How to Gloss Up a Heart Shape in Photoshop (No Glitter or Glue Required)

My funny dekeIntines. Despite my previously stated aversion to Valentines Day, I know some of you enjoy making gussied up heart-shaped creations for your sweethearts. So, for you last-minute card-makers, I'm going to show you how to fancy up your heart shape just in time to pretend like you planned it all along. No glue or glitter required: 

This glorious, some might say over-the-top glossy heart stars with a simple heart-shaped path which is then shined to insanity in Photoshop using layer effects. What better way to visually share the extreme shininess of your love?

First, you gotta have a heart. Deke's Techniques has featured two ways to make a heart shape for the drawing challenged. I'm going to use the one created in Deke's Techniques 026: How to Make a Classic Heart in Illustrator. You could also steal the heart created in Deke's Techniques 193: Drawing an ISOTYPE Couple in Love in Illustrator using nothing but stroke and fill effects, just be sure to convert the final shape to a path outline (as Deke explains in the movie.)

I've also employed a suitably sensuous background, image #113263 from the Fotolia image library, to ensure my project is lovingly lurid. (And photographer cygnusx has some other colors to play with at Fotolia if passionate purple or magic magenta is more your thing.)

Read on to see how to create this glamorous, glossy, glitter-and-glue-free creation in Photoshop.  Read more » 

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How to Create a Background Layer for Your Photoshop File (and an Action for Your Sanity)

There are two purposes to today's tutorial. First, to reveal the Photoshop secret handshake for creating a new background layer. Second, to show you how to create an action so that you don't have to perform the entire handshake every time you want a new background for your file. 

First, a point of order. Deke prefers (possibly insists, but he's not answering my call at the moment so I get to do what I want) that one refer to the background layer as simply "a background," because it's not really a free-floating layer. It can't move up the layer stack, it can't be repositioned in the image, it's always the same size as the canvas, and it can't be transparent. For these reasons, I get what Deke is saying. But I'm afraid if I just call it "background" you're gonna envision green grass and blue skies. 

The background layer is most useful for seeing your image against a white, well, background. I'd be willing to guess that most printing of images is done on white paper, and adding the background layer allows you to assess how your image will look when you print. For instance, in the image below, it would be hard to gauge that drop shadow on the gray picture frame element if you were seeing it against a transparent background. Especially since Photoshop indicates transparency with a gray and white checkerboard pattern. But with this background layer in place, you can see (and adjust) that drop shadow accordingly. 

Thing is, creating a Background from an existing layer is a little bit obtuse, in that way that Photoshop can be. Sure, it's only three steps, but I have an entire blog post to write. So, as a bonus to my instructions, I'm going to show you how to record an action that will give you a new background [layer] with a mere keystroke without remembering where that tricky command is hidden. Read to see how it works:  Read more » 

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Photoshop Efficiency: Don't Fear the Keyboard Shortcuts

My dear dekeRastinators. It's February: the shortest month of the year. So say goodbye to the luxuriously lofty goals of January, and let's get practical. I'm here to talk about Photoshop shortcuts. For some of you, that means: "Ugh, maybe there's a Quora thread full of other people talking about why they hate learning shortcuts that would be a better use of my time." 

But before you run off, let me tell you a little story: the first time I read a Deke McClelland Photoshop One-on-One book, I was the newly assigned editor for the CS2 update to the original. I was also newly exposed to Photoshop. Now, never let it be said I didn't love Deke from the outset, but I was not as initially fond of his insistance on trying to teach me shortcuts for commands I had only just been introduced to seconds before. My brain wanted to assimilate the how and why of doing something before it allocated neurons to memorizing how to do said thing more efficiently. 

But sometime around the, oh, 37th time I repeated the same set of tedious mouse movements to move a selection to an appropriately named new layer, I started understanding I could use a little more Ctrl+Alt+J in my life. Make that Command-Option-J, because I was trying to switch to a Mac as well. (That's a lotta new stuff, no wonder my patience was thin.) 

Point is, when you encounter Photoshop tutorial sites with well-meaning articles on "The Best 27 Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts You'll Definitely Want To Stop and Learn Right This Minute," it's hard to make the connection between shortcut-learning and true efficiency. So, Deke and I, based on our own personal and totally biased experience, have come up with five of our favorite time-saving shortcuts that we think are worth the time consider memorizing, saving your creative concentration and exposure to Repetitive Mouse Injury for things that you may do less often.

Read on for how and (of course) why these Photoshop keyboard shortcuts made our list:  Read more » 

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Which Are the Best of Deke's Techniques? Colleen's Exalted Opinion (Plus Your Votes)

My beloved dekeOmaniacs: Of late, I have been asked to weigh in on my favorite of the almost-200 episodes of Deke's Techniques. Now, I pride myself on a) being an excellent judge of useful information, b) having mad curation skills, and c) being notoriously defensive of my own damn opinion. (Yes, I'm aware that these all might be the same thing.) 

But Deke has been asked to speak at a couple of very cool conferences this Spring (the Print and ePub Conference and Adobe MAX), and he's been specifically requested to share the awesome that is Deke's Techniques. So it has come to light that we might want to identify those techniques that would best benefit from a live performance thereof. Thus I bring you: 

What follows are links to my favorite episodes based on the criteria of ingenuity, usefulness, and visual appeal (plus the reality-TV-esque challenge of Deke attempting to explain them in person within his given time limit).

But let's face it, most of you are way further entrenched in day-to-day application of your Photoshop and Illustrator skills. (I, meanwhile, get paid mostly to apply my scathing wit, wordsmithery, curation skillz, and barely suppressed ego.) 

And please, for the love of awesomeness, share your favorites in the comments. Note: You can see the entire collection of Deke's Techniques at, and if your'e not a member you can get a free trial at

To get you started, here are my nominees and reasons for nominating them: Read more » 

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Illustrator One-on-One CS6: Advanced Is Now Out at

Oh goodness gravy, I have been remiss. Last Thursday, my newest video course, Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced, hit the virtual shelves of the Online Training Library. And it's been the talk of the town. If you imagine this site is the town. And I'm the only one talking. But it's been popular so perhaps you'll want to listen up, even if I'm just yackin' up my own junk.

The course is 11 hours and 2 minutes long. Exactly 6 minutes shorter than my previous course, Illustrator CS6 One-on-One; Intermediate. Which makes it precisely 0.6% more powerful. (I did the math!) Please allow me to share my favorite three sample files from this inspiring and ultra-long but ultra-inspiring course.

Starting with, are you familiar with the concept of color harmonies? They play an essential role in the behavior of the exceedingly useful Color Guide panel and Recolor Artwork command. If this is news to you, check out Chapter 25, "The Color Guide Panel." Specifically the movie called "The 23 color harmony rules, diagrammed." In which I show you how each of the color harmonies works, in a real Lab color wheel so you can't help but understand, as pictured below:

Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced, Chapter 25, "The Color Guide Panels" Read more » 

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