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Top Five Artistic Photoshop CC Tips and Tricks

Following are five favorite creative and artistic techniques for Photoshop CC. Some of these tricks were developed are tried-and-true helpers that have been around for years.

Smooth skin perfectly

When you see glamour shots, one of the things you’re not seeing is the texture of the skin. No wrinkles. No creases. Indeed, the skin appears to be perfectly smooth.

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Here’s how you can achieve that effect without blurring:

  1. Open a copy of your image.

  2. Add a new layer by clicking the New Layer button in the Layers panel.

  3. Make a selection.

    The selection should be away from the face area, and sized at least one-half the width and height of the face.

  4. Fill the selection with color; then deselect.

    Press Option+Delete (Mac)/Alt+Backspace (Windows) to fill it with the foreground color.

  5. Select the Healing Brush and set the source point.

    Make sure that the Sample: All Layers option is selected in the Options bar and that Aligned is deselected. Option/Alt+click in the center of the filled selection.

  6. Paint over the skin.

    In the Layers panel, click on the lower layer — the original image layer — to make it active. Click and drag with the Healing Brush to smooth areas of skin. The Healing Brush replaces the texture of the skin (pores and all) with the texture of the source area (smooth).

Make a photo into a painting

You have dozens of ways to create a “painterly” effect in Photoshop.

image1.jpg
  1. Open a copy of your image as a Smart Object.

  2. Select the shadows and blur.

    Open the Channels panel and Command/Ctrl+click the channel at the top (RGB or CMYK or Lab) to make a selection according to the brightness of each pixel. Use the shortcut Command+Shift+I/Ctrl+Shift+I to invert the selection (select shadows rather than highlights).

    Apply a slight Gaussian Blur, perhaps 1 or 2 pixels, to blur detail in the darker areas.

  3. Select the highlights and sharpen.

    You need to reselect the highlights, so again Command/Ctrl+click the channel at the top (RGB or CMYK or Lab). Apply the Sharpen→Smart Sharpen filter with initial settings of Amount: 200% and Radius: 2 pixels.

  4. Add a canvas texture to the image.

    Don't deselect. Use the Texture→Texturizer filter to add a slight canvas texture, enhancing the painterly effect.

Create a sketch from a photo

Simulating a painting in Photoshop is great, but sometimes you might need line art or a sketch. Photoshop has a couple of filters that do a nice job of creating pencil sketches, but none of them really do a great job with outlines. Here’s an easy way to create line art from a photo.

image2.jpg
  1. Open a copy of your image and create a Smart Object.

  2. Apply the Smart Blur filter.

    Set the filter to Quality: High and Mode: Normal.

  3. Define edges with Smart Blur.

    Reopen the Smart Blur dialog box and set the Mode pop-up menu to Edge Only. Adjust the sliders until the white-on-black preview shows approximately the amount of detail you want in the final image; then click OK.

  4. Invert the colors.

    Using the button at the bottom of the Layers panel or the Layer→New Adjustment Layer menu, add an Invert adjustment layer.

  5. Blur the lines.

    Click the Smart Object layer again in the Layers panel to make it active and apply a 1- or 2-pixel Gaussian Blur to soften the edges of the lines.

  6. Adjust the thickness of the lines with a Levels adjustment layer.

    In the Levels dialog box, drag the middle slider control left and right until you’re satisfied with the image’s appearance.

Create snow or rain

Here’s a multi-use technique that you can use to create falling snow or rain.

image3.jpg
  1. Add a new layer to your image by clicking the New Layer button in the Layers panel.

  2. Still in the Layers panel, change the layer’s blending mode from Normal to Screen.

  3. Choose Edit→Fill to fill the layer with black.

    Because the layer's blending mode is Screen, you won't see the black fill.

  4. Add Noise to the layer.

    Use the Noise→Add Noise filter to add some variation to the layer. Use Amount: 20%, Distribution: Gaussian, and mark the Monochromatic check box.

  5. Enlarge the noise with the Crystallize filter.

    Use the Pixelate→Crystallize filter to turn the little noise into larger chunks. Use Cell Size: 3 for small snow or rain; try 7 or 10 for larger flakes. You can also apply a slight Gaussian Blur to increase the size.

  6. Sharpen the edges.

    Using the Unsharp Mask filter, sharpen until the snowflakes have distinct edges. Use Amount: 100%, Radius: 2, Threshold: 0. When you create rain, use Amount: 40%.

  7. Apply a Levels adjustment.

    In the Levels dialog box, drag the middle slider about halfway to the left; then drag the left slider slowly to the right until you see the amount of snow or rain that you want.

Create the Glass Text effect

Perfect for adding a large copyright notice right across the center of your image (while allowing the image’s beauty to still show through), this technique is so easy it doesn’t even need a step-by-step explanation.

Simply type your copyright info or any other text and add a Bevel and Emboss layer style (perhaps with a slight Inner Shadow and maybe a 1-pixel black Stroke effect). Then, at the top of the Layers panel, reduce the Fill slider (not the Opacity slider) to 0 (zero). The pixels on the layer become transparent, but the layer style remains visible.

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