Friday, June 1, 2007

Viva PhotoShop!!!

There are loads of softwares out there claiming to make the world a better place to live. Humans often bond to these necessary evils so much that they can't live without them. Especially for my profession MS Office package is gonna be the lifeline and I cannot imagine people to have managed to do business without these tools to aid.

At this Information Age its quite weird if you do any activity without a computer to aid. If you ever came across an avenue in which computers haven't played a role, you have just stumbled upon a huge market opportunity and we might have some serious business to talk :))

Enough of that, today I am gonna write about a fascinating creative suite that has transformed the world of Desktop publishing and Raster graphics totally. Yes I am indeed talking about Adobe Photoshop. I ain't gonna brief about who created it and what you can do with it. If I said, "with Photoshop you can do Anything and Everything", It will still be an understatement.

Lets save some time. You can quickly come back after getting some perspective from Wiki, for we have a tutorial to get you started right away.

Start your software and study the various windows available on the screen, you'll find picture editing tools and brushes to the left and a window with layers and channels to the right( layers are indispensable components for any raster editing tool.)

You'll also have a blank sheet from which your masterpiece is gonna take shape. Today we'll learn how to deal with layers and add detail to an object. In fact Photoshop is all about placing the right layers in the right order with right settings. Although it ain’t as easy as it seems.

Now we all need a base to work on right. Let’s use a typeface to work on. My intention is to mimic the “e” in Internet explorer and make it look like a plastic.

Step 1:

Click the Type icon on the left and enter the letter “e”.

Choose Times New Roman and Bold Italic.
Choose some dark blue color. I have chosen #1A68AF and size as you wish.

Step 2:

Hold Ctrl and click on the type layer to select it's border. Next, create a new layer and contract the selection by about 16 pixels.

Select > Modify > Contract... 16 Pixels

Step 3:

Select White as the foreground color, and fill the selection. Alt+Backspace

Remove the selection Ctrl+D, and Gaussian Blur the layer by 16 pixels.

Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur... 16 Pixels

Then, Gaussian Blur it again by 8 pixels, and then by 4 pixels.
Set the Layer's Opacity to 50%, and the Blending Mode to Color Dodge.

Step 4:

Now, hold Ctrl, and in the Layers window, click on the type layer, to select it's transparency.

In the Channels window, press the Save Selection as channel button. Now, click on the new Channel it created.

Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur... 16 Pixels

Then, Gaussian Blur it again by 8 pixels, 4 pixels, and finally 2 pixels.

Invert the selection Ctrl+Shift+I, clear the selection with black Del, and finally Deselect.

Step 5:

Go back to the Layers window. Hold down Ctrl, and click on the Type Layer, again, to select it's transparency.

Create a new layer, and drag it above the Inner Glow Layer.Select the new layer, fill the selection with black, and rename the layer Highlights.

Check on Preserve Transparency, and set the blending mode to Screen.

Step 6:

With the Highlights layer selected, go: Filter > Render > Lighting Effects...

Set the Material Properties to:
Gloss: 79
Material: -37
Exposure: 56
Ambience: -100

Change the Texture Channel to Alpha 1, or the channel you were working on before, and it's Height to 100.

Create a directional light, Intensity 32, so that the lighting covers most of the “e”, but the brightest parts are still on the edges.

Step 7:
When the Lighting Effects is done, Gaussian Blur the layer by 3 pixels, to get rid of the levels.

Now this is the step where you can use your own artistic freedom.

Image > Adjust > Curves...

The curves window will begin with a straight line. Click any place on the line to create a new point, and drag the points to move them.

Step 8:

Throw down a blue drop shadow (since the light is flowing through the clear plastic), and voila you have the plastic!

I don't claim to have invented this method. Although this was the first tutorial I had tried out 4 years back when I learned Photoshop and it does a good job at introducing all the features of PhotoShop.

Will soon come back with some of my originals.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Doctors vs Engineers

A couple of weeks before I went to meet my doc friends back from school days. It has been ages since we met. I had gotten busy with my work and career plans. While these guys have been chasing their dreams of making it to AIIMS. Dr. Gautam is an M.B.B.S from MMC and Dr. Guruprasad is a B.D.S from the same college. Both of them were my closest pals at J.G.V.V., the place I have spent my entire school life in.

I still distinctly remember the endless chats we used to have about our careers.

Me: "Guys. I just can't imagine myself sitting in a small clinic and cashing in on others diseases. I want to become a great scientist and spearhead some new technology." I would proudly say

Guru: " I love Biology and I don't understand how you ppl manage to mug up those formula in physics and math. I have always dreamed about being a doctor and thats it". This guy would get 199/200 in physics and still make such pathetic statements no one believes in.

Me: "OK fine what about the endless slogging that is required. I will start earning in 4 years You ppl will have to study till you are 35. Ready for that? hahaha "

Gautam: " No comments" (He is one of those silent kinds who never speaks up. but does it instead)

So they went on the take up the obvious choice and I ditched a precious doc seat to become an see i am still proud of that :))

Were we really mature enough to take our decisions in the first place? I mean what were the tools we used to short-list our career options? We were probably being carried away by other's advises. weren't we?

Waidaminnittt!!! That was 6 years back. And we were supposedly proud of our decisions. But what do we think now.?

Me: " While I cribbed about working in a small 12x12 ft clinic, now I am apparently sitting in a 6x6 ft cubicle staring at a machine craving for freedom. Intherrrsting..?? :)"

Me: "Well atleast if I had been a doc I would have been rendering services for a person who trust me and who I can see. Now I work for a client who never trusts the Indians and never gives a damn about knowing us. The worst part is I am earning $$$ for the company just to carry home a bag of peanuts."

It might seem an exaggeration for my fellow doc friends who haven't started earning. But ya dudes my salary is still just peanuts for the ppl running the company.

Gautam: "I have never seen a guy from software who is satisfied with his job. Every profession has its pitfalls. I face a lot of hassles in GH everyday. People take it for granted that these doctors at GH only work for money. Its very sick when someone show me a recommendation letter from dean instead of his transcription to get admitted. "

He started unraveling the mind of a physician slowly. It was so nice to know how docs really felt about their profession. He will have to sacrifice most of his personal life in the formative years. We discussed about the lack of proper rooms, ICUs being occupied illegally by politicians, deaths due to poor infrastructure, frivolousness of nurses etc.

Its indeed true that the problem is not with the profession but the kind of work we do, the place we do it in and the people we do it for. With that thought we found salvation. :)

Slowly our discussion digressed towards another important facet of life. Making money. I had once stated him, "At the end of the day its all about making money. And I don't want to confuse that with rendering service to the society. The inherent nature of a doc's life is so that he will always have to live among such ethical dilemmas. Whereas I can make a lot of money and still manage to serve for the society and I can do that without losing integrity" Seems a pretty hard statement to refute right??

My doc friend didn't seem to have a perfect answer for that. But one thing's for sure. All these thoughts about money haunts you only till you earn a decent living. Once the food,cloths and shelter are taken care of its only the human might that decides what it wants to chase next. Search for more money or otherwise.

The story doesn't end here. I will be joining IIMA, a place synonymous for making huge money in this world. Lets see how my life takes shape and whether I take back my words of wisdom soon. :))