PSE: Photoshop Hotlinks

Last modified 2001 JUL 31 17:56:18 GMT
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Adobe Photoshop is perhaps THE BEST photo editing tool for conventional desktop computers. "Photo editing" might sound like it has a narrow scope, but in fact, the program can be used for generating all sorts of graphics -- it just isn't a paint program. Fractal Design Painter is well suited to creating artsy images from scratch. Both programs have similar, yet different target audiences. Photoshop can do some incredible image retouching, as well as the bulk of effects you see in web artwork (from bevels and cutouts, to drop shadows, glows, and feathered edges). Painter on the other hand, has powerful tools for drawing, imitating "Natural Media" (as the folks at Fractal Design like to call it) -- the visual appearance of charcoal on a bristol board, or a crayon on construction paper, etc.

This page is about Photoshop, even though you may find some links which reference Painter resources. This link to Fractal Design is my one official Painter link.

Photoshop is available in PC and Macintosh flavours (and probably others as well, but I doubt that includes the computers used by the intended audience of this document).

It is pricey -- the PC/Windows version has a MSRP of US$600 or thereabouts. Yes, that sort of says it isn't intended for the average doodler in the audience, so unless you plan on making a living of image editing, or are a serious hobbiest, you'd be better off (financially at least) picking up a US$80 paint/edit program (and there are actually some pretty decent ones out there). But if you want RESULTS, Photoshop is the program to use.

I won't go into a program feature summary (see Adobe for that), but instead I offer a list of links to pages I've found (either in wanderings, or directly via searches) which contain useful information for users of Photoshop. Techniques, add-in tools (called Plug-ins), and art created with the program (which is useful for inspiration). In essence, this is simply my own glorified hotlist for Photoshop. If it doesn't show, much of it is simply cut and paste from search results. Over time, as I visit the various places, I'll better categorize them to my interests and their usefulness.

If you have information on other Photoshop resources which are not listed here, please send them to us for inclusion on this page. Thanks.

I'll start off with some quick tips for anyone looking at purchasing Photoshop:
* Get the CD version (of Photoshop, as well as other tools). If you don't already have a CD-ROM drive, go get one -- you'll eventually need it for all the image libraries that are available.

* Two must-have plugin kits (around US$100 each): Kai's Power Tools and The Black Box. You can't possibly regret having these two plug-in libraries. Both are outlined in more detail futher on in this document. Put them on your shopping list. If you have to pace yourself with purchases, and if you're going to be doing lots of web or advertising graphics, you'll find Black Box to be the best thing to purchase first (even though most all of the effects can be done via a long series of steps in the out-of-the-box Photoshop -- the savings in time will more than make up for the cost), while KPT is generally the more all-around cool tool, with textures, gradients, spheres, lighting effects, and other coolness.

* RAM. Get lots of it. Depending on your tolerances for speed, PS runs so-so on 16MB (one can call it "acceptable" for some tasks), and much better at 32MB, and really quite nicely at 64MB (or more!). This is necessary for editing large files, especially when you make true-colour images and utilize multiple layers and channels. As of this writing, RAM prices are on the rise from an unbelieveably low prices (I bought 64MB of RAM a few weeks ago, in mid-September 1996, for US$304 before taxes, which is lower than I expect it'll be for some time to come).

* Disk. You want a speedy drive. Despite what your parents told you though, SIZE does matter. You want a big one. Why? Those saved images start to gobble up disk space. Even if you're targeting for small web-type graphics, you'll want to work with higher rez files, and scale down for the final image. You should save the originals, so you can come back and make changes again if necessary (and doing so on the exported web-size graphic won't produce exceptional results). Your best bet, especially if you plan on doing a lot, or if you'll be doing several projects for different clients, is getting a removable cartridge drive. Iomega makes removable media drives. You've probably heard of the 100MB Iomega Zip drive (IMHO, an okay drive, but for about the same cost, the Syquest EZ-135 is a much better drive, with twice the seek speed and transfer rate), but Iomega also makes the 1.0GB JAZ drive. As of this writing, they only have SCSI models of this drive (which is just fine for Mac users, but means PC users need to make sure they have a SCSI card -- Adaptec makes the best). Get an external model (or mount the less-expensive internal model into a generic external SCSI case), as this will allow you to move the drive to another machine as necessary, or bring it along to a customer site, etc. The JAZ is an excellent performer, and might actually be faster than the drive you already own, typically attaining 2.5-3.0 MB/sec real-world transfer rates (and sometimes higher) -- it's that good. When you're dealing with a large file, this speed will come in handy.

* CPU. PC Photoshop runs acceptably (with delays doing some effects, and on smaller files - such as you might be doing web art with, but not for package and print) on a 486DX2-66, but obviously performs much better on newer generation faster CPUs (oh, so sweet on a Pentium Pro 200). There's a lot of work involved in manipulating all those bits, and more horsepower never hurts. I don't know the Mac performance scale, but the same still applies there -- faster CPU = faster results.

* Input tool. A mouse might cut it for many people, but if you're going to be using Photoshop much, you'll find that an investment in a Wacom pen tablet will pay dividends. Get something larger than their tiny 4x5 tablet (which works, but is aggravatingly restrictive for natural drawing). Wacom has the competition beat -- their pens are cordless and batteryless (the batteryless feature is patented). They also have a selection of different pen styles. The right pen CAN replace a mouse in many circumstances.

* Equilibrium. The makers of Debabelizer/Pro which is an excellent tool for batch image processing (including complex palette operations such as producing the best palette for a series of images).
* Debabelizer resources. This is a resource put together by the author of "DeBabelizer: The Authorized Edition". The site covers both the Mac and PC vesions and general information about other issues like palettes.
* PhotoBooks is a site presenting reviews and comments about various books published for users of Photoshop. This is a necessary stop for any Photoshop connoisseur.
* Corel has stock photo libraries.
* Digital Stock offers high quality licenseable images.
* PhotoDisc has over 15,000 licensable images.
* Adobe Plug-in Source is a One-stop shop for all those useful tools for Photoshop.
* Adobe Magazine. Useful how-tos, and it's free!
* Adobe Studio - Tips & Techniques for Adobe software.
* Color on the Web is an article from Adobe Studio which specifically addresses how to produce output indended for a web browsing audience.
* Pantone, THE foremost colour-matching system. You want to make a stop here if you're going to be working with print media.
* Specular 3D Web Workshop is a product for producing 3D-like web graphics.
* Extensis produces plug-ins and other add-ons for Photoshop as well as other graphics apps. I'm currently reviewing their Intellihance scan ehancement plug-in for Photoshop, which is quite useful. You can download demos too.
* ARTBEATS Artbeats WebTools

Something I'm still looking for is a PC product that does a good job of descreening -- such as when scanning magazine-style printed images (halftones), and removing the dotted pattern. If you should know of one, I'd enjoy hearing from youfor my own sake, as well as for addition to this page. For the record, the technique I currently use for descreening is to apply a very faint gaussian blur to each of the individual colour channels, often followed by an unsharp mask of the whole image.

A Reader provided this useful link to a PhotoShop 5 technique for manually dealing with older photos using the history brush. Seems well suited to fixing up those vintage photos for a geneaology project.

When I needed to do a lot of cropping, I wrote a plugin to take an irregular selection and turn it into a bounding box (that is, a solid rectangular selection which exactly encompassed the irregular selection). This plugin finds frequent uses, even though it's premise (and operation) is quite simple. I have another plugin which I need to write as well - equally simple, but I simply need to get the time to churn it out - a plugin to take a feathered selection and threshold it (that is, change it to a non-feathered selection with a hard border by discarding those feathered values below a certain user-selected threshold). Info on my plugins can be found on my plugins page.

Other stuff, in no particular order:


Community at Work: 'photoshop' Listserve archive A collection of articles from the Photoshop listserve (discussion group). if you're serious about Photoshop, you might want to consider subscribing to this mailing list.

DiP - BIG Home Page & Contents

DiP Photoshop Explorations - Drop Shadow in GIF Minor

Filter Factory Compendium Filter factory is an interesting tool which allows even non-programmers to create their own Photoshop filters. Some interesting effects can be produced with this tool.

Free Filters Just what it says.

Kai's Power Tools 3.0 Perhaps one of the best known plug-in filter sets, KPT (Kai's Power Tools), is very useful for web art designers, with gradients, seamless tile design, and the spereoid designers being amongst the most often used of the filters available in the comprehensive tool set. Kai also offers Kai's power tips for Windows to visitors.

List of known Photoshop plug-ins

Photoshop tips

Photoshop: 'photoshop' Msg # 2766

Print Shop

Tools for Creating Backgrounds

Visual Manipulation

WASM Articles (surf related, but good examples of PS/web)

Welcome to Hyperstand!


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