Friday, February 1, 2013

Made with PSE section

I added a section called "Made with PSE" for things I make. It may not be everything I ever make, but I figured I might as well display some stuff.

You can navigate to the page using the link at the "tab" top of this blog.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Using Brushes with Gradients

Let's take a look at the concept of using brushes and gradients together. As I said in yesterday's entry, I don't think there's a way to directly apply a gradient to a brush like in PSP. I have found a couple of pretty quick ways to do it, though. It just takes some practice. ;)

I should note that this isn't a beginner's guide to neither brushes or gradients. Maybe we'll cover those basics later.

Method 1: Linked Layers

So, I have this little tag that I made with a Poser render I want to add some magic effect to for the purposes of this tutorial. So, I'm going to bring the .jpg in PSE. It's nothing really noteworthy, but it will do...

Here's a look at the layer palette. It's a flatted .jpg so there is just one layer. Your image may have layers, and it should still work, as far as I've experimented. Just name your layers and pay attention to what you link together.

The first thing we need to do is add a new layer where we will eventually "paint" with the brush tool.

Rename the layer.This isn't a must, but I strongly advise getting in the habit of naming layers for their contents.

I've renamed my layer "Brush". Now, we need to add another layer above the Brush layer for the gradient.

I've renamed my second layer "Gradient" as you can see.

The next bit is a bit tricky and may take a couple of practice tries. So, read on a bit before you try it.

Now, go to your layers palette. Position your mouse cursor between the Brush and Gradient Layers. Press the ALT key on the keyboard until a little chain icon appears:

Do NOT release the ALT Key. Left-click with the mouse once. Your Brush layer and Gradient layers should now be "linked".

You can now go back to your Brush layer and paint there with any brush. Then, you can apply a gradient to your gradient layer. Here are what my layers look like.

I have a could of gradient painted brush effects on my image now. You should as well.

Method 2: Selection

The second method is easier at first glance, but may not give you as much control over layered images that you want to archive. Add a new layer to your image and name it Brush. Choose your brush and paint whatever you want on your image or canvas.

Now go up to the layers palette and hold the CTRL key and left click on the thumbnail of your Brush layer once.

You should now have a selection tightly around your your painted brush pattern. It kind of looks like "marching ants".

You can now add a gradient to your selection. I suggest creating a new layer and then adding a gradient on that layer. When you're finished, use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + D to de-select.

Stroke and Fill - Foreground and Background Color Boxes

If you read the last entry on the basic tools in PSE, you may have noticed I left the stoke (foreground) and fill (background) color box tools out. I wanted to cover them in an individual post. Let's take a look at the tools again. The color boxes are marked in blue:

The top box is stroke (foreground) and the bottom is fill (background). To toggle the colors in these boxes, click the opposing arrows:

You should see:

The keyboard shortcut for toggling the foreground and background colors is X.

The default colors in PSE are stroke (forground) of black and a fill (background) set to white. To return to those colors, use the little miniature color boxes off to the side.

You can also return to those default color settings at any time by hitting the D key on the keyboard.

Notes for Paint Shop Pro Refugees

In PSP, you can set up both the stroke and fill to use a solid color, a gradient, or a pattern by left-clicking on either color box to bring up the Material Properties options.

As far as I can tell, there is no way to put anything other than solid colors in PSE's color boxes. This is a small draw back because it means you can't directly draw and paint with gradients and patterns as easily.

PSP also allows you to toggle between applying the foreground and background colors to your canvas when using paint tools by using left and right mouse clicks. This doesn't happen in PSE. Right-clicking when the paint tools are selected just brings up the selected tool's context menu. This is a drawback I'm going to have to get used to because PSP's ability to toggle between colors with mouse clicks while painting has spoiled me. LOL I keep subconsciously trying to use this in PSE and it doesn't work.

A Brief Overview of the Tools

I thought a nice place to start would be with a brief overview of the tools. There may be be a more in-depth look at each one later. Keep in mind that most tools have subsequent tool options.

Here is what the tool palette looks like in Elements 11:

All Tools

Here is a vary simple definition of each tool. The definitions are by no means all-inclusive to the functionality of each tool (or set of tools).
ZoomZoom in and out of your image
HandAllows you to "pan" around images without changing the window position
MoveThe move tool allows you to move selected objects or entire images around your canvas
Rectangular MarqueeA selection tool that allows you to select parts of an image or canvas in the the form of a rectangle
LassoAllows you to make free-form selections by hand
Quick SelectionSelect parts of your image or canvas
Redeye RemovalRepair eye artifacts in photograps
Spot Healing BrushRemove artifacts and objects from images
Smart BrushSelectively brush on various effects and fixes
Clone StampClone parts of images over others to fix damage, add or remove objects, or apply effects
BlurTools to decrease the sharpness of details
SpongeTools for altering color saturation
BrushAllows you to "paint" color on images
EraserRemove parts of your image or object/td>
Paint BucketFlood-fill areas with the selected foreground color
Gradient ToolApply gradients to a selection, canvas, or image
Color PickerUsed to sample color from images for color-matching purposes
Custom ShapesAdd preset shapes to your projects
Text ToolAdd text to projects in a variety of modes
PencilDraw in pixels on raster layers
CropTool cuts away the parts outside the boundaries of the tool
RecomposeTransformation tool that allows elements of an image to be rearranged
Cookie CutterTool that contains a variety of shapes. When applied to a image, object, or canvas, this tool removes the area outside of the shape
StraightenStraighten crooked images (such as scanned images)

Notes for Paint Shop Pro Refugees

The closest thing to the burn and dodge brush tools are located in the Sponge tool options of Elements 11.

The closest thing to the smudge brush is in the Blur tool options. There doesn't seem to be an equivalent to the soften brush there, however. The closest thing I could find is holding down the ALT key on the keyboard and using the sharpen mode within the Blur tool options.

There is no pen tool in PSE capable of vectoring. Custom shapes (preset shapes) do not seem to be editable on a node-level, either.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

About this blog...


I'm a long-time Paint Shop Pro user who is trying to shift over and learn Photoshop Elements. Why? I do mostly 3-D related art these days. While I'm very comfortable with PSP and generally love it, sometimes it just doesn't stand up to what I need to do. Paint Shop Pro 9 has a brush size limit of 500 pixels and that's just sometimes too limiting, considering I'm addicted to Photoshop brushes now (which are huge most of the time). While I have a later version of PSP, it still has a small brush size limit of 999 pixels--and I really like PSP 9 better. I've tried all kinds of work-arounds for using larger brushes. Including exporting the Photoshop brushes to PNGs with abrViewer and abrMate, including colorizing them and using them as overlays or saving them as Paint Shop Tubes. A lot of the time, one or the other method works fine and is sufficient. However, at other times, neither cuts it--especially when working with texture maps for Poser.

So, I'm moving on, at least for some of the things I do. I can't afford Photoshop itself, so I decided to try Photoshop Elements again (I tried an earlier version). So, I've begun experimenting with Photoshop Elements 11. So, why blog about it? Well, honestly, hopefully so I stay motivated. I honestly believe the best way to learn--and retain that knowledge--is to experiment and write things down. Maybe something I learn while plodding along will help other "newbies" too. At times, unless your a digital scrapbooker or amateur photographer, there isn't a lot of information out there for Photoshop Elements users. So, I figured it couldn't hurt to put my personal journey with PSE "out there."

I'm not sure where this will lead. Whether this blog with just record my observations and tips... Or whether there will be full-fledged tutorials along the way... I don't even know if a single person out there in cyberspace will care to read along. But it should be an interesting journey, even if I do wind up talking to myself. ;0)