Deke's Techniques 620: Making Multicolored Vignettes in Photoshop
Deke uses a custom gradient and a shape layer to create a multi-colored vignette.

Deke's Techniques 609: Bring Back Refine Mask in Photoshop CC

Deke's Techniques 609: Bring Back  Refine Mask in Photoshop CC

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke revisits an old edge-masking project and compares how it would now work in Photoshop CC with the newish Select-and-Mask feature compared to how worked in the old days with the Refine Edge feature. Then he celebrates that the latter is "better" (to his eyes, for this particular project) by taking advantage of the fact that you can still get to good old Refine Edge if you know the secret handshake (provided in our case by rising Photoshop star Jesus Ramirez).

To refresh your memory, the original project, featured in Deke's Techniques Episode 113 involved taking some plain ordinary text...

Some basic text about to grow into leafy letters

...and using it as a mask to let some foliage grow into the letter spaces, topiary style.

Some leaves about to become text thanks to a Photoshop mask

Of course the initial mask needs some refinement to sell the effect of the leaves actually coming out of the wood fence:

The first mask could use some subtlety

These days in Photoshop CC, you'd probably evoke that "replacement" for the old Refine Mask command, the Select-and-Mask Taskspace (are they still calling it that?) It takes over your entire screen and yields different results than before (although it steals Refine Edge's keyboard shortcut). 

Here are the results using Select and Mask with the same settings Deke once plugged into Refine Mask:

Select and Mask not quite yeilding the same results as before

And here is what the old Refine Mask feature once accomplished:

Refine edge results are more refined

And if you, like Deke, think you like the old way better for your particular project, well you're in luck. Because Adobe didn't really do away with Refine Edge/Mask so much as hide it behind an inscrutable shortcut-menu combination: If you hold down the Shift key while going through the menu steps to evoke Select and Mask (Select > Select and Mask), up pops this familiar friend:

The Refine Mask dialog box still secretly available in Photoshop CC

So if Select and Mask just isn't doing the trick, check out this old friend and see if that doesn't just work a little better:

Deke's Techniques, making sure the old and new schools live harmoniously and rust -free inside your Photoshop tool chest. Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 607: Creating Crinkled Paper with Clouds in Photoshop

Deke's Techniques 607: Creating Crinkled Paper with Clouds in Photoshop

In this week's free episode of Deke's Techniques, Deke uses Photoshop filters, namely Difference Clouds and Emboss, to create a faux paper olde-tyme effect that goes behind a brochure my grandfather drew some fifty years ago.

This is one of those lovely "something from nothing" techniques in which, if you need an old crinkly piece of paper, you can just call up Photoshop and whip up a sheet for yourself.

A crinkly background created in Photoshop

And if you're a a member of, you can check out this week's exclusive movie in which Deke shows you how to make...even crinklier paper!

Crinkly paper created in Photoshop

Deke's Techniques, helping you not only create paper, but crumple it up as well. Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 605: Auto-Stitching Scanned Artwork in Photoshop

Deke's Techniques 605: Auto-Stitching Scanned Artwork in Photoshop

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke shows you how to meticulously stitch together two component scans in Photoshop to form one meticulous piece of artwork.

And meticulous is what my grandfather, Harvey Wheeler, who designed this brochure strove to be. You can see the careful blue lines and correction marks all over the original scan.

Original scan

Deke uses a combination of Photoshop's Auto-Align Layers and Auto-Blend Layers to start combine the two scans. Then he repairs the seams, applies the Channel Mixer to even out the tones, and uses a Levels adjustment to further fine-tune.

The result is a final artifact worthy of Harvey's attention to detail (although I have personal nostalgia for the marked up original, of course).

Scanned and trimmed document

Just looking at it brings back the sound of the jingling bell on the door and the amazing smell of exotic (to me) meats and cheeses.

If you're a member of, Deke's got an exclusive movie this week in which he shows you how he non-destructively provided a perfectly uniform trim around the artwork without clipping a single pixel of the original. It's a cool trick that takes advantage of both the Magic Wand and Photoshop's Crop tool.

Deke's Techniques
, restoring yesteryear with delicious precision. Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 603: Drawing a Half-Circle Highlight in Keynote

Deke's Techniques 603: Drawing a Half-Circle Highlight in Keynote

Good Morning, DekeItarians. We're back in our regular time zone this week, bringing you Deke's Techniques a) on time, and b) without having to scrounge some hotel/ship-based internet. In this week's free episode, Deke shows you how to create a semi-circle for highlighting purposes inside Keynote.

This all came about when Deke and Hergen were working on their latest underwater photography course, and wanted to highlight the part of a dial on an underwater strobe. Oh, sure, Deke could have easily added this embellishment in Photoshop or Illustrator, but you know Deke. He was determined to figure it out in Keynote.

The result is this highlight-plus-masked-shadow slide that takes the student's eye directly to the place Hergen and Deke are talking about in the course.

Drawing a half-circle highlight in a Keynote slide.

Can't miss it, right?

And if subtracting shapes from one another in Keynote is too simple for you, Deke's got a follow up movie in which he shows you how to create semi-circles using Keynote's limited function pen tool.

Deke's Techniques, giving half-circle power to your presentations. Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 602: Creating Offset Path Inline Strokes in Illustrator Tye

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke finishes up his Inline Text Spring Fever by finally noodling through how to create this effect automatically with the Offset Path feature in Illustrator. Combined with some savvy use of the Appearance panel, you can turn your boring text into this, with just a few carefully chosen numerical  entries.

Inline text strokes created with Offset Path in Illustrator

If this isn't exciting enough for you, check out what else happened this week: Deke (and my) first encounter with a manta ray in Maldives. Note how calm Deke is while the manta decides whether he's interesting or not. There's no describing the magic of this moment, except to say one of our dive buddies invented an underwater hand signal for "I think my heart just exploded in wonder."

Deke and manta ray

You can see more images from our trip if you follow Deke on Facebook. And of course, the creatures of the Maldavian waters (and our Sri Lankan visit) are bound to make an appearance in an upcoming video.

Deke's Techniques, bringing you artistic automation and aquatic adventure! Read more » 

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