The Mac Lab

Tag: beginnings

Hidden Powers (Week 2)

by on Sep.12, 2011, under Blog

We are all functioning at a small fraction of our capacity to live fully in its total meaning of loving, caring, creating, and adventuring. Consequently, the actualization of our potential can become the most exciting adventure of our lifetime.
— Herbert Otto

Fighting the insidious forces of apathy and wasted potential, members of The Artists’ Guild (TAG) engage in Quests, earning Experience Points (XP) and Leveling Up while learning to harness powerful tools, techniques, and strategies. TAG members adhere to a Code of Honor as they Self-Assess (SA) through the levels of each Quest.
TAG Intro

Since our adventuring is just beginning, we’ll get right to it. I’ll mix in some Graphic Quests as we take care of the necessary business. So, with mastery in mind, conquer these Quests before moving on. But don’t rush through the videos. Learn while you earn.

Read the Board! Read the Board! Watch this video. SA (Self Assess)

Three Then Me: Don’t ask. Just watch this video. (Novice) 1 XP

Prior Posts: Just because it’s a new week doesn’t mean you’re not still responsible for last week. Watch this video. (Novice) 1 XP

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TAG: You’re It! (Week 1)

by on Sep.06, 2011, under Blog

Game developers know better than anyone else how to inspire extreme effort and reward hard work. They know how to facilitate cooperation and collaboration at previously unimaginable scales. And they are continuously innovating new ways to motivate players to stick with harder challenges, for longer, and in much bigger groups. These crucial twenty-first-century skills can help all of us find new ways to make a deep and lasting impact on the world around us.
— Jane McGonigal / Reality is Broken

Want to make a deep and lasting impact on the world around you? Welcome, digital warriors, to the 2011/12 school year in the Mac Lab where each and every one of you will become a game developer, facilitating cooperation and collaboration at previously unimaginable scales, innovating new ways to motivate peers to stick with harder challenges, for longer, and in much bigger groups. The Artists’ Guild (TAG) is poised to change the face of education as we join forces to fight the insidious forces of apathy and wasted potential.

Are you game?

This Week: We’ll be planning the initial phase of our game together. Today we’ll split into teams and begin brainstorming about expanding and modifying these initial plans. The Open Beta of The Artists’ Guild begins right now. TAG: You’re it!

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Changing the Game: Element 246

by on Aug.12, 2011, under Blog

The third limitation is in our understanding of how much potential we have for growth and change. For the most part, people seem to think that life is linear, that our capacities decline as we grow older, and that opportunities we have missed are gone forever. Many people have not found their Element because they don’t understand their constant potential for renewal.
Sir Ken Robinson / The Element

For both the students and myself, growth, change, and renewal are all on the plate for the first day of school—as is positioning the kids to discover their own Element. But how to introduce and explain it right now, before I completely understand and comprehend it myself? That’s going to be a real challenge.

So, I turn to you for ideas and solutions—to the Mac Lab students and alumni who’ve patiently awaited this post all summer, to fellow educators who happen by or frequent this site, and to our other visitors who’ve found their way to this blog for one reason or another. I’m going to just think out loud and you’re all invited to suggest changes, modifications, additions, pretty much anything you want. All input—especially constructive criticism—is welcomed for this is quite literally, a work in progress.

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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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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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Learn it all.