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Lesson 1: Would You Repeat That, Please?

Advanced Adobe Photoshop Tutorials

Table of Contents

What's New for the Advanced User?

When I sat down to write this course, I asked myself how I should define the word "advanced." With a program as vast as Photoshop, "advanced" means different things to different people. This was my conclusion: To be an advanced Photoshop user, you must be efficient and you must be able to understand and employ the tools set before you.

Although this is an advanced course, I think it's important to review key Photoshop features and functions first to be sure that we're all on the same page. In this lesson, I'll do that by taking a look at new features in Photoshop 6. Though this updated version looks and acts a lot like previous versions of the software, there are a number of new features (particularly for advanced users) that I want to describe before we plunge into the techniques that you'll be learning in this course.

We'll examine the new context-sensitive Options bar at the top of the work area. We will also cover new tools added to the toolbox including the Custom Shape tool and the Audio Annotation tool. (Is this cool or what?) There have been some pretty big changes made to the Layers palette, so we will take a look before moving on to more complex realms.

Work Area

The work area in Photoshop 6 is vastly different from previous versions; it's almost like stepping into another world. The most obvious visual change is the context-sensitive Options bar at the top of the work area (Figure 1-1).

Options Bar

Figure 1-1: The context-sensitive Options bar.

Figure 1-1: The context-sensitive Options bar.

In previous versions of Photoshop, viewing Options for a certain tool required you to open a palette that took up valuable real estate on your desktop. Unless you were lucky enough to have two monitors, all those palettes could easily get in the way of your work.

Yes, the Options bar does take up space on your screen, but it redeems itself with something called a palette well (shown in Figure 1-2). The palette well allows you to store palettes you may want to have on hand but don't want in the way.

Figure 1-2: To conserve space, store occasionally used palettes in the palette well.

Figure 1-2: To conserve space, store occasionally used palettes in the palette well.

Moving palettes to the well is easy. Simply click and drag the palette by its tab and drop it into the well. Once it's in the well, click on a tab and the palette will appear. Click off of the palette and it disappears. Awesome!

Palette Docking

Another great space- and timesaving device is palette docking . Users of Adobe Illustrator 9 will be familiar with this bit of genius.

Docking connects a palette (or set of palettes) to the bottom of another palette. This is accomplished by dragging the tab of any palette to just above the bottom of another palette. When you see two black bars, let go of the mouse. Voila! Docked palettes (Figure 1-3).

Figure 1-3: The Character and Paragraph palettes are docked to the Layers, Channels, and Paths palettes.

Figure 1-3: The Character and Paragraph palettes are docked to the Layers, Channels, and Paths palettes.

I'm a firm believer that in order to be a "power user," you must be efficient. I love to dock frequently-used palettes to my Layers palette. Then all I have to do is press the F7 key (the shortcut for the Layers palette) to show or hide the whole kit and caboodle.

Newfangled Tools

When I got my copy of Photoshop 6, I was excited because I'd read all about it in Photoshop User Magazine . But when I got it home and installed the program, I was, well, intimidated. As I used some of the new tools, I found changes in the Layers palette that scared me. I actually had to pull out the Photoshop User Guide (gasp!) to ease my anxiety. (OK, so maybe it wasn't that bad, but these new tools are associated with some icons in the Layers palette that are new to this version.) OK, now I've come clean, so you can too! Please don't hesitate to look up information in your course books or the user guide when you need help. We've all had to refer to them at some time.

Custom Shape Tool

Figure 1-4: The Custom Shape tool.

Figure 1-4: The Custom Shape tool.

The Custom Shape tool (Figure 1-4) allows you to draw vector objects on their own layer and then create something called a layer clipping path (Figure 1-5). (See sidebar for definitions of vector and raster .

Figure 1-5: Layer Clipping Path thumbnail.

Figure 1-5: Layer Clipping Path thumbnail.

What you see in Figure 1-5 is called a shape layer . Notice that the default name of the layer is "Shape 1." A Shape layer consists of two thumbnails: the Fill Layer icon(Illustration 1-1) and the layer clipping path thumbnail (Figure 1-5).

Fill Layer icon.

We will discuss Fill layers and Layer Clipping paths in subsequent lessons, but I mentioned them here so you'll know they exist. The thing to remember until then is that the Custom Shape tool allows you to draw vector objects within Photoshop.

Audio Annotation and Notes Tools

With this new version, tools that already existed in Adobe Acrobat have found their way into Photoshop. With Audio Annotation and Notes tools , you can make written or verbal notes to yourself or your client (Figure 1-6).

Figure 1-6: The Audio Annotation (top) and Notes tools.

Figure 1-6: The Audio Annotation (top) and Notes tools.

As I'm sure you can already guess, using the Audio Annotation tool adds to your file size. I added an audio annotation to a 2.6 MB file and the file size increased to 2.7 MB (Illustration 1-2). Not a very big jump, but I wouldn't get carried away with them. Adding a note didn't add anything to the file size.

Illustration 1-2: A file with annotations at 2.7 MB and without at 2.6 MB.

Adding these to your image is very simple. Choose either tool from the toolbar and click anywhere within the canvas. If you are using the Note tool, a sticky-note-like item appears on the canvas (Figure 1-7). Simply type within it and click on the button in the top left-hand corner of the box to close and save the note.

Figure 1-7: Note tool "sticky note."

Figure 1-7: Note tool "sticky note."

The Audio Annotation tool is just as easy to use. Choose the Audio Annotation tool from the Toolbox and click anywhere in the canvas, just as you would with the Note tool. Clicking with this tool brings up Record dialog box (Figure 1-8).

Figure 1-8: The record dialog box.

Figure 1-8: The record dialog box.

What Else Is New?

The Options bar and new tools are the most obvious changes in Photoshop 6, but there are also some other items that I want to review. This upgrade definitely wasn't just cosmetic.

Enhanced Vector Output

I mentioned vectors earlier and we will talk about them more in a later lesson. An important addition to Photoshop is the ability to print resolution-independent text without rasterizing! This means you can use type at 6 points if you want and it won't look fuzzy. (That is, unless you rasterize the layer, which you must do to apply filters and some transformations.)

Layer Styles

Remember Layer Effects from Photoshop 5 and 5.5? Now they're called Layer Styles , and the cool thing about them is that you can save them in a palette for later use. Let's say you create an effect combining four (or however many you want) styles that you want to save for future reference. They will be kept in the Styles palette (Figure 1-9). We'll go over Layer Styles in the lesson called Layer Nuances.

Figure 1-9: Store frequently-used style combinations in the Style palette.

Figure 1-9: Store frequently-used style combinations in the Style palette.

Other Features

Here are some other features that are different in the new version:

  • The Preferences command has been moved to the Edit menu from the File menu, where it was located in previous versions.
  • The new Show/Hide Extras command lets you turn non-printing elements on and off. Now, instead of having to remember keyboard shortcuts for hide selection borders, guides, and annotations, just press Command+H (Mac) or Control+H (PC.)
  • Now you can change the units of measurement in your image without going to the Preferences dialog box. Simply Control+click (Mac) or right-click (Windows) on one of the rulers, which will bring up a context-sensitive Menu for you to choose from.

Now that you've completed Lesson 1, I encourage you to try your hand at the quiz and homework assignment. The quiz reinforces some key elements of the lesson, while the homework introduces you to some of the introductory projects in the course text, Scott Kelby's Photoshop 6.0 Down and Dirty Tricks . If you get stuck or have any questions, your instructor will be available on the Message Board!

After that, you'll be armed and ready to delve deeper into the world of Photoshop 6!

Other Resources

Try Real World Photoshop 6: Industrial Strength Production Techniques by David Blatner and Bruce Fraser.

If you're looking for something a little less advanced, try Photoshop 6 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide, by Elaine Weinmann and Peter Lourekas.

Also, check out these sites:

www.photoshopuser.com -- Become a member!
www.planetphotoshop.com -- Contains resources and tutorials
www.designsbymark.com -- Tutorials and tips gurus.onlinedesignschool.com -- Tutorials and tips

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