Tag Archives: writing tips

WFH: Time Management

*This article was written 20.04.29th, when the corona-virus lock down was beginning to go into full swing in Canada. Please excuse any reference/comment that is no longer applicable.


Now that everyone is pretty much forced to work from home*, you may be scouring the internet trying to find ways to make it work. After all, you’ve always had a physical separation of your work space from your home, so how are you supposed to focus on work while wearing pj’s, and being so close to the dirty laundry?

Maybe you have set work hours from your job, or maybe you’re trying to start a work from home business and the line is a bit blurrier. Either way, you’ll need to know when to close your laptop and switch from Work Mode to Home Mode.

Walking the line between getting work done and having time to relax can be difficult for those who aren’t use to it. Fortunately for you, I’ve been working from home since I started my writing career, which was around 2016, and while I’m not a master, I’ve definitely picked up a few things.

The best thing tip I’ve found is learning how to time manage. Without time management, you’re pretty much lost in the sea of work and relaxing.

But, never fear! Below are the best tips to help you with your time management, so you can take some practical steps into getting things rolling.

 

Tip #1: Have Clear Work Hours

Scheduling your work hours is probably the #1 most important tip for being able to pull this off. If you don’t draw the line in the sand of when Work Mode begins and ends, you’ll constantly be feeling like you could be working when trying to relax, and trust me, feeling guilty for not working 24/7 is not conducive to a good work environment.

Whether you have set hours from your job, or you’re making it up as you go, set yourself work hours. I personally work (about) 10am-8pm. This will help ease your planning of say, knowing when to take a break and do some chores, or when to get dinner ready.

And don’t forget to allow yourself to take breaks within those work hours! You get breaks in the office, and your home office shouldn’t be any different. It’s okay to take a quick coffee/smoke/pee break during your work hours. Or, if you have an unexpected knock at the door? (Which you shouldn’t unless you’re getting stuff delivered) Get up! Don’t feel that just because you’ve set work hours, you need to be glued to your chair.

That’s actually not healthy at all! If you’re able, get up and stretch every few hours, or stand at your desk so you aren’t sitting all day. This will also help you feel less like you’re ‘stuck’ doing work. Just because it’s ‘business hours’ doesn’t mean you can’t take a quick break.

If you worked in an office and used to take regular breaks, do that at home! Try to keep as much of your routine the same, so it’s easier to stick to.

And, once the scheduled Work Hours are up? Get off your computer. I’m serious, especially if you’re starting your own business, I know how tempting it is to keep going. But then the next time you look up it will be 3am. Detaching yourself immediately from your computer once work is done is a big help in mentally keeping those work boundaries straight.

 

Tip #2: Schedule/Make a To-Do List

I know, I know, not everyone is great at scheduling, and not everyone likes to-do lists. But, scheduling stuff is honestly not as hard as some would make it seem. You can schedule literally as much or as little as you want/need to. If your brain will explode at the near thought of having to plan out your whole year (or week), start smaller!

Start with a to-do list for just today. Or, you could break it up even more by making a morning/afternoon (or hour by hour) to-do list. Everyone loves checking/crossing things off a to-do list – it gives you a sense of accomplishment, so go ahead and make one!

Now, again, if you are working a regular job from home, you may have clearly marked things to do, but if you’re a blogger, or similar ‘not real’ job person, this may be more essential to you.

As a blogger (and author!), I’ve found it imperative that I schedule my posts. Back when I started really getting into blogging and making my website functional, I would post 5-10 posts in a few days, and then wouldn’t touch it for a few weeks/months. That’s not exactly a good business model, neither for gaining fans, nor for your sanity.

Having a set schedule will take a lot of pressure off, so you don’t feel like you have to do everything right now, and it will give your fans a dedicated time to check in. It’s hard to see what’s new with someone you like if they post sporadically.


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I’ve found it helpful to list out everything you want to eventually get posted/done, and then organize from there what takes priority. For me, when I’m deciding on what posts to do, it’s actually kind of easy. Since I have a bunch of different interests, I cycle through them.

The way that works the best for me, is to list all the posts I want to (eventually) post, and then fill them in (rotationally) to an editable calendar. This helps keep me organized, since I plan out the entire year, and it takes the edge off my anxiety, because I know it will all get done.

For example, this post is scheduled for publishing August 3rd, but I’m writing it April 29th.  (Hello from the past!) That kind of advanced planning doesn’t happen by accident! Since I have the entire year planned out, it allows me to schedule posts as far in advanced as I need, thus giving me more time to do other things I enjoy. (Like starting the next book, or working on merch, or even just relaxing/having time to spend with family)

Being organized and scheduling my shit actually feeds my lazy side. If I don’t want to do any work at all and take a day off? Sure, I’m scheduled till August, so why not?

The one downside to this method is that you will eventually have to kick your own butt to make sure things are getting done. Which actually leads us into the last tip:

 

Tip #3: Discipline

Not everyone can thrive while working from home. I understand this kind of not-as-structured lifestyle is for everyone. But, I also think one of the main reasons why so many people fail is because they lack the discipline.

Having the ability to kick your own ass is a dying art, but it’s something you’re gonna have to learn to do if you want to succeed.

A lot of people in my life have complained to me about being ‘stuck’ working a job they don’t like, and thus they don’t have the life they thought they would. And, not to sound like a privileged white lady, all I can think is nobody forced you to get that job. Sure, there may have been people who forced you to get a job – but other people can’t force you to make decisions.

They can try to manipulate you either emotionally or some other way, but ultimately, it’s your life, and you just need to find the inner strength and courage to stand up for yourself and say ‘hey, this is my life. I’m going to do whatever I want.’ And if they don’t like it? Well then maybe you need to analyze what it is they’re adding to your life.

If you’re unhappy with your life, take some time and really think about why. Where did things go wrong and what steps can you do to change your life? It’s your life, you have the power to make yourself happy. Do some soul searching and think about what you want your ideal life to look like. What way of life would make you happy?

Once you see the figurative light at the end of the tunnel, start thinking about how to connect yourself from where you’re at now to there. What steps can you take – even if they’re small – to get yourself to your ultimate life? It’s never too late to make yourself happy, you just have to try.

Honestly it is that simple.


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Working From Home: Focusing

While I think I touched on this in my Top 5 Pros and Cons of Working From Home article, I thought I’d dedicate a whole post to perhaps the biggest/hardest part about working from home: focusing.

(If you live alone feel free to disregard most of the following)

When you’re working from home – especially a home that you share with others – sh*t is gonna get loud, especially around the time everyone else comes in from work. They just got back from work, so they want to relax with watching T.V., playing video games, and they most definitely need to cook dinner. You may need to call/text friends and family through out the day, go to the store and if there are pets you need to attend to?

And that’s not even mentioning digital distractions, like social media. So, with all these distractions, how are you ever going to focus? Well, the answer is both simple and complicated: You just gotta make yourself do it.

Whether this means waking up earlier/staying up later than everyone else so you can have a few hours of quiet, working with headphones on, or having a dedicated ‘work’ room (or space), do something that will allow you to get your shit done.

Is it fair that you may have to work around others’ schedules just so you can get what you want done? Not really. But what is the other option? Sitting there doing nothing day after day when you could be working? Everybody has to start somewhere, and one day when you’re in the middle of living your dream, you’ll thank your past self for taking the initiative.

Anything that’s worth getting is worth the work.

If interruptions are unavoidable/people absolutely need to talk to you, maybe try giving them certain times they can interrupt you. Like a short recess, it allows you a quick break from your work, and allows the people in your life to not feel like you’re blowing them off. As your list of things that need to get done grows, it will be increasingly good to schedule yourself breaks and check-in times with those around you, so you don’t go down the work spiral. It can be hard to keep to your scheduled breaks, but working constantly isn’t good for your health. And, there are studies that show that constantly working and not taking breaks can actually make you less productive.

I actually gave myself a ‘quitting time’ of 8pm. This may sound late, but since most days I wake up at 10am, it’s actually only 9 hours of work a day – which is only 1 hour more than the typical 9-5.

I also usually write with headphones on, so if people are talking, being loud, etc. it doesn’t usually bother me. And, if I need extra non-distractions? I just close my door. (My desk is set up in my bedroom.)

Everyone in my house knows that if my door is closed, not to bother me, unless it’s really important. Or, a less invasive way to get my attention? Shoot me a text! I always have my phone to the left of my computer, so I can see it light up. This system has been working since I started publishing books in 2016, and so far there haven’t been many issues. (This may be because my mom is also a freelance writer, so she understands the need for space)

However, as life tends to do, things won’t always run smoothly. No matter how many scheduled times/breaks, meetings times, etc. you have, some days it will just feel like people can not give you time to yourself to complete your work. I understand the frustration (trust me), but try not to let this get you agitated. Sure, it’s annoying, but these people care about you, and chances are they don’t realize they’re being annoying.

This is why having a conversation about what you need to be productive can help. (Instead of not saying anything and then blowing up at people when they do the thing that’s secretly been annoying you) I’ve found most people aren’t actively trying to be assholes/annoying, etc. so just tell them what you need so you can get things done.

Okay, I feel like maybe things got a bit muddled up there (I was actually writing this while fielding interruptions… go figure!), so in the interest of keeping things simple:

Ways to Focus:

  • Get up earlier/stay up later than others
  • Work with headphones on
  • Have a designated ‘work’ space (that people know not to bother you)
  • Schedule breaks/check-ins with people so they don’t constantly interrupt (or feel ignored)

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Spot Brightening (PHSH Effect #12)

Spot Brightening is a very important skill to have. Sometimes – for whatever reason – an image will come out with a dark spot, or will have weird lighting. Spot-treating images can be an immensely helpful tool in your PHSH arsenal, especially with summer right around the corner, you know you always get that one Beach Day pic where there’s too many shadows.

And, like most of the other effects I’ve shown you, it’s secretly really easy once you know what to do.

I’m going to use the teaser image from last month, even though most of it is dark already. I think keeping the images consistent is helpful when needing to look back at the effects while you practice them. So, for simplicity sake, we’ll be using the Match image:

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Spot Brightening - Match OG Pic - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, picture manip, photo manip

Step 1: Start a new Work File/Document/Whatever-You-Want-to-Call-It in PHSH and drag/drop the image into it. Don’t forget to resize so it fits into your work space.

Step 2. Using the Elliptical Selection Tool, select the head of the match, and a bit of the flame.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Spot Brightening - Selected Match Head - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, picture manip, photo manip

Step 3. With the head still selected, go up to Image – Adjustments – Brightness/Contrast

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Spot Brightening - Image Adjustments Brightness/Contrast - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, picture manip, photo manip

Step 4. In the Brightness/Contrast box, slide the Brightness slider toward the right to brighten the selection. Sliding it in the opposite direction will make the selection darker.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Spot Brightening - Brightness Dialogue Box - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, picture manip, photo manip

Step 4. Once you’re happy with the Brightness, click Okay to make the transformation stick to the picture – or, if you are in the Brightness/Contrast by accident, you can always Cancel to undo the change. (One of the great things PHSH has for most of the effects is the Live Preview, so while you’re playing with Brightness/Contrast, colours, etc. you can actively see what you’re changing on the image)

If, for instance, you need to make the selected area brighter than the slider will let you, you can hit ‘Okay’, stay on the selected area and then re-brighten it to whatever you need.

For instance, I brightened the picture at first to +64:

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Spot Brightening - 64 Bright - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, picture manip, photo manip

But if I needed it brighter, I could go back in and:

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Spot Brightening - 27+ Bright - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, picture manip, photo manip

And so on, and so forth, until my hearts’ content:

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Spot Brightening - 91+ Brightened - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, picture manip, photo manip

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Spot Brightening - 45+ Brightened - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, picture manip, photo manip

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Spot Brightening - 150+ Brightened - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, picture manip, photo manip

You could basically do this until there is just a white hole in the middle of the picture.

Yep, that’s literally all there is to it.

I mean, there is another way you could do this – but that involves a hell of a lot more steps and Layer Masks – it just gets waaay too complicated. Which, truthfully, was the way I learned how to do it first before figuring out this easy way, and since these tutorials are here to make your lives easier, I’ll just refrain from sharing that overly-long pain-in-the-ass way.

Thank me later!

Aaand I don’t want you to get disappointed or anything, but this will be the last PHSH tutorial until October. Since I’ve started No. Mad. I’ll be focusing more on that for the next few months. Think of this time off as extra time for you to practice all the effects you’ve learned thus far.


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Opacity (PHSH Effect #11)

Now that we’ve begun to get into some of the harder/less beginner-type effects, it occurred to me: I never addressed one of the simplest effects you can use to up your Photoshop game: changing a pictures’ opacity.

This can be super helpful if you need to add a background to your image, or need to add layers of pictures upon pictures.

So let’s get into it:

Step 1. You’re gonna need some pictures.

Let’s say you want to add this

To the background of this:

Step 1 is to open both the pictures, and a new document/project for you to work on.

Step 2: Drag the images into your working document, as I showed you in the Intro.

Step 3. Resize them so they fit into the document.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - Both Pics Opened - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

Now, we’re actually first going to have to use a different technique. Because the foreground picture with the shell already has a sky background, we’re going to have to remove that. To see how to do this, you can go look back over this tutorial.

Actually, never mind – I’m going to be using an even simpler way.

We’ll still be using the Quick Selection tool, and selecting the shell and the sand.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - Selected Shell and Sand - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

Now, instead of going up to Selection and doing the Refined Edge stuff, we’re just gonna right-click, and click on Select Inverse.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - Selected Inverse - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

Go to the Erase tool, and erase the background.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - Erasing Background - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

And boom! Don’t forget to go back to the Quick Select tool, right-click and Un-Select the selection so we can move on. This is basically a faster way to erase, so it’s great to have in your arsenal. (Especially if you’re doing collages, it will shave a lot of time from your work)

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - Erased Background - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

Step 4. As you can see, the sunset picture doesn’t cover the entirety of the work file. This means we’re going to have to use another technique I already showed you: Content-Awareness Scaling.

For this picture, the Alpha 1 layer is going to be the sun, so it doesn’t get all stretched out.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - CAS Sunset - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - CAS w Shell - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

Now that the sunset takes up the whole background, the shell looks out of place, and the sun is too low. So we’re going to drag the sunset picture up, until the shell is at the edge of the water.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - Shell at Edge of Water - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

Yes, we probably didn’t need to Content Awareness Scale the image as much as we did, since we just needed a bit more sky, but it’s always good to have too much of an image than too little. If you wanted to change the image location again, you would be able to.

Step 5. To make the Dark Background, we’re going to add a Colour Layer under the other two pictures.

Because this is the darker background, we’re going to use a dark grey.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - Colour Layer Select - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - Colour Layer Colour Selection - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - Colour Layer UNDER - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

Step 6. And now for the part you all came for: changing the Opacity of a picture.

The Opacity filter is in the Layers Panel, on the top right.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

Click on the little drop-down arrow to change the opacity of a picture. This will make a picture appear more or less see-through.

Because we want to be able to see a bit of the background through the pictures, we’ll be lowering the opacity just a bit.

Make sure you’re changing the opacity of the correct layer.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - Background Opacity Less - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - Foreground Opacity Too Low - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

Notice how if you make the Opacity of the Shell picture too low, the background pic will start to show through? This can be useful in collages, or if you need to overlap a bunch of pictures, but for this simple tutorial, it’s too much. I’m going to lower the Opacity to just 90, so that we get some of the dark grey of the background, without the harsh line of the sunset picture showing through.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - Foreground Opacity Just Right - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

Now, because the sand is a much lighter colour, you may choose to Burn the picture as well, if you really want to get it to match.

You don’t always end up with a similar to Burned effect, like in the Light background.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - Light Background - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

It depends on the pictures themselves, mostly and what the colour schemes already are.

One good thing about adding the Colour Layer is that if you don’t like the background colour that is showing through, you can always change the colour to get the desired effect.

For example:

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - Red Background - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

Changing the background colour to Red gives the picture a warmer feel

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - Blue Background - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

Whereas Blue gives a completely different vibe.

Play around with the colours and Opacity percents to see the different effects you can get.

Once you get the background colour you want, you’re done! Just be sure to save your work.

That wasn’t too hard, right? And you got to practice some other effect skills – see how the skills build on top of each other? Most pic manips will require some combination of the effects I’ve shown you, so it’s good to practice combining them to see what you can come up with, and which effects you like best.

Next month I’ll show you how to take this:

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Spot Brightening Match OG Image - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip

and brighten a specific spot on an image, like this:

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Spot Brightening - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorial, phsh, pciture manip, photo manip


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Burning a Picture (PHSH Effect #10)

Happy New Year everybody!

I hope you all had a relaxing holiday season (or at least, had time to unwind now that it’s over) and are ready to dive head-first with me back into the tutorials.

To kick off the new year, I’ll be showing you how to use the Burn tool. It’s pretty straight forward, but if you need a quick refresher, go skim back over the Intro. It’s alright, I’ll wait.

…. You back? Good.

Okay, so using the Burn tool like I said is pretty straightforward, fortunately, this is one of the PHSH tools that’s aptly named. Using this tool will do exactly what the name implies: it’ll burn the picture.

If that sounds scary, I promise it’s really not that hard. You can control the intensity of the burn, so you don’t end up ruining the picture. Which is great, because sometimes, you just may want to go simple and say, darken the picture.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture -Burned Edge LIGHTEST

(Don’t mind the red background)

You could mess with the white balance or other picture exposure, but messing with those tends to be much more complicated.

Or, you may want to go for a more extreme manip, like actually making the picture appear to be burned:

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - Burned Picture Done

Or you may need something in the middle. Regardless, it’s a very straight forward tool to use.

Let’s get started.

Today, we’ll be working with my I.D. pic, simply because I think it looks good burned. Pictures that tend to be darker and have lighter edges usually work better for this effect, but again, it depends how far you’re going.

 

Step 1.

Alright, so to start, you’re gonna need the un-touched picture.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - AterImber I.D. Picture w/ White Background

Once you have this in a Layer, you may want to change the background colour from white, just so it’s easier to see where the edges of the picture are, so you can be more precise.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - Changed Background Colour

The colour of the background doesn’t really matter, especially since we can change it once you’re done, but I find it’s easier to work when you can see where the edge of the picture is.

 

Step 2.

Alright, now that we have the picture, we’ll want to select the Burn tool from the left side Tool Bar. It’s the picture of a hand in a C shape, directly under the Blur/Sharpen/Smudge tool.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - Burn Tool Location

You may have to click on the box and manually select Burn from the drop-down menu. I believe the default image may be the Dodge tool, which looks like a lollipop.

 

Step 3.

Once you have the Burn tool selected, (and the layer you want to use the tool on selected), you’ll notice some options came up at the top of the application, in the same space where the Eraser options are.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - Burn Tool Options

The drop-down menu with the circle in it is the brush size, similar to the Eraser, you can make it bigger or smaller by using the sliders. The Hardness slider underneath will determine how hard/feathered the edge of the tool will make. (These are both exactly the same as for the Eraser tool)

For example, if the Hardness is on 5%:

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - Hardness 5%

Or 90%:

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - Hardness 90%

 

For the burn tool, it works the same:

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - Hardness Burn 90%

(90% Hardness)

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - Hardness Burn 5%

(5% Hardness)

There’s also the option to change the Range. This will change the area of the picture you’re targeting. You can choose from either the Highlights, Mid-Lights or Shadows. I discovered that if you (for example) only target highlights, there will be a point where the image won’t get any darker. (I presume because it’s gotten rid of all the highlights)

When I was experimenting for the tutorial, as I did this, the picture didn’t get any greyer until after I changed what I was targeting. I recommend you play around with this, as it depends on the picture. I’ve tried changing the targeted areas in the past for other projects, and I saw no difference at all, as if the tool wasn’t working.

And the last option will be the Exposure. Next to the brush size, this is the most important part of using the Burn tool. The Exposure will determine how dark the section will get. I recommend not starting at 100, unless you want the entire picture to go near all black on your first go. I usually start small, and then up the Exposure depending on the look I was going for.

For the picture above with the burned-by-fire look, I used 100% Exposure on the edges. The rest of the picture, to just darken it, I used about 10-20.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - 100% Exposure Burn

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - 10% Exposure Burn

 

Step 4.

Now that you know the options, let’s show you how I did the Soft Burned or just darkened picture, and then the Burned By Fire picture.

So, for the Soft Burn, I kept the Exposure low, about on 10, and I feathered the edge of the brush. Because I rubbed the tool all over the entire picture, I don’t actually think the Hardness made a difference, but since I was being ‘soft’ it just seemed to go.

Okay, so, set the brush size to really big (I used 300-400), and (while keeping the Exposure low) click and drag the brush over the entire picture.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - Light Burn First Line Drag

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - Light Burn All Dragged

And boom! Soft Burned pic is done. Told you it was easy!

Now for the Burned By Fire picture, it’ll be the same thing. We can actually continue on from this picture, since it’s already burned.

 

For the Burned By Fire pic:

Now that we’ve got the whole thing looking a little singed, we’ll want to up the Exposure to about 50 and reduce the brush size (I reduced it to 130).

We’re going to just go around the edges of the picture now, similar to when we made a Border. You can leave the Hardness down at 4% for this as well. A lack of hard edge will make it look more realistic of a burn.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - Burned Border Light

Now we’re going to do that again and again, until the border becomes almost black. So, keeping the stats where they are, continue to go around the edges until it becomes blackened.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - Dark Grey

At this point (it took me about 10 go a-rounds to get it this dark) you should up the Hardness to about 40-50 as well. We’re going to be concentrating now on just getting the edges black, so we’ll need to contain the burn a bit more.

After changing the Hardness, keep going.

Also: don’t worry about making the outline too clean cut straight, it’s okay if it’s a bit of wobbly lines. Again, it adds to the realism of if the picture were burned, and we’ll be erasing the very edge of the photo after anyway. And, as you’re going, make sure to round the edges of the corners slightly.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - Rounded Edges

After a few more go arounds, you may notice that the border isn’t getting any darker any longer. Mine wouldn’t get darker than this:

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - No More Dark

That’s because we’ve been burning with the Highlights selected. Now we can change to either the Midtones or the Shadows. I like going to Midtones and then to Shadows, just because I like to do them in order. Again, I’m not entirely sure at this point, but since we’re trying to replicate what I did, we gotta do it the same way, right? Right.

Okay, so after selecting Midtones and going around a few more times, mine stopped getting darker again at this point:

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - Mindtone Burned

At this point, you need to switch to the Shadows, and then keep going until the edges turn all the way black.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - Shadow Burn

Okay, now that we got the edges, I think you can tell, the all over burn job we did at the beginning no longer matches, does it?

No worries, we’re gonna go back over the entire picture now. We had to wait to see how dark the edges were going to get, juuust in case we messed up.

Remember: You can always make the picture more burned, but it’s harder to un-burn it.

Alright, so to go over the entire picture, change the hardness to softer, the brush size to bigger, and the Exposure back down to about 10. And, you may need to switch the Range back to Highlights. If you try to go back over the lighter part of the picture with the Range still on Shadows, it may not work.

You don’t want to make it too much darker, but it has to match the edges. Try to get it to look as realistic as possible.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - Reburned All

Now, you could leave it like this, but, for a little extra realism, I like to erase the hard edge of the picture. How often have you seen a burned picture with perfectly intact edges?

Exactly.

Switch from the Burn tool to the Eraser tool, change the size of the brush again (smaller), and keep the hardness semi-low. (50-60-ish)

Now – carefully – erase the very edges of the picture, and make sure to round the corners a bit. Again, this erase job doesn’t have to be perfectly straight.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Burning a Picture - Erased Edges

And boom! That’s everything.

Don’t forget to take out/change the background so you can save the picture by itself, or drag it on over to whatever file you need it in!

This way of burning pictures does take longer (obviously) but depending on the look you’re going for, it’s also a more realistic effect.

You can pretty much use this burned technique on any photo. And of course, you can make the burned/blackened edges bigger or smaller if needed, so you can erase more of the picture for a more burned up effect.

Have fun practicing this technique until next month.


Like the tutorial? Check out more here!

Boarders (PHSH Effect #9)

*IMPORTANT*

Aside from my final Product Review (Dec. 13th), this is the last post of 2019!

I will be taking the final 3 weeks of the year and half of January off from posting. I should be back at it Jan. 17th with the first Throw Away Fic of the year. (The next PHSH tutorial will come either come Jan. 20th, or sometime in Feb. Keep an eye out on my Twitter account, as that’s where I announce new posts)

Whether you wanted to up your book cover game, or start your own merch shop, or just wanted to have some fun, I hope you’ve found these tutorials useful.


This is the very last PHSH Effect of 2019!

In honour of this time of the year, I thought I’d show you something that could help you spruce up the annual x-mas card. I’m talking about boarders, of course! You can make a boarder look like pretty much anything you want to, but in keeping with the holiday spirit, I’ll be showing you how to make a ‘snow-y’ boarder like the one below.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Tutorial - PHSH Effect 9 - Boarders - Boarder Done - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, photo manipulation

It’s a lot simpler than it may look, I promise! And, once you get the hang of it, you’ll probably want to do them all the time for whatever you’re creating.

Step 1. Create a Solid Colour layer from the bottom of the Layers panel. It can be any colour you want. For simplicity, I’m making mine blue.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Tutorial - PHSH Effect 9 - Boarders - Solid Colour Layer - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, photo manipulation

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Tutorial - PHSH Effect 9 - Boarders - Solid Colour Selected - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, photo manipulation

 

Step 2. Click on the Layer Mask (the square of colour that’s closest to the Layer name) This is the part we’re working with, not the actual layer.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Tutorial - PHSH Effect 9 - Boarders - Layers Mask Selected - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, photo manipulation

Double click the Layer Mask square to bring up the Properties panel, then click on Invert. This will make the square go white (or black) – don’t worry! This is just to show it’s inverted. The Layer Mask square may be black now instead of white, too.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Tutorial - PHSH Effect 9 - Boarders - Properties Panel w/ Red Square - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, photo manipulation

 

Step 4. Next, go to your Brush tool (left-side tool bar) and select one of the Creative Brushes from the bottom of the list. Because I want this boarder to look snow-y, I’m selecting a brush that looks somewhat like snow-flakes. (They’re just little dots, but still)

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Tutorial - PHSH Effect 9 - Boarders - Brush Tool Selector Top - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, photo manipulation




Step 5. Once you find a brush you like, you can draw a square/boarder around the edges of the document. This is how you make the ‘boarder’ for the document. The colour you picked in Step 1 may appear through the lines you drew, that’s supposed to happen.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Tutorial - PHSH Effect 9 - Boarders - Blue Boarder - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, photo manipulation

Aaand it’s at this stage I realize I did the steps backward. (I’m human, okay? Sorry to shatter the illusion) So I changed the background colour to blue, and made my boarder off-white, so it looked more like snow. I also changed the size of my brush so you could see the ‘dots’ more clearly, instead of having it look like a solid line, so it more closely resembles snow.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Tutorial - PHSH Effect 9 - Boarders - Fixed Boarder - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, photo manipulation

Now, if you’re not doing snow, this is pretty much it, you can add whatever picture or text you want, or even go back and change the colour of the boarder or background.

If you want to stick with me and make this look like snow, it’s gonna take a while. This boarder looks fine, but doesn’t really look too snow-like. Since I’m using a dotted brush, now I’m going to add a bunch of dots (or ‘snow’) over more of the background, to make it look more like it’s snowing.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Tutorial - PHSH Effect 9 - Boarders - Beginning to Make Snow - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, photo manipulation

After this is done, as I said above, then you can add any other pictures or text you like, and then that’s it! (Don’t forget to save your work.)

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Tutorial - PHSH Effect 9 - Boarders - Finished Boarder - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, photo manipulation


Like this tutorial? Check out more here!

Changing Eye Colour (PHSH Effect #8)





Found the perfect royalty free image that fits your character, but they have the wrong coloured eyes? Tired of wading through endless ‘guy with beard’ pics trying to find the perfect one?

This tutorials’ for you!

This month, I’ll show you how to change any picture of a person, (or animal, or anything else with an iris) eye colour.

As I’m hoping you’ve picked up at this point in this series, these effects aren’t nearly as hard as one might think. There is more than one way to achieve this, but I’ll show you the easier way that I’ve found.

 

Alright, so to go from this:

to this:

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Changing Eye Colour - Purple Eye - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, phsh help, writing help

Follow below:

 

Step 1. Open your image in Photoshop. Make a duplicate layer of it. (Just in case you mess up) For this tutorial, I’ll just be using the dog photo from above.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Changing Eye Colour - Duplicate Dog - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, phsh help, writing help

Step 2. Using the Eliptical Marque Tool, draw a circle around the iris (the part of the eye with colour).

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Changing Eye Colour - Iris Selected - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, phsh help, writing help

Step 3. Go to the top Menu bar and go to Select – Modify – Feather and set it to 10px. The circle you drew should get a tad smaller – don’t worry, it’s supposed to.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Changing Eye Colour - Select Modify Feather - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, phsh help, writing help

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Changing Eye Colour - Feather 10px - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, phsh help, writing help

Step 4. Go back up to the top Menu and go to Layer – Create Clipping Mask

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Changing Eye Colour - Layers Create Clipping Mask - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, phsh help, writing help

Step 5. Once you did that, then go back up to Image, and this time go to Adjustments – Black and White, and make all the values 0.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Changing Eye Colour - Image Adjustments Black and White - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, phsh help, writing help

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Changing Eye Colour - Black and White 0 - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, phsh help, writing help

Step 6. Now to actually change the eye colour. Go to the Layers panel, down at the bottom, and go to Solid Colour, and pick a colour. Literally any colour you want.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Layers, Solid Colour - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, phsh help, writing help, changing eye colour

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Solid Colour - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, phsh help, writing help

Step 7. If the colour goes outside the iris, that’s okay. If that happens, you can just use the Eraser tool and erase around the part that’s outside the eye. Also, if the colour is very clearly over the pupil, you can erase that part too, to make it look more realistic. Or, (sometimes) you can get away with changing the Opacity of the colour, so it’s not so obviously over the pupil.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Opacity - phsh effect, phsh tutorial, phsh help, writing help

Aaaand, that’s it! Yep, told you it was easy. Now you can delete the duplicated layer and don’t forget the most important step of all: Save!


Like this tutorial? Check out more here!

Removing a Background from an Image (PHSH Effect #7)





Like Removing a Foreground Object, removing the background from an image isn’t as hard as it may first appear.

We kind of already did this in the making a background transparent tutorial, too. But this one is different in that we’re not making the background transparent, we’re removing it completely so you could put another picture in the background. Admittedly, turning the background transparent and then just transplanting the new background may be easier, but it’s important to know both.

So, here we go!

I’m just going to use the same beach picture I used for the Removing a Foreground Object tutorial, because it’s a pretty clear-cut foreground/background object.

Step 1. Start with your image (in this case, the beach image).

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Removing a Background Object - Beach Coconut - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorials, photoshop effects

Working on the beach image layer, use the Quick Select Tool (in the left tool bar) and select the area you want to keep. In this case, it’d be the coconut.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Removing a Background Object - Quick Select Foreground Object - phsh tutorial, photoshop tutorials

Step 2. In the Select menu (at the top of the screen), select Refine Edge. In the dialogue box that pops up, change Shift Edge to 10% and Contrast to 15%. In the Output Settings, (at the bottom of the dialogue box), change the output to a Layer Mask.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Removing a Background Object - Refine Edge Dialogue Box

Hit Okay, and boom! Background is gone!

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Removing a Background Object - Removed Background

Now that the background is removed, you can add whatever background to the image you want.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Removing a Background Object - New Background

Obviously this one doesn’t quite look like it belongs, because I left the shadow in the selection (which is the wrong colour of the sand), but you should get the gist. You can always change the lighting, add more effects, to touch it up to make it look like it belongs more than just copy/pasting it into another photo. (In fact, I recommend you do so it doesn’t look like it’s actually photoshop-ed)

But that’s it! Not too hard, right?

Next month, due to it being Halloween, I’ll be showing you how to add blood drops to borders, words, etc.


Like this tutorial? Check out the others here!

Removing a Foreground Object (PHSH Effect #6)





Last month, I showed you how to make a transparent background, this month, I’ll show you how to remove a foreground object.

You’ll learn how to turn this:

To that.

Don’t worry, like most of the effects I’ve shown you so far, it’s very simple to do, and is an amazing time saver.




Step 1. To keep things simple, I’ll just use the same beach picture.

Step 2. Choose the Lasso tool, and draw a circle around the object you want to remove. Be sure to get a bit of the background into the selection.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Removing a Foreground Object - Lasso Tool

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Removing a Foreground Object - Lasso Selection

Step 3. Go up to Edit – Fill, and choose Content Aware from the drop-down.

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Removing a Foreground Object - Edit - Fill

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Removing a Foreground Object - Content Aware Box

Click ‘Okay’ and the object should have disappeared, and now should be replaced with the background. Click back to the Lasso tool and Deselect, and you can now save your new foreground object removed picture.

And that’s it! Told you it was easy.

It does get a little trickier if there’s different parts to the background. For example, if you’re trying to remove multiple objects from a more complicated image, it may get ‘confused’ and remove an object in the sky by replacing it with ground, and an object on the ground with sky. This is slightly annoying, but you can always undo and redo this effect as many times as needed until you get the object out. I actually had this problem while I was working on my newest book (The Haunted Corpse) cover.

This was the original image:

The Haunted Corpse Original Picture

And this is my cover:

The Haunted Corpse Cover

I got the moon and birds out without much issue, but the lady standing to the very right of the castle was a different story. Because I’d replaced objects in the sky, every time I tried to replace her, it kept replacing her with clouds, instead of with trees. It took a while, but I finally got it. If that happens to you, I recommend removing the objects one at a time. So, remove an object from the image, save, re-open, remove the second object, save, etc. It takes longer, but it will keep photoshop from getting confused. (Hopefully)

Next month, I’ll show you the opposite, how to remove backgrounds from the image.


Like this tutorial? Check out more here!

Making a Transparent Background (PHSH Effect #5)





Alright, now that we’ve tackled some practical effects for pictures, it’s time to switch gears and show you how to edit the picture as a whole.

For this months’ tutorial, I’m going to show you how to change the background of a picture from the default white (or any other colour) to transparent. This is handy for, say, if you want to change the colour of the background, or if you’re making merch, and want the design to be available on an array of different coloured backgrounds.

This also comes in handy if you ever need to add a picture that has a background to your existing design. Instead of erasing around the foreground object, you can make the background transparent and then just place it. This can save you a lot of time. (Trust me)

Let’s get started.

First things first, you’re gonna need an image with a background you want to make transparent. For the purposes of this tutorial, I’ll just be using this:

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Tutorial - Making a Transparent Background - Tutorial Pic

Simple, yes, but the steps are the same no matter how complicated an image is.

Step 1. Make a new Colour Layer. It can be whatever colour you want.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Tutorial - Making a Transparent Background - Colour Layer

Step 2. Switch back to the image, and select the Magic Eraser. Click on the white spaces of the image, and the white should disappear.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Tutorial - Making a Transparent Background - Magic Eraser Selection

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Tutorial - Making a Transparent Background - Clicked White Space

Step 3. Continue using the magic eraser on the image until all the white is gone.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Tutorial - Making a Transparent Background - Done White Space

Step 4. Now that the white is gone, all we have to do is delete the Colour Layer. Do this by clicking and dragging it down to the trash can on the bottom right side in the Layers Panel.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Tutorial - Making a Transparent Background - Dragged Arrow Deletion




Once you delete the Colour Layer, you’ll see the background of the image change to grey and white checkers, this now means the background is transparent. You can now save this layer as is and use it for whatever backgrounds you want. Whether it be solid colours, or actual pictures, your transparent pic is now ready to use.

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Tutorial - Making a Transparent Background - Grey and White Checkers

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Tutorial - Making a Transparent Background - Trans Lavender

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Tutorial - Making a Transparent Background - Trans Yellow

AterImber.com - Writing Tips - PHSH Tutorial - Making a Transparent Background - Trans Beach

That wasn’t so hard, was it? Check out next months’ tutorial, where I’ll show you how to do this magic:


Like this tutorial? Check out more here!