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Friday Fundamentals: Cropping a Photo in Photoshop

Inspired by the release of the latest CC update to Deke's Photoshop One-on-One: Fundamentals course at and realizing Deke's has been covering the basics all the way back to CS3, I've decided to launch a new feature here at dekeOnline: Friday Fundamentals.

Unfortunately, today is Saturday. Well, actually it could technically be Sunday by the time I get this post up. But hey, if you're one of those healthy folk who unplug for the weekend, you won't even see this until Monday. So, I'm going to indulge my fatal love of aliteration and just stick with Friday. As far as you know, that's when I wrote it. Plus any day is really a good day to get your foundational bearings. Right?

So here's the idea, every Friday (or in this case faux-Friday), I'm going to take a dekeInfused look at some foundational feature of Photoshop, InDesign, or Illustrator. Because sometimes, as awesome as Deke's inspired techniques are, he's also great at teaching the basics. Stuff this info into the storage banks at the back of your mind so you can use the front of your mind for the wildly interesting stuff. And today's (OK, yesterday's, or possibly the day before's) topic is cropping a photo in Photoshop. 

Friday Fundamentals: The Crop Tool

Cropping a photograph gives you the opportunity to rethink your composition, hone in on what is important to you, remove distracting peripheral elements, change the angle, and generally, better tell the story you want your photograph to tell. Photoshop's Crop tool has changed for the better over the last few versions, and straightening has gone from a notorious secret handshake to a simple-to-use feature of the crop environment. Here are the fundamental things to know about this foundational feature: Read more » 

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Creating a Refreshing Animated GIF from Shape Layers in Photoshop

It's the weekend, and I'm in need of refreshment and dekeCompression. To that end, I've put together some of the things I've learnt on this very site over the past few weeks and whipped up my very own animated mojito. 

 Bottomless mojito

I created this project with a combination of advice I got from Deke's Techniques on Creating an Animated Movie in Photoshop and some things I discovered when working on my own Five Useful Observations for Understanding Photoshop Shape Layers post a few weeks back.

The result was a fun, easy project that's almost as refreshing as a real mojito. And creating digitally means no crushed mint leaf particles or freshly squeezed lemon pulp getting in your hair. (Yes, this really happened. In a previous life, I had to make gallons of mojito mix at a time. Probably why I switched to concocting clean, sleek martinis.)

Anyway, you should try it out, especially if you're new to animation or want to post a hilarious GIF on your website. Here's my general recipe you can adapt to your own animation:  Read more » 

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Putting New Photoshop Shape Layer Tools into Use

I mentioned yesterday that working with shape layers in Photoshop does not come second-nature to me. It's no secret that if there is one sure-fire path to understanding how our design tools work, it's using them to actually design with. 

And so here is a tutorial that Deke created for introducing some newer features of Photoshop's Shape Layer functionality. We'll use the new dashed line feature to create that coupon clipping boundary, and---lest your readers not get the point with the dotted line---we'll queue up this row of scissors to show savvy shoppers right where to slice. 

Here's the simple step-by-step:  Read more » 

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Shaping Up: Five Useful Observations for Understanding Photoshop Shape Layers

My Secret dekeOderings, of late, I've been trying to unlock the minor mysteries of Photoshop shape layers. Mostly, because if I don't pay strict attention, they don't always work the way I sort of absent-mindedly expect them to. And any passive knowledge I might have once had about using shape layers got disrupted by some recent changes to how they work. 

So, after watching some dekeVideos, reading through some of our One-on-One books, and perusing the internet for advice from trusted friends, I have arrived at the following helpful (to me) observations. 

1) Those once-inscrutable options bar icons for using a shape tool have now been replaced by equally inscrutable words (which you could have found in the tooltips pre-CS6). Either way, there are three options for what happens when you use a shape tool. 
Whether you're used to the pre-CS6 era icons (square with smaller squares, square with pen, square) or the new drop-down menu offerings (Shape, Path, Pixels), the bottom line is that there are three options for whatever's going to happen when you use a shape tool (or draw a shape with the pen tool).

A shape layer is created when you do the first option---that is, use a shape tool (rectangle, ellipse, polygon...) or the pen tool to create, well, a shape. Like, oh, a martini glass. You scoff. You wonder about my sobriety. But in truth, the classic universal martini shape is a great mixture of curves, perpendicular lines, angled lines, and of course, an olive drawn with the ellipse tool. 

I've decided, arbitrarily, and without the benefit of real martinis (it's too early) or Deke (off camping at Sasquatch with his man-friends) that for me, it's easiest to think about a shape in Photoshopland as being a combination of a vector (a mathematical expression of a line or curve) and the pixels that decorate that line in the form of strokes and fills.

The other two options you can create with a shape tool are paths (which is just the vector with no decoration, thus they live only in the Paths panel) or pixels (which are just the decoration, plopped down one time, then abandoned by the line that gave the initial instruction).

Read on for more of my sober, if whimsical and ingenue-esque, observations. (If you're not a member of dekeOnline, you can become one here for free then continue reading.)  Read more » 

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Quick-Change Artistry: Using Illustrator Symbols for Efficient Icon Iteration

The Symbols feature in Illustrator allows you to create master objects that can be changed en masse when you change your mind. If you have a document that has repeated instances of a certain embellishment---whether it be a logo, ornament, or even a text element---you can save a master version of that element which can be easily duplicated, replaced, or updated en masse when you (or your client, or your boss) have a change of heart. 

To demonstrate how symbols work to efficiently duplicate and iterate graphics, I stole this tutorial from Deke's upcoming Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Mastery course due out at this week. In this project, we'll take a simple page icon and make variations of it in Illustrator, as if to visually document a completely abridged history of the written word from the advent of a single sheet of paper on (sorry, no stone tablet icon to work with). Like this (although I'm not sure what phase of communication technology the clipboard is supposed to represent): Psst: If you want to follow along, you can download the file I'm using at the end of this post.

Here are the step-by-step illustrated instructions. (If you're not a member of dekeOnline, you can become one here, it's free.)  Read more » 

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