Grab bag of tips for Photoshop

Here are a few Adobe Photoshop tips I’ve been compiling over the past few months:

View fonts fast

Scott Kelby, author of numerous books on Adobe’s Creative Suite apps, has a great tip for viewing fonts in your Photoshop document quickly without using the Type panel.

Select your text with the text tool. Now press the Enter key (not the Return key) on your keyboard twice, then use the Up and Down arrow keys on your keyboard to scroll through your fonts. The selected font will be applied to your text instantly and you can continue to see the results without the ugly highlighting that normally accompanies text selection in Photoshop.

The beauty of this tip is that it doesn’t require a trip to the menu bar or the Type panel, and it doesn’t cover the type with a giant black selection bar, interfering with your view of the font choice. Of course, if you have 2,000 fonts active, you’re going to wear out your arrow keys quickly!

Quick Copy layer effects in Photoshop

In the first Creative Suite version of Photoshop, you could copy a Layer Effect, such as a drop shadow, to another layer simply by dragging the Layer Effect from the layer in the Layers palette to the icon for the target layer.

With Photoshop CS2 and CS3, doing the above will move the layer effect (or group of effects) to the other layer. To copy layer effects, you must now hold down the Option key before you click and drag the layer effect to another layer to copy it.

Free layer styles

ladyoak Layer Styles When you group a bunch of Layer Effects together, you can save them as a Layer Style. These styles can then be applied to text or objects with a single click, making customizing your artwork a snap. The best part about Layer Styles is that they remain editable: you can go in and adjust every aspect of the Layer Style after it has already been applied. To get your collection started, you can visit Ladyoak’s massive Layer Style collection and start downloading.

Scale Layer Styles and Effects

Sometimes a Layer Style looks great at a low resolution, or when used on objects of a certain size, but it just doesn’t look right at higher resolutions and on larger spatial objects. But, as I noted above, your Layer Effects and Styles are editable, so all is not lost.

A brief but informative tutorial from CreativeTechs shows you how to scale your Layer Styles and Effects easily. Scaling the effects allows you achieve the same look and feel on larger, high-resolution objects as you get on smaller objects.

Along with customized Photoshop brushes, Layer Styles and Effects are among the easiest ways to add that little bit of pizzazz that completes your image. Of course, going overboard with them can also achieve the opposite affect, so use them wisely.

[James Dempsey runs the Creative Guy blog, which offers tips, tricks and opinion on a variety of design and Mac OS X topics.]

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