22 October 2008

Photoshop: Digital Renderings with Photoshop and AutoCAD Part I

Using AutoCAD and Photoshop together is a great way to produce high quality and easy to manipulate digital renderings and paint elevations. In part one of this two part series, I'll detail the process for getting AutoCAD drafting into Photoshop and applying simple textures to the drawing.
Stay tuned for part two which details simple Photoshop techniques to impove the depth and dimension in Photoshop digital renderings.

13 May 2008

AutoCAD: New Student Editions Available

The Autodesk Student Engineering & Design Community recently released new versions of its educational edition products for download to users with a .edu e-mail address.

Included offerings:

  • Autodesk® Inventor® Professional
  • Autodesk® AutoStudio
  • Revit® Architecture
  • AutoCAD® Civil 3D®
  • Autodesk® 3ds Max® Design
  • Autodesk® Maya® Personal Learning Edition

Photoshop: 3D Layers [CS3 Extended]

New in Photoshop CS3 Extended is the ability to import 3D objects in various formats (.u3d, .3ds, .obj, .kmz, and Collada file formats) as a Photoshop layer. While no substitute for true 3D rendering applications, this new feature adds a new dimension to collage rendering. For this example we'll be using this photo from everystockphoto.com and a 3ds model of a patio table.

To import the 3ds model, select Layer->3D Layers->New Layer from 3D File... and select the .3ds file to import.

After importing the 3ds file, Photoshop creates a new 3d layer of the object. Double-clicking on the layer icon in the layers palette reveals the 3D layer transformation tools which allow for positioning, rotation and sizing of the imported object.

Using the "Drag" and "Slide" tools to position the patio table in an appropriate perspective of the scene yields this finished image. (Press <enter> to accept the 3D transformation just like the Free Transform command.)

If the imported object includes any associated textures, these textures can be edited by double-clicking on them in the layers palette. New textures can't be created and existing texture mappings can't be modified, but the standard Layer Blending options will work with 3D layers (drop shadow, outer glow, satin, etc.). Additionally, modifying the structure of the model itself still requires the use of a bona-fide 3D editing application. (Why not give the open source alternative Blender a try!)

24 March 2008

After Effects: Digital Handwriting

This quick After Effects tip for creating animated handwriting like that shown in the video below comes to us courtesy of Kirk Domer.

To import a Photoshop file:

  1. Right Click in the gray area (to the left) under PROJECT to import file
  2. Double click on the file

To make text reveal:

  1. Click Effect->Generate->Stroke
  2. Select the pen tool and trace the writing in the Composition Frame (Top Middle)
  3. All in the lower left panel under STROKE:
    • Make sure path option starts with: “Mask 1”
    • Paint Style: Reveal Original Image
    • Place TWO “end” key frames – the first is 0.0 – the last is 100.00 (This will control how many seconds this will take to reveal).
    • Play with the brush size as well (based on the font).
  4. Functions: Turn off for next mask – or click in the left grey box to start the next mask.


  • All masks should be ON
  • The space bar and mouse – moves the image to zoom in to your work space (works in PhotoShop too!).
  • The “triple color ball” icon on TOP composition screen – make sure you are on RGB


  • ALWAYS go to: Composition: Make Movie – then click render in the “render Queue”.
  • Save to the correct OUTPUT file folder (so you know where to find the file)
  • Rendering Setting: Best Settings
  • Output Module: Lossless

AutoCAD: Separate Hatches

The HATCHEDIT command (type 'HATCHEDIT<enter>' or double-click a hatch) allows for the addition of areas to an already defined hatch. This can be a quick an easy way to match hatches to a key. Doing this leaves both areas attached to one another as a single hatch object. Checking the 'Separate Hatches' option however, breaks those hatches into their individual areas, allowing each hatch to be modified and moved separately.

AutoCAD: Filter Command Tutorial

The FILTER command is a powerful tool for modifying selection sets based on a set of criteria. For this tutorial I'll be using the collection of objects depicted below.

First we'll start the FILTER command (type 'FILTER<enter>') and AutoCAD presents us will a dialog to define our selection criteria. In the 'Select Filter' dropdown I'll select 'Line' and click 'Add-to-List'.
At this point my selection set is limited to only objects of the 'Line' type. I'll further filter the selection to only select objects of the color 'Cyan' by selecting 'Color' from the 'Select Filter' dropdown and clicking on 'Select' to open the color selection dialog.
After selecting the 'Cyan' color and clicking 'OK', I'll click 'Add to List' to add this criteria to my selection filter. Now my filter list will select only objects which are of the type 'Line' AND have the color 'Cyan'. After clicking 'OK', I'm returned to the select objects prompt.
Now, if I apply a crossing selection to this entire group of objects, only the Cyan line will be selected.
Filter lists can be as complex or as simple as needed and offer yet another way to quickly refine a selection set for performing an action on a group of objects--without selecting each object individually.

09 September 2007

Photoshop: Creative Use of the Measure Tool

Photoshop's 'Measure' tool, located on the Eyedropper toolbar fly-out (Keyboard Shortcut: 'I'), has more usefulness than first meets the eye. Drawing a measurement line not only provides the length of the line drawn, but also provides the angle of the line on the options palette.
As an added bonus, Photoshop pre-enters this angle value into the 'Rotate Arbitrary' command (Image->Rotate Canvas->Arbitrary...), saving the added step of entering this value into the dialog when you need to straighten an image.