In this issue, we’re going to look at some tips that will help to make your work look better, while also getting it done faster. We’ll cover some new features, as well as some old staples, and we’ll also look at some other workflow options when working with animations and multimedia. So, go ahead, grab a cup of coffee (don’t spill it on your keyboard), sit back, and enjoy.


A really useful option for blending layers together without using masks is by using the Blending Options (click on the Add a Layer Style icon [fx] at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose Blending Options). When you move the little Blend If triangles (at the bottom of the Blending Options in the Layer Style dialog), you’ll see that your selected layer interacts with the underlying layers. By default, though, the blending will look a little rough. The key is to press-and-hold the Option (PC: Alt) key while dragging the Blend If triangle you’re using, which will split the triangle and create a smoother blend.


Say you’ve created a keyframe-based animation and you decide to move part or all of the animation to a different portion of the video. You don’t want to actually move the video, just when the keyframed stuff happens. You might think that the best way to do this is to drag one keyframe and then the next. But, here’s a hidden way to do this: First, click on the right-facing triangle to the left of the video’s filename to reveal the keyframes in the Timeline, and then click-and-drag across the keyframes you want to move. It will look like nothing is happening, but when you release your mouse button, you’ll see that all the keyframes you dragged across turn yellow, indicating they’re selected. As you slide one of the keyframes, all those selected will now move together. Reposition the animation and you’re good to go. If you want to select all of the keyframes for a particular property (e.g., Position, Opacity, or Scale), simply click directly on that property’s name in the Timeline.


It always makes me cringe when I see someone cut-and-paste layers between documents, or copy-and-paste images within Photoshop. Stop the waste! Every time you copy or cut something, it goes into the buffer and it uses up valuable RAM and slows down Photoshop. A better way is to drag. By dragging layers, images, masks, and channels, you can move elements around without consuming resources. If you need to copy something between tabbed documents, click-and-drag the element to the other document’s tab at the top of the image window, wait a couple of seconds for that document to become active, and then drop the element into the document.


For a couple of versions now, Photoshop has saved Wacom tablet users the labor of going to the Brush panel every time they want the pen to control brush opacity and size. This comes via two icons in the Options Bar, which are available when a brush is selected. There’s a caveat, though — they don’t always work. But, before you start crying «bug,» let’s look at the solution: Because you can build a number of custom brushes, the Brush panel overrides these buttons — if opacity or size is selected in the Brush panel, you can’t turn it off with the buttons. The solution? Turn off size and opacity control in the Brush panel. Now you can toggle these attributes for the buttons in the Options Bar. Bonus tip: If you would like to keep control, even when you change brushes (yep, changing brushes will change this), turn off the two previously mentioned attributes and then click on their lock icons to lock these options.


If you’re enlightened (which you now are), you’ll be using the Quick Selection tool (W) to make selections. The Size setting in the Brush Picker, in the Options Bar, controls how large or small the brush will be. Click on the down-facing arrow to the right of the brush thumbnail to access the Picker. A smaller brush will be able to create more accurate selections on smaller portions of an image, or if there are larger areas to select, choose a larger brush size. If you look in the bottom of the Picker, you’ll see a Size pop-up menu. With this set to Pen Pressure, you can use a Wacom tablet to vary the sensitivity of your selection based on how hard you press your pen to the tablet.


If you’re using a Retina display, you’ll notice that all the images appear at half their usual size in Photoshop. This is due to the higher resolution, and it looks great. The only caveat is that all Web and multimedia images display at half size, too. Adobe is aware of this and has added a little option in the View menu: choose View>200%. Okay, so what’s the big deal? Why not just choose a 200% view whenever you want to look at images at screen size? Here’s where this is useful: Because it’s a menu item, we can create a custom keyboard shortcut for it. Choose Edit>Keyboard Shortcuts and create a custom keyboard shortcut that you can use to quickly view images at 200%. Just set the Shortcuts For pop-up menu to Application Menus, scroll down to the View option, twirl it open, and look for the 200% menu item.


A new feature that sneaked its way into the Photoshop CS6.1 Creative Cloud-only update works with the Pen tool. What if you add a point and it’s not in the right place? There have always been two options: The first option is to hit the Delete (PC: Backspace) key, click on the previous point to make it active again, and then attempt to add the point in the correct place. The other option is to finish drawing the path and then use the Direct Selection tool (nested under the Path Selection tool [A] in the Toolbox) to change it after the fact. The new feature allows you to simply hold the Spacebar and reposition the path point on the fly. This is a huge timesaver.


When you’re working on images or any type of graphics on the Timeline panel, you can Right-click on a frame and choose a Motion preset. There are variations for zoom, rotate, and pan. This is great for getting the «Ken Burns Effect,» where you can move images in a slide show, for example. After you apply a preset, click on the right-facing triangle to the left of the image filename in the Timeline to twirl it open. You’ll see a set of keyframes below the layer in red, signifying that there’s a preset. To override the preset, simply click one of the diamond icons at either end of the keyframe. It will turn yellow and you’ll now have total control over the animation, as if you manually created the keyframes.


This is a totally useless tip, but it’s a lot of fun. If you go to Photoshop (PC: Edit)>Preferences>lnterface, you can change the color of the interface very easily by clicking on one of the four Color Theme options. But, try pressing Command-Option-Shift (PC: Ctrl-Alt-Shift) instead, and then click on the color swatches. When you click on them, they will turn into cups of coffee that go from dark to light. Keep clicking and they will change to bread that goes from burned toast to white bread. You can then just select your favorite to change the interface color.

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