Create a reflective bubble: Photoshop tutorial

I’m not one for lengthy tutorials if I can avoid it. I have followed many a tutorial in the past and slavishly followed every subtle colour change, every minor layer palette setting, etc, and spent hours striving to achieve the same result as the OP. I prefer quick results which can be customised to your heart’s content, to the nth degree… at your leisure.

I’ve pared the steps down to their bare minimum and still achieved a good looking reflective bubble. What do you think?

You can find my tutorial on how to create reflective bubbles in Photoshop here. Reflective PS Bubbles Tutorial

Create a Gradient ‘Slinky’ effect with Illustrator

The effect above is a simple and quick one to create using Illustrator.

All you need is an ellipse, a gradient and the Transform Effect tool. I don’t have the latest version of Illustrator but know the Transform Effect tool is available in CS6 and earlier. Hopefully, whatever version you’re using, you’ll be able to follow the tutorial and have fun with it.

You can download the free tutorial here:

Create a gradient slinky in Illustrator

Create a white background for your images in Photoshop

When I took this picture it was on a sheet of white paper. There was no additional lighting and was taken indoors. It was a grey day so there was no sunshine to help out. It was a recipe for disaster but by the power of Greyskull, well, Photoshop, actually, the image was taken from this to the above:

Whether you’re trying to improve the presention of individual items for posting on online shops or to make your blog look cleaner and sharper, the Color Range technique works wonders. (Singing **Flash! Ah-aaa** to myself while typing this).

I removed ALL of the shadows in the second image purely for the purpose of demonstrating how effective the Color Range technique can be. Want to know how it’s done? View or download the tutorial and try it yourself.

Free Create a White Background in Photoshop Tutorial .

Just so as you know that Anglicised spelling is the norm here and my speeeling is verry gud.

I’ve been reading up on taking pictures and staging them to make my blog look pretty. I have a ‘proper’ camera and know Photoshop pretty well. I’ve been using Photoshop (and Illustrator) over ten years now so I should have picked up a thing or two.

I thought I’d share some of the tips with you and you can make of them what you will. I haven’t tried them all but intend to when time allows.

Firstly, there are definitive lists of things to observe, include or fuss about. Just like there are seven signs of aging (female) and five signs of tiredness (male). If you believe the ads…

**As an aside, there is an advert for a company that sells you spectacles with the tagline: “We are defined by what we see”. Really? Unpack it and make sense of it. It’s rubbish.

Adverts try to mesmerise or lull us into some state of false consciousness that suspends or paralyses our critical faculties. Like the skin care products that say ‘clinically proven’. Clinically proven to do what? That is not stated. Illusions of meaning are carefully crafted. Beware the harbinger of the false premise! Think and question! Here endeth today’s rant, lol. **

Anyway, if these ‘definitive’ lists are to be believed there are certain fundamental elements for staging a scene. First find your focus and find ways to direct the eye to that focus by:

  1. Including distinctive shapes into the composition – vectors – lines of shapes and planes that lead towards the subject. For example, position the subject in a natural circle – eg, a spray of flowers behind around the subject (but not so as it looks like they grow out of somebody’s ear or top of the head). I, of course, have a natural halo and aura. (Please, I’m joking!).
  2. Choosing images that have similar  styles so you don’t combine, say, very minimalist images with graphics overload or lots of shots using natural materials like leather, sand, hessian, etc, with shiny plastics. Cohesive imagery are the keywords here. I can’t be any more definitive as it’s like everything – context and purpose dictate what can or is appropriate.

  3. Making sure colours complement  to create the effect and atmosphere or brand you want to achieve.
  4. Ditto pattern and texture.
  5. Including something called ‘needs’. This basically means essential things… (I don’t have a scooby what this means, really.) Food, water, light, comfort – I don’t know. Elements that suggest these things? Certainly not directly pertaining to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs unless they are expressed semiotically using symbolic meaning. Maybe that’s it.
  6. Adding some bling – Photoshop a sparkle, include a shiny trinket or piece of glittery jewellery.
  7. Including botanicals into the scene. Flowers, leaves, flora and fauna. Apparently they add that je ne sais quoi to a composition.

There. You know as much as me about it now.

Taking pictures (these are tips and techniques gleaned from courses, books and some experience while standing on the bunions of giants):

1. Be experimental in with the angle and distance you take pictures from. Include close-ups of whole and partial  areas of the subject. Include wide angles shots and think about taking aerial views and almost horizontal pictures to show surface detail or texture. Take landscape and portrait shots to vary layout and add interest.

2. Good lighting can save hours of editing. Can’t always get it and not all of us have studio lighting. If there’s good, natural light, though, use it.

3. Staging (see above – too many elements to go over again!).

4. My photography books say ‘fill the frame’ – so… fill the frame.

5. Make sure the pictures are clean. I take pictures of crochet and only when I look at the photographs do I finally see the single cat hair on, beside or in the baby booties. Gah.

6. Symmetry is somewhat frowned upon if graphic design advice is anything to go by (which I do), as is having the subject dead-centre. Arrange your picture using the rule of thirds to shift the central focus slightly off-centre.

7. Read up on depth of field and use it to blur the background so as to not distract the eye from the main subject. Or select the area in Photoshop and apply a Gaussian Blur.

8. Use a tripod, especially, if not always in poor light. I have one but often believe I can stand stock-still without the slightest muscle tremor and achieve perfect shots. I am invariably disabused of that belief when I see motion blur although I do wonder if my camera is on the blink first. Thankfully, not. It is me and the proof of the pudding is the end picture. Lesson learned is set up the tripod for picture perfect clarity.

Then what?

Well, a good place to start is to think about where your images are going to end up. If on your blog then you don’t need images that are bigger than the content width of your blog. They can result in slow load times when rendering your web pages. How big is that? Want to know?

Go to your blog, click on the three strip (‘hamburger’) on the browser menu at the top of you page. Click and select ‘Developer’ – to display a drop-down list which includes ‘Inspector’. Click on it and a panel will display at the bottom of the web page.

On the far left you will see an icon, a square with an arrow in its bottom right corner. Click on it then click on your web page – it will show you the structure of the page as defined in HTML and will give you values including ‘content width’ in pixels.

Mine is 739 px wide. Do I size my images up in PSP to this size? No. I’ve never been bothered. But I think I should. I know these things but don’t do them. *Sigh* What a pudding I can be.

By the way, DPI and PPI are not relevant to what the web displays. What is relevant is that they should be 300 PPI if they are to be output in hard copy, ie, printed.

Well, I’m exhausted now and want to go get a coffee and some lunch. Bye for now. I’d love to know if you have any tips or wrinkles you’d like to share.

Map Art to a 3D Object in Illustrator

Today I wrote a tutorial on how to create a 3D object in Illustrator and map some art work onto it to produce a sliced orb effect. It’s pretty nifty and easy to do. If you’d like to have a go, the tutorial is here:

Map Art to a 3D Object

The one is the image above was made slightly differently to the one in the tutorial – I created about 15 rectangles, increased the Shear value to 20º and drew a wrapping rectangle that  caught the top of the sheared rectangles on the right and took it down so that it ‘trapped’ whole rectangles instead of catching chopped off ends.

It rendered better. The principles are the same so please don’t be deterred.

Went for a nice drive to Newry at the weekend.  Takes me about an hour and a half with two tolls each way. Probably costs in the region of €20 all told. It’s worth it for some lovely views and driving over the Boyne bridge. And it’s also worth it because I do the best part of my monthly shop there. Newry is just over the border so is in the UK where it’s cheaper to shop even when the bank converts the cost to euro.

I buy a month’s worth of cat food, cat biscuits and little fishy stick things – that alone saves me just over €20. I buy lots of other household foods and things that I’d buy in the ROI anyway then go off round the big stores for clothes and shoes and the usual temptations.

Well, actually, I do it the other way round because I buy frozen foods from Sainsburys as well, including their fabulous and  gorgeous Quinoa burgers. They are delicious! Tasty and totally scrummy. They also had a new shape of Sainsbury’s own ‘Weetabix’ -round ones! Very cool – see the picture. Had to buy them. And Sainsbury stocks Billingtons Molasses Sugar! I could go on and on… red onion marmalade (chutney), foil lined with parchment, faggots, pork pies… glory fest. Am gloaty head just thinking about it all.

It may sound a bit extravagant but when I shop in Dublin petrol costs about €10. Parking – Jervis Centre – is €6 for 2 hours but as I generally stay longer than that the parking goes to €12, but is then for the day.

Anyway, nearly time for tea and that kitchen has some ciabatta packaging and a few other wrappings enlivening a dull worktop that needs seeing to.

Hope you enjoy the tutorial.

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