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Speed Up Adobe Products and Quick Photoshop Tutorial

Some tips to speed up Adobe products

Allocating Scratch Disks

Scratch disks are portions of the hard disk used by Photoshop or Premier Pro to run itself. When working with large image files, for instance, when you add layers and perform editing operations on it, these states are stored in this virtual memory called Scratch Disk. To set you scratch disk select Edit > Preferences > Plug-Ins and select Scratch Disks. You should choose a drive which has the most free space, as you do not want Photoshop or Premier Pro to prevent you from doing your work, if your scratch disk is full. Majority of the professionals install specific fast access drives just to be used as scratch disks.

Defragmenting your drives

When images are saved and resaved on the disk they get fragmented which means that instead of being stored in one single location, the information is broken into bits and stored in several locations. This file fragmentation slows down the opening and saving of files which affects the performance. So it is imperative to defrag your hard drive every once in a while.

To defragment a drive in Windows XP: Click Start>All Programs>Accessories> System Tools>Disk Defragmenter. Choose the drive to be de fragmented and then select the Defragment button.

To defragment a drive in Mac as X: Despite the fact that the latest version of Mac OS X contains automatic defragmentation of files smaller than 20MB, most Apple users prefer to defrag their drives with third-party utilities.

RAM percentages

Photoshop will share the system RAM with the underlying OS and programs running at that point of time when Photoshop is open. Under Edit>Preferences, there is a slider which allows you to select the amount of RAM Photoshop can use. Under ideal conditions setting a higher percentage should translate into speedier Photoshop, right? Not really.

If the percentage is kept higher, then Photoshop and your OS may need to move information between the faster RAM memory and slower hard drive memory. This is called page swapping and that can end up slowing down Photoshop.

If you have 2GB of RAM keep the allocation at 50 to 60 per cent whereas anything more than 2GB you can go up to 70 per cent.

Other quick tips

Always have only Photoshop open while using it and close all other applications that run in the background as they will tend to slow down the performance of Photos hop since they sip a lot of the CPU processing power.

Minimize the number of history states as each successive edit in the history state is stored in the palette. It uses some memory resources. Go to Edi t>Preferences and under the Performances tab, you will notice the default History states kept to 20. If you are working on high resolution images, and the number of history states is something like 30-40, then you do get lots of opportunities to undo a step that was done some time back, but Photoshop performance will take a hit. So ideally, try to keep the History States to the minimum level to free up some memory resources.

History States

Finally, though this may seem like stating the obvious, only keep those files open on which you are currently performing any tasks for the simple reason that each open image will use up some memory. More so if you perform some operation and then forget about the image, the History and layers palette will use up more memory.

Faster Adobe Reader

Opening PDF files may take ages for some and this has prompted many users to switch to other readers like Foxit. But you can speed up the opening up of Adobe Reader quite easily. All you have to do is disable all the plug-ins.

Go to the plug_ins folder in Reader. The path in our case was something like this C drive> Program Files > Adobe> Reader 9.0 > Reader> plug_ins

Move all the contents of your plug_ins folder to a backup folder somewhere on your hard drive. After the plug_ins folder is empty, try restarting that PDF file which took ages to open and notice how quick the reader opens that PDF file. Don't worry; the absence of default plug-ins will not affect your Reader performance. You can always paste back the plug_ins from the backup folder into its original folder, in case you notice any problems.

Creating a 3D pop out image

Using this tutorial you can make your subject stand out from the background. This 3D effect also looks very good in images that have some action going on like a moving car, sports etc. It makes use of a very good tool found in all version of Photoshop from CS3 onwards. It’s called the Quick Selection Tool and is present along with the Magic Wand Tool. So without further ado, let’s jump straight into the tutorial.

Before : Just a car speeding down the highway
After : The car seems to come out of the photo

Step One: Open the image. Using the Quick Selection Tool (W), select the subject from the image that you want to make more prominent and want to give a 3D pop out effect. In our case our subject was the speeding car. We want to make it appear as if it is coming out of the scenery. Once you have selected the subject, you may notice the selection tending to go beyond your subject. Hold on to the Al t key and try to clear the excess selection.

Step Two: Once the selection is made use Ctrl +J to put the selected image onto its own layer. (Layer 1)

Step Three: Select the background layer and click on the Rectangular Marquee Tool. Make a selection on the image, such that some portion of your subject is left outside the rectangular selection. This type of selection is will get the subject out of the selected rectangular frame to which we will add some more effects to give it a 3D look. After selecting the rectangular area, hit Ctrl +J to put this new selection on to its own layer. (Layer 2)

Tweak the Angle, Distance and Speed of the Drop shadow in Layer Style dialog box

Step Four: Now staying on the Layer 2 as above click on the FX icon to open the Layer Style Menu. Then select the Stroke menu which can be found at the bottom of the list. In the window that opens, keep the color selected to white, increase the Size of pixel and keep Position on Inside. Go to the Outer Glow option in the Layer Style dialog box and increase Spread and Size. Keep the color black. Blend Mode should be set to Multiply.

Adding the effects such as Stroke and Drop Shadow by clicking on the FX icon

Step Five: After getting the frame around your subject select Layer 1. Go to FX icon > Drop Shadow. Apply the settings as seen in the Layers Style dialogue box on the previous page.

Step Six: Select the background layer and fill it with white color. Press D + Ctrl + Backspace. This is the final result as seen on the previous page.

Coloring smoke in three quick steps

Smoke photography is quite a hobby and you will find lots of groups who post photographs of smoke and their editing with it. Adding color to smoke is just one of the many things you can do with smoke. Instead of having a flat monotone in the smoke, you can have a range of colors as we will tell you how.

Step One: Take a photograph of image which has smoke element in it, such that the smoke is the main subject. Open a new file and drag your image file onto the new file, such that you have 2 layers.

Step Two: Now go to Image > Adjustments > Gradient Map. Select the black to white transition map such that your image appears like any other black and white image.

Step Three: Create a New Layer. Select Gradient Tool. Make your own preset in the Gradient Editor with the colors of your choice. The frame will be filled with the gradient colors. Select the Color mode for Layer 2, which will result in the image below. Create a duplicate layer and add Soft Light effect for an enhanced image.

Psychedelic smoke after post processing