Friday, July 13, 2012

Learning New Things in Familiar Applications

One of my favorite applications to use on the computer is Adobe Photoshop. In fact, its one of my favorite things to do, period. I love to fire up my computer and open up Photoshop for any reason, some times, just to take my mind off my troubles. (And with the new upgrades in my computer's hardware it it opens up faster than ever! No more waiting on fonts, filters, and plugins to load!) I've been a Photoshop enthusiast for the better part of 15 years, since Photoshop 5 and now I'm on Photoshop CS5. This is my primary design and graphics editor. Sure there are others I could use and have used, like Illustrator, Fireworks, and Flash (not to mention Corel Draw), but I feel so much at home on Photoshop, why go somewhere else?

However, after 15 years of using this program, there are still so many things for me to learn about it. In my last blog article I talked about the need to learn more about using paths and the pen tool. Always committed to life-long learning, I look for ways to learn more in any area that interests me. And, even after 15 years, Photoshop is no different. One of the best ways for me to learn about something on the computer, other than the obvious, dive right in and see what it can do, is through tutorials. Some times I search for specific tutorials and other times, especially in Photoshop, I rely on sight and go by a picture that looks cool to me. There are many free tutorial sites out there on Photoshop (Planet Photoshop, Photoshop Cafe, and Adobe Tutorialz to name a few.) with great mini-lessons that teach you about the tools while you create a work of art. I love these tutorials as compared to other lessons where you sit down open it up or play the video, and they start out by, today we are going to learn how to use the pen tool... (Snooze! Sorry, already lost me!) Show me some eye-candy first (follow these steps and you can make something that looks like this) and I go, oooh!

I came across a tutorial that helped me create the image at the top of the blog article while pinning around in Pinterest the other day. I almost passed it up but then noticed that it was a tutorial on creating a lace stroke effect on text. (I'm sorry I can't remember where/who I originally got it from on Pinterest.) The pin lead me to a site (Web Design Library) I wouldn't have thought of for a Photoshop tutorial (although, I now know to go there as they have MANY Photoshop tutorials and lots of other great tutorials!) I love tutorials like this one because they show you step by step with pictures of the interface you are using and what to click on and where. The screen captures allow you to work at your own pace without having to keep pausing a video at each step and then replay it. (Although video tutorials work well at times, too.)

The original image in the tutorial looked like this:

Through the course of the tutorial I learned about using the Polygon Tool (and adjusting options on it), defining a pattern, using Paths (which is what I was looking for), working with text, and much more. If you have never tried an online tutorial, I encourage you to try it - start simple, find an image you like, and start there. You will feel very good about yourself when you finish the tutorial and will have something really cool you can show. I altered mine slightly to fit in with my Moulin Rouge style kitchen (a project that I will hopefully get to this fall when the weather is cooler and more accommodating for painting cabinetry). If you would like to see the tutorial for the the Lace Stroke Text Effect shown in the picture above, click on the picture to go to the page.


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