip, here’s the tip. If you roll your mouse to the left or right edge of the screen, the palettes will pop out for your use. Make your selection and then roll back to your image and the palettes will disappear again.

Birds Eye View
When you are zoomed in really close, you can navigate through your image easily using birds eye. Hold down the H key and Click and hold your left mouse button. Photoshop will zoom out and show the entire image and a little box. Reposition the box and let go and the newly selected area will fill the screen.

Auto Collapse
Here’s another tip to help you love the new interface. Have you noticed that when you’re in icon mode (everything is minimized) and you expand a palette to choose it’s option, it stays open and now you have to make an extra step to close it? Right click anywhere in the palettes and choose Auto Collapse Icon Palettes. Now when you choose an option and then click in your document, the palette will automatically collapse closed again.

B&W drag to change color
The best way to convert a color photo to Black and White is to use the new Black and White Adjustment. While using this adjustment, you don’t need to quess which colors belong to which tones. Drag your mouse over the image and the underlying tone will adjust.

Open JPG in RAW
I’m sure that all the cool new options in Camera Raw haven’t gone unnoticed to you. Don’t you wish that these options were available to all images? Good news, they are. You can now open Jpg and Tiff formats inside Camera Raw and make use of the tools. Right Click on the Image in Bridge and choose: Open In Camera Raw. The jpg or tiff is now open in Camera Raw ready for all the cool tools. Remember though, if you want to take full advantage of the Raw tools, you should shoot in Raw on your camera.

Adobe Camera Raw

HiDPI (Retina)
Are you creating multi-media assets and retina giving you issues? Are all the final sizes 2x as big as you want? This is because of the HiDPI settings in Photoshop. You can change this. Find Photoshop on your computer and Choose Cmd+I for Info on Mac or choose options in windows (right click) choose the low resolution option. Note: (You will only see this option on a High resolution screen, ie Retina. )

Zooming the Loupe in Bridge
Did you know that Bridge now has a loupe tool. This tool is suspiciously like a little brother to the loupe in Apples Aperture. (Alright then, a very little brother). Click on the thumbnail and you will see a zoomed in loupe. Drag across the thumbnail to change position. Click the  plus and minus keys to zoom in or out.

Draw straight lines
There are other ways to draw a straight line than using the line tool. After this tip, you may find your need to reach for the line tool reduced, in fact this may even break your addiction. While using any of the drawing tools; Brushes, Pencil, Dodge and Burn, Eraser, Blur, Sharpen and Smudge holding down the shift key will cause you to draw in a perfectly straight line either vertical or horizontal. An added feature will let you create straight lines between points by clicking, Hold down shift and click again anywhere to join the 2 points.

Easy loading of Layer Styles
Start Photoshop> Open your email program if they were emailed to you or navigate to their files on the hard disk> right click/Option Click, then select open and the style set will be loaded automatically

Closing Multiple windows
How long would it take you to close all these documents in Photoshop? Just hold down the shift key when you go File>close and Photoshop will close all the open documents.

Instantly add scanlines
See this tutorial for instant scanlines  and more information.scanlines in Photoshop

Creating a composite layer
This tip can be called, composite layer, or stamp visible and it’s super useful. When you are working on multiple layers and you want to apply a filter like sharpening to all the layers, but you don’t want to flatten the image. (Flattening is bad if you ever want to go back and make changes). Click on the top layer and hold down Alt+Shift+Ctrl+E (Option+Shift+Cmd+E on Mac) and a new layer will be created on the top of the layerstack containing all the visible layers into a new flattened layer. I use this one all the time! The other way id to select all the layers you want to flatten and hold down the alt/option key when you choose merge. It will merge into a new layer while keeping all other layers intact.

Bulls eye Precision
If you need a super accurate Cursor, press the Caps Lock key, it will now turn into a precise bulls eye target.

Want to use RGB Filters while working in CMYK?
As you know some filters like the render filters are disabled in CMYK. Here is a neat tip, work in RGB mode with CMYK preview turned on. CTRL/CMD+Y build your file as normal then when you are finised, convert it to CMYK. This will allow all the filters to work, give you a smaller file size to work on (used 1/4 less memory) and you won’t “lose” your colors when you convert it. Only use CMYK for going to a commercial printing press.

Custom Gradients Made Easy
When you are making a new color gradient and you want to use the same color more than once, don’t recreate it. Just hold down the option/Alt key and drag a copy of the slider.

color changeQuick Color Change
To change the color of an image: press Cmd/Ctrl+U this will open the hue/saturation dialog box, slide the hue slider to change the color. Use the saturation to adjust color intensity. Brightness, to adjust… well the brightness. Click on colorize to add color to a grayscale image or to add a “duotone effect to a RGB/CMYK image. I also like to use the hue/saturation to restore some luster to an image after converting for RGB to CMYK

(L) Before and (R) after using the colorize box.

Scrubby Sliders
You may have noticed that you see a double sided arrow when your pointer is over a number box in Photoshop. You can click and drag to change the values rather than type into the box. You can force this option when you don’t see it by pressing the Cmd/Ctrl key. You can slow down the changes by 10x by holding down alt/Option as you drag. You can speed it up by 10x by holding down shift

Selection Tips
To constrain a selection to a perfect circle or square hold down the shift key.
To start drawing from the center hold the Alt/Option key.
Ever find that you started drawing a selection and you need to move it while you are drawing? No problem, just hold the spacebar and drag.

Reset Preferences
A lot of Photoshop problems can be fixed by dumping the preferences file: While launching Photoshop, Hold down Alt+Ctrl+shift on the PC or Cmd+Option+Shift on the mac. When asked to reset the preferences say yes.
Before you do this, save your custom Patterns, actions, styles, brushes, gradients, shapes and color pallettes. These will also be reset. Tip: You can create an action to do this, so you have a one click backup! (Don’t forget to save the backup action first)

Foreground and Background Colors
Press D to reset the default black and white. Press x to switch the colors. Ctrl/Cmd+Backspace (delete on mac) fills with background color, while alt/Option+Backspace (delete) fills with the foreground color. Add the Shift key to preserve the transparency.

Make a new Document from a layer
Under the layers pallete, when you hit duplicate layer, you can change the document setting to “New” to create a brand new picure from any layer.I wish I knew about this one a few years ago!

Reducing file sizes and speeding up large images,
Even what you can’t see, is effecting your file sizes. If you have imported an image that is larger than your canvas size. Select all and crop. You will be surprised how much you can save. Also delete unwanted layers, they can add up a lot too.

Cloning Vat
Whenever you want to duplicate an image on a layer, (eg. you are putting star-bursts everywhere) Just hold the Alt/Option key and drag.. zap, a duplicate. To keep it aligned, also hold down the shift key as you drag.

Full screen mode
Tap the F key to toggle through different presentation modes in Photoshop which will put your art front and center. The TAB key will show and hide all the toolbars and panels. To hide and show only the panels and keep the tool bar and options bar visible, press the Shift tab

Color Modes and formats
For the web use RGB and save as a jpeg if its a photo. If you want tranparency, use gif or png. If you need animation save as a gif. For print use CMYK and save as either a tiff or an eps. For most print purposes 300dpi. To print to an inkjet only, RGB and 300 dpi.

Straight Lines with brushes.
To draw a straight line with any of the brush tools just click, hold the shift key and click again anywhere. A straight line will be drawn between the 2 points! Also works with most tools including erasers and even the highlight tool in the Extract filter.

Quick Black and White
If you press Ctl/Cmd+Shift+U all the color will be removed from the selection. If no selection is made, then the entire layer will be turned into grayscale instantly.

Flashy Bridge
Have you noticed how nice and cool Bridge is now? I know this is a Photoshop Magazine, but as I’m also a Flash Fanatic and Flash is now an Adobe app, I have to say it! The coolest thing in Bridge is that you can now preview swf files. Ok here’s a killer tip. The swfs actually work! You can run them inside Bridge and not have to guess what file does what anymore.

Adobe Bridge

Photoshop Nuts ‘n Bolts.
by Colin Smith

Color Modes Demystified
A simple, real world approach Welcome to my new column. Here we will be looking at the things that make Photoshop tick. The things that we see in the menus all the time and may not understand what they do. This will be the “Techie column for non Techies.” Enjoy
I have had many people ask me, “What are all the different color modes for in Photoshop?” Rather than try and be too technical I will attempt to describe then in a usable way. If you like this article, let me know and I will write one on different file formats.

Bitmap: I would use for some line art in low end situations, doesn’t support color on a printing press but background shows through as transparent. Also used for wallpaper on PC computers.

Grayscale: For black, white and shades of gray., When you use this mode all color information is lost. However you must convert to grayscale before you make it a duotone. This mode doesn’t support alpha channels.

Duotone: This is when you want to add some depth or color to a b&W image, or just get a trendy effect. A true duotone lets you choose 2 ink colors on your image and will print as a 2 color job on the press. There is also a Tri-tone -which has 3 colors and a quad-tone that has 4. You can produce some very sharp black and white (Grayscale) images with this and it is used in photography books all the time.

RGB: Uses the computers colors (Red, Green, Blue) and is the best option for the web or electronic publishing. Also called additive colors.When defining color spaces, use sRGB for web and Adobe RGB for printing, in most cases avoid the other RGB colorspaces unless you are doing specialized tasks that take advantage of these. Pro Photo is another useful colorspace but many of the colors can’t be reproduced on an inkjet printer.

CMYK: Color printing presses print with 4 ink colors Cyan, Magenta, yellow and black. If you look at a magazine close up you will see tiny patterns of dots, these dots are arranged in different patterns and sizes to fool the eye into seeing colors that are not really there, e.g. brown etc. This method is used in most full color printing. I would only use this if you are going to a press. The disadvantages are, the image is a third larger than RGB, and you will lose some brightness as CMYK does not support as wide a tonal range as RGB. Also called subtractive colors.

Lab: LAB stands for Luminosity, a and b channels. Luminosity is the grayscale information and the a and b channels contain the color. It’s useful to seperate the colors from luminosity for some different types of image correction including sharpening, noise reduction and also to increase the saturation of colors without damaging the overall color balance.

Preparing your files for print

The printing world is filled with variables and a terminology that can sometimes confuse the design artist. In this article, Gregg will, in very general terms and language, try to give you a jump start in understanding the print world and aid you in making important decisons when it comes time to get your work printed.More


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