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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...

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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...

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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...

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Poll: What kind of monthly webinar would you attend?

Free Monthly Webinar Series Planned to begin in May The DWC is teaming up with Laurie Macomber of Blue Skies Marketing and Ron Zasadzinski of Codegeek.net to offer a fun, new monthly webinar series.  Drawing on the expertise of Laurie, Ron, and Stu Crair (owner of the DWC), this series will be an interactive way to learn more from three tech business owners and thought leaders. So, the question to you is this: “If you had a chance to learn in a webinar format from Laurie, Ron, and Stu, what kind of topics would you like to know more about?” Please fill out the informal poll below to help us shape this series to be as effective as possible. We appreciate your input and look forward to launching this series sometime in May! Which topics are you interested in as potential webinars?* Website Tips Search Engine Optimization Content Marketing Analytics Webinar (How To) Web Apps vs Native Apps Networking and community building online Efficiency Tools Mailbag (Open Q+A) Email Systems and Techniques We are trying to gauge which general topics you are most interested in learning more about. Please check all that may apply. Please tell us if you have other ideas not on the list above!Other Ideas? What time of day is best for you to attend a 45-60 minute webinar? Before 9am 9am-Noon Noon-3pm 3pm-6pm 6pm-9pm Have you ever attended a webinar in the past?YesNoReady to sign-up?Provide your email and we will notify you when the FREE webinar schedule is released:...

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5 Social Media Platforms To Boost Your Small Business

Today’s world is faced paced and new businesses have to jump in with savvy in order to survive. It doesn’t matter how amazing your product or service is if nobody knows about you and you aren’t making an effort to connect with the public. Here’s where social media platforms come in- the ability to insert yourself into the social sphere and be a part of your customers’ lives, both past and future. There are some basic advantages that social media platforms can bring to a small business, a few of which include: The ability to forge a brand “look and feel” The words you use and the graphics/photos you post say a lot about you and what you’re trying to sell The power to answer and address feedback/complaints Customer feedback is crucial to any growing business and social media gives you a way to interact with clients and publicly fix issues that may arise The platform to offer deals and incentives Discounts and special offers are hugely enticing to the general public, and having a strong online media exposure ensures those will bring in business The tools to grow your following and increase brand loyalty The digital age gives you the instruments to interact with your customers, expand your mailing lists, boost your affiliations, and add the personal touch While it may seem overwhelming, especially if you are just starting out and seriously understaffed (or underfunded), investing in a solid social media plan will pay you back over and over again. If you utilize social media efficiently and in a targeted manner (e.g. a photographer may find more success on Instagram than say, YouTube), you will find your business growing in both sales and popularity. So let’s explore the top seven platforms and how they can bring engagement and panache to your small business! Facebook It’s the #1 social media site in the world, and for good reason. With almost 900 million users, your customer demographic potential is huge and chances are, everyone you know has a page of some kind on this multitalented website. This should be one of your most important advertising avenues, second only to your own unique website/blog, and you should take advantage of the myriad of options. You can post writings and photos, create surveys and contests, plan and invite people to events, invite people to “check in” at your shop, embed videos and links, use hashtags, and so much more. Twitter 140 characters don’t seem like much, but they can be quite powerful when used regularly. Do some research into the best tags to narrow down your target market, and think long and hard about everything you post before posting it. You’ll quickly become savvy at saying a lot in a few short sentences, and gracefully entering conversations about topics and fields that are pertinent to your business. Twitter is great for following people you admire, networking with other people in your industry, and being found by people searching via hashtag or live-tweeting special events. LinkedIn It may seem static at first, since this site is basically a glorified online resume, but don’t be too quick to write it off. LinkedIn has almost 150 million users, and is set up to connect you to other people in your industry, as well as provide a “reference” of sorts to people searching you or your business. It only takes a few minutes to set up your unique page, and update it as your experience grows, so there isn’t a reason not to partake in this useful platform. Over time, you may find opportunities to collaborate,...

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5 Reasons To Use MailChimp For Your Business

In the frenetic world of online marketing, it can be challenging to stand out as a small business owner. You may be overwhelmed with all the options out there for promotion and find yourself confused on which avenues to invest in to bring in clients and sales. Luckily, as time goes on, more user-friendly and effective solutions are being brought to the market and with a little research and learning, you can grow your business with less effort and more style! One of the greatest ways to reach your audience is through email-based marketing. Let’s face it, most people are constantly connected to their email accounts throughout the day, tapping messages on their smart phones or toggling between browser tabs at work. It’s easy to bring your business to someone’s mind when all they have to do is open an email that is right in front of them. And hands down one of the best options out there today is MailChimp, featuring an easy to read interface, simplified design process, and sophisticated tracking options. If you are looking for a clean and simple way to send newsletters, coupons, and other offers, look no further than this amazing program. Here are just five perks you’ll enjoy when you use MailChimp for your small business. Save money There are a handful of different services to keep in contact with your customers, but most of them require subscriptions and can really eat into your profits, especially when you are first starting out. But MailChimp is absolutely free to set up and free to use if you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers! And for many entrepreneurs, it takes quite a while to build up that kind of subscriber base- so why not save money during those first slow months and put that cash towards inventory or other marketing? No design background necessary We are all aware of the impact of great design- we ourselves tend to only click on and peruse websites/newsletters/posts that are clean, colorful, simple, and easy to read. Other mail-integration marketing companies can make it hard to put together something that comes off as such, and you may end up with cluttered and archaic-looking emails that simply get deleted. Don’t waste that opportunity when your business is sitting in someone’s inbox by putting forth a substandard product. MailChimp is incredibly clean and simple, while allowing you to control things like color schemes and fonts, and brings appealing design to the forefront. Smaller time investment For a small business owner, every moment of every day is worth money and it’s hard to do it all and still maintain some semblance of work/life balance. So the less time you can spend cobbling together a newsletter or coupon, the better. Luckily with MailChimp, there are several pre-made design templates to choose from and you can simply click, insert a bit of text, add a picture or two, and you’re off and running! It’s also easy to create a custom, regularly-used template (think monthly newsletter) and save it for later- then when you’re ready to send a new campaign all you need to do is swap out your current info and media. Then you can use that time you saved to brainstorm new ideas, squeeze in a workout, or spend time with the kids. Tracking made easy Getting detailed feedback is crucial to learning what works and what doesn’t, anticipating your clients’ interests, and promoting your services. MailChimp’s integrated tracking reports allow you to watch everything from open rates and click rates, to when and where your clients are opening their email campaigns. You also...

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