Archive for February, 2015

#CreativeFriday – Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop Workflow

I had a chance recently to visit the highly regarded Karl Taylor. Whilst on the visit, Karl asked me if I would make a video with him on using Lightroom and Photoshop as part of a re-touching workflow. An existing Lightroom and Photoshop non destructive link has been there for what seems like years, but doesn’t seem to be widely known. However, there are always improvements to be made. With Photoshop CC in the Creative Cloud (also in the Creative Cloud Photography Plan), the integration between both solutions has been made monumentally better. There is now a true capability of having a non destructive workflow all the way from the start to finish. This particular workflow includes all Photoshop Filters and lots of other features being made available to the Smart Object Technology (including, my favourite, the Camera Raw filter, which adds all of Camera RAW/Lightroom functionality as a single Non Destructive filter).

This workflow enhancement allows you to make edits at any point in time even if your image is ready to go and all sharpened. It also enables you to save the PSD or TIFF and come back to it in the future without having to flatten the image or place layer stamps inside the layer’s palette (of course you may still need some external disks like the G-Tech ones to cater for the extra space that you might need). You may be asking by G-Tech, well they are in all seriousness the most robust drive i’ve ever used, i’ve not had one die or crash on me yet and they get thrown around all of the time, even on Photography adventures).

This video and can be seen below, enjoy!

To see more of Karl’s video you can find his channel here, other Photoshop, Lightroom or 3D content are also available on my channel.

If you are curious about the Create Cloud Photography Plan, there are details here.

#CreativeFriday – Using Photoshop blending options to ‘Knock Out’, and cut out 2D shapes for 3D composites

Working with Tony Harmer this week, we encountered a Photoshop challenge which took us a while to bottom out. However, we haphazardly stumbled on another way to cut 2D shapes out from other layers and keep control of shape measurements.

There are currently many ways to cut out shapes in Photoshop, either using Layer Masks, Vector Masks, Clipping Masks, or using the subtract/exclude commands etc. The objective of this particular solution is another way to control specific measurements, especially with 3D printed objects.

For an example let us take something really simple. We want to take a 12cm by 12cm square and cut out a square hole in the middle which is 10cm by 10cm. The measurements are quite specific in the printing process, but maybe required in a 2D design also.

In the example, the new canvas is created, which has a transparent background (This means that later on we will only see the shape, regardless of what we do with it).

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 19.14.16The next step is to create a rectangle (marked red below) with the rectangle tool. Notice that the width and height of the rectangle are specified as 12cm by 12cm (marked in yellow) as this is a live shape which will give us flexibility and control of the shape.

Now to cut out the 10cm by 10cm square from the middle. Another rectangle is needed which in this case will be 10cm by 10cm width and height (marked in yellow below). The colour of the rectangle isn’t signifiant, it’s just to show it’s presence.

We will use the yellow square to knock the 10cm by 10cm hole in the 12cm square. To do this, we can put a blending option on the Yellow square layer and change the Knock out option. This can be achieved by adding an effect (marked in green) or by double clicking on the layer.

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Photoshop will bring up the Layer Style dialog box and should park on the Blending Options by default (for a new effect), as shown below. On this dialog under Blending options there is an option to use Advanced Blending (marked in orange). For this technique to work, the Fill opacity value will be set to 0.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 19.29.52v10 copy

If the Knock out is kept at the default setting, ‘None’ and the Fill Opacity is reduced to zero, it will just remove the yellow rectangle and revel what was below it in the layer stack. If the knockout is changed to shallow when the Fill Opacity set to zero, the effect will be to remove the yellow rectangle, as well as removing the shape from the shape below it. In this case, the yellow rectangle will be removed from the blue larger shape and the background will be shown. (The shallow knock out will be one level deep in the layer stack, which essentially means that if it’s part of a group nothing will be knocked out).

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The effect can be seen above (notice that the layers are all directly above and at one layer deep).

Below shows another layer that is added to the top of the stack, which is also one layer deep. When it’s Blending option is changed to shallow, the effect is the same and its shape is knocked out.












There is another option on the knock out, called ‘Deep’.

In the example below, there is a lot going on.

At the base there is a blue rectangle, immediately followed by square that cuts out the rectangle, by using a zero fill shallow knockout (as seen below).

Above this there is a group called ‘Octagons’, contained in this group there is another group called circles. Both of these, regardless of the groups and nesting of groups are controlled by a shallow knock out on the blue rectangle. This shallow knockout is at the top group level, so it’s still at one level deep. Therefore everything under a shallow knock out regardless of the nesting will inherit the Blending option from the one level deep Knockout configuration.

The Halfmoon group at the top of the layer stack does not knock out any part of the blue rectangle (notice there is no Blending option on the Half moon group to allow this to knock out at this level). Inside of the Half moon group, there is a small blue circle called ‘Elipse 3’, this shape is not cutting out the blur rectangle, but it is cutting into the pink circle, because ‘Elipse 3’ has a zero Fill knock out layer set to ‘shallow’. In this case the shallow only goes one level deep.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 20.21.32v 11


To allow ‘Elipse 3’ (marked in red below) to cut into the blue rectangle (marked yellow), it needs to go past the first level ‘shallow’ and to the ‘Deep’ level. This can be controlled by changing the blending option to zero fill and knock out ‘Deep’ (marked in orange).

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Ultimately, there are many options for this and many different combinations. i.e. You can have a photoshop layer cut into Photoshop layers, Photoshop layers cut into Illustrator placed layers, or even a combination of the above. This does mean that we are able to keep measurements and dimensions in tact, especially when 3D Printing.

Converting the 2D shape to a 3D object.

The first step is to group all layers together using Smart Objects, which will result in a single layer. The 3D conversion is executed by choosing the 3D menu 3D / New 3D Extrusion from Layer command. This option should create the 3D geometry for you.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 21.27.16

To go a little further, attributes about the 3D object can be modifed. By clicking on the 3D object once will bring up the navigation widget. Pressing the V key whilst the navigation widget is shown, will cycle through the 3D modifiers. Things like bevel, inflate, taper, twist etc can be applied to the object. In the following example the front face of the object (blue painted face above) has had a bevel applied to it.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 21.34.28The 2D shapes have now been converted into a 3D object, all of which are completely editable if desired. Re-editing the object can be achieved by double clicking into the Smart Object layer (Half Moon layer above).

I used this opportunity to make something out of this technique and made a fully rendered scene, the creation (not including rendering) took about an 1hr.

monster layout v4


The basis of the monsters were created using a Live shape rectangle with rounded corners, with 4 circles to cut away the bottom. In the example below there is a group called tentacles, which contains 4 circle shapes. The group level is then set to have a fill opacity of zero and a knock out of shallow. This will essentially cut the circles out of the rectangle leaving the tentacles.

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All of these layers are then converted into a single Smart Object by selecting them all and choosing Filter /  Convert to Smart Object (I find that labeling the layers is very useful to keep track of what’s going on).

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Once the option 3D / New 3D Extrusion from selected layer command is issued, Photoshop will move into the 3D mode and show the new extrusion. To alter the final extrusion, the tools marked in red can be used and will appear as a widget on the 3D bounding box or cage (the V key can be used to cycle through the tools). At which point elements of the 3D geometry can be changed. i.e. the extrusion, bevel, tapering, inflation etc can all be modified to give the final required look.

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After configuring the extrusion, altering the taper and bevel, here’s what the modifications look like

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For the render and final piece, there are two elements that i’ll add. One is a background, by just creating a layer underneath the 3D layer  (marked in Red), and pulling a gradient across the layer. The gradient tool is marked in yellow, and uses the foreground / background (marked in green) to construct an initial gradient (marked in blue). This layer isn’t locked, so can be transformed and scaled to make sure that it fits the scene.

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To render the scene and get a more realistic look, Image based lights can be used (IBL). The Photoshop team have created some IBL’s for you and are available here. From here you can download the creative and basic IBL’s just to get you started. An IBL will allow the renderer to give a more realistic look and feel.

The basic IBL’s ones are just black to white gradients, which hold back light in specific regions. However, the creative one’s are more complex and have the feel of a real studio with soft boxes etc.

To add an IBL to the scene, open the 3D panel using Window / 3D, and select the environment (marked in blue below). This will open the properties panel for this object, from here the IBL check box should be ticked on. Assuming it is on, the IBL that is currently being used is show in the small thumb nail next to it (marked in red). To replace the default IBL, click on the folder icon (marked in green) and replace it’s contents with the IBL (marked in red). The file dialog box is shown, and the one i’ve selected for this exercise is shown in pink (the IBL graphic is shown in yellow). Once this is added the scene lights can be moved around (as well as other lights that are having an impact on the scene.

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 15.43.35

A reflection can be added if required, by using the reflection option and opacity on the environment properties (marked red below).

The final activity is to render the scene. This can be performed by clicking on the render option, which can be found in numerous places inside the 3D environment in Photoshop (marked in red below).

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 15.57.06


I hope this blog post has given you some ideas of how to use 2D shapes and cut outs within 3D composites in Photoshop. The Final Behance page is here.


#CreativeFriday – Photoshop, Pressure Sensitivity for Opacity Control and Wacom Tablets

The Wacom tablet is a highly useful hardware device for working with and retouching photographic imagery, as well as video and 3D. Photoshop has inbuilt support for the Wacom tablet, regardless of it’s a Intuous Pro, Cintiq or a Bamboo tablet and pen combinations. This post will look at understanding the effect of using pressure for opacity control within Photoshop for any of your art work.

Within Photoshop there is support for the tablet and pen within a large number of the standard tools, some of these are :-

Spot Healing Tool, Healing Brush, Brush Tool, Pencil Tool, Colour Replacement, Mixer Brush, Clone Stamp, Pattern Stamp, as well as many other tools.

Within these tools the are a number of items to consider, this post will focus on the opacity control, marked in red below and how this can be used for other configurations (including pen and tablet usage).

 Fig 1.0

When this option is selected the Wacom tablet can be used to control the amount of pressure that will be used to control the opacity of the tool action that is used (N.B. pressure cannot be simulated with a traditional mouse).

To understand how this works, the brush properties can be viewed easily, this is available by clicking the brush presets, marked in yellow.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 19.07.22_1

The brush presets properties dialog box will be opened.  There are two components working here. When the brush opacity button is turned on ( showed marked in red in fig 2.0), the transfer check box (as shown in Red below) should automatically turn on. Clicking on the Transfer text, will open up the Transfer properties options.

When the brush opacity is turned on, the opacity jitter value will be automatically set to pen pressure on the control property. This is the default option which cannot be changed and will control the opacity that is applied via the tool that is being used. Turning the pressure button on will reset the whole panel of the transfer only, and will not affect the other options that are available on the brush. This means that other options can be modified and used on a tablet or mouse combination (the mouse cannot control any pen pressure) as a configurable option.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 19.18.09


Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 19.27.00

 Fig 2.0

When the tablet opacity button is turned off (in Fig 1.0), the brush will return back to the original values before the tablet opacity pressure control was turned on. This means that changing the values in the brush from the default values that come with Photoshop upon initial installation can be changed and modified to your working environment.

One incredibly useful update made to Photoshop CC  was the colour coding to brush presets and if any changes have been made to the original values. This can be found by pressing the Brush Presets button (marked in yellow) and is also available on the brush properties panel (above brush presets button).

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If the brush is using the default values then it will a blue box around it on the brush presets panel, as shown below

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Any changes that have been made to the brush will turn the box to orange

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Of course it takes time to configure the brushes and how they work within your environment, and saving this time will be advantageous for many reasons. one, might be to allow a smooth workflow between different environments. It used to be challenging to get the brushes in sync with a second machine (if one is being used). The Creative Cloud solves this problem, by enabling brushes as well as other items to the synced to the Creative Cloud for storage and sharing to other environments that you maybe utilising.

The Sync Settings dialog can be found under Photoshop preferences, under the Sync Settings options. As you can see below, all settings have been uploaded (these are described and can be individually selected) and are now available to other computers. The upload and download buttons are used to sync the settings.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 19.57.04

#CreativeFriday – Lightroom Mobile iOS 1.3 Update

Lightroom 1.3 for iOS (iPhone and iPad), available now, include some new features and some bug fixes.

I wanted to highlight a couple of features that i’ll be using in this update. As a travel photographer I like having access to my RAW smart previews on my mobile device where ever I am. However, changing the segmentation view, and the way that the pictures are displayed is really useful and can help me remember when an image was taken. Lightroom mobile 1.3 now has the ability to view the photographs by a date segmentation.

To change the segmentation order, open up the mobile collection, by taping on the thumbnail.

IMG_1072 copy_1.3


When the collection is shown, the title is shown at the top of the screen. This title is active and clickable. Calling up the organise options, when touched.

1. IMG_1074_1.3Regular flat mode is selected by default, the new Segmented mode is also now available.


The new Segmentation mode can be selected by clicking on the “Segmented” button.

4. IMG_1076_1.3

The photographs are now shown in a segmented order (by Year), as shown in the screen shot below, the default view is by year.


Of course, photographs are more relevant when you can change the Segmentation order. The Segmentation text (year and number of photos), when held down with the finger will show Segmentation options.

IMG_1082_65a90778de9617d10705572f01918e4b95ec1e9b13de746abde4e0e471d82ff1 copy

Choosing the “Hour” Segmentation will show when the pictures were taken by date and hour.


Cut and Paste Settings. 

When I am travelling, I tend to make some simple adjustments using the Lightroom mobile develop module, and would like to copy and paste my settings to another picture.
6. IMG_1078_1.3


In the example above, global adjustments have been made and i’d like to copy them to another photo. If you hold a finger down on the image, the copy and paste settings menu will be displayed. Choosing “Copy” here, will take the global adjustments and copy to the clipboard.

What you can copy is also presented, by default all are selected. This panel of course can be customised, just by taping on the adjustment that are/are not required.

7. IMG_1079_1.3

N.B. Notice the Basic Tone has sub menu, this can be customised as well.

Once the Photo to receive the settings has been located, holding your finger down to call up the copy/paste menu.

8. IMG_1080_1.3

Choosing paste will place the settings on this photograph.

N.B. Applying paste on an image that already has settings, will replace the old new settings. Of course the paste settings action can be undone by using the undo option on the image.



You can see the original post for Lightroom mobile 1.3 by following this link.








Ann Aveyard – Winner of Landscape Photographer of the year (SWPP)

Adobe sponsored the Societies of Wedding and Portrait Photographers (SWPP), Landscape Photographer of the year category this year. I would like to congratulate Ann Aveyard on her stunning, winning image of Naples Pier in Florida. Ann took the photograph 30 minutes before sunrise and I think you will agree, it certainly deserves this award. Well done Ann!

We hope that  Ann enjoy’s the 12 Month’s complimentory membership to Creative Cloud that she won for this image. Ann, we would love to hear and see what you create with the new tools and features that are now available in Creative Cloud.




Ann Aveyard

Ann Aveyard 17.01.14


I began my career as a photographer in 2010 after a very successful career as a registered nurse in the NHS.  As a nurse I had the skills to calm, reassure and put people at their ease, – skills which are transferable and essential in my role as a photographer.  I have always loved taking photographs and when I left nursing in 2010 it was my opportunity to train as a photographer and to devote my time to developing my skills. I undertook formal training in photography at the Bournemouth Arts University and Poole College. My photography business, Ann Aveyard Photography, is mainly wedding photography and family portraiture although I also do some commercial photography.  In my spare time I particularly enjoy street photography and photographing wildlife. 

Qualifications and Awards:

I studied photography at the Arts University College, Bournemouth and at Poole and Bournemouth  College. I was awarded licentiateship of the Royal Photographic Society (L.R.P.S.) in June 2012,  licentiateship of the Society of International Nature and Wildlife Photographers (LSINWP) in Nov 2013, Associate of the International Society of Nature and Wildlife Photographers (ASINWP) in April 2014, licentiateship of the Society of wedding and portrait photographers (LSWPP) in January 2014 and I  became a qualified member of the Guild of Professional Photographers (QGPP) in August 2013.

 I have received four Gold Awards with The Societies in the wildlife, landscape and documentary categories and was awarded the Societies Landscape Photographer of the Year 2014 in January 2015.  I have also won many awards in the Guild of Photographers monthly image competition. Over the past four years I have had 13 publications in ten magazines:  Portrait Photography, Digital Photographer, Digital Photo, Photoplus Magazine, Amateur Photographer, RPS Digital magazine, The World of Wildlife, Family Traveller magazine, The ImageMaker and Governors camp game reports. I won a travel photographic competition with Imagine Travel and  one of my wildlife images was in the finals of the Telegraph Weekly Photographic Competition. .  

For more of my work visit 

David Clapp at the Wildlife Life Photographer of the Year Exhibition

I recently managed a wonderful tour of the 50th Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards, if you haven’t been yet, it’s a delight and i’d highly recommend seeing it, in my opinion some of the best and strongest wildlife photography yet. Whilst walking around, I happened to notice some work of a very talented Landscape and Travel photographer David Clapp.

David’s submission was of the Witches Hat in Iceland. The submission is called ‘Magic Mountain’ and was a finalist in the Earth Environment section of the exhibition.

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David Clapp


David Clapp is a landscape and travel photographer who never expected to be. An avid musician, he learned the creative language through guitar and sequencing software, making his transition to cameras and Photoshop seem almost second nature. Forever attempting to push the boundaries as technology unfolds, his technique and technical abilities speak for themselves through the complex work he produces. 

‘For me, photography will always be the marriage of computers and cameras. Technology and creativity has always been a constant source of fascination and my vision has always taken a rather elliptical orbit, between day / night / landscape / architecture / travel. I can’t define exactly what it is I do, so I do them all.’ 

David works closely with Canon UK and Canon Europe, representing Canon at numerous leading industry events like ‘The Outdoor Show’, ‘The Photography Show’ his public speaking and teaching skills have extended beyond workshops to video presentation. David has co-presented ‘EOS Adventure: Portrait & Landscape Photography’ and also presented tutorials for the Canon EOS 6D, sent to Patagonia, now a landscape camera that he uses extensively throughout his work.

David divides his time between business and creativity – He works for numerous magazine titles, as well as amassing a strong position in commercial architectural photography, stock photography for Getty Images and as a inspirational lecturer and workshop leader.

Somewhere in the gaps he enjoys playing the guitar and DJing.

To see more of David’s work, you can visit his website at