Here’s a freebie for all my loyal readers: a free Photoshop action I created myself to eliminate repetitive tasks I (used to) go through each time I scanned in a new sketch for further work in Photoshop. Boost your productivity with this free Photoshop download.
My custom Sketch Prep action — as you can see from the screenshot — simply resets your color swatches back to the default black/white, does a Select All on the background layer, cuts the image to a new layer (leaving you with a flat white background layer) and then bumps the opacity of the newly-created layer down to 20%. It then adds a fresh new blank layer for you to start drawing in.
Great resource for Adobe Photoshop users — reference cards for quick overviews of Photoshop’s interface, specific and often-used tools.
Includes links to versions for Photoshop CS3 and CS4 as well as both Macintosh and Windows versions.
Some of the “cards” are actually links to Adobe’s own online help (which is where the default Help in CS4 apps now takes you). But the rest of the cards look helpful in learning or referencing common tools such as the Pen tool, the Marquee tool, and the Brush tool. Worth a look and a download for the reference cards that suit your workflow. Sure to enhance your productivity.
Wacom has a new online service and free companion software tool download called Bamboo Dock. The apps available so far are basic — a drawing/doodling app, a map you can draw on and a handwriting recognition app. The others I couldn’t demo as a Wacom Bamboo serial number is required.
The online service is a sort of virtual sketchpad, allowing you to doodle, draw, scrapbook and upload files to “spaces” which are like collections, and inside of each one can add multiple canvases with different contents, themes and such.
I am having a hard time imagining a use for the online portion, but the companion apps look like they might be handy and should be interesting to see how things progress as new tools are developed/released.
The pen tool is one of those obscure graphics programs tools that everyone tries once, and then gets so confused by that they never get any further with it. And understandably. It looks like a fountain pen, but it doesn’t act like one. Click and “draw”, you get weird “handles” sprouting out from a dot. Ignore that, and some annoying rubber band line gets stuck to your pen tip, all distorted out of — not even a straight line! Right there most Illustrator users think to themselves “this program sucks”.
Cartoonist Mike Foran has a couple of cool number 2 pencil Photoshop brushes – free to download – that I stumbled across the other day. For some time now I have been on the casual lookout for a Photoshop brush that mimicked a regular-ol’ number 2 pencil. Seems Foran was on that line of thought as well.
Foran’s brush has a nice line quality, varied from thick to thin based on your Wacom tablet pressure, and has a slight angle similar to a flat-worn pencil tip.
The brush also has a nice light feel at light pressure, and darkens quickly with pressure added. The texture and look of the brush marks/pencil lines is perfect.
A plugin that I always forget to tout, since the functionality it provides seems so intrinsic to Illustrator once it’s installed, I forget it’s a third-party enhancement.
Select Menu for Adobe Illustrator (Mac and Windows, free) from Graffix Software is available for every version of Illustrator from 8 on up to CS3. It adds additional selectable items under the Select -> Objects menu.
This plugin really comes in handy at the production stage of prepping your art, allowing you to find all sorts of items that you need to preflight. It especially comes in handy after flattening transparency, such as when you export art to an older version of Illustrator. I find lots of klunky and open paths all over the place after flattening transparency, and I couldn’t imagine how much of a pain in the neck it would be to clean up art without Select Menu.
Sim Daltonism works as a floating palette which converts an area under your mouse cursor to the selected type of color blindness — it works similar to the Apple Digital Color Meter sampling utility. There are 8 different types of color blindness to test. Color Oracle works as a menubar item which converts the entire monitor to the selected mode of color blindness, but only offers the three most common forms.