Deke's Techniques

A Visit from Saint Deke-O-Las

My beloved dekeFolk: Tonight seemed appropriate to share a poem I wrote for an Ignite presentation I performed at the Photoshop Conference last month. Wishing you peace and poetry in 2016.

Here goes:

Deke in the booth

My story tonight, is about my friend Deke.
Who posts a new helpful technique every week.
There are almost five hundred, but due to short time
I will give you one preview; and do it in rhyme.

Geisel and Moore

OK, everyone’s heard of iambic pentameter.
But my favorite verse? Anapestic tetrameter.
And though it sounds stuffy, it’s never a bore,
As when wielded by genius like Geisel and Moore.


Now, for Deke, Halloween is the best time of year,
But this season has miracles honored and dear:
Christmas or Haunnukah, really don’t care,
Deke’s magic is make a boy fly through the air.
Tomas on the RugSo, it turns out my charming young nephew Tomas
Likes to think that he’s gravity’s three-foot-six boss.
So he lies on the floor as if it were a wall,
And pretends he’s omnipotent, ruler of all.
Clouds from fotoliaWe needed some clouds in which Tommy could soar,
And this fantasy photo has drama galore.
If you’re looking for stock, here’s a good place to seek,
About which you can learn at fotolia/deke.

Quick SelectionSo we’ll place the young hero, and size him quite nicely.
The next step involves Quick Selection precisely.
It’s the best way to start this meticulous task
Of extracting the boy from the rug with a mask.
Refine EdgeQuick Selection is fine for initial selection.
But in order to reach Deke’s true masking perfection,
We will need Refine Edge to provide some enhancement.
Before we move on to some hands-on advancement.
Four photoshop toolsNow, this mask is not simple, not something to rush.
Deke applies some precision with lasso and brush.
A polygonal lasso to capture Tom’s hair,
Which is given a Smudge so it blends with the air.
MaskThe mask by itself is a beautiful sight.
The concealed parts are black; the revealed bits are white.
Press Option and click to see only the mask.
In Windows press Alt to complete the same task.
Navel to noseFrom the mask we return to the RGB view,
To see how the boy appears set on the blue.
And now that he’s carefully captured those toes,
Deke will measure the angle from navel to nose.
Blurry boy After stashing him safely inside a smart object,
Deke’s got himself set for the rest of the... probject.
Some motion blur stretched to five hundred or so,
And the angle we measured a minute ago.
Gradient maskOf course we still want to see Tommy’s cute smile,
And a gradient mask will reveal it in style.
Here’s a clue to the question I often did ask:
There’s finally a use for that Smart Filter mask.
Gradient overlayA gradient overlay, foreground of white,
Covers Tommy’s cute toes with a quick blast of light.
You can drag it around, before clicking OK
To ensure the light lands where you want it to stay.
Outer glowAfter duping that blast to the layer below,
Deke also applies a bright orange outer glow.
A Linear Dodge blend is really quite nifty.
And a size value set to two-hundred-and-fifty.
Clouds masked with Refine EdgeIn order to tuck Tommy’s toes ‘neath the clouds,
Deke quick-selects puffs to become the feet’s shrouds.
And so here are the clouds as the edge is refined.
This will give us a lay'r to put Tom’s toes behind.
Tommy in the cloudsDeke creates a new Tom with Control-Alt-Click layer,
Or Command-Option-click if it’s Mac that you flavor.
First group all the stuff, then just finish the task
By Alt/Option clicking a New Layer Mask.
BlastA quick blob of white at the foot of his feet.
After dabbing some blue, the effect is complete.
He bursts from the clouds, with his Superboy movement.
In a six-year-old’s mind, this is quite an improvement.
The final boy through the cloudsSo, with smart objects, motion blur, layers, and masking,
Comes this holiday miracle yours for the asking.
Away goes the carpet, replaced with the sky;
In Photoshop little boys learn they can fly.
Merry PhotoshopThis technique first appeared the fifteenth of December.
(We took a week off, and we hope you remember.)
Now let me exclaim, as we fade out of sight,
Merry Photoshop all, and to all a goodnight. Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 380: Clearing the Recently Used Fonts List from InDesign

Clearing the Recently Used Fonts List in InDesign

Yeah, I know. InDesign. This week's free Deke's Techniques movie features Deke showing you how (and why) to turn off that decidedly annoying Recently Used fonts list that lurks, Microsoft Word-like, in the Fonts pop-up menu in Adobe InDesign.

Someone (someone, I suspect, who doesn't use styles and learned their page layout skills in Microsoft Word) must have thought it convenient to have those randomish fonts sitting there right at the top of the list, rather than properly ordered alphabetically, like they were meant to be.

Get rid of that constantly shifting list in InDesign

But what's the big deal with a changing menu? Well, if you're using a tool often enough, you actually want things to be where you want them to be. And if you want to run through a list of fonts from the up/down arrow keys, then you want them to be in a predictable order. I mean, who memorizes fonts in the order that they last used them? (And what's wrong with you?)

So yeah, Deke and InDesign. In fact, Deke's got a whole new course on InDesign for those of you who only require the need-to-know stuff. It's aptly named Introducing InDesign, and you can watch it at Not a member? Then go introduce yourself to a free week's trial at, then meet all kinds of helpful new friends.

Of course you can always use your free week to catch up on the whole collection of Deke's Techniques. And if you like it short and sassy, but crave more InDesign tips, then you can also use your subscription to check out David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepcion's biweekly InDesign quick tip called InDesign Secrets. Deke's Techniques, InDesign, David. Anne-Marie, Secrets. That's a good group of new friends to start this new year. Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 377: Two Ways to Create Center Guides in Photoshop

Two ways to create center guides in Photoshop

Hi, Deke here, writing an actual post on my own web site for once. So, you know, merry new year and junk like that!

In the most recent edition of Deke's Techniques, #376: Developing the Perfect Holiday Portrait, I disappointed more than a few of you with my lack of aesthetic sensitivity. By way of a reminder, here is a detail from the final version of said "perfect" portrait, complete with impossibly bright eyes.

A wonderful portrait except the eyes are too bright

And here, in hindsight, is how the eyes should have looked.

In other words, I make one bad call and everyone's on my case like brown on rice. Which is why the series is called Deke's Techniques as opposed to, say, Deke's Tasteful Techniques.

Which is way, today, I figured I'd concentrate on something that has nothing to do with good taste and everything to do with pure practicality: Creating guides--one horizontal and one vertical--through the exact center of any image, regardless of how large or small, in Photoshop.

If only for the sake of contrast, I begin with the conventional 9-step solution, which I've seen demonstrated more times than I can count. And then I demonstrate the much improved 4-step solution, which involves the use of a little known command under the View menu that goes by the name New Guide.

Best of all, you can record the 4-step technique as an action, after which point you can play it back in a single step. Just click on it!

And if you're a member of, then you can check out two follow-up movies: #378, in which I show you a new way to create a network of center guides (and much more) in Photoshop CC; and #379, in which I show you a couple of ways to create center guides in Illustrator. (If you're not a member of, click here for a free week.)

In any event, enjoy. And, as always, let me know your thoughts, nice or not! Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 288: Upsampling a Layered Composition in Photoshop

Upsampling a Layered Composition in Photoshop

In this week's free episode of Deke's Techniques, Deke explains the fine art of upsampling a layered composition. When you make an image larger in this way, you're instructing Photoshop to make new pixels. And how those new pixels are created will effect the quality of your new, larger image. 

Although the new Image Size dialog box has a wonderful resizable preview window---which will give you an exact prediction for upsampling a simple flat photograph---the preview contained therein is going to be wildly inaccurate for a layered file with myriad types of layers. 

This misleading preview happens because Photoshop "mentally" flattens the image before calculating the preview, whereas, in the real upsampling process each individual layer is considered differently. 

In this movie, Deke explains how each of these layers responds to upsampling, and how to get around some of the effects: 

Rebuilding the horizontal pattern after upsampling is covered in this week's exclusive movie all on its own. If you aren't a member of, you can get a free week's trial to check it out---and all the rest of Deke's Techniques---at  Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 269: Cleaning Up a Crummy Product Shot

Cleaning up a Crummy Product Shot

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke cleans up the flaws in a product shot so that it's fit for say, selling his toys on eBay. Not that he would ever part with this particular set of products (his GoPro, the fancy rig he uses to attach it to his bicycle wheel, and the sporty sunglasses he reserves for looking cool whilst cycling into work.) 

But the techniques he demonstrates in the video might come in handy for your own projects, like taking documenting photographs for insurance purposes, or say, selling your partner's toys on eBay. Check out the results: 

A product shot of the GoPro before and after cleaning up.

The process starts with making some tonal adjustments and applying Noise Reduction in ACR. Then, to make the pristine grey background, this is one of those rare times when a Photoshop Wizard of Deke's stature will actually condone the use of the magic wand. Magic Wand, yes, I said Magic Wand. Set to the default. It's like the justifiably often-maligned tool was made for this purpose.  

Finally, Deke sharpens the image so your audience can appreciate the detail of Grandma's treasured cat statue collection. 

If you need further refinement, like fixing the composition of the collection in your product shot, Deke's got an exclusive movie this week for members of If you're not a member, you can get a free week's trial at more » 

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