Doodling of the Future – In 3D!

“Old fashioned” 2D doodling not enough?  Never fear – the wave of the future is here!  This new pen will literally lift your work right off the page!

I know that I definitely want one of these when they come out.  I’ve dabbled in sculpting in clay before, but it never seems to quite comes out the way I would have drawn it on a page.   Don’t get me wrong – it’s still fun and uniquely beautiful in its own way, but I’m more naturally inclined to brushes and pens (or mice for digital art).   On the other hand, this pen looks like it was designed to function in 3D the same way that other pens function in 2D.  With it, creation seems like a combination of drawing and building 3D models where the pieces are then welded together.  It’ll be fun to see what I cam come up with.  Mind you, I’ll probably burn through the first few bags of plastic on day one, but it’ll be fun ;D

Find out more about the 3Doodler.


Top 10 Tips from Photoshop Week on creativeLIVE

Didn’t have time to watch all of Photoshop Week?  Or maybe you watched it, but were overwhelmed by all the information crammed into one week.  I’ve seen semester-length college classes that don’t teach as much as what creativeLIVE did in one very-intensive week.  So whether you missed them, or just need a review, here is my list of top tips:

(I am not receiving any commission to endorse either Adobe nor creativeLIVE)

#10 – Use Adjustment Layers

This one is pretty basic so I didn’t rate it too high, but it is essential enough that if you are not doing it already -you need to learn about it.  This is essential for non-destructive editing.  Want to adjust the brightness/contrast/levels/colors/etc of your images?  Do it on an adjustment layer.  Want the effect to only affect part of the image?  Place a layer mask on your adjustment layer.  The original photo will remain in pristine condition.

  • Save files as PSD to preserve adjustment layers created

#9 – Auto Align Layers

Want to combine two images, but they weren’t shot on a tripod and therefore have slightly different perspectives?  No sweat – place them as two layers in the same document and the top layer can be automatically moved and/or warped to perfectly align with the bottom layer:

  • (select both layers) Edit > Auto-Align Layers…
  • customize settings (Auto does an excellent job on most projects)

#8 – Actions

If you do the same things to many photos, there is a way to program the actions you take in order to automate the process.  A similar method can be done in Lightroom/Adobe Camera Raw using presets instead of actions.

#7 -Blending options

Credit: Ben Willmore

Many people are familiar with brush modes and layer modes that change how layers interact with each other, which can change the colors and capacities of different parts of the image.  Fewer people know about the “blending options” which can be found under the “fx” button at the bottom of the layers panel.  Here one can change the opacity different parts of the selected layer based on brightness of either that layer, or the brightness of the layers underneath – in the gray, red, green and/or blue channels.  Alt+click on the sliders to break them into two pieces that can be positioned separately to allow for a more gradual blend.  This effect can be modified at any time, even without converting to a smart object first.

#6 – Warp an image around another as if it was printed there

Credit: Lindsay Adler

This one is rather complicated.

  • Save a separate black and white copy of the image to be the background (layer 1) as PDF file.  This is the texture file.  Leave this open as a separate tab!
  • In a new file, open the background image (layer 1) and the image to be superimposed (layer 2) as separate layers.
  • Image > Apply Image
  • Under “source” choose the name of the texture file (the list will only show other tabs that are open)
  • Under “layer” choose the name of layer 1
  • Chose a blend mode, (such as “overlay” or “difference”) and any other settings you want.

#5 – Work in Adobe RGB, not sRGB

Credit: Kevin Kubota

Photoshop default usually sets images to sRGB mode, which allows for fewer colors than other color management systems like RGB.  It can always be exported at a lower color setting like sRGB for photos being uploaded

  • Edit > Color Settings

#4 – Edit texture and color separately

Credit: Lindsay Adler

This is similar to tip #6, but with a few differences:

  • The background image (layer 1) and the superimposed image (layer 2) should be different copies of the same file
  • The settings in the dialogue box will be different depending on whether it is an 8-bit image or a 16-bit image:
    • For an 8-bit image, use the blending style “subtract” on a scale of 2 and an offset of 128
    • For a 16-bit image, use the blending style “add” on a scale of 2, an offset of 0, and check the box for “invert”

#3 – Paint realistically to create art based on your photos

Credit: Jack Davis

Jack Davis not only came up with an amazing and unexpected use of the pattern brush tool, but he gives away all of his custom brushes and actions (as well as a tutorial PDF) all for free to anyone who likes his facebook page.  The results are stunning, really look like actual paintings, and the steps to create them are simple and easy to understand.  In a word, “wow!”

#2 – Convert for Smart Filters

Credit: Dave Cross

Want the ultimate in non-destructive editing?  Use Smart Objects to continually adjust any filters or other adjustments made to the image.  No effects are finalized – come back and modify the settings any time.  Smart filters can also be nested inside other smart filters.

  • Filters > Convert for Smart FIlters
  • Save as PSD file to preserve layers and smart objects
  • Raw photos can be imported as smart objects using Adobe Camera Raw, enabling you to make changes in Camera Raw at any time

#1 – Retouch in Lightroom / Adobe Camera Raw

Credit: Jack Davis

You don’t even need to use Photoshop for many retouches – some things can be done quicker, easier, and with better results in Lightroom.  (Adobe Camera Raw, which comes with Photoshop, has the same features as Lightroom.)  It is very powerful, and can adjust settings that can’t be adjusted in Photoshop, including luminance and clarity.  Plus it includes many of the capabilities of Photoshop like global effects, targeted adjustments, and adjustment brushes.  Snapshots can be created of each version of an image, which is stored in the image metadata resulting in a very small increase in the file size of the original image, rather than multiple large separate images.

  • Photos don’t have to be shot in raw in order to edit them in Camera Raw
  • Photos can be set to open in Adobe Camera Raw automatically: Edit > Preferences > File Handling > Camera Raw Preferences > Automatically open all supported JPEGs / TIFFs

Photoshop Week and FREE older version of Adobe Creative Suite

The first day of creativeLIVE’s Photoshop Week had something for everyone, whether veteran or newbie.  I picked up a few tips on things like advanced retouching methods such as frequency separation.  Both of the teachers I watched today (Khara Picanic and Lindsay Adler) were very knowledgeable about their respective topics, and demonstrated a variety of techniques in an easy to follow fashion.  Today was just the beginning – there are five more days full all kinds of Photoshop features, and this is a wonderful opportunity to glean new information – all for free.

Don’t have Photoshop?  Adobe Creative Suite 2, with 7-year old versions of many popular Adobe programs, is now available for free downloads.  While these programs are no longer supported and Adobe cautions that they may no longer run smoothly with modern operating systems, in general most operating systems are backwards-compatible with older programs (I have not personally tested Adobe Creative Suite 2 on a new machine, as I have a more recent version, but most other older programs I’ve tried reinstalling on newer computers have run well).

Creative Suite 2 includes multiple programs, all also available individually:

  • Acrobat
  • After Effects
  • Audition 3.0
  • GoLive CS2
  • Illustrator CS2
  • InCopy CS2
  • InDesign CS2
  • Photoshop CS2
  • Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0

With free software and free instruction – what will you create today?

Upcoming Week of FREE Photoshop Classes!

Whether you are a Photoshop master – or a complete beginner – there will be something you can learn from photoshopWeek on creativeLIVE’s live broadcast February 25th to March 2nd.  6 days, 12 instructors, 43 classes – all FREE to watch during the live broadcast (and available for purchase during or after).  Topics include customizing Photoshop, retouching, working non-destructively, workflow, Lightroom, and more!  There is really enough content for two weeks, but they are live broadcasting two classes at once on different channels.  If there are two classes you want to see playing at the same time – don’t sweat  – catch the rebroadcast that evening (enroll in class for email notifications on rewatch time).

I’ll be checking out some of the classes, particularly Ben Willmore’s classes.  He is an excellent instructor, and I was extremely impressed with his “Photoshop Mastery: Advanced Masking” class a few weeks ago, so I’m looking forward to his latest tips and tricks.  Feel free to say “hi” to me in the class chatrooms if you see me ;D

creativeLIVE Fundamentals of Digital Photography 2013

There is a class on creativeLIVE that is often cited as a mecca for fine-tuning your photographic techniques.  It is so popular that it has been brought back multiple  times, year after year.  Now the latest version is almost upon us: Fundamentals of Digital Photography 2013 with John Greengo.

I’ll be tuning in to the live broadcast for free for the first time this year on February 18th-22nd.  I’ve heard a lot of good things about this course, and am looking forward to seeing what new techniques I can learn.  Even though the class may be called “fundamentals,” like many classes on creativeLIVE, that is just where it starts before going in-depth with advanced aspects of the craft.

Surreal Art by a Broken Polaroid

When technology fails, people are often quick to throw out the old and replace it with the newest model. But occasionally the results of such glitches and malfunctions are nothing short of spectacular.  Such is the case of a “broken” Polaroid camera that, while not able to function in the conventional sense, is now able to do something new that the original could not: create abstract and surreal art.  The photos have soft watercolor wash style backgrounds, combined with areas with great detail that really pop.  Many of the detailed areas have a crystal effect.  Part of what is alluring about these photos is that it is impossible to tell what the original subjects might have been – they are completely unique creations unto themselves.  While an article mentions that the photographer has learned how to  get the most out of the specific “defects” that the camera has, the results are always unique and unpredictable.

Click here to see the full gallery of broken Polaroid photos.

creativeLIVE FREE course on Photoshop Advanced Masking tomorrow!

creativeLIVE is offering a free online course on “Photoshop Mastery: Advanced Masking” with instructor Ben Willmore.  I’ve watched his courses before, and he is very knowledgeable and easy to follow.  The course will be broadcast online for free.  DVD copies of the course are also available for a fee.  The course is one day only on January 20th from 8AM – 3PM HST.  In addition to the live streaming of the class, there will also be a chat room.


Instagram will start selling YOUR images next week

While the ease of sharing photos over social media can be wonderful, there are some companies out to make money off of their customers in an unfair way .  Their strategy has become all too common these days: gain popularity under one set of terms of service, then stealthily change the conditions to take away rights of the users.

Such is the case with the newest culprit: Instagram.  An article in Photography Monthly warns readers that starting on January 16, 2013 Instagram will be able to freely sell and distribute its users images – without any notification nor its users earning so much as a penny from the sales.  Imagine seeing your photography in advertisements, perhaps even in multimillion dollar national campaigns, without receiving any credit or royalties.  This is taking money that rightfully belongs to the photographer, and using it to line Instagram’s greedy pockets.  Or imagine seeing your images used as part of a campaign or cause that you oppose.   Instagram is denying you the right to determine where and how your own images are used.

If this idea scares you, you only have a few days left in which to delete your account, or risk loosing control of your images forever.

Deleting photos just one day later will not prevent Instagram from continuously using any images you formerly had in your account.  Once again, we will see an example of a social media site that doesn’t really delete your information from its servers when you close your account, but will continue to retain and use that information without your permission.

What will you do?  Will you delete your account, or keep using Instagram?  Why?

Review of My Zazzle Mugs

How will you serve your cocoa this season?

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Aloha!  During a recent 40% off mugs sale on Zazzle, I bought a few holiday gifts for my family and friends, with my own photography from my Zazzle store on the mugs.  I was extremely impressed with how beautiful the mugs turned out to be – the quality was even better than I expected.  The photos were all rendered in exquisite high resolution, and were set off nicely by the shimmer of the high gloss finish.

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Holiday Picture Imperfect: Why a Real Camera is Better for Capturing Memories

‘Tis the season for many a Kodak moment, as joyous times are spent with family and friends.  Particularly for people who have to travel hundreds, or even thousands, of miles to see their loved ones for the holidays, this often poses a rare opportunity for group photographs.  Traditionally this has involved film cameras, and later digital cameras, but recently more and more people have foregone the use of real cameras, instead relying merely on photos taken on their phones.  But what are they missing out on?

Photo quality.

Cell phones do not have the same quality of light sensors as cameras, which results in images with less clarity and more grain.  While some people consider the quality to be a trade-off for the ease of phone portability and social media sharing, the photos they produce will not stand the test of time.  Here is a well-illustrated article that compares photos taken by a smart phone and a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera side by side.  It is easy to spot the detail that is lost by the camera-phone, and the difference becomes even more pronounced when displayed in high resolution.  Even phone photos that might seem “good enough” now in 2012 might seem lackluster come time to show the grandkids what life was like “back in the day.”  Just as current generations look back on old family photos and wish they had the clarity of today, future generations may look back on family photos of the 2010s and wonder why they were grainier than photos from the 2000s, just a few years before.

This holiday season I’m capturing the magic with my DSLR camera.  What will you use?