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Brightness/Contrast Not Just "Not Bad," It's Actually Great

If your images look drab, it's often because they are either too light or too dark and they may also lack contrast. Sometimes the lack of contrast can even be hidden until you lighten or darken the image. When dealing with such a photo, the Brightness/Contrast command is one of the most basic adjustments you can make, so it's not surprising that it's one of the first commands most folks try. It's also one of the rare features in Photoshop that actually makes sense to the uninitiated.

photoshop cs5 brightness contrast graphic

Deke admits he used Brightness/Contrast for nearly all his adjustment work during the first six-or-so months that he used Photoshop. (Back in 1990, mind you.) That's both a testament to how intuitive the command is and to Deke's fortitude. Because it automatically clipped shadows and highlights, Brightness/Contrast used to do more harm than good. Happily, that's no longer the case. Ever since its reinvention in CS3, Brightness/Contrast can breathe life into your colors and dramatically improve an image with little effort.

This tip comes from Chapter 7, "Basic Color Correction," in Deke's Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals video series for lynda.com. If you're a veteran dekester, you've heard much of this before, but scroll to the end of the post for some more advanced techniques. Read more » 

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The Self-Made Mask

Today's tip comes from from Chapter 26, "Masking Essentials," of Deke's video course Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery from lynda.com. And because this course is all about mastery, Deke takes on tougher masking challenges in this chapter, delving into such deep techniques as exploiting the native components of an RGB image to create highly exacting alpha channels and masks.

Photoshop CS5 self-made mask

Some of you may recognize this image (care of Stas Perov of the Fotolia image library) from Deke's Photoshop Top 40 videos, starting with Feature #33: Calculations. But this is a more detailed analysis, which includes compositing the masked image against a blue sky background.

We'll focus on the segment entitled "Making an alpha channel," where Deke demonstrates how the art of masking lies in using the image to select itself. Read more » 

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Get Gorgeous Prints From Photoshop

This set of tips comes from Martini Hour 074, in which Deke and Colleen talk (Photo)shop. Their recommendations? Get better prints from your desktop printer by being highly experimental: Try different approaches, write down what you did, and be willing to use up some ink and paper in the process. Once you find your favorite settings, you'll be able to rely on those settings to achieve proven results from that point on.

Getting gorgeous prints from Photoshop

In preparation for printing, there are a few steps to take, and one that you definitely should not. Read more » 

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All Pirate Flag Files and Art

Today I share with you the essential pirate flag asset files. As described in this week's 6-day video blog (which began with "Sketching the Pirate Flag" and continues until Friday, October 29), the flag art measures five feet wide by three feet tall. It's an Illustrator file, so every line is razor smooth, as if drawn with pen and ink. And because Illustrator saves PDF-compatible files, you can open it in the free Adobe Reader utility. Even better, you have my permission to modify the file and print it as you see fit.

Here's a picture of me with said flag that was shot this morning.

Deke and the pirate flag

It's my gift to you. The only catch is that you have to be a member of dekeOnline. Read more » 

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The Power of Multiple Martini Transformations in Photoshop

Wouldn't it be great if you had a device that would create martinis for you, each one a suitable replica of the previous, without your having to painstakingly mix each of them separately? Well, when it comes to virtual cocktails---or really anything else of value and deliciousness---you can leverage Photoshop's ability to duplicate, scale, and reposition a layer with the Free Transform command and the judicious application of some modifier keys. And then, amazingly, you can ask Photoshop to do it all over again.

See, a while back, I was creating a graphic for my weekly Martini Hour podcast (using a martini glass image from Gunnar3000 of the Fotolia image library, shown below), and really appreciating this terrific, if largely undocumented, shortcut that allows you to repeat a transformation---including duplicating, scaling and repositioning a layer---without having to tediously reenter values, mouse around your image, or remember how you lined things up the first time. 

Here's how I turned this single refreshing beverage into three, each spaced equidistantly and scaled appropriately, efficiently, and somewhat miraculously. Read more » 

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