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Creating Advanced Animations In Photoshop

While animation in Photoshop is not a new concept, it definitely has come a long way in the last few years: The Timeline panel has been overhauled, video layers have been introduced, as has the ability to create keyframe animation. These additions have really upped Photoshop’s game.

Even though Photoshop is still a long way off from being able to create the high-end and cinematic animations of such programs as After Effects, it still has enough power to create complex animation — which is especially useful if you don’t want to spend time learning a new application.

In this article, I will share several advanced techniques to help you create complex animations. We’ll look at the Timeline panel and the different properties that can be animated. We’ll also explore the roles that adjustment layers, filters and smart objects can have in animation (and how to combine all three for some amazing effects). Because the topics and techniques in this article are advanced, a moderate level of Photoshop knowledge is expected.

Overview Of Timeline Panel

Opening the Timeline panel (“Window” → “Timeline”) allows you to select between two types of timelines: video and frame. The frame timeline is for frame-by-frame animation and can be very limiting. It generally works by converting the layers in your Layers panel to individual frames. I won’t go into any more detail on this timeline; I want to focus on the video timeline.

Photoshop has two timelines for you to choose from.1
Photoshop has two timelines for you to choose from. (View large version2)

Video Timeline

The video timeline allows for keyframe animation — which is an animation process in which you define key points of animation along a timeline and Photoshop will interpret the in-between frames to create a cohesive animation. Let’s go ahead and create a very simple animation to see how this works.

The Video Timeline panel shows a layer (1) with layer properties (2). The timeline shows the Current Time Indicator (3) and existing keyframes (4).3
The video timeline panel shows a layer (1) with layer properties (2). The timeline shows the current time indicator (3) and existing keyframes (4). (View large version4)

As you probably noticed from the image above, the video timeline shows a representation of layers in the Layers panel. Each layer in the timeline has a dropdown panel that exposes the layer properties (these are the properties that can be animated). To animate a layer property, simply click the stopwatch icon, which enables keyframe animation. Notice that a keyframe is automatically placed at the current time indicator.

The stopwatch icon has been selected for the Position property. A keyframe is automatically added to the timeline.5
The stopwatch icon has been selected for the “Position” property. A keyframe is automatically added to the timeline. (View large version6)

Move the current time indicator to another point in the timeline and reposition the layer. Again, another keyframe will automatically be added to the timeline.

Moving the layer automatically adds a keyframe at the current time indicator's location on the timeline.7
Moving the layer automatically adds a keyframe at the current time indicator’s location in the timeline. (View large version8)

Playing back the animation shows how the object on the canvas moves from one position to the next.

Photoshop automatically creates the animation in between the keyframes.

Layer Types

Now that we have a good idea of how the animation process works in Photoshop, let’s take a closer look at the common layer types that can be animated. Because different layer types have different properties to animate, pay attention to which layer types are being used.

The standard (pixel) layer is a layer that contains pixel information. This is the most common (and most basic) layer in Photoshop. Layer properties include:

  • position,
  • opacity,
  • styles.
A standard layer in the timeline with the layer properties exposed.
A standard layer in the timeline with the layer properties exposed.

Adding a layer mask or vector mask to any layer will introduce additional properties specific to that mask. Layer properties that are added to the layer’s existing properties include:

  • layer or vector mask position
  • layer or vector mask enabling
A layer with a layer mask in the timeline
A layer with a layer mask in the timeline.

A layer with a vector mask in the timeline
A layer with a vector mask in the timeline.

A shape layer contains a shape (whether from one of the shape tools or the Pen tool) or a line segment. Because shapes and line segments are built with vector mask information, those mask properties will appear in addition to the other layer properties. Layer properties include:

  • position,
  • opacity,
  • styles,
  • vector mask position,
  • vector mask enabling.
A shape layer in the timeline with the layer properties exposed
A shape layer in the timeline with the layer properties exposed.

A text layer contains editable text. If text has been rasterized, then the layer will no longer be a text layer, but rather will be a standard layer with pixel information. Layer properties include:

  • transform,
  • opacity,
  • styles,
  • text warp.
A text layer in the timeline with the layer properties exposed
A text layer in the timeline with the layer properties exposed.

A smart object can contain any one or combination of the above layer types. A smart object acts like a wrapper for any layer, preserving the original layer while using a new set of properties. These properties include:

  • transform,
  • opacity,
  • styles.
A text layer in the timeline with the layer properties exposed
A text layer in the timeline with the layer properties exposed.

A word of warning when using smart objects. Because a smart object preserves the original quality of the layer or the set of layers it contains, it can be scaled and rescaled without losing quality. However, it cannot be scaled any larger than the size of the original layer it contains. Doing so would cause the smart object to lose quality.

At this point, I want to mention two other layer types — a video layer and a 3D layer. Both of these layers are completely unique from the other layer types mentioned. The video layer is actually a layer group that contains its own set of properties, while the 3D layer — besides containing a unique set of properties — is manipulated in an environment entirely separate from the other layers, adding to the level of complexity. Due to the uniqueness of these two layer types, I will not go into detail here. You can see how both layers are represented in the timeline below:

A video layer group in the timeline with the layer properties exposed
A video layer group in the timeline with the layer properties exposed.

A 3D layer in the timeline with the layer properties exposed
A 3D layer in the timeline with the layer properties exposed.

I encourage you to explore these two layer types on your own. For the rest of this article, I will be focusing only on the traditional layer types, excluding video and 3D.

Layer Properties

Now that we have a grasp of the different layer types, let’s examine the different properties that we are able to animate. Knowing how each property works is important to understanding their limitations and how to get around them. Let’s look at the common animation properties.

The Position property allows for movement along the X- and Y-axis. Manipulate the position of an object by using the Move Tool.

The object’s Position property was keyframed to move the ball back and forth along the x axis.

Opacity allows you to keyframe the opacity of a layer. The Opacity control can be found in the Layers panel.

The object’s opacity was keyframed at 100% and 0% to create a fading animation.

The Style property allows you to keyframe the layer styles of a layer. Access the layer styles by double-clicking a layer in the Layers panel.

The object’s layer styles (Bevel & Emboss, Color Overlay, and Drop Shadow) were all keyframed to create a pulsing animation.

The layer mask or vector mask position keyframes the x and y positions of each mask. It works best when the mask is not linked to the layer.

The mask’s position is keyframed to scrub across the layer, revealing the background layer.

Enabling or disabling a layer or vector mask is also possible. To enable or disable a layer mask, go to “Layer” → “Layer Mask” and select either “Enable” or “Disable.” For vector masks, go to “Layer” → “Vector Mask.” Alternatively, you can “Shift + Click” the mask in the Layers panel to toggle on or off.

The mask is keyframed to be enabled, then disabled after a short time, causing a reveal.

Specific to text layers, the Text Warp property allows you to keyframe any text warp applied to a text layer. You can access a list of text warp effects by going to “Type” → “Warp Text.”

A Flag warp was applied to the text and keyframed to create a warping animation.

The Transform property allows you to keyframe transformation to a layer. Various transformations (such as Rotate and Scale) can be accessed by going to “Edit” → “Transform,” or by pressing Control + T to enter Free Transform mode.

The object’s Scale and Rotation are keyframed to create a spinning star that grows and shrinks.


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The post Creating Advanced Animations In Photoshop appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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A Better Way To Design For Retina In Photoshop

Recently, I had a project in which I needed to produce high-fidelity screens for a tablet. I was to present these screens on the device and also produce a clickable prototype. They needed to be pixel-perfect. The timeline was tight (as always), so I went with my go-to tool, Photoshop. I’ve been using it for over ten years, and it gives me the fastest high-quality output.

Are you designing at “Retina” resolution in Photoshop? If the answer is yes, then this article is for you. I will walk you through the problems I faced in creating Retina mockups to be displayed on a tablet device. I will then explain a way to work that is easier and gives you better performance. This is about my experience with Photoshop, but it could be applied to Illustrator and other software.

Here are a few designs for the tablet application
Here are a few designs for the tablet application.

Throughout this article, I will use the @2x and @3x notation. These represent the Retina buckets for iOS. A great example is the app’s icons. For the original iPhone, it would be 60 × 60 pixels (@1x). For the iPhone 4, it would be exactly double, 120 × 120 pixels (@2x). Now, the latest devices are dipping into triple territory. For the iPhone 6 Plus, the icon would be 180 × 180 (@3x). When talking about @2x or @3x, I am referring to using double or triple the pixel dimensions. All should become clear as you read on.

The Problems

Now, let’s get into the design of this tablet application. Like many other designers, I had been told that one must design at Retina resolution. The general consensus is @2x or @3x. So, I set out on my merry way, designing @2x. The design would be presented on a Nexus 9 with a 4:3 ratio, so my Photoshop canvas was set up to 2048 × 1536 pixels. After creating a few screens, I realized in practice this doesn’t work well at all. Let’s work through the issues I found.

Zoom Factor

At first, this is no big deal. Zoom out to 50% or 33% to see your design at roughly 1:1. But at the same time, it’s a bit ridiculous, right?

Shown is the corner of a design at @1x to @3x
You can quickly see the resolution getting out of control. Shown is the corner of a design at @1x to @3x.

Why should you have to zoom in and out constantly to see what’s going on? It also completely ruins pixel-snapping1, which works best at 100%. It’s almost impossible to know whether a pixel is aligned when you are zoomed at 33% or 50%! Suffice it to say, I got pretty fed up zooming in and out like a maniac to get things aligned pixel-perfectly.


This is a big one. Let’s use a tablet with a 4:3 ratio as an example. I set up a blank PSD @1x (which is 1024 × 768 pixels) and another @2x (2048 × 1536) and a third @3x (3072 × 2304). I then did some comparisons.

Table showing number of pixels, size on disk and memory for @1x – @3x blank PSD
Table showing number of pixels, size on disk and memory for @1x to @3x blank PSDs.

First, I looked at the number of pixels in the PSDs. The @2x PSD has four times as many pixels. The @3x has nine times as many. This directly affects memory usage, which itself goes up by four times and nine times! For our blank PSD, this went from 2.25M to 9M @2x, and then 20M for @3x.

Last but not least, it also needs to store all of these extra pixels. So, your file size increases as well. The size on disk went up by 280% for the @2x, and up by 590% for the @3x. Now, in our blank PSD this is only an increase from 60 to 358 KB. But once you’ve got some serious smart objects and layers going on, watch out! Let’s take the example of a PSD that is 100 MB. The @3x could be 590 MB. Then, multiply this by the 20 to 30 documents in your project!

From a performance standpoint, it’s very clear that working at Retina is going to cost you some serious RAM, CPU and disk usage.

Font Size

This issue becomes obvious pretty quickly when you’re working @2x or @3x. Suppose you’ve set out to make a text box with the font set to 16 pixels. But @2x this is 32 pixels, and @3x it’s 48 pixels! Not ideal, is it, having to constantly multiply by two or three? I don’t know about you, but I could do without the constant math. When I design, I want to know that 16 pixels is 16 pixels!

Font sizes become a game of multiplication when working at Retina
Font sizes become a game of multiplication when working at Retina scale.

Whole Pixels

Here’s another gotcha. What happens when you use 1px at @2x Retina? You guessed it, it becomes 0.5 pixels! And @3x it would be even worse, 0.33 pixels! So, you also have to constantly be aware that your sizes must be divisible by 2 or 3 when working in Retina. Another consideration comes into play if you ever use @2x with an odd pixel value. Let’s say you have a box that is 33 pixels wide; when converted back to @1x for build, this becomes 16.5 pixels! Yet another brain drain from working with Retina.

Illustration of how 1px would fall back from @1x to @3x
Illustration of how 1px would fall back from @1x to @3x.


This is another issue I’ve seen in the workplace: designers who have been working @2x or @3x and then begin to spec their design for developers. This usually involves documenting padding, widths, heights, font sizes and so on to ensure that the design is built well. But they forget they are at double or triple the resolution. So, the poor old developers get a complete spec in which they need to divide everything by 2 or 3! Not great, is it? Why make their life harder?

The other option is that the designer could save a new PSD at 50% or 33%, and then spec from that. But Retina-land looks like a one-way street. It’s hard to see through those blinkers.

The Good News

Don’t worry. After all the bad news, there is good news. While working on exporting icons for Android from Illustrator2, I discovered the world of density-independent pixels (DP). You can read a big long explanation on Android Developers about “Supporting Multiple Screens3,” or I can break it down for you real quick.

Basically a DP is the @1x pixel dimension or, in Android terms, the baseline density that is medium (MDPI). A density-independent pixel is the same as 1 physical pixel on a 160 DPI screen. The conversion is DP = pixel ÷ (DPI ÷ 160).

Let’s use our tablet example with a display of 2048 × 1536 pixels and 320 DPI. Running through the equation above, for the width we get 1024 DP, and for the height, 768 DP. This becomes our baseline resolution. And we also need to know the scale factor for image assets. That equation is: scale factor = DP × (DPI ÷ 160).

Using the width of 1024 DP and the device’s 320 DPI, if we run through this equation, we’d get a scale factor of 2. This means we’d need to output @2x assets for display on this device. It’s also pretty straightforward to see that 2048 ÷ 1024 = 2. So, don’t stress about the equations!

As another quick example, let’s take the Nexus 5. With its resolution of 1920 × 1080 pixels and 480 DPI, the DP units work out to be 640 × 360. Then, the scale factor comes out as @3x. So, now you know your DP dimensions and scale factor for assets.

Example of @1x to @3x DP units on various devices
Example of @1x to @3x DP units on various devices.

Once you have the DP dimensions, those become your PSD canvas size at 72 DPI. So, the answer to this mystery is to design @1x or in DP.

Some other devices don’t fit quite as nicely in these buckets, but you get the idea. The point here is that you are reducing to the baseline DP units and that you know the scale for exporting images.

“But I’m Stuck With @1x Images!”

Correct. And a @1x PNG would look horrible on a Retina device. What I needed was a way to work at @1x and with DP units, but export to @2x or @3x to preview on a device. My clients would accept nothing less. So, using my knowledge of exporting icons to various DPIs for Android, which I’ve covered elsewhere4, I applied the same technique to Photoshop.

The solution to my problem was a Photoshop script that exports any canvas to a @2x or @3x PNG for previewing on a device. Thus, one can keep working @1x and in DP and get all of the performance benefits and still get good-quality screens. Have your cake and eat it too, if you will.

Export Scripts

Here’s a quick rundown on how the script works:

  1. Your Photoshop canvas is resized to 200% or 300%.
  2. It creates a new folder named retina, where you PSD is saved.
  3. Then, it saves a PNG as <documentname>_2x.png or <documentname>_3x.png.
  4. It also clears and purges the history (“Undo”).
  5. Then, it saves the document exactly how it was before the script ran.

The scripts are very easy to modify. If you want to rename the folder or file name, you would just change the variables shown below:

var scale = "200%";
var folderName = "retina";
var extensionName = "_2x.png";


Download the scripts5 (ZIP, 4 KB) or view the project on GitHub6.

Once they’re downloaded and unzipped, copy the scripts and paste them into Photoshop’s Scripts folder: on Windows, Program FilesAdobeAdobe Photoshop CC 2014PresetsScripts, and on Mac, ApplicationsAdobePhotoshop CCPresetsScripts.

Please be aware this will vary according to your Photoshop version and operating system.

You’re almost done. Restart Photoshop, and the scripts will be ready to go. Now, anytime you want to export a PNG @2x or @3x, just click “File” → “Scripts” → “ExportDocument2xPNG” or “File” → “Scripts” → “ExportDocument3xPNG”:

Click File

Click “File.”

Go into Scripts and click ExportDocument2xPNG or ExportDocument3xPNG

Go into “Scripts” and click “ExportDocument2xPNG” or “ExportDocument3xPNG.”

You are now left with Retina images @2x or @3x, ready to put on the device.


Keep in mind a few things if you go for this approach. Use shapes and vectors wherever possible. They scale up perfectly, as do layer styles. Always use smart objects for any bitmaps. Keep in mind they will still need to be @2x or @3x inside.

Using this approach with Photoshop’s generator7 also works great. Any layers or layer groups can be exported @2x and @3x. And you will know they are pixel-perfect.

After producing the designs, I needed to create a clickable prototype for the client. I found that the exported PNGs work great with Marvel8. Marvel allows you to upload your images to Dropbox or through its own system. Once they’re uploaded, you can create hotspots and link to other screens. Then, you can view on a device to see your designs in action. The other bonus was that I used up less bandwidth and Dropbox space! Retina PSDs would have been superheavy!


If you use Illustrator, you can also work @1x and in DP. Make sure your document is set up for the web at 72 DPI. Then, you can manually export @2x and @3x PNG images by clicking “File” → “Export…” and selecting “PNG.” Click “Export.” Then, use the “Resolution” dropdown menu, click “Other” and input 144 PPI for @2x or 216 PPI for @3x. As with the Photoshop scripts, this can also be configured to be just one click!


Your other option is to use the increasingly popular app Sketch9. It comes all set up and ready to go @1x with a vector-based workflow. There is built-in support for exporting @2x and @3x from layers and slices. Just note the requirement of operating system. The creator, Bohemian Coding, is proud to develop exclusively for Mac, with no plans to support Windows or Linux (according to its FAQ10). It’s a great program if your workflow and business support it.

Thanks For Reading

Well, I hope this has been of use to you. It certainly has improved my workflow. Now I get superlight and fast PSDs that can be exported to Retina scale for viewing on a device. And the best part is that I am no longer maniacally zooming in and out or multiplying and dividing my pixels!

(da, al, ml)


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The post A Better Way To Design For Retina In Photoshop appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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10+ Free Photoshop Plugins for Web Designers

Using Photoshop extensions greatly increase its ability to help you design, steamline your workflow and make you be more productive. You can use a Photoshop plugin to speed up repetitive or tedious tasks such as:

There are plenty of other Photoshop extensions out there, and on this list are 12 awesome ones that help you manage your layers, colors, guides and more, to alleviate your workload and help you focus more on what requires your attention. If you know of more Photoshop plugins or extensions, do let us know in the comments.

1. Hexy

Hexy provides you a quicker way to obtain Hex and RGB color code. With this plugin, you can use the eyedropper tool and simply click on the color of the image you want to pick up, and Hexy automatically copies the color to the clipboard for you. That way you can immediately paste it to use it in CSS. It’s a handy tool for color-picking.

Compatibility: Photoshop CC 2014

2. Size Marks

SizeMark allows you to add labels of an object size or the distance between each object using a Marquee tool. SizeMark saves each label created in a new layer so you can customize it whichever way you need e.g. changing the color or adjusting its position. It is essential for when you need to translate PSD into a functional website.

Compatibility: Photoshop CC 2014

3. Pictura

Do you need to insert images in your design? You should install Pictura. Pictura allows you to search and add images to your Photoshop conveniently without leaving your workspace. When installed, Pictura will add a new panel on which you can search any image in any License you need, then insert it to your design immediately.

Compatibility: Photoshop CC 2014

4. Oven

Oven is a nifty plugin that helps you better manage your assets. Photoshop’s Generator allows us to export images in real time but you will have to rename all your layers in order to generate the image correctly and with a proper name. Oven eliminates that hassle.

Compatibility: Photoshop CC and CC 2014

5. Ink

Converting PSD to a functional website is always a tricky process. There is so much detail to examine such as layer styles, font size, font family used, element size and position against other elements. Ink will help you generate these information easily.

6. LayerCraft

LayerCraft is a Photoshop plugin that allows you to export layers into multiple scale. You can export images into @1x, @2x and even @3x (which is required in iOS devices with Retina screen), or mdpi and xhdpi for Android. If your daily job is creating UI for mobile interface, this is the tool that saves you a lot of time.

Compatibility: Photoshop CC and CC 2014

7. Composer

Composer improves the Photoshop Layer Comps feature. Rather than have multiple separate files to store every design revision, Layer Comps lets you store and manage them all in a single file. Layer Comps acts similar to a Smart Object. Each may contain a couple of properties such layer styles and blending modes. Composer, in this case, provides the easiest way to update these styles with just a single click.

Compatibility: Photoshop CS5, CS6, and CC

8. Velositey

Velocity is an extension that can help you build web design prototype quickly. Velocitey comes with a handful of preset templates including the grid. It also comes with common layout placeholders for the website header, content and footer. You can add all these components with just a click. It’s literally a time saver (and it’s free).

Compatibility: Photoshop CS6, CC, CC 2014

9. Duplllicator

Duplllicator provides the fastest way to duplicate Photoshop layers or groups. You can specify the number of copies you want and then set the vertical and horizontal spacing of the duplicated layer.

Compatibility: Photoshop CC and CC 2014

10. QuickGuide

QuickGuide helps you draw guidelines in Photoshop. This plugin provides 12 presets for easy addition of guides on one side, two adjacent sides, or all sides of each object. Other features it carries include toggle locking guides and visibility, deleting entire guides or selected ones, and copy-pasting guides.

Compatibility: Photoshop CC 2014

11. Lorem Ipsum Generator

Lorem Ipsum Generator will generate random words or phrases. Rather than having to copy it from some other place, you can generate Lorem Ipsum right from your Photoshop workspace. A couple of options are provided to customize the output. This plugin is also available for Illustrator, InDesign and Dreamweaver.

Compatibility: Photoshop CS5, CS6 and CC

12. Lorem Picsum

Lorem Picsum generates random images rather than text. The image provided is derived from popular movie and TV shows such as Futurama, Rio, The Simpsons, Finding Nemo, and UP.

Compatibility: Photoshop CS6 and CC

20 Pattern Tutorials For Your Future Designs

Different graphic and web design projects require different design elements and patterns are just one of them. They can be used as a background or foreground in various situations, depending on your needs. You can even use a pattern that you’ve created yourself to add a personal touch to your work.

Today, I’d like to share 20 pattern tutorials for Photoshop and Illustrator that you can use in your future designs. The best part about these tutorials is that you can set your imagination free and customize each pattern as you like. From nature-inspired patterns to more abstract themed ones, there’s plenty for you to choose from. Some of these tutorials require 2-3 hours of your time but it’s definitely worth it.

Create a Summer Underwater Seamless Pattern in Adobe Illustrator. You can channel your excitement for summer with this adorable summer-inspired underwater seamless pattern that features cute marine animals.

Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop tutorial: Design damask patterns for wallpaper and homewares. Steven Bonner is an expert in repeating pattern. In this lesson, he guides us on how to create a damask pattern in Photoshop and Illustrator.

Quick Tip: How to Create a Quick and Easy Diagonal Pattern. Creating diagonal patterns can be a bit of a challenge but with this manual you’ll be able to do it easily.

Geometric Pattern in Illustrator. Take a look at this tutorial if you’d like to learn how to create a simple vector geometric pattern in Illustrator. You can play around with colors to customize this too.

Adobe Illustrator tutorial: Create quirky repeating patterns. Create a repeating pattern that looks like a map with Illustrator. This tutorial is quite long and time-consuming, but the beautiful end result makes it worthwhile.

How to Create a Spring Floral Pattern in Adobe Illustrator. This spring floral pattern would make a classy background for a wedding blog. Follow the tutorial if you’d like to recreate this.

Adobe Illustrator & InDesign tutorial: Design a geometric pattern for a poster. This awesome vivid abstract pattern seems like a tunnel to nowhere. By the end of this gudie, you’ll know how to turn it into a retro poster.

Adobe Illustrator tutorial: Use Illustrator’s Live Trace to create a vector pattern illustration. This pattern is totally mind-blowing. The tutorial uses the method of tracing photos to create this surreal and endless pattern.

How to Make a Quick Kawaii Candy Corn Pattern for Halloween. Who says Halloween has to be over? Use the Pen Tool, the Blob Brush Tool, and Pattern Options to create this sweet candy corn pattern.

Adobe Illustrator tutorial: Master Illustrator CS6′s new Pattern tool. In this guide, you’ll see how to use the Photoshop CS6 Pattern Tool to make repeating elements inside vector scenes.

Creating geometric patterns in Illustrator. Geometric patterns are still pretty trendy. Follow this tutorial to create a colorful cube pattern.

Create a Sweet Honeycomb Pattern in Adobe Illustrator. This honeycomb pattern looks realistic doesn’t it? Maybe you should try it out for yourself…

Illustrator tutorial – How to create diagonal seamless pattern. There are many uses for a diagonal pattern, so this is useful for any kind of graphic design project.

Create an Abstract Geometric Background with AI & PS. You can create this simple abstract geometric background with ease using this tutorial.

How to Create an Easy Geometric Aztec Pattern in Inkscape. This manual will show you how to create an Aztec inspired pattern in Inkscape.

How To Create an Easy Abstract Blur Pattern Design. In this tutorial, you’ll learn the process of creating an amazing geometric gradient pattern in Illustrator and Photoshop.

How to Create Web Pattern with Custom Shape in Photoshop. Use Photoshop custom shapes to create this interesting pattern.

Create a Colorful Geometric Pattern in Photoshop. Here’s another cool geometric pattern in this collection you can try out.

Quick Tip: Create a Complex Pattern by Nudging Smart Objects. Master the repeating pattern technique with this cool tutorial. It showcases how to create the complex pattern using smart objects and the nudging technique with your arrow keys.

How to Create a Bright Geometric Circle Pattern in Adobe Illustrator. This tutorial will teach you how to create a geometric circle pattern in Illustrator.

More Photoshop Tutorials

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)


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)


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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 »