A few years ago, I was hired by Microsoft to work on developing characters for their Hello Secure World secure coding initiative. Above is one of the unused covers featuring characters I designed for that campaign. You can see some custom comics I created for the campaign on the HelloSecureWorld website. (You’ll need to install MS Silverlight to see the comics).
Here’s the revived Edsel, all ready to go for its first drive around town. This was based on the earlier series of sketches I posted a few days ago.
August 23, 2010
If you’ve used Photoshop for any length of time, you owe it to yourself to learn and use a few keyboard shortcuts. Using them will speed up your workflow, especially for repetitive tasks. Keyboard shortcuts can also be used to invoke commands that *don’t* have a specific keyboard shortcut, as I will explain shortly.
You can find a comprehensive list of Photoshop keyboard shortcuts online. I won’t bother repeating the whole list here, but here are a few well-worn shortcuts I use day-to-day. I will be outlining Mac keyboard shortcuts below, but with the appropriate substitutions you can use them just as effectively within the Windows version. (Note: Cmd on Mac can be substituted with Ctrl on Windows, and Option on Mac can be substituted by Alt on Windows).
So without further ado, here are my most often used Photoshop keyboard shortcuts:
Cmd-O (Open a File)
Cmd-N (Create a new PS Document)
Shift-Cmd-N (Make a new layer)
Cmd-J (duplicates a layer / duplicates a selection)
Cmd-U (Invokes the Hue / Saturation panel)
Cmd-T (Transforms an existing selection)
Shift-Cmd-Option-E (flattens layers into one layer, but preserves all existing layers) – this is safer than flattening all layers into one via Cmd-E
Cmd-G (Groups layers into a Layer folder)
Cmd-S (Saves an open PS file)
Cmd-A (Selects All)
Cmd-Z (Undo) (Probably my favorite)
I use the following keyboard shortcuts to access the Toolbox:
B (brush tool)
M (Rectangular/Elliptical Marquee tool) NOTE: Shift-M will toggle between the two.
U (Shape tool)
L (Lasso tool) NOTE: Shift-L will toggle between the different Lasso tools
C (Crop tool)
W (Magic Wand tool)
[ (decreases brush size)
] (increases brush size)
As I mentioned earlier – these are the keyboard shortcuts I use every day, for the type of work I do.
You can also customize Photoshop’s keyboard shortcuts to suit your needs, by going to the Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts menu. This, in my opinion, has made all the difference in upping my Photoshop productivity.
Are you annoyed by the seemingly limited Undo (Cmd-Z), which only cycles back to the last performed step?
So I fixed it. Photoshop has a command called Step Backward, which lets you cycle back multiple times. This works the way Undo should work, in my opinion, but the keyboard shortcut is mapped to Shift-Cmd-Z.
Not wanting to have to hit 3 keys to achieve my perfect vision of Undo, I reassigned Cmd-Z to Step Backward and assigned Shift-Cmd-Z for Undo. When I hit Cmd-Z, Step Backward does its thing, which is what I really want. At last, I have my multiple Undos! (This tip alone has erased one of my biggest pet peeves with Photoshop – the lack of a multiple Undo with Cmd-Z.)
Here are a few custom keyboard shortcuts I’ve assigned:
Gaussian Blur (Option-F6)
Color Halftone (Cmd-F6)
So there you have it – my favorite Photoshop keyboard shortcuts. There’s more to say about my Photoshop workflow but I’ll save that for another blog post.
P.S. If you’re new to Photoshop, I would strongly recommend checking out this excellent primer on Photoshop tools and techniques.
Edsel concept designs. I’m partial to the stylized one on the lower right side, which came about as a happy accident (love those, don’t you?)…
On the top row are a few concepts I drew. Below – the finished piece – inks, final, and color plate.
The top image above shows my rendition of a VW bus .
Below is an alternate take that represents my first draft.
August 22, 2010
I’m listing the software I use as part of my regular workflow. Some of the tools are specific to my craft, while others fall into the category of “can’t-live-without” productivity apps.
- Adobe Photoshop CS4: my de-facto go-to tool. Photoshop touches practically every angle of my workflow, whether it be graphics for the web, illustration, or comics.
- Corel Painter X: Admittedly I use Painter primarily for inking. Its coveted Scratchboard tool gives me the line variation I need.
- Autodesk Sketchbook Pro: New to my arsenal – but has quickly found its way to my must-have list. Sketching with this program rivals drawing on paper for me.
- Launchbar: super fast application launcher (and much, much more)
- MarsEdit: A must-have for composing and editing blogposts. Highly customizable and easy to use. This powerful blogging tool is essential, especially if you manage multiple WordPress sites.
- Divvy: lets you quickly and accurately position application and Finder windows exactly where you want to on your screen.
- Blast: this program lives in my menubar and makes it a snap to quickly grab recent files I’ve been working on, regardless of their location on my hard drive. No more tunneling down into Finder windows to get what I’m after.
- Typinator: keyboard macros make writing boilerplate text a breeze.
- Default Folder: Imagine setting a specific application to always point to a specific folder. The time saved by this application alone is enormous.
- Pages: Fast and elegant word processing without all the bloat of MS Word.
- Flickr Uploadr: This one has some quirks, but until I can find a better tool that lets me upload my photos to Flickr, I’m stuck with it.
- Google Chrome: Fast browser that lets me synch bookmarks across all my machines.
- Dropbox: 2GB of free space you can use to share files between machines. A browser interface lets you grab your files anywhere you have an Internet connection.
- Transmit: FTP wasn’t sexy until this application came along. I’ve used this program since 1996.
- SpamSieve: A terrific program that sorts junk mail from good mail. It learns quickly, and reduced my junk mail by several orders of magnitude.
- Backblaze: For my off-site back-ups.
- iStat: A calendar, clock, processor monitor, network checker, etc. all rolled into a neat menubar applet.
- iDefrag: Mac hard drives get fragmented. I run this app once every 3 months.
- Disk Warrior: The Lou Ferrigno of disk utilities for the Mac. I run this once a month, or when my system gets wonky.
- SuperDuper: makes reliable bootable back-ups. Each of my regularly used machines runs this app.
- Applejack: repairs permissions and clears caches. My first go to utility for routine Mac maintenance.
- Chronosync: synchronized back-ups – useful for archving specific folders from one hard drive to another.
I am always on the lookout for new tools – if you have any suggestions or recommendations, please share them in the comments below.
August 22, 2010
As of today, this site effectively replaces Sivamstudios.com, my former portfolio site. The reasons for this are many fold. To sum up, the old site was too cumbersome to update and maintain. Rather than just simply build on top of it, I felt that a fresh start was needed, with new URL and all.
I plan to use this site as a landing ground for all my illustration work. I will be documenting process and sharing tool tips as well. This will replace all the art related posts you’ve seen on pcweenies.com.
It’s still a work in progress, but I felt the time was right to get it out there. Things aren’t perfect yet, so hit me up on the comments (or email me) if you want to send along some feedback.
Hope you enjoy the new site!
Above: process work showing rough pencils, digital inks, and a color plate for a 1970′s vintage American car.
I added colors and inks and a few color comps for today’s vehicle study.