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Deke's Techniques 552: The Rule of Thirds for Smooth Bézier Curves

Deke's Techniques 552: The Rule of Thirds for Smooth Bézier Curves

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke considers how best to position control handles for creating smooth Bézier curves. This edition will be of particular interest to those of you who, like me, occasionally find their pen tool creations to be a bit, well, lumpy.

The key to Deke's approach is to keep the "invisible" control handle in mind. For those of you who didn't watch Deke's Techniques a few weeks back (was your internet broken?), the third control handle is the one that you can't see in Adobe CC interfaces, that theoretically connects the two ends of the other control handles.

After some mathematical and positional noodling, Deke arrives at the conclusion that if you keep this mystery handle at about 1/3 the total of your curve, your shape is nice and smooth. Even if your shape is like this s-curve:

 

Or this oval:

A smooth oval in Adobe Illustrator

Or even this...thing (featuring corner points with smooth segments in between):

An irregular shape with corner points and smooth curves in Adobe Illustrator

 

By the way, this episode is brought to you by Deke working on a new course, Adobe Pen Tool: Mastery, which Deke is toiling away on as we speak and is due out later this year. You can prepare your mind for this master class by watching Adobe Pen Tool: Fundamentals already there and waiting for you in the Lynda.com library.

If you're not a member and you want to check it out, you can get a free 10-day trial at lynda.com/deke.

Deke's Techniques, smoothing your curves with rules of thirds. Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 547: How Bézier Curves Really Work

Deke's Techniques 547: How Bézier Curves Really Work

In this week's free Deke's Techniques, Deke explains how Bézier curves work:

The Bezier Curve equation

OK, see you next week!

But really, in the process of developing his upcoming Pen Tool Mastery course, Deke dove deep into the math (as only Deke can) to really try and understand how the Bézier curves featured in Adobe CC applications work. And of course, since he's both a math major and a fine artist, he diligently, diagramatically draws it out for you:

The Bezier equation at work

I'm going to leave the actual explanation up to Deke, but let me just say, if you normally watch Deke with the double-speed option available at Lynda.com, you may want to set your speed back to normal for this particular installation, because the science of this art form comes at you fast and ferociously.

If you use the Pen tool or just want to understand how those control handles work (hint: there's a third one that the interface doesn't tell you about), you owe it to yourself to check out this dekeDive.
The Bezier lattice informs the curve

Deke's Techniques, geeking out so that you don't have to...except, you totally want to! Read more » 

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An August Avalanche of New Courses at dekeAcademy (aka Deke's lynda.com collection)

My dekeAdemics, welcome back to school---the School of Deke, that is. Our favorite graphics guru has been working his digital fingers to the bone this summer and has not one, but three, new courses out at this month. (And there's another one just gone to the elite editing team. Whew. You've earned a quick nap, Professor Deke.)

Here's a review of what's new at the ol' dekeAcademy (aka the Deke McClelland Collection at lynda.com): what the new courses cover, who might want to watch them, and why you might find them useful. Remember, if you're not a member of lynda.com, you can still watch a few (often useful) free movies (I've embedded some below for your sampling convenience). And you can always get a 10-day free trial subscription by signing up at lynda.com/deke.

And these will be just a few of our Fall 2015 offerings:

New Course: Photoshop CC 2015 One-on-One: Fundamentals

What: Photoshop CC 2015 One-on-One Fundamentals is a total refresh of Deke's flagship step-by-step project-based Photoshop tutorial for beginners, with all new sample files for those of you who are revisiting what's happened with Photoshop in the CC 2015 version.

Who: Anyone who wants to learn Photoshop from the ground up, folks who haven't used Photoshop in a recent incarnation, or anyone who ever feels like they're half-guessing at why they do what they do in Photoshop.

Why: Because knowing is better than guessing when you're looking for predictable results and efficient creativity.

What else: Complete updates to the Advanced and Mastery levels soon to follow. So. if you find Deke's method works for you, you're set for the rest of your Photoshop education.

 

New Course: Adobe Pen Tool Fundamentals

What: Adobe Pen Tool Fundamentals is a course on the basic skills and knowledge needed for using the powerful, yet mysterious, Pen tool in Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator.

Who: Anyone who wants to learn to draw free-form shapes with precision in any of these three applications.

Why: The Pen tool has some, shall we say, un-intuitive behaviors, but once you know the basics, its powers start to unleash in your mouse-hand.
 
What else: The second part of this course is coming later this year, and will solidify your mastery of precision curve-drawing.

 

Eight Things to Know about Photoshop

What: Eight Things Everyone Should Know About Photoshop is Deke's list of the top  general features in Photoshop that will help you wrap your mind around this pixel-wranging behemoth of an application. It's a sort of "How do I even know what I need to know?" solution.

Who: Anyone who'd like to get more of the big Photoshop picture in a quick and entertaining course.

Why: Actually, these movies Deke created for Photoshop's 25th anniversary were so good we didn't want to let them languish in the history files.

What else: You can read more about this course (and watch the movies) here.

And coming soon, Illustrator 2015 One-on-One: Fundamentals which features this delightful creature, one of my favorite dekeAssets ever:


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Deke's Techniques 285: Making a Scalable Avatar in Illustrator

Make a Scalable Avatar in Adobe Illustrator

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke takes the photo-inspired paths he drew in Photoshop last week, brings them into Illustrator, and completes his scalable, vector-based homage to my cartoon self. He also leaves me a little happier this week, as you can see from the "Three Faces of Colleen" progression below. 

But you don't need an avatar of me, you say. (Wait, why would you need an avatar of me?) Fear not, the advice you can glean while watching Deke create Cartoon Colleen can be applied to your own photo-to-avatar transformation, as well. In this video, you'll see how to take the paths we traced last week and combine, join, cut, erase, bend, and otherwise adjust them into shape.

Along the way, you'll also acquire such pearls of wisdom as: "Best to draw the avatar bald, so you can update its hairstyle as needed." Or: "If you don't know the person well, you may want to run it by them before posting to Facebook." Since variations on this image have been all over Deke's Facebook page since he started working on it, we can assume he doesn't put me in that category. 

At the end of this exercise, you'll see how Deke created the uniform black-and-white strokes that make up the structure of my alter-ego. If you're a member of lynda.com, you can watch the exclusive movie this week that shows you how he added the shading and blue (?) hair. (Is Deke trying to tell me something?) 

Not a member? You can get a free week's trial at lynda.com/deke. Then you can scour the entire collection of Deke's Techniques looking for other pixel-based experiments I've been subject to.  Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 284: Tracing a Photo in Photoshop to Create an Avatar

Trace a Photo in Photoshop to Create an Avatar

First of all, Deke, is it really fair to make someone watch a video, featuring a photo of themselves on vacation, on the first day back at work? OK, I admit, it's often hard to distinguish between "vacation" and "work" here in the dekeOpolis. And also, this particular exercise was done in the service of creating a cool avatar for yours truly. 

You can use what you're about to see in this week's episode of Deke's Techniques to create your own avatar, rendering yourself cartoonishly looking off into your horizon of choice. In the video, Deke uses the pen tool to trace around my profile in order to create paths that he'll import to Illustrator in next week's episode. 

For me, sometimes, watching people draw is akin to watching paint dry, only without the mind-altering fumes. But watching a master of the pen tool work is really illustrative for those of us who suffer from xenophobia. Listening to Deke narrate where he's clicking and how (with various modifier keys) to trace my face is actually quite useful. 

Here's the photograph he starts with: 

Which, when he's done working his pen tool magic, becomes this outline:

Tracing a photo with the pen tool in Photoshop

Pretty close, but not enough to garner me swarms of Twitter followers. Next week, he'll use these paths in Illustrator to finish the project. Here's a sneak peek at the final result:

An avatar created from a photograph.

See you next week in cartoon form! Read more » 

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