The Mac Lab

Archive for February, 2011

Everyday Discoveries (Week 23)

by on Feb.28, 2011, under Blog

Just as an explorer penetrates into new and unknown lands, one makes discoveries in the everyday life, and the erstwhile mute surroundings begin to speak a language which becomes increasingly clear.
Wassily Kandinsky

The second semester is always full of wonder. It’s a joy watching students making creative discoveries. For instance, take Zach B’s shadow experiment. That image evolved (and revolved) from a photograph of his own shadow. I’m confident that Kandinsky, one of the founding fathers of Abstract Art, would have approved.

Be willing to reach out of your comfort zone to try something new this week. Experiment and explore and you too may penetrate into new and unknown creative lands. Here’s Zach’s image progression (the last two steps in Camera Raw).

Taking My Own Advice: Today’s Tip of the Day and the two Quick Tips that follow may open another creative avenue for you to explore. Here’s what you’ll create but the real fun begins when you start working on your own ideas! I printed a copy of mine to whet your creative appetite. It’s on the table by my desk. And that’s just a quick and dirty example of what you might discover.

Explore young digital artists!

(continue reading…)

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U B U (Week 22)

by on Feb.22, 2011, under Blog

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
E.E. Cummings / A Poet’s Advice to Students

In the high school halls
In the shopping malls
Conform or be cast out
Rush / Subdivisions

Would you believe today’s Tip of the Day (oops, it’s the 22nd, not the 21st) urges you to break free of conformity? And the Quick Tips invite you to step out of the role of an ordinary student to become a provider of information and/or resources. Reach out of your comfort zone, try each of them on for size, then show what you know!

Student Stock Surprises Zooming, panning, and cropping: The missing link. A great way to find the picture hidden within the picture.

Mac Lab Student Stockers Here’s how to organize your unenhanced photographs for inclusion in our Student Stock collection. Please just submit your best shots.

Mac Lab Mentors is Growing Like our Student Stock collection, the Mentors have been super busy and I’ll try to catch up today with the 90 new tutorials submitted over the weekend.

Illustrators: Check out these cool poster ideas. Here’s Ben’s site.

Kudos: Thanks goes out to one of our newest students. Evan R contributed 118 photographs to Mac Lab Student Stock last week and this one, though cropped, is otherwise unenhanced. What a perfect image to compliment this week’s post!

I Am Number Four: Cool movie. When viewed as an allegory for finding the hidden power within oneself — by becoming oneself — it becomes an even richer experience.


0223: Students in the Mac Lab used to produce animated projects like this. Today’s Tip of the Day wonders if you’re interested in learning how to join the animated adventurous ones. (Here’s a simple example.) The Quick Tips point the question and deliver some exciting news about Mac Lab Mentors. I have a backlog of photography to add to our Student Stock page. I’ll be uploading today and tomorrow. And for as long as students keep providing stock photography.

Enhanced Stock: One of our oh-so-perceptive students (Tiffany C) asked how she might share an enhanced version of one of our stock photographs. You see, she read our Creative Commons license and, among other things, it says: Share Alike — If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

My answer? It’s on the to do list. 😛

The Great Flash Question Flash = Yes or Flash = No | Starter File | Animated Example
In your comment, Yes = You want to learn Flash, No = You don’t. Vote now!

Answering the Question Please cast your vote. Flash = Yes (I want to learn Flash) or Flash = No (I don’t want to learn Flash)

Mac Lab Mentor Expansion Learn about Photoshop, Camera Raw, Illustrator, what the buttons and switches on the Canon Rebel XTi are for, and how to light paint.

Nostradamus Speaks: Yes, I know one of the Quick Tips echoes the Tip of the Day in asking students to vote: Flash = Yes or Flash = No. And yes, I know that bothers some of you. You ask: Why do you need to repeat the same thing? Why? I’ll answer in advance: Even with multiple reminders, less than 60% of your classmates will vote today.

Remember: I love to be wrong. I hope all of you vote.

0224: Thanks to the 73% of you who voted. Glad to be wrong. And here’s hoping some of you will feel the same way by the end of each period. Read on…

One Obligatory Flash Project Watch that QT, produce this project by following today’s Tip of the Day, and then tell me if Flash still isn’t for you. No exceptions. Everyone plays. Save your files to prove you participated.

Animating an Image Progression Yes or No, here’s what you’ll build today. Before rejecting Flash, you have to give it a try. No exceptions. Starter File.

Reminder: Mac Lab Saturday School™ is this weekend from 6:15 to 12:00. Those who try to skip today’s assignment will find they have been given a special invitation to try again, on Saturday.

Feedback: Now that you’ve finished, have you changed your mind? Learning Flash doesn’t mean abandoning Photoshop, Illustrator, Cinema 4D, Final Cut, or whatever program you’re working with. I’ll be creating some tutorials exploring simple ways you can display your work via Flash on a website you’ll be building soon. (Did someone say, Dreamweaver?) Please leave a comment if you’re so inclined.

0225: Mac Lab Saturday School™ is tomorrow from 6:15 to 12:00. Imagine the creative forces that might be unleashed if only given the time and opportunity. Both Mac Lab Stock and Student Stock have been growing as have the tutorials on the Mac Lab Mentors pages. You could learn more about our Rebels or 10 ways to improve a photograph or just explore at will. You could even spend hours learning about virtually any application from, say Principles of Motion Graphics or Illustrator or Photoshop or Cinema 4D or hundreds of other titles that can be unlocked. It’s like a gift from above that you have all that extra time tomorrow to explore and experiment. Question is: Will you find the time to explore and experiment?

TOTD + QT: Today’s Tip of the Day addresses several issues and gotchas that some, not all of you need to be made aware of. (But everyone will watch, right?) The Quick Tips reinforce two of the essential shortcuts.

Forward Into the Past Praise and kudos to you and a few reminders. Critical information — especially for our new classmates (and forgetful old ones).

Command+Tab to Cycle Through Applications The first of two important shortcuts you absolutely, positively, need to know and use.

Command+Tilde to Cycle Through Windows The second of two important shortcuts you absolutely, positively, need to know and use.

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Simplicity Rocks! (Week 21)

by on Feb.14, 2011, under Blog

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
Antoine de Saint Exupéry

In the spirit of simplicity, I’ll let today’s Tip of the Day and Quick Tips do the talking for this post.

For Love of Simplicity Words of wisdom from one who has made this same mistake again and again. Remember, there’s a big difference between simple and ordinary.

Layers, Layers, Layers No matter how experienced you are, this reminder will come in handy from time to time

Regaining Perspective There are so many cool tools, it’s easy to forget one like this (and the others on this page).

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

Measuring Your IQ: We’ve been using the Rulers (Command-R) in Adobe apps all year but I’ve never thought to ask how many of you understand how to read a ruler. (It never occurred to me that some of you might not know.) To remedy that situation, we’re going to play a little game. Prizes will be awarded for high scores. Watch this video then work on your projects until I give the signal to start the game. Don’t cheat by starting early! And then we’ll have a 10 minute Ruler Game Death Match.

Remember: Click 😛

Kudos: Thanks to Max M for creating the perfect image for this week’s post. And thanks to Judy Durkin for the Ruler Game idea.

International Update: Réunion is the 171st country/territory to visit the blog. We also had our 800,000th page view last Friday. The countdown to our 1,000,000th page view is on (since Google Analytics started tracking the blog on April 3, 2009). Should we start a pool to see who can guess the date? Winner gets a free day.

0215: It’s simple. Selection skills open up a world of creative possibilities in Photoshop. See the Tip of the Day (parts I and II) and three Quick Tips to open the door.

The Joy of Selections | Joy Part II Patience pays when making good selections
Selection skills separate the contenders from the pretenders in Photoshop

Basic Selection Shortcuts What you absolutely have to know to get rolling with selections Shortcuts: Shift adds, Option subtracts

Jump and Transform This one takes a bit of thought and experimentation to discover the creative power locked within select + jump + transform

Transform Selection Understand that Edit > Free Transform (Command+T) will not transform your selection. Go to Select > Transform Selection

Doodle 4 Google: We’re registered and you’re invited to enter if you think you have the chops to compete. More info and this year’s theme. Note: I will NOT be a bonehead this year!

0216: Way cool and useful Tip of the Day and Quick Tip Today. Playing around after recording, I made these three variations on a theme: 01 | 02 | 03 |

Battle of the Bands Using a brush to make a selection
Of course, first you have to make the custom brush, but that’s easy!

Smart Object and Smart Filters You’ll not only work smart after this QT, you’re not going to believe just how incredibly cool Smart Objects and Smart Filters are!

0217: The hits keep coming in today’s Tip of the Day and Quick Tips.

Playing with Patterns And multiple Artboards and Apply Image and Blend Modes and Masks and Keyboard Shortcuts and the Gradient Tool and…

How to Make the Brush from the 021611 TOTD Just in case you’re not sure how that evenly spaced brush was created to make this and this and this in this TOTD.

0218: A student actually complained yesterday that there wasn’t anything to read on the blog: It’s just videos! Well, he’s right. I’ve been trying to give you as much time to work as possible while still providing instruction via the videos. Then another student told me that some of you don’t like the videos either. Okay, if you’re in that group, how exactly would you like your instruction delivered? Think about that and I’ll provide another survey after our three-day-weekend.

But for now, here’s the Tip of the Day and two Quick Tips.

Auto Tone the Image Not to be confused with Auto Tune the News. Combining Photoshop’s auto and manual features to transform a blue, blue image

Intro to Photo Filter Adjustment Layers We don’t have any colored gel filters for our digital cameras but we do have the digital equivalent

Mac Lab Mentors are Live and on the Air An invite to use or add to Mac Lab Student Stock and/or Mac Lab Mentors.

Custom Brush Collection: If you’ve made some cool custom brushes in Photoshop, save them as firstname_lastname.abr and put that file in my Drop Box. I’ll share the best with you and the world next week. Note: If you don’t remember how to save your custom brushes, here’s the Quick Tip.

Gosh, those QTs are useful! 😛

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Dare to Dream (Week 20)

by on Feb.08, 2011, under Blog

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
1997 Apple Commercial

The problem with most of us (myself included) is that we don’t dare to dream often enough. We don’t dare to imagine what we’re really capable of. And on those rare occasions when we do dare to dream, how often do we dare to act? Imagine what might happen if you were crazy enough to see your dreams through.

Kudos: Andrew P dared to imagine what he might create with the brush tool. And then he dared to see it through. Here’s a full size peek at part of the actual detail. Beautiful!

What will you dare to create this week?

900 MBs of Brushes: That’s right. You now have access to more brushes than ever. Today’s Tip of the Day will get you off to a great start. Watch it. Then the Quick Tips will put the power of these brushes (and more) in your creative hands. Just so there’s no confusion, here are the direct links:

0208: Illustrator + Photoshop = Custom Brush Sweetness Make precision custom brushes
Plus you’ll learn a few other techniques that will help you work smarter

Custom Brush: Illustrator to Photoshop Workflow strategies for one of the countless ways you might use Illustrator to create custom brushes in Photoshop

Use Quick View for Brush Previews An easy way to preview 900 MBs of custom brushes waiting for you to discover

Save Your Custom Brushes to a Custom Location You might want to establish a new location for your personal custom brush collection (and it’s okay to make multiple custom brush sets)

0209: One quick Tip of the Day + two Quick Tips = Inspiration for you!

020911: Creating Brushes and Saving Symbols Some not-so-top-secret techniques
Sure, you probably knew about these, but have you thought to use any of these strategies?

Creating Three Dimensional Brushes Well, kinda sorta three dimensional brushes, but oh so cool nevertheless

Show, Hide, Lock, Unlock A brilliant student-generated idea for using the mouse to access menu items Shortcut: Right-Click on Artboard

Scholarship in Need of Applicants: Two years ago only one Mac Lab student (David Baca) applied for (and won) a scholarship that was announced in a post entitled: Scholarship in Need of Applicants! (What a coincidence!) If you’re pursuing a career in a CTE field (Digital Art, Graphic Design, 3D, Multimedia, etc.), here’s the scholarship application. Deadline is April 6, 2011. See this post for more info.

0210: On a whim, I checked our stats for the past 30 days this morning. 69,777 page views from 106 countries and 49 states. (Alaska took the month off.) Wondering who spent the most time per visit revealed a surprise. Top 10: Bolivia, Bangladesh, Oman, US, Botswana, Belgium, Iceland, Russia, Indonesia, and Cambodia. The top 3 averaged over 18 minutes per visit. Who’d’a thunk it?

New Math: One Tip of the Day + one Quick Tip = More free custom images than you can count.

0210: 100,000 Free One-of-a-Kind Images And you’re free to use ’em!
There’s more to this tip than meets the eye. Lots more.

Custom Background Images for Print In combination with today’s Tip of the Day and an upcoming video or two, you’ve got more custom image options than you could ever use

0211: Last night, my Master’s class at FSO involved an online discussion of the merits of a textbook we’re reading (e-Learning and the Science of Instruction by Clark and Mayer). To lighten the mood, I created this page and linked to it. This morning I got to thinking of you guys and how you might view my own Code. Here’s a different translation, just for you.

Also Just for You: Today’s Tip of the Day and two Quick Tips to open your creative eyes.

021111: 1,000,000 Free Hyper-Detailed One-of-a-Kind Images Because 90° and 180° aren’t enough
If you think about it, this technique creates virtually endless background image possibilities

021111 TOTD Completion v1 Selecting a small portion of a larger image to create a highly detailed custom background image

021111 TOTD Completion v2 Selecting a larger portion of a larger image to create a highly detailed custom background image (different workflow)

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