Deke's Techniques 618: Healing with a Pattern in Photoshop

Deke's Techniques 618: Healing with a Pattern in Photoshop

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke shows you how to put that repeating pattern background from last week into actual use---in the service of muting a busy backdrop that detracts from the image's model. And this technique allows you to do the whole thing without a smidgeon of masking.

He starts with this image from our friends at, with a lovely model who's got enough cool detail happening that she doesn't need a totally distracting yet not nearly as interesting forest scene behind her:

A lovely model with a distracting background from

He then adds a green version of the Clouds pattern that he's been showing you how to make in the previous few episodes:

Green repeating clouds pattern created in Photohsop

And eventually, with some relatively painless (compared to masking) painting, a shift of the Opacity slider, and a tweak to the Blend Mode, he arrives at this far less distracting backdrop:

A muted background created with the Clouds filter in Photoshop

With nary a masking task in sight.

Deke's Techniques, making sure you shine without some forest interfering with your awesomeness.
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Deke's Techniques 478: Removing Power Lines with Photoshop

Deke's Techniques 478: Removing Power Lines with Photoshop

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke steals an idea from Photoshop Man Extraordinaire Bryan O'Neil Hughes for removing unwanted power lines from a photo.

Thing is, Bryan didn't think that showing this trick to a roomful of fairly sophisticated design types was going to make quite the impact it does. But sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Like sleeping for a few days every summer in this rustic cabin, or using the Spot Healing Brush set to Content-Aware in Photoshop.

The result is our temporary summer-home-slash-pirate-lair becoming slightly more rustic by having its power lines removed (and my guess is half the camp would go dark, as well) by simply shift-clicking across the lines with the Spot Healing Brush. Then, when that doesn't work, the full-fledged Healing Brush itself. (Don't worry, all our devices are plugged in in the laundry room.)

A rustic cabin and pirate lair before and after power lines are removed in Photoshop.

In an attempt to discover just how easily this works, I used the technique to remove some power lines from our winter home (i.e. our home-home) with what I like to call "our mountains" obscured by clouds in the background. I might have also taken out the remnant of a neighbors chimney or two, just to ensure that---insofar as this photo is concerned---those are exclusively my mountains.

Mountain view before and after power lines are removed in Photoshop

If you're a member of, Deke's got an exclusive movie this week in which he shows you how to turn that utility pole into a more appropriate tree trunk (might as well make everyone in camp rough it for a few days). If you're not a member, you can get a free 10-day trial at to check it out. Should be plenty of time to get hooked on Deke's Techniques, as long as no one erases your power lines in real life.  Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 376: Developing the Perfect Holiday Portrait

Deke's Techniques 376: Developing the Perfect Holiday Portrait

In this week's free Deke's Techniques movie, Deke takes an ordinary snapshot (taken by a nostalgic mom on the day of Senior Prom) and turns it into a suitable-for-framing-then-gifting portrait. It's the least he could do after turning this poor beleaguered teenager into a dark elf a few weeks ago.

Let me be clear, it's not an ordinary snapshot in that it's a) my son, and b) I did manage to get out the DSLR for this one---so he gets to start with a raw file. This allows him to make all the exposure, white balance, and retouching edits dynamically from within Adobe Camera Raw. The final bit of post production, namely sharpening for printing, is then applied in Photoshop.

Before and after portrait developing in Camera Raw

There are a lot of cool tips in here that you can use to make something special out of your otherwise-ordinary candid shot, including how to sneak up on exposure changes without clipping, how a negative Clarity setting can smooth out skin, and how to finesse spot removal changes in ACR.

Meanwhile, this will be the last Deke's Techniques for 2014. We're taking next week off to hang with the kids (including this one). There's a whole collection's worth of movies to keep you occupied in the meanwhile, and if you need a free week's subscription at to check out exclusive episodes, you can sign up at Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 296: Removing a Photobomber with Classic Photoshop Tools

Remove an inadvertent photobombed with old school Photoshop tools

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke uses some old-school (as in: Photoshop 3–era) tools to remove an inadvertent photobomber from an otherwise totally awesome group shot. 

The group in question consists of a delightfully filthy Deke and his equally crusty adventure-loving friends at the Bonnaroo Music Festival. (Aside: they claimed their sweaty handsomeness was the result of four days of plus-100 degree weather, so why is Scott wearing what looks to be a wool scarf?) The presumably innocent photobomber is that guy on the far right sticking out of Jacob's shoulder, making Jacob look like Zaphod Beeblebrox Come to Earth to Attend a Music Festival. 

Five guys and one unwanted head

In the video, you'll see how Deke approaches the challenge of removing Jacob's second smaller head using old school cut-and-paste, the Lasso tool, and a bit of erasing. Why would he go traditional when there are so many fancy modern tools for this kind of retouching? Well, look what happens with this Content-Aware Fill fail. It just multiplies and distorts the number of aliens growing out of Jacob: 


Trying the Patch tool with its new content-aware powers, leaves behind a decidedly other worldly glow: 

The patch tool leaves behind an other-worldly glow


But, using good old fashioned duplication of a selection and some careful tidying up restores Jacob to his awesome, but earthly, nature. And the photograph becomes a treasured memory of five fabulous, if filthy, literally earth-dwelling friends.

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Photoshop Action as Social Commentary?

Welcome to the Friday forum, my dekeOmmunity. Today's post is brought to you by the Toronto wing of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty via Photoshop Diva Katrin Eismann. In a nutshell (which is an admittedly hard and tiny place to put such a complex issue), Ogilvy Toronto posted this video---"Thought before Action"---about a magical and socially conscious Photoshop action that reverted the model to her true unretouched self. Thus, retouchers are reminded in flagrante delicto that they are not honoring True Beauty. 

(That is, if professional retouchers do all their work in one fell swoop without saving their file before applying an action downloaded from the internet.) 

As the story goes, this action, presumably made available at sites like Reddit where art directors, graphic designers, and photo retouchers lurked---was called "Beautify" and falsely claimed to create a skin glow effect. The mindless unassuming users of the action would instead find their work reverted to the photo's original state. 

(Wait, Reddit? The place where my teenage son goes to look at animated GIFs of sloths playing banjos? The place where President Obama says anyone can ask him anything as long as they can do it in the next half hour? That's where pros go for their retouching actions? Welcome to dekeOnline you poor hapless souls.)

Ok, there's something poetic about using something called an action to attempt to incite---maybe not actual action, but at least social consciousness---about the way women are force-fed unreal idealization in advertisement. And yet, I must ask the following:  Read more » 

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