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!

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

Smarter Saves with Adobe Bridge Collections

If you find yourself using files that are in two differen folders or even hard drives, Collections is for you! On the lower left side of the Bridge window you will notice 3 tabs reading Filter, Collections and Export. When you click on Collections you have 2 choices: A straight Collection, or a Smart Collection.

Smart Collections are fantastic because let’s say you buy images from istockphoto.com. The good thing is that the word “istock” is in the name of each image, and if you set up a Smart Collection with Filename Contains istock, Bridge will set up and save that search as a Collection.

Photoshop CS5 Layer Comps

Layer Comps in Adobe Photoshop are a great alternative to Snapshots to save the way your image looks at a particular place in time. You can choose to save the Visibility, Position and Styles. Once you have everything the way you want it, click on the New Comp icon at the bottom of the Layer Comps Panel.

When you have mutiple comps, you can use the arrows to scroll through them. You also can make a change, and click on the Update button for a particular comp.

In addition, you can choose File > Scripts > Save Comps to Files to create separate images of your comps. The real power of Layer Comps comes when you export to InDesign.

When you import any layered Photoshop file to InDesign, either checking the Show Import Options button when you import, or selecting the file and choosing Object > Object Layer Options not only gives you access to the Photoshop Layers, but to the Layer Comps.

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Content Aware Scale: Magical Transformations!

- by Jori Curry

One of the slickest new features of Adobe Photoshop CS4 is Content Aware Scale. If you’ve ever wanted to turn a horizontal image into a vertical, without damaging key parts of the image, this is for you!

Step 1: Open your image and double-click on Background layer to turn it into Layer 0.

Step 2: Go to Image > Canvas Size to add space where you want to scale to. 
Step 2: Adjust the Canvas Size

Step 3: Go to Edit > Content Aware Scale and transform the image into the empty space.

When skintones become distorted, you need to choose Protect Skintones from the Control Panel (formerly the Options Bar)

When skintones become distorted, you need to choose Protect Skintones from the Control Panel (formerly the Options Bar)

Step 4: You may notice that some areas aren’t working well, so Undo (or press ESC) and go back to Edit > Content Aware Scale. Now  on the Control Panel (formerly the Options Bar) click on the icon that looks like a Mens’ room icon picture-21 and now transform your image. 

Step 5: If this still isn’t giving you the results you’re looking for, you can take it a step further by creating an Alpha Channel. Make a selection out of the area you don’t want scaled. Go to Select > Save Selection, which will give us an Alpha Channel we can use to protect this area.

The Alpha Channel allows you to designate specific areas not to be transformed.

The Alpha Channel allows you to designate specific areas not to be transformed.

Step 6: Choose Edit > Content Aware Scale, and from the “Protect” pull down menu on the Control Panel, select the Alpha Channel you just made.

Step 6: The "Protect" pull down menu allows you to use an Alpha Channel to keep areas from being transformed.

Step 6: The "Protect" pull down menu allows you to use an Alpha Channel to keep areas from being transformed.

Step 7: Drag the handles, and decide if you need to go back to the Alpha Channel and add more white (the protected area) to that channel.

 

Finished Product

Finished Product

And voilà ! Photoshop transforms the areas that aren’t part of the channel! Not every photo works well with this technique, but when it works, it’s a lot of fun! 

Learn More About our Photoshop CS4 Level 1 Hands-On Class
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Learn More About our Adobe Photoshop CS4 Digital Photography: Digital Photography for Commercial Use Level 2 Hands-On Class 
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earn More About our Photoshop Quickstart Training: 1 Day Photoshop CS4 Introductory 
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Adobe TV

Adobe now has an online resource to compete with Lynda.com and Total Training…and it’s free! Using Adobe Media Player, Adobe TV allows us to view informational videos on Photoshop, Flash, InDesign, Dreamweaver or any other Adobe software application. “Adobe TV is the online video source for anyone with wants to see how Adobe tools are being used to create stunning work,” said Bob Donlon, executive producer for Adobe TV.

 “It brings together experts from Adobe and the creative community to inspire and teach how to get the most from the software that is empowering the delivery of high-impact print, online, video and mobile communications. It’s also the perfect showcase for Adobe’s broadcast video technologies in action.” Bringing together developers, designers, publishers and illustrators, Adobe TV could be the next big thing on the web.

- Jori Curry