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How to Use Free Photoshop Video Tutorials to Master Photoshop Quickly and Easily:

Free Photoshop video tutorials are a great way to learn how to use the Photoshop program. They say that if you listen you forget, if you see you remember and if you do you understand. Well, by listening and watching video tutorials about Photoshop, and following along in your own program, you are doing all three together. By watching an expert operate the Photoshop program you have the best chance of learning, and also remembering and understanding what you have learnt than by any other learning method. And Photoshop video tutorials are nothing else but movies of the expert operating the Photoshop program. You are effectively 'looking over the shoulder' of the expert and watching every click of his mouse. You can read instructions, manuals, books by other authors, and Internet websites about Photoshop. But to learn quickly and clearly nothing beats learning from Photoshop video tutorials. With Photoshop video tutorials, you can see how buttons, collages or even paintings and indeed complete websites - yes websites - are created. Instead of laboriously reading through books describing what needs to be selected, activated and clicked, you can simply imitate the mouse movement and clicks performed in the video knowing that you are actually doing exactly the right thing. The learning curve is easier to climb and the results are easier to compare. Not only that, you can watch how it is done from the very beginning to the very end and sometimes you can even have explained why it is done in that particular way. Sean Dodge wrote on his blog and article called "5 Important Criteria that Make a Great Photoshop Tutorial". But Sean is writing about screenshot-and-text step-by-step tutorials, not video tutorials. In fact, I haven't yet found an article discussing the format of Photoshop video tutorials. Did you ever make a Photoshop mock-up of a website design before getting down and dirty with the code? Then consider the the SiteGrinder program. Basically, the SiteGrinder program turns Photoshop into an easy-to-use and fully functional web design tool. With SiteGrinder, designers will now have the freedom to totally let their creativity loose and then, without skipping a beat, transfer their designs to the web. SiteGrinder lets you design web pages with dynamic text, e.g. served from a database and 'poured' into a web page containing code. Examples are weblogs and Content Management Systems content. It is hard to believe that a Photoshop plug-in should be capable of doing so, but it can be done and quite easily. There is a collection of free video tutorials showing the proper use of various SiteGrinder techniques to build web pages from Photoshop documents. There is no way that the same information could be imparted so effectively except through the medium of video tutorials. A PSDTUTS tutorial from Fabio shows how your can recreate a realistic-looking watercolor effect with Photoshop brushes. Fabio demonstrates how the hair can be re-made with the popular watercolor brushes from Bittbox. This tutorial is static screenshots and written text. I think it would be much more interesting and beneficial if it had been a Photoshop video tutorial instead. Another Photoshop tutorial from Fabio shows how to "Create a Spectacular Flaming Meteor Effect on Text". But again, it is a screenshot and text tutorial not a Photoshop video tutorial. With Photoshop Video Tutorials you can learn how to get more consistent color with the videos on color management as it relates to Photoshop. Resources include detailed information on color calibration, using ICC profiles, and how to get consistent color results from Photoshop. This means that you can prerecord actions or processes in Photoshop that you can then save and turn into a button that you can then simply click and Photoshop will do the whole action for you. It's mainly used as a timesaving device and saves the hassle of doing menial work like basic Photography fixing or cleaning your scans so you don't have to do it over and over again because you can just click a button you created. The procedure to do this is explained in the Photoshop video tutorials. If you execute a huge zoom you can make Photoshop pause a moment while it figures out what to draw. Photoshop CS4 has none of this: zooming in from 3% to 1600% is so fast and smooth it's like you're falling into the image. The File Browser was introduced as a major update to Photoshop 7 and was later improved in Photoshop CS. When a directory is viewed for the first time, the File Browser or Bridge will build a cache of the image previews. Plugins can be opened from within Photoshop and act like mini-editors that modify the image. As to storing your Photoshop images, RAID 0 is very useful for temporary data such as page files and Photoshop scratch disk placement. It is not recommended for files you need to keep. There are many websites about various aspects of Photoshop, but to find them all and to learn what is on each one can be very time consuming. Luckily there is one website that has done a lot of the searching for you. That particular website hosts hundreds of Photoshop video tutorials and they are all free to watch.

How to Choose a Cheap Web Designer - Top 7 Questions to Ask

By Diane Marie Brown

Choosing a web designer can be like choosing a tradesman. Who do you trust? Which ones are genuine and which ones will leave you feeling out of pocket? I have compiled a list of questions that we feel you should always ask before commissioning a website. It shouldn't matter whether you're going for an expensive site that is all singing and dancing or a simple site - you should still expect and receive a great service. So here are the top questions that we think you should ask your web designer or check on their website. Please don't be put off! There are thousands of honest, fantastic companies out there who want nothing more than to make their customers happy. However, as I search on Google, some companies aren't perhaps quite what they appear...
1. Do the examples of their work click through to a website? I have noticed that on some web designer's sites, examples of work are displayed, but it is not possible to click through and actually view the site they are claiming to have created. I cannot think of any reason for this, other than:
a) They haven't actually created the site - they have simply taken a screen shot of any website and added it to their "portfolio".
b) They have created the site, but it isn't very good and so don't want you to see it.
c) They have created a site with a fantastic looking homepage, so that they can add the screenshot to their "portfolio", but they can't show the rest of the site, as it doesn't exist! If you can click through to the site, I recommend the first thing you do is scroll down to the bottom of the page. Most web designers stipulate in their terms and conditions that the website will have a "Created by... " link at the bottom of the customer's website. This is the norm in the industry. If then, you scroll down to the bottom and you don't see this, I would be suspicious that the company who claim to have designed the site, possibly haven't. Also, if you can click through to examples sites, double check that they are genuine! I have seen "portfolio examples" that are clearly fabricated. Perhaps the telephone number of the web designer's "customer" is 01234 5678910, or the domain name is a sub domain, rather than a real domain name. Be vigilant - it will be worth it!
2. Do they offer testimonials that can be verified? As with tradesmen, often the best way to gauge a web designer is on testimonials from previous clients. I care about the work I do and I want to ensure that my customers are satisfied. On completion of their site, all my customers are sent a short questionnaire about the quality of my work, service, price etc and I am proud to display these on my site. Your web designer should be happy for you to contact previous clients, as this is truly the only way that the testimonials can be verified.
3. How much do they charge for hosting? When you get a web design quote, you will often find that hosting is included free of charge for the first year. You must ensure that you know exactly how much your hosting is going to cost after this time. For example, I had a customer who had a great website that had cost GBP50, but they were being charged GBP30 per month for hosting! This is far too much (and in my opinion unethical). Their cheap web design ended up costing them a fortune. You should expect to pay anything from GBP30-GBP60 per year for your hosting for an average site. More than this and I would walk away. Conversely, if you are told that hosting is "free forever", then I would also be suspicious. Perhaps you will be charged a high fee to renew your domain name instead...
4. Will they accept payment from you, without having discussed your needs first? I have seen some websites that send you directly to a payment page. I would never recommend making a payment for a website without having first discussed exactly what you want - either via telephone or email. Before parting with any money you need to ensure that your web designer understands what you want from your website, how many pages it will be (you need to know what constitutes a "page"), what you need to supply and what they will source, what would be the best domain name etc etc etc. There's a whole list of factors that should be decided before parting with your money. If a company is happy to receive payment before this, be wary.
5. Do they have Terms and Conditions? You are entering into a contract with your web designer and as such, you should firstly ensure that they have T & Cs and secondly read them! They are there to protect both you as the customer and also the web designer themselves (yes, sadly sometimes the customer tries to rip the web designer off also). If they don't have T & Cs and say not to worry, it is all based on trust, then be wary.
6. Whose name will the domain name be in? This is really important. The domain name should always be registered in your name, not the web designer's name. This means that you own the domain name. For example, an unethical designer may register the domain in their own name. If your business is successful (which hopefully it is!) and the time comes to renew your domain name if the domain name is not registered in your own name, the web designer can charge you whatever they like to use the domain name. This is not a situation you want to find yourself in. Luckily, I think this practice is fading out but I still have the occasional customer who doesn't own their domain name - their previous designer does. How do you check this? If the company's portfolio is genuine, you can visit the website http://www.who.is, type in the domain name and it will tell you who the owner of the domain name is. The owner of the domain should not be the web design company (although they are often listed as the administrators, which is fine)
7. How much will you be charged to makes changes to your site in future? This is a tricky one. Having your website designed is usually just the first step in. Once your site is up and running, you often want to make changes to it, add special offers, new pictures etc. Obviously it would be unfair to expect your web designer to carry out this work for you for nothing (although some customers do think that web designers should do updates for free!). On the other hand, you want to know that you're not going to be ripped off every time you want to change your site. You can expect to pay around GBP25 per hour for updates and this is around the norm for most ethical web designers. It's possible get a lot done in an hour, so it generally works out pretty well for customers. Some companies will charge GBP25 per change however, so watch out for this. For example, a designer might alter some text for a customer, add 2 photos and an extra PayPal button. It could usually do this in approximately half an hour let's say, so it would cost GBP12.50. If you were being charged per change, this would be GBP100! Again, just be aware of all the costs before committing. Something else you may want to look at, is whether or not you have the option to be able to update your own site in the future. This means that you can log into your website and make changes to your own site as and when you like, without worrying about the cost each time. As technology becomes more user friendly, this type of service is becoming increasingly popular. I hope that helps in your quest for a web designer. Please don't be put off by any of the above. Like all industries, you will hear both good and bad stories and as long as you do your homework, trust your instincts and follow some basic principles, you will end up with an appealing, user friendly, navigable, SEO friendly website.

Web Site Development - The Roles of Web Designers and Web Programmers

By Olumide Bola

A web site is a software package. By definition, a package is a ready-made program that is available to users for use to perform some tasks. These users include non-IT professionals. Thus, a web site qualifies to be a package like Microsoft Office, Peachtree Accounting packages. Before the revolution of The Web (WWW), development of software package was the exclusive preserve of skillful programmers. Programmers or software developers develop the logic of programs which a package will eventually use to function. This logic building aspect of software development requires high level of intellect. This together with the intricacies of mastering programming languages made the development of packages uninteresting and unattractive to a large spectrum of people. Following the revolution of The Web, it became possible for non-programmers to develop packages right from the inception. These are web-based packages and of course, web sites, requiring no programming skills. The result was the creation of a new type of profession called Web Design. A web designer is someone who organizes a web page by arranging texts, pictures, animations, forms etc on a page and formats them to produce good presentation. All he needs do is to make use of any of the appropriate web development tools like Macromedia Visual Studio and Microsoft FrontPage. Through the Design section of Macromedia Dreamweaver, for example, you can design a whole web page without using HTML codes. What you have is a web site. A web site is one or more web pages. These web development tools are the equivalent of what the popular package Adobe PageMaker does which is to organize and format pages of books, magazines, newspapers etc. No programming is required. The limitation of web designing is the creation of static web sites which may be suitable for some applications but not all. They produce non-interactive and non-dynamic web sites that are unsuitable for certain applications and needs. For example, online registration. The role of a web designer stops at this point and that of a web programmer begins. As a result of the limitation of static web sites, the need to move further arose. People wanted sites where they could post forms for tasks like creating accounts online and authentication of passwords. This led to the development of web programming languages otherwise known as scripts. Examples are JavaScript, ASP, ASP.NET, JSP, PHP, ColdFusion etc. The result was the creation of the profession of web programming. A web programmer is someone who develops programs for the purpose of performing automated tasks on a web site. Some prefer to call them software developers. Example of such tasks are:
Data validation.
Form submission.
Sign Up.
Database search. Thus, it became possible to develop dynamic and interactive web sites capable of doing what conventional software could do on stand-alone computer and network using non-internet technologies. Online banking, stock broking are examples. These functions can now be carried out entirely on internet. To develop functional scripts for such automated tasks, logic building and mastery of the programming language to use in terms of syntax are required. Most of the programs are written from scratch. Can you be a web designer and a web programmer? Yes, you can. There are people who double as web designer and web programmer but specialists are noted for doing better in their respective fields of specialization than non-specialists. Some sites do not require more than web designing but many sites nowadays require both web designing and web programming like the multi-tier applications that have presentation layer, the logic layer that interfaces the presentation layer with the database, and the data layer that contains the database. There are even database specialists who design database and write what is called stored procedures and triggers right inside the database. The use of stored procedures increases the overall efficiency of site execution as it minimizes the number of times SQL statements are parsed, compiled, and optimized during execution. You can see that site development is quite deep. The roles of web designers and web programmers are complementary in the development of web site. You need to identify where your ability lies and allow that to inform your choice of area of specialization. If you know you have the ability to write programs, you can go beyond web designing and become a web programmer but if it is otherwise, stick to web designing and continue to grow and sharpen your skills. The truth of the matter is that programming is not for everybody. If you are a conventional graphic artist, you will find it easy to crossover to web designing and if you are a conventional programmer, you can readily crossover to web programming. What I mean by conventional graphic artists are those who have the expertise in the use of tools like CorelDraw, Photoshop, and PageMaker to perform Desktop Publishing tasks. By conventional programmers, I mean the experts in programming languages like C++, FoxPro, COBOL, and Dbase. As long as you can determine where your ability lies, you will surely overcome frustrations in your tasks of developing web sites and you will continue to enjoy what you are doing. If you are a web designer and you have a job that involves programming which you cannot handle, look for assistance from a web programmer. If you are a web programmer and you are having issues with web designing in your task, seek the assistance of a web designer. If you can handle both areas to a very large extent, well and good. Olumide Bola holds a bachelors degree of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and is currently pursuing chartered membership of the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN). He is also a member of Nigeria Computer Society (NCS). He has trained scores of people for well over a decade in programming and non-programming courses. He is currently a Software Developer and the Managing Director/CEO of Victolay Technologies Limited.

Preparing Web Images with Photoshop

By Andy Eaton

If you're creating images to be used on a website, then Adobe Photoshop is a must have. It's the premier program for manipulating and creating website images. The creators of Photoshop realize that many web designers use the program, and they've made it easy to create and save web images. When you're creating images in Photoshop, it helps to have a working knowledge of the program. You'll get lost trying to learn without guidance. It's a huge program with a steep learning curve. The sheer number of design options can be overwhelming. There are numerous books written on how to create simple and complex graphics using Photoshop. The purpose of this article is to briefly discuss how to save a file after creation. Save for web is an indispensable feature when it comes to creating web graphics. It's excellent for creating JPEGs and GIFs at 72 ppi, which is the web page standard. Photoshop also saves in other formats, but none are as popular as the GIF and JPEG. A quick note: If you plan to later print an image you've created in Photoshop, you should know that 72 ppi doesn't print well. You will have to resize your image as a 150 or larger ppi file. When you first create your image, it will be a Photoshop file with extension "PSD". It's a good idea to save your original image as a PSD file so it can be edited later if necessary. PSD files can be saved without flattening. Once a file is flattened, it can't be edited. Never flatten an image unless you're certain you won't have to edit it. When you're satisfied with the look of your file, you can prepare it for web use. By clicking the file option, you'll also see "save for web". That's what you want to choose. The dialog box will appear and prompt you to choose a save format. Take a moment to explore the options box. Photoshop has made it possible to experiment with different settings without altering the original file. Based on the format you choose, your image will be adjusted before your eyes. In fact, you will see exactly how different formats will look. For instance, you can see what your image will look like as a JPEG, then as a GIF, and so one. You can decide on a final format, file size, and various other choices based on the preview image. Once you're happy with the results, it's time to save the file.
So basically you need to:
1. Create the image
2. Choose file, save for web
3. Choose a file save format
4. Choose an image size
5. Chose quality level for a JPEG and a number of colors for GIF
6. Choose a location in which to save your file Of course there's more involved, and this article simply provides a basic overview. Some Photoshop users aren't aware of the save for web option. Now you have an idea of what can be accomplished.

How to Combine Two Images in Photoshop

By Mihai Dumbrava

Combining two images in Photoshop is actually not hard at all, and you could obtain an awesome effect. As you can imagine, you need two images. You can play a little and create an image on your own, using the brush tools. You can combine your image with whatever digital picture you have on your computer. First of all, make sure the image is flattened. You can flatten it by going to Image→ Flatten image. Then, go to the box tool, the first item in your toolbar at the right of the screen. If you press Alt while hitting this tool it will cycle through other shapes, such as a circle. Once you've hit the box tool, select a box around the image and cut it out. To cut it out, either press Ctrl + X or click Edit → Cut. Your image will disappear, but you can press Ctrl + C or click Edit → Copy to leave the original image. Then, proceed to creating the new one, the combination of your two images. Press Ctrl + O or click File → Open, and a new image will be created. To paste your image from the clipboard on top of the digital picture, press Ctrl + V or Edit → Paste. Now the image you drew will be on top of the digital picture. Now you can start playing with the new image. You can manipulate it with the Photoshop tools, move it around, or apply various effects. You can apply effects to any layer. To flatten the image again, go back to Image → Flatten Image.

Top 12 Image Editing Skills Every Photographer Should Know

By John Huegel

Before you start editing, make sure that you have a good image work flow. This means saving originals in a separate place to prevent you from damaging or destroying the original image. And get familiar with your program's UNDO capability - usually the Ctrl-Z key is a shortcut to undo the most recent image change. Don't forget SaveAs, which allows you to save a copy of the image with another name so you don't disturb the original.
Crop.
This tool allows you to remove some of the image. Generally you shape a rectangle around the area you want to keep and the rest is removed. The area inside the rectangle becomes your new image. Related to this tool are the rotate and straighten tools. Rotate allows you to rotate the image, and Straighten does a similar task, allowing you to specify a horizon line or reference point. I recommend to rotate first and then crop after you have the proper orientation. Brightness and Contrast. This tool lets you increase or decrease the relationship between brights and darks (contrast), and increase or decrease the overall brightness of the image. Combinations of brightness and contrast settings can have very dramatic impact to your image, adding extra "punch" or softening the visual impact. It can also add emphasis to sunsets and other scenic shots. If your image appears flat or dull, this is a good tool to try.
Saturation.
This tool is used to increase the color of an image. Used to excess, the result can be artificial, and skin tones can be made to look unnatural. But for floral and outdoor images, this tool can be used to sweeten the color impact of an image.
Resize.
This tool is used to change the size and number of pixels, or image dots, in an image file. When sending something to a website for instance, you may want to reduce the image size so that it does not take too long to load. When sending an image to be printed on a large size, you may want to size it larger. Many programs will try to fill in the missing spaces if you attempt to resize an image beyond its original pixel dimensions. Called interpolation, this program can deliver mixed results if you are trying to increase the images size too far beyond its original dimensions. Combined with Crop, this is a good way to preview and prepare an image to be printed in a specific paper size.
Color Temperature/Color Adjust.
This tool lets you adjust the image's color temperature. If your camera's white balance was not matched up to the color temperature of the predominant light source, the resulting image can have a color cast that is undesirable. Using this tool, you either choose a color neutral selection (white or grey) in the photo and let the tool shift the color balance to match, or you tweak some settings or sliders to make the image "warmer" or "cooler". It's better to get it right in the camera, but this tool can help rescue photos that otherwise have improper color casts.
Curves and Levels.
These tools are a more sophisticated verion of the Brighness and Contrast tools. Levels allows you to change the white, mid and black points of an image and it will shift the image accordingly. It is useful in pushing darks darker, whites whiter, and adding some lightness to midtones. It is useful to bring up skin tones on faces while keeping very bright elements unchanged. Curves is even more flexible, where you can describe a very sophisticated transformation of the original image's characteristics. Both of these tools can also be used to excess, and the result is often surreal or abnormal in appearance.
Clone/Rubber Stamp.
This tool lets you remove items from the image or otherwise retouch the image. For example if you have a telephone pole in an otherwise perfect rural image, you can use this tool to duplicate the part of the picture next to the pole and paint over the pole with that section. With some practice, you can edit out glare on glasses, braces, background objects and much more. Related tools include Scratch Remover and Object Remover in some programs.
Eraser.
This tool lets you remove sections of an image. This leaves behind a blank spot or hole. It's useful to isolate an object to place on another image, for example, to cut out a person so you can drop them into a location that was not in the original image. A variant of this tool is the Background Eraser.
Layers.
Learning to use layers opens up an entirely new world in editing. Basically you create two or more overlays that can have varying amounts of transparency so that you create a new image combining parts of these layers. You can specify how the layers interact with each other, so that one may enhance the color of another. That feature is called the "blend mode". You can also use layers to superimpose items on each other, for example to put your subject in a new location.
Sharpen.
This tool lets you increase the edge contrast of the image, which makes small features stand out more. You will generally sharpen only as a last step after resizing, because sharpening emphasis will change with the image size. You can selectively sharpen parts of the images, such as eyes, to draw attention to them. You can also apply a sharpening to the overall image. The Unsharp Mask will let you specify just how small and how much to apply the sharpening effect.
Channel Mixer.
This is a tool that allows you to change the amount of red, green and blue in the image. But its real value is in being able to tailor a black and white conversion to include specific amounts of red, green and blue. If you choose "monochrome" as the output, you can mix the red green and blue channels to bring out features that a straight black and white conversion will not be able to do. The defaults include 33% each of red, blue and green. Experiment with 80%/10%/10% of various modes and see how elements like bricks or blue sky or green leaves will change from dark to light in relation to other objects in the image.
1-Step Fix/Smart Fix.
This tool often combines much of the above tools into an easy to use dialog that will let you play with many things at once to improve an image. Even if you use this tool most of the time, remember that the individual elements above can be utilized individually to create image enhancements that the simpler tools cannot provide. Want to learn more? Take a handful of images that you are not totally pleased with, and spend some time using each tool to see how you can expand your creative and editing skills to produce truly great works of photographic art!

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