Home » Archive by Category "All Blog Posts"

Fun With Photoshop Smart Brush: Vintage Processing

Out of the hundred of fantastic tools available in Adobe Photoshop, there are a handful that are purely artistic; and while these may not make the cut for a professional’s gallery, they can be an exciting addition to your photo editing repertoire. Using certain filters and actions can make your photos look interestingly vintage in just one sweep of the brush. Whether you want to mimic the gorgeous characteristic blues of a cyanotype, or harness the faded yellows of an antique print, the Smart Brush tool can help you out.   You can find your Smart Brush tool in the side toolbar, along with the other photographic tools like the spot healing brush, clone stamp, and red eye removal. Then you’ll notice on your bottom bar, a menu of presets will become available (including all purpose, artistic, portrait, and nature, to name a few) from a selection bar. For today, we’ll be working from the “photographic” preset menu, and we’ll be exploring a few different photo processing techniques that have remained popular through the decades. First, I’ll open a sample photo that has already received the basic editing adjustments for color, lighting, contrast, and tone. From there, I’ll make sure the Smart Brush is selected in my side toolbar, and my preset menu is set on “photographic”. I’d like to then start with my personal favorite, the tin type process!   The tin type was first made popular in the late 1800’s, and it used a direct transfer of the image onto a thin piece of metal coated with a colloidal silver or gelatin emulsion. It produced soft, warm tones of browns and grays, and is still a beautiful look for modern photos. But nowadays, no toxic chemicals are needed- just the tin type preset for the smart brush!   Because this is a brush and not a full layer, you’ll need to “brush on” your tin type. Granted, this is kind of cheating, but is a very easy and fast way to get the look without piling on layer upon complicated layer! So make sure your mouse icon is large, and sweep over your entire image until it is all covered. From there, if you wish, you may adjust the opacity settings if the filter is too strong for your tastes (for the purpose of this tutorial, all filters are at 100% opacity). Here is my before and after with the tin type:   As you can see, the lovely brownish tones create both a timeless and romantic look, great for things like portraits, landscapes, or even architecture!   Next up, one of the most iconic alternative processing styles: the cyanotype. This is where the original “blueprint” came from back in the mid 1800’s; the chemical reactions of ammonium citrate, potassium ferricyanide and UV light create the rich color called Prussian blue. You may remember creating something similar as a child, using pre-coated paper and laying plants or other objects on it, and placing it out in the sun! This process is incredibly simple, but can be replicated in Photoshop even more quickly, like so:   The unique shades and tones of this type of process pair especially well with architecture, botany, and other scientifically-leaning pursuits.   Lastly, for anyone who has enjoyed sifting through a box of old photographs in their parent’s attic, the “yellowed” process is a fun and nostalgic twist on a modern digital image. Most prints made these days do not yellow over time, as they are typically made from cotton fiber papers: the cellulose-based paper of decades ago contained a compound that would...

read more

5 Benefits Of Shared Community Office Space

One of the up and coming trends in the creative business world is the concept of shared work environments, and these wonderful collaborative spaces are changing the way we view and do our work. For a small monthly membership fee, you can have access to a professional office, take part in social and networking events, and even get deep discounts on classes and other programs to enhance your knowledge and further your career. And the best part of investing in a local co-working group is that you know exactly where the money goes and you know that your neighborhood friends and contacts will benefit from such a powerful collaborative force in the community. Many professionals and freelancers work from home these days, but they miss out on the benefits of office life like the chance to collaborate with others and skip the distractions. And coworking lets you opt out of the bad parts, like angry bosses and sad energy-sapping cubicles. Plus, when you throw in perks like free coffee and snacks, reliable high speed internet, conference room access, locker space, and hands-on instruction, it’s hard to justify sitting on your couch in your pajamas for even one more day. Take a look at our top five reasons to join our coworking community! Opportunities for collaboration You’re pretty smart. But you know what’s even smarter? 5 of you! When you share office space with other creative professionals, you can meet people who can help you brainstorm ideas, edit your content, offer suggestions, and make referrals. There is always something new and exciting to learn from your fellow coworkers, and you can have an opportunity to share your expertise as well. Chances are also that you will meet someone in the same industry or with similar interests, and they just might become your next business partner! Healthy work/life balance Anyone who works from home or on a freelance basis understands how hard it is to keep your work life separate from everything else. Gigs and projects tend to bleed into all hours of the day and night, and it can be tough to maintain a good schedule for optimal productivity and personal satisfaction. When you come to work in a community space, you will be able to leave the distractions and obligations of home behind for a while, and focus on your assignments. And when you’re done, you can pack up and return home to enjoy your family and your hobbies. Your spouse, children, or roommates will certainly thank you for investing in a healthy work/life schedule. Inclusion in creative community It can be lonely and even stifling as a creative entrepreneur, especially when you don’t belong to a collective of other talented and passionate people. So come join the group, and immerse yourself in ideas, life, and imagination. Contribute to something bigger than yourself. Be a part of an inventive cluster of individuals who want to grow their businesses, help others succeed, and change the world for the better. When passionate and motivated people come together, amazing things can happen everywhere from sales and development to design and marketing. Skip the hierarchy What’s one of the best parts of a coworking environment? That’s right, no bosses. No hierarchy. No strict schedule. You can come as you are and work as you need to- we’re not going to bother you about deadlines or emails. Chances are you are fighting to make your own way in the world as a freelancer or small business owner, so why would you want to go back into the domain of the corporate pecking order? When...

read more

5 Ways To Boost Your Resume With Adobe Illustrator

Let’s face it- today’s job market is tough. The credentials that would fetch a top-tier position a decade ago are now only delivering an entry-level one. Unemployment and unpaid internships abound, and there is a distinct trend that is emerging from this new market milieu. Those with the most well rounded resumes are the ones getting hired and promoted. The ambitious and creative few who take the time to flesh out their skill set and tack on certifications are the ones who bring the most usability to the job market. Utilitarianism has taken over, and employers are looking to stretch their new hires over several different professional fields. In this new minimalist market, if you can offer the skills and expertise of three people rolled into one, you’re miles ahead of the pack. The digital era is nothing new, but accomplishing design and marketing in-house is still relatively fresh. Many companies and startups are starting to make their own logos, brochures, websites, and other materials, utilizing their own limited staff. So if you are looking to get a leg up on the competition, or put your hat in the ring for a promotion, basic graphic design skills are pure gold on your resume. You don’t need any particular art background or drawing talent to become proficient in Adobe Illustrator, and it makes the ideal addition to any CV from any field- finance, education, nonprofit, tech…everyone benefits from savvy and sharp design. Adobe Illustrator classes are waiting for you to enroll, so here are just five great reasons why you should sign up today! Logo Design It’s amazing how one simple image can speak for an entire brand, provoking recognition and market power with just a small mix of colors and shapes. But the influence of logos is more and more appreciated, and more businesses are choosing to co-create their branding with their own staff to better reflect their ideas and values. Logos are one of the easiest things to create using Illustrator, and there is a huge demand for logo design in the market today. If you can show you have the know-how for this, you are bound to be more attractive to a potential employer or promotion manager. Infographics The general public is being more accustomed to having information fed to them in sharp, eye-catching graphic ways. Text doesn’t hold the power it used to, and more designers are funneling their facts and figures into colorful displays that are easy to digest and also easy to share via social media. Creating mathematically accurate and stunning charts and graphs is a staple of the Illustrator repertoire, and can boost your appeal especially in the education, nonprofit, and finance sectors. Custom illustrations The demand on the market now for unique and handmade illustration graphics is at an all-time high. Everyone is looking to create their own individual look on everything from business websites to kids’ birthday party invitations. Adobe Illustrator makes it simple to make a variety of graphics for a variety of purposes- you can even work off a base photo image if you aren’t comfortable with freehand. Having the skills to transform ideas into icons and images puts you ahead of the game in the working world. You can lend your expertise to website work, brochures, book publishing, and much more! Vector images In the digital design world, there are two basic types of images- raster and vector. The former type is the one most common in photographs and other shared media; these include your familiar jpg, gif, and tiff files. These are all comprised of a grid...

read more

HTML & CSS Cheat Sheet

Download the HTML & CSS Cheat Sheet for FREE! The Digital Workshop Center provides free cheat sheets on many popular software applications. If you are looking for a quick HTML and CSS reference sheet, then we’ve got just the thing for you! The HTML5 & CSS3 cheat sheet includes basic concepts and common elements to help you be more efficient and confident while working in code. Several of these concepts and elements are included in our hands-on Web Design with HTML and CSS training class, so if you need more HTML & CSS help please contact the Digital Workshop office.  Stay tuned for more cheat sheets coming soon! Click the link to download the cheat sheet in PDF format: HTML & CSS Cheat Sheet...

read more

2 Photoshop Tools To Save Your Portraits

The summer is quickly upon us, which means that picture-snapping season is here! Everyone from seasoned professional photographers to family novices will be out in the sunshine, capturing the smiles of clients and friends as the scenery turns green. The tricky thing is, portraits are often difficult to get just right, even for the pros. Dozens of elements must come together to create a flattering image; light strength and angle, white balance, background colors, and shutter speed just to name a few! Luckily we have some powerful editing tools at our fingertips with Adobe Photoshop, and they can turn even a dismal portrait into a print-worthy one. There are several portrait-specific editing programs on the market now, but not only are they generally expensive, they can often produce unrealistic looking results. And nobody wants to look fake or plastic in their final headshot! Just using Photoshop Elements, you can touch up and refine a mediocre image to look clean and fresh without the Barbie treatment. Here are the two most useful basic tools to have in your arsenal when tackling all those family reunion shots this summer: Spot healing brush This is hands-down my favorite tool to use, because it’s so simple and straightforward. You can get instant results and can make good headway in a short amount of time. I always start my retouching process with the spot healing brush! To protect the privacy of my clients, I am simply using a stock image found online for the purposes of this tutorial. So let’s open this in PSE13, and open up the spot healing brush in the third grouping of tools on the left hand sidebar.   In the bottom bar, make sure you have the “spot healing brush” selected, and not the “healing brush”. Also, choose the “content aware” type, as this is the smartest way to achieve natural looking results on skin. I’ve gone with a middle-of-the-road brush here, not too sharp and not too blurred, which is good for a first edit to bump out the obvious flaws. If you want to go over your image again, switch to the airbrush for fine-tuning. Once you’ve got your settings in place, simply hover over the blemish you’d like to correct and click. Make sure to adjust the size of your mouse icon so that it completely covers the blemish, but doesn’t go too far beyond that. I used the spot healing brush here to cover a few red marks, freckles, and the scars on her forehead. It only took me about two minutes to achieve this:   As you can see, there’s a reason why this is my favorite tool! The results are natural and flattering. You can use this brush to soften everything from acne, wrinkles, dark under eye circles, and even the occasional stray hair. Now let’s move to the next step! Smart brush There are loads of options under the smart brush umbrella, but I want you to find the preset menu called “portrait” for this first purpose. Depending on your image, you may want to do things like lighten skin tones, brighten eyes, or whiten teeth and there are tools for that here. For my image, I’ll demonstrate how to redden the lips and alter the eye color. Let’s first start with the lips and choose the option that says “make lips red” upon hover.   Using your mouse, outline the lips until you get a decent fill (this brush automatically recognizes boundaries), toggling between the add and subtract selection buttons until you are moderately satisfied. Then use the “refine edge” button...

read more

Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign: A beginners guide to choosing the right Adobe graphic software

Choosing which Adobe Creative Suite graphic software is right for my project The Adobe Creative Suite offers an array of industry-leading software products for graphic design, web design, professional photography, video editing, and much more.  For any aspiring designer looking at the Adobe software choices, there is a lot of overlap between the graphic design products (and for good reason!). If you are confused as to which product is right for you when you decide to tackle that new, creative project, it is helpful to know the key differences between the three major graphic design programs in the Creative Suite: Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Adobe Photoshop: Photoshop is the industry leader in raster image graphics creation and manipulation software.  A raster is a grid of pixels, so any raster image is going to be composed of pixel information.  Each pixel can hold color, brightness, contrast, and other information.  When you get a large amount of pixels together in a document, it creates a recognizable image that the human eye can process. Adobe Photoshop is one of the best software tools for editing your raster images.  If you take a photo with a digital camera or camera phone, you can use Photoshop to make professional edits such as changes to brightness, color information, and much more. However, Photoshop can be much more than an image editing tool.  It can also create new designs from scratch.  You can combine images or selections of images from several sources and use advanced layer techniques to create a new image that is greater than the sum of its parts.  The blending and combination of many small images, plus the control of all the pixel information makes Photoshop an incredibly powerful graphic design tool. Adobe Illustrator: Illustrator is a vector graphics application, which is a completely different method to generate an image than a raster.  Instead of using pixels like a raster graphic, vector graphics use paths and points to create objects based on mathematical proportions.  For this reason, vector images can be scaled to any proportions without losing quality. Graphic designers mainly use Illustrator for corporate identity projects like logos and brochures, but the design possibilities are endless.  Vector images will have less detail than a raster graphic because there is not the high resolution of pixels in the document.  However, the advantage of “scalability” and ease of use with these types of images makes Illustrator the “go-to” for these projects. Adobe InDesign: Once you have designed your graphics in either Photoshop or Illustrator, you may be ready to layout your images into one final design.  Whether for print or web, Adobe InDesign is an essential tool for digital layout. InDesign is built to replace the manual design layout process.  Popular features of the program include text styling and threading, master page options, and smart guides.  In addition, there is a wide array of long document features to help you keep that long document organized. When you are finished, InDesign can output the design into the proper media and includes some handy features to mark-up your design for the web or prepare a file for commercial printing. Similarities All three of these Adobe products have some cross-over between them. While Photoshop is intended for raster graphics first, there are some vector tools built into the program.  In addition, Illustrator is primarily to create vector graphics, but it definitely allows you to place raster images into the designs and can handle the translation of the two types of images.  Last, while InDesign is not thought of as an editing tool, there are some basic editing features...

read more