Archive for November, 2011

Deke’s Techniques: Rendering a portrait in type with Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques movie, you’ll see how a portrait can literally be worth a thousand words. Well, several hundred at least. Deke demonstrates how to superimpose layers of text over a lovely face, creating an image that’s both literal and visceral at the same time.

Deke begins with this compelling photo from the Fotolia image library:

Then, using a combination of blend modes and almost automatically generated masks, he integrates three separate layers of text over the subject (and background) to create this effect that is simultaneously organic and literal:

Using the image to select itself is the key to creating the masks for this project. In other words, rather than tediously outlining key areas of the photograph in order to separate the eyes and the background, this technique uses some channel exploitation, the Color Range command, and Quick Mask mode to coax Photoshop into doing the masking work for you. This kind of skill can really help you mask your own images quickly and accurately without ever needing to trace around elements in your photos.

For members, Deke also has two exclusive videos that provide variations on this technique. You can check them out in the Deke’s Techniques course in the Online Training Library®. And if you’d like to further hone your masking skills, be sure to check out Deke’s new Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals course, in which you’ll get to know the entire tool set of masking features in Photoshop and find much more about coercing your images to mask themselves.

See you here again next week for more Deke’s Techniques.

Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques collection
• Courses by Deke McClelland in the Online Training Library®
• All courses on Photoshop in the Online Training Library®

Virtual instruments in Logic Pro and Pro Tools—introduction

Published by | Friday, November 11th, 2011

Hi folks! David Franz here, Content Manager for the continually expanding audio channel at Excitement is rising here at the HQ as we continue work on a massive rollout of audio courses that you’ll begin to see over the next several months. As part of the rollout, we’re happy to announce a new bi-weekly series about using virtual instruments.

Every two weeks for the next few months we’ll present training on how to use the virtual instruments in Logic Pro and Pro Tools. We’re starting with Virtual Instruments in Logic Pro, a multi-part course authored by gifted composer and sound designer Brian Trifon. In the introduction, Brian will cover all of the virtual instruments that are bundled with Logic Pro. It’s an impressive list of instruments and Brian will show you how to create amazing music with them, after he shows you how everything works. Check out the trailer for what’s to come in the full course, then head to the Virtual Instruments in Logic Pro table of contents to view the whole intermediate-level course.

This course will cover working with oscillators and filters, understanding signal flow, creating custom synthesizer patches, adding effects, synthesizing speech, creating a library of custom sound samples, and much more. The first instruments available now are the ES M Monophonic Synthesizer and the ES E Ensemble Synthesizer.

Check out Virtual Instruments in Logic Pro in the Online Training Library® today, and look out for new training on virtual instruments for Pro Tools and Logic Pro users coming soon!

Interested in more?
• All Pro Tools courses in the Online Training Library®
• All Logic Pro courses in the Online Training Library®
• All audio courses in the Online Training Library®
• All courses from Brian Trifon in the Online Training Library®

Marian Bantjes at 2011 AIGA Design Conference

Published by | Friday, November 11th, 2011

This week and last we’ve released two great Creative Inspirations bonus features—one with hyper realist Bert Monroy and the other with graphic artist Marian Bantjes.

We filmed Bert speaking at St. Mary’s College of California, located in Moraga, California. He speaks to an attentive audience about the difference between Photorealism and his style that he terms Hyperrealism. He tells us that it’s his obsessive attention to detail that breaths life into his images.

Marian Bert with Michael Bierut at AIGA Pivot Conference 2011

Creative Inspirations guest Marian Bantjes is interviewed by designer Michael Bierut from Pentagram in NYC during AIGA's Pivot Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

Then, we went to “Pivot,” the 2011 AIGA Design Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, to screen our latest film in the Creative Inspirations series featuring graphic artist Marian Bantjes. When the lights came up, Marian took to the stage surrounded by thunderous applause to be interviewed by design legend Michael Bierut from Pentagram in New York City. Following their candid discussion, they took questions from the audience. And of course, our cameras were there.

Marian Bantjes’ entire Creative Inspirations segment
, including our footage of Marian’s interview with Michael Bierut at the 2011 AIGA Design Conference, can be viewed in the Online Training Library®.

Interested in more?
• Movies from Marian Bantjes in the Online Training Library®
• Movies from Bert Monroy in the Online Training Library®
•  All design courses in the Online Training Library®

InDesign FX: How to create a Polaroid picture effect

Published by | Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Say cheese! In this week’s video I show how to make a photo look like it was taken with a Polaroid instant camera.

Example of InDesign Poloroid project creation

The key to the effect is using Directional Feather to create an unequal stroke around the photo, where the bottom stroke is much thicker than the stroke on the top and sides. This is not only a fun exercise, but it’s also useful for learning about two important (and somewhat obscure) Effects dialog box settings: Choke, and Shadow Honors Other Effects.

The Polaroid effect is also useful for illustrating how your scaling preferences affect your effects. In General Preferences > Object Editing > When Scaling, you have two choices: Apply to Content, and Adjust Scaling Percentage.

Example of Object Editing options in InDesign

Apply to Content essentially tells InDesign “don’t scale FX.” No matter how large or small you scale an object, its FX remains fixed in size. So in this case, the width of the Directional Feather doesn’t change along with the photo and you get undesirable results. However, if you choose Adjust Scaling Percentage, your FX will scale along with the object. So the width of the Directional Feather stays in proportion to the photo and all is well.

Example of Adjust Scaling Percentage in InDesign Poloroid project

After you get the hang of the Polaroid effect, you can try this bonus technique (not shown in the video). Place a large photo on the page, arrange several empty Polaroid frames on top of the photo, then cut the photo and use the Paste Into command to paste it into each Polaroid frame.

Poloroid picture project created with InDesign

For members, I have another new video this week focused on creating metallic strokes, like the ones you see below. This video, and the entire InDesign FX series, can be viewed any time from the Online Training Library®.

Metallic strokes created with InDesign

See you here again in two weeks with another InDesign effect.

Interested in more?
the entire InDesign FX series in the Online Training Library®
courses on InDesign in the Online Training Library®
courses by Mike Rankin in the Online Training Library®

Design in Motion: Using expressions to control animation in After Effects

Published by | Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

This week on Design in Motion we’re going to take a trip to the left side…of your brain! In the hands of an artist, After Effects is a beautiful and powerful tool. If that artist can also write a bit of code, they can accomplish literally anything that needs to be done. I know what you’re thinking—artists…writing code? Yes! Thanks to After Effects built-in expression language it’s much easier than you think. The expression tools in After Effects are really an entire programing language all their own, and they can be as simple or as complex as your imagination and programming skills will allow. With a combination of the pick-whip and a few simple phrases you can generate movement without keyframes. This kind of animation is called “procedural” because the program is doing all the work of creating the motion of your layers.

Hopefully this movie will wet your appetite for the world of expressions in After Effects. If so, Chris and Trish Meyer have a whole course that will have you creating and controlling animation with expressions in no time! Check out After Effects Apprentice 09: Expressions on Once you’re up and running there are websites like and Dan Ebberts’ with an entire community of artists and programmers doing amazing things with expressions in After Effects.

So sit back, put on the left side of your thinking cap, and enjoy this edition of Design in Motion!

Interested in more?
• courses by Rob Garrott in the Online Training Library®
• courses by Trish Meyer and Chris Meyer in the Online Training Library®
• all courses on After Effects in the Online Training Library®

Deke’s Techniques: How to create a rainbow in Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

November chilliness got you feeling cold and gray? In this week’s free movie Deke shows you how to brighten the world with your very own realistic rainbow, constructed completely from scratch in Photoshop. Start with a simple rectangular marquee, add a custom gradient, bend it into an arch with the Transform tool’s warp feature, then fine-tune with a little blur and surprising blend setting. The result is this promise of gold you see here:

Deke originally came up with this technique as an addition to a ‘skyshark’ project he created for his new Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals course, where, in chapter 6 he shows you how to use the Color Range command to isolate a threatening shark and transport it to an unsuspecting meadow. Of course, not everyone sees a picture of a ferocious carnivore in an implausible environment and thinks, “What this image needs is a rainbow,” but I’d imagine you can think of a project where having the ability to create a suitable rainbow—or double rainbow—at will might be just the trick.

And for members, Deke’s got a follow up video in the Deke’s Techniques collection this week in which he shows you how to create a realistic shadow in the grass underneath the floating shark (Casting an artificial shadow from a layer). If you don’t consider a shadow cast on grass by a floating shark with a rainbow in the background realistic, keep in mind creating photo-realistic (if not outright reality-based) shadows is a useful skill for your less fanciful work as well. Suspend your disbelief, and check out this useful technique.

See you here next week with more Deke’s Techniques!

Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques collection
• courses by Deke McClelland in the Online Training Library®
• all courses on Photoshop in the Online Training Library®

The evolution of Illustrator: what have you missed?

Published by | Monday, November 7th, 2011

In October 2011, we released the fourth entry in Mordy Golding’s series designed specifically for seasoned users of Adobe Illustrator—Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool. This particular entry is close to my heart because I’m one of those people for whom the Pen tool has always been daunting. Mordy’s Drawing without the Pen Tool tutorial joins three other entries in the series—Rethinking the Essentials; Coloring Artwork; and Seeing through Transparency—which all seek to provide Illustrator veterans a chance to refresh their insider knowledge and workflow habits, without having to start from scratch.

One of the most effective (and sympathetically reassuring) ways Mordy helps you rethink Illustrator is to provide each course of the series with a movie that explains historical developments of the software. This context can really help identify where the learning gaps may have occurred for long-time users of the program. By providing an understanding of where key paradigm shifts might have happened in color, transparency, or drawing tools, Mordy paves the way for you to get back up to speed while maintaining all your hard-won experience and creativity.

In this new course, my own trepidations are comforted to some extent by the discovery that Adobe released a VHS video featuring Pen-Tool inventor John Warnock demonstrating how the thing was supposed to work when the Pen Tool was originally invented. Mordy also gives the broader strokes on how the various vector drawing tools have evolved over the years, including the birth of Pathfinder and the advent of the Blob brush:

In Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials, Mordy works in  historical contextualization by revealing how some instabilities in the earliest versions of Illustrator 9 might have meant designers missed out on some of the innovations that came with that particular version, and explains the foundation of the entire series in his timeline movie:

In his Illustrator Insider Training: Seeing through Transparency course, Mordy takes a closer look at the advent of vector transparency, including an explanation of his Illustrator Historical Eras: B.T. (Before Transparency) and A. T. (After Transparency).

Finally, in Illustrator Insider Training: Coloring Artwork, Mordy takes a close look at how color control has developed over the iterations of Illustrator:

Illustrator has been around for almost 25 years, and in that time, it’s gone through an understandable amount of change. Mordy’s approach in the Illustrator Insider Training series is to acknowledge that AI veterans don’t want to start from square one, but do want to make sure they’re getting the most out of the most recent developments to the program. It can be hard to keep up when you’re doing your best to thrive creatively and meet deadlines, but with a little context and a whole series of instruction from Mordy, you can rebuild your own Illustrator infrastructure without completely closing down your design highway.

Make a custom photo book for the holidays with Blurb

Published by | Friday, November 4th, 2011

Looking for a holiday gift with a personal touch? Three new courses—and a special discount offer—can help you create one-of-a-kind holiday gifts using Blurb.

Start your creative process moving with our new course, Creating Photo Books with Blurb, or dive right into creating a family heirloom full of vintage photos that you’ve scanned and restored by viewing Scanning for Photography, Art, and Design with Taz Tally, and Photo Restoration with Photoshop with Janine Smith.

The best part: through November 30 members get a 20-percent discount* on all Blurb orders! Just use the promotional code LYNDA22 at checkout.

Happy learning—and happy holidays!



*Offer expires November 30, 2011 at 11:59 PM local time. Enter promo code LYNDA22 at checkout. A 20 percent discount will be applied towards your order at checkout (maximum discount is USD $200.00, GBP £100.00, EUR €160,00, CAD $210.00, or AUD $180.00 off product totals). This offer is good for one-time use and cannot be combined with other promotional codes, volume discounts, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.