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web design: in your face, png transparency!

Heres a section of a traditionally nightmarish image to convert to a png. Its that complex transparency that increases the file size.

In photoshop…

Step 1: remove as much colour information from the image as possible. Seeing as its basically just black with this image you can select the transparency

and create a solid colour fill…

Already its a little better:

2. Posterise the transparency: alt/option click on the layer mask. Goto image>adjustments>posterise. I chose 6 levels for this image.

And bingo:

Lets see if it works for a messy graphic with a gradient.

Photoshop save for web is saying 59.6K

And after: 45.95K So – not great but it’s the gradient here that the png doesn’t like. Take it away and you get before and after values of…

51.3K and 35.8. You can also try posterising the image.

This one has 11 levels and no gradient, bringing it to 24K

photoshop cs6: time for a big idea

Layers. Remember photoshop before layers? Hard to imagine isn’t it? This was the last major ground shaking, game changing innovation brought to photoshoppers around the world and everyone went nuts, apart from the few people who claimed Adobe pinched the idea off Corell.

Since then we got clipping layers, adjustment layers, groups – not small improvements by any means – but also quite a while ago (we got groups in 2004). Ok so smart filters arrived in 2008, but can you get the same result without smart filters? Absolutely.

So I’d like to see a few big ideas in PS6 and here are a few that have occurred to me as photoshop till I drop every day:

Routing layers to a mask.
I’d like to see some nodal action in photoshop: its simple really – route the output of a layer – especially a smart layer – to the mask for another layer. This would make smart layers come into their own – you could non-destructively change your mask, and if you linked it to the idea below there’d be some happy mask junkies out there. This would also allow you to essentially apply adjustment layers to a mask – apply an adjustment layer via a clipping group and route the output of the whole lot to a mask of another layer. You could also do it in groups so the output of an entire group gets sent to a mask.

Colour range adjustment layer (or maybe its needs to be a node 😉 )
lets have a whole panel for it please, where you can select colours, or luminance, and then apply the mask adjustment tools… and THEN route that output to the mask of any other layer.

Focus blurring that’s worth bothering with
Alien skins Bokeh is so much better than photoshops lens blur its not funny, and blurring a layer is a pixel destroying trial and error pain in the bum. Lets have a lens blur adjustment layer please where the layer mask describes the amount of blurring (complete with lens types and presets would be nice).

If the node stuff is a step too far, please can we just have the clipping group adjustment layers applying to mask or to image data? Please?

EDIT: CS6 beta is out, and whilst Adobe obviously look at my suggestions (for sure), they only implemented one – and failed to read more than “Alien skins Bokeh is so much better than photoshops lens blur its not funny…” so decided to errrm, “borrow” it.

Make windows explorer open my computer instead of libraries view

Microsoft obviously thought libraries was a nifty enough idea to replace the those bog standard yellow folder view we’ve all grown to hate over the last 20 years.
They failed to adhere to the basic tenet of developing any user system: if you’re going to change something – especially a core user feature, make it BETTER.

Libraries offer a new ways of looking at and organising your data – but could I find anything quicker? Nope. Did it annoy the crap out of me when looking at project folders my ai files and PDF files were in different categories. Yep. Were the categories visually highlighted so you could at least see where you might want to look for you file, No? Are you still faced with thousands of yellow folders that tell you nothing about how often they are accessed? YES! The devil himself is Microsoft’s usability tester.

Finally fed up with it I found this page which describes how to fix it. http://www.winhelponline.com/blog/windows-explorer-defaults-libraries-folder-windows-7/ (my version tweaked from the comments on that post)

This means when you click on the explorer icon (mine is pinned to my task bar) it opens my computer by default. I will probably change this so it opens recent folders or something slightly more useful. Heres how:

With all explorer windows closed, right click on you “my computer icon” whilst pressing the shift key.

In the dialog box that opens change the target…

replace explorer.exe with…

explorer.exe “”
EDIT: this works if the last explorer window you had open was in the computer view. If the last window was another view then it *may* open at that view.

To get it to open to recent places…
%windir%explorer.exe “%userprofile%LinksRecentPlaces.lnk”

There’s an alterative here: http://www.windows7hacker.com/index.php/2010/02/how-to-pin-folders-in-windows-7-taskbar/

resurrecting the dead: epson perfection 2450 on win7 x64

No drivers from epson, but I found this thread
http://www.w7forums.com/windows-7-64-bit-driver-epson-perfection-1650-photo-scanner-t3459.html

which lead here http://uploading.com/files/get/3214affd/.

Yes they’re the drivers for the 1650 in vista x64 (yikes)

open device manager, click on the ! device. Right click and chose “update driver”

Browse >let me pick from a list> have disk

find the ES27.inf and install. I’ve only run it so far from the “Epson Scan” Utility – no twain support. It saves a jpeg into you “my pictures” folder

Its time for a new scanner, but this will keep me limping along

This week I haf been mostly…

Shooting landscapes. A trip up the hill to New England, but these are some of my Tasmania trip from earlier in the year.

This lot is unusual in that everything here has been processed in lightroom only (nary a pixel has been prodded in Photoshop).

Very much darker than my usual style…

lightroom 3 – f@$% me!

First Impressions of Lightroom 3’s noise reduction and new imaging engine. Shots Taken on 7d, auto profile lens correction and chromatic abberation. I deliberately picked an underexposed file to see what could be done. Real estate work often involves mixing 3 exposures – especially if you use natural light as I do. Its not uncommon to have 12 or more stop range. THe more dynamic range I can squeeze out of the camera the less work I have to do in photoshop. Lightrrom 3 is getting close to the point where you can do all your gross image processing in that app, and leave photshop for the retouching and “artifying”.

no settings (no highlight clipping in the sky)

fill lit the beejesus out of it:

But what about noise… (1:1)

Its still noisy but its darn tooting usable, especially at the sort of size needed.

or you can loose more and go a bit creamy:

So then, its a shame its a slow as a dog (with no legs)

(The last line should be spoken like Jermemy Clarkson)

another typical day in windows 7 land

If i’d wanted to spend $4000 to work slower I would’ve had my arm amputated.

EDIT (September 2010) : After 9 months of major and minor glitches i can finally say that my system is running relatively sweetly.

Righto: it seems its not just adobe that’s not up to speed yet.

Font agent pro 4 is “a few months away” from having an update that works sweetly.

Epson print drivers crash my display driver (although this is most likely an nvidea issue, it still leaves me wondering why I bought a new computer)

I bought a new plugin today – Portrait professional – promised to be a quick way to retouch portraits. The plugin doesn’t work however, and the standalone app was spitting the dummy at the supposedly supported 16 bit files. Their support page had wording to the effect of “tested on windows 7 RC”. Filling me with confidence. It ended up taking me 6 hours to retouch 2 portraits. 6 hours! As Hank Azaria would say: “OH my god I don’t even believe it”

I spent about 4 days last week and over the weekend attempting to get my raid working properly.

Not a day goes by without me emailing tech support or piddling around on forums. My 12GB of ram arrives tomorrow – supposedly. If its still rubbish I’mm going to sell it and buy a mac.


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