Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Creating a Signature Brush in Photoshop

Start a new blank file - File|New from the menu - and fill it with white.  300x300 pixels should be adequate or you can make it larger to give yourself more working room and crop it to size later. The final image created for this demonstration is cropped to 300x104 pixels.

You can make your brush with the Type Tool or create it free-hand with the Brush Tool. I chose a combination of free-hand and text for my brush.

We'll get the easy part out of the way first.

Set the foreground color to Black. Create a New Layer, choose the Type Tool and hold down ALT while you type 0169 using the numeric keypad.  When you release the ALT key you get a copyright symbol "©".
[Apple gets off easy. It's just  Option+G].

Type in the year and then your copyright message. Because we put the copyright on its own layer it will be easy to go back and change the year to the next year when we need to.

If you're on a laptop, you'll need to use your special function to choose the numeric keypad overlay. Remember to turn it off afterward so you can continue to type.

Once you have your text created, you can size it to fit with the Move Tool. Check the box that says "Show Transform Controls". Hold down SHIFT and drag the corners to keep it proportional.

Now comes the fun part. Create another new layer, choose the Brush Tool and sign your name.

You can use a pen tablet or the mouse to write your name. If you don't have a pen tablet and can't write well with the mouse, get a cheap caligraphy pen from the art store and practice writing your name on copy paper. When you get good at it, write it large a single time on one sheet. Tape it to the wall where it will be evenly lit and photograph it with a digital camera.

If your hand writing is as execrable as mine this may take some time. I ended up having to do it on multiple layers and paste the best parts together.

Save your work as a Photoshop .PSD file so you can come back to it later when you need to change the year.

Turn off the eye next to the background layer. CTRL+Click the signature layer. CTRL+SHIFT+Click the copyright text layer. Both layers will now be selected. Alternatively, you can merge the two layers after saving the file. The key is the background layer is still there, but invisible.

From the Menu select Edit|Define Brush and give it a clever name like "Copyright Brush".

And there you have it, a ready made signature for your images.

It's a brush, so you can sign your images in any color "ink" just by setting the foreground color. An acceptable gold color comes from R=98, G=89, B=1.

It's re-sizable using the square bracket keys, and you can use the "Fx" palette to emboss, embellish and gussy it up if you want to.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Building the Book

I've mentioned before that I am a student in Portrait Studio Management at Randolph Community College. The curriculum is intended to give us as much experience as possible creating the products we'll need to be able to sell our clients if we're actually going to make some kind of living from the business of Photography.

Our current project is creating a presentation Wedding Book.


Each student is required to create six pages as if we were putting together the entire album for a client.

I created a template for a 10"x10" album with true panoramic pages. It's essentially a 20" wide x 10" high page configured for 300 dpi.

I added guides at 1/2" in from each edge and guides for the horizontal center and for the center line between the two pages. I can add an image to fill the background or use solid colors.

The individual images are copied, pasted, re-sized to fit and then saved as a PhotoShop .PSD file.

The current book is a little cramped because I'm trying to jam the whole wedding, about 55 images, into six pages (12 sides). In the real world I'd have about twice as many images and 4 times as many pages to display them.

When the page is finished I convert it to sRGB, flatten it and save it as a Quality 12 JPEG and it's ready to FTP. I retain the .PSD files because, once again in the real world, I'd soft proof the book with the client before committing it to the printer.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


One of our assignments in portraiture is photographing children on location.

This is Maddy.

Pentax K10D, Tokina ATX 28-70f/2.8, ISO 100, f/5.6 @ 1/60 sec
Lessons Learned:

Take your vitamins. Two year olds are ACTIVE!
Do not try to photograph an active two year old anywhere near a water feature.
Grandma makes a good baby wrangler. Two year olds always come when Grandma calls.
Judicious application of Gaussian Blur makes a "romantic" portrait and can conceal certain problems (see lesson 2 above about water hazards).

Have fun.

Canyon de Chelly

Pronounced "Canyon de Shay", Canyon de Chelly National Monument is a unique part of the National Park System.

It's located on Navajo Tribal Trust Land owned by the Navajo Nation. They call themselves the Diné (the people) and the canyon is their home, while park is administered by the National Park Service. Access to the canyon itself is restricted. Visitors may travel inside the canyon only when accompanied by Park Rangers or authorized Navajo guides.

Pentax *ist-D, Sigma 300f/2.8, ISO 200 1/.500 @ f/3.5
The one exception is the White House Ruin trail.

Six miles from the visitor center, the trail descends 600 feet from a rim overlook to the bottom of the canyon, and across Chinle Wash to the base of the White House ruin, abandoned about 700 years ago. The Navajo call the Puebloans who lived here "the Ancient Ones". The walk down to White House ruin takes about 30 minutes, but allow two hours for the round trip.

You'll see frequent signs reminding photographers not to photograph the local people or their dwellings without their permission.