When you decide to create a blog of your own, there is one thing you should always keep in mind. Pictures are as important as your article body. A perfect article that took a week to be written can become “low quality” if your images are too small, blurred, or poorly visible. When you write about general topics, you can get great images on Shutterstock and Bigstock. Just type your query and find tons of high quality pictures from all over the world.

What if you blog about software or PC help, though? Such topics are best served with screenshots to help illustrate how-to's, tutorials, and reviews. That’s where you’ll have to do your best to turn your first-time readers into devoted fans and subscribers. In other cases, you may only need a section of an image to emphasize your point, and wish to lose the non-critical bits. You can easily cope with this task by following these five tips to make perfect screenshots on your PC.

Take care of your background

It’s better to use special software or utility for taking screenshots. Screenshot software usually gives plenty of options including background cut. However, if you don’t want to install programs to your PC, here is what you should remember: Before taking a screenshot, make sure your wallpaper is not too rich in color. It shouldn’t distract people from the main part of the pic. There are 2 methods to prevent this. One, you can set a plain image for your background. This option is great for those who keep few files on the desktop.

In case you have plenty of software labels, you’d better use the second method. Create an empty notepad file or a folder. Maximize it to fill the whole screen and place portion you want to take a screenshot of right in the center. Press “PrintScreen” button on your keyboard (Windows-based PCs/laptops) to shoot the pic. Paste the pic into MS Paint and save in .JPG or .PNG format.

 

Cut unnecessary parts

After you save a pic, you should delete all the unnecessary parts from it. Cut everything that has nothing to do with the software interface – Windows bar, empty spaces, parts of other programs, etc.

When you take a screenshot of a site, get rid of columns with ads, toolbars, plugin icons, and so on. You can use Microsoft Picture Manager to perform a simple background cut.

 

Shrink big screenshots

Have you ever tried to load a big picture with a poor Internet connection? It’s a real pain and could even lead to a huge traffic loss. If you don’t want people to close your web page because the images take ages to load, you should resize them before uploading to your blog. You may use Microsoft Picture Manager or almost any online photo editor. Make your screenshot a little bit smaller but viewable. Don’t upload pics that are wider than your blog. They’ll be squeezed and thus become un-viewable.

In a situation when resizing is not possible, use the Caption option (for Wordpress) with “Click to enlarge” text.

 

Mark the important details

While writing your how-to guide, you’re likely to explain what button or tab to use to perform a certain action. In this case, you should mark this button with a circle or at least a bright arrow. You can use Snagit software for this purpose.

It provides a number of shapes and shape styles for almost any blog design. Alternatively, you can use Paint. It’s totally free and comes with any Windows-based PC. But remember that the circle shape in Paint will look pixelated.

 

Add text where necessary

In some cases, it won’t be bad to add a couple of words to your pic. It can be a secret tip, suggestions caption, warning, or any other small note. Choose a readable font and color that will fit the whole image. Show the image to your friends. Ask them whether the text looks comprehensible and easy to read. And remember that your note should not occupy half of the screenshot.

Ultimately, there’s nothing difficult in creating beautiful screenshots. Hope these steps will help you - and good luck with your blog!

Author’s bio: Terry Smith is a former IT teacher from Geneva. Now he is a freelance blogger and software developer. He enjoys writing about new technology, apps, sites and software for home use. Join him on Twitter.

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Posted
AuthorTerry Smith
CategoriesTutorials

Here at Bigstock, we hear from many folks who both praise and curse the functions of Photoshop. Yes, the photo-editing powerhouse can do just about anything to your images. But, it can also be a royal pain in your design assets if you don't need to harness all of its power at once. "But I only want to do one little thing," you've said on more than one occasion. We hear you. We really do.

With this very concern in mind, we scoured our entire Bigstock blog to provide you with some classic - and very effective - Photoshop quick tips. Each tutorial is brief and beginner-level. So, fear not the fun of Photoshop, and embrace these tutorials below. Good luck.

1. How to Create Sparkling Eyes

Sometimes you just want those eyes to pop! In this quick tutorial, We'll show you how to get those eyes sparkling so they can make the model in your photo stand out and help your projects shine. Continue ...

 

2. How to Sharpen Your Image or Photo

Stock photo of woman and her dog.

We all know that even a beautiful photo can sometimes be just a little too soft. You might be going for a richer, sharper look than what your photo is giving you. In this tutorial, we'll help you easily sharpen up any photo. Continue ...

 

3. How to Give a Photo a Vintage Look

Stock image of woman with hat.

In this tutorial, we'll teach you how to give a vintage matte effect to a photo in two easy steps. For this example, we're using this photo of a cute couple, but this effect should work on any sharp photo. Continue ...

 

4. How to Make a Meme

Cat meme.

We love memes. Love 'em. If you do too, and you want to make an internet meme that wildly spreads across the web, and makes you really popular with your friends, and could potentially launch you into a professional career as a world-class memer, check out this tutorial. Continue ...

 

5. How to Remove a White Background

Stock photo of flower with white space.

One of the most common photography techniques is to shoot against a seamless white background to keep all the focus on the subject. This may be cool for a product catalog, but when designing a website or brochure, a white background might not work. With this tutorial, you’ll be able to make overlays, and use graphics in a way that looks clean, finished, and professional. Continue ...

And, if you're looking for royalty-free images to use for your projects, be sure to try a 7-day Free Trial of a Bigstock subscription. Happy downloading.

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Posted
AuthorBrian Masefield
CategoriesTutorials

These days, everyone is a self-appointed photographer/curator of some sort, thanks to the accessibility smartphones give us with photo apps and software. All of these techie tips and tricks are available right on your mobile device, making it even easier to acquire some photo-editing skills on the go. Of course, it doesn't replace committing time and education to a skill that you'd like to develop, but we should start to consider these kinds of photo apps and tools as first steps toward those pro-level goals.

The app Afterlight, in particular, let's anyone snap a pic, use basic photo-editing techniques to perfect their image, and then share that freshly-edited image with their followers. 

Below are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when acquainting yourself - and using - Afterlight. I'll discuss different filters, overlay, and other cool elements of the app to help you bring your smartphone images to a whole new level. Let's go.

COLOR ADJUSTMENT TOOLS

 

FILTER PRESETS

It's easy to apply filters to any photo, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't apply different editing tools to get exactly the look you want.

In Afterlight, one of the first tabs on the bottom editing bar is for editing your photo. It has all the standard tools - including Brightness, Exposure, Contrast, and others - and it also gives you the option to edit the highlight tones, midtones, and shadow tones.

Each of those options has three colors attached to it: red, blue, and green. You can adjust each level based on how much or how little of each color you'd like to highlight in your photo. 

The selection of filters in Afterlight is one of the greatest qualities of the app. There are five different groups of filters, all of which contain some sort of theme.

  • Original. Contains classic filters, including a range of black, white, and slightly mellower tones with names like emberolive, and chestnut.
  • Guest. Contains filters that have slightly edgier tones, with higher contrasts and more options for sepia-esque colorations.
  • Seasons and Wander. These presets both have a distinct feel, giving your photos a look that is very much edited, but yields classy results. Wander is a personal favorite of mine, with its dramatic contrasts and ghostly colors. I use it for photos that I don't necessarily want to look realistic, to give them a striking look. 
  • Fusion. The most fun preset of the group, in my opinion. Fusion combines different filters of your choosing - together. You can record your process for combining filters, and in doing so, create a whole new filter. (Example: chestnut + finn = a new filter that you get to name yourself.)
 

AESTHETICS

You have the option to apply certain light leaks and film aesthetics to your photo, all within different groups that you can choose from. These achieve a vintage aesthetic for the most part. If you want to apply a dusty lens to your photo and give it an older feel, you can choose from 13 different looks.

You also have 31 choices for light leaks. Light leaks insert a colored glare on the sides of your photo and range in appearance from minimal to major, presence-wise.

  • Instant Film goes for the film photo aesthetic and provides you with 22 different framed choices. 
  • Wander is the most eclectic of the bunch, sort of combining all aspects of the aforementioned into one cohesive look. 
 

CROPS, OVERLAYS, ETC.

If you want to resize or switch the orientation of your image, you have the option to do so here. They're all relatively standard options, so if you'd like your photo to be slightly tilted, you can adjust it by selecting the diagonal rectangle.

The last option in this group, right after the tilted rectangle, is overlay. You have a lot of freedom here when selecting the image you'd like to overlay. A good rule of thumb when working with image overlay is to use one image that is contoured, and one image that is textured. You'll have the option to edit the photo with different presets that will lighten or darken your image. 

 

FRAMES 

Afterlight's abundant selection of frames is what really sets it apart from other photo-editing apps. But, if you want to upload horizontal photos to Instagram, here's a quick and easy hack: In the set of Original frames, can use the two white bar frame which will maintain your horizontal photo and place the white frame along the top and bottom. (Instagram naturally crops photos to fit their own square, so you can apply the same technique to a vertical photo, and the white frame will run on the the left and right sides of the photo.) 

You also have options to use Silhouettes, Type, Scripts, and Instant Film frames. Once you've chosen your frame, you'll also have the option of changing the frame from white to any other color you'd prefer, and you can even implement a wallpaper instead of colors. (The colors of the wallpapers are somewhat muted and can be adjusted once applied, so that they don't overshadow your actual photo.)

Be sure to take your time with Afterlight, and you'll be a pro in no time. Have fun! 

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Posted
AuthorAshley Hefnawy
CategoriesTutorials

If you’ve never edited a video, the process may seem a little intimidating at first. But if you have Photoshop or similar editing software, you can add images or make tweaks to your footage quickly and easily. This tutorial will provide a step-by-step guide on how to insert a stock photo into a video.

1. Opening the Movie File

To begin working with your movie file, open Photoshop and go to the File menu. Scroll down to Import and then select the Video Frames to Layers option. Select the movie file in the window that appears. In the next window, you can select several import options—either the entire video or specific frames you wish to work with.

Screen shot image of Photoshop Layers tool. 
 

2. Working Within the Timeline

If the Timeline panel isn’t displayed at the bottom of the editing window, go to the Window menu and click on Timeline. In this panel, you can choose individual frames. To edit a frame, select it within the timeline, and then select the corresponding layer in the Layer panel to the right of the editing space.

Screen shot image of Photoshop Timeline.
 

3. Resizing and Overlaying the Stock Image

Before you insert the stock image, use the Select tool within the video frame to measure the area that you want to overlay. As you click-and-drag to select, the dimensions of the selected area will appear to the right of the cursor. Write them down, and then go to the File menu and use the Open command to open the stock image file. Go to the Image menu, choose Image Size, and enter the dimensions to resize your stock image.

Screen shot image of Photoshop Select tool.

Now that the image is resized, select it, copy it, and then navigate back to the video file. Click the menu icon on the upper right corner of the Timeline display. Make sure that the New Layers Visible in all Frames option is unchecked. Choose the frame in the Timeline where you want the image overlay to start and then paste the stock photo. It will appear as a new layer in the Layers panel. If necessary, use the Move tool to adjust the photo’s position.

Screen shot image of Photoshop's Timeline function.
 

4. Adding Your Image to Multiple Frames Quickly and Easily

With most video files, you’ll be adding the same image to multiple frames. In a video that has 30 frames per second, if you want the image to show for one second, you’ll need to add it to 30 frames. You can add the image to each frame and then position it manually, but this process takes a long time. Make it easier by creating an Action to do most of the work for you.

To create an Action: 

  • Go to the Window menu.
  • Select Actions to display the Action panel.
  • At the bottom of this panel, click the Create New Action icon.
  • Give your action a name and set a function key (in pop up window).
  • After you’ve named the action and assigned a key, click the Record button to create your Action.
  • Paste your image into the desired frame.
  • Adjust its position. 
  • Click the Stop icon at the bottom of the Action panel.

You can now click each frame and press the function key you selected to automatically paste and position your image.

Screen shot image of Photoshop's "New Action" box. 
 

5. Making Images Move

When you add a still image to a video, you’ll eventually reach a point where you’ll need to make that image blend with the motion in the video. In our example, the man’s hands appear to be enlarging the map, but we want him to enlarge the graph instead. To do this, we’ll need to mask out the map in all the frames leading up to the full-sized graph.

To mask individual frames, select the frame that you want to work on in the Timeline and then select that frame’s corresponding layer in the Layer panel. Add a layer mask by clicking the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layer panel, and then use the selection tools to choose the areas you want to mask. Use the Paint Bucket tool to color the selected areas black. Repeat this step to mask each frame that needs it.

Tip: In the example that we're using here, the image remains motionless while the video moves around it. If you want the image itself to move—up, down or from one side of the screen to the other—you’ll need to position the image in each individual frame so that it appears to move as the video progresses.

Screen shot of Photoshop Layer Mask platform.
 

6. Adding Your Image to the Masked Layers

This step is similar to Step 4, but this time you’ll need to position the stock image behind each masked layer rather than on top of them.

Make sure that your stock photo is copied to the clipboard and then select a masked frame in both the Timeline and the Layer panel. Press the function key you selected to run the Action you created in Step 4. This will create a new image layer that you will need to reposition within the Layer Panel.

To move the new image layer, click on it and drag it up or down the list of layers in the Layer Panel. Move the new layer until it is below the masked video frame that you are working with. The image should appear inside the masked area of the frame, not on top of the frame. Repeat this step for each masked frame.

Screen shot image of Photoshop screen.
 

7. Previewing and Exporting

Once you’re happy with the way each frame looks, make sure the video animates smoothly by clicking the Play button in the Timeline to preview it. If everything looks good, go to File, scroll to the Export option, and click Render to Video.

You can export the video as an MP4, QuickTime file, DPX or one of many graphic file formats. Once exported, save your file as a Photoshop file (PSD) or a large format file (PSB) so that, if necessary, you can come back later to make changes to frames or layers.

Screen shot image of Photoshop's Render Video screen.

With this simple process, you can use stock photos and graphics to jazz up your video presentations, explainer videos, advertisements, and a whole lot more. And, be sure to check out these key elements of marketing videos, and some great video-editing tips for beginners for even more video know-how from Bigstock. Have fun.

Posted
AuthorBrian Masefield
CategoriesTutorials

There seems to be an infinite number of Photoshop tutorials available online, which is great—unless you don’t have Photoshop. These days, many photographers rely on free or inexpensive tools to edit their images. If you’re looking for an easy­-to­-use photo-editing app, Windows Photo Gallery is one of the best. You can download it directly from Microsoft for free and start editing photos immediately. In this post, we’ll show you how Windows Photo Gallery works and how to arrange your workflow to create professional­-looking images.

First Things First: Workflow Matters

Whether you’re using Windows Photo Gallery or another app, the order in which you make changes is extremely important. Because adjustments to color or exposure often leave behind artifacts and noise, it’s best to start with these edits. Once you’re done with that, use the retouching and red eye removal tools as necessary, and then move on to "noise" removal (more on that later).

When the bulk of the editing is complete, feel free to apply filters, convert the image to black and white, or crop it. Making changes in this order ensures that you can easily correct flaws caused by the editing process.

Which file types should you use? 

Windows Photo Gallery supports several file formats, including BMP, JPEG, JFIF, TIFF, PNG and WDP. JPEG files are one of the best formats to choose because they’re universally supported. Whether you want to post your images on the web, have prints made, or use them for anything else, choose JPEGs so you won’t run into compatibility issues.

1. Opening Your Image

Once you’re set up with Windows Photo Gallery, you can open images directly from the software’s gallery. Scroll through the timeline and double-­click the image that you’d like to edit.

Screenshot of Windows Photo Gallery.
 

2. Adjusting Exposure

Windows Photo Gallery makes it really easy to adjust exposure. Click the Exposure tool and select the option that most closely matches the look you want.

 

3. Adjusting Color

The color adjustments work just like the exposure adjustments. Click the Color option on the toolbar and choose the option that you like best.

Screenshot of Windows Photo Gallery.
 

4. Fine Tuning Color and Exposure Adjustments

The nice thing about Windows Photo Gallery is that you aren’t stuck with only a few options for color and exposure correction. If you’d like to tweak the brightness, contrast, shadows, highlights, tint or saturation, you can do so by double-­clicking on the Fine Tuning tool in the toolbar.

This will open up a panel along the right side of the screen with several editing options. Click the element that you’d like to adjust and then use the sliders to tweak the image to your liking.

Screenshot of Windows Photo Gallery.
 

5. Straightening Your Image

If your horizon line is crooked or you’d like to tilt the image, there are two ways to do it: Click Straighten in the toolbar, and Windows Photo Gallery will automatically straighten the photo for you. Or you can go to the Fine Tuning section and use the Straighten Photo slider to rotate your image.

 

6. Red ­Eye Removal

Correcting red eye is a simple task in Windows Photo Gallery. Select the Red Eye tool and then use the cursor to draw a box around the red portion of the eye. The software will automatically remove the redness.

Screenshot of Windows Photo Gallery
 

7. Retouching the Image

If certain elements of the photo are distracting, or if previous edits have resulted in a flaw, you can retouch it. First, select the Retouch tool in the toolbar. Next, draw a box around the flaw that you want to remove. Windows Photo Gallery will automatically sample nearby areas in the image to create a pattern that covers up the flawed area you selected.

Screenshot of Windows Photo Gallery
 

8. Noise Reduction

Noisy images have a grainy, splotchy look. Low light conditions are the most common cause of image noise. Certain edits, though - particularly color, exposure, and sharpness adjustments - can result in a noisy look, too. Fortunately, getting rid of noise is easy. Click the Noise Reduction tool, and Windows Photo Gallery will automatically smooth your image. Ta dah! 

Screenshot of Windows Photo Gallery
 

9. Monotone Effects

If you’d like to create a monotone image, Windows Photo Gallery has several great options. For a basic monotone conversion, go the Effects section of the toolbar and choose Black and White, Sepia, or Cyan.

There are also orange, yellow, and red filters that simulate the effect of colored filters that are mounted on your camera’s lens. Colored filters work a bit differently than a basic black and white conversion. When you use these filters, areas of the same color within the image will appear as brighter shades of gray, while areas of other colors will appear darker. So if you choose the red filter, red elements and areas with a red tint will show up as light gray, while blue and green shades will be dark gray.

If you’re unsure which effect you like best, mouse over all six effects to preview them. Once you’ve settled on one, click on it to apply it to the image.

Screenshot of Windows Photo Gallery
 

10. Cropping the Image

Once all other edits are complete, you can crop the image. Start by clicking the arrow underneath the Crop tool. This will bring up a menu with print sizes, options to rotate the selection box, and options to create custom crop sizes. Choose an option and then select the portion of the image that you’d like to keep.

Once you’ve made your selection, you can resize the selected area or drag the selection box around. When you’ve lined up the selection box, click the Crop button on the toolbar to apply the changes.

Screenshot of Windows Photo Gallery

Windows Photo Gallery may lack some of the advanced tools that come with high ­end image-editing suites, but the simplicity of this app more than makes up for its shortcomings. Not only is this software easy to learn, but it has everything you need to correct and enhance your images - and it won’t cost you a thing. 

For more helpful "intro" tips for design and photography, be sure to check out our Intro to Vectors post, or "learn to kern" with our Typography 101 tutorial. Have fun! 

 

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Posted
AuthorBrian Masefield
CategoriesTutorials

Maybe you've found the perfect image with the perfect subject, but it still needs a bit more richness. This quick method will help you take things up a notch by adding some dramatic lighting. For example, I've downloaded this Bigstock photo of a little girl with wings. Adorable, isn't she? Let's give her a lil' drama, though. First things first, we'll open the image in Photoshop.

1. Duplicate the photo's layer. A quick way to do this is to hit command-J (Control-J on a PC) with the layer selected. 

2. Set the layer's blend mode to Screen. Use the blend mode pulldown menu to and select "screen".

3. Duplicate the new layer. Again, keep the layer selected and hit command-J (control-J on a PC).

4. Set the new layer's blend mode to Multiply. Again, use the blend mode pull-down menu to select "multiply."

5. Give the layer a Gaussian Blur.

  1. Go to Filter.
  2. Then Blur.
  3. Then Gaussian Blue.
  4. Then use the slider to set the blur at a level that you like.

You can also lower the opacity of this top layer if the effect is too intense for your project.

Ta dah! Our little angel. Look how rich, dramatic, and eye catching this photo is. 

Here are a few other examples of this "dramatic lighting" method being used. 

We hope you enjoyed this Photoshop quick tip. We've also provided a tip on how to punch up an photo's vibrancy, if that's your thing. Happy creating!

 

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Posted
AuthorCristin Burton
CategoriesTutorials

If you need to create a photo for an action-packed advertisement, or an explosive blog post, a muzzle flash effect can come in handy. This Bigstock video clip illustrates the motion, trail, and illumination of a fired gun, to give you a better idea of how to portray this effect in a single, exciting image.

There are two simple ways to add a muzzle flash effect in Photoshop. This blog post will walk you through the process so that you can start creating special photo effects worthy of any action movie poster in a matter of minutes.

Step 1: Find the Right Tools

The best way to create a realistic muzzle flash is to download a good flame brush. Search for brushes that create fireballs of various sizes and lengths. For most firearms, longer spurts of flame work best, but sometimes rounded explosions work, too. Just avoid those brushes that resemble candle flames. Since gunfire is an explosion, you’ll want to make sure the flash indicates both force and forward motion. 

Step 2: Draw the Flash

Create a new layer to begin drawing the muzzle flash. Select your favorite flame brush, and choose an appropriate size. You’ll also want to make sure that the brush supports transparency—that is, the outer edges of the burst of flame should be slightly transparent so that the background image shows through. If your brush doesn’t have soft or transparent edges, you can always make the edges transparent with a quick layer mask.

Once your brush tool is set up, draw the muzzle flare in front of the gun’s barrel. Don’t worry about getting the flare perfectly aligned on your first try—you can always move and resize the layer later.

An Alternative Way to Create Muzzle Flash 

If you can’t find the perfect brush, another option is to use the muzzle flash from another photo—one of your own, or a royalty-free stock photo found online. This method is easier than the brush method, but if you can’t find the perfect image, the results may not be as nice as a hand-­drawn flare.

To use a muzzle flash from another image, simply import the image as a new layer. Then use the layer-­masking tool to remove everything but the flash itself.

Here's how ...

  1. Select the new layer.
  2. Click the Layer Mask button at the bottom of the Layers palette.
  3. With the mask selected, use a black brush to remove everything in the layer but the flash itself.

You may want to experiment with shades of gray around the edges of the flash to give it some transparency. 

Step 3: Align the Flash

No matter which method you choose to create the muzzle flash, the alignment process is the same. Start by positioning the flash over the gun’s barrel, and resize as necessary. If the firearm isn’t perfectly horizontal within the image (if it’s pointed towards the front or the back of the frame), then use the perspective alignment tools to make sure the flare points in the same direction as the gun.

To access the alignment tools:

  1. Select the Move tool in the Tools panel.
  2. In the Options toolbar, click “Show Transform Controls.”
  3. As you hover your mouse over the selected flash layer, you’ll have options to move, transform, and rotate the layer.

To transform the flash layer (change the perspective): 

  1. Hover over a corner of the layer so that the cursor becomes a diagonal arrow.
  2. Click and drag to move that corner of the layer.

If you need to rotate the layer, place the cursor outside of the selected area so that a curved arrow appears. You’ll then be able to rotate the layer in any direction you choose.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

For a completely realistic finish, it’s important to remember that the muzzle flash will illuminate objects close to it—the gun’s barrel, and maybe the hand of the person holding it.

To add highlights in all the right places, select the Dodge tool. Under the Range options, choose Highlights to lighten the brightest areas on the gun or the hand holding it. If necessary, the Midtones and Shadows settings will brighten the darker areas, but use these settings with caution. On a black or dark object, these settings can result in a gray, faded look.

Whether you use the Highlights, Midtones, or Shadows settings, make sure to set the Exposure percentage low. A few careful passes at low exposure is less likely to cause gray patches. You should also use a soft­-edged brush so that your highlights blend with the rest of the image naturally.

If desired, you can add gun smoke to the image. Start a new layer and use a smoke brush to paint clouds or streams of directional smoke, like in this image. Just keep in mind that a gun doesn’t make long vertical ribbons of smoke until after it has been fired. Any smoke that you’d normally see around a firing gun will either be horizontal or it will have a misty look.

Step 5: Save Your Work

Once you’ve perfected the muzzle flash, smoke, and any other effects, save a copy of the image with the layers preserved. Then you can flatten the layers and export the file as a JPEG for web use, or any other purpose.

This method is great for not only muzzle flashes, but also for any other highlights you’d like to add. Place bursts of light on glittering objects or create your own explosions. However you decide to use this technique, it’s sure to add an element of excitement and action to your images. Fire away!

Header image by Bigstock contributor Stokkete

 

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Posted
AuthorBrian Masefield
CategoriesTutorials

Our world is full of stock photos - billions of them. In the off-chance you've seen them all, there are ways to give them a custom-made look. As you'll see below, it's pretty easy to edit a stock photo in order to give it your own sense of style and branding. 

When you want to give a stock photo a more unique spin, or need a photo to reflect a client's style guide, or just want to stand apart from your competition who may be using similar images, check out these quick tips on how to create some cool photo overlays.

11.jpg

First things first. There are two main types of photo overlays you can use: adjustment layers and color fill overlays.

Adjustment Layers: 

To add an adjustment layer, click on the black and white circle icon at the bottom of your Layers palette and you can choose which type of adjustment layer to add. You can find more information about adjustment layers here. And of course, you can go back and adjust these layers at any time.

Color Fill Overlays: 

You can create a fill overlay by simply adding a new layer and filling it with a color. My favorite shortcut for this is to first add a new layer, then click Option-Delete (Alt-Delete on a PC), which will fill the layer with the foreground color.

The best way to figure out how to make a stock photo your own with overlays is to experiment and play around, which is what we have done in this post.

You can add an overlay layer, and from there, you can change the blend mode, lower the opacity, or both: 

  • Change the blend mode by selecting from the pull down menu at the top of the layers palette.
  • Lower the opacity (also) at the top of the layers palette. You can also add layer masks to remove portions of these overlays.

Here are three examples of overlays that we came up with.

Original Photo

 

Idea #1:

A hue/saturation adjustment layer with a lowered saturation. 

 

Idea #2:

A levels adjustment layer with a slight adjustment to even out the blacks and whites. A color layer in #bb3212 with a multiply blend mode, and another color layer in #c1600b that has a layer mask to remove some of the background with a soft brush. 

 

Idea #3:

A brightness/contrast adjustment layer with the brightness and contrast both raised. Also used a color layer in #04b3b5 at a lowered opacity and a color blend mode.

 

Let's do another one ...

Original Photo

 
4.jpg

Idea #1:

Hue/saturation adjustment layer with a lowered saturation and lightness. A fill layer with #01b6c6, a color blend mode, and a lowered opacity.

 
5.jpg

Idea #2:

A levels adjustment layer to raise contrast, with more whites, more blacks, and less midtones. A black & white adjustment layer. A color layer in #019019 with an overlay blend mode.

 
6.jpg

Idea #3:

A curves adjustment layer with a slight S-curve on the RGB. A fill layer in #0526f0 in an overlay blend mode in a lowered opacity.

 

And let's do one more ... 

Original Photo

 
1.jpg

Idea #1: 

Fill layer in #f129f8 in screen blend mode.

 
2 copy.jpg

Idea #2:

Exposure adjustment layer with a high exposure and a lowered offset. A fill layer in #318002. One more layer with a brush to cover the remainder of black in the background.

 
3 copy.jpg

Idea #3:

Black & White adjustment layer, which has a layer mask to remove the layer where the runner is. Fill layer in #7f48a5 with a color blend mode and a layer mask to remove the color where the background is.

As you can see, it's fairly easy to switch up a stock photo to give it a more unique look, or a look that more closely relates to your brand or project. Experiment away, and happy creating! 

Header image is from Bigstock contributor Wavebreak Media Ltd.

Posted
AuthorCristin Burton
CategoriesTutorials

The color palette of your home page—generally the first page your website visitors will see—is the most important design decision you will make. Color has the power to motivate or repel people, and even change the way they learn, think and feel. Not only do specific hues affect and enhance your brand’s message, but the right ones can actually translate into conversions. Analytics expert Neil Patel states that when he altered the color of his home page’s call-to-action button from blue to yellow, his conversions went up by 38 percent.

So as you plan your website design, keep in mind these 13 reasons why the colors of your home page matter:

1. People React to Colors

What’s more appealing, a black banana or a yellow banana? Whether you’re aware of it or not, color elicits a variety of emotional reactions, so choosing a well-planned color scheme for your home page will ensure that you avoid the “black banana” reaction. Data shows us that 42 percent of consumers say that the design of a website is the top criteria for judging it, and 52 percent of them won’t return to a site if they are turned off by the design.

Tip: Taking into consideration your brand, you can’t go wrong with the top three preferred colors for a website: green, blue, and orange.

2. Color Motivates People to Buy

When used wisely, colors are an excellent motivator. Those in search of luxury products respond best to color schemes in burgundy, black or white. Impulse shoppers are most likely to be triggered by blue, black, and orange, while budget-minded shoppers respond well to dark blue and green. Consider this: two out of three people won’t purchase an appliance if it doesn’t come in their favorite color.

Tip: Make your call-to-action button red (to create urgency), blue (to imply trust and security) or orange (to encourage taking action).

3. Color is the Strongest Purchase Influencer

Studies have shown that the color of a room actually affects a person’s perception of the temperature of the room. So warm hues, like orange, red, and yellow, will make you assume a room is warmer, while cool colors, like blue, green, and light purple, will make you think a room is colder.

Similarly, color plays a key role in the decision to purchase a product or service. The average person takes 90 seconds to form a subconscious decision about you and your brand, and 85 percent of the time, the purchase decision is based mostly on product and presentation colors.

Tip: Navy blue and teal speak to shoppers on a budget, and pink, light blue, and rose appeal to traditional buyers.

4. Color Affects Thought and Behavior

The colors around us can actually change the way we think. Researchers at the University of Rochester found that athletes are much more likely to lose if they’re pitted against opponents in red, while students exposed to red were more likely to perform poorly on tests. This is because red can actually degrade our ability to think critically and can cause us to make hasty decisions.

Tip: Depending on what you want your website visitors to do, try red (to increase appetite or invoke a reaction), yellow (to encourage buying), blue (to evoke trust), orange (to elicit a call to action), and black (to provoke a sense of luxury).

5. Color is Memorable

People are much more likely to look at and absorb materials that are presented in color. An overwhelming 90 percent of marketers prefer color presentations to black and white. They believe that color makes it easier for customers to remember their products and services.

Tip: Studies show that the highest-converting colors for call-to-action buttons are bright colors like red, green, orange, yellow. Avoid dark colors such as black, dark gray, brown, or purple because they’ve been shown to have have low conversion rates.

6. Color is Meaningful 

The colors you choose for your website tell the world a lot about your brand. Blue is associated with safety, security and trustworthiness, which is what makes it the most popular choice for insurance websites and financial companies. The use of green suggests growth, health, and eco-friendliness. Warm colors like red, orange, and yellow invoke excitement, energy, and passion.

Tip: Check out this chart of color meanings and brands.

7. Different Demographics Like Different Colors

As you build your color palette, design it around the tastes of your target audience. For instance, younger people prefer brighter colors, while older folks prefer subdued palettes. Both men and women prefer green to brown, and women are better at perceiving colors than men are. No matter what demographic your audience belongs to, there is a color choice to match.

Tip: Blue is the preferred color of both men (57 percent) and women (35 percent), which makes it a good bet overall. For a predominantly male audience, add green and black, and for a mostly female market, include purple and green.

8. Colors and the International Marketplace

It’s easy to assume that colors mean mostly the same things around the world, but the truth is that colors have wildly different meanings between cultures. For instance, Western society views white as the color of purity, but some Asian cultures see white as a sign of bad luck. Green represents money in the United States, but obviously not in countries where the money is a different color.

Tip: Blue, azul, bleu ... whichever way you say it, keep in mind that 40 percent of people across the globe say that blue is their favorite color. Oh, blue. 

9. Web Page Colors can Enhance or Diminish Featured Images

If your page features product images or important graphics, you’ll need to choose a color palette carefully. Highly-saturated background colors are not only distracting, but they also tend to make images look washed out. If your web page features a lot of rich imagery, tone down the background color scheme to make your images stand out.

Tip: Coordinate image and layout colors to suggests harmony, which positively affects web page visitors.

10. Contrasts Make People Take Notice

Some people assume that only the large blocks of color in the background or graphic elements count. However, the colors that you choose for key elements such as links, headings, calls to action, and other details are just as important, if not more so.

Tip: Choose contrasting colors, as well as a shadow effect, for elements you want to stand out, like buttons. But do this sparingly, as overuse will have customers wondering where they need to look, if everything looks important.

11. Certain Colors Make Your Website Seem Faster

Choosing one color over another won’t actually speed up or slow down your website, but, because of the way that colors affect people’s emotions, they can make your website feel faster or slower. Red is an energetic color, which makes users feel antsy and impatient. On the flip side, blue has a calming effect, so users are more likely to stick around while a blue page loads.

Saturation and brightness play into the feeling of speed as well. Both dark colors and highly-saturated colors are more exciting, which can add to your viewers’ impatience. Colors with low saturation and those that are bright (pastels or colors mixed with white) are more relaxing, which makes page load times seem shorter.

Tip: Include colors like pale blue, green, pink, and lavender to encourage relaxation because relaxed people are more apt to view download times as shorter.

12. Colors are Part of Your Brand

People are 80 percent more likely to recognize and remember a brand based on its colors. That means you'll need to choose colors that align with your company’s values as well as the products and services you have to offer. If your business is already well known for a particular color, then you’ll want to make sure that your web design is based around the same palette.

Tip: Think about some common brands and notice how their primary color pops into your mind: Starbucks (green), Chase (blue), Shutterstock (red), and Apple (white).

13. Not Everyone Has Perfect Vision

With all the design choices to make, it’s easy to forget that 75 percent of all Americans have less than perfect eyesight. It only takes a few seconds for visitors to navigate away from a website that is difficult to read. That means that, above all else, your color choices should be easy on the eyes.

Tip: Create stark contrasts between text and background colors. Red, blue, green, and yellow are ideal colors for those with visual impairments, especially for call-to-action buttons.

Consider the tips listed here carefully, and then test out a variety of color combinations so that you can choose an effective scheme that not only looks great, but also motivates your audience. Good luck! 

 

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Posted
AuthorBrian Masefield
CategoriesTutorials