Blending Options Tutorial

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Being Consistent

When you plan to make more than one object, it’s always good to make a template with guide lines set, so that all of your objects will be relatively the same size.  Also, selections snap to guide lines so you can easily center it within the perimeter using the same ellipse tool in Photoshop CS3.  Place your ellipse tool cross-hairs exactly where your guidelines cross at your upper left.  Your cross-hairs will turn red when you’re exactly on both lines.  Now hold down the shift key to constrain your ellipse to a circle, and drag your circle until its perimeter meets the bottom guide line, and drag it so it fits in between as in the screen-shot above; notice how it sticks to the guide lines.  You get the guide lines by pulling the vertical lines out from your side ruler, and horizontal lines from your top ruler. 

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Examining The Blending Options Dialogue Box

To me at least, the blending options dialog box is one of the most important features in Photoshop.  Not only is it extremely versatile and user-friendly, it gives your object’s depth and can emulate many materials.  It can also play a major role working with layer masks.  For now though, I bring your attention to the green colored Highlight and Shadow mode levers at the bottom of the dialogue box.  The Highlight Mode box is usually set to screen mode and colored white; it to make that area of the object look like a light source is reflecting of off it.  This does not provide for the perfectly shadowed sphere above though.

Experiment with the size slider, taking it to at least 20…  Use you own judgment because the picture will update as you move the controls.  For now, keep all the other settings as they are.  The selection has been filled with a pattern.  Choose the Edit menu/Fill.  Choose Pattern in the drop down box, and pick a pattern that’s fairly defined with lines and colors.  The smoother ones just produce poor results that’s all.

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I know it looks crummy right now but I’m showing you something else.  The selection in the screen-shot above, is right where I want it to soften the edges (Jaggies).  First, using your magic wand tool, you select the background.  This selects everything but your plate.  Now go into the select menu and choose “Inverse”.  This will invert your selection to select only the plate.  The go into select again and choose/contract, and in the dialogue box that appears, type in 2 pixels.  Then choose “Inverse in your selection menu again and you should have what I have here.  Now go into the filters menu and choose Blur/Gaussian Blur and insert 0.7 into the dialog box, deselect and the Jaggies will be gone.  BTW, you can uncheck the “extras” box in your select menu if you want to hide your selection and guide lines.

A careful selection by eye

Now, where the second circle is in the middle, place your elliptical selection tool right on the fattest place on the left hand side.  Then care fully move your hand straight up to where you think the top of the circle might be.  Then, holding down the shift key to constrain it to a circle, try to encompass the entire inner circle.  If one edge is too small, make it a little large at the other end to compensate, then let go of the mouse clicker.  Now use your up and down and side arrow keys to shift it into place a pixel at a time…  You can get very exacting results this way, without guide lines.  Now press ctrl j  and this will put it on its own layer.  The effects will be overly done as above, because of the smaller circle, so I changed some of them and came up with this below…

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Impressive Results

“Now wait a minute!  This looks way better than that crap you were showing us before!”  True, and I’ll tell you a little secret that will help you along.  Remember The Blending Options dialog box?  Well it has a little circle in it with a cross-hair.  The cross-hair can be moved.  The closer you move it to the center, the shinier an object gets.  Beside it is a “Global Settings” check box.  You’ll have to uncheck that, whenever you want to make changes to just an object with an object and not all of them.  The other big difference is contours.  Photoshop ships with a set of them.  Though, you can get more at The Photoshop Exchange site or other 3rd. party sites (much harder to find).  It beats making them yourself.  You can make your own in Photoshop if you like.  Just double-click the top contour and the contour editing box with appear; delete everyone but one square, then start making your own.  When you get sick to death of it, save it as a set…

In fact, from the exchange site, once you join up for FREE!!!  There you can find all the patterns, brushes, actions, textures etc.. that your heart desires!  And when they send you to other sites that have their own brushes say, save the site to inspect later.  http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/exchange/index.cfm

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Here’s the catch though.  You have to have a plugin called a Kaleidoscope that has a 20 sided mirror to work with your patterns or styles or brushes…  Even some “Mirror” actions will do it.  They’re not hard to find…  At a future time (soon), I’ll tell you how to put everything in where.  Enjoy

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