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Photoshop CS4 offers an abundance of helpful shortcuts and hidden tricks that allow designers and photographers to get more done in less time. In Photoshop CS4 Power Shortcuts, Michael Ninness reveals hundreds of tips to boost productivity, including the top 20 power shortcuts every Photoshop user must know. He covers strategies for better document and panel management, and offers techniques for becoming quicker and more nimble when using layers, adjustment layers, and layer masks. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download the keyboard shortcut guide from the Exercise Files tab.
All right, this is one of my favorite power shortcuts of all Photoshop shortcuts. It has to deal with the Crop tool and using it to make the canvas bigger. So, I'm going to press C for the Crop tool. It's one of those things where if you are a new user or even if you have been using Photoshop for a while, you don't think to use the Crop tool like this because usually when you think crop, you are making the image smaller. I am going to go ahead and start be dragging out a crop boundary, like so, just like normal. Let me escape that for a second. As you drag, you will see that initially you can't go outside the original canvas size, right? It just stops at the edge. But if you let it go and then go grab a handle again, it lets you go beyond the canvas. So what does that mean? That means as you drag this out, if I were to press Return right now, your canvas is going to grow to this visible area. So, we'll take this back to the beginning here.
If you want to grow your canvas from the center, hold down the Option key or the Alt key on Windows and as you drag, it's going to do it from the center. If you hold down the Shift key with that, it's going to do it proportionally from the center, so I'm holding both keys down. So what I like to do is just kind of eyeball it, do all four sides at the same time proportionally by holding both keys down. Then I come back up to the top and I just make this top handle little bit shorter just to create a slightly asymmetrical canvas here. Now, I want to hit the Return or Enter key, I have made my canvas larger and created a matte or background behind the image. By default, it's going to pick up the background color. In this case it was white because this layer was a background layer, all right. So, probably, you might want to be able to change your mind, maybe to control the color of that background. So, I'm going undo this. Command+Z, Ctrl+Z.
Before we do this canvas trick, I'm going to convert the background layer. Again the quick and easy way to do that is to use to make better key, Option+double-click or Alt+double- click on the word Background, just converts it to a layer Layer 0. I'll get the Crop tool again, press C. I'm going to drag out again initially just to the edge then hold down Alt and Option and drag a corner handle. Maybe do a Shift at the same. You can do it proportionally. Let go the keys, let it come back up to the top handle, just bring that down a little bit. Hit the Return or Enter key and now I get this Layer 0 isolated by itself as transparency behind it.
Again if I want to create a separate matte color behind, I would hold down the Command or Ctrl key, click on the new layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to create a blank layer and then we can fill that layer with white. You can use the Edit > Fill command and choose the Foreground Color, Background Color, or just specifically white. Click OK. Or if I want it to be Neutral Gray, Shift+Delete or Shift+Backspace will bring up the Fill command and we can choose 50% Gray as one of the preset colors there. Now, I have got a very easy way to create a custom matte behind the layer as a separate layer. So I can control the two independently. So, cool little trick with the Crop tool to make your canvas size instead of smaller.
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