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Ready For Retina HD: Create Pixel-Perfect Assets For Multiple Scale Factors

The 6 Plus is the first iPhone that sports a “Retina HD” display — the sharpest display Apple has ever made. It forces designers to provide an additional set of image resources to developers to match that sharpness.

We needed only one set of assets for the original iPhone up to iPhone 3GS. And when iPhone 4 came out with the Retina display, we also needed 2x assets — images twice as detailed. Now, with the display of the 6 Plus being even more detailed than that of the iPhone 4, we will also need to provide 3x assets. The numbers 1x, 2x and 3x are also called “scale factors.”

Of course, Android developers have always had to deal with many different sets of assets. Still, designers are finding themselves questioning their production workflow. In this article, we’ll focus on iOS, but you could easily extend this approach to Android and the web. We won’t try to provide a silver bullet, and perhaps other ways might seem easier at first, but this article lays out a solid workflow that scales up for big projects.

First off, your icon sets should be vector-based. The approach described in this article focuses on generating multiple asset versions from a single vector shape in a Photoshop document that contains all of your icons.

A unified icon document has the advantage of keeping everything together in one file, allowing you to see how well your icons and assets harmonize.

If you’re designing for iOS 7 and above, then you might think that 1x versions aren’t needed anymore. However, you’ll still need them for devices such as the original iPad Mini, the iPad 2 and potentially Android and the web.

Set Up Photoshop

First, I’ll show you how I set up Photoshop. If you know what you’re doing, you can use other settings. But for those curious about how I like to work, this is it:

  1. Disable eye candy like “Animated Zoom” and “Flick Panning.”
  2. Disable “Snap Vector Tools and Transforms to Pixel Grid.”

The first point is a matter of personal taste, but not following the second point can get in your way when you’re trying to be precise with the Direct Selection tool.

These selections will help you working precise with the Direct Selection tool.1
These selections will help you working precise with the Direct Selection tool. (View large version2)

Then, I’ll configure the Move tool (V) to select layers. You don’t need to check “Auto-Select” because you can select a layer automatically by pressing the Command key while clicking. Disabling this option protects you from moving layers unintentionally.

Configure the Move tool (V) to select layers.3
Configure the Move tool (V) to select layers. (View large version4)

Feel Free

First and foremost, I believe that design and production are two separate phases. When your creativity is flowing, you shouldn’t worry much about production constraints.

Design at your favorite resolution (perhaps 2x), and lay out using the dimensions of a device you’re familiar with. But definitely use a real device, and use apps like Skala Preview and xScope to mirror the design live on your device. You should not be working with apps unless you are constantly checking the design on a real device.

Tidy Up Those Vectors

As noted, I’ll assume that you’re designing your icons in Illustrator. Before copying them to Photoshop, you’ll need to tidy them up. Use Pathfinder to add and subtract paths until you have a single shape.

If you design your icons in Illustrator, you need to tidy them up before copying them to Photoshop.5
If you design your icons in Illustrator, you need to tidy them up before copying them to Photoshop. (View large version6)

On the left above is a complex icon made up of multiple shapes, including a white shape to simulate transparency. For the icon on the right, I subtracted the white rectangle from the black one behind it. Do this by selecting the two rectangles and pressing the “Minus Front” button in the Pathfinder panel. Then, select all shapes and click “Unite” to combine them into one.

Now, copy the path to Photoshop, and paste it as a shape layer.

Paste your path as a shape layer.
Paste your path as a shape layer.

If your shape ends up a mess, that means you didn’t tidy the vector graphic properly.

Align Forces

When you paste the icon in Photoshop, it might look something like this:

When you paste the icon in Photoshop you will probably see those gray pixels around the shape.7
When you paste the icon in Photoshop you will probably see those gray pixels around the shape. (View large version8)

When you zoom in close on the icon, you will probably see those gray pixels around the shape. Those “partial pixels” occur if a shape does not fill an entire pixel. We don’t want any of those.

We want to start working from a 1x version of the icon because, when tidied up properly, you will be able to scale this version up to 2x and 3x without any problems. If you did the original design in 2x, then you’ll need to scale the shape down to 50%.

Now it’s time to align the horizontal and vertical lines to the next full pixel. It’s OK if curves and diagonal lines don’t fill up entire pixels.

Use Photoshop’s Direct Selection tool to mark a group of misaligned anchor points, and use the arrow keys to move these points between two pixels.

Note: The closer you are zoomed in (use Option + Shift + mouse wheel), the more precisely you will be able to move the anchor points.

The anchor points of the bottom and the right side are now aligned to the pixel grid
The anchor points of the bottom and the right side are now aligned to the pixel grid.
All partial pixels are gone.
All partial pixels are gone.

Do A Check-Up

Now, make sure all anchor points are on the grid by scaling your 1x version up to 500%. If you see partial pixels, then align them as described above. If everything checks out, then scale the shape down to 20%.

Remember: From now on, you should always scale proportionally from the upper-left corner, and always make sure that the X and Y values are round numbers.

If you see partial pixels, then align them as described above.9
If you see partial pixels, then align them as described above. (View large version10)

Scale It

Let’s see how different resolutions of our icon work out. Select the 1x version (V, then Command + mouse click), and duplicate the icon (Option + click and drag) to a position next to the 1x version.

Scale the duplicated icon up to 200% proportionally from the upper-left corner. The 2x version should show no new partial pixels. It should only be bigger.

To keep things simple, we will assume you are happy with the 1x and 2x versions and that you now want to see the 3x one.

Duplicate the 2x version (Option + click and drag), move it off to the side, and then scale it up by 150%. (So, 200% × 150% = 300%)

Later in this article, I’ll tell you what to do if you are not happy with the results. But if you are happy with the 2x and 3x versions, then you know now that 2x and 3x versions can be generated from the 1x version without any problems.

Go ahead and delete the 2x and 3x versions — we will be generating them automatically.

Generate And Enjoy

Photoshop has a built-in tool called “Generator” that automatically renders a shape layer to multiple image versions. To do that, we have to create a layer group and give it a special name: the file name and scale factor for each version.

In this case, it should look like this: cover.png, 200% [email protected], 300% [email protected]

The commas separate the versions, and the percentage tells Photoshop the amount of scaling.

The commas separate the versions, and the percentage tells Photoshop the amount of scaling.11
The commas separate the versions, and the percentage tells Photoshop the amount of scaling. (View large version12)

Now, activate Generator.

Activate Generator.13
Activate Generator. (View large version14)

Generator will create a folder next to your PSD file and will automatically save PNG files to it when you save the Photoshop document.

Generator will automatically save PNG files when you save the Photoshop document.15
Generator will automatically save PNG files when you save the Photoshop document. (View large version16)

To add a new scale factor at a later point in time, you simply have to alter the layer’s file name.

Get Creative For Different Resolutions

Modifying artwork for different scaling factors is a common practice because you can show more detail in a 2x graphic than you can in a 1x version.

In the following example, the 1x version of the icon contains just a single eighth note, whereas the 2x version contains a beamed note.

Create different icons for different resolutions.17
Create different icons for different resolutions. (View large version18)

Obviously, you wouldn’t delete the 2x version because it is different from the 1x. Create an extra group for the 2x version, and give it a layer name that is compatible with Generator. Because you’ve already scaled the 2x version in Photoshop, don’t add “200%.”

To end up with a 3x version after working in 2x, you’ll have to scale by 150%. So, you would add this number to the 3x file name.

To end up with a 3x version after working in 2x, you’ll have to scale by 150%.19
To end up with a 3x version after working in 2x, you’ll have to scale by 150%. (View large version20)

Size Matters

Making the 2x versions of your assets exactly two times larger than the 1x assets is absolutely critical. Sometimes this is harder to do than you think. Consider this keyboard:

Making the 2x versions of your assets is sometimes harder to do than you think.21
Making the 2x versions of your assets is sometimes harder to do than you think. (View large version22)

For the 1x version (the smaller keyboard on the left), I decided that 1-pixel-wide black keys were to thin, so I used 2 pixels.

When you scale that version up (marked in pink in the keyboard on the right), you end up with black keys that are 4 pixels wide, which looks a little too wide.

But with 3-pixel-wide keys, the distance between all of the keys changes. To keep everything symmetrical, we need to make the keyboard 1 pixel shorter. And because we can’t scale 3 pixels by 1.5 without ending up with fuzzy graphics, we also need a special 3x version.

To fix the export size of our 2x asset, we can add a layer mask. Generator will always use the dimensions of a layer mask if one is present.

To fix the export size of our 2x asset, we can add a layer mask.23
To fix the export size of our 2x asset, we can add a layer mask. (View large version24)
Generator will always use the dimensions of a layer mask if one is present.25
Generator will always use the dimensions of a layer mask if one is present. (View large version26)

Summary

Hopefully, the methods described here will simplify your workflow. As you can see, creating pixel-perfect assets for different screen sizes and densities isn’t such a chore when you use vector graphics to your advantage and let Photoshop do the grunt work.

Downsides of This Approach

  • Assets are stored at 1x in the Photoshop file.

Upsides of This Approach

  • Create multiple image assets from a single shape layer, potentially saving yourself a lot of time in the future.
  • Icons are all in one document.
  • Generating assets for other scale factors from your PSD becomes easy for other people.
  • Seeing which resolutions of an icon need special attention becomes easy for other designers.

(ml, al)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/01-photoshop-settings-opt.png
  2. 2 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/01-photoshop-settings-opt.png
  3. 3 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/02-move-tool-opt.png
  4. 4 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/02-move-tool-opt.png
  5. 5 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/03-pathfinder-opt.png
  6. 6 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/03-pathfinder-opt.png
  7. 7 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/05-blurry-asset-opt.png
  8. 8 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/05-blurry-asset-opt.png
  9. 9 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/08-scale-opt.png
  10. 10 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/08-scale-opt.png
  11. 11 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/09-layer-naming-opt.png
  12. 12 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/09-layer-naming-opt.png
  13. 13 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/10-asset-generator-opt.png
  14. 14 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/10-asset-generator-opt.png
  15. 15 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/11-finder-opt.png
  16. 16 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/11-finder-opt.png
  17. 17 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/12-asset-canvas-opt.png
  18. 18 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/12-asset-canvas-opt.png
  19. 19 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/13-layer-naming-opt.png
  20. 20 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/13-layer-naming-opt.png
  21. 21 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/14-keyboard-problem-opt.png
  22. 22 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/14-keyboard-problem-opt.png
  23. 23 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/15-vector-mask-opt.png
  24. 24 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/15-vector-mask-opt.png
  25. 25 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/16-vector-mask-layer-opt.png
  26. 26 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/16-vector-mask-layer-opt.png

The post Ready For Retina HD: Create Pixel-Perfect Assets For Multiple Scale Factors appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

Smashing Magazine

10 Cool Photoshop Tutorials For Creating Your Own Cinemagraph

Cinemagraphs were originally coined by American photographers, Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck of Ann Street Studio, who used this trick for their news and fashion photos back in 2011. It’s kind of a hybrid between a still photograph and a video. The whole image remains still except for a particular movement that is repeated over and over again in just one section. These are usually saved in a GIF format.

You can create a cinemagraph using editing software which would compose the photographs or the video frames into a seamless loop of sequential frames. It may take a bit of time but I believe cinemagraph is a form of art worth giving a chance. To help you along with the learning process, I’d like to share 10 ultra-cool cinemagraph Photoshop tutorials to assist you in creating your very own cinemagraph. Feel free to share your cinemagraphs in the comment field below too.

Create Cinemagraphs Easily Using Cliplets. This awesome image which showcases a moving skateboard wheel can be mimicked in no time with this tutorial. It uses Cliplets to help you create this cinemagraph.

How To Make a Cool Cinemagraph Image in Photoshop. This tutorial teaches you to play around with Photoshop action tools so that you can have your own cute shopping cinemagraph image like the shopping montage of the 90s.

How To Make A Cinemagraph for Photoshop Newbies. All you need for this particular tutorial is basic Photoshop skills, a tripod, a video camera, Photoshop (of course) and Quicktime player. If you’re armed with that, you’re good to go.

Create an awesome cinemagraph in Photoshop. In this lesson you learn how to use Photoshop frames to process footage, and how to tweak your sequence in order to find the ideal loop for export.

Creating a Cinemagraph in Photoshop. This cool video guide will walk you through the process of creating a cinemagraph in Photoshop and also tells you all the niceties of using this method including how to save the file in the correct format.

Cinemagraph tutorial. In just 6 easy steps, this tutorial can show you how to create a wonderful cinemagraph in Photoshop.

Create a Cinemagraph (or Cinegraph) Using Photoshop CS6. Use the latest Photoshop version CS6 to create a cinemagraph that’s bound to make everyone else green with envy!

How to Create a Cinemagraph Using Adobe Photoshop CS5. Hair fluttering in the wind or blinking eyes are the perfect parts of the photo to animate as they are subtle. Watch this short video to learn how to do it yourself.

Tutorial: Como hacer un cinemagraph con Photoshop. For all of you more comfortable with the Spanish language, here’s a handy cinemagraph tutorial in Spanish.

Cinemagraph: How to. Why not bring one of your favorite movie scenes to life in a different way? This guide will show you how to make a cinemagraph from a Vimeo video without having to take pictures.

Click Here To See More Cool Cinemagraphs »








hongkiat.com

70 Worst Photoshop Mistakes In Magazines And Advertisements

In this day and age, who doesn’t love Photoshop? With it you can manipulate any picture you want, however you want. Add in, remove, trim a bit here and there; if you know how to use Photoshop, you know how to truly edit a photo. So it’s no surprise that it’s considered the Swiss Army Knife for designers, letting them chop away at any flaws.

However, just with any tool, you need to be trained or you could end up with a blunder. Even the professionals sometimes don’t notice the mistakes they make, and it is especially funny to find a Photoshop error in a high end magazine. This list is the sequel of our previous worst Photoshop mistakes and this time we’ve featured other ads as well. You might find this hard to believe but we have 70 of them.

The left leg and hip don’t seem to connect very well, do they?

Adam Levine is trying to be a superhero by wearing that red carpet behind him. And it looks like Carson Daly has really long fingers.

Claire Danes’ right leg seems to have gone through the bed.

Again with the legs. I’m suspecting Photoshop hates legs.

I stand corrected (hah). Photoshop hates all limbs equally.

Because that F1 vehicle is obviously there.

Who needs a tummy tuck when you have Photoshop?

The only thing worst than the fact that some of her fingers are missing is the fact that she’s drinking McDonald’s coffee.

It’s the new thing in modelling. Two belly buttons. You heard it here first.

Lebron has learnt that floating towards the hoop is much more efficient that dunking the ball.

This bikini is brought to you by Microsoft Paint.

Those phantom limbs have to go somewhere, right?

Five fingers makes you play better than the love child of Hendrix and Clapton.

More arms means more dakka.

This image is going to give me nightmares for weeks.

All that cycling made her left foot grow more toes.

Holding on to a phantom hand.

The baby’s face is badly copied and pasted onto the bag.

Her hips don’t line up pretty well. Must be another modelling trend.

Again with the legs!?

Amazing airplane is able to stabilize without front wheel.

Amazing dad has three arms to hug family.

World’s most awkward thigh gap.

The woman is missing her entire lower body. Must have made it easier for him to carry her.

Left arm is missing. Sure it will turn up somewhere later on.

Or maybe people who Photoshop have some sort of amputee fetish.

See what I mean?

The girl must be some sort of contortionist to hold a man like that.

"My mommy has two hands on one arm!"

Whatever diet Adam Levine is on just cut away half of his torso.

Avril, you really should see a doctor about that right elbow.

Sunbathing can be dangerous. Here is an example where her right leg melted off.

Maybe a bit of Skele-Gro can fix that right leg of yours, eh Hermione?

That right hand looks like it’s been broken in two.

The day daddy decided to become a disembodied head was the happiest day for the family.

It’s more fun to pretend that all disembodied hands are actually ‘The Thing’ from The Addams Family, enjoying a career in modelling.

Someone call Sir Mix-a-lot. Those are some unusually huge hips.

2D Pokemon pants, coming to a Pokemon Center near you.

Careful not to hit Phil with that club there, Tiger.

The Thing offering congratulations to his opponent.

That necklace looks painful, being embedded into your skin and all.

Shadow: the natural enemy of Photoshop.

Proof that couples who stay together long enough begin to look like each other.

Does this snuggy make my head look big?

You should see a doctor about that small, thin and disjointed right leg.

The bikes are cutting it a little too close there.

In order to become the best chauffeur you can be, you must be one with the car.

Michelle Obama has plenty of fingers to go around.

The legs and upper body look like they don’t connect very well. And what in the world is between them?

Maybe he’s adopted. Or more likely they copied and pasted the face of an Asian kid.

Knew we’d find that missing arm somewhere. Under a desk of all places.

If it’s women, then big hands, big…?

It looks like a very uncomfortable position to hold a sign.

Again, somebody call Sir Mix-a-lot.

Mommy has really long legs.

The two towering bosses looming over their peons.

I’m running out of leg jokes.

This diet plan will turn your body disproportionately tall.

Model holding The Thing with his left hand.

The bride of Edward Scissorhands.

The arms are smashing into each other.

A pair of giant hands and a head on a pair of legs.

See? Told you double belly buttons would catch on.

No amount of Vaseline can help that hand of yours.

Sometimes, you feel like they hired 6 year olds to do their Photoshopping.

The Thing decided to try for a career in basketball.

That waistline cannot be healthy.

Another example of the torso not lining up properly.

Toes are unsexy so of course we have to Photoshop them out into blocks.

This baby will make a fine addition to the X-Men.

More Photoshop Blunders – Click Here For Part I »








hongkiat.com

4 Creative Photoshop Artists Who Cleverly Manipulate Landscapes [PHOTOS]

A lot of artists have different tools that they use to create a particular form of work. Some people use paper as a medium whilst others prefer a more digital art form. Then there are those who utilize Photoshop as a tool in order to make something unique which represents them.

Photoshop manipulation is everywhere, commonly used in advertising to deliver a striking message. Or simply to showcase beauty in an alternative form. Or perhaps to make one laugh. Whatever the purpose of Photoshop manipulation, it takes skill as well as dedication to perfect like all other art forms.

Here’s 4 extraordinary Photoshop wizards with a focus on landscapes and scenery.

Andric Ljubodrag

Andric Ljubodrag is a self-taught Yugoslavian photographer who turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. His clients include AT&T and Corona.

Visit Andric’s website.

BottleBottle – andric.biz

Cow – andric.biz

Door – andric.biz

Garden furniture- andric.biz

Kite – andric.biz

Erik Almas

Erik Almas is a San Francisco-based photographer who places an emphasis on lighting and focus, which can be seen through his rich and open landscapes. He plays with surrealism, and adds a touch of fantasy to his landscapes.

Visit Erik Almas’ website.

Butterfiles – erikalmas.com

Cows – erikalmas.com

Leaf Boat – erikalmas.com

Sleep – erikalmas.com

Whale – erikalmas.com

Erik Johansson

Erik Johansson is a photographer from Sweden who has a rich imagination, and looks at landscapes in a different way, from torn roads to strange towns. He twists conventions through his vibrant work.

Visit Erik Johansson’s website.

Cut & Fold – erikjohanssonphoto.com

Drifting Away – erikjohanssonphoto.com

Fishy Island – erikjohanssonphoto.com

Set TheM Free – erikjohanssonphoto.com

The Cover Up – erikjohanssonphoto.com

Richard Roberts

Richard Roberts is a digital illustrator and photographer with a flair for dark fantasy. He creates beautiful, gothic images, and takes inspiration from sci-fi and galaxies.

Visit Richard’s website.

Apocalypse – richardbroberts.com

Grow – breakingcanvas.com

Ice Passage – richardbroberts.com

Ladt of The Lake – richardbroberts.com

Zen – richardbroberts.com

More Cool Photo Manipulations

Editor’s note: This post is written by Sita Bridglal for Hongkiat.com. She is a copyriter with NuBlue. You can contact or follow her on LinkedIn, Google+ and Youtube.








hongkiat.com

Techniques For Creating Custom Textures In Photoshop

Textures are everywhere — the concrete of a sidewalk, the fabric on your chair, even the glass (or plastic) surface of the screen you’re staring at right now. It’s natural that textures appeal to us because we see and feel them every day. And it’s no surprise why textures have become such an important element in design — so important, in fact, that I want to share with you the tricks and tools to create your own textures using Photoshop.

Photoshop isn’t just for retouching images or manipulating photos. It can be used for so much more, such as creating your own textures — as long as you know where to look. In this article, I will present a foundation of techniques to help you build custom textures. I’ll go over three Photoshop features that I rely on to do most of my texturing — filters, layer styles and brushes. Before we jump in, I want to demonstrate the importance of textures. Consider the image below:

A comparison of textures.1
A comparison of textures. (View large version2)

In the image above, we see a scene with no textures. (OK, there is one texture, flat gray. Without at least one texture, the image would not exist.) The second image (right) shows a scene fully textured (the wood on the frame, the dusty table top, the fabric on the chair, etc.). In fact, this entire image was created in Photoshop (without the use of external images), using many of the techniques outlined in this article. Note that this article explores how to create textures, but if you’re interested in learning more about using texture as an element in design, some additional reading is included at the end of this article.

Texturing With Filters

Filters are still viewed by many as cheap gimmicks that have no real applicable function in Photoshop. (I know, I used to be on that side of the fence.) On the contrary, Photoshop filters are extremely powerful effects that, when used properly, can produce some amazing results. If filters are not a part of your normal Photoshop workflow, I encourage you to take another look at these underappreciated effects and use the tips below to get started.

Apply a Filter to a Filter

No one ever said that you can apply only one filter. Instead, try adding a second or third or more. Experiment with multiple filters and see how they interact with each other to create new effects. The Filter Gallery panel (Filter → Filter Gallery) even has a filter stack where you can preview how multiple filters work together. The image below demonstrates how the Craquelure filter becomes much more interesting simply by applying it to the Reticulation filter via the Filter Gallery.

The Craquelure filter applied to the Reticulation filter in the Filter Gallery panel.3
The Craquelure filter applied to the Reticulation filter in the Filter Gallery panel. (View large version4)

Let’s take another look at how some filters work together to create custom textures. The image below shows a basic example of this.

A coarse texture created with multiple filters.5
A coarse texture created with multiple filters. (View large version6)

The image below depicts the steps necessary to recreate this texture. The texture begins with a blank canvas (left). Adding the Noise filter (Filter → Noise → Add Noise) (middle) introduces randomness to the scene and sets up a good foundation for the next filter. Because filters work by manipulating the pixels on a layer, the order in which you apply filters is important. So, by applying the Emboss filter (Filter → Stylize → Emboss) on top of the Noise filter, a new texture is created (right).

Three steps to create a simple texture.7
Three steps to create a simple texture. (View large version8)

Furthermore, some filters just produce better results when applied more than once. Consider the image below of the circled grid. Applying the Spherize filter (Filter → Distort → Spherize) produces only a mild result (middle). However, applying it a second time creates a more believable sphere (right).

Some filters work better when applied more than once.9
Some filters work better when applied more than once. (View large version10)

Tip: Convert a layer to a Smart Object before applying a filter to enable Smart Filters. Smart Filters are non-destructive and can be edited on the fly.

Experiment with different combinations of filters to see how they interact with each other. Soon, you’ll be able to predict how a filter might work with another filter to create a particular effect. Lets move on to the next tip.

Some Filters Naturally Tile

Tiling textures, while desirable, often takes a lot of time and effort — why not let Photoshop do most of the work for you? Some filters (such as Clouds and Noise) will naturally tile when the document is sized in powers of 2 (for example, 256 × 256, 512 × 512, even 512 × 1024). If you start with one of these textures as a base and build on top of it, you’ll find that you can quickly create some complex textures that tile with little or no additional effort. The image below shows an example of a texture that was created by using the Clouds filter as a starting point.

Wood texture created with the Clouds filter as a base.11
Wood texture created with the Clouds filter as a base. (View large version12)

As stated, this texture starts with the Clouds filter (Filter → Render → Clouds) applied to a document that’s sized to 1024 × 1024 pixels. Similar to Noise, the Clouds filter provides some randomness that works nicely with other filters.

Clouds filter applied to a blank document.13
Clouds filter applied to a blank document. (View large version14)

At this point, we are free to adjust the dimensions of the image without harming its ability to tile. Therefore, by adjusting the size via Image → Image Size, we can squish the texture while keeping it tileable (left). Now, if we add the Posterize effect (Image → Adjustment → Posterize), we can break up the texture into a number of gray shades with more defined edges (middle). The Find Edges filter (Filter → Stylize → Find Edges) will isolate just those edges, producing the start of a wood grain pattern (right).

A stretched Clouds filter becomes wood grain.15
A stretched Clouds filter becomes wood grain. (View large version16)

To learn the entire process of how this texture was created, check out my “Custom Wood Texture in Adobe Photoshop17” tutorial.

Texturing With Layer Styles

Layer styles are another way to introduce texture into a scene. They offer additional options to embellish the contents of a layer. Experimenting with each setting in the Layer Styles panel in order to learn how they work is always a good practice. Below are some tricks I use when working with layer styles.

Blending Modes

When building textures in Photoshop, blending modes do exactly what they say: blend. Multiple layers of textures can seamlessly blend into a single, complex texture, as seen below:

The texture on the tabletop was created by blending multiple textures.18
The texture on the tabletop was created by blending multiple textures. (View large version19)

Tip: Working with grayscale textures when using blending modes makes blending much easier to control (color can always be added later).

When you’re trying to build complex textures, knocking it out in one attempt can be difficult. Instead, try to break down a complex texture into a set of simpler sub-textures. Consider the texture of the tabletop in the four images below. Each image represents a simple texture that was blended together with the others to create a more complex final texture.

The texture on the tabletop was created by blending multiple textures.20
The texture on the tabletop was created by blending multiple textures. (View large version21)

Advanced Blending and “Blend If” Options

Using layer styles might be an obvious choice, but many people often ignore the “Advanced Blending” section in the default Layer Styles panel. Hidden in plain sight are some of the more powerful blending options. Here, you can decide how a layer mask will affect a style: Will it hide a layer style or just confine it to the visible portion of the layer? Towards the bottom of the menu are the “Blend If” sliders. These sliders can easily produce complex blending effects.

The Layers Style panel contains the often overlooked “Advanced Blending” and “Blend If” options.22
The Layers Style panel contains the often overlooked “Advanced Blending” and “Blend If” options. (View large version23)

Take the image below. The glossy texture on the paint was created with minimal effort using the “Blend If” sliders.

An image of a paintbrush created using various techniques in Photoshop.24
An image of a paintbrush created using various techniques in Photoshop. (View large version25)

The “Blend If” sliders control how a layer is blended into the layers beneath it, as illustrated in the images below. The initial layer of paint (left) appears too flat but has just enough variation to allow the “Blend If” sliders to work. Next, broad areas of white are painted onto a new layer (right) to define where the blending will take place. Adjusting the “Blend If” sliders of the white layer will produce that glossy effect in the image above.

Steps in creating a glossy texture.26
Steps in creating a glossy texture. (View large version27)

Tip: When using the “Blend If” sliders, hold Option or Alt while adjusting the sliders to separate them, making for a smoother blend.

The “Blend If” sliders separated.28
The “Blend If” sliders separated.

To learn more about how this image was created, check out my “Create a Paint Brush in Photoshop29” tutorial.

Duplicate Layer Styles

Sometimes a layer will benefit from having two of the same layer styles with different settings. In past versions of Photoshop, accomplishing this without using destructive techniques was difficult. With the introduction of Smart Objects in CS2 — and now with the ability to add layer styles to layer groups in CS6 — Photoshop makes it easy to use and reuse multiple layer styles on the same layer. This technique was used to create the liquid and the glass bottle in the scene below.

Wine bottles and wine glasses created with the aid of duplicate layer styles.30
Wine bottles and wine glasses created with the aid of duplicate layer styles. (View large version31)

Examining just the liquid from the scene, it starts with a generic shape on its own layer (left). The Inner Shadow and Gradient Overlay layer styles were assigned to the layer (middle). The layer was converted to a Smart Object, which allows you to edit the layer styles in future. Next, the same two layer styles (Inner Shadow and Gradient Overlay) were reapplied to the Smart Object (right) using different settings to achieve a more complex effect.

The liquid shape with duplicate layer styles.32
The liquid shape with duplicate layer styles. (View large version33)

Examining the image above, you can see how creative we can get with layer styles. For example, in the middle image, the Gradient Overlay layer style was applied as a large, soft gradient that acts almost as a vignette around the top and bottom of the shape. In the last panel, the Gradient Overlay was treated much differently. It’s applied as a small, tight gradient that becomes the traditional bulb shape on the bottom of a wine bottle.

To learn more about how this was created, check out my “Create a Wine Bottle and Glass With Smart Objects34” tutorial.

Texturing With Brushes

Using brushes is a great way to apply textures manually. If you’re into digital painting, then you probably know of several techniques using the Brush tool. However, being talented at digital painting is not required to effectively use the Brush tool. The following tips will reveal some more advanced methods of using this tool.

Learn the Brushes Panel

This might sound pretty basic, but many people only stick to the “Hardness” and “Size” settings. Adjusting the settings in the Brushes panel (Window → Brush) can quickly extend the use of any brush. It gives you the options to fine-tune the behavior of a brush, making it more random and, thus, more natural. This is how I created some of the elements in the image below (such as the pencil’s highlights).

A pencil and paper scene created in Photoshop.35
A pencil and paper scene created in Photoshop. (View large version36)

To create the realistic highlights, I adjusted the “Shape Dynamics” and the “Scattering” settings in the Brushes panel (left). By changing the settings and size, I was able to produce a number of brush strokes that look more fragmented and more natural (right). Each brush stroke represents a different highlight that went into the pencil.

Different brush strokes produced with the Brushes panel.37
Different brush strokes produced with the Brushes panel. (View large version38)

Tip: Another great feature of the Brushes panel is that it allows you to test the brush while editing it, which makes quick work of setting up the right brush for the job.

To learn more about how this scene was created, check out my “Create a Realistic Pencil Illustration in Adobe Photoshop39” tutorial.

Consider Custom Brush Shapes

Sometimes, just tweaking the settings of an existing brush isn’t enough. Creating a new brush shape (via Edit → Define Brush Preset) opens up more possibilities for achieving natural-looking textures. Brush shapes don’t have to be complex to be effective — I typically work with simple shapes and adjust the settings to fit my needs. A good example of this is the scratches that appear on the paintbrush’s wooden handle in the image below.

The distressed handle of a paintbrush.40
The distressed handle of a paintbrush. (View large version41)

The scratches were created by drawing a simple shape, just like the one in the image below (left). Selecting Edit → Define Brush Preset will add the brush shape to your brushes library. Using the technique from the previous step and adjusting the “Shape Dynamics” and “Scattering” settings in the Brushes panel, we can create a brush that shows scratches (middle). The image on the right shows the brush in use.

A custom brush shape used to add texture.42

A custom brush shape used to add texture. (View large version43)

Use the Brush Tool to Paint With Layer Styles

This next technique allows you to literally paint with texture. It combines the Brush tool and layer styles to easily create some complex texturing effects. The trick is to set the layer’s “Fill” setting to 0% in order to hide the brush strokes and focus on the layer style. The image below demonstrates the technique. In this case, I used the technique to paint dents onto the metal frame.

Worn-out sign with dented metal frame.44
Worn-out sign with dented metal frame. ( View large version45)

The technique works best when you use a brush shape that already has some variation. This could be a custom brush or one of Photoshop’s several preset brushes, such as the “Charcoal 59 px” brush seen in the image below.

The Charcoal preset brush.46
The Charcoal preset brush. (View large version47)

Following one of the previous techniques, I’ve used the Brushes panel to adjust the “Shape Dynamics” and “Scattering” settings to produce more variation in the brush’s actual stroke, as seen in the image below (left). Before using the brush, just create a new layer with a Bevel and Emboss layer style, and then set the “Fill” setting to 0% (which will hide the stroke color but keep the layer style visible). Now, when painting on this layer, you can literally paint with texture (right).

Using a custom paintbrush to paint with texture.48
Using a custom paintbrush to paint with texture. (View large version49)

To learn more about how the metal sign was created, check out my “Create a Retro Sign from Scratch Using Advanced Techniques in Photoshop50” tutorial.

Texturing With Images

While these textures technically weren’t created from scratch, I thought this was important enough to address. Using textures from existing photos or scans can be a quick and effective way to work. However, the most common pitfalls are using the textures in the wrong perspective, using them with incorrect lighting or making them appear flat. Fortunately, these are easy to avoid and some great articles address this.

Conclusion

As we have seen, creating high-quality textures for art or design doesn’t require the talent of an artisan painter. All it takes is a little understanding of Photoshop and knowledge of the tools and how to manipulate them to get the effect you desire. Hopefully, you’ve learned some new tricks and techniques that will help you in your next project.

Additional Reading

(al, ml)

The post Techniques For Creating Custom Textures In Photoshop appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

Smashing Magazine

Create Long Shadows With Long Shadow Generator [Photoshop Plugin]

Long shadow design is still popular amongst designers. Previously, we’ve showcased how to create your own long shadow design in Photoshop using different layers. It’s handy, of course, but if you’re a Photoshop enthusiast looking for an easier way to get the long shadow design that you want, we’ve found a free Photoshop extension you could use.

The Long Shadow Generator made by Ray is an easy-to-use tool that lets you create the long shadow effect with just a single click. It only works with Adobe Photoshop CS6 and Photoshop CC compatibility though — an upgrade is required to fully utilize this.

Installation

Long Shadow Generator is available to download for Photoshop CS6 here and Photoshop CC here.

After the file is saved to your computer, double click the file to begin the installation process in Adobe Extension Manager. All you have to do is just follow the instructions until you’re done.

Before we continue, navigate to Window > Extensions > Long Shadow Generator in your Photoshop to open the panel as per the following screenshot:

Options And Features

Long Shadow Generator provides you with 2 options you can customize to meet your needs:

1. Long Shadow Length, which customizes the length of the shadow created. The length is measured in pixels and is only available in predefined sizes: 10, 20, 40, 80, 160 and 320 pixels. The default size is 40 pixels.

2. Long Shadow Opacity, which affects the transparency of the shadow. By default, the opacity is in 20%.The resulting shadow comes in black shadow and white shadow. So, this will make it easier for you if you’re working with light or dark backgrounds.

As this plugin follows the flat design trend, its shadow has no gradient or lighting effect, an option checked by default. If you prefer not to apply it, simply uncheck the Flatten option.

Lastly, you’ll be given 4 different shadow directions: bottom right, bottom left, top right and top left. To change the direction, just hit the square button beside the Generate button until you get what you want.

Usage Demo

Let’s see the plugin in action using this Office icon from Martin.

This plugin works by creating a bunch of layers according to the shadow length. The longer the length, the more layers created. Those layers are then merged into one as the shadow layer.

If the image has a merged background, do a little masking to separate them as this plugin applies long shadow by detecting image shape.

Now, let’s give our icon a long shadow effect. In the Long Shadow Generator panel, change the default shadow length to 160 pixels and uncheck the flatten option, like so.

Before clicking the Generate button, make sure you have selected a layer you want to add the effect to. It should only be 1 layer. Now hit the Generate button and wait.

When it’s done, a new layer will appear with the same name as the selected layer, plus a suffix. If you checked the flatten option before, this new layer won’t have the Gradient Overlay effect.

And that’s it. Here is the Office icon with a beautiful long shadow effect generated from a simple plugin.








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