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Brushing Up on Photoshop's Advanced Painting Tools

Photoshop's name has always been somewhat misleading. Beyond being a digital darkroom for photographers, it's an equally powerful environment for creating artwork from scratch. One of the key ways to do that is by applying digital paint with Photoshop's enormous array of brush tools. The "brush engine" in Photoshop offers tons of power, a small subset of which is employed by its basic brushes.

This tip will show you how to take the reins of Photoshop's advanced painting tools to produce effective, naturalistic, expressive strokes that look not in the smallest way mechanical.

terrified robot

Incidentally, this tip comes from Chapter 31, "Bristle and Mixer Brushes," from the course Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery on

Oh, and by the way, you folks who have been asking for some advise on using Wacom tablets with Photoshop, here you go. Read more » 

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Martini Hour Complete, In Which Colleen Gathers Everything in One Place (with Love)

My funny dekeIntines. I was wracking my brain at what to get you for Valentine's Day. And then, it hit me: Something I could make with my own two hands and dangerously limited HTML capabilities. Hewn from something I made over the course of two years with my own two hands (one of which was holding a martini glass most of the time). Well, my own two hands, my good buddy Deke, our beloved bandleader Buddy, the Pimm's Quartet, a cadre of special guests, and lots of Photoshoppery. And so here it is, my gift to you, a few days late (if you don't count the several months you were asking for it), and only compiled now that the dekeLounge has been boarded up. Yes, it's Every Martini Hour Episode Ever Made. Along with every graphic ever slaved over. (And don't they look very cool all lined up? Totally worth the inordinate amount of time we spent on them; check it out after the jump.) Over 200 links and pushing the envelope of dekeOnline's 60K character limit for posts. Yes, it's Martini Hour, The Ultimate Collection. 

Martin Hour: Every Episode, Free 24/7

You can click on each overly elaborate graphic to hear the audio of an episode. You can click on the cleverly written SEO-averse title of any episode to go to the original post describing the show (in various degrees of accuracy and comprehensiveness). And you can know that it was worth every ounce of pain to my fingertips to create this gift for you. Check it out, my martini loving dekeHearts. Read more » 

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Shadows/Highlights Unleashed

The Shadows/Highlights command lets you restore detail, breathe life into shadows, and tame highlights. Even though it's grouped with color correction features, it's actually a filter. If you've ever tried to use it in its default configuration, you've probably found the results to be less than satisfactory. In this tip, we'll look at how to unleash the power of this extremely useful filter.

shadows-highlights lead image

This tip comes from Chapter 17, "Shadows, Highlights, and Contours," of Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced from the Online Training Library. The chapter also discusses automatic lens correction, sharpening on top of a blur, smoothing with High Pass, and other techniques for adjusting shadows, highlights, and contours. Read more » 

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Levels and Curves: Photoshop's Left and Right Ventricles Pump Luminance

Simply put, the Levels and Curves adjustments allow you to control the luminance of an image on a channel-by-channel basis. With these features, you can correct brightness, contrast, and color casts. They are essential commands and the two most powerful color correction facilities in Photoshop. The Levels command offers relative simplicity, while the Curves command gives you more control. Use one or the other as needed to adjust your images, but you'll never need both in a single project. In this article, we'll look at the features of the Levels command and then look at how the Curves command expands upon its capabilities.

Photoshop levels curves lead

This article is compiled from Chapter 14 of Deke's video course Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced. Like the last tip, it's packed with useful information, but there's even more value in viewing the actual chapter on Read more » 

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Blend it Like McClelland

Two of the more obvious ways to combine elements from different layers in Photoshop are: A) to erase or use a layer mask to reveal content from the layers beneath and B) to reduce a layer's opacity and make it translucent. These are powerful and ultimately straightforward techniques. But there's a third option. Photoshop's blend modes let you go far beyond what alpha-based transparency alone can do. Blend modes permit layers to transform each other's appearance.

(All photographs hail from the Fotolia image library.)

In Chapter 28, "Blend Modes Revealed," from the Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery video course on, Deke clearly explains what blend modes do, how they work, which are the go-to modes to try first, and which ones are essentially useless. The chapter is so packed with examples and details that this article can serve only as a condensed introduction. But a rich introduction it is, packed with lots of insights and advice. Read more » 

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