Archive for the 'Tutorial' Category

Space Explosion Photoshop Tutorial

Fabulous, detailed Photoshop tutorial for creating the image above. Many, many tips and tricks can be learned through following this tutorial, I recommend it!

Space Explosion Photoshop Tutorial »

Amazing Photoshop Technique

OK, I’ve been using Photoshop for over a decade, and every last one of the options used in this video (whose origins I don’t know) is completely new to me. I actually watched this extremely short tutorial in complete awe.

I’m off to find a series of photos to merge into one!!

Removing People from Photographs »

Steps to CSS Design

When I came across this link I was expecting a list of reasons, but what I found instead was a solid workflow for designing with CSS. Bookmark it, folks!

Why Programmers Suck at CSS Design »

Photoshop Plaid


I found a really nifty tutorial by a woman who creates textiles. She not only gives a tutorial but shares her actual template file! It’s really quite simple to put together after that :)

In fact, I tried my hand at making our Cape Breton Tartan. Here’s the reference file I used:


And after some studying of the pattern and some guesswork at the warp and weft colours, here’s a small version of what I produced!

sachet how to

It’s not perfect, but it was definitely fun! I think the white needs to be more gray than white, I might re-do this.

What kind of plaids can YOU make?

Tutorial for making Plaid in Photoshop »

Photoshop Secret Shortcuts

Photoshop Secret Shortcuts Flashmint Download Flash Templates Next generation of Flash Templates. XML, CMS, Video. It is proven that by using software shortcuts can boost up productivity. Here are 30 secret Photoshop shortcuts that I’ve learned from years of experience. Well, what I mean by “secret” is that these shortcuts are not documented in the menus. Keep reading and you will find how these shortcuts can speed up your productivity. I bet you don’t know all of them.

Note: this article is written in Mac Photoshop format. If you are using PC, Cmd = Ctrl and Opt = Alt.

Photoshop Secret Shortcuts

Liquify as a Retouch Tool

Liquify as a Retouch Tool

Great video tutorial for Photoshop retouching from Peachpit.

Liquify as a Retouch Tool »

Free Gnomon Workshop Tutorials

We’ll be incorporating some of Gnomon’s wonderful DVD tutorials into upcoming programs (and updates). Meanwhile, why not check out some of their free tutorials? Lots of Maya and some Photoshop. This is great for people who are switching from 3ds Max to Maya – you know the concepts, you just need practice finding the tools.

Gnomon Workshop Free Tutorials »

Web Standards – The Basics

This is the first of a new format of posts here at the DArTT student blog – I’ll be posting some DArTT-generated helpful articles, tips and commentary periodically. Please let me know if you like it!

Working with CSS and abandoning Tables for layout can be daunting. It took me a while to sort it out in my own head, but a good understanding of the concept really helped.

I’m going to go over the definitions and the reasoning for web standards coding and markup, and then give you some basic steps for doing it yourself.

(Note: I might say HTML but I mean XHTML. It’s just habit!)

The basic idea is that you want to separate the presentation from the content so that any change – from a slight adjustment to a full redesign – is as simple as possible.

Ideally, to change the layout of a site, all you would need to do is change the style sheets; you would not need to edit the pages themselves at all.

Using Web standards also reduces the file sizes of your pages. This saves bandwidth, which costs money for you as well as time for the user.

Using Web standards ALSO makes it ridiculously easy to maintain visual consistency throughout a site. Since pages use the same CSS document for their layout, they are all formatted the same. This strengthens your brand and makes your site more usable. VERY important!

PRESENTATION refers to every last bit of CSS, as well as any HTML tags or properties that only exist for style purposes. Gone are the days of <font color=”#FF000”></font>, or <body background=”blah.jpg”> – ALL DESIGN should be controlled by CSS in an external style sheet.

With the CSS in its own external document, this leaves nothing but plain, semantic (more on that in a second) XHTML, and the content itself. That allows ease of editing for the content without affecting what the site looks like.

Semantics, for those who haven’t heard that term before, is the study of meaning in language. Every element in HTML carries an inherent meaning and purpose, which it passes along to the content within it. The semantic value of your markup should align with the semantic value of your content.

Content is all of your actual text, plus tags like h1-h6, paragraphs, list, em, strong, code, cite, etc. These are tags that explicitly *describe* the content – they don’t affect how it displays.

Using CSS to do your layouts requires a slightly different way of thinking than you’re used to. Rather than thinking about things like “this goes here and this goes here”, we need to think about the KINDS of information in our page and the STRUCTURE of that information.

We give the most important headline an <h1> tag; subheads get marked up with <h2> tags, etc.; and paragraphs are paragraphs. This is what is known as “structural” or “semantic” markup, and it’s what I mean when I say “informational hierarchy”.

That means, among other things, that if you have a first-level headline, it should always be surrounded by <h1></h1> tags. Don’t skip from h1 to h3; if you have a first-level headline and a third-level headline, there must, semantically, be a second-level headline as well. Semantics are very important for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as well.

Finally, and this is a big one for layout purposes, instead of putting your content inside of tables and table cells, wrap it in DIV elements. Give your div elements an id or a class that is descriptive of their content and/or function, rather than their appearance. For instance, “sidebar” or “maincolumn”.

When you’re deciding what tags to put on your content, think about why you want something to appear a certain way; what does it mean?

When you italize something, is that because you want to emphasize it, <em>, or because it’s the title of a book, <cite>? Make sure you know which one to use, and never use <i>!

If something is bold, it should probably be marked up as <strong>. <b> has fallen out of web standards use.

If you want a line break after something, chances are it should be marked up as a header element. If it’s not a header, is it part of a class that occurs throughout your site? If that’s the case then use CSS instead of <br>.

Your markup can and should convey meaning, even to someone who cannot see your page. Semantic markup makes our pages more accessible to everyone, including search engines.

So let’s do an example. Let’s say we’re working on a website for which we have all the content. We need to analyze it and mark it up semantically – put the headers at the top of the content, use paragraph and headline tags where necessary.
Most websites have the following categories of content:

  • Main navigation
  • Subnavigation
  • Headers and footers
  • Content
  • Related information
  • Other

You want to put the most important type of content at the top of the page, and the next most important next, and so on. Then wrap each of these types of content inside of a semantically-named div tag.

Put your main navigation into a div with an id of mainnav; put your sub-navigation inside a div with an id or class of subnav, put your footer in a <div id="footer">, and wrap your content inside a <div id="content">.

Your site can and should be completed in this ugly, text-only format, before you attempt any presentation design.

A basic site could look like this:

<div id="header"></div>
<div id="content"></div>
<div id="navigation"></div>
<div id="sidebar"></div>
<div id="footer"></div>

…of course, with the properly encoded content included.

A full-XHTML example:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "">
<html xmlns="">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" /> <title>TITLE GOES HERE</title> </head>


<div id=”header”>

<div id=”navigation”>
LINKS GO HERE (put in the actual links though!) </div>

<div id=”content”>
Put in content

<div id=”sidebar”>
Extra stuff

<div id=”footer”>


With that under control, it’s time to start writing your CSS.

At the beginning, give each div a border. For example, div {border: 1px solid gray; } This will help you see where they begin and end, and also whether or not you have any nesting or overlapping. When the elements are working correctly, remove the border code.

Write the CSS for all your element selectors first (<html>, <body>, <p>, <h1>, <h2>, <ul>, <li>, etc.). The body tag should include any background image for the page, the main font selection for the site, and probably you should set all margins and padding to zero.

When you put the font face and size in the body tag, you won’t have to declare it again in any other CSS tag, unless you want it different (such as in headlines).

By setting all margins and padding to zero, you are able to control the margins and padding of each of your elements separately. This is good because the browsers handle margins and padding slightly differently.

As you work, test in as many browsers as you can and get your friends to test it in their browsers.

You have to decide here between absolute and relative positioning, or floats, or what, but that’s way too much for this article.

To reiterate: Separate the presentation from the content. Organize your information semantically. Build your XHTML page first. Write your CSS after your content is under control.

Workspace Ergonomics


This is a theme that’s very close to my heart – close as in, it’s in my shoulder. And neck. And elbow. And wrist. And fingers. I’ve got a repetitive strain injury (RSI) from using the computer improperly many years ago, and unless I’m careful it can flare up quite easily and ruin an otherwise lovely day (or week, or month..).

It’s a bit of a pet project of mine to make sure everyone in the office has their workstation set up properly and isn’t creating a problem for themselves. So I was very glad to come across these workstation setup graphics on an Illustrator website that I’m able to share with you.

Do yourself a favour and make sure your setup is correct!

Workspace Ergonomics –>

Peachpit Video Tutorials – Photoshop


Peachpit press is where many of our favourite book series and authors come from – Hands On Training, Robin Williams, Classroom in a Book – and they’ve recently begun publishing articles and videocasts on their website, free to browse and view.

There are plenty of topics to choose from, but today I’m pointing you at two Photoshop topics that should be immensely useful, especially for beginners.

Layer Masking 101 Video Tutorial –>

Photoshop Shortcuts –> (note: CS3 does not have ImageReady, but the rest of the tips I use every day!)