dekePod

Deke's Techniques 419: Adding Depth of Field to Vector-Based Illustration

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke takes last week's Vector Island scene and applies a depth-of-field effect to the illustration inside Photoshop (with some help from Illustrator along the way).

The "depth-of-field" in this case, consists of doses of plain ol' Gaussian Blur applied as a smart filter. The trick is to create an independent smart object for each level of depth (blur) and then isolate desired objects for each depth of field by editing the smart objects in Illustrator.

In this case, for example, one layer/smart object has just the backdrop. Each of the other layers is stripped down to just a specific head. The result is that a blurry background, a sort of blurry guy on the left, and a completely sharp guy on the right creates the illusion you see here:

Applying different levels of blur to different layers creates a depth-of-field effect

If you're a member of lynda.com, Deke's got two follow up movies this week. (If you're not a member, you can get a free 10-day trial at lynda.com/deke.) In the first movie, he shows you how to add gradient and color overlays to this scene for this effect:

Adding color and gradient overlays in Illustrator

In the second, you'll see how he incorporated textures from the original Easter Island photograph that was the inspiration for the illustration.

Using the original inspirational photograph to add texture to an illustration

Deke's Techniques, bringing your head(s) new tweaks every week. Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 418: Converting Corner Points to Smooth Points in Illustrator

In this week's free Deke's Techniques movie, you'll learn how to convert corner points into smooth points in Illustrator. Some of you are like, "Cool!" Some are all, "What?" And some of you are, "So what?"

Well, here's the deal. By using Illustrator's ability to convert all of your corner points to smooth points at once, you can convert a quickly (and easily) drawn zig-zag into a smooth curly-que.

Quickly change a zig-zag into a smooth curlyque in Illustrator by converting points

Are you reasonably savvy Illustrator users still as bored as a statue of a giant head? Do you know about the 2X speed option on lynda.com videos?

Continuing on (at about 04:35, for those skipping ahead), you can sketch out one Easter Island Moai statue by simply clicking straight lines with the pen tool, then use the Convert Selected Anchor Points to Smooth button to convert all of your corners at once. Thus, the unimpressed angular head on the left (below), becomes the more thoughtful organically curved dude on the right.

Draw with the pen tool, then convert corner points to smooth for an organic effect

If you'd like to learn more about drawing quickly in Illustrator using this method of quick point conversion, check out  Deke's awesome (and this comes from an inept Illustrator user) course Draw Better and Faster with Illustrator CC. If you're not a member of lynda.com and you want to check it out, you can sign up for a free 10-day trial at lynda.com/deke. (For even less of a commitment, you can just skip to the blue unlocked movies in the table of contents and get some great Illustrator drawing tips.)

One last note, something I discovered while visiting Hoa Hakananai'a, an Easter Island statue that's currently housed at the British Museum in London. (His name appropriately means "Stolen or Hidden Friend.") The backside of those Rapa Nui statues can be really fascinating too. Hidden friend indeed.

Behind the Easter Island statue Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 416: Extending Your Facebook Profile Picture into Your Cover Photo

Extending your Facebook profile pciture into your cover photo

In this week's free Deke's Techniques video, Deke concludes his quest for the ultimate integrated Facebook profile and cover image by showing you how to "extend" your profile picture seamlessly out into the cover photo area.

In other words, he'll show you how he released his Groot-esque alter-ego from the square confines of the designated Facebook profile area, aligned his shoulders (and hand) to flow over into the cover photo, and thus allowed his avatar to wave at you from inside the lovely Skunk Canyon Sunset.

Integrate your Facebook profile and cover images seamlessly

Oh, in case you missed it, in the last two episodes, Deke has revealed the exact specifications of the current Facebook images and how to make your Facebook cover image show through the background of your profile picture. He also shared this template, so you can efficiently make your own Facebook profile picture and cover photo work together.

And speaking of Facebook imagery in general, for members of lynda.com, Deke's got an exclusive movie this week in which he shows you the best practices for preparing images that you upload to your Facebook timeline. If you're not a member and want to check it out, you can get a free 10-day trial at lynda.com/deke. Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 415: Creating the Perfect Facebook Cover Photo (and Integrated Profile Picture)

Deke's Techniques 415: Perfect Facebook Cover Picture

In this week's free Deke's Techniques movie, Deke will show you how to make a perfect Facebook cover photo that integrates seamlessly with your personal profile picture.

He begins with a suitable cover (the results of Deke's Techniques 356: Developing the Perfect Sunset) and complimentary profile picture (drawn over the course of Designing Your Own Online Avatar). These two images are then positioned to maximum perfection (as is evidenced by the pattern overlay, provided for reference and proof of Deke's obsessive nature) inside his Photoshop template.

Achieve perfect cover and profile integration

To make your own profile look like it's appearing directly against the cover background, you'll need a high res, horizontally interesting cover photo, as well as a well-masked profile image with a transparent background.

And you'll need this template that Deke has painstakingly created (and magnanimously shared)---shown below with a blow-up of its illustrative layers panel. You can download the Photoshop Facebook 2015 template here. (Note, for file size management containment purposes, I took out the placeholder photo in Deke's smart object. You can still paste your own image as he does in the video, you just don't have to deal with that extra 67MB of decorative overhead.)

Photoshop template for Facebook cover and profile

Once everything is in place in the template, the video explains how you can extract separate cover and profile images to upload to your personal Facebook page. This works impeccably as of 2015. Of course it could change tomorrow. (Worse, it could have changed yesterday, but I think we're OK for now.)

Note, there was some confusion last week when the image below appeared on lynda.com's Facebook page entry for last week's Deke's Techniques discussion of the [actual dimensions of the two Facebook images]. Folks who saw the picture before watching the video were confused.

Specs for the resolution you can actually upload to Facebook

People correctly pointed out that those are not the actual pixel dimensions of a Facebook pairing as it eventually appears at the top of your personal page. However, they are the actual dimensions of what you can extract from this project and upload to FB in order to present the best quality photos in your news feed. Because these photos also appear in your stream when you first upload them, and Deke naturally wants them to be as high-quality as possible. Because he's Deke. And you are you, and deserve the best.

And if you'd like to catch up on the best of the lynda.com library, including the entire collection of Deke's Techniques, the Designing Your Own Online Avatar course, a great beginner course for getting started with Photoshop, or any of the other gems from the vast treasury of lynda.com, you can get a free week's trial at lynda.com/deke.
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Deke's Techniques 414: Mapping Current Facebook Specifications

Mapping Current Facebook Specifications

It's Fix Your Facebook Fotos month here in dekeVille, and this week, Deke starts us off with a free Deke's Techniques movie in which he reviews all the current (that's 2015) specs for Facebook profile and cover images.

Note that most of the internet, including Facebook's own documentation, relies on specs from 2012. So if you really want control over---

a) the way your profile picture looks in your timeline (the big one when you first post it), and

b) the way your cover photo looks in your timeline (when you first post it), and

c) the way the two images interact at the top of your page, then

---you'll want to get the dekeReport on what those pixel dimensions actually are and what they can be when you upload them.

And, because it's Deke, you'll get every last meticulous detail from this video, right down to the dimensions of that gradient that Facebook applies to the bottom of your cover photo so that your name pops off the screen.

A map of the current (2015) Facebook cover and profile image specifications

All of this information will serve us well in the coming weeks techniques when Deke shows you how to perfect the interaction between the two images, allowing your friends to be amazed at how you lined them up so perfectly. Or in Deke's case, how he looks to be arising like a Roman god from the River Avon in Bath. This screen shot from Deke's actual timeline demonstrates how this month's meticulous magic is going to materialize.

Deke's own cover and profile photos interact meticulously and creatively

Accept no substitute specs here, my friends, Deke's the one to bring your FB page to 2015 standards. Read more » 

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