How to give your artwork that grungy, weathered look

Clean, crisp artwork may sometimes be the artist's goal, but the pursuit of perfection can also lead to artwork that looks clinical, and perhaps even a bit corporate. Clients these days seem to favor a worn, even grungy look in which the art looks a bit roughed up, with subtle scratches, mottled patterns, or even paper fold lines. One way to produce is effect is by a process, known as distressing, which can add a surprising degree of character to your artwork.

Distressing can be done either with a textured image or by textured brushes, and I’ll show you how to do both using Adobe Photoshop CS5. (Note that the process is nearly identical with Photoshop CS4.)

Step 1: Prepare your file

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Hands on with the DigiTech iPB-10 guitar effects pedalboard

DigiTech's iPB-10 is a programmable guitar effects pedalboard that uses your iPad or iPad 2 as an interface to select, arrange, edit, and configure 87 guitar effects pedals, 54 amps, and 26 speaker cabinets in innumerable ways.

The iPB-10 is not a toy and at $500, it’s not priced like one. It is sturdily built and weighs in at a hefty 11.5 pounds. Setting up the iPB-10 is easy, but there are a number of steps. First, you must download the free iPB-Nexus app to your iPad from the App Store. Next, check to see if the correct docking tray for your iPad is installed. The tray for the first generation iPad was in place when I opened my unit, but replacing it was simple. Push in two buttons that release the protective frame, lift it up, and remove two, easy-to-access, Phillips head screws. Swap in the new tray and replace the two screws. Then, plug the power supply to the iPB-10 into a wall outlet, connect the dock connector to the iPad, close the protective frame, and power up the pedalboard.

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Camcorder tips for the holidays

The holidays are a time for not only getting together with friends, expressing affection through cards and gifts, and ingesting far too many sweets, but also the time of year when the family camcorder gets the greatest work-out. To help ensure that the videos taken with your camcorder are as enjoyable as the events it captures, follow these tips.

Scout the location

If you have the opportunity, spend some time in the location where you’ll shoot before the big event takes place. While there, keep an eye out for good and bad light sources and take some test shots. Doing so allows you to dial in an appropriate white balance setting and take note of locations where you do and, particularly, don’t want to shoot—facing a bright window that will wash out the subject standing in front of it, for instance.

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Stellar programs for printing labels

'Tis the season to be printing address labels, not to mention package labels and envelopes. There are several powerful and creative products available that will give you beautiful and festive results, ranging from free to $50.

At the free end of the spectrum is Avery Design & Print Online, a Web-based utility for printing and merging contacts onto Avery's huge variety of labels. It also offers a sizable collection of clip art or lets you upload your own images to decorate holiday labels. If your needs are fairly modest, Avery Design & Print Online may fill the bill for you.

Avery's free online labeling utility is easy to use and provides lots of options.

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