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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
In this movie we're going to take our scareflakes, and we're going to give them a little bit of a glow, and we are going to set them against a photographic background, and we'll adjust their translucency from one scareflake to another. Now, you can do that kind of stuff inside of Illustrator if you want; however, blurs and glows in particular are not Illustrator's forte. They don't look all that great, and they really slow things down. Whereas, if we go ahead and take our scareflakes into Photoshop, we can blur them, we can set them against a photographic background, we can paint in a layer mask, we can do all this stuff lickety-split, and we still retain the option of editing our artwork inside Illustrator.
Let me show you how that works. I'm going to go ahead and switch back to Illustrator. Now, because we want a photographic background, we want to get rid of the current background, so go to the Layers panel and turn off the layer at the bottom of the stack, backdrop. Now we are seeing white snowflakes against a white background, so in other words, we're not seeing anything. If you want to be able to see those scareflakes, then click on the Document button up here in the Control panel and drop down to Grid Colors in the Transparency area and switch the setting from Light to Medium, and then go ahead and click OK.
Now, go to the View menu and choose Show Transparency Grid, and you'll be able to see those scareflakes again. All right, we need to save a copy of this artwork, by going to the File menu and choosing the Save As command. And I am going to call my file No background.ai, click the Save button, and then confirm that the Create PDF Compatible File check box is turned on, and click OK. All right! Now let's switch back over to Photoshop, and I'll switch to the photographic image, which comes to us from the Fotolia Image Library, by the way, about which you can learn more at Fotolia.com/deke.
And I'll go up to the File menu and I'll choose the Place command, and I'll locate that file No background.ai, and I'll click the Place button in order to bring up the Place PDF dialog box. You are not really going to see any kind of preview here, because after all, it's white on white. So just click OK. And you'll see, there are your scareflakes. All right, I'll go ahead and zoom out a little bit, and I'll go up to the control panel, turn on the Link icon between the W and H values, and I'm going to change either one of those values to 48. I just happen to know that that does a good job of scaling this artwork. And I'll press the Enter key, or the Return key on the Mac, a couple of times in order to accept that change.
Now, the great thing is Photoshop by default goes ahead and places Illustrator artwork as a Smart Object, which means, among other things, if you later want to scale this artwork, all you have to do is go out to the Edit menu and choose a Free Transform command, or press Ctrl+T, Command+T on the Mac, and you'll see right up there in the control panel it's still scaled to 48%. So you are constantly referring to those original vectors. All right! I'm going to go ahead and escape out of there and zoom in a little bit. Now I am going to add a glow using a layer effect. So I'll drop down to the FX icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and I'll choose Outer Glow. And I want to use a shade of yellow, but something a little more vivid, so I'll click on that little Yellow color swatch right there, and I'll change the Hue value to 50 degrees, and I'll increase both the Saturation and Brightness value, S and B, to 100%.
Then I'll click OK. Take that Opacity value down to 50%. However, I want a higher impact Blend mode, so I am going to switch from Screen to Linear Dodge Add. Notice that creates a kind of fiery glow around the scareflakes. And now I'll click inside the Size value and take it up to 15 pixels and click OK. All right! So that's step number one. Step number two is to go ahead and paint in a little bit of translucency, and I am going to do that by adding a layer mask. So I'll click on the Add Layer Mask icon down here at the bottom of the Layers panel. Notice that the layer mask thumbnail is selected.
I am just interested in painting a little translucency, so might as well use the Brush tool, which you can get by pressing the B key. And I've got a big old brush going here. If you right-click inside the image window, you'll see that I've got it cranked up to 900 pixels, and then the Hardness is cranked all the way down to 0%. Go ahead and press the Enter key in order to hide that panel. Also note that my foreground color is black. That's very important. So if yours is white, press the X key in order to switch to black. And then finally, press the 5 key to reduce the Opacity of the brush to 50%.
And now I am going to click around inside of the image. I am not really dragging or painting. I am just clicking at various locations to add kind of dollops of darkness here and there, and those little bits of darkness inside the layer mask are translating the translucency here inside of the scareflakes. All right! I'll go ahead and click a few more times. I want this guy to be nice and bright. So if you go too far, if you make things a little bit too translucent, then press the X key in order to make the foreground color white and then click in those areas that you want to make brighter, like so.
And it's really up to you. These are all subjective modifications. All right! Once you're done, go ahead and press the M key to switch back to the default Rectangular Marquee tool. Now let's say I don't like the jazz hands; in other words, I don't like the bent elbows and that whole number, the sort of Al Jolson skeletons here. I want to change them inside Illustrator, and you do that by double-clicking on the thumbnail for this Smart Object. So just double-click right there in that thumbnail, there in the Layers panel, and Photoshop will produce this message, essentially telling you, here's how you handle Smart Objects: just make sure you choose the Save command when you are done with your edits.
Anyway, click OK, and you should switch automatically over to Illustrator, which is going to display a kind of disturbing message. Basically, it's saying something happened to this illustration and it didn't involve Adobe Illustrator. In fact, Photoshop did something to it, which is fine. Do you want to discard the changes so that you can edit your artwork proficiently inside of Illustrator, or do you want to keep those changes? Well, there really aren't any changes worth worrying about, so you want to say Discard changes, because you really want Illustrator to be in charge. You want to take advantage of those dynamic effects, and so forth.
So turn on the first option, click OK, and that will go ahead and open that artwork inside of illustrator. Now, notice we seem to have two versions of the artwork open. There is this one called No background that I just saved a moment ago. Close that. It has nothing to do with what's going on. Now, you might think if you were to make modifications inside this file, why then, Photoshop is linked to it and any saved changes will be reflected in Photoshop. That's not true at all. What happened? When I placed the file into Photoshop I embedded that file in Photoshop. So it's the next-door neighbor right there, Vector Smart Object1.ai.
That's the one that Photoshop is paying attention to. So let's go ahead and close No background.ai and edit this other one that's essentially open in memory, and that's it. And let's go ahead and zoom in to the artwork a little bit. And I'll grab my White Arrow tool, and I'll marquee around the hands and elbows, like so. And I missed them. I forgot that they are not really at that location. They are over a little bit here. So I'll marquee around the hands and the wrist, and then I'll Shift+Marquee around these elbows. And now I am going to go ahead and lift the arms like so, so that they're closer to the ghost skeleton's head.
And I might also perform a little bit of a rotation. I'll go ahead and grab my Rotate tool, click at the elbows, and then drag over just a little bit like so, in order to move those hands even farther in. So now we've got rave hands instead of jazz hands. Awesome! All right! Now, at this point if you want to hand off your modifications to Photoshop, then you just go ahead and close the file in Illustrator. Then Illustrator will ask you if you want to save your changes. You click on the Yes button here on the PC, or the Save button on the Mac, and then you'll have to manually switch back over to Photoshop, wait a moment, and then Photoshop will go ahead and update to reflect your changes.
And that, my friends, is the power of editing your vector-based illustrations here inside Photoshop.
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