PhotoKeys for iPhone

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PhotoKeys for iPhone [iTunes App Store link] is an interesting app. In short, it turns your iPhone into a small touch screen to access the Photoshop tool palette—Move, Marquee, Lasso, Magic Wand and so on—as well as other common functions such as Copy, Paste, Undo, Save, etc. You get the idea.

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Let’s get the first question out of the way: why? Well, I can see a few situations making this app useful: laptop users and graphics tablet users who don’t sit hunched slavishly over their Wacom all day (like I do). Many times I have been using my Wacom with my MacBook, and lurching back over to the keyboard to swap tools with the keyboard can ruin the creative flow. Yeah, I’m a keyboard junkie.

After downloading the app to your iPhone, you’ll need to install server software on your Mac or PC (Mac version—using Photoshop CS4—tested for this review). The server software is free, but of course useless unless you’ve purchased the $4.99 iPhone app as well. Also, you’ll need to have your iPhone set up to access the same local wi-fi network as the computer you are running Photoshop on. After installing, Mac users will find a new item in their menubar, and I assume PC users will find a new icon in their taskbar tray. Without configuring anything, and also without relaunching Photoshop, PhotoKeys sprung to action without a hitch.

Tapping tools in PhotoKeys resulted in an instantaneous switch within Photoshop. Impressive.

The tool icons on the ‘Tools’ screen are reminiscient enough of the Photoshop analogs that even a casual Photoshop user will have no trouble determining which button does what. At first raw glance, the ‘Edit’ screen was less intuitive as far as which buttons performed which actions. Some were obvious enough, but others not so much. I jumped in to this demo without reading any documentation to see how far I could get without needing to do so. I like to see how intuitive software is without having to read a manual or a getting started guide.

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The third screen—’Arrows’—is basically a giant set of arrow key buttons. I found a bit of a lag when tapping the arrows repeatedly. The Arrows screen offers three modes: Nudge, Move and Clone. All worked as expected by their names, albeit the lag mentioned above. The lag seems to be more pronounced by a repeated tapping of the arrow keys as opposed to just holding down the direction you want to move the layer. Also, I couldn’t really determine a difference between the speed or distance of the Nudge versus the Move mode—both seemed too slow to me. Also, one needs to already have the Move tool selected, and there is no way to activate the Move tool from the ‘Arrows’ screen. I think a Move tool button on this screen would be a welcome and handy addition.

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One thing that as a Photoshop CS4 user I have come to love is the “Spring-Loaded Keys” feature. If you aren’t already aware, Photoshop CS4 allows you to not only switch tools using single-letter keys on the keyboard (M for Move tool, B for the Brush tool and so on), but also to temporarily access these tools by holding down the respective key. Just as the Spacebar for time immemorial has allowed you to access the Hand tool and then bounce right back to the previous tool you were using, now all tools have that feature—just hold down the key, as opposed to tapping it to do so. A tap with still switch to the tool if desired. An extremely handy new feature in Photoshop CS4. Unfortunately, PhotoKeys does not offer any such functionality. I’m not sure if this is even feasible in PhotoKeys, but for me it would be a must-have.

PhotoKeys also seems to only offer the “standard” tool and edit set of Photoshop—in other words, the tools that are most common with most versions of Photoshop. You won’t find new CS4 tools, such as my fave—the Rotate View tool.

Omnipresent on all PhotoKeys’ screens is the “Zoom Bar” at the top of the iPhone window. this is probably my favorite feature, as it gives one instant gesture-based access to the Zoom tool at any time. It works smoothly and flawlessly. Very cool.

As someone who primarily works in Photoshop on a desktop computer extensively using keyboard shortcuts, I’m not sure PhotoKeys fits into my particular workflow. That said, the execution of this app is impressive and well-done. If anything in this review caught your attention as useful or handy for your workflow, I’d have to say PhotoKeys would be a worthwhile purchase.

80’s Style Design Using Photoshop

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The 80’s have always had an iconic impact on Pop Culture. I have been seeing a lot of 80’s inspired designs on the internet, but never found a tutorial. So, here’s a simple tutorial inspired by the 80’s. This is just a basic design to get you started, and Adobe Photoshop is all that’s required (and very few stock images). And of course, a lot of modifications can be done with this technique.

Final Preview:

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Part 1: Creating The Main Text

Taking a canvas size of 1900 X 1200. Of course you could pick any size according to your preference, but make sure the resolution is decent enough.

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Fill the background layer BLACK.

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With the Text Tool type whatever you want the text to be. I chose “Leave, but don’t leave me”, from a Pink Floyd song. “But don’t leave me” is coming later. Right now we’ll work on “Leave”. The font I have used is Futura Heavy.

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  1. Right-click on the text layer, go to Blending Options to create Layer styles.
  2. On the Layer style box, go to Gradient Overlay, tick it.
  3. On the Gradient Overlay, we open the Gradient editor and make the New Custom Gradient as above. I have chosen shades of black, white and grey so that we can easily modify the colors later.

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Then apply Stroke, and in the fill type, set it to Gradient, and choose the simple Black to White Gradient preset.

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Next, make a new layer above the text layer, name it Gradient 1 (or anything you please). Fill it with a gradient. I used real bright colors, in honor of the 80’s.

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The ‘Gradient 1’ layer is set to Soft Light mode, with an opacity of 72% (you can experiment with the modes, and opacity).

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The above image shows you are current progress. We are beginning to have the 80’s looks to it.

Part 2: The Background

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Next we are going to add a nice texture to the image. I have used a paper texture. You can find it here.

Select all (Ctrl/Cmd+A), copy the texture (Ctrl/Cmd+C) and paste it (Ctrl/Cmd+V) on your work. The Blend Mode is ‘Vivid Light’, and you can see we already have a great effect going.

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Now it’s time to create a new brush to get a cloud effect; open up the Brush Engine, and use the following settings:

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It’s a very useful brush, and can be used to make clouds in other work as well.

Now make a new layer “Clouds”, and paint with the brush you just created. Add a bit of Inner Shadow, to add more depth to the clouds.

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Now change the order of layers, bring the ‘Clouds’ layer just above the Background. Also, the opacity of the ‘Clouds’ layer is Changed to 56%.

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Now Ctrl/Cmd+Click the ‘Leave’ (Text) Layer, which selects the region of the text, and then go to the ‘Gradient 1’ layer and add a layer mask. This masks of the gradient from the rest of the image and leaves it on the Text.

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Then we create a New Layer, Name it ‘Clouds 1’, Above the ‘Clouds’ layer. Make sure your foreground and background colors are Black & White, Go to Filter -> Render -> Clouds.

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Keep the overlay mode as Vivid Light. Then in the Blending mode, add a Gradient Overlay, and use the following 2 colors for the gradient: #00fff0 and #e303bb.

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Next we will add some stars to the background.

We now make a new layer above the ‘Cloud 1’ layer and fill it with Black. Then we go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise. Use Gaussian, Monochromatic, 10 % amount. There are various ways of making a star filled sky, this is the one I chose.

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Next, choose Image -> Adjustment -> Levels and use the following values for Inputs: 65, 1.00, 99.

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I have renamed the layer to Stars, and the blending mode is set as Screen.

Next we’ll add bigger glowing stars. Make the following brush using the brush engine:

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Paint with varying brush sizes. Use the bracket keys ([ and ])to change the size quickly. Then add a Layer mask, and paint with black, using the same brush. This gets rid of some extra stars.

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Now with a brush of 0% hardness and size of around 300, paint along the edges and get rid of some more stars, also add some Gaussian Blur if required.

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Part 3: The 80’s Twinkle

It’s very simple to create the twinkle used in so many 80’s posters.

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  • Take a soft brush, and just click once with it on a new layer, to create a soft circle.
  • Duplicate the layer, and go to Filter -> Blur -> Motion Blur, Angle 0 degree, Distance around 46 pixels.
  • Keep duplicating and adding motion blur 3 more times.
  • Then merge all these layers (5 of them). Go to Free Transform, and stretch it, it widen the glowing object.
  • Finally, duplicate the merged layer, Rotate by 90 degrees.

We have the twinkle now. We merge both layers, and name the new layer ‘Twinkle’.

Now we can use the ‘Twinkle’ layer where needed.

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Duplicate the ‘Twinkle’ layer over the Text layer (rotated, transformed etc.) and place them on the text. This makes it shiny and 80’s!

Part 4: The shapes

Create a new layer for the shapes.

Using the polygon lasso tool, and create a selection in the shape shown above. Select the Gradient tool, and use a Gradient of color White (foreground color) and transparent. We fill the selection with this gradient.

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Next, Duplicate the shape and shift it a bit. (Press Alt/Option and drag the shape). Merge the layers, and duplicate them. Then we flip them horizontally and create and new shape.

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Orient the shapes in different directions and places, as shown below:

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Then apply a Gradient Overlay, using Blending options on the few layers, with Hard Light as the Gradient Overlay Blend mode.

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So, this is how it looks so far (below). We are almost done now. You can leave it right here, or make a few more adjustments.
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I add the new Text layer, “But Don’t Leave Me”, and apply a stroke via the Blending options.

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If you think the colors are too bright, you can add a Hue/Saturation mask on the top of the layer stack, and lower the saturation to somewhere around -15.

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The final image:

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Hope you had a lot of fun going through this tutorial. A big thanks to the guys at GoMedia, for making this possible. Cheers!

Arsenal: T-Shirt Templates, Vol. 2

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This second volume of the Go Media Arsenal T-Shirt Templates comes in response to popular demand and features natural, hand-created drop shadows & HDR photography for smoother shading layers. Files are in PSD format w/ layers and masks, pixel dimensions are 1200×1300.

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  • Preset Shirt Colors
  • Photos of both Fronts and Backs
  • Flat and loosely-wrinkled versions
  • Easy to use clipping masks in place
  • Smooth, realistic lighting, drop shadow & shading effects

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Also available is a new set of Urban T-Shirt Templates featuring baggy, loose and flat-pressed t-shirt templates.

Photoshop Quick Tip: Finding Layers Quickly

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Photoshop Quick Tip: Finding Layers Quickly

Now this tip might be total common sense to some, but I’m going to put it out there for those not aware. When you’re in Photoshop and you have a document, like a web mock up, with a ton of layers it can be hard to find the specific layer you are looking for.

If you find yourself in this little dilemma, click on the selection tool at the top of the toolbar. Right underneath the task bar you should see the option “Auto-Select” with a dropdown for Layer or Group. Make sure this is selected and then click on the item in the layer you are looking for. If you have Layer selected, it will take you right to that layer in the Layers palette and highlight it. If you have Group selected, it will take you directly to the group that layer is in and highlight it in the Layers palette.

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It must be noted that when using this technique you’ll need to click on the actual pixels in order to interact with the layer. Without Auto-Select activated, the Move tool will move the pixels in a layer regardless of where one clicks. With Auto-Select activated, you’ll need to click on actual pixels to do this, very similar to how one interacts with object in Adobe Illustrator. If you stop and think about it for a second, it has to work this way.

NOTE: Right next to the Auto-select checkbox is a checkbox for “Show Transform Controls”. This will put a small transform control box around the layer you are selecting so you can see it better—similar to using the Edit -> Free Transform command. It is also really helpful for changing the size of objects in a layer.

Polishing Your PSD: 3 Friendly Reminders for Front-End Sanity

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So you’re a visual designer who wants to suck up to a certain front-end hat guy. Wouldn’t it be a great gesture to clean-house and organize your file so the slicer doesn’t ‘slip’ and accidentally butcher your brilliant work?

Some firms carefully distingush the roles of visual designer and front-end developer; other firms have that one ‘web guy’ who also IDs as the creative talent, the Flash programmer, and the IT go-to (and secretly, the ping-pong master champion). Although our titles are more for show than showdown here at Go Media, there are those projects where designers and coders remain very separate.

If you wear the hat of front-end web developer on web projects, nothing is more frustrating than firing up someone else’s PSD file and finding a sloppy, steaming pile of Illustrator-imported poo. If your visual designer happened to be miles away on vacation doing something mildly exotic (or maybe just slightly dangerous), you’d be stuck with a razor-sharp deadline for valid markup and an endless sea of layers labeled ‘<Path>’ and ‘<Object>’. Blurg.

Take heed these gentle reminders for a polished file, and possibly (standards help you) a steady-handed co-worker:

1. Back It Up, Merge It Down

Each designer has their method, and it’s only madness when someone else messes with a sacred system. When organizing a Photoshop file for the slicer-and-dicer, create a back-up of your original for safe-keeping. Merge any monstrous layers down for the fresh file — this lightens the work-load for yourself and creates a cozier file for front-end guy. To ensure someone’s slicing the right PSD, label files something that communicates finality, such as “Homepage_Final.psd” or “ContactUs_Apocalypse.psd”.

2. Think <structure>

Even if you don’t get off by looking at the code (you know its bad when Ctrl + U is your favorite browser key combo), most visual designers have an inspired sense of website structure. Why not use this understanding to organize the layers in your file? When you think about it, most websites have an identifiable Header (top), Content area (middle), and Footer (bottom). You can also usually spot ‘Main’ or ‘Sub Navigation’ within a design. Chances are, these are the areas your HTML/CSS guy will be looking for. So for Meyer’s sake: next time you’re tidying up a design, man up and create some folders! Front-end guy certainly isn’t scared of them, and he’ll appreciate the effort.

3. Label Layers, Adjust Your Junk

Don’t just slap a few folders into your file and call it quits — get some names on those mother lovin’ layers! You don’t have to get carried away; a little labeling goes a long way. This is especially true for imported Illustrator files. Solid names are ones that not only distinguish the layer, but reference the general parts of the website. For example: you’re designing a page with elements collectively making up the background for footer navigation. You might stuff the elements in a folder titled ‘Footer’ (doing this obviously tells you where in the design these layers are), and label them “Background Bottom”, “Background Top” and “Background Overlay”.

Photoshop Tip: Sharpening with Photoshop’s High-Pass Filter

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Greetings. Have you ever been working on a project and needed to give an image a little boost? Whether it needs a bit more contrast, or needs to be sharper, I always find that the High Pass filter can give me a more dynamic result without spending too much time.

The High Pass filter should be used as an Overlay on top of a merged image. To see how it works, open a photo. I’m opening this awesome photo of me smashing sandwiches into my face, but you can open whatever photo you like. Press Ctrl/Command + J to duplicate the background (great keyboard shortcut). Now, let’s High Pass this thing.

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The High Pass filter is located at the bottom of the filter list under “Other.” The radius dictates what detail is omitted from the image. Play with it and figure out how much of the image you want to sharpen. I’m leaving it at the default of 10.

Now set the layer to “Overlay.” If you feel there’s just way too much sharpening for your taste, mess with the opacity. Here’s my finished image. It’s not too different from the original ( which wasn’t of the best quality to begin with), but the contrast is more dynamic, and there is some additional depth added through the sharpening.

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Here are some additional examples:
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Lineform 1.5.1 (Mac Vector Graphics Software) Released + Discount Code

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Freeverse has just released Lineform 1.5.1. Lineform is a low-cost vector graphics software program for the Mac, for those designers out there on a budget.

Here’s the new stuff:

  • Fixed Undo to include function names
  • Fixed text fill editing bug
  • Fixed reflection filter color bug
  • Improved layer locking
  • Fixed tool handle display bug
  • Fixed text editing background bug
  • Fixed erroneous canvas shifting
  • Improved gradient behavior
  • Improved performance with many objects on canvas
  • Improved copy/paste of multiple objects
  • Improved naming of objects
  • Fixed copy/paste display bug
  • New Lineform Clips option available in the Media Browser, Includes a number of vector clips to use in your documents

Head over to TUAW.com to get a discount code bringing Lineform’s cost to only $49.95—30% off the regular price of $79.95.

10 PC Productivity Tools for Graphic Designers

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If you’re a PC user, reading George Coghill’s fantastic “10 Great Time Saving Mac Utilities for the Graphic Artist” may have caused a twinge of jealousy.

Many of these programs have been part of my workflow for a year or more. Several others are great suggestions from fellow Go Medians.

Okay then, let’s start off with one of my all-time favorites!

1. Thumbview • Free!

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Last summer I shared some tips for getting the most out of for Adobe Bridge and it’s handy ability to show live previews of all types of Adobe file. However, it’s no secret that Bridge uses a ton of RAM, and it may not even be part of your workflow.

Enter Thumbview – a small app that brings thumbnail previews back to PSDs in Windows Explorer (sorry Illustrator fans, I’m still looking for an .Ai equivalent).

Thumbview is especially handy in the Photoshop’s Open/Save dialog.

2. FolderMenu • Free!

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When Microsoft released Windows Vista one of my favorite improvements was Explorer’s customizable “Favorite Places” panel; Suddenly clicking 5 or 10 times from the open/save dialog became a thing of the past. Well, the AutoHotKey powered script (more on AHK later) FolderMenu is a supercharged “Favorite Places”.

FolderMenu creates customized a list of frequent folders that appears at the tip of the mouse with a quick middle click. And yes, the menu works in pesky open/save dialogs, which will save precious minutes of the workday.

FolderMenu can display shortcuts to your most frequent files, programs, and registry keys.

Power user tip: Ctrl+clicking a folder in FolderMenu will display a list of child folders, bypassing explorer all together! Using this tip, you can navigate right to the final file without ever opening a window.

3. PrtScr • Free!

PrtScr is a remarkably free screen capture & annotation tool that stands up to it’s commercial competitors quite well. PrtScr has easy but powerful caption & save options, annotation, multiple-monitor support, and image scaling.

4. Ditto • Free!

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Ditto is lightweight free software that gives you quick access to recently copied text and images.

With Ditto you’ll be able to copy multiple fields from the source window by repeatedly hitting ctrl+c to load up Ditto’s history. Then in the target window, you can quickly activate copied items & paste them into separate fields.

Honestly, Ditto is easier to use than explain. If your fingers spend a lot of time hovering over Ctrl+C, then give Ditto a try.

5. Autohotkey • Free!

Autohotkey is is the six-cylinder engine powering a few of the productivity tools I’m discussing today. It’s a scripting language for Windows that gives less technical folks like me the power to write time-saving scripts.

Spend a few minutes reading the AutoHotKey quickstart guide, and you’ll be well on your way to writing a script. For example, a script can handle text expansion, or open multiple programs and close all other programs with a key combination.

6. Notepad2 • Free!

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Notepad2 is a no-frills, fast, and free text editor with syntax highlighting. It’s also the editor of choice for Dave Romsey, Go Media’s code-zone crusader.

7. Onenote • $99

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Onenote may be the most forward-thinking software Microsoft has released in years. It’s an organic re-creation of a spiral notebook, but with all the power & usability expected from modern computing.

In less words, Onenote is a second brain: a repository of snippets, tips, links, images, outlines, to-do lists, research, screen-grabs, code – you name it. Give the trial version a test run.

8. Multimon Taskbar • Free!

Setting up dual (or heck, triple!) monitors is a great way to boost computing productivity, especially as a designer. Nonetheless, the more pixels there are to manage, the more crowded the taskbar becomes.

MultiMon helps pixel overload by spreading the taskbar across multiple monitors. The nicest feature is that the second monitor’s taskbar shows only the active windows that appear on that monitor!.

9. Taskbar Shuffle • Free!

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In a similar vein, Taskbar shuffle addresses many common complaints waged against the Windows Taskbar. Taskbar shuffle let’s you drag ‘n drop taskbar buttons (of course), but it can also close a program or window with a middle click, like a Firefox tab.
Image courtesy of PC World.

10. CCleaner • Free!

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Gina Tripani of Lifehacker wrote that CCleaner “Decrapifies your PC”, allowing it to run faster & smoother. Over time, a PC collects a fair amount of junk files & registry keys that can lead to sluggish performance. CCleaner is no-nonsense, spyware free, and does its job very well.

Bonus: Zune Theme for XP • Free!

Occasionally I become bored using a PC, even if it is tweaked out & running smoothly. If you’re tired of the playground blue or dull olive XP themes, try out the official Zune Theme from Microsoft.

Win A Free License For Photoshop Brush Management App Brush Pilot!

Introduction to 2.5D Compositing Tutorial [Video]

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I am sure that all of you at one time or another have experimented in After Effects’ 3D world, and for beginners it can be quite the concept to wrap your head around. Along with being able to animate in 2D space, you can actually manipulate, move and place objects in Z space as well as the X and Y plane. Z space is measured by distance to and from the camera, so if you were to move something back in Z space it would appear further away than something further up on the Z plane.

Using this placement, you can rotate and place flat layers to create shapes and objects such as stages, streets, and even houses, given you know how to position correctly and efficiently. This is by no means a 3D modeling technique, just a little trick of the trade to spice up camera movements, and give your animations a sense of depth by placing objects in 3D space, and moving past them—like you would if you were to actually create the camera movement in real life.

Taking from this lesson in the 3D world of After Effects, I hope that you can delve deeper into the depths and create some amazing 2.5D animations on your own. Anything is really possible, and if you were able to utilize After Effects CS4’s new Photoshop Live 3D features you could add some 3D objects as well into your scenes to make them seem even more realistic such as cars parked on the street, 3D trees or even basketball hoops.

This was really created to be a primer to introduce you into the basics of After Effect’s 3D system, and to show you just how easy it is once you know the basics of how it works. If you liked this tutorial—or would like to see similar tutorials—please leave a comment, as well as if you have created anything using this technique! I would love to see what you have learned!

Brush Pilot: Quickly Browse Your Photoshop Brushes

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For all you brush junkies out there: Brush Pilot is a brand-new piece of Mac OS X software for previewing Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Elements Brushes (.abr files), Brush Pilot allows you to instantly preview your brushes without having to load them into Photoshop.

Brush Pilot was created by Jay Hilgert, the designer and blogger behind design tip blog BittBox.com.

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Brush Pilot automatically finds every brush file on your hard drive, just launch it and let it do it’s thing. Brush Pilot also knows what version(s) of Photoshop you have, and the interface separates your installed brushes from the rest. You can Trash unwanted brushes, reveal the .abr file in Finder, and even install selected files into all versions of Photoshop on your system with a single click, menus, Control/Right + Click, or keyboard shortcuts.

If your Photoshop brush library is out of control, Brush Pilot looks to be worth the $15 price tag. And keep your eyes peeled—we’ll be doing a giveaway soon with some free licenses for Brush Pilot for the lucky winners!

We’ve also got a brief interview with Jay Hilgert, the creator of Brush Pilot:

Tell us a little about yourself and your background

I’m a graphic/web designer, blogger and now, I guess I’m in the software business. I started out at a small design firm in St. Louis and now I blog full time, design fonts, and do freelance web design.

What inspired you to create Brush Pilot?

I got tired of Googling and searching for a tool like Brush Pilot, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. Not only could I make a tool for myself, but I could provide an affordable, and useful tool to the global Photoshop community. In short, I wanted a brush previewer really bad, and I thought there would be plenty of people just like me, who’ve waited for years for a decent solution to brush management on the Mac.

How long did it take to create Brush Pilot?

A little over a year (not working full time though).

Any interesting things that you learned about Photoshop while developing BP?

Actually, yes. I had no idea that there were 2 locations on your mac where you can store brushes. I’ve always just installed brushes in the Applications > Photoshop CS3 > Presets > Brushes Folder. Turns out that individual users have their own folder in User > Library > Application Support > Adobe > Adobe Photoshop CS3 > Presets > Brushes, although, not all versions of Photoshop use this location.

Future features/plans for Brush Pilot?

Definitely drag and drop for version 2. I’d also like to have the ability to Shift + Select files for installation/deletion, and a full size PNG export.

We’re also thinking about moving the brush names and pixel dimensions from a tooltip to displaying them under each preview.

I’m also open to suggestions.

For every great Mac app, there’s the inevitable question: will there be a Windows version?

I haven’t even thought about it yet. It’s my first app, so I’m taking baby steps.

Quick Tip: Find Files On Your PC Fast With FileBox Extender

One little app that I couldn’t live without is FileBox Extender for Windows. Fellow Go Media designer @Adam_Wagner originally introduced it to me last year. It’s a free, lightweight app for Windows that I use to quickly access frequently used directories.

The description on their site says:

FileBox enhances Windows by adding several advanced functions to the standard Open File and Save File dialog boxes. (Note that if a program uses its own “private” dialog boxes for these functions, you won’t see our FileBox buttons, sorry.)

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So for instance, if I’m always going into our Vector Packs folder while working on a project, it can get tedious having to navigate through all of Go Media’s folder structures on our server. And when I’ve had some coffee, my mouse clicking is a little erratic and often find myself glazing over as I scan the hundreds of folders in our client directory.

Another quick tip is to simply start typing the first few letters of the folder you’re looking for and it should snap you right to it. I’ve watched people hunt and hunt for folders for at least 10-20 seconds of “dead air” time and it’s painful to watch.

One annoying thing with FileBox is that it doesn’t really work well when saving attachments from Outlook. I will go to save some attachment from my email, and use FileBox to select a favorite folder and *poof* my window disappears as it immediately saved it right to the first folder I selected with FileBox. That is mostly just an annoyance with Outlook though, as it’s the only program that seems to have problems with it.

FileBox is cool, but maybe there is something out there that does the same thing but better?

Goals: Ready Aim Fire

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Have you ever heard that incredibly cheesy saying: “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it.” Well, I disagree. You won’t hit “nothing”, you’ll surely hit SOMETHING. Unfortunately it will most likely be something other than what you truly want. If you’re throwing a dart, you probably can’t hit a bulls-eye in one throw even if you tried. But you’d probably hit the dart board. This is the effect of a goal – it’s the ‘aim” part of the phrase “Ready, Aim, Fire.” And while you won’t always hit your target spot-on, you’ll probably get close. And as I frequently say at Go Media: “Crose Enough!” (quote stolen from an old Labatts Blue comercial.)

If you don’t have a goal and just throw the dart, well, you may hit the wall, you may hit the floor, or you may hit your friend. It’s still a result, just not necessarily the best result. Let me give another real-world (practical) example of why goal setting is important for me. It’s very easy for me to spend money that’s in my pocket if I don’t have an intended use for it. But if I set a goal of buying a new TV this year, well, I’ll think twice about dropping $40 drinking beer at the local Bier Markt. Instead, maybe I’ll decide to put $30 in my piggy bank, stay in and drink a six pack of Genny Light instead.

Now multiply these types of little decisions over a lifetime and the results can be huge. Do you want to be a beach bum or a millionaire? Actually, both are MY goals. First, I want to become independently wealthy. Then, I want to go live on a beach somewhere tropical. Seriously! I will have Go Media’s Bahamas satellite office. It will be a small cottage on the beach with 4-6 work stations. bahamas2Staff can take turns rotating down to the beach house for a change of scenery. It may seem like a crazy dream, but for me it’s just another goal. And I’ve accomplished a ton of those so far, so why not this one too? Ok, I’m rambling a bit here. Let me refocus this blog.

Goals have been extremely important to building Go Media. And they continue to be a constant part of how we run our company. At the beginning of each year the entire company set goals. The company sets business goals and each employee sets goals – both personal and professional. At the end of the year we recap what we accomplished and what we didn’t.

Here are some goal-setting tips I’ve learned over the years:

1. Take the time. Have you ever actually given yourself the time to sit down for a few hours and think seriously about what you want out of your life, probably not. Who has time for that? Well, this is serious business, this is your LIFE! So, it needs to start with you giving yourself the time to do this right.

go-media-goals
2. Write it down! Jot it down on a piece of paper and put it in your wallet. Or better yet, have it printed on a ten foot banner and hang it over your bed. At Go Media we print a big poster with all our goals on it. It’s mounted on foam core and hung right next to the front door. We use a red marker to cross things off as we achieve them throughout the year. There is something magical in the process of writing down goals. Don’t ask me how it works, it just does, so write them down!

3. Track your results. This is where goal setting can be a true motivator. If you can see your progress and improvement over time it makes you feel like the hard work and sacrifices are worth it. There are even websites like www.goalster.com to help you keep track of your progress (more on this later.)

set-goals
4. Set goals both big and small. It’s important to have huge goals that seem hardly attainable (like a Go Media beach house), because these are the things we LIVE for and they won’t all be easy to achieve. But it’s also important to know that it’s little goals that get us there. This month I have a goal of landing 2 new clients. Over time, it’s those new clients that will finance our beach house. Also, small goals are very important because they boost your morale when you accomplish them. So, I always like to sprinkle in a lot of little (extremely easy) goals along with my monstrously large goals.

5. Be specific. I want my beach house to have two floors with a large wooden deck. The second floor will have the office space with a huge bay window that looks out over the ocean. I can imagine sitting at my desk working while a thunderstorm rages a few miles out at sea. And my goal this month is 2 new clients – not “some” new clients. The details of the goals are what make it fun, and also what let us know if we’ve accomplished it. For instance – if I had a goal of “be healthier in 2009,” how would I know I accomplished that? But if I said: “Run a marathon in 2009,” now THAT is a goal that I can put a check mark next to.

6. Give yourself a deadline! This goes hand-in-hand with having details. You need to put a little time pressure on yourself. If you miss your deadline, it’s not the end of the world, but it will motivate you to get moving! At Go Media our goals are set on an annual basis. The plan is to slowly get through your goal list over the course of the year. It should be plenty of time, and if we miss a goal we re-evaluate it at the end of the year and either re-post it or dump it.

goalster-monitor-mock-up
Ok, now – back to Goalster.com. My great friend and business partner Michael Greeves from Hyperstrike.com was the one who actually prompted this article. He just launched a new goal tracking website called goalster.com. He knows I’m big into goal setting and he sent me a link. It’s a great simple-to-use tool for keeping track of and tracking the results of your goals. I wanted to tell all our readers about it, but didn’t want to throw a gratuitous ad at everyone without including some quality content; hence the article you just read!

Here is what Mike wanted to add about Goalster:
I wanted to let you know we just released our new goal setting site, goalster.com. The concept is simple, share Goals with friends and have them help you reach your potential.
It’s been my pet project, outside HyperStrike, for the last couple of months and just launched in beta last week. It all started when I realized I wasn’t living the life I wanted. I found myself spending too much time on the computer and running my business was ruining my health. So I decided to make a commitment to my health and my family. I used the site daily to track my weight and exercise time. To date, I’ve lost 24lbs! By sharing my goals with my friends and family I was motivated to keep my commitments and got back in shape.

Since we trust and know you’ll give it a critical eye, we thought we pass it along for you to use
and give us any feedback if you care to share it.

Please take 30 seconds to register, it’s free!

P.S. Please let your friends and employees know about the service. They can use it
to track anything from Starbucks coffees to killer designs and happy clients.

If you have any questions, comments or feedback please feel free to
share it with us at www.goalster.com.

Best,
Mike Greeves
CEO, HyperStrike, Inc.

So, that’s it! Goals, goals the magical tool. The more you set, the more you achieve. The more you achieve, the better you feel. So let’s have goals at every meal! I hope you’ve gained something from this article. SPOILER ALERT: I’m working on a sweet new design tutorial that demonstrates a rapid-fire way to produce a hand-drawn illustration in half the normal time! COMING SOON!

Create A Photoshop Tool Preset for Custom Text

Quick Tip: The Adobe Exchange

adobe-exchange

Here’s a quick tip for all you Adobe software users out there: The Adobe Exchange. What is it? The Adobe Exchange (which seems to have recently been renamed to the Adobe Marketplace & Exchange) is a community resource to share and download lots of extras for your Adobe software products: Actions, Brushes, Custom Shapes, Displacement Maps, Filters, Flash Panels, Gradients, Droplets, Patterns, Plug-ins, Scripts, Styles, Templates, Symbols, Patterns and lots more. Just about every piece of software offered by Adobe has it’s own section, and of course Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are covered.