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The Basics of Working With Digital Color

We are now officially living in the digital era, with online and computerized media fast outpacing print applications. In the coming years, some speculate that age-old analog and print utilization will be on its way to extinction, and that tomorrow’s generation will consume all of their media by way of smartphones, tablets, and laptops. So what does that mean for today’s designers? Plenty of changes are afoot for sure, but one of the basics is making sure you understand digital color, how it’s different from print color, and naturally…how to use it to make your designs stand out.

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

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.

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Adobe Photoshop Cheat Sheet

Download the Adobe Photoshop Cheat Sheet for FREE! The Digital Workshop Center provides free cheat sheets on many popular software applications. If you are looking for a quick Adobe Photoshop reference sheet, then we’ve got just the thing for you! The Photoshop cheat sheet includes several useful shortcuts and common commands to help you be more efficient and confident while working in Photoshop. Several of these commands are included in our hands-on Photoshop Level 1 training class, so if you need more Photoshop 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: Adobe Photoshop Cheat Sheet...

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Decoding the Photoshop Selection Tools: Quick Selection

This week we’ll stop by Quick Selection and see what all the fuss is about. It’s one of a handful of editing tools in the selection arsenal, which is one of the most important and versatile sections in Photoshop.

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10 Common Mistakes People Make in Photoshop

We all love to critique photos right? If you’re anything like me, you click on articles that say things like “Horrible Photoshop Mistakes” and spend time trying to figure out how a particular image has been altered. And while there are lots of “bad” photos out there, many of them started with a good idea in mind. Programs like Photoshop are amazing and powerful tools, if you know how to use them right. I’ll go through a list of some of the most common mistakes beginners make in Photoshop, and help you find a workflow that is not only efficient, but ends with a clean and professional-looking product.   Mistake #1: Not regularly saving your work You may think this sounds like common sense, but I’ve seen people time and time again complete an entire 20-30 minute editing session without saving even once! Things happen: computers crash, programs freeze, tabs are accidentally closed. Prepare yourself for the worst by regularly saving your work, preferably without making permanent changes (we’ll talk about layers later!). When you first open and starting working on a file, save it as a .psd or Photoshop document file, making sure to preserve an unedited version as well. Then throughout your editing process, hit Command+S (or Control+S on PC) to save often. Then, of course, when you are finished, save your work using whatever file extension you deem appropriate (I usually save as both a .psd and .jpg, sometimes as .pdf depending on its final destination).   Mistake #2: Not taking advantage of shortcuts Now, this isn’t exactly crucial, but knowing the keyboard shortcuts for your Photoshop program will save you lots of time and effort in the end. Here is a helpful infographic to get you started. And remember, the more you use them, the faster and more fluid your work can be. Not to mention, saving your eyes from having to search drop down menus and saving your wrists from having to mouse and click everywhere!   Mistake #3: Oversaturation Our eyes love color, but there is such a thing as too much. It can be tempting, when first learning Photoshop, to pump up the levels to make all your colors richer, brighter, and deeper. And sometimes it’s hard to know where to stop. For example, here is an example of an oversaturated image: A little bit goes a long way here, and if you’re stuck or unsure, either exit out of the image file and come back later with fresh eyes…or refrain from touching the saturation slider at all! Most photos don’t benefit from this action anyway. There are better ways to fine-tune your color using the Enhance > Adjust Color > Adjust Color Curves editing tools. Whichever you choose to do, just be sure to air on the side of caution.   Mistake #4: Using desaturate to convert to B&W It might seem handy, when wanting to turn a color image into a black & white one, to simply pull down the saturation slider until you “remove” all the color. But most of the time, this results in a flat image or one that is simply bland. The best way to adjust your color photos into monochrome ones is to use the channel mixer function. This box offers pre-set adjustments for things like portraits and landscapes, but also allows you to control each individual channel for Red, Green, and Blue, as well as overall contrast. It’s easy to just select Enhance > Convert to Black and White! Then you can play around with finding the combination that suits your image best and...

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Understanding Resolution

During every graphic design class we run at the Digital Workshop Center, there’s almost always a lengthy discussion about image resolution. Imagery used to be so simple when the world was still analog. But with digital imagery, there are many factors to consider when determining resolution. First, to understand resolution you need to understand that all digital images are made of pixels, which is short for “picture elements.” A pixel is the smallest meaningful unit in an image and holds all of the color definition information, including color and brightness. When you group a large amount of pixels in a small area, you begin to represent an image into something the eye recognizes. The more pixels in an area, the better the quality of the image. This quality is what we call resolution and is typically measured in pixels per inch (PPI) on a computer screen. On a printed photo, it’s often measured as dots per inch (DPI) because printers originally measured in dots, not pixels. When referring to resolution from a digital camera, we’re really talking about how many pixels per inch the camera can store in one image. This is typically measured in megapixels, which multiplies the total width and height pixels of an image. For example, an image that is 4,368 pixels by 2,912 pixels is said to have 12.7 million pixels, or 12.7 megapixels. For most digital images that need to be printed, we use 300 DPI as a standard because it’s what’s been determined to be enough for the eye to view the image and effectively determine that the image looks correct. Printers work by putting ink or toner onto a piece of paper. A printer’s possible output is measured in DPI due to how the printer moves the ink head across the page. Inkjet printers drop a dot of ink as needed, while laser printers melt a drop of toner to the page. The more dots you fit onto a printed page, the higher the resolution of the printer. You may ask, “What’s the right resolution for me?” Unfortunately, there’s no one right answer. For everyday printing of basic documents, you don’t need to print at a high resolution, as it would be a waste of ink. You need to think about each step in the digital chain of events from capturing the image to printing it, and then determine what resolution makes the most sense for your situation. [Originally published in The Coloradoan on...

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