The creative tutorial home of image wrangler, Lesa Snider.


Ornamental Vector Grunge Frame

Frame your photo with a Smart Object

Grungy, ornamental, highly-detailed vector illustrations are all the rage these days. Graphic designers are plunking them onto any and everything, and using them to spice up backgrounds, dress up the edges, and lead a viewer's eye. But it just so happens that these little works of art are also a *fantastic* option for photo framing. However, if you're not an illustrator or a high falutin' designer, the words "vector" and "illustration" probably sent chills down your spine.

The Secret to Round Edges

How to add soft or hard round edges to your photo

If you've ever perused the home page of iStockphoto.com, you'll see some of the most beautiful photography on display, accented with lovely rounded edges.

Oh sure, you probably know how to create a soft feathered edge (node#216) but did you know that there's a tool custom-built for creating rounded edges of the sharp-edge variety? It's slightly hidden beneath the Vector Shapes Tool, but it's there.

Today we'll take a look at how to use the that tool to create edges even iStockphoto would be proud of (which is where these images came from).

Post Selective Focus

How to create a blurry background

Sometimes it's tough to get a right proper blurry background in your photos if you don't have a digital SLR (interchangeable lens camera). Oh sure some of the point and shoot cameras have specialized shooting modes for this type of thing (namely portrait mode), but what if you forget and shoot in automatic? Are you doomed to be forever in focus? Negative. It's really easy to produce a beautifully blurry background in both Photoshop and Elements, and that's exactly what I'm going to show you today.

Selective Color Photo Effect

How to create a partial color photo in just two steps!

What's the simplest way to highlight a certain portion of a photograph? Something that will really draw the viewer's eye to a given area?

As you can imagine, there are a gazillion answers to this question; however, today I'm going to share with you what I truly believe to be the quickest and easiest method: Make part of the photo color and the rest of it black and white. It's a really interesting photo effect, and you'll be amazed at how quick and easy this effect can be to create. Plus, this technique works exactly the same in Photoshop Elements.

Tips for Better Text, Pt. 2

Continuing with our exploration of making text look better (see node#272), today let's have a look at leading. Like kerning, leading is another trick page-layout gurus have had up their collective sleeves for eons, though for a lot of folks, the terminology is completely foreign. If you have ever put extra returns between lines of text to create space, or wondered how designers make lines of type appear all squashed together, then this tutorial is for you.

Before I show you how to adjust leading in Photoshop, let's define it.

Blurry Background a la Lensbabies

How to recreate the effect of a popular new lens

One of the many cool digital SLR lenses on the market today are Lensbabies. It's a bendable lens, if you can imagine, that actually lets you control which area of the photo is in focus. Once you get the right angle, you lock the lens into place and snap your shot. It's very cool but since it's a proper lens, it carries a proper price. It's not outrageous, but at about $300 it's not what I'd call an impulse buy.

The No-Name Photo Effect

I really tried hard to name today's tip, honestly I did. I know I've seen the effect, but I've never heard it referred to in a specific way. I thought of calling it High Contrast Greenish Tinge, or Gen X Extreme Photo Effect, or a number of other catchy titles that didn't quite gel. (Copy editors, being all the wiser, know better than to try and write something catchy and cute, because it will just sounds corny to everyone but themselves.)

Tips for Better Text, Pt. 1

With so much time spent focusing on photo manipulation, I thought I'd spend a little time on text, and explore a very important option living deep inside the Character palette: kerning. Those of you skilled in the art of page-layout using Quark and InDesign know all about kerning, but did you know you can do it in Photoshop? Before I show you how, let's define this odd little word.

What the heck is kerning?

Simply put, kerning is tightening the space between letters. For example, note the distances between the letters circled in this screenshot.

Lines of All Kinds

Sometimes it's the simplest stuff that proves most challenging.

Take drawing lines in Photoshop. Sounds easy enough, if Adobe hadn't buried the Line Tool (yes there is one). But what if you need a line with arrows? Did you know there's a tool for that too? Today I'll introduce you to Photoshop's hidden Line Tool and the secret to customizable arrows at either end. As a bonus, I'll show you how to draw those handy little red circles you see in some of my tutorial screen shots. As luck would have it, the steps are identical in Photoshop Elements.

Cropping to the Rule of Thirds

Finding Photoshop's hidden cropping grid

Today I'm going to share with you a trick the pros use for composing truly visually pleasing photos. It's called the rule of thirds. It's a wonderful guideline to follow when composing a shot with your camera, and when cropping. If you're familiar with this rule already, you might be interested to know that there's a way to crop photos to this rule *perfectly* in Photoshop.