Photoshop Content Awareness: the Move, the Patch, the Cheating at Golf

In honor of the first chapter of Deke's latest course update, Photoshop CC One-on-One: Intermediate, I got to thinking about interesting uses of the Content-Aware family of Photoshop tools (the subject of Chapter 1 of said course). 

Basically, "content-aware" features work similarly to earlier Photoshop features (Move, Patch, Fill) but they do so in a way that considers the contextual information present in the image. So, instead of telling Photoshop, "Hey, Fill this selected space with the Background color," you instead say, "Fill this, and figure out what it should be filled with based on the contents of my image."

The net result can be magical or tragic, but if you use the right combination of tools (and admit the fact you may have to clean up your results with some classic Healing Brush or other retouching work) then Content-Aware tools pretty much stay on their side of magic. 

For example, let's say I recognized the fact that one is not allowed to move one's golf ball closer to the hole. But let's also say, that although the USGA prohibits moving your ball, they don't explicitly say you can't move the hole. It's Photoshop Rules, people. And here's how Photoshop's Move and Patch tools, in their Content-Aware modes, can really shine. 

Here's a quick look at how to use these two tools to their greatest golf-gaming advantage. Because although you may not need to cheat at golf, you may find untold riches in knowing how to leverage these features in your own work:  Read more » 

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Repeat Performance: InDesign's Useful if Imperfect Transform Again Individually Command

Full disclaimer, I stole, borrowed, actually learned the following knowledge thanks to a tweet from Friend of dekeOnline and former InDesign PM Michael Ninness. Every once in a while---probably when he's creating beautiful reports full of useful insights in his high falutin' position as's SVP of Strategic Development---Michael remembers something useful about InDesign that others might not know. Then he tweets it to the world. In this case: 

Ninness tweet

I admit, my syntactically inflexible would-be English major's brain could barely parse this sentence, but I had to know more. And I had to trust Ninness. That capital I in "Individually" was no accident. It's actually a key part of the command. 

And the command is one of the few approximations InDesign has of that handy "Repeat Formatting" command in (of all things) Microsoft Word. As far as object-level formatting goes, it's as close to "Please do that random thing I just did again to this other thing" as INDD gets. 

So thanks to Michael's tweet and my tendency to seek out all manner of efficiency in InDesign, here's a fancifully illustrated guide to the "Transform Individually" commands in InDesign that may just make your life easier:  Read more » 

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Illustrator One-on-One: Fundamentals, updated for Creative Cloud (Still Thriving for Earlier Versions)

On Friday, released the CC version of Deke's Illustrator One-on-One: Fundamentals course, which covers useful foundations for vector-based drawing in Illustrator from basic artboard management and interface navigation, to drawing with the line and shape tools, placing text, tracing line art, getting started with the pen tool, and more. 

Welcome to Illustrator One-on-One Fundamentals

If you're not a member of, you can get a free week trial at to check it out. If you're not a member of Creative Cloud, Deke's earlier titles---going back to CS3---are available from this playlist I created:

A playlist of Deke's Illustrator Fundamentals course for multiple versions

The Fundamentals course has all you need to feel like you might try one of Deke's free Illustrator-based Deke's Techniques as well. If you're new to Creative Cloud you may be thinking it's time to investigate something besides Photoshop for your creative endeavors.  Read more » 

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It's Official: I Love My GoPro Hero 3

Recently, my sons & I traveled to northern California. Specifically: Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, and some places in between. You may, if you like (below), regard one of my notoriously (below) understated photographs (below). That's Sam, scrupulously circumspect, on the left. That's Max, in full-on battle-mode---as rarely captured with saliva between his upper and lower teeth---on the right (below).

Treetop Adventure Park, Granlibakken, Lake Tahoe, California, Max and Sam, GoPro Hero 3

Why do they appear so thusly as they do (above)? Who knows. I dunno about yours, but my kids are crazy. E'en so, I have a theory. It involves a camera. Here, let me explain. Read more » 

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Creating Faux Fireworks against a Synthetic Sky in Photoshop

The unrelenting number of blog posts every July about how to photograph fireworks on the Fourth has finally driven me to seek relief. Nothing against those writers, I've written a few firework photography blurbs myself over the years. But let's face it, not much changes in terms of strategy from year to year. (In a nutshell: tripod, long shutter speed, low ISO.) If you don't think you've heard every tip or trick, by all means google on. I'll be over here celebrating my freedom with Photoshop, as the founding fathers intended. 

Yep, time for something fresh and fun. In my quest for artistic liberty, I found this delightful tutorial from defender of creative freedom Howard Pinsky, which uses text outlines, some tweaking of standard Photoshop brushes, and some Outer Glow layer effects to create a firework text effect. Howard was kind enough to let us share it here, so I could start slacking off for a long holiday weekend: 

But Howard's approach is so infectious, I forgot to start slacking immediately. I wanted to see how these faux fireworks would work  against the synthetic sky I learned to make way back in Deke's Techniques 015: Building a Synthetic Starfield. With a little tweaking for my own handwriting, fake background, and lack of subtlety, I came up with this:


Here are a few tips for riffing of Howard's tutorial. (Riffing, the second-most sincere form of flattery after downright imitation).  Read more » 

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