Step and Repeat Affect

Simplify a step and repeat affect on a single image with the use of a selection and various Solid Fill/Adjustment Layers.

Open any image for this tutorial.
Get Measurements

  1. Press Ctrl + R (Mac: Command + R) to activate the Horizontal and Vertical Rulers.
  2. The Ctrl + A (Mac:Command + A) to select ALL. You should see a marquee selection surrounding the document bounds as captured below.
  3. Press the F8 key to bring the Info Panel to the foreground. Note the w/h (encircled in red below).
    Essentially I want three rows and three columns of varying color effects for the same image.
  4. Divide the w/h integers by the corresponding row/column number (in my case, it is 3).
    Rows: 450 divide by 3 = 150 pixels apart
    Columns: 306 divide by 3 = 102 pixels apart
    So now that you have those numbers, drag two Vertical guides from the left Ruler Bar and place them 150 pixels apart.
    Then drag two Horizontal guides from the top Ruler bar and place them 102 pixels apart.
Step and Repeat Affect

Create a Selection
Press the D key to deselect the original document selection from the preceding step.

  1. Click to activate the Rectangular Marquee Tool from the Toolbar.
  2. Click and drag from the uppermost left corner of the first guided section to create a selection (as captured below)
Step and Repeat Affect

Apply Solid Fill or Adjustment Layer to the Selection
With the selection still active:

Go to the Layers Panel and click the ‘Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer’ (encircled in red) icon command and from the list choose Solid Color. There is a total of 17 items from the list to choose from so each divided section can contain any one of these.

Step and Repeat Affect

At the Solid Color picker choose Black (#000000) or any color of your choice depending on desired effect, then click OK to commit.
The result will be a solid color fill in the previously selected area as captured below. The Layers Palette will also contain a new Color Fill 1 Layer that contains the solid color (black) that can be changed at anytime by double clicking the Layer Thumbnail.
Step and Repeat Affect

Obviously, a tab too solid! Simply change the blend mode to anything other than Normal from the Blend Mode list. I used Overlay.

Step and Repeat Affect

Repeat create Selection/Apply Solid Fill or Adjustment Layer to the Selection
Without creating a screen capture for every guided section (9 in total), repeat drag and draw a selection to the next divided area and apply any of the Solid Fill or Adjustment Layer to the selection.
Below is a final sample of all the Fill/Adjustment options I used.
Looking in the Layers Panel, you can see exactly which Adjustment Layers (based on the title) and Color Fills (based on the thumbnail color) I used.
Step and Repeat Affect

Add Border for each divided area
The quickest way to apply the same border to all the divided areas is to:

Right click on any of the Fill/Adjustment Layers (I chose the Invert 2 Layer) and from the context list choose Blending Options.
Tick AND select Stroke and set your desired options. My result will be a solid 2px white border on the inside of each divided area, as captured below. Click OK to commit Blending Options when finished.
Step and Repeat Affect

Here is the resulting Stroke Layer Effect to the document and notice the appended live Layer Effect to the Invert 2 Layer in the Layers Panel.
Step and Repeat Affect

Now all you have to do is replicate that Layer Effect for each of the other Solid Fills/Adjustment Layers.

Right click on the Layer that already contains the Layer Effect and then from the list choose Copy Layer Style

Then right click on Layer that does not have one and choose Paste Layer Style.Repeat the Paste Layer Style process for all the other Solid Fill or Adjustment Layers that you wish to contain it.

Step and Repeat Affect

Here is the final version:
Step and Repeat Affect

Create an Empty Preset Template

Not sure what a preset is!

Well, for starters, Photoshop is equipped with a default set of presets: Brushes, Styles, Patterns etc. The complete list can be found in the Preset Manager ‘Preset Type’ drop down list from the Edit > Preset Manager menu command (as captured below).
Create an Empty Preset Template

From the Preset Manager, and in the case of the default Brush preset sample below, you have the option of:

  1. Loading a preset Brush set with the .abr file extension.
  2. Selecting any brush thumbnail in the left preview pane will activate the Save Set, Rename, and Delete commands on the right of the dialog.
  3. From the Preset Manager properties icon command (the little arrow – encircled in red) you can also Reset the current list to the default, as well as, Replace which is the same as Load command on the front of the Preset Manager dialog.

Create an Empty Preset Template

A fine little manager but the trouble is, when it is time to create your own brush (or brush preset) new items are automatically appended to the active set (in my case the default).

So here is a little routine to perform to creating an empty preset container to have at hand for when you start creating your own.

Creating an ‘Empty’ Set

With the Preset Manager still open (Edit > Preset Manager) and any preset active (again, in my case the default one):

  1. Click the Second preset thumbnail to activate it
    Create an Empty Preset Template
  2. Shift + click the last thumbnail to select it and all contiguous presets from the previous click (1) will be activated with a solid black outline
    Create an Empty Preset Template
  3. Then hit the Delete command and click to activate the only remaining thumbnail in the preset (encircled in red).
    Create an Empty Preset Template
  4. Then click the Save Set command option.
    Create an Empty Preset Template
  5. From the Save In drop down selector browse to a safe location on your hard drive to store the new Brush Set, give the new set a user friendly name like ’empty’ and click the Save command.
    Create an Empty Preset Template
  6. Click the Done command to commit changes to the new Set creation process.
    Create an Empty Preset Template

Note: Creating a new Set template requires at least one preset to be present. Loading the ‘Empty’ Set

Now that the ’empty’ Set for the Brush is created and stored locally, load the ’empty’ Set into the Brush Panel by doing the following:

  1. Activate the Brush Tool (B) on the Toolbar, then press the F5 key to bring the Dynamic Brush Panel to the foreground.
    Activate the Brush Presets on the left then click the properties icon command (encircled in red) and from the list choose Replace Brushes. Create an Empty Preset Template
  2. At the Load dialog, click the Look In selector drop down and browse to that location you saved your ’empty’ preset. Then click the Load command.
    Create an Empty Preset Template
  3. The ’empty’ Set is now loaded and available to accept new presets.
    Create an Empty Preset Template

Creating a Brush
For the sake of brevity, I will demonstrate just adding a single preset to the ’empty’ Set.

  1. With a Layer active in the Layers Panel (in my case a Vector line shape – Shape 6) and the Dynamic Brush Panel in the foreground as captured below.
    Create an Empty Preset Template
  2. Then go Edit > Define Brush Set as captured below.
    Create an Empty Preset Template
  3. Give the new Brush Set a user friendly name. I used ‘example’ for this demo purpose. Then click the OK command to commit creation.
    Create an Empty Preset Template
  4. The new preset is now added to the ’empty’ Set container in the Brush Panel, as captured below.
    Create an Empty Preset Template

Clean Up and SAVE
Continue adding new presets to this Set as per Edit > Define Brush Set menu command. However, two other issues remain: the first thumbnail needs to be removed and the Set needs to be Saved.

  1. To remove the first thumbnail, simply hold down the Alt key (MAC: Option key) and click on it. You will see the cursor revert to a scissors cursor (as captured below) indicating it is ready to ‘cut’ or delete from the set. Upon click, it will be removed from the set.
    Create an Empty Preset Template
  2. Then from the Brush Panel properties icon command (encircled in red) choose ‘Save Brushes’ from the list, as captured below.
    Create an Empty Preset Template
  3. At the resulting Save dialog, you have two ‘Save In’ location options:
    • Store it in the applications /Presets/ Brushes folder (This will Load automatically in the Brush list from the Brushes Panel properties icon command)
    • Or store in any folder on your drive. (This will require to be manually ‘Load’ed from the Brushes Panel properties icon command)

Final Words

  • The ’empty’ set template routine also applies to Custom Shapes, Styles, Gradients etc.
  • It’s a good idea to have two backups of the ’empty’ version on your drive.
  • In Photoshop CS3, the default location for saving, loading, and replacing presets:
    Mac: /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS3/Presets.
    Windows XP: [Drive]:Document and Settings Application DataAdobeAdobe Photoshop CS3Presets.
    Windows Vista: [Drive]:Users AppDataRoamingAdobeAdobe Photoshop CS3Presets.

Painting Clouds

Here is a simple cloud painting method.

  • Begin with a document preset size of your choice. I used 500×500. Set Foreground color to a blue. I used #498ccb, and Background of White : #ffffff

    A. Select the Layers Palette New Adjustment Layer icon and from the list choose Gradient.
    B. Set the desired properties of the gradient so that the blue fades into white from top to bottom.
    C. The new gradient layer is reflected in document view.
    Note: Blue to Transparent gradient will also work if the background layer is white.

    Painting Clouds

  • Next:
    A. Set the Foreground color to White #ffffff
    B. Select the Brush Tool from the Toolbar. From the Options Bar, choose a Soft Edge Brush Preset. I used Tip Size of 30 px/Hardness 32%
    C. Create a new Layer above the Gradient Layer and Paint a random area that covers the width of the document as I have captured
    Note: Your brush strokes will not be exact to mine, obviously, so some variations will occur.

    Painting Clouds

  • Next:
    A. Create a new empty Layer above Layer 1 to get Layer 2.
    B. Select the Smudge Tool from the Toolbar.
    C. From the Options Bar, use a preferred Brush Preset and enable ‘Use All Layer’.
    Then smudge the top portion of the random white area in small circular motion from edge to edge. (I went from right to left)
    This will give it a soft blur to the edge.

    Painting Clouds

  • Rework the same area with a smaller brush size (I used 10 px this time), ensuring to alternate your click and drag to onto the blue and push toward the white. And vise versa, push from white to the blue.

    Painting Clouds

  • Continue your way down to the bottom edge. If you over do it with pushing (smudging) the white, change the Blend Mode to Darken with the Blue as the Foreground and rework that area.

    Painting Clouds

  • Explore with the Dodge Tool, Burn Tool and Sponge Tool to provide a lift to the previously pushed (smudged areas).
    Below I applied a Sponge/Desaturate to the upper edge, hence some of the grey tone values.
    I also applied the Burn Tool on Mid Tones in the mid section of the clouds to provide some bright spots. Other examples included below, from simple sunny day scattered clouds to a sormy day.

    Painting Clouds

    Painting Clouds

    Painting Clouds

The above examples are nothing more than Smudge Tool, with Use all Layers enabled.
Random rotation/movements of a choice Brush Preset combined with Dodge, Burn and Sponge Tools.

Emboss Details

Here is a simple method to enhance details in an image using the Emboss Filter gallery effect combined with the History Brush Tool.

Below is the starter image, courtesy of AbsolutVision Photo Gallery. Copy and paste into Photoshop.

Emboss Details

1. Go Window/History to bring the History Palette to the foreground.
2. Then click the New Snapshot icon, to add a Snapshot state of the current Layers Palette.

Emboss Details

Then go Filter/Stylize/Emboss and explore the slider parameters as I have captured.

Emboss Details

After applying the Emboss filter gallery effect, go back over to the History Palette:
1. Notice the new recorded Emboss history state.
2. Click the New Snapshot icon again.

Emboss Details

Still at the History Palette:
1. Reselect Snapshot 1. Notice the Current State Indicator (encircled in red)
2. Set the source for the History Brush Tool by clicking in the source icon placement holder adjacent to the state as encircled in blue.
3. Select the History Brush from the Toolbar.
4. Set History Brush Options Bar Parameters. I used a soft edge brush of 65, Overlay Mode at 100% Opacity.

Emboss Details

Then brush over the entire image with those settings for the below subtle effect.

Emboss Details

Here I used Hard Light Mode at 100% Opacity. (Mouse Over Image to see effect)

Emboss Details

Here I used Linear Burn at 21% Opacity%. (Mouse Over Image to see effect)

Emboss Details

Here I used Hard Mix at 22% Opacity%. (Mouse Over Image to see effect)

Emboss Details

Displacement Map Example

Here is a neat way to blend elements, particularly textual, into fold textures seemlessly.

Below is a sample custom satin curtain effect I created. (Right click and copy into Photoshop to follow along)

Before doing anything else, save this new Photoshop document to your desktop and call it ‘displace’.
This will be used again later in the tutorial.

My layers palette has an optional color fill layer since the original way created with black to white.

A. Add a type layer as I have captured. (I used ‘Arial Black/Bold)
B. (Optional) Duplicate the type layer, and hide the original.
C. Right click on the duplicate type layer and choose Rasterize from the list.
D. Type is now rastered.

With the rastered type layer still active, go ‘Filter/Distort/Displace’ as I have captured.

Adjust the settings to what I have captured below.

Select the ‘displacement map’ file you saved earlier, located on your desktop. Then click OK.

The rastered type layer is now displaced according to the contrast tones of the applied file, as captured below.

Not exactly, convincing, but just a few tweaks to really pull the effect off.
Select the rastered type layer and simple change the Blend Mode to ‘Soft Light’.

For further blending realism (guess all depends on your desired result) I added a Solid(#000000) Color Fill Layer above the rastered type layer, changed its Blend Mode to ‘Overlay’ and lowered its Opacity to 52%.

Added a spotlight and drop shadow for a decal effect.

To find out how I created the initial texture, review this Custom Curtain Tutorial here.

Streamline Photo Retouching with Multi Views

Here are two great streamline methods for photo retouching or for those who simply work on large scanned images.


Open your large resolution image, then make sure the ‘Window/Navigator’ Palette is open, as I have captured below.
As you can tell from the Navigator screen shot, my actual image view is only at 25%. Working with the original can often require multiple zoom in/out just to see how your work flow affects the overall image.

This is a simple work around.
1. Resize the Navigator Palette large enough so that the changes made are visible. (Click and drag from the lower right palette handler, as I have highlighted in red)
2. Adjust the ‘Zoom Slider’ as I have highlighted directly within the Navigator Palette. This affects the document view and not the Navigator preview. However, the Navigator view does show a yellow view finder border indicating what area of your original you are seeing.
3. Then apply your edit to the original, example, use the clone tool in this case. The Navigator Palette will stay to the foreground no matter it’s location on screen for easy viewing of you overall composition.

Multiple Views Of The Same Image

The other option is located under the ‘Window/Arrange’ command as I have captured below.
Select this option will create a duplicate view of the original.

Any edits made to either one is reflected in the other view.

Ultimately, this feature is handy for when hiding all other palettes and have the multiple view tucked to the far right of your screen while you work on a zoomed portion of the original.

Unlike the above Navigator method multi-views will have to be tiled side by side for carefree viewing.

ImageReady also has the above multi view feature (but no Navigator Palette), with the exception of an additional method.
Drag any of the Document Tabs as I have encase below out onto the application background to create a new view.