Top Twelve Toolkit for 2012

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OK, it’s 2012, and rather than weigh you down with tedious resolutions (no, we’re not giving up martinis), I thought I’d make a list of a dozen useful things that Deke has shared over the past year. Some are about life, most are about Photoshop, and one just helps you to keep track of your damn phone. Links to relevant stuff accompany each entry:

Become the hair masking genius

Deke’s most recent entry in the Photoshop Masking & Compositing series focuses on one critically important skill: masking hair. In particular, Chapter 2 presents you with the scenario you’re most likely to encounter: masking Dark hair. Check out this movie to see how establishing a strong Calculation between channels gives you a head start (heh) on this masking challenge; it’s free to all. Members of should watch the whole chapter; it’s a Photoshop mastery course in a nutshell. Want proof? Check out the before and after of this Chapter’s project:

Masking dark hair in Photoshop before
Masking dark hair in Photoshop after

Turn on Find My Phone

In October, Deke and I were out walking in Ventura and his phone got run over by a car, or four, or several hundred. Granted, we left it in a non-regulation crosswalk. But the upshot is, turning on the Find My Phone feature on your iOS5 device will save you lots of backtracking. What you find when you get there is your problem.

Learn how to do a podcast (or not)

Martini Hour lived for 101 episodes, but in the end my favorite episode was the final one—a reflection on the lessons we learned about doing a weekly podcast. Some of the things were solid tips, some were things we never learned to do properly, and some were idiocyncracies of deciding to do a podcast that involved martinis.

Trace an image without the f*ing pen tool (mostly) 

One of Deke’s Techniques was completely designed for me and my fear of the pen tool. In this episode of Deke’s free weekly podcast, you’ll learn how to trace around an elusive light bulb using mostly shape tools. This skill—learning to see complex objects as the conglomeration of other basic shapes—is vastly useful, even when you’re not trying to avoid the pen tool.

Understand blend modes

The second installation of Deke’s Photoshop Masking and Compositing series at is totally dedicated to blend modes. We all know they’re useful, but they also rely on math as much as creative intution. This free movie explains the math behind the various modes so that you can anticipate how they are going to work.

Remove unwanted people from photos

No doubt, you’ve taken some photos recently that contain people you never want to see again. Photoshop can’t help you in real life, but with Deke’s help you never have to see these people in pixel-based form again. In this particular case, a couple of wedding guests were interfering with our focus on the bride and groom. See how Deke gets around the limitations of Content-Aware Fill to get Content-Unaware Phil out of the shot.

Become a poet

Turns out, Deke is a poet. Just goes to show that you can expand your creative instincts in any direction with relative success. Members of found Deke’s occasional foray into verse an interesting insight into the imaginative mind.

Get a jumpstart on Photoshop 3D

For those of you with Photoshop CS5 Extended, 3D may have been sitting there in the menu bar mocking you—that is, until Deke came to the rescue with an entire four-part collection of 3D courses. Here’s an article about the most accessible of the 3D features, using Repoussé for text. Since I avoid 3D as often as the pen tool, I found it multidimensionally illuminating (not to mention satisfying) to try my hand at creating 3D type.

Come to grips with the f*ing pen tool

Speaking of which,  at some point, you have to face the pen tool. This tutorial actually helps you figure out how. Organic shapes are often best masked by simply drawing an impeccable vector-based path around them. I admit it. And this article makes it downright understandable.

Use chartwell and create graphs from fonts

No list would be complete without some obscure InDesign tip that I snuck in when Deke wasn’t looking. One of my favorite discoveries this year was the Chartwell font, which allows you to make charts and graphs by simply typing in equations. Using ligatures, the charts are created as riffs of the numbers you type in. It’s kind of magic, and much easier than any other form of charting I’ve found.

Start from square one with Photoshop, InDesign, or Illustrator

Many of you may live primarily inside of one (ahem, Photoshop) application within the Creative Suite. Perhaps you’ve been meaning to get your feet wet with InDesign or Illustrator. Or perhaps you’ve been meaning to learn how to use, ahem, Photoshop. Deke, abandoning his deep-dive, often-more-than-you-ever-thought-you-wanted-to-know instructor-self, created four “Up and Running” courses this year that put his particular brand of instruction out there for beginners.

Manscape, trainer style

Think you’re a dedicated Photoshop trainer? Nothing shows more dedication to craft than Deke getting his notorious monkey arms waxed in order create his first iPad-based course. It may not teach you anything except sacrifice (and pain) for artistic excellence.

Of course, with a list like that, I’m sure you’re inspired by the potential of Deke to deliver new inspirations, techniques, and life lessons in 212. Happy New Year, dekeOtopians!

Next entry:Photoshop’s Most Amazing Self-Party, Ever

Previous entry:Deke’s Techniques 053: Capturing a Real-Life Cast Shadow


  • How To Modify Backgrounds

    One of the most discussed, if not “THE” most discussed, Photoshop post processing “how to” tools is modifying an images background for the beginning Adobe PS user. Be it eliminating,blurring,enhancing,replacing..whatever! The majority of all tutorials encompass a miriad of layers to get the final result. Most users just want to change the contrast,brightness of blur a background but the techniques used by the tutor tend to be very tedious at best and usually steps to accomplish the task are left out.

    Maybe deke can provide a simple “how to” to accomplish this task without spending hours trying to accomplish this.

  • help

    can you help me doing that amazing art

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