Tuesday, July 15, 2014

5 Photoshop Secrets that will Save Your Sanity

I have a love-have relationship with Photoshop. Mostly Love. Probably around 95% love. However, sometimes that 5% of hate seeps in and I want to pull all the hair off my head strand by strand and throw an entire bucket of clear Legos on the floor of Adobe headquarters.

You get my drift?

Over the last few months I've picked up a few tips that really helped me use Photoshop more efficiently and avoid that 5% of pure agony. While I know they are probably well known throughout blogdom, I comprised a list of my top 5 Photoshop "secrets" to share with anyone who was a little slower to learn like <cough, cough> me. It's time to spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, and have a giant burrito eating party. [What else would you do with all of those beans? Do cats like to eat burritos? I hope so, or else it will be a pretty lame party, what with only me eating burritos and all...]

1. Right Click

You know that elusive side of the mouse that is rarely clicked except to change the background image on your desktop and for an occasional copy and paste when you don't feel like using your keyboard shortcuts? Guess what? That little lonely side of your clicker is full of magical surprises on your Photoshop toolbar. About 4-5 additional  tools live behind each main tool, and in order to behold their marvelous beauty you must put your ring finger to good use. Simply click and an entire plethora of new goodies appears for you to experiment with at your leisure.

A few gems hidden there include:

Patch tool: Underneath the Spot Healing Brush tool [the band-aid with the circle]

This tool allows you to draw around an area you want to fix and then fills it in by surveying the surrounding pixels. It's just like the Spot Healing Brush tool, but with tons more flexibility. I like to use it to correct under-eye circles and acne. 

Magic Eraser tool: Under the Eraser tool. 

This eraser really is like magic. You know how the magic selection tool selects pixels of the same color? Well, the eraser is just like that, but instead of selecting, it erases.  TIP: Adjust the tolerance to erase more shades of the same color. This also works great with the magic selection tool. 

Horizontal Type Mask Tool: Behind the Horizontal Text tool.

Quickly create text from an image without having to go through an endless run of layer masking steps. Just grab this tool, click on your image layer, type, and you're done!

2. Grid Lines

It may seem simple, but knowing how to adjust and hid/show grid lines can make all the difference in creating centered, straight, and even work. Use these keyboard shortcuts to view and/or hide them:

Then just click on the white ruler and drag until you have set the grid line where your little heart so desires. I love to use these to create even boxes and exact selections. [Click here to see how to use them to make your own chevron background.]

3. Layer Masks

I was terrified of these little guys for the longest time [masks are kind of creepy. Except for Batman's. His is awesome.], but once I faced my fears I quickly became hooked on this digital version. With a layer mask, you can customize which parts of a layer show and which ones hide by using black and white painting tools. It's like being able to erase and un-erase. It is great for fine tuning borders, selections, and erasing. Just click on the layer you wish to adjust, click the "layer mask" button at the bottom of your layers panel, and draw away.

4. Actions

I'm all about saving time wherever possible. [Less time editing = more time eating ice cream.] Actions are perfect for this because they record what you do and save it so you can apply the exact same steps to a different image or layer. You can make your own [see my tutorial here] or download them. There are lots of great ones out there for free. Some of my faves are The Pioneer Woman's action pack and basically every single download on The CoffeeShop Blog.

Check out some of the awesome effects you can get with the click of a button!



5. Character/Paragraph Menu

While I spend most of my time on Photoshop working with photos, I love to do typography every now and then. I used to get super frustrated when I tried to type quotes and things in CS5 because the text tool leaves a LOT to be desired. Like you can type, and that's it. Lame. Then, I discovered this handy little menu that gives you all the flexibility you could ever wish for. My heart sang and I have been in love ever since.

Note: To access this this handy menu, click window --> character

So there you have it, folks. 5 little tips that saved my sanity when it came to Photoshop. Now if I could just figure out how to save my sanity while doing laundry...#priorities

Happy Photoshopping!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Infinite Worth and Potential

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Lions, Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!

Forget that. I'd say the phrase should be more like Mosquito, Tics, and Bugs, Oh My!

Can you guess where I've been? If you said camping, you are correct and should probably win an awesome prize or something. Here is a virtual confetti popper and disco party. You're welcome. [Can I come disco with you?]

I was blessed to spend a week at Badger Creek in Tetonia, Idaho (near BYUI) and participate in the Adventure for Youth program. It is very similar to EFY, but you get to do lots of awesome stuff like white water raft, canoe, horseback ride, and jump off 40-foot telephone poles (more on that later), along with amazing spiritual things. To say it was a big testimony builder would be an enormous understatement.

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The theme this year was "Infinite Worth and Potential".


I love that word. Shall we dive into the definition a bit? I know it's summer, but how about we dig back into the archives of our brains and look at some prefixes and root meanings? [Please, don't hurt me.]

The root of the word is finite. What in the world does that mean? I have no clue, but thankfully Google does. #hurrayforspellcheckanddictionaries

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Typically, the prefix in means opposite or not when placed at the beginning of a word. So what does in + finite yield?

No limits. No bounds. Endless. Eternal.

When we say we have infinite worth and potential, it isn't just a pretty catch phrase. It is real. You, I, Billy Bob, and your next-door-neighbor's-second-cousin's-fiance's-niece's-step-nephew have all received that beautiful gift of an endless capacity to learn and grow and become who we were meant to be.

As children of Heavenly Father, each of us carry the potential to become like Him-- Gods and Goddesses. Our Father in Heaven cares about bringing that to pass so greatly that it is the driving force behind all that he does. "For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39)

Says President Uchtdorf:
Our Heavenly Father created the universe that we might reach our potential as His sons and daughters....This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God. While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within our breast. We have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation—worlds without end—within our grasp. And it is God’s great desire to help us reach it.
Think about that. You have the power within you to do amazing things. You have already done remarkable things both here on earth and in the premortal existence. You will continue to do marvelous things here and in the eternities to come.

Right about here in the discussion is when my palms get sweaty and my heart starts palpitating like a butterfly hiked up on Diet Pepsi. Though wonderful, the concept of infinite potential can be super overwhelming. If I'm going to be a Goddess someday, that means I have to be super perfect now, right?

Take 10 deep breaths and calm down, sista.

I think the key here is the word  potential. A seed has the potential to become a great tree and a cake mix has the potential to become a decadent dessert, but that doesn't happen all at once. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes work. And you know what? We don't have to do that alone. That's why we have a Savior. Through His grace, we can rise up and become who we were meant to be, one minute, hour, and day at a time.

An analogy they used a lot at AFY is a toddler learning to walk. When a baby is stumbling along taking their first few steps, you don't yell at them when they fall and tell them they are a bad child and will never amount to anything. You don't scold them for tripping or ground them for being so clumsy. You encourage them to get back up. You cheer for them with each step. You help them toddle across the floor. And then, one day they are walking and running 'til the cows come home.

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It's the same way with God. He knows who we can become, and He is anxious to help us get there. He doesn't get angry at us when we slip up. He wants to help us up, encourage us, take us in His arms, and walk with us every step of the way, and He will do that, if we let Him.

Repentance is not a sin. We need never feel bad about using the atonement in our lives. That's why it's there. That's why it has been a part of the plan of salvation from the beginning. Armed with its power, we can reach our full potentials.

Your potential is infinite. Your worth is infinite. God's love for you is infinite. Boundless. Limitless. Without End. Always remember that.

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