Category Archives Photoshop

That’s right! It’s Friday and you know what that means – It’s “Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks” Friday!

The collage you see above is only one part of today’s trick, which has a whole bunch of steps, but every single one of them is easy, and you’ll learn all sorts of cool things along the way, so don’t let the amount of steps dissuade you. By the way — the US Military makes loads and loads of images available for download for free — just do a Google search and you’ll find about a bazillion to use to practice along. OK, here we go:


Hi Gang: Sorry for the late post today (I’m still up in NYC – supposed to have gone home last night but the weather didn’t cooperate), but better late than never (at least, I hope that’s what you’re thinking). Anyway, today’s is a ad I was in a Web banner for a test-drive of some Olympus cameras, but of course as a Canon shooter I don’t have any photos of Olympus cameras, so I used a shot of a 5D Mark III (photo by Brad Moore) and it’ll do the trick.

NOTE: If you want to follow along using the same image I used here: here’s the link (right click on it to download).

There are actually three cool techniques in this tutorial
So it’s definitely worth giving it a try. Here goes: (more…)

OK, it’s official – I’m making every Friday here on my blog, “Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks Friday” where I’ll share a simple, hopefully helpful, and certainly fun Photoshop special effect — the type of effects you see in ads, on the Web, in banners, etc.

This one I’m showing you today I especially like because I’m showing how I created a perspective text effect for the Facebook promos I did for my last seminar tour (my “Shoot like a Pro Tour”), but I’m using the date of the next stop in my “all new” tour (my “Reloaded!” seminar), so it’s both a Photoshop trick, and a subtle plug of my upcoming Phoenix live seminar stop on Tuesday, September 22nd (like the way I worked that in there?).

Anyway, here’s how it goes (and it uses a filter a lot of folks haven’t tried, the Vanishing Point filter, which is designed to do the math for you on creating perspective effects).


STEP ONE: Open the image you want to add a perspective text effect to in Photoshop, like the road sign shown here (it’s a stock image – you can get one like this to practice on for a buck at


STEP TWO: Get the Type tool and create your type. In this case, I’m trying to make it look like a road sign so I used Helvetica Bold, and I left lots of leading between the lines like they do in real road signs.


STEP THREE: Go to the Layers panel; hold the Command key on Mac (the Ctrl key on Windows), and click directly on the “T” thumbnail icon to put a selection around your type (as seen above). Now press Command-C (Windows: Ctrl-C)  to copy that selected text into memory. Now you can delete that Type layer by dragging it into the Trash can at the bottom of the Layers panel. You’ll want your perspective text to appear on its own layer, so add a new black layer above your sign layer, and then press Command-D (Windows: Ctrl-D) to Deselect your text.


STEP FOUR: Go under the Filter menu and choose Vanishing Point to bring up the Vanishing Point window, seen above. Click on the 2nd tool from the top (it’s called the “Create Plane” tool). You’re going to click it once just inside each corner of the sign (it works kinda like the Polygonal Lasso does, but with a rubber-band effect, dragging out a straight line as you move your cursor. It just takes four-clicks — one in each corner until you create the full four-cornered shape, and it applies a blue grid like you see here, to let you know the shape you created worked. NOTE: If you see a yellow grid instead, that’s a warning that’s it’s probably not exactly right, so you might want to futz with it a bit, moving your cursor slightly one way or the other until it turns blue. It the grid turns red, and the grid disappears, so you just see the outside border, that’s letting you know that you’re way off, and it’s not going to work. But never fear, this filter helps you out pretty well and chances are you won’t have a problem.


STEP FIVE: Press Command-V (Windows: Ctrl-V) to Paste your copied text into Vanishing Point. It’ll appear just floating there doing nothing special, up in the left corner, as seen here.


STEP SIX: Click your cursor inside your text and drag it down over your grid and all of a sudden it just snaps into the grid with the proper perspective automatically applied, (as seen here). The text here is a little too big for the sign (it’s cutting off the bottom of the letters in the bottom row), but we can fix that easy enough in the next step.


STEP SEVEN: Switch to the sixth tool down in the toolbar on the right — that’s the Transform tool (shown selected here). It kind of works like Free Transform, so hold the Shift key (to keep things proportional); grab a corner point and drag inward until the text fits on the size without any problem, as seen here. You can reposition your text anywhere within that grid (moving it up/down/left/right) using that same tool.  When it looks good to you, click the OK button in the top right corner, and it applies the perspective effect to your text, and renders it on that blank layer you created right before you open the Vanishing Point window.


STEP EIGHT: Now you can see the text added to the sign with the proper perspective effect (the letters are larger on the left and get smaller as they move to the right side of the sign proportionally, like they would in real life). Lastly, we want the letter to not look so “Added after the fact” and a great, simple trick for that is simply to lower this layer’s opacity a bit so the letters look more like they’re on the sign (in real life, those letters wouldn’t be 100% solid white — the ink would have bled into the sign, and been washed out a bit by the sun), so I always lowered the Opacity for these signs to 83% (as seen here).

Now that you know this technique, on some level doesn’t it make you subconsciously want to come spend the day with me in just about three weeks learning some really cool, really intriguing, and really inspirational photography stuff? It does? Great! Then just follow this link to sign up and we’ll spend the whole day together on that Tuesday (I wish all my effects worked this well as a seminar promo). ;-)

Hope you all have a great weekend. I’m shooting the Bucs/Browns game tomorrow night (sad to hear Johnny Manziel probably won’t be taking any snaps due to soreness in his arm — I was hoping to get some “Johnny Football” shots). It’ll still be a blast, even shooting in the Florida heat (and it’s crazy hot here right now), but it’s still football, so I’ll be there with a big smile and a long lens or two). :)



P.S. We just released my “Retouching Brides” online training class. If you shoot weddings, I think you’ll really find it helpful. You can watch it right now, online for just $19.95 – here’s the link –  and after you’re done, you can watch all my other classes too, because that $19.95 gets you a full month of unlimited access to the entire library of all our online photography, Photoshop, and Lightroom classes (not just my classes – all of ’em!). Just sayin’- that’s a pretty awesome deal. :)


Here’s a really popular, super simple, technique for creating ad backgrounds (you see this look a lot in print ads and online banners. The one we’re going to recreate is a print ad I saw for the Modern Shoe Hospital), but there’s an added super-handy trick inside of this, and it’s how to keep the original drop shadow from a placed product shot on a white background. It’s cooler than it sounds. Here goes:


STEP ONE: Open a new document and fill the background with a solid color. This doc is around 8″x10″ at 72 ppi resolution.

Down2smSTEP TWO: Create a new blank layer, then get the Elliptical Marque tool and create a large oval-shaped section (like the one you see here). Now set your Foreground color to white, then press Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace) to fill your oval with White (as seen here). Now you can Deselect by pressing Command-D (PC: Ctrl-D on PC).

Down3smSTEP THREE: Now you’re going to blur the living daylights out of it. Go under the Filter menu, under Blur and choose Gaussian Blur. Enter 80 pixels and click OK (you can use a lot higher amount on a high-res image. This is just 72 ppi). The goal is just to make it look really blurry like what you see here.

Down4smSTEP FOUR: now that our background is done, open the product shot you want on this background and copy and paste it into your background document and position it in the center (as seen here).

Down5smSTEP FIVE: Our goal here is to remove the white background yet keep the original drop shadow. This is easier than it sounds. First, duplicate the product shot layer (the sneaker layer) and hide that layer from view by clicking on the eye icon to the left of the layer. Now click on the original sneaker layer. Hold the Shift key then start pressing the “+” key on your keyboard. Each time you press Shift-+ it toggles you through the different Layer Blend Modes. At this point, don’t worry at all about what the sneaker looks like — we’re only concerned about the drop shadow at this point, so keep toggling through the blend modes until you find one where the shadow looks natural (in this case, it was the blend mode Linear Burn). The shadow looks pretty good, but the front and back of the sneaker are white, so they’re letting the teal background show through quite a bit, but that’s why we created that 2nd sneaker layer.

Down6smSTEP SIX: Now make the top layer (the duplicate sneaker layer) visible again. Hold the Option key (PC: Alt-key) and at the bottom of the Layers panel click on the Layer Mask button (it’s the third icon from the left). This adds a black Layer Mask over your original sneaker image (so, the layer is still there, you just can’t see it because it’s hidden behind that black mask). Now get the Brush took; make sure your foreground color is set to white; choose a small soft-edged brush tip (from the Brush Picker up in the Options Bar), and paint over the front and back of the sneaker to reveal the original sneaker in those areas (as seen here where I’m painting over the front of the sneaker. You can see the original sneaker being painted in).

Down7smSTEP SEVEN: To finish things off, just add your text headline, your logo (with a slight drop shadow from the fx menu at the bottom of the Layers panel in this case, since it’s really hard to see that white text over that white glowing oval), and you’re done.

It’s Down. It’s Dirty. It’s Done!

Hope you all have an awesome weekend, and we’ll see ya back here on Monday when we’re all not so cheery. ;-)



P.S. Let me know how you feel about this Photoshop Down & Dirty tricks. This is the third one I’ve done in the past two weeks, and I want to make sure you’re digging this type of stuff. If it’s too far away from what I normally do here, let me know. 







I saw this Photoshop down & dirty technique in a print ad for the Samsung Galaxy S4 and thought I’d break it down for you, here.



STEP ONE: Open your background image (in the Samsung Ad I saw, it had a child holding a bunch of balloons, kinda like what you see here (I downloaded this stock photo from


STEP TWO: Open an image of a cell phone (here’s a stock cell phone photo, also from dollarphotoclub). Put a selection around the cell phone (as seen here), and then Copy just the phone into memory (I used the Magic Wand tool to click on the white background, then I pressed Shift-Command-I (PC: Shift-Ctrl-I) to invert the selection (The opposite of the white background is, of course, the phone. It’s an old trick).


STEP THREE: Now Paste the cell phone image (that you copied into memory in the previous step) onto the balloon photo and position it over the balloons, as seen here.


STEP FOUR: Now we’re going to remove the center of the phone (where the screen would be). Get the Polygonal Lasso Tool from the toolbar. Click it in the bottom left corner, then move your cursor up to the top corner and it draws a straight line between the tool. Now make your way around the rectangular screen area clicking once in each corner, and then finish the selection by clicking back where you started once you’ve gone all the way around the screen (as seen here).


STEP FIVE: Once your selection is in place, just hit the Delete key (PC: Backspace key) to knock a hole out where the screen was previously (as seen here).


STEP SIX: Now click the Layer Mask button at the bottom of the Layers panel (it’s the third button from the left) to add a Layer Mask to this layer. Now get the Brush tool; choose a small hard-edged brush from the Brush Picker up in the Options bar. Set Black as your Foreground color and paint right over the bar on the right side of the photos anywhere it touches the balloons, as seen here (see my brush cursor on the red balloon?). As you paint, it masks away (hides) that part of the phone, making it appear like the balloons are coming out of the phone.


STEP SEVEN: Lastly, add some type to finishing things off (I tweaked the Samsung headline a bit, and added the logo at the bottom right because…well…it’s our logo (and I had it on my laptop).

So, that’s it. A quick and easy masking job – hope you found it helpful (and I hope it showed how easy some of the effects are that we see around us every day).

Have a great Tuesday everybody!


P.S. We’re kicking off a brand new Lightroom CC tour with our own RC Concepcion visiting cities all over the USA, starting in Charlotte, NC in just 8-days from now. Here’s where to go for more details. 

If I had a cool technique to show you, but it has a lot of steps, would you do it if:

(a) You kew up front that it’s super easy to do. Anyone can do this.
(b) You’ll learn some really helpful stuff, and shortcuts, just by doing it even once.

OK, are you in?
Remember â” it’s not hard at all. It’s simple. It just takes a bunch of steps, but I promise you’ll enjoy it (and it’ll be worth it).

OK, so I’m in the Atlanta airport a few weeks ago and I keep seeing this ad campaign for Microsoft Cloud, so I snapped this pic of it (above).  While my photo of it is kinda lame (snapped at the last minute on a moving escalator with my cell phone), I think the effect is pretty cool, and it’s pretty simple to do in Photoshop. It does take a few steps, but they’re all super-easy, so I thought today I’d make it my “Photoshop Down & Dirty Trick” to inspire you into the weekend (and to inspire the thousands of folks heading out to the Photoshop World Conference & Expo in Vegas next week). Here goes:

If you look at the airport sign image at the top, you see it’s one large main image surrounded by around 20 or so smaller images, so the first step is to gather 20 or so images (here I’ve grabbed 20 random shots from a trip a few years ago), and then them in a folder. Then create a new blank document at the size you want for your effect (I made mine 14″x10″ at 300ppi but you can choose any size you’d like). 

Now, go under the File menu, under Scripts and choose “Load Files into Stack.” This will let you choose all 20 images, and it will automatically bring them into your document, each on its own separate layer. When you choose “Load Files into Stack” it asks you which files you want to load; choose that folder of 20 or so images; select all 20 photos inside it, and click OK.

Now all your images will appear as layers in your document, but chances are they’ll be pretty large (in my case, they filled the entire screen). So, to get them much smaller in size (and to have them all the same small size), go to Layers panel; hold the Command-key (PC: Ctrl-key) and select all the layers. Now press Command-T (PC: Ctrl-T) to bring up the Free Transform control handles. Hold the Shift key (so it scales down in size proportionally); then grab a corner and drag inward to scale all 20 layers down at the same time, as if they were one unit (and as seen here). When it’s down to a similar size to what you see above, press the Return key (PC: Enter key) to lock in your transformation.


Now we’re going to arrange our 20 layers into kind of an oval shape (like you see above). You do this by getting the Move tool (press the letter “v”) holding the Command-key (PC: Ctrl-key), and then clicking on the image you see on screen. By holding the Command-key like this, it automatically selects that layer. Now just drag it into position around your imaginary oval. Then do the same thing to the next image down in the bottom left corner. It selects that layer, and then drag it into position. It’ll only take you about minute to do all 20 layers using this “point and click on the image to make its layer active” technique. When you’re done, it should pretty much look like what you see above.

In the Layers panel, scroll down to the bottom layer in your layer stack and click on the bottom layer to select it. Now hold the Command-key (PC: Ctrl-key), and click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel (as shown here), and it creates a new blank layer directly beneath your current layer (that’s what holding the Command-key does â” otherwise it would have created a new layer above your current layer). Now press the letter “d” on your keyboard to set your Foreground color to black. Now, to fill this new layer with black, press Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace), so your image should look like it does here, with a black layer on the bottom, and all 20 image layers above.  OK, it’s taken a few steps to get there, but this is easy stuff, right? Right!

We’re going to make all that 20 layers black and white, all at once. First, in the Layers panel scroll to the top of the Layers stack and click on the top layer. Then go to the Adjustment Layer menu at the bottom of the Layers panel (it’s the fourth icon from the left â” it’s icon looks like half white/half gray circle), and choose Black & White. When you do this, it adds a Black & White Adjustment layer on top, and all the layers below it instantly turn black and white (as seen here).

Finally, we get to the fun stuff! Add a new blank layer at the top of the Layers stack (as seen above), and then switch to the Gradient Tool. When you have the Gradient tool, go up to the Options bar across the top and click on the tiny down-facing arrow to the right of the current gradient preview (near the top left of the bar). This brings up the Gradient Picker (seen here). Click on the Gradient that looks like a rainbow with red on either end (it’s called “Spectrum” as seen above).

Up in the Options Bar there are five gradient types. Click on the center one of the five (it’s called the “Angle Gradient); then click it in the center of your oval circle of photos and drag over to the left of your screen (as seen here) to add a spectrum gradient to your layer.

Now, at the top left of the Layers panel, change the Layer Blend mode from “Normal” to “Color” (as seen above), and now the color spectrum appears over your black & white images, but not the solid fill. That’s what I love about color mode â” you get all the color, but none of the fill. See you learned something handy to know right there.

STEP 10: 
We’re getting close but something’s still something missing â” the shadows around each photo. This is quick and easy.   Go to the fx menu at the bottom of the Layers panel (it’s the 2nd icon from the left), and from the list of Layers styles that appears, choose Outer Glow. When the Outer Glow window appears (a close-up is shown above), just change these settings: (1) Change the Blend mode to Normal. Set the Opacity of the glow to 75%. Click on the color swatch and choose Black as your glow color. Lastly, increase the size to around 100 pixels, and you’re done.

Above: see those building on the left. I applied the black outer glow to that photo. It looks like a drop shadow, but it’s on all sides, instead of just down and to the right like a standard drop shadow. 

STEP 11:
Now we’re going to copy that Outer Glow Layer Style from that layer, with those exact settings, and paste it onto all the other layers at once. Here’s how: start by right-clicking directly on the words “Outer Glow” that now appear just below your layers name, and the pop-up menu you see above appears. Choose Copy Layer Style (as shown here). Next, in the Layers panel; hold the Command-key (PC: Ctrl-key) and click on all the other layers to select them. Now right-click on any layer and from the pop-up menu that appears, choose “Paste Layer Style” to paste that Outer Glow effect to all 19 of your selected layers, all at once.

Above: Here’s what it should look like once you paste that Outer Glow Layer Style to all the other layers. OK, now we’re really close! 

STEP 12:
The final step is to open the image you want as your image image in the center (in this case, it’s a guitarist with a cigarette tucked into the headstock of his guitar), and copy and paste it into your document, and use Free Transform to size it down (as seen here). You’ll also want to copy and paste that Outer Glow Layer Style onto this layer, too (a shortcut is to hold the Option key on Mac / the Alt key on PC, and over in the Layers panel click on any one of the Outer Glow Layer Styles you’ve added and literally drag and drop a copy onto your new layer (holding the Option/Alt key like that makes a copy of what you drag). Lastly, to finish off this image, I went to the color gradient layer and lowered the opacity to 65% so the colors weren’t so vibrant.

OK, that’ it â” you did it. You made it. It took a few minutes, but it was all super easy, right? And, you hopefully picked up some cool techniques along the way (if you already knew all the techniques, that’s OK too â” you just learned a new special effect. One cool enough that Microsoft paid somebody do it over and over again in a whole series of ads).

Corey does this type of stuff all the time!
If you’re a KelbyOne member, you probably already know there’s a “Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks” column in each issue of Photoshop User magazine (the KelbyOne members’s print and/or digital magazine created just for members), and our own Corey Barker is always coming up with really cool stuff in that column, so make sure you check it out when you get your next issue.

I’m off to Photoshop World Vegas!
I’ve got a fashion shoot on a dry lake bed on Sunday in the 115-degree desert heat (it’s part of a class I’m doing on using the Elinchrom ELB 400 Pro Head Kit battery pack strobe kit on location), and then it’s PSW time! Hope to meet a whole bunch of you there!

Have a great weekend everybody!



P.S. If you’re going to Photoshop World Vegas, remember Canon is still running that special where if you buy a Canon DSLR (like a 7D Mark II, or a 5D Mark III, or a 6D), you get a year of the Adobe Creative Cloud Photographers Bundle (Lightroom cc and Photoshop CC), and a year of a bunch of our training on how to learn it all. Canon will be at the Expo, so stop by their booth, or go to this link with more details. See you there!