Dani Ward

Graphic Designer

Tag Archive for Adobe Photoshop

Booklet or Magazine Mock-Up Now Available

Available at Creative Market for just $10!

Use this mock-up template to create high-quality mock-ups of your booklet or magazine designs for use in your portfolio or a client presentation — without having to have access to the printed piece or photography equipment.

Background on how I began to create my own templates.

Last year, as I began looking for good mock-up templates to display many of my print pieces, I very quickly came to the conclusion that it would be easier to just start creating my own mock-ups from scratch. I’m not sure why I decided that, exactly, but I’m kind of glad I did. While it was labor-intensive at first, it’s proved to make it a lot easier to add things to my portfolio as I finish them.

Problem was, I created them all at 72dpi at relatively small sizes since I only ever intended to use them in an online setting.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that these mock-ups could be great for printed portfolios as well, or even client presentations. So, I’ve been revisiting the mock-ups I created last year and updating them to be high-resolution and easy to update.

How I created this mock-up template.

Using smart objects, I’ve created a high-resolution open booklet or magazine template (sized 8.5″ x 11″) that can display an interior spread and front cover. You can even remove the staples if you like (if, for instance, your publication was saddle-stitched or perfect-bound). All you have to do is paste your 300dpi 8.5″ x 11″ page into one of 6 specific smart objects, and you’re good to go for your portfolio or client presentation.

While I’ve locked the layers you shouldn’t need to adjust, you’re absolutely welcome to unlock and play to your heart’s content. Adjust gradients, remove pages if it’s a small publication, adjust shadows to accommodate specific lighting you have in mind – you name it, you can adjust it.

For the spread, there is a smart object each for the visible left and right pages, along with a smart object each for the pages beneath. So rather than having to copy and paste into several pages, you just copy and paste into the first smart object in the “other pages” folder. That way you’ll see all the masthead colors and textures throughout the pages beneath, adding depth and reality to your mockup.

Pick up your Photoshop file over at Creative Market today!

There Are No Strings On Me: From Sketch to Vector

Last year, when Avengers: Age of Ultron came out on Bluray, my brother came over to watch the film at my house. While watching, I suddenly had an idea for a lettering project: I wanted to draw the phrase Ultron seems obsessed with throughout the movie (which is, of course, from Pinocchio): “There are no strings on me.” My thought was to use lots of swashes and embellishments, then finally ink it with my flex nib dip pen.

I ended up vectoring the piece, but was unsatisfied with the first finalization. I sat on it for several months, then decided to rework it after reading Jessica Hische‘s fantastic book, In Progress. The final result is something I can say I’m quite proud of.

For more on how I’ve started vectoring my projects, see “Cleaner bezier curves in typography.

Pencil sketch on dot-grid paper of italicized Copperplate-esque script with swashes linking the words together, reading "there are no strings on me."

The initial sketch.

Inked calligraphy on dot-grid paper of italicized Copperplate-esque script with swashes linking the words together, reading "there are no strings on me."

After inking with a flex-nib dip pen.

Digital edit of the inked calligraphy, on a red grungy painted background. Calligraphy with swashes linking the words together, reading "there are no strings on me."

First edit in Photoshop.

Second digital edit of the inked calligraphy, on a blue grungy painted background. Calligraphy with swashes linking the words together, reading "there are no strings on me."

Second edit in Photoshop.

Digitized monoline calligraphy with swashes linking the words together, reading "there are no strings on me."

First vector. I’d planned on adding shading like the original inking, but ended up preferring the monoline look. I was unsatisfied with this result overall, however. But I couldn’t put my finger on why.

Digitized and shaded calligraphy with swashes linking the words together, reading "there are no strings on me."

I thought that perhaps further stylizing the design would help, but it still felt “off” to me. I decided to sit on it for a while.

Animation of vectored calligraphy with swashes linking the words, with anchor points appearing and disappearing, text reading "there are no strings on me."

Several months later, after reading In Progress by Jessica Hische, I decided to take the knowledge I’d gained from her book (along with experience in lettering since that first sketch) to rework the vector for greater precision in my curves and more balance overall. This is a look at my progress, with and without anchor points, to illustrate how the lettering was structured.

Animation of final vectored calligraphy with swashes linking the words, with anchor points appearing and disappearing, text reading "there are no strings on me."

This is the final vector version, before adding embellishments.

Calligraphy swashes of the phrase "there are no strings on me," written with frayed rope.

I found a fantastic vector rope brush set online (I wish I could remember where!), and added it to the design. Then I moved into Photoshop to add further depth and correct where some of the rope brush didn’t quite work out around curves. Lastly, I added a grunge texture to the rope to help distinguish it from the clean black background.

A close-up of some of the rope intersecting, highlighting the texture and depth.

A close-up of the fine detail in the piece.

Photoshop Adventures: Power Lines, Be Gone!

This week, my company has been working on a client’s website, making some slight design adjustments and choosing new photos for some of their pages. They’d expressed a desire to use this image as the header for their site:


The most glaring problem I saw was the pole and myriad telephone lines distracting from the main subject of the photo. So they were the things I took care of first, creating a new layer entitled “clone stamp” and using the clone stamp, healing brush, and paintbrush tools to clean everything up. This was rather painstaking, taking about 40 minutes to do since some of what I was removing was in heavily detailed areas, like the white house on the right and the tiles on the main building.


Then I wanted to adjust the color and contrast a bit. I created two Hue/Saturation adjustment layers: one for the whole photo, and one with just a mask to target the main building. I also created a building-specific Color Balance layer to help it stand out just a little bit more. Finally, I created a Curves adjustment layer to adjust the contrast of the entire image. Here is the final result:



Photoshop Adventures: Color Correction & Cloning

For quite some time, I would have told you that my favourite programs out of Adobe’s Creative Suite were Illustrator and InDesign, respectively (depending on the task at hand). While Photoshop was the first program I ever used from Adobe, my personal projects and work projects land me in the other two programs far more often. After all, I’m a graphic designer, not a photographer. Nevertheless, after learning Illustrator and InDesign and finding them to be very intuitive and user-friendly, I harbored a bit of resentment towards Photoshop, believing it to be needlessly complicated and inflated to the point of being complete drudgery to work with.

But then, not too long ago, my partner and I discovered the joy that is Aaron Nace‘s Phlearn Photoshop and Photography Tutorials. We spent hours almost every evening for a few weeks watching the tutorials, and it seemed like a whole new world had opened to me. I’ve always been competent in Photoshop, don’t get me wrong. But suddenly it seemed like I could move from mere competency into proficiency. In fact, I must heartily thank Phlearn for making their valuable resources so readily available, as even little tips and tricks I’ve picked up from the show have been so helpful to me in my job as a graphic designer.

Particularly when working with stock imagery that’s close to what a client wants, but not quite.

Today’s conundrum in Photoshop Adventures, for example, was a client request to find a picture of two or industrial workers, not in business suits, wearing hard hats but not tool belts, preferably pointing diagonally up at something (the headline of the design project I’m working on for a client).

The closest image I’d been able to find was this one, from ThinkStock Photos.


There were 2 problems I encountered:

  1. The tool belt was an absolute no-go for the client.
  2. The color of the jumpsuit was going to clash with my client’s branding, which is a deep teal.

As I was unable to find something that was exactly like what the client wanted, I decided to go ahead and try to Photoshop the image I had — something that even six months ago I’d have said was too complicated to complete in a timely fashion.

Luckily for me, this photo was one of a series with the same two men. I wanted to find an image of the man on the right, but closer to the angle of the man on the left, so I could sample the section of the suit without the tool belt. The closest thing I could find was this photo:


I copied the second photo over into the first, and created a layer mask for the section of torso I needed. Using the Transform tool, I warped and skewed the image to a close approximation of the man’s stance, then used the Liquify tool to clean up the edges a bit. I created a separate layer for cloning/stamping the edges to make sure everything blended well together, along with creating an adjustment layer for adjusting the curves so that it blended tonally with the rest of the image.

From there, I created a few more adjustment layers, adjusting the curves, levels, and hue/saturation as needed. I got everything looking pretty great except for the skin tones, which prompted me to create another adjustment layer and mask out just the section of the photo where the men’s faces are.

The final result, I’m proud to say, is this:


Total time it took? About an hour.

Many many thanks to Aaron Nace and the team at Phlearn for giving me the tools to approach and solve design problems!