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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.
Hey gang, this is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques. This week, we're going to take that avatar that we were working on last week, and we're going to export it as a universally compatible PNG file. The checkerboard represents the transparency, incidentally. Now you might be thinking, hey Deke, you know what? Buddy, I don't need your help to export a PNG file from Illustrator, thank you very much. But that's not what we're going to be doing. We're going to be copying the illustration and pasting it into Photoshop, because we're going to have more control there.
For example, we can compare that avatar to the original photograph and decide if it's a good match. Of course it's idealized, and it's stylized and all that. But is it recognizable? And we can also test whether the avatar is going to work when it's reduced in size. Because right now, when it's big like this, it looks great. But what if it's small? What if we reduce it? Well, that's something we can see uniquely inside of Photoshop and then we'll export the PNG file. Here, let me show you exactly how it works.
The first step in exporting your vector based avatar is to select it here inside Illustrator and copy it to the clipboard. And, obviously, you do that just by marqueeing all the elements with the Black Arrow tool. And a partial marquee will do it. It'll go ahead and get all those objects, even if they're on different layers. And then you go up to the Edit menu, and choose the Copy command, or you press Ctrll+C here on the PC, or Cmd+C on the Mac. Now switch over to Photoshop. And what I like to do is go ahead and paste the avatar into the original photographic image, just so you can see how well you've captured the spirit of the image.
Obviously, we're not looking for an exact photographic match, by any means. Because if we did that, we'd have a wildly overcomplicated avatar, and that wouldn't do us any good. So anyway, what you do at this point, is you go onto the Edit menu and chose the Paste command or just press Ctrl+V, or Cmd+V on a mac. And inside the paste dialog box, I recommend you go with smart object. You don't have to, but it's probably a good idea. That way, if you need to make changes, you can, just by double clicking on the smart object thumbnail and that will open that illustration back up inside of Illustrator and you can make any adjustments you need to.
Right, you now click OK and notice that it's coming in small and the reason is Photoshop automatically scales the graphic so that it fits in its entirety inside of the image. That's what really what we want. So, go up here to the W and H values, width and height values. Turn on the link icon and change either W or H to 100%. Then press the Enter key a couple of times here on the PC, that's the Return key a couple of times on the Mac in order to apply that change. Now I'm going to press the V key to switch to the Move tool, up here at the top of the toolbox.
And I'll just drag the avatar into position to see what kind of match we have. You can even press the five key or some other number key to change the opacity so that you can see both the avatar and the image at the same time. Now, to me, that looks great. Obviously, Colleen's eyes aren't really that big, and some other details are super stylized. But it's a good match and I think it really captures not only her personality, but her physical appearance as well. Alright, I'll press the zero key to increase the opacity back 100%.
Now I want export this drawing as a PNG graphic. So I'm going to click in the background to select it and then I'll just press the Backspace key or the Delete key on a Mac to get rid of it. And I'll go ahead and zoom out here a little bit, and I want the size of the canvas to match the image itself, so the first step is to go up to the Image menu and choose the Trim command. That'll get rid of any extra garbage. Select Transparent Pixels, and click OK. And that just tightens the canvas around the image. It does not crop anything away.
In fact, you can't crop anything, because after all, we're working with a smart object. Next go up to the Image menu and choose Reveal All. And then you'll see everything about the illustration. And the reason we chose Trim before Reveal All is because otherwise we'd have a bunch of extra stuff over here on the right-hand side. We do not want this white rectangle down here at the bottom of the image and the best way to get rid of it, the most precise way, is to zoom in beyond a 100%.
So, 200% for example. Then, switch to the Rectangular Marquee tool. This is my favorite method. I'd rather work this way than with the Crop tool. I just feel like I have more control and Crop tool has a lot of overhead. Then I'll drag from exactly where that white rectangle starts and I'll drag it all the way over to the left hand side of the image like that, then I'll press the up arrow key just for insurance. Just to make sure I don't have any white, so I'm just raising the selection one pixel and now I'll zoom back out by pressing Ctrl+0 or Cmd+0 on the Mac and I'll shift drag up here in the upper right hand corner.
To select all of it. And that way, I've identified the two extreme corners of the image. And now, I'll go up to the image menu and choose the Crop command. Now, normally, the Crop command deletes pixels. The only reason it doesn't in our case, is because, once again, we're working with a smart object. And you can't harm a smart object inside Photoshop. So I'll go ahead and choose Crop and that crops away the stuff we don't want. Now I'll click off the image to deselect it. I like to have a little wiggle room around the object itself, just so it doesn't get just ever so slightly cut off at the edges and you can do that by going up to the Image >Canvas Size.
So essentially, Canvas Size allows you to uncrop, to add to the canvas. So I'll choose that command. I've gone ahead and selected the relative check box, and I'm working in pixels, very important. I'm going to change the width value to 40 pixels and I'll take the height value up to 20 pixels. Now you may be wondering what in the heck I'm doing. Well, I'm adding 20 to the top of the image. I don't want to add to the bottom, because that'd reveal that white rectangle. So, I'll click on the bottom square. And that'll add 20 to the top. And then I'm adding 40, which you divide by 2 is 20 on either side.
So, 20 pixels on the left, 20 pixels at the top, and 20 pixels on the right. And now I'll click OK, and we end up getting just a little bit of wiggle room like so. Now, obviously at this point you go up to the File menu and choose the Save As command. And then save your changes to the native PSD format. I've already done that in advance. There's my file. It's called Just The Avatar. But you would definitely want to do that. I'll go ahead and cancel out. And the next step is to go up the File menu, chose Save As once again, and this time you're going to change the file format to PNG.
The PNG format that's going to automatically turn off layers, turn on as a copy. So you're going to save a copy of the image and I have already done so to this guy called FinalProfilePic.PNG, and by the way you may see this warning icon, all it's telling you is that you're losing layers and you're saving as a copy. You're not doing anything harmful in the least. Then you click Save, I've already done it, so I'll click Cancel. And instead I'll press Ctrl+O or Cmd+O on the Mac to invoke the open command, and I'll select final profile pic.png and I'll click on Open.
And you can now see that we have all the transparency intact by the way but all the layers have been fused together. So we just have a layer of zero, which actually means we didn't lose anything because before we had a smart object. That was set against a transparent background and now we have a static layer set against a transparent background. Now you're going to want to check to see, you're going to want to confirm, that this is going to read well as a small tiny avatar so. Right now I'm zoomed into 50%, which really doesn't tell me very much. And you can zoom out inside photo shop and go, oh it's going to be about that big.
But, it's going to look pretty cruddy, it's not going to give you much of an idea of what's going on. So, what I recommend you do instead, is go up to the Image menu and choose the Image Size command. Then, make your dialog box really big like this, you can expand it, here, inside Photoshop CC, and you can also get a preview. If you're working in CS6 or earlier, why then, you'll just have to apply the command in order to preview the effect. But notice, if I take the percent value down, notice I've got both width and height set to percent.
If I take those guys down to 25% and I have them locked together. You don't want to go with automatic, or by the way, by cubic sharper, which is what automatic does when you down sample. Because notice, even though Adobe is really pushed automatic and by cubic sharper for down sampling, it's in many, many ways very, very bad advice. Because if I choose automatic, you can see a bunch of halos around the details inside this image. And that is not going to give you an accurate view of what everything out there, from Facebook to Twitter, is doing automatically.
And it looks terrible as well. Instead, what you want is bicubic smooth gradients. And if you choose that, then you're going to see no halos anymore, and you're going to get a great looking image. And you can even take it smaller if you want to. I could take it down to like 12.5%. And as you can see right here on the screen, the detail's holding up very, very nicely and those strokes that were formerly very thick inside of Illustrator, you may recall from previous movies we were using 12 point and nine point strokes throughout.
They are now scaling quite successfully. I don't suggest you actually apply the command, by the way. If you can preview here inside Photoshop CC then you should just cancel out, all you are trying to do is, just make sure things are working out beautifully. You then submit this image as a profile picture to Facebook or Twitter or any number of other sites as a PNG file that we successfully created starting in Photoshop, then taking the whole thing over to Illustrator, rendering out the avatar, and then taking the avatar back into Photoshop in order to render it out as a universally-suported PNG file.
Alright. I now release you to publish your avatar anywhere you like. If you're waiting for next week's movie, you are not going to believe this, I, I assure you. I'm going to show you something, and you're going to go, no, that's impossible, Deke. We're going to take this image right here. I printed it at 300 pixels per inch. But it's a, just a tiny postage stamp, right? This is real. And we're going to upsample it in Photoshop in order to create this sharp, highly contrasting image right here.
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