You, as a web developer, may very well be aware of Amazon’s Web Services for hosting web sites and services. Depending on your skill level, some of what Amazon has to offer may seem daunting or out of reach. I’m here today to give you an idea of some rather novel uses of AWS that require a minimal skill level to attain. This can range from hosting files to hosting a complete site merely by dropping files into your AWS account. The best part is that most of what I will go over will be covered in Amazon’s free tier of service, meaning the service will be entirely free for the first year.
First you will need to create your AWS account which can be done here. From there you will want to go into your console, which can be accessed at the same page once you have an account. There is a wide variety of services whose uses range from deploying virtual servers, managing DNS, to deploying entire virtual networks of machines. We are just going to focus mainly on Amazon’s S3 service here which is used for scalable cloud storage, so you may ignore the plethora of other offerings for the time being.
Once you have made it to your S3 console there will be a button that says “Create Bucket”. S3 buckets are essentially places for you to store various files. Once you create a bucket you can store all sorts of files there with the ability to make them public or private. We will go ahead and create a bucket and give it a name that makes sense (this will be part of the URL at which you access these files). Do not worry about logging, I will not cover this but you will want to look into AWS Cloudwatch to manage logging and the availability of these files.
Being developer you may be wondering what use you will have for yet another cloud storage service, but since AWS is publicly accessible at and essentially static domain (or even your own domain name, which I will cover briefly in a moment) you can use S3 to access files in other websites you are creating or maintaining. To do this we will want right click the bucket we created and click the website tab. Click “Enabled” and for the Index document, type in “index.html” and for the Error document type in “error.html”. If you are looking to host a website here in S3, you will want to actually create and upload these files, but if you are just looking to host files, they do not necessarily have to exist. Also, take not of the endpoint, this is now the link to your site or the domain prefix for the files you host. Next you will want to upload files which you would like to host, then once they appear as files in your bucket, right click the files and choose “Make Public”. They are now accesible via the browser or from other sites at amazon-endpoint-domain/your-file-name. If you would like to make this a site on its own with a domain name you own, you will need to make a DNS CNAME record pointing www.yourdomain.com to your S3 buckets domain name. You can find out how to do this by contacting your current host or registrar.
Field Blur, Iris Blur and Tilt-Shift
Tthere are some fabulous new blurs available in Photoshop CS6! Blur settings are integrated into the interface and they don’t open in the separate window. Now let’s use Field blur on this image. You can change the blur level by rotating the circle in the center of the image:
This is the easiest to use, but doesn’t allow for as much control as the other two. Simply click on the image to add “pins.” These pins will have a blur range from 0px to 100px. In the image below, note that the pins on the faces are set to 0px, while the pins in the background are anywhere between 15 and 25px. You can manually drag the Blur slider to the right or left, or drag the outer ring outside the pin to the right or left.
Previously we would have to use an alpha channel to get a shallow depth of field. With Iris Blur, you can achieve this with no masks or Alpha Channels. You can place a point to choose the area that will be in focus. That point is the center of the ring, and as the ring expands, the blur increases. You have complete control over the amount of blur, the brightness and color of bokeh highlights.
The Tilt-Shift blur is a photographic technique that gives the illusion of a miniature effect, adding depth to certain areas. It also can be used for a more specialized effect for non-miniature images. You can rotate the angle to make certain areas appear blurred or in focus.
Content Aware Move
New to the Content Aware family is Content Aware Move. We now have the following:
- Content Aware Scale
- Content Aware Fill
- Content Aware Move
Content Aware move can be used two ways:
- To actually move someone or something to another part of an image.
- To extend part of an image.
To extend part of an image, as in this image below with the wood, first enlarge your canvas size by choosing Image > Canvas Size. Now make a selection of the top area you want to extend. With the Content Aware Move tool set to “Extend” from the Control bar, drag it upwards. With Extend selected, drag the pixels to the new location, and Photoshop magically aligns the image.
If you want to actually move one of the nails, simply select the nail and a bit of room around it, and change the mode to Move. Photoshp will fill in the area where the nail once was with the appropriate background.
Photoshop CS6 now has a completely nondestructive Crop tool. When you choose the Crop tool, you will notice the new crop marquee, with eight handles instead of four. The benefit of these new handles is that we can now resize non-proportionally. The most important thing about cropping is to de-check Delete Cropped Pixels. This enables you to choose Image > Reveal All later on to undo the crop.
You can choose Rule of Thirds overlay, CS6 lets you preview Golden Ratio (a relationship between two numbers), Diagonal, Triangle, and Golden Spiral overlays. Perspective Crop helps you straighten images.
Straighten (which was part of the Ruler tool in CS5) is now a feature of the Crop tool. Click on the Straighten icon on the Control bar while on the Crop tool, and drag along the line of the image that needs to be straightened. The Crop tool automatically rotates the image and applies the crop.
You will notice that when you drag the Crop tool, the image shifts in the opposite direction. If you would like to disable this, from the Crop Preferences on the Control bar, de-check Auto Center Preview. You can even take it back to Classic mode if you don’t like the way the Crop tool has changed. From the Crop Preferences, you can also change the color of the area that is being cropped away.
Perspective Crop Tool
The Perspective Crop tool enables you to align objects as you crop with a flexible marquee. This was available in CS5, but not very intuituve as it being its’ own tool as it is now.
The best way to begin is to align the Perspective Crop marquee up with something that it’s very clear where the edges are. Like the Distort tool, you can drag each corner independently to make a skewed image appear straight-on or flat.
Searching and Modifying Layers
One fabulous new feature is the ability to search layers. You can search by Kind, Name, Effect, Mode, Attribute or Color within the Layers panel. You can filter out all vector layers, text layers, and so on. You can also select multiple layers and change the blend modes, duplicate, or apply Layer Styles.
No one is sure as to the rhyme or reason, but they have moved everything around in the Layer Styles window. Maybe by moving Drop Shadow to the bottom it won’t be so overused?
Real Vector Layers and Pixel Snapping
You can now add and edit dashed or dotted lines, like in Illustrator. Pixel Snapping has also been modified from strictly used by vector tools to a more global use within Photoshop. Prior to CS6, nudging was married to how far you were zoomed in. For example, if you are at a 100% magnification and nudged a point, it moved 1 pixel. If you were zoomed at 200%, nudging moved it .5 pixels, 400% Would nudge .25 pixels and so on. Photoshop CS6 nudges at 1 pixel, regardless of the zoom level.
You can still use the Shape tool to create a variety of set or custom shapes. You can also click once with any Shape tool and get the Create Custom Shape window as in Illustrator or InDesign. When you select the Shape tool, you choose from the upper right hand corner of the Control Bar either Shape, Path, or Pixels.
We now also can have dotted lines on vector shapes! The first choice is Fill and Stroke. You are able to choose a Fill of None, and simply have an outlined shape. From there, you can coose a weight, style, width and height.
The next 3 buttons are Pathfinder, Alignment and Stacking order . Alignment allows you to align to both a selection and canvas. Align Edges works uses the Pixel Grid to ensure layer edges are aligned with the Pixel Grid.
Adobe has also redesigned and streamlined the program’s menu icons, though they’re still familiar and easily recognizable. 1800 Icons and 250 cursors have been redesigned. Panels are now labeled in upper- and lowercase type instead of in all caps, enhancing legibility. You can also go to Preferences and choose to keep the new, dark interface, or go lighter. In addition, the new Mercury Graphics Engine makes Photoshop CS6 run noticeably faster.
CS6 offers “rich cursors” revealing information such as dimensions, angle of rotation or other adjustment parameters next to the cursor.
The Move tool, Crop tool, and the Free Transform command show size and rotation angle. If you’re using Free Transform, Photoshop shows the exact dimensions that used to be only available on the Info panel.
When you hold down the Controll + Option key (Mac) and drag the brush tool, you see the dimensions, hardness, and opacity.
One of the most exciting features is that Photoshop CS6 can automatically save your open files at different intervals, AND in the background. While you continue to work, a temporary recovery file is saved that is updated periodically. The benefit is that if you crash, it will open a file with “Recovered” as part of the name.
Mini Bridge is now at the bottom of the window with Timeline. Interestingly enough, if you choose Select a Workspace from the upper right hand corner of the Control Bar and set it to “What’s new in CS6” it reverts back to it’s previous location. You can also drag it from the bottom of the workspace and put it anyhwere you like.
New blog post: Photoshop CS6 General Changes ascendtraining.com/blog/2012/07/0…