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.
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.
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:
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.
Let’s take another look at how some filters work together to create custom textures. The image below shows a basic example of this.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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:
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.
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.
Take the image below. The glossy texture on the paint was created with minimal effort using the “Blend If” sliders.
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.
Tip: When using the “Blend If” sliders, hold Option or Alt while adjusting the sliders to separate them, making for a smoother blend.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Adobe Photoshop is a very popular graphics editing program that comes with a ton of features – way too many to name. It’s hard to imagine that anyone could even need more features. Yet Photoshop supports extensions, which allows you to add even more useful features to the program. Some extensions add a single feature, while others add a multiple amount of new features.
It’s not necessarily used by just web and graphic designers but can also be utilized by any creative out there, ranging from photographers to bloggers, as it’s quite a handy tool to have. Have a look at our list featuring 18 of the best free Adobe Photoshop extensions that will be useful for all creatives.
This extension gives you instant access to free and premium design content from Creative Market, which is a large community for independent creatives around the world. Each week you can get free graphics, templates, fonts, brushes and more.
With BlendMe.in you can browse through thousands of icons, vectors and other assets provided for free under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. When you find something you like, you can easily drag it into your Photoshop composition for use.
It’s often quite a challenge removing noise, such as unwanted dots and unnecessary pixels of color, from images. This extension simplifies that task by removing noise from DSLR (digital single-lense reflex) images and film scans. It’s basically a filter that you can add to Photoshop, and it comes with Smooth Area Detector.
Photoshop comes with a large selection of fonts by default, but with the addition of the Fonts.com Web Fonts extension you can get access to thousands more. The extension lets you preview and try out Web fonts within your Photoshop projects. You will need a Fonts.com account to use this extension.
Natural Media Toolkit gives you access to a versatile collection of natural media, texturing and product tools. You can do things like create documents that you look like real paper, use realistic watercolor brush and blending tools, add dimension with texturing tools, add guides to your projects, and much more.
This extension is good for photographs that have a lot of white in them as it helps to balance out the white level. As said by the creator, “…highlight recovery offers the possibility of increasing dynamic range compared to no highlight recovery.”
This easy-to-use extension lets you update multiple layer comps in just one click. First select any layer(s), then select any layer comp(s), finally use one of the four commands to update the selected layer comps. The four commands are: update layer style, update position, update visibility and update all.
Here’s another Web font extension. It gives you access to thousands of WebINK Web fonts from foundries like MoreType, OurType, TypeTogether and more. You can also connect to Google Fonts and get access to 1100+ more font families. You will need a WebINK account in order to use this extension.
If you use CSS3 in your designs, you’ll love this cloud-based extension. It lets you convert your layers to actual CSS3 code right from Photoshop. All you have to do is select the layer(s) and click a button to convert them. It’s extremely easy to use.
Sometimes changing something as small as the tint of an image can make a huge difference. This extension does just that. You can add artistic effects using sepia tone, warm/cool filters, bleach bypass and more. You can also convert images to black and white and there are sliders that let you manually change things like the tint strength, tint hue, brightness, contrast and saturation.
VirtualPhotographer is the ultimate extension for applying professional looking styles and effects to your images, in just one click. You can also make adjustments to the color, film grain, focus, brightness, ambiance and contrast. Plus, it lets you add high quality effects, convert images to black and white, create stunning portrait effects and more.
Similar to VirtualPhotographer, Perfect Effects 4 lets you enhance your images with styles and effects. You can choose from over 70 effects, textures, borders and more. This tool can actually be used as a standalone program, as well as an extension for Photoshop. In just one click, you can add any effect, and you can even combine effects to create unique looks.
If you like to use guides in Photoshop (ie. for wireframing or tables) this extension is for you. You can use it to create columns, rows, midpoints and baselines. You can also save frequently used guide sets for easy access.
Cut&Slice Me is an advanced extension that you lets you cut and export your assets to different devices in png format in the size of you want. In addition to exporting to your computer, you can also export to iOS and Android devices.
The Mr. Stacks extension is a script that can create layer comp storyboards, stacks and PDF files in seconds. This is great for client presentations since it provides a single banner for them to look at, as opposed to you having to switch between multiple items.
Photoshop Tones Action is a simple Photoshop extension that can take a single color and create tones (shades and tints) from it. This is really useful for creating color palettes or for finding different variation of colors for a design scheme.
Long Shadow Generator is a Photoshop extension that can create extremely long shadows in a single click. You can play around with it to create really neat effects. The plugin allows you to customize the length and opacity level, choose black or white, change the angle, and choose flatten or gradient.
Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments any other free Photoshop extensions that you think should be on this list.
Due to the popularity of digital cameras and mobile phones with cameras, there are more people who crave the capability of editing their images to their taste. Adobe Photoshop is certainly the best photo-editing application available, but it’s also quite expensive.
It’s often a requirement for professional designers but not the best deal for editing or enhancing your home photos. Don’t worry though as there are plenty of free options available for Windows users. From simple editing to adding great effects to your photos, there are lots of things the followng 12 Photoshop alternatives can help you with. If you know of more great software like these, let us know in the comments.
Adobe Photoshop Express for Windows 8 enables photo magic at your fingertips. It’s a small pack of essential everyday photo-editing tools from Adobe to help you create better-looking pictures. It has many exciting features to enhance your photos and allows easy touch-ups through functions like crop, rotate, flip, brightness, etc.
PC Image Editor
PC Image Editor is a solid but simple image-editing application. It’s built for beginners and professionals who like to customize or enhance photos with minimum effort. The super intuitive interface brings many editing tools and options such as unique filters, crop and rotate functions, colors and image adjustment features just to name a few.
Magix Photo Designer
Magix Photo Designer is a free alternative to classic image editing programs. It lets you edit and optimize your digital picture thus making it easy even for amateurs. With just a few clicks, turn your photos into paintings or fun caricatures. It comes with handy features such as quick optimization, photo effects, collage maker and you can even make panoramas.
Funny Photo Maker
Funny Photo Maker is the best photo editor for enhancing digital photos and making funny pictures. There are several options and tools for customizing your images. Some of its features include artistic photo effects, decorative frames, funny picture templates and various other editing tools. It supports most popular image formats.
Picasa HD provides a more powerful and vivid image viewing experience. It lets you browse your Picasa albums and photos in high resolution with beautiful, full screen slideshows and detailed information. Use it to access and manage your Picasa albums, and also add, delete, search and share the photos. Only for Windows 8.
PhotoPad Image Editor
PhotoPad Image Editor is an easy digital photo-editing application which brings a remarkable set of features and support for all popular image formats. It comes packaged with basic editing tools, dazzling photo effects, photo adjustment tools and various other capabilities. It also allows you to make stunning photo collages and mosaics.
Photopus is a fantastic batch photo editor which eases the customization of a large collection of images. It’s a powerful application with user-friendly interface and lots of options to edit photos with desired customization. It comes with a watermarker, image transformation tools and an image converter among other things.
Pos Free Photo Editor
Pos Free Photo Editor is a simple but feature-rich batch digital photo and image editing application. It lets you enhance, edit, print and manipulate pictures easily to create eye-catching graphics. It comes with various basic and advanced image enhancing tools and functions, special photo effects, rich text tools and supports many picture file types.
SuperPhoto for Windows 8 turns your digital images into awesome-looking photos. Your photos can become incredible art pieces with outstanding photo effects. It’s feature-packed with 100+ cool effects to enhance your photos. Filters, combos, textures and patterns are among some of its supported editing features.
PhotoEffects, as its name suggests, is a powerful photo editor for easy and quick photo editing on-the-go. It comes with a simple, clean and beautiful user interface with lots of built-in image manipulation tools. It offers you features such as photo effects, image filters, color and contrast, cosmetic tools and image sharing options. Only available for Windows 8.
Photo Booth Pro
Photo Booth Pro lets you take your photos through your webcam with special photo effects. It comes with various photo and camera effects, a snap timer and even photo sharing options. It runs on Windows 8.
Viscom Photo is an easy to use batch photo editor and collage maker. It comes with drag and drop features, Office 2007-like clean user interface and support for reading and writing various image file formats. Some of its features include an easy collage maker, background templates, image editing in batch mode etc.
Cutting and slicing in the design process is undoubtedly time-consuming work. Moreover, it becomes more and more complicated when you have to cut and slice hundreds of layers in different scale.
Of course, there are copy merged, export layers to files or slice features in photoshop. But those approaches have not helped much in making the cutting and slicing process faster. What you need is a plugin.
Cut&Slice Me is a Photoshop extension for simplifying the process of cutting and slicing design. You can then export your layers for iPhone, Android or Desktop devices. The exported files come with various scales and resolutions as well, such as retina for iPhone or HDPI, LDPI, MDPI and XHDPI for Android.
Cut&Slice Me Installation
To use the Cut&Slice Me plugin, you need at least Adobe Photoshop CS6/CC installed on your machine. Download the plugin (and the sample PSD file that we’ll be working on later).
Once your download has finished, double click the CutAndSliceMe.zxp file and installation will automatically begin by Adobe Extension Manager. Follow the instructions and restart your Photoshop if it was already open.
To make the plugin visible in your Photoshop right panel, simply go to Window > Extensions > Cut and Slice me.
Cut&Slice Me is easy to use but you have to do a bit of work first to make sure the plugin works efficiently during cutting and slicing.
First, you have to organize your layer objects into folders as Cut&Slice Me checks only group names. You also need to add the “@” symbol at the end of the layer group name you want to export.
Slicing Defined Size
All unnecessary transparent pixels are removed in the exporting process. To keep the exported file in yrou desired size:
1. Make sure you have checked the ‘Snap Vector Tools and Transforms to Pixel Grid’ setting in Edit > Preferences > General.
2. Then, create a rectangular vector layer for the size you want.
3. Place this shape at the very top of the group, so it will tell the plugin the area size you wish to export in. Lastly, name the shape “#”.
For simplicity’s sake, we’ll only use half of the design for exporting. The following screenshot is a comparison of how the layers are structured before and after they are ready for use.
On the left (in red) are the original layers. After rearranging and renaming the layers’ states, we arrive at what is on the right (in blue).
As the design template will be used for the web, in the plugin panel, choose the device mode for desktop (monitor icon). Hit Cut All assets.
Now, the defined asset had been sliced successfully, like so.
Note that, if you are slicing your own design, you need to have it in the highest resolution since final images are for xhdpi in Android and retina in Apple devices. This plugin carries out the full resolution of the design then scales it down for export into different sizes.
No time is wasted when you cut and slice using this Photoshop plugin. With a little bit more discipline in layer organization, even complex designs can be sliced with precision and ease.