Don't Forget Checklists in Photoshop
I'm always reluctant to say that there's a wrong way to do things because if you're getting the end result that you want however you get there on some level that's good having said that there are ways to get there that are faster or more efficient or more accurate or give you more creativity so I've never felt like I want to say to someone you're doing it the wrong way but it can often say I could suggest a better way and by better I mean faster some people I talk a lot about working non destructively and we're talking about that in this session and a lot of people when they hear the term nondestructive they think that means the ability to change their mind and that's one small part of it so if you use methods that don't allow you to change your mind it has influences other things as well. So when I talk about breaking bad habits one of things that I discovered over the years because we were talking yesterday this is the twenty fifth anniversary of photo shop and I talked my first phot...
o shop class two weeks after it came out so twenty five years ago and that was fun teaching program I just got two weeks before of africa I still knew more than the three students that had no idea so it was I was good to go but over the years you develop ways that work for you so one of the questions that I would often when I have a group of people and say how many people here are self taught using photos show and many people with their head up and say, yeah, pretty much self taught and the the punch line is the problem being self taught is the teacher because if you're trying to teach yourself something you don't know about it's not really teaching it's more oh, that work right? So you discover away and all that work, they all do it that way until someone shows me a different way, and unfortunately, some of the ways that we discovered or up until recently that weren't available on voterstop so you had to do in a certain way meant that became your habit because we are by nature creatures of habit if you find a way that works, you do it that way until someone convinces you there is a better way and again better meaning faster and more accurate. So just like we talked about in the last session, tool presets is that perfect example I still know, even though we joked about it, they'll be some people that either here or watching at home who nodded and said you had to a pre sets and then I'll never make into a present because their habit is to jump in and do things and one of things that I like suggest is that one of the first bad habits people have is exactly that photo shop is so some fun to work with most the time less you're under some crazy deadline and you hate it but most of time just the fact that you're in photo shop can be really fun to work with but as a result I think some people jump in too fast to something and then either paint themselves into a corner or kind of final going what is happening here so the number of times over the years where I get questions that air preface with why can't I see something or why isn't this working or my favorite? Why won't photoshopped let me like it's all a photo shops fault where is it's not its fault it's your fault because if you do things in a certain order you khun paint yourself into a corner where you can't get out of it so the first thing that I suggest is I like to suggests that instead of always talking about bad habits let's talk about good habits as well. So one of the good habits that I suggest that will help you every day and photo shop is to think of the term checklist what happens to many people is they want to jump in to do something so they grab a tool they try to do something go why didn't it work so instead I suggest you take that slight step back, take a deep cleansing breath and say ok, let me check a few things when I click on the tool one of the settings for that tool because maybe I set them two weeks ago and forgot to change them should I use one of my tool presets then you start thinking about am I on the right layer? Should I add a separate layer and a lot of these questions the answer is well, it depends but least you should be thinking about that so example of the kind of things that happens to people is they forget that an hour, two days ago, whatever they change the setting for a tool they go to use the tool and you get this symbol which I like to call the I'm sorry dave, I can't let you do that symbol you know that movie then it kind of makes sense when you see that cancel symbol it's like, well, something's wrong it I can't complete the operation for some reason now it's photo shops got better it starts to tell you the reason a few versions ago it just showed you that here like ok, can you explain why I'm getting that now if you actually try to use the tool like in this case it says could I use the brush tool because the target layer is hidden so what things that I forgot to check was I'm on the right layer, but previously turned off its visibility. We can't work on a layer if it's not visible. So even on my head, I was thinking, well, I'm on the right layer technically, I wass, but until you make it visible than that brush will work, then I go to use the brush and I'm like, why is it operating that way? Walls? Because when I last use the brush tool at a really big brush shape, I had it set to overlay mode at ninety eight percent capacity, so I didn't want that I'd have to undo it and go in check to see why it did that. So one of the habits I find many people develop is they forget to check, so they use it to linger. Whoa, why that happened then they go to check to find out why it happened, but then that means they also have to undo. I prefer to spend less time undoing and more time doing, and I do that by always thinking checklist just tio share with you the background of this. I started doing this as an instructor because I thought the worst thing you could possibly do is a teacher is to go oops, that didn't work. So what used to happen as I was about to show something in my head, as I was saying, now I'm going to show you this I was going okay layer yeah, that's good. I was doing that kind of mental checklist to make sure that it demonstrated properly, and I thought, you know what? I should do that all the time because that's, just a good work habit is to get the habit of checking everything. It also can help you get to the bottom of why isn't it's not working? Because, you know, ok, I have to make sure I've got layers set up properly, the tool settings, here's a common problem that happens to people especially early on is they're working with the selection tool, so they're making some selection and then they zoom in and start to work over here and wonder why a tool like the paintbrush? Nothing is happening, I'm trying to use it. I'm on the right layer. Why is it not working? Well, I still have something selected down there. When you make a selection, that means you can't work on any other part of the image. So part of my checklist is, do I have something selected or not? Should I have something selected? And the answer again the recurring answered all these questions will that depends there's no typically no easy yes or no answer but it's the kind of thing to be thinking about so for example, if I was trying to narrow down the focus of a paintbrush toe on ly paint in a specific area and I probably would make a selection first if I'm just sort of arbitrarily painting I don't want a selection because I'm trying to do it by moving my brush around saying paint in these areas so this checklist concept means it's something you constantly have to be thinking about and as soon as you change one factor like add a new layer that's something else to check so I'm not suggesting that it's solves the world's problems by just saying the word checklist but at least it reminds me to be constantly thinking about that before I do something check it uh part of an example of that is many times in photo shop we have anywhere from a rough idea tow no idea what we really want to do with an image and if you go down some path and do all these steps there are ways you could get it accomplished but then each step is fairly permanent because if you say for example on a layer I decided to do a gaussian blur by just a normal gazi and blur and then did five more steps that goddamn boris set! I can't just go back and change it because I've done five more things. Do I really want to undo five steps to change my blur? What I like to be ableto always change the blur and have a trickle through all the other steps. So that's an example of while there's nothing technically wrong with applying a filter that way, it limits you in some way and I don't want to be limited again in this session will talk a lot about this non destructive way of working, and I'm going to guess take a guess that this has happened to at least somebody in this room that's been using photo shop because this used to happen to me and I know I was not alone. One of the ways we often create things and photo shop is by playing you just experiment go let's, try this let's, try this. This happened so often. I know for sure that either in this room or at least people watching live this has happened to them where you are experimenting and playing at the end you go, I love that and you save it and you come back two months later looking and go, how on earth did I do that? Because of that moment in time, it makes perfect sense because you're right in the throes of trying things, but then to look at it later and you look in your layers panel there's like two layers and there's actually nothing to help you to know how they do that. So to me, one of the huge big benefits of people overlook about this non destructive way of working is I can go back and things I did three years ago and know exactly how I did them replicated on another file or even copy some of the same information on different boxes already there as a usable function. So we're going to talk about various examples of this but that's one of the real I don't want I hate when people get the idea that the on ly working for a non destructive working on directly is to be able to change your mind like undue more than once and that's a small part of its me there's so much more we'll talk about a lot of those examples, so that will be part of our recurring theme, but the first seat I want a plan in your head is this checklist concept click on a tool check the settings am I on the right layer should have a selection to have the right color all these things and it's an ever changing checklist that will help you at first like a lot of new things, it probably will slow you down at first, just like we talked last session about keyboard shortcuts lot people don't like learning keyboard shortcuts because it slows them down at first trying to figure out what the shortcut is well to me that's just an investment invest that little bit of time, learning the short gunmen from then on gaza's so much faster, same with the checklist now I can't even tell you how fast my brain is going tool settings layer yet okay, good because I don't want to slow down and go, let me check ten things I'm just doing it on the fly all the time and on the occasions where I forget to do it, usually as soon as I'm using a tool I already know opie come in the wrong road because I've done it enough times have checked what's the difference between normal and overlay that I know when the circumstances are that overlay makes sense and one of the circumstances with the normal make sense and that that part takes time. At least you get in this first habit of checking these things that's one of the most important things going to just overall to make your life a lot simpler the other habit that's really important, I think, is to fold a use layers period end of discussion, not even a choice so many things today are based on layers that if you're not using layers, let me just say this way you're working too hard if you're not taking full advantage of layers for everything you do and preserving those layers you're working too hard beginners who start to get the basic concept of that kind of get layers might miss one important fact and that is I always and I mean that sometimes I kind of deliberately over exaggerate things, but I literally in this case I mean I always save a layered a copy of my file dot psd always even if I think I'm done there's no chance I will ever come back and eds again how do I really know that I'd rather save is a psd file psd preserves all these layer functionality so that any time later on you can come back and access them my clients don't want a psd my photo lab don't want a psd so I save a copy in j peg so without exception if I was to show you one of my working folders you would see the following if it was my photo you would see a camera raw file then you would see a file called something dot psd, which is what I call my master file that has everything like you see here then ah folder called j peg that has thie final and I was doing air quotes because it's never really final the final version is my j pic that's the one I put on facebook I send in my client I sent to the lab, but that way, if any one of those says, oh, can you just change this one thing? Because people always put justin, they're requesting you just change this one thing I know I could go back to my ps defile, make that change and then save another copy is my final j peg and I started doing that years ago, and I wish there was a way that I could quantify how much time that has saved me compared to when I didn't use to do that, and I would I was worried about file size, so I would take those layers and use that horrible f word of flattening everything and then someone say, can you just and I'm like, no, I can't because all I have this one thing that says background layer so if you ever open a file that you've been working on and it says background, I would classify that as a very bad thing, because a background file means you're starting from scratch can't do anything you can't re edit adjustments, you can't redo filters can't do any of those things I still going to end up with a version that looks like that in that separate file like that j peg but again that's the one that I send off but I know I still have all the components so this example right here let's pretend that I just throughs together really fast this was a senior portrait I was doing I would say this as you know, whatever her name something rather as my master file then or to show her I would go save as and make a j pic version of it probably in a folder called j pic versions or something of that so I keep track of where everything is that way if she likes this oh, I love that, but can you make the music a different color? Sure, because it's a separate layer that I could easily change as opposed to if all I had was just that as a j peck file changing the color that I could do it be a pain in the you know, where and I I'm frankly to me nondestructive work is the perfect solution for my problem, which is I'm lazy I don't want to have to redo work I've already done so my laziness ends up meaning I'm efficient in the sense it's easy for me to go back and make any kind of change that I want so in my world when I'm talking to someone to starting out the first one of the first things I talked about his layers we spent quite a bit of time talking about water layers and why they're so useful in here is the strategy and here's how you save the layered version the psd file and then make a copy in some other form it now just to address the question that I know will come up because it always does is what about tiff? Because people say, well I could save my layers and tiff couldn't I? And that is technically correct in fact there's not a big difference between saving a tiff file versus of jay pick but I'll tell you the reason why I don't do it that way and it's kind of simplistic but it's saved me time and trouble if I looked at a file say I just open a folder had looked at in five years if I saw file it was called something dot tiff I have no way of knowing without opening it doesn't have layers or doesn't it because it could be either way for me if I see dot psd I just know that's my layered version because that's the photo shop document that contains the layers I'm man if I save a copyist if it's usually because the person who I'm giving it to has requested can you send me a tiff but that one is the flattened version so my master files psd anything else is flattened but it's a flattened copy so there's a huge important difference between flattening and saving which is bad and saving a flattened copy which is fine because this one will always be psd I'll always preserve all the layers I think I need psd all the time so a quick glance five years and I just know by this name this is my master file and then the final version is the one that I save a copy now if I'm working on a project with twenty five of these portrait ce than I have a folder filled with twenty five psd files and there's an automated function that says take this psd file each one of them and in turn make j pic versions automatically so that's a process you can audit enough to do it all by hand but I can't stress enough how important I think this is and I reason I talk about it a fair bit is it still surprises slash frightens me the number of people that don't use this system and then wonder why they can't edited the way they want a number of years ago I taught a workshop somewhere and I'd hyped the whole layers versus not I thought to the point where people's ears were bleeding from hearing me talk about it so much and then I got a follow up email from a student who said something like so I took my layered file and I saved it as a j peg and then I closed the original but when I open the j peg there were no layers and my response is that is correct I don't know what he was expecting me to say just use the filter called unflattering eyes to get all your layers back but I mean once you save a document flatten it, you're done there's no going back so why would you ever want to do that? And the most common reason I see is long time photo shop users in their head are still thinking they have a forty make hard drive because back in your days of photo shop that was the reason you flattened emerge was the files were too big now who cares don't ever let that be need a reason for you to flatten a file because you're worried about file size go get another storage device storage is cheap today one of my famous expressions this storage is cheap your time isn't so if you're finding that gosh I'm running out of file size or found space than get another big hard drive and store all your ptsd is on there but don't give up the ability to go back and edit is like the house is a pretty big file unless your name is burt munro because he creates that I've never seen birds work but he creates these ridiculous like eight feet by two feet. Doc photo realistic paintings that one building is made up of a thousand layers. I mean, you have to go look at his stuff up. It's absolutely. The think of times square that's been printed. I want to say, if he always correcting on, say, it's like, twelve feet by four feet and you can see all the people it's amazing anyway, he redefines use of laters because he has to create separate documents because of so many layers. But even there, he's still preserving that just in case at the eleventh hour he goes, oh, I didn't notice that little thing on that one brick. I can still get to it because I still have all the information soon as you merge, flatten or anything like that, you're throwing away the possibility of editing, reusing, repurpose ing all that kind of stuff. And as I'll show you there's also wasting just to be more creative about it as well.