Sunday, December 4, 2011

Top 25 Photoshop Tips Sample  


- this is a sample of the article "Top 25 Photoshop Tips" -

Top 25 Photoshop Tips

This document offers 25 tips for Adobe Photoshop, carefully selected to give the user increased efficiency and a set of timesaving techniques when using the program. With focus placed on practicality, this compilation delivers many of the overlooked- and little known tricks present in the most popular image manipulation tool.

1. The Quicker Way of Opening Documents

In Photoshop, you are not forced to rely on the upper menu bar to open documents. You can double click on the blank workspace and this action will pop the Open dialog up.

2. Scrub Opportunities

Many vital functions in Photoshop are controlled by sliders, like the opacity of Layers or the opacity of the Brush you are using. It is a little known fact that the majority of these sliders are adjustable by scrubbing the mouse over the name of the desired command.

3. Isolation by Visibility

To make one particular Layer visible and render all the other Layers temporarily invisible, hold down the Alt modifier key and click on the visibility toggle of the Layer you want to isolate. Repeat this action to toggle its function back and forth.

5. Image Size and Canvas Size

Ctrl + Alt + i invokes the Image Size dialog, while Ctrl + Alt + c invokes the Canvas Size dialog. Though Image- and Canvas Size values are intuitively related, they are practically separate from each other. You are free to place an image on the canvas if the image is bigger than the canvas and vice versa.

4. Creating Groups Using Selection Columns

To create a selection column of any number of Layers, first select a Layer to define the top of the selection column, then Shift + select a Layer to define the bottom of the selection column. You can go the other way, as well, defining the bottom first. This is an efficient method to declare elements of a Layer Group. To create the Layer Group itself, rely on the Ctrl + g hotkey combination with the selection column active, or you can select the Folder icon on the Layer Palette with the selection column active.

5. Efficient Layer Stacking

While creating the stacking order by drag and drop seems to be an intuitive method, it has disadvantages. If you grab a Layer and start to modify its position in the stack, you will not be able to evaluate the result until you release the Layer. Modifying its position in the stack with the hotkey combination Ctrl + Brackets gives you immediate feedback of every possible position. It also is a more fluent way of arranging Layers, as Photoshop tends to demand pixel precise accuracy if you want to place a Layer on the top of the stack manually. This becomes much easier with the hotkey combination. If you add the Shift modifier key to the Ctrl + Brackets command, then the Layer will jump right to the top or to the bottom, depending on the command.

6. Efficient Layer Cycling

The hotkey combination Alt + Brackets lets you select a Layer in the stack. If you want your fresh selection to include your previous selection(s), then add the Shift modifier key to the Alt + Brackets command. If you need to select all Layers with minimal effort, you can rely on the Ctrl + Alt + a hotkey combination.

7. Instant Fills

The Alt + Backspace hotkey combination fills the current Layer with the active Foreground color.
The Ctrl + Backspace hotkey combination fills the current Layer with the active Background color.
If you add the Shift modifier key, then the Fill will affect only the opaque pixels of the Layer. Shift + Backspace will bring up the Fill dialog panel.

- end of sample -

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Friday, December 4, 2009

The Gnomon Workshop - Behind the Scenes Volume 1: Vehicle Modeling for Production review  


The Behind the Scenes series is a new production line from The Gnomon Workshop, guiding 3D artists throughout the process of creating a high definition cinematic sequence that takes place in a video game. The Behind the Scenes or BTS title refers to the fact that viewers will have the chance to witness actual production meetings between members of the production team. In this case, the main agenda is to create the 3D polygon model of a two dimensional futuristic helicopter, an invention of renowned concept artist Mark Goerner. Accomplished 3D modeler Paul Schoeni is your guide and teacher throughout this video training module, as he creates the high resolution helicopter model based on Mark's drawings.

The included production meetings do concern constructive discussions about the drawn model and it's three dimensional variant, as the original sketch is tight enough to give an overall impression of what the 3D rendition should look like, yet exhibits certain details of high frequency that should be interpreted with cautious flexibility.

The training module consists of 14 lectures. Right after the first production meeting between Mark and Paul, your teacher gives you a very useful overview of the tools he is most fond of and reliant on. Schoeni uses a recent version of Autodesk's Maya software to build the model, while his highly efficient modeling workflow concerns absolutely traditional methods, tools and solutions. Some renowned artists do prefer to invent and use custom tools or even sophisticated scripts to work, yet the latest versions of Maya have the majority of the popular custom tools already implemented.

In the aforementioned introduction sequence, Schoeni uses a series of polygon cubes to demonstrate his personal toolset. A rather fruity sequence, as the methods and tools you see in operation now will be utilized during the creation of the high definition model, as well. Paul informs us about the common methods of accessing the tools, while his personal approach of keeping them nicely organized on a custom Maya shelf might suit for the student, as well.

The focal operations demonstrated in this training module do give both a general and an in-depth overview of Maya's sophisticated polygonal modeling capabilities. Creating and maintaining a clean, strong global topology for the 3D mesh is the primal agenda of the modeler. By utilizing Maya's diverse polygon display functionalities and the related options, Schoeni reveals very efficient methods to establish both soft and extremely tight flow to the geometry. As a modeler, your primary concern will be to carry certain hard edges of your low resolution model on to the higher resolution variant, yet there will be occasions when your aim is quite the contrary: you want Maya to flush the polygons out, giving you a nice, clean, smooth surface to work further on. All these methods are thoroughly utilized and demonstrated by Schoeni during the lectures.

While extruding the polygonal faces of an object is the quintessence of polygon modeling, it is always a very good idea to aim for four sided polygons, or quads. Schoeni though points out that sometimes it is acceptable to get away with three sided polygons, especially at the tip of less significant, less complex objects. What you can extrude from your model though, does come from what you have constructed already. There is a lot to learn from Schoeni's splitting techniques, as he demonstrates very efficient and logical ways of getting tight results with only two or three clever splits, as opposed to affecting the entire mesh with the insertion of a brand new, global edge loop.

During the modeling process, Schoeni delivers useful notions about the theory behind extremely complex geometries, pointing out that the eye can be pleased even if it witnesses essentially simple shapes with supportive detail work on them. Paul draws your attention to the dominant, simplistic character of the shapes that might be interpreted as highly complex mechanical structures if finer details are present on them. This general agenda of pleasing, entertaining the eye via the utilization of keen readiness to offer detail is in the prime interest of this training module. By the individual work processes taking place on various primal parts and accessories of this helicopter model, you will have a thorough understanding of how such an accurate work is formed and how it is perceived as remarkably complex at the final stages.

It is most curious to see that Schoeni does not necessarily seem to be obsessed with rigorous mathematics during the creative process. Though you will see him “eyeballing out” finer, repetitive details on numerous occasions, he also shares extremely useful workflows and tricks out of his modeling arsenal to scatter supportive detail work - like tiny bolts, for example - throughout the mesh with tight controls and convincing results.

The production meetings with Mark Goerner are reoccurring sequences in this training module. During these conversations, you will have a pleasant glimpse at mutual constructive criticism where Mark and Paul examine and compare all variants of the helicopter - that includes finer 2D models and the 3D model - to each other, finding the direction most suitable to work further along.

Video training modules from The Gnomon Workshop usually do ship with project files and related tools included with them, unfortunately, this particular session is an exception. Though you won't have the chance to observe the finished model at your own pace in three dimensions, let it be a reminder that the primal interest of these great lectures is to give you the tools and methods to construct a model of such complexity yourself. The most significant problem I found with this training module is that there are some very unpleasant time jumps in it. Though time jumps are acceptable once the current workflow is clearly demonstrated, the very first gap in this module affects one of the most essential sequences of the whole process. That is the finalization of the proxy model. Since the proxy model is essentially the base and the soul of the high resolution, finished model, I find it rather unfortunate that the construction process of the proxy is briefly, yet significantly interrupted.

Apart from this shortcoming though, Vehicle Modeling for Production gives you both a thorough idea and a complete tool set about how and why professional 3D models possess that extremely convincing look and feel to them. If you would like to increase your hard surface 3D modeling skills and would prefer to do that by witnessing a renowned professional who gives you extremely useful information and tips along the way, then Vehicle Modeling for Production is one of the safest choices you can make. The rating for this training module is 4.5 out of 5.

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The Gnomon Workshop - Designing Creatures in Adobe Photoshop review  


In this DVD, industry professional Aaron Sims shows you the techniques and skills he uses to create creature designs using Adobe Photoshop. The session starts off with a quick and effective introduction on how to create custom brushes and how to control brush behavior, then Aaron quickly invites you into deep water, establishing the fundamentals of the first creature design he presents in this training module.

The importance of working on separate layers is emphasized and demonstrated as Aaron builds the line art on top of a separate texture layer, which is included on the DVD, along with all the other project files. Once the line art is suitable to reflect volume, Aaron creates additional layers to contain the essential shading information and secondary features. High frequency details, like wrinkles, folds of the skin and other elements with intricate forms is achieved and demonstrated using multiple methods. Aaron develops some of these forms from scratch, yet importing- and incorporating elements of separate images into the design becomes a focal technique. The instructor demonstrates numerous key methods of image manipulation in order to be able to keep- and/or affect the portion of the image he wants to incorporate into the design. Aaron uses the Liquefy-, the Warp- and the Free Transform tools to adjust these images until they become seamless building blocks of the creature design. Various Layer Blending modes and their dramatically different effects also are demonstrated along the way.

This DVD approaches the unified goal of creating successful creature designs using the same focal techniques and skills demonstrated during the creations process of the first project. In the consecutive portions of this training module, Aaron places emphasis on an effective balance between speed and intact result, pushing the creative possibilities of revealing something new from multiple images to the limit- and beyond. First the instructor renders a cloud creature using portions- and alterations of a single photo of a cloud formation, then, he demonstrates the method of painting over a photograph of a person. In this lecture, Aaron combines the photograph of the actor with the photograph of a cat, wrapping up the almost completed design via the demonstration of elegant finishing touches like the utilization of simulated fog, dramatic lighting and an altered background to summon a depth of field.

During the DVD, Aaron offers insightful commentary on his practical actions and design decisions as he progresses along, even giving you additional aspects to consider as he shares some of the professional experiences he had in the industry when working with directors and other artists. All in all, this training module offers a very effective insight into the practical techniques and skills used in the field of creature design. The rating of this DVD is 5 out of 5.

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