Photoshop Top 40, Feature #31: The Brush Tool

Feature #31: The Brush Tool

If you know anything about Photoshop's brush tool, you know it paints smooth lines in the foreground color. You can control its behavior to the nth degree from the options bar and Brushes palette. And it responds to pressure-sensitive input.

Those attributes alone would earn it a place in the coveted Photoshop Top 40. The fact that it also excels as a masking tool merely cements the deal. Read more » 

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Photoshop Top 40, Feature #32: The Pen Tool

Feature #32: The Pen Tool

If you're anything like me, you just finished celebrating Labor Day by not laboring in the least. Happily, the same cannot be said of Photoshop Top 40. Tuesday after Tuesday, this proud and relentless podcast marches on.

Fittingly, today marks Feature #32, The Pen Tool, one of the most powerful but labor-intensive tools in all of Photoshop. Newbies select images with the likes of the quick select and magic wand tools. Both are highly automated, but they rarely work. Experts use the pen tool. It takes some work to master, but it always works in return. In other words, learn to use the pen tool and you'll be prepared for any masking job. Read more » 

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Photoshop Top 40, Feature #33: Calculations

Feature #33: Calculations

As friends of this site know, Tuesday is Photoshop Top 40 day. And this Tuesday is no exception. Today's video covers one of the oldest, most abstruse, downright incomprehensible commands in all of Photoshop: Calculations. Found under the Image menu, the Calculations command lets you mix two existing channels in an image--say, Red and Blue--to create a new alpha channel that will serve as the basis for a mask. And while it takes a fair amount of time and effort to come to terms with the feature, Calculations is one of the most powerful masking commands in all of Photoshop. Read more » 

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Photoshop Top 40, Feature #34: Save for Web (and Devices)

Feature #34: Save for Web (and Devices)

If you take a look at the File menu you'll see a command, about midway down, called "Save for Web & Devices." It's actually two commands. There's the "& Devices" part, which lets you save an image for display on virtually every cell phone except the iPhone. No offense, but if I had to rank this feature, I doubt it'd make my Top 10,000.

But the first part of the command, "Save for Web," that part rocks. It lets you downsample and compress an image for dissemination on the Web. Not to mention jettison all extraneous information and convert the colors to sRGB, the color space of the people. Plus you can compare the Web-optimized image to the original and thereby judge what gets lost in the translation. In other words, Save for Web does everything it can to produce slim, trim, and ultimately beautiful Web graphics. Read more » 

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Photoshop Top 40, Feature #35: Refine Edge

Feature #35: Refine Edge

Over the years, Photoshop has attempted several means for automatically distinguishing one portion of an image (say, a person) from the rest (its background). All have seemed promising at first. And yes, whether it's due to the allure of the tools or our faith in miracles, I do mean all. Yet as we grow wiser, they grow ever more unacceptable. Classic cases in point: The entirely unmagical magic wand. The sluggish and sloppy quick selection tool. And who can forget the ultimate and absolute disappointment of Extract?

But at least two commands have proven that selection automation is possible. Happily, one of them is today's Top 40 Feature: Refine Edge. Read more » 

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