Photoshop CS6 at your fingertips

Being a designer means working to deadlines – which means time is always of the essence. Working quickly and efficiently within Photoshop is essential and there comes a point when your poor mouse just can’t scurry around the screen fast enough to keep up.

Adobe have always included keyboard shortcuts to reduce the little guy’s workload, but one issue with these is that they have been tweaked and moved around over the years, and it can be a little irritating to have to go against muscle memory, established over countless hours of working, to learn the new shortcut for something you have always used. My fingers still seem to be reminiscing about the good ol’ days of Photoshop 7: holding down cmd+Z to start the ‘undo’ time machine. I still forget to press shift every time!

Another, less trivial drawback has been that shortcuts have never taken into account that a tool as incredibly diverse as Photoshop allows (nay, encourages) us to pursue our desired results in a plethora of different ways. We all have our favorite tools and no two users work exactly the same way – so why do we all have to use the same shortcuts? If I constantly use smart objects, then I’m going to want my keyboard to be littered with ergonomically friendly shortcuts for adding and editing them. Someone else may never use smart objects and would make better use of those same convenient keys for, say, zooming controls.

Well, CS6′s answer to the problems with shortcuts was to give us another shortcut:

cmd+opt+shift+K

(ctrl+alt+shift+K in Windows)

…which opens the new keyboard shortcuts customization menu:

Photoshop CS6 Keyboard Shortcuts Customization Menu

This new feature for CS6 allows you to optimize your shortcuts for exactly the way you like to work. You can overwrite default shortcuts that you may have a grudge against, bring back retro shortcuts that your fingers still try to use, or you can introduce entirely new ones to save yourself even more time.

Through this menu you are able to edit shortcuts for menu commands, tools, and palette menus. More than one key command can be assigned to one action, and Photoshop will tell you if you have any conflicting commands and show you the duplicates so you can fix them.

One very useful feature, especially if you often use Photoshop on multiple computers, is the ability to save your configurations and export them as a handy .kys file. Being able to save means that our preferences can now survive version updates and the obsessives amongst us can now gradually build our dream set of optimal shortcuts (some dreams are cooler than others) and keep them forever!

Tech Tip for the Web Designer

For those of you that are new to web design or would like to get started in the field, or if you are like me and just too lazy to code your CSS, I have a great tool for you! I recently stumbled on this web app CSS3 Generator which allows you to style a box to your liking using a simple graphical interface. Once you have the box styled, press the “Get the Code” button and you have the CSS code necessary to style any object on a site you are working exactly like you have styled the box. This works great with Dreamweaver and using HTML5.

Photoshop Express – Photoshop for the iPhone/iPad!

Yes, Adobe has made a version of Photoshop for iPhones and iPads, and the best part? IT’S FREE! Here is a link to a video that demos this new app: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hui0p_qI-Q

This is a great application for photographers looking to edit their photos on the go or for casual user who would like to edit or enhance their photos. Not only does it allow simple editing and enhancement all by touch, but also gives you the option to upload directly to Facebook and Picasa or share to friends via email.

Photoshop Express, I’m sure, will have photographers and graphic designers very excited, but another reason this app is so significant is that it is a precursor to having full desktop applications that have gone completely  mobile. This very well could be the beginning of the end for desktop computing in general.

Quick Tip from Jerome – Dropbox

If you have a Flash or InDesign project that you are putting time into both at work and at home or just have files that you access and edit frequently from multiple machines, then Dropbox is a tool that you should look into. Dropbox is available for essentially all platforms, mobile, Mac, Windows, and even Linux. Once you have installed Dropbox and logged into your account, it creates a Dropbox folder in your home directory. Anything you put in that folder from then on is synchronized over the internet to any other devices on which you have Dropbox installed. For mobile devices you merely open the Dropbox app and you then have access to these files as well. Bear in mind that Dropbox is completely free for up to 2GB of storage, not a bad deal at all!

Now if you are feeling saucy and really want to take full advantage of this great tool, you can further its usefulness by using symbolic links or “symlinks”. What these symlinks do is to redirect anything you put into a folder into another folder. For example, if I created a symlink between my Documents folder and a folder on my Dropbox, then anything I put into my Documents folder will go right into my Dropbox. Pretty slick. Just know that it will remove the original folder from your system. In the case of our example, my Documents folder would disappear unless I removed the symlink. So be sure to back up. (It wouldn’t be a bad idea to know how to remove this symlink either.) Are any other ActionScript 3.0 developers salivating over this besides me? What this means is that you can have all your 3rd party or home brew libraries and classes stored in the ‘clouds’ and any updates you make on one machine goes to all. Now that’s better living through technology.

Need help with this symlink business? Here’s a link:
Symlink Tutorial

Fall Into Savings: InDesign Promotion

We have a promotion on all of our hands-on InDesign classes. You must register by October 15th, but you may take the class at any time. Please contact us if you would like a custom discount code to register.

Our Adobe Authorized In-Depth classes always include a free 8 month retake policy that includes the new version, and the guarantee of 10 students or less. We offer the following InDesign CS5 Classes:

Adobe InDesign CS5 Level 1: Fundamentals to Intermediate
Adobe InDesign CS5 Level 1: *Accelerated Pace* for Current InDesign Users for Former Quark Users
Adobe InDesign CS5 Level 2: Advanced Master Class
Adobe InDesign & XML: XML for Designers

Getting a New Computer Without That Hefty Price Tag

As much as I love the applications included in the Adobe Creative Suite I sometimes wonder if my computer is going to make it through my next Flash project or if it will even be able to open the flier I am editing with InDesign. So, seeing as the computers I own are getting on in years, I’ve been thinking it is about time for an upgrade. Now I have always been a Mac guy myself, but their prices are getting more and more outrageous. To get the power I want in a desktop without breaking the bank, I am in the process of choosing parts for a computer I intend to build myself. Now this may sound completely beyond your knowledge and skills, but surprisingly enough its no more complicated than my Lego Death Star I built in the 4th grade. All you need is proper manuals, here is a useful site that will tell you the necessary components and how to choose the correct ones. There are many more tutorials to be found by simple Google searches. Buying your own components and building your own computer will give you about twice as much bang for your buck. Yeah, the jig is up Dell and HP.

That being said, I have a few tips to save you even more cash. When it comes to computer hardware, take your time, you don’t want to get something that’s outdated but also don’t want to be spending too much on a piece of hardware that you could find on sale or cheaper elsewhere. If you are unfamiliar with Gizmodo, this site is your best friend when it comes to tech deals. Each day, Gizmodo will post an article called Dealzmodo that lists the best deals of the day for primarily tech items. There are always hardware deals on Gizmodo. Newegg is one of the best sources in general for hardware, everything you need will be on Newegg at reasonable prices. For in depth reviews of hardware, tomshardware.com is the place to go. One last thing, and this should go with out saying, avoid ebay. As appealing as some of those prices are, this is fragile technology and I, for one, would not trust ebayers with this stuff.

lego death star

On second thought, building a computer may be less complicated than the old Lego Death Star. I must’ve had a lot more patience back then.

Thats all for today,

Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Repoussé for Text

Many of us remember a great little application called Adobe Dimensions. It created an easy way to create 3D from vector images. The 3D pieces of Dimensions has been incorporated in Illustrator for quite some time, but now we have the same features in Photoshop CS5 with Reproussé!

  • Create a blank image using the preset for web at 1152 px by 864 px.
  • Choose 3D > Repoussé > Text Layer.
  • Set your Depth to 3, and Scale to .3.
  • Choose the 3D Rotate tool  and  either drag straght downwards, or on the Control Bar type in 44 for Orentation X.
  • Click OK and choose Window > 3D.
  • At the top of the 3D window, choose Filter by: Materials.
  • In the top part of the 3D window, choose Ascend Extrusion Material.
  • If you click on the Material Picker  in the bottom half of the window, you can choose existing materials to apply to your text.
  • Diffuse: The color you are applying to the 3D object.
  • Opacity: How opaque or transparent the material is.
  • Bump: Creates a deeper 3D affect by increasing the contrast of raised areas. In Photoshop Extended, you can paint your own. Basically Bump increases depth.
  • In the bottom part of the 3D window you will see a color that is being applied to the text. Next to that is a PICT image that allows you to choose an image.
  • Click on the Edit Diffuse Texture icon  and choose the texture you want to use.

  • If you click on Edit Properties, you can edit the way the texture is displayed.
  • Target Determines whether settings apply to a specific layer or the composite image.
  • U and V Scale resize the new mapped textures. To repeat your pattern, decrease the values.
  • U and V Offset repositions the new mapped textures.

The new 3D features in Photoshop CS5 offer a whole new realm of options to users. 3D is covered in Ascend Training’s Photoshop CS5 Level 2 class at our Chicago and Deerfield training facilities, and online. All Adobe Photoshop Class Offerings. Our Photoshop classes at our facilities feature small class sizes of 10 students or less with individualized attention.

Upcoming Adobe Photoshop Training Classes:

Photoshop CS5 Level 2

Chicago Dates

Sep 13 – 14
Oct 21 – 22
Dec 13 – 14

Deerfield Dates

Aug 12 – 13
Nov 18 – 19

Photography through Astronomy

As I was browsing the internet the other day, I stumbled across an article that may interest those of you who enjoy photography. It details a trick where you can use the rotation of the earth to create neat, long exposure photos. First, you need to know how to go about finding the North Star (Polaris), which is made easy by this picture:

Now with the north star located, you can create background designs with the stars. Over time, all the stars rotate about the North Star so the direction of your camera in terms of the North Star will change the pattern of the star movement in your photo. For example, angling your camera directly at the North Star will produce a circular effect whereas directing your camera to the left will produce arcs going from top to bottom in your photo. Chicago, obviously, wouldn’t be the best place to experiment with this, but the suburbs, and certainly while camping, would be great opportunities to experiment with this. Then once you get some photos you like, fine tune them or toy with them in Photoshop until they are to your liking. Get more details or see examples here.

Photoshop CS5 New Paste Features

NUnder the Paste options, we used to have 2 choices: Paste, and Paste Into. In Photoshop CS5, we now have the following choices:

  1. Paste
  2. Paste in Place
  3. Paste Into: Pastes into a Pixel Mask if you have a selection.
  4. Paste Outside: Pastes outside a Pixel Mask if you have a selection.

While we’ve had multiple paste options in other Adobe apps forever, now there are more choices on how exactly you want to paste in Photoshop!

ModBook: Solution to an Apple Touch Screen for Better use with Adobe Applications

One of the most exciting things to come out of MacWorld is the Axiotron ModBook. It’s essentially a MacBook that has been given tablet capabilities, allowing users to write directly on the screen. A conjunctive effort between Axiotron, Wacom and Apple, this tablet solution brings GPS, iSight, Bluetooth connectivity,  a ForeGlass screen for better viewing outside. The ModBook is just a tad thicker than the MacBook, and weighs 5.3 pounds, and has a 15.3” screen. The Modbook Pro uses “revolutionary new Synergy Touch technology” that allows you to use both the pen and a finger at the same time. The starting price isn’t cheap–$4,998. Although current MacPro owners can convert an existing laptop for $3,000.

Many Mac users are still waiting for the actual Mac touch-screen. Apple applied for a patent last August revealing that they may be working on their own Mac tablet. While tablet PC’s haven’t been in industry blockbuster, one hopes that on the heels of the iPhone and iPod Touch that this is the right climate for a Mac touch-screen iMac.

- Jori Curry