The creative tutorial home of image wrangler, Lesa Snider.


From Photo to Pencil Sketch

Turning sub-par images into an emotional piece of art

Recently, a weekend trip to Atlanta, GA took my husband and I through Chattanooga, TN. After gleefully following the touristy signs leading to the actual Chattanooga Choo-Choo train, we found ourselves standing in front of the little engine that could. Unfortunately, it was encircled by row and after row of the type of cheese-ball souvenir shops becoming all too common in America these days. Ugh.

Glare o' the Glasses

Removing lens glare with the Clone Stamp Tool

During a recent visit to Dallas, TX I had the opportunity to take my favorite college instructors from the Art Institute out to a nice dinner. I got a great picture of my information design instructor, Ester Kibby (whom I still affectionately call Ms. Kibby) and my very first HTML instructor (now a CSS wizard) and long-time friend, Wayne Batchelder.

Copying Layer Styles

So you've made that perfect drop shadow and tweaked it to your heart's conent. Now you need to add it to another layer. What do you do?

Instead of Control clicking the Layer Style icon to conjure up a contextual menu where you can copy and paste it, just press and hold the Option key and *drag* the effect onto another layer, as shown above.

Faster Resizing

Here's a handy keyboard shortcut I picked up recently while visiting the InDesign User Group in Orlando, FL. When using the Free Transform tool to resize an object, you probably all know that you can hold the Shift key while dragging a handle to resize the object proportionately, but did you know that you can also hold down the Option key to affect all handles at once? Please allow me to illustrate.

Without the Option key:

*With* the Option key:

Creating a Circuit Board Face

So the other day I get an email asking how to map the image of a circuit board onto a human face. An interesting though slightly unusual request, it's definitely not the oddest email I've ever gotten. Turns out, this is a really useful and easy technique and now that you know what to look for, you'll see it used in ad campaigns all across the country.

To illustrate the effect properly, I trotted over to istockphoto and purchased a photo of a circuit board and a face: a "Scary Frustrated Man Face" to be exact, just to spice things up a bit.

Weathered Words

Using the Brush tool to create grunge type

Make your text look like it's been around the block... or two! Call it weathered, grungy, or distressed, or what have you, the secret to creating this quick and easy effect is the same: All you need is a layer mask and one of the nifty artistic brushes already built into our beloved copy of Photoshop.

Fast Photo Spotlight

Two-step pro portrait studio effect

While at Photoshop World in Miami recently, I picked up a super quick method of drawing the eye to the heart of an image. By using a filter you've probably never heard of, you can produce an effect that truly beautifies a portrait, and looks like something you'd get from a real portrait studio (Olan Mills, anyone?).

Top 11 Keyboard Shortcuts

Thanks to Marc Rizzolo for asking about keyboard shortcuts, and thus giving me the idea to post a few of my favorites from Photoshop and Elements. The terrific thing is that most of these apply to all Adobe apps. Gotta love that!

And if these shortcuts don't light your fire, I'm going to show you how to make Photoshop build you a web page of *all* of them... all by itself. Here we go:

Goin' Grayscale

Using Channels to produce eye-popping contrast

I'm feeling pretty feisty today: I'm going to try to convince you to use *several* steps to perform a technique that technically requires only one. Impossible you say? Could be, but I'm gonna give it a shot.

The technique I'm talking about is converting a color image into grayscale. Yes you could simply choose Image > Mode > Grayscale and be done with it; but, what's that my Daddy always said? "You get what you pay for, Lesa Kaye!"

Scroll Zoom

This is a terrific tip for those of you with a scroll-wheel on your mouse, and even better for those with a sideways scroll "pea" (like that on Apple's Mighty Mouse).

Just choose Photoshop (or Elements) > Preferences > General and check the Zoom with Scroll Wheel box as shown below. Sweet!