Feature preview: 50 professional Photoshop tips & tricks
Magazine previews, by Anna-lisa Saywell
We unveil some of our must-know Photoshop secrets and ask digital artists to do the same, to help you get the most out of Photoshop
1. Blend photography with illustrative elements
One method I often use to integrate my illustrative elements or abstract forms is to check my composition using a horizontal symmetry. This method allows me to correct or remove items that are not in their place. I also take short breaks, bringing my attention to something else. It allows me to get a fresh look to see any faults in my composition. Finally, adjusting the colour balance and lighting are important to give credibility. I use adjustment layers on each element to obtain the best integration. In my case, Black & White and Curves adjustment layers are valuable elements. The first helps me to balance my scene and apply colours so they work together. Curves gives me more flexibility in colour correction and contrast.
2. Use two layers to blend textures together
When blending textures or shapes in your images, remember that everything consists of light and shadow; blending assets on just a single layer will rarely give you premium quality. First, add the texture into your image, change the blending mode of the texture layer to Multiply, Darken or Overlay and, using a medium to large-sized brush with a soft edge, mask in only the parts of your texture that have darker elements and shadows. Duplicate the same texture (Cmd/Ctrl+J) and set the blending mode to Screen or Linear Dodge (Add); this layer will be for our highlights, so make sure it sits higher in the layer stack. Using a smaller size brush, mask in only the elements of the image that consist of highlights (specular, bright detail) to add missing light back to your texture. Separating your texture blending into two separate layers lets you colour correct and blend each aspect of texture more realistically and have more control over the final look.
3. Create Linked Smart Objects
Introduced with the latest updates to CC, Linked Smart Objects can be added to several projects and updated across all of them in one go by changing just one instance. It can save a lot of time if you have to add a logo or web button, for example, multiple times and need to make a change to it at a later stage. To use them, go to File>Place Linked and select the image you want to import as a Smart Object.