Photoshop & the Visual Communications Makeover

dekePod Episode 017: If I were you, I wouldn’t necessarily want to hear this story. There’s an “ick” factor to it. Because it involves me in an airplane. Which is never all that fun. But, okay, that’s not the icky part.

The icky part, it’s about me in a bathroom. And I, then, well . . .  Okay, screw it, here goes:

I’m in an airplane and I have to pee. Quite a bit actually. And I’m drumming my fingers, waiting for the “stay buckled” light to dim. You know, that one next to the “don’t smoke” light (which is forever lit, poor smokers), the one that goes off only after the flight attendant has been doing cartwheels in the aisles for 2 minutes.

Anyway, in the eventual passing of time—after feeling the sands of the hourglass dart like 10,000 needles into the tender walls of my bladder—I am finally allowed to unfold my cramping torso and make my way to the bathroom. And as I pee, I’m standing there staring at a laminated sign. And my thoughts turn to—of all people—you. (Ha, I told you! There’s the icky part!) Here’s why:

Signs are our friends. They help us observe the rules when we actually need to know the rules. We don’t all speak English, and tourism is a huge industry, so signs need to be language-independent. This is why immediately identifiable symbols are such an essential ingredient to good visual design, and indecipherable symbols result in commercial art catastrophes. Just think of all the bad symbols you encounter on a regular basis: Computer icons! Laundry instructions! Or Deke’s favorite: What you shouldn’t throw into an airplane toilet! Learn what works and what really, really doesn’t in this laugh-out-loud episode of dekePod.

I swear to you, I looked at this sign, and I knew: While you wouldn’t want to see me—not right at that very second, anyway—you’d want to see it. (The sign. That it.)

Seriously, this is a special one. Save it for later (hell, show it to the grandkids!) by exploring one of these links:

  • For a high-quality QuickTime movie, right-click here and choose Save Target or Download Link or the equivalent.
  • For an M4V file that you can play on an iPod, right-click here and choose one of those same commands.
  • Or you can subscribe to dekePod via RSS or iTunes.

You can also check out the page at my book publisher O’Reilly Media.

Toward the end of the video, I believe I say something like: “The full-resolution, annotated, layered file is available as a free download to members of” If you’re actually interested in such a thing, lemme know and I’ll post it this weekend. Like a cartwheeling flight attendant, I live to serve.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I seriously gotta go.

Next entry:Martini Hour 017, In Which Colleen Discovers Deke’s Secret Martini Past (with Bert Monroy)

Previous entry:Martini Hour 016, In Which Deke Reveals His Fear of the Digital Trash Can


  • Hi

    Just wanted to add a hint I personally think that is not a Diaper rather a Matchbox and i think the hand is basically dropping the handkerchief

    Big Fan ur my mentor

    Mutahhar Mustafa Khan

  • Off the topic, yet intriguing

    I just wanted to get a pixel count of a large image that I was working on, so I hit Ctrl+A and glanced at the histogram palette. To my surprise I found out that Histogram palette only shows 6 digit numbers for a number of selected pixels. Basically, any selection that is over 1 megapixel doesn’t get counted as it should.

    Is there a way to count more than million pixels using a selection tool? Also, how are the soft selections counted? Is it only over 50% opacity that gets counted?


    Happy, happy, joy, joy!


  • Hi Everyone

    It’s a glove!  :o)

  • It’s a latex glove, not a

    It’s a latex glove, not a sperm whale and not a severed hand haha.

  • Open banknotes in Photoshop cs4

    In photoshop CS4 it seems impossible to open scans of, or images with, banknotes. I found an easy workaround.

    Open image in preview ( on the mac), go to extras and mirror horizontally, save and close. Open in Photoshop, mirror again, and voila! save as psd and you can reopen it, resize it, print it etc.

  • You all got it wrong…


    It has to be.

  • I think Zilla is right, Deke

    Don’t throw Thing in the toilet. Lurch will kick your ass.

  • It’s a foot

    It’s in fact an injured latex foot from one of the worst designed lovedoll ever…designed.

    I know it…i call her Lucy.

  • We have a winner!

    Sadly, the prize it getting your hand chopped off and thrown in the toilet.

  • Circle-Slash around a written word

    I always like it when they go in the other direction and just slap a universal ‘No’ symbol over some text - which completely defeats the purpose of the signage.

  • The Padlock Icon in the Brushes Palette

    Completely off topic, but -

    I assumed when you locked an option it just made it harder to accidentally change for that brush.

    Apparently what it actually does is globally ‘lock in’ or share that option with every other brush in Photoshop.

    Like making all the brushes pen pressure-opaque

    might make a good dekepod question. Now where is that phone number, again?


    So in other words…

    Make a brush a scatter brush. Lock that attribute with the padlock symbol.

    Now EVERY OTHER brush in Photoshop scatters as well.

  • Figured it out!

    Turns out I have to hit the update button in the top right corner of the histogram in order for ‘shop to calculate larger numbers. Also, further experimentation showed that 50% visible selections count 100%. But 49% visible selections have 0% count. Live and learn.

    I think I should give myself a day before I post another question.


    Happy, happy, joy, joy!


  • 1-888-dek-epod

    That’s 888-335-3763.

    That’s a great question b/c those lock brush icons make no damn sense whatsoever. Even I’d have to do a couple of minutes of research to remember the answer.

  • The Cache Levels option

    is an interesting creature. (Ctrl+K, Ctrl+4 or Cmd-K, Cmd-4.)

    It affects far more than you think it should. And frankly, it’s a tweaky option that should be addressed differently. I appreciate the need for accelerating histogram displays (and much else luminance related), but forcing you to update the histogram to discover the number of selected pixels is a flaw.

    This also is an interesting Martini Hour 1-888-dek-epod question—just what are Cache Levels and what in the hell do they do?

  • Instead of locks they should be little globes…

    ...or something, because they take the ‘locked’ attribute and make it global and push it out to every other brush.

  • That probably means…

    ...that my calculation of the number of pixels that change as a result of saving file as jpg was also wrong. Cause I used the histogram palette to show the number of pixels selected after applying the difference blend mode between the JPGed and original files, and I never hit refresh.

    So this time I did again and I did it right. This time with an image I just finished for a local non-profit society*.

    The number is staggering: in this instance 84.33% of pixels changed as a result of jpg compression (at maximum quality):

    Langley Int'l Festival!

    *I changed the slogan and removed relevant advertisement text in the image above - I don’t want to be accused of spamming. But I left the logo so as not to be accused of racism either. Never too careful these days grin


    Happy, happy, joy, joy!


  • The missing metaphor

    I saw no reply box in the Martini Hour post, so I’m posting it here instead.

    In my lessons I explain the clipping mask by equating it to wrapping a salad bowl with Saran wrap. If you look at the bowl from the birds eye view, then Saran wrap is the clipping layer and bowl is the clipped layer.


    Happy, happy, joy, joy!


  • please post the

    full-resolution, annotated, layered file I am a sicko like you…......

  • ultimo dekepod

    you are sooo clear teaching,thanks

    Felicitaciones desde Argentina!!!

  • Visual Communications Makeover

    I enjoyed this piece, not only for practical tips but because I could really connect with confusion over icons. Did you know there is an organization concerned with visual literacy? The International Visual Literacy Association is heavily weighted with university professors teaching visual literacy. Some of the members would definitely be interested in your take on this.

  • Camera Raw Will open it

    Scan the note. Browse to the scanned image through bridge. Highlight it, and then press Ctrl+r (pc) cmd+r (Mac) to open the image in Camera Raw.

    Voila. Photoshop trusts raw implicitly so you are then able to open the scanned note.

  • Layered File


    Can you please post your layered file, I would especially like to see how you created the gory hand.


  • I’m ready for my close up

    Hey was that a kitty cat traipsing down the stairs behind you around 5:19?

    As far as the sign goes, I think for this situation it might be simpler to only show what you can put in the commode since you would only need depict three things.

  • close up

    The kitty cat thougt I was a Big Fat Rat, so it jumped into my commode!

    Once again Deke, you did it more than well, and your humour is just like the danish, so as an old wiking female I love it!!


  • I’ll post the layered file

    By Friday, and include links to it.

    You’re right, the “gore” on the hand is the challenging effect. Now I’m thinking I should have added some bruising and diseased veins.

  • Deke you rock….  love your style of comedy

    oh and your okay at photoshop.  Where is the masking tutorial u mentioned?  I still wand it sometimes.


  • Post it!

    Post it! Post it! Post it! Post it! Post it! Post it!

  • ready for primetime

    Deke, your podcasts are funnier than most of the sitcoms in primetime.  Pick a network and go for it.

  • Socio-Personal Question

    Dear Godfather.

    We’ll I’m a Young Architect (Still a Punk) ... a Photoshop Geek Coz I Believe that Architecture and Digital Imaging Shares One thing “Creativity” ...  and I Wanna Be Like you one Day!! I Got Inspiration from you deke..!

    Tell me Sir ... When you was early 20s How was your relations with women?

    coz about me it’s very bad & They call me Photoshop Nerd ! What a Hell ! What’s The Wrong?

    I Mean when you was in my age ... What was your Appeal to the gilz..

    Thanks again ... and God Blesses Sami & Maxi

    Black Seals ... White Reveals…!

  • You are so wicked lazy

    That which doesn’t kill you makes you a capper.

    Check this.

    Your site is highlarifus.

    (Haven’t really technically written up the masking tutorial, but I did finally get around to posting the layered file of gore.)

  • OMG, you’re right

    That’s Sharkey’s second appearance in a dekePod. That one totally slipped by me. Good eye!

  • What makes you think I have any appeal?

    To the gilz, no less. (The ones on fish, right?)

    I kid. Don’t fret, whatever you’re going thru you’ll grow out of it. Everyone does.

    But if you’re looking for a recipe, here it is, according to the Scissor Sisters: “Somethin’ different. All the girls they seem to like you. Cuz you’re handsome, like to talk, and a whole lot of fun.”

    Not that this guy spends a ton of his intimate time with women. But I imagine what works with one gender works with the other.

    “Get her jacked up on some cheap champagne, we’ll let the good times all roll out.” I mean, c’mon, we all like that.

  • Finally I did it!!

    Great Sir…That’s a Good information

    If Found this Awesome Lady ..... And I Wanna Date Her

    I’ve Followed your Workflow by

    1- Creating Luminance Mask for my face

    2. Adding a light layer of white on my eyes (Blended with soft light)
    3. switched my self to LAB mode for some makeup
    4. Added a soft gaussian blur to the atmosphere making it more romatic

    5. Find a Girl (Not a Gill)

    and Finally


















    Sorry Deke…...... I’ve Coded your Boss









    Black Seals ... White Reveals…!

  • Rap rap rapido

    Dear Dekius Maximus,

    heapus biggius liking your rap rap rapido speeatch.

    Don’t slowing the down! Too many the slow lessons are, with boring.


    [and now in a deep brown velvety chocolate voice]

    uh and thanks fer all the great tips maaan!

  • Visual Communications Makeover

    Hey Deke;

      I just joined the site and have been looking around.  Some great stuff.  I can’t wait to see the rest of the top 40.  Something I did notice though.  On the “Visual Communication Makeover.”  On the next to the last item, you discribed it as a diaper.  I realize with all the “BAD” artwork in the world how this image ( If we can call it that ) could be misread.  Granted I am no expert but, the first thing that came to mind was a matchbook.  I must admit I did have to look close though to see the match heads and the possible bent out matchhead in the way some people like to strike them.

      Let me know if you agree?  Although it’s a little late I hope this helps.  At least to clear up a little of the insanity.  That is if you think I’m right.  If not never mind.

      Looking forward to some great learning.  pscvman

  • Photoshop is the best app

    Photoshop is the best app for effects and designing websites!

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