The Mac Lab

Archive for January, 2011

Door Number One (Week 19)

by on Jan.31, 2011, under Blog

Words cover secrets like trapdoors over underground passages. To find out their true import, you have to be willing to explore.
Deepak Chopra

Since some of you have yet to discover the joy of such explorations—especially in the context of our class blog—I’ll begin our second semester with an image that answers the question of how to succeed in all you want to achieve in life (or the Mac Lab).


That’s why I begin each day with the comics. Some days start with a smile, and occasionally, others with a jolt of recognition. Most people see the comics as a distraction or waste of time, never suspecting that deep truths are sometimes hidden in the funnies.

Apologies to Wiley for replacing treading water with flatlining. But you have to admit, in the Mac Lab, the terms are interchangeable. Besides, you can only tread water for so long. Like it or not, one day you’ll have to make the hard choice. It took me 35+ years to decide to begin the climb in earnest. Live and learn.

Don’t put it off; today’s the day to take your first (or next) step.

Speaking of Today: The Tip of the Day will open the door to a most excellent creative tool you’ve probably used but… Just watch the video and you’ll understand.

Brush Tooling: There are five short Quick Tips to help you get the most out of today’s exploration of the Brush Tool. Watch, listen, learn, and experiment: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05

Reminder: I fully expect everyone to be up to speed on today’s videos by the end of the period. It’s a new semester and a new beginning for all of us. The clipboard reflects the fresh start; everyone starts with a clean slate: zeroes across the board. (Except for the four students who spent 10 hours in here on Friday cleaning and updating the lab.) Oh, and just to show that you’re still paying attention, please log a 10 in the Extra Time column and circle it. Those who don’t, have chosen the wrong door. Vultures will feast.

Kudos: Eric T’s poster is a work in progress but the idea was just too perfect to pass up for this week’s featured image.

020111: Once again the Mac Lab is ahead of the curve. While the rest of America has to wait until tomorrow before celebrating Groundhog Day, we get to experience the excitement today! And possibly tomorrow. How about Thursday too? Watch this video then start at the top of the page and work your way down doing everything once again. Of course, for 35 to 40% of our classmates, it’ll be their first time. You can thank them for today’s rerun.

I’ll explain more in class.

Tips: Watch today’s Tip of the Day and the four new Quick Tips.

A Little Advice: Follow instructions, watch, listen, and learn those skills, then put them to use!

Kudos: Marena A and David K for discovering successful uses for the Brush Panel.

0202: Congratulations! The results are in for Tuesday. But first, here are the stats for Monday. Since we have 230 students you can see the problem. Sure, some kids were absent and a few have multiple classes in here but it’s obvious that some of you aren’t living up to your end of the deal, right?

So, you ask, how did Tuesday go? The numbers had to improve, right? Feast your eyes on this and then watch this video.

Groundhog Day: Everything except the 10 minute bonus is required once again unless you can show me, in your browser’s history, that you viewed all of the videos on Tuesday and you logged the 10 minutes on Monday and/or Tuesday. If you’ve done that, you’re free to View today’s Tip of the Day and today’s two Quick Tips then begin working.

Everyone else, begin here. I’ll be checking your browser history tomorrow. And no, as I’ve already stated, you may not log the 10 minute bonus today (unless you were absent Monday and/or Tuesday).

020311: I’ve got a question… Why did yesterday’s Groundhog Day clip have 200 page views yet the two Quick Tips (01 and 02) had only 156 and 151 respectively? And the second Quick Tip is only 18 seconds long! Here’s the evidence. I think you know what this means… It’s Groundhog Day!

Watch this video and begin again.

Today’s Videos: A very cool (and short) Tip of the Day is ready and waiting for you as are three new Quick Tips: 01 | 02 | 03 |

International Update: Someone from the Republic of Uzbekistan stopped by. That makes 170 countries and counting. Yes, I know I said the count was 170 right here but I forgot that one of the countries on the list is called Not Set (which is Google-speak for I have no idea where these people came from) and that one doesn’t count.

020411: I’m thinking most of us have come to an understanding about the second semester so I’m very relieved that I don’t have to show you this video or, heaven forbid, this video. 😛

The Sensational Six: Today you’ve got six short tutorial vids. The Tip of the Day is 2:44; kind of like a little longer multifaceted Quick Tip. Today’s Quick Tips are like short Tips of the Day with lots of useful strategies and techniques. Just like Miley C, you’ve got the best of both worlds!

Handy Links, Just for You:

020411: Using Text as a Mask And a few of other must-know strategies and techniques
I refer to the link as a lock in the layer but you get the idea, right?

Saving Custom Document Size as Preset Learn to save common Photoshop document sizes as presets to speed up your workflow

The 2,500 Pixel Limit Photoshop will not allow you to make brushes larger than 2,500 pixels and that’s why the option is grayed out

The Mac Lab Custom Brush Collection Try to make your custom brushes between 2,000 and 2,500 pixels for consideration for inclusion in our upcoming hi-res brush library

Create Another Custom Keyboard Shortcut Whenever you use a Photoshop command over and over, it’s a good idea to learn the shortcut or create one of necessary

Remove Unwanted Brushes with a Click Student Tip: Here’s and easy way to trip the fat from any brush set Shortcut: Option+Click

What a great way to end Groundhog Week!


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Little By Little (Week 18)

by on Jan.24, 2011, under Blog

Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.
Edmund Burke

Today the call goes out today for Mac Lab Mentors. Our Tip of the Day deals with just that topic. Watch this video up to the point it stops applying to you. If you’re interested, watch the following videos as well: Sign Up | Brainstorm | Audio Star Search | Video Star Search | Computer 46 has a microphone and is set to go with GarageBand and iMovie.

Reminder: Finals start tomorrow. Check the clipboard and refine your projects. You’ll have time to work during the one-on-one meetings Tuesday through Thursday. Tardies count and traffic is no excuse because there WILL be a traffic jam around 7:45 on Wednesday and Thursday morning. Count on it. You don’t have to be a Nostradamus to predict that one.

Kudos: Thanks to Fadi G for producing this rockin’ calendar. I couldn’t believe that he wasn’t all that excited when I told him I was looking forward to the interactive version for all 12 months. (Really easy to do in Flash.)

Mac Lab Mentors Want You: To request a tutorial.

Note: The blog has been down all night so we’ve got an abbreviated version of today’s post. (Lucky you.)

High Tech Fair: See details if you’re interested.

FINALS: The Tip of the Day is so valuable that I’m making it the first three-day TOTD. Follow these instructions right at the beginning of the period. Do I need to say more? Okay, just so you know I’m serious, follow the instructions near the end of the video as well.

HINT: Follow all instructions. Even the ones written yesterday (scroll up and read).

WARNING: Our final is 117 minutes long and you better be aware that you’re never finished in the Mac Lab! (Read it or weep.)

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

IMPORTANT: Grades close Thursday, January 27 at 12:15. I’ll be wishing everyone a happy three-day-weekend at that time. Thanks for asking, but no, you may not make up time or work on projects after 12:15 on Thursday. The lab will be closed while I finalize grades. I will, however, keep the lab open until 3:00 on Wednesday if you want to work after finals. On Friday, a group of praiseworthy students will be cleaning the lab (including keyboards, mice, and monitors) so it will be all shiny when we kick off the second semester next Monday. All software will be updated and new resources will magically appear on your computers as well.

PREDICTION: Second semester is going to rock!


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Blowin’ in the Wind (Week 17)

by on Jan.18, 2011, under Blog

anthony_m_cal_image_01_smReturning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

That picture? That’s you. The dandelion about to shed it seeds to the wind? That’s what happens every time you act or react. What you do has an effect on others around you.

Will you be spreading darkness or light today?

Quick Survey: Just three questions.

Final Stretch: Time to show what you know. Today’s Tip of the Day is required viewing. Watch this video and heed the instructions. There are four Quick Tips today too. Don’t fret; they’re short, sweet, and will help you work smart (and show that you really do know). 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 |

Warning: Ignoring instructions will adversely effect your grade. Translation: Pay attention or pay the price.

Milestones: We just passed the three-quarter of a million page view mark. WOW! And the Republic of Seychelles is the 170th country to visit our blog. (Gorgeous, eh?) On the human slime front, we’re on-pace for over 10,000 spams this month. Way over. As of this morning we’ve received 8,000+ spams in the first 18 days of 2011.

Kudos: Thanks to Anthony M for the wonderful image for this week’s post. Keep shifting perspective.*

*For those who don’t get that, Anthony is tall but he had to get small to capture that shot. Don’t be afraid to lay on the ground to see the world from a more interesting angle.

1119: Time to show what you know. Today’s Tip of the Day is required viewing. Watch this short video and think about your project. There are four Quick Tips today too. Don’t fret; they’re short, sweet, and you sure as heck better know how to use the holy trinity of typography when asked. Here’s your cheat sheet: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 |

Public Service Posters: Refer to this Tip of the Day for the general guidelines. Bring all design, illustrative, typographic, and compositional skills to the task. Prior Mac Lab Poster Galleries: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | Third Party Posters (for ideas): 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | Find more ideas on our Inspiration Page.

0120: Since you’ll be required to design at least one calendar in a traditional layout, I decided to try it myself in today’s Tip of the Day. One of those middle of the night Ah-ha! moments led me to use Illustrator to establish the layout grid in Photoshop. Note: I goof when using the History Panel to step back in time. By going back too far, I lost some of the kerning and the calendar looks worse at the end of the video. Refer to the first version (about 30 seconds in) for the better layout. Yes, I should have saved my work before recording the video. Live and learn.

There are also two Quick Tips you’ll want to see and learn about: Respect the Focal Point and Alternate Calendar Layout.

0121: One nice, short Tip of the Day + two short Quick Tips = Inspiration + New Knowledge. What a deal! Here’s today’s TOTD and QT 01 and 02.

Reminder: The last Mac Lab Saturday School™ of the semester is tomorrow from 6:15 to 12:00. Finals begin next Tuesday.


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Turn it Around (Week 16)

by on Jan.10, 2011, under Blog

kat_g_float_02_smFor our race to reach the next true satori, for us to move to that next level of consciousness and evolution that so many of our philosophers proclaim, all facets of human endeavor must become conscious strivings for art.
Dan Simmons

Your life is a work of art. A constant work in progress to be sure, but if your best efforts were hung in a gallery, what would the rest of us see? Would your caring and empathy touch us? Would your work ethic and accomplishments inspire us? Would your good nature and humor warm us? Would your personal perspective turn our world upside down?

Whether you realize it or not, your thoughts and deeds are the brush strokes on the canvas of your life. It’s time to become conscious of that fact and begin striving to become the artist you were meant to be.

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

TOTD: Today’s Tip of the Day is actually an assignment. Please follow these instructions.

Kudos: Thanks to Kat G for capturing the perfect image for this week’s post. And thanks to Nikki G (in Kat’s photo) for showing us how to see the world a little differently.

Brand New and Just for You: As you’ll find out in today’s TOTD, we’ve got some brand new resources that I’ll expect you to utilize. I’m going to keep these Quick Tips as short and useful as possible.

To Do: I’ll be updating the galleries today. Put your submissions in my Drop Box. Please name them: firstname_lastinitial_project_01.file_extension Example: If your name were Jane Smith and you were turning in your Photoshop file for the calendar you created for January, the file would be named: jane_s_calendar_01.psd Get it?

0111: Today’s Tip of the Day is a short (2:25) video explaining your responsibilities in regards to Quick Tips. Please watch, listen, learn, and apply the information.

I’ll be expecting you to know it so you might as well learn it.

0112: A Tip of the Day that will transform your imagery. Watch it. Do it. Love it. Use it! Note: The Starter File is a flattened JPG. Use it to try your hand at the techniques.

QT: Three simple Quick Tips just for you. (Well two are simple but all are useful. Watch ’em. Do ’em. Love ’em. Use ’em!

International Update: Belize is the 168th country to visit the blog.

1113: The stars align and Skocko sees the light. Today’s Tip of the Day, with a nod to Ryan Hayes, improves on yesterday’s Vignette Video. Watch this then move on to the three Quick Tips that relate to and expand upon the TOTD: 01 | 02 | 03 | Don’t skip those!

All of the videos relate to one another. Kind of a D’oh! moment for me. 😛

Slime Update: We’ve received over 5,000 spam comments in the first 13 days of 2011. Compare that to 2010’s totals. What a waste of human potential!

Mac Lab F L O A T ers: When am I getting all the wonderful shots some of you claim to be taking? Here’s one from China.

0114: Today’s TOTD will introduce, in a very simple manner, selections and compositing (combining all or parts of two or more images). I expect everyone to download the starter files and complete this exercise. Only one Quick Tip today. It’s a bit longer but I’ll bet you’ll like it… Unless you don’t want to learn how to do this. (I played with it a bit after the video ends.)


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Lighting the Way (Week 15)

by on Jan.01, 2011, under Blog

julia_h_01_smIf the nature of the work is properly appreciated and applied, it will stand in the same relation to the higher faculties as food is to the physical body.
J. C. Kumarappa

There’s something about the first day of a new year that makes me want to work on worthwhile projects. So much to do today and so little time (as it’s spread across family and friends as well as the Mac Lab crew). I’ll be adding to this post over the next several days as there’s much to say and share about our upcoming 2011 adventures together.

Kudos: Though I love this image, I’m far more taken with Julia’s blog post. That’s they type of passion that makes work a form of pleasurable sustenance. Like I’ve told you before, if you love your job, it’s not work; it’s just another form of play. And playing for a living is one of the keys to happiness.

Your job in the Mac Lab is to hone your digital artistry skills. Is this job one of the joys in your life? I hope you understand that your answer depends entirely on your point of view. And your point of view is a matter of choice.

Odd how some people don’t choose to be happy.

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

Be sure to check out the new galleries. I’ll bet some of my 24/7/365 students (who know first hand exactly what J.C. Kumarappa was talking about) will have items to add before Winter Break ends.

0102: Reading the (online) paper this morning and ran across this quote:

Employers are increasingly saying that they don’t just need people with basic job skills, but people who are creative [and] who can generate new ideas and new ways of solving problems.
Creativity can be an economic engine

Wow! I wonder where you could find a class that helps you learn to solve problems creatively? 😉

0103: Just a reminder to read the blog every day and follow all instructions. For starters, if you scrolled down and began reading at today’s update, please start again from the top of the page. This week’s message was crafted with you in mind!

We’re coming up on the semester grades later this month and I’ll be charting your diligence. I’m not going to offer repeated reminders of every expectation. I expect you to hold up your end of the deal.

Mac Lab Markers: Bermuda became the 167th country to visit the blog over break. We also passed 700,000 page views around the same time. I wasn’t paying attention so I didn’t notice when either event happened. On a more dubious note, I do notice the spam every day. We shattered daily and monthly records in December. I know it’s wishful thinking but I sure hope this trend doesn’t continue.

Top 100 Classroom Blogs: Our blog made’s Top 100 list. Pretty cool as only 16 high schools were on the worldwide list.

Today’s Task: Everyone must begin their Desktop Wallpaper Calendar project within the first 15 minutes of class today. You may work with any imagery you wish but I want to see a unique custom calendar for January on everyone’s desktop by Friday. (February’s will be due on Feb 1.) 3D students are not required to complete all the Photoshop tutorials but I do expect to see a correctly-sized render—enhanced in Photoshop—mounted on your desktop too. Smashing Magazine has some great examples of what I’m looking for. Your goal is to be included in the gallery. Note: Your imagery should relate to the respective months. How and why it relates—from your point of view—is what I’ll expect you to be able to explain.

Tip of the Day: The page looks a little different. Hopefully this will make it easier to find what you’re looking for when you need it.

0104: Today’s Tip of the Day is required viewing for all students. Please pay attention as you watch this video.

Personal Responsibility: It’s up to you to track your time on the clipboard. We have a Mac Lab Saturday School™ this weekend: 6:15 to 12:00 just so you can catch up or jump further ahead! FYI: If you chose to ignore yesterday’s assignment, you were marked down. If you choose to ignore today’s or tomorrow’s, the same will happen.

Update: A student in 2nd period managed to watch today’s 7:33 video in less than five minutes. When asked if he watched the video, he said, “Yes.” When I mentioned that he’d not been in the room long enough to view the entire video, he replied, “I skipped some parts.”

My head hurts.

0105: Pretty simple today. Today’s Tip of the Day contains info you need to know. Related links: A Good Portfolio | Photography Info | 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 |

Reminders: Please return all cameras tomorrow. Mac Lab Saturday School™ this weekend: 6:15 to 12:00.

Update: Three images quickly crafted (in about five minutes) from the new Things Stock Images page: 01 | 02 | 03 | Most of the photos on the Stock pages are very large and can be cropped to fit your desktop. Tomorrow’s Tip of the Day will address the strategy if you’re not up to speed yet. Lunch just started and I’ve got 200+ photos uploaded. Sweet!

0106: Those students who learn to use our tools in a professional manner will have the most fun and do the best work next semester. We’re rapidly reaching the point at which I expect you to fully understand that. Hey look! We just reached it. Perfect!

If you’d like to have more fun, create some fantastic art, and get me off your back, you might consider embracing what I’ve been trying to share with you. Saturday school, while not for everyone, offers you the time to really sink your teeth into learning new skills. Why not do yourself a favor and give it a try? Wouldn’t the Wall of Fame™ look so much better if your work was up there too? Let’s see what you can do.

TOTD: Today’s Tip of the Day comes in two parts. Though some of you will grumble that they’re too long, they’re packed with essential skills and strategies you need to learn. Please watch, listen, and learn from both videos: Part I and Part II.

0107: Today’s Tip of the Day is also a two-parter, but not because it’s too long; part two is simply a correction. Please watch, listen, learn, and apply the tips from Part I and Part II.

Reminder and Simple Task: We have a Mac Lab Saturday School™ this weekend: 6:15 to 12:00. There is only one other MLSS™ before our finals. And speaking of finals and grades, would you please do something for me to show you’re actually paying attention? There’s no bonus time involved (so please don’t add any). I’ll remember who did and didn’t follow these instructions:

I’ve added an orange X to the bottom row of each page clipboard just to the right of the extra credit number. (If you’re confused, the very beginning of this video shows you where the extra credit score is found.) Please add your own X to the right of your extra credit tally (yours won’t be orange). If I see an X, I know you’re paying attention. If I don’t, you chose the consequence.


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Learn it all.