Prior to working in film I must confess to having a wide eyed view of the industry and the glamorous life style that every artist must be inflicted with. Clearly all VFX artists are sky diving their way through life, laboriously attending art shows and exercising their inner Bob Ross and when your name rolls up in the credits of the latest cinematic hit everyone in the theater rises to applaud you; picture the end scene from Titanic, when Rose dies, something like that. So when you finally make it and arrive at the pearly gates of (insert studio name here) you can't help but feel you're in a league above the rest of the world, as you pass people in the streets, they know .. you know, they know! you're a VFX ARTEESTE!! it shines ALL over you like a giant label from Starlight Express! (google it) the girls flock to you like an evading heard of giant chicken like dinosaurs (sexy dinosaurs!) stampeding for a brief whiff of your musky man scent! This is the life! .. ahhh, you sit back in your private screening room with your fellow execs who are all debating the final VFX shot prior to delivery, you sweep in with a solution; "make the tree, 50% bigger!" .. the crowd goes wild! you did it again Super VFX Man! You saved the movie!
That's how I imagined it, that's how most non VFX people imagine it .. oh and it usually involves a giant Make Art button that glows in the daylight!
So when you tell people you're a matte painter, you're often met with a very confused look. A matte what? You're a painter? oh, ok. You see the cogs turning as they process the idea that you're an interior decorator or you paint walls for a living. After many such encounters there comes a point when you give in and allow them the amusing image of yourself climbing a ladder in the blistering heat, your arm sweeping the sweat from your brow and the sun reflecting a dazzling array of light from your oily chest! .. i mean, I even want to imagine myself like that!! complete with the carton of milk splashing over me! But alas, few people understand. You can always drop the title in place of background painter for film. But still they imagine the same oily chest all american boy scout, this time on a film set!
With that thought in mind, I decided to create a T-shirt (available through Threadless) for all those few individuals who know exactly what i'm talking about! This way, you can just point to your chest!
I recently created a series of artwork with an agricultural theme for istockphoto. While creating this I decided to screen record the process of one piece and subsequently write a short ebook on the process and experience of developing making money from your artwork. I've made these available as a pack over at Gumroad. Here: https://gum.co/hsuHV
The pack includes a 7 hour recording, plus a 45 page ebook with indepth information, advice, suggestions, tips and suggestions on creating a passive income. Plus the high resolution .PSD of the final artwork.
and now for the spectacle of the day; a lavish promotional poster! :D
I've never been a fan of the Photoshop 3d tools, they always felt a little shallow compared to 3ds Max, Mari and so forth; though I'm sure Adobe isn't trying to compete with these tools, but if you're already familiar with these tools then Photoshop can feel limited. With that said, there is one 3d tool that I really love in Photoshop, and that's the ability to paint directly into a 360 panorama. This is a great way to communicate a concept in 3d. Granted a little more work for the artist, but still lots of fun to create and view!
I decided to record the process of creating a recent painting that I decided to do as a 360 VR Panorama. I've made the recording available on Gumroad, with the 10k PSD and break down of the process. You can find it on Gumroad here: https://gum.co/jTONT
I'm already working on a bunch more 360 VR paintings; the eventual aim to make a series of sci-fi environments. Look forward to sharing these when they come together!
Creating a passive income and eventually allowing us to survive free from the shackles of finances and depend less on the work we do is the holy grail for many artists. The idea that you can pay for the basic costs of living such as rent and other monthly costs without the need to worry about having to find or do work is a desirable life style for many people. Between work and sleep it seems the little time we do have is all too short and having that extra cash flow would make all the difference in living a healthy life.
For the last few years as time continues to pass by I've become more conscious of time and health, the depressing nature of the working conditions I endure and the effects it can have on a persons life and those around them. It's a very conflicted feeling, because in the end, I do enjoy the work I produce, I love to see my work on the screen, on book covers, movie posters and so on, but the reality is, sitting in front of computer for eight to sixteen hours a day, every day, is f*cking crazy! (forgive my French!) And yes I understand this is a choice in the end, I did choose this career, and yes the compensation is reasonably good at times, but I feel the balance still isn't there, and that needs to change.
So what Can I Do To Change This?
I could talk and whine about it until I'm blue in the face, but for change to happen, you have to take action. In the last few years I decided to do just that. I gave myself a firm goal that I had to achieve. I set myself the goal of creating a passive income that would cover the basic monthly cost of living, which for me that includes rent, internet and food. Everything else beyond that is a luxury, cell phones, video games, cinema, going out for dinner etc. Even the internet I could live without given I can see two Starbucks from my window. So the total basic cost of living will amount to; get ready for this, down town Vancouver, BC isn't cheap! $2600 a month. That's $2300 rent and $300 for basic food costs. The rent is excessively high and I will aim to relocate soon, so we might be able to drop that by as much as $1000 to $1600 a month, but for now it's $2600.
Climbing the Mountain
So how do I aim to create a passive income that pours out $2600 a month?! Let's be honest, that's quite a lot of money to tap into. I began by doing research, and I quickly began to realize that this was very achievable with the right skills and plan of action. It would come down to establishing multiple streams of passive income from different sources. I already had one stream that was little more than a trickle. For over ten years I had a few photos on Istockphoto that made a modest $100 a year if I was lucky. This definitely wasn't enough. However, it was proof of concept for me, that even a few photos that I added several years ago were actively generating an income, even if it was very little at the time. That was encouraging enough for me to want to add more fuel to the fire and get a real fire going! It seemed logical, if I have 10 photos making $100 a year, then surely 120 photos would make $100 a month right? Well not quite. The reality is, Istockphoto has millions of images of every kind of subject matter you can possibly shoot. However what I began to realize was that Istockphoto, as with many microstock providers, lack original conceptual images. These are images that communicate a strong message, and not just an image for the sake of the subject itself, for example a building or pet dog. However if you have a giant pet dog climbing a building, then it becomes a conceptual image! So with that in mind I decided to focus my efforts in creating original concepts. Over a period of three years, I added maybe 20 or so original conceptual images. This translated into a noticeable shift in my passive income. That $100 a year was now pushing more towards $500 a month! At that point you begin to sit back and take notice! Each month, I get paid approximately $500 for doing nothing. Granted there was a small investment of time in creating the images in the first place, but for the same of a day or two for each image, I think it was worth it!
Exploring Different Platforms
Around the same time I also began to explore other platforms for selling digital content. As a 3d artist I quickly realized Turbosquid was another possible stream to tap into. I submitted a few 3d models from my personal work, and within a few months they were also building up steam. Next I began to explore other options. Gumroad was making news as an artist friendly platform for selling content such as tutorials, Photoshop brushes and so forth, so I tapped into this. between these three platforms I currently make an average of $800 - $1000 a month. Which to be honest, really blows my mind! I have to confess, i'm a modest person who comes from a working class family. The idea that you can make $1000 a month, every month! for doing nothing at all still leaves me with a giddy feeling.
Now this is still a work in progress, because I did say $2600 a month! and I'm not even half way there. But what I have taken away from this experience is this very simple point. If you put in the work, creating a passive income is very achievable. The more you add, the greater the income will rise. And this only comes from three streams! There's countless other potential streams that I can, and will be tapping into! All it takes is the little investment up front to create the work, quality work and quantity.
I feel this is an important topic to discuss and share, I definitely want to discuss this more in the future with ideas and thoughts on how to maximize new opportunities.
Comments and thoughts very welcome! I'd love to be able to discuss this with others on a similar journey.
Original created by animating various abstract elements in 3ds Max, then selectively rendering cross sections! You can also find the original rendered sequence on my Gumroad page with a preview video below.
I've had a few people request the following images as desktop wallpapers. So per request I've re-uploaded them at 1920x1080 in size. For personal, non commercial use only. Pretty much anything other than using these images as desktop wallpapers is a big no no! (right click - Save as)
Over the last few months I've been extremely busy, creating artwork for various TV productions. This involved lots of Matte painting and concept work on shows such as Fear the Walking Dead, Zoo, Prison Break and yet to be released shows; Midnight Texas and Lemony Snicket's; A Series of Unfortunate Events. So it's been quite eventful. I've also been heavily working on various tutorials, ebooks, comic pages and even trying to push my way through creating a simple adventure game! Just got to scratch those creative itches! Sadly time never wants to play on my side. A few random highlights below.
Having a Wild Time on Zoo
Working with Pysop on the TV show Zoo was a lot of fun. One of the reasons I love working on TV shows and commercials so much is because of the quick turn around required, which really keeps you on your toes and subsequently provides a lot of creative freedom. Quite often when working in TV, the creative brief will be very loose and open to interpretation so it's really fun to explore and present your own ideas. I also really value the opportunity to be involved in producing a piece of work from concept to comp delivery, this allows me to really feel like I've made a worthy contribution.
Finding Your Creative Roots
While creating commercial artwork, it becomes very easy to lose track of more traditional artwork skills and those more personal passion projects end up sitting on the shelf for months, sometimes years. I find it's always good to brush up when possible, quite literally! Sit down, take a break and just sketch or paint, either traditionally or digital. It's easy for us to forget that the work we do now is based on curious artistic explorations in earlier years. I know in myself that most of the work I do these days is leaning more towards a technical process, such as 3d rendering, photo manipulation etc because of this I rarely get a chance to paint or sketch anymore. This feeling of disconnect has been slowing growing more over the months and years. I miss the days of drawing random creatures on paper, building fictional movie props from house hold containers and getting more hands on. With this in mind, I'm definitely aiming to change this and allow for more time to painting projects. Even if it's still digital for now!
Character Concept Photoshop Brushes - FREE, download them now!
I can't believe it's taken me so long to do this! Every artist who creates environment concept art know they always have to add a random figure into the scene for context, and quite often the figure can be loose as it isn't the focal point of the painting. many years ago, one artist I worked with had built a large library of character silhouettes which I thought was a great idea. So finally I decided to make a brush set with this in mind! I've made the set available over at Gumroad for free!
While waiting for some renders to finish I was thinking about two people who recently asked me questions about my experience of applying for a work visa. So I thought i'd write a post based on my experience of processing a Canadian work visa. I've been through the process four times now, each time building upon the knowledge of the previous trip. To be honest, the first time I went, I was shitting bricks for lack of better words! Not for any valid reason, other than this was something unknown to me, and equally something that could have a profound impact on my life depending on the outcome of such a simple process. But, each time, it seems the Canadian people felt I was of some use and continued to grace me with their hospitality.
First Work Permit
The first time I worked in Canada was around 2010, if my memory serves me correctly. I was invited to work on a project for a few months in Toronto. At the time I was in the UK, I accepted the job after a brief phone interview and a few days later I was touching down in Canada. I recall having to print out various forms, contracts, resume etc to present at the point of entry. I recall there was a number of questions from a form about my experience at using software that was 10-15 years out of date. Some of which are completely unrelated to the specific field I work in. I explained this to the officer at the time to which he agreed that it didn't really make any sense and just told me to agree that I'm proficient. He asked if I had held a supervisory position for more than three years if I recall; I looked at him confused and he just told me to agree. Luckily he seems a little familiar with the subject matter and probably wondered with some confusion at the questions he was asking me and how displaced in time they were. The role I was providing was a specialist position that held weight by my skills and the number of years in that position; not by experience with primitive, out of date software or seniority over others; both of which do not validate exceptional proficiency in my field. After 15 or so minutes the officer allowed me to pass through. Unknown to me at the time, there was a fee for processing the visa. I felt a little shocked that the company neglected to tell me this prior to leaving the UK. More so because I live in a life where I don't always have $200 freely available and set aside to pay for visa fees. Luckily at the time I did have $200 available. So after paying the fee, my work visa was provided and attached to my passport and on I went into down town Toronto. I saved the fee receipt and this was reimbursed from the company within a few days. I later discovered that this wasn't the case for some other artists who didn't inquire or ask. So lesson there; always keep your receipt and present to the company for reimbursement.
Second Work Permit
The second work visa I had to apply for was two years later. While in Vancouver for a few months taking a break I was contacted by a local company asking if i'd be interested in a 12 month project. I was already in the area, and happy to stick around so decided to accept the offer. At the time I wasn't sure if this legally possible, because I was there on a tourist visa and wasn't sure if I could technically accept work while in the country under this visa status. However it didn't seem to be an issue; I'm guessing due to the LMO perhaps. The company that I was working for hired a work visa specialist. This is a person who basically does all the paper work for you, drives you out there and can speak on your behalf. In retrospect I don't feel this was necessary from the processing side. However they did become valuable when a minor issue presented itself at the border. This was the first time I had to deal with an LMO and the LMO (Labor Market Opinion) has a number of requirements that must be presented to the officer processing the application. One of those requirements said something like; "requires evidence of applicable education" and because I'm completely self taught and don't have any formal training, I didn't have any certificates or such evidence. So the officer, who was simply doing her job correctly, had to reject the application. The visa specialist I was with highlighted to the officer at the time, that this could be rewritten. While standing there, she phoned the person who approved the LMO and told them they needed to edit the LMO and reword it to read;
"requires evidence of applicable education, or evidence of equivalent work experience" which my resume clearly demonstrated. Unfortunately the LMO person wasn't available to make the change at the time. So we left and returned the next day with a new, fresh and reworded LMO. The officer who reviewed the application the second time, didn't seem to understand or recognize the need for a visa representative, he promptly told her to take a back seat and spoke only to me. He asked a few spot questions, such as what was the job title, where was I living. the duration of the contract etc. I feel they're probably asking these questions to verify who you are and perhaps if you didn't quite understand the position you were applying for then maybe this would be cause for concern on their behalf. After 15 or so minutes, we paid the $150 fee and I left with a shiny new work visa. This time the visa fee was included in the fee from the visa specialist. So she handled the payment on this occasion.
Third Work Permit
12 months later and my contract had come to an end, so having found a new studio I went through the process again, this time by myself and without a visa specialist. I still had the evidence required from the previous application, so I updated my resume and headed to the border. I presented the evidence, took a seat, and 10 minutes later the officer called me back, handed my new visa, took payment, and then off I went without any questions. I'm guessing perhaps when you already have a work visa, and applying for a new one, maybe they're less concerned, but this occasion seemed far more relaxed.
Forth Work Permit
Another 12 months later and I found myself again in the process of starting a new contract, and needing to apply for a new work visa. Like the previous occasion, this went by without any concerning issues. At one point when handing over the evidence, the officer asked me to provide something with my current address on. I didn't have a driver's license or any other kind of ID with my address. However I did have my address on my resume, and the officer was happy to accept this. Another minor issue was regarding the process fee. I checked their website prior to leaving for the border, and the website stated the fee was $150. However when I went to the cashier to process the payment, they told me it was $155, and was raised some months earlier. So on this occasion it seems the information provided on the website was incorrect. Luckily it was only a difference of $5, but in future I might consider calling them prior to setting off, to ensure I have the most up to date information.
Signed by both parties, clearly stating job title, duration of contract and the money offer.
LMO (No longer exists, replaced with LMIA at the time of writing this)
Read this through carefully. The officer reading over the LMO will take the requirements literally, and if there's a requirement on there that isn't present in the application, then you will have the application rejected. From experience the LMO can be edited if required, but has to be edited by the LMO representative who signs the LMO. In my case, I had no formal education, so the LMO was rewritten to read; formal education or equivalent work experience.
Ensure this has your name, age, address and cell number clearly visible at the top. On one occasion an officer asked me to present something with my current address on it. The only place I had this was on my resume, which she accepted for evidence of my address. Beyond that, clearly list the relevant previous positions.
An obvious one, but always good to be reminded about! Ensure your passport is in good condition with any relevant existing visas in there. Upon acceptance of the work visa, any old visa will be removed and replaced with the new one. The officer will highlight the dates in which the visa is valid and the date by which you must exit the country or apply for a new visa. I believe you can only work in Canada for four years, at which point you have to take a two year break, or apply for PR (permanent residency)
Print out evidence of work. In my case this involved printing out several pieces of artwork, I also printed out a page with 9 credit/posters showing the movies I've worked on. I printed out my IMDB page and website home page.
Certificates, awards and publication
I don't believe this is necessary, however any kind of recognition can be useful in supporting your application. For example I have my work in a number of online galleries. A number of websites that host these galleries provide a digital trophy; this is an award. If you've ever had your artwork published in a magazine or book, then this is strong evidence of recognition. Don't be concerned about the quality of the publication, it may be a local newspaper, or an international magazine; both are equally valid. If you've received certificates highlighting educational experience, then this will definitely be good to show.
This was the evidence that I provided as a British citizen. Depending on which part of the world you're from, you may be required to present other articles of evidence, such as police checks, bank statements, other forms of ID. Always good to check with your embassy or simply call a TSA agent and ask them.
A year later I applied for PR (Permanent Residency) with the assistance of an immigration lawyer and the company I was working with. In retrospect, I could have processed this myself without a lawyer, but I always feel it's good to make use of their experience and ensure the documents are water tight. Next step; Citizenship! And learning the national anthem! :)
This is my new Gumroad tutorial that takes you through the process of creating sci-fi concept art. I outline the process I use when creating concept art for movies and games. This tutorial picks up right after my last tutorial; Rapid Symmetry Design! Head over to my Gumroad page now: https://gumroad.com/everlite Let me know what you think in the comments! Thanks.
I'm really excited to present my new series of tutorials available through Gumroad! The first tutorial collection will be based on Rapid Symmetry Design. This is a technique I use all the time to generate 3d concepts extremely fast! I've created both a 7 hour HD video series demonstration and a 38 page eBook to accompany the video. I'm also throwing in the final 3d files so you can see the final result for yourself!
I've also been working hard to create various assets such as Photo collections, Brushes, Concept elements and others. Head over to Gumroad to check them out!
When creating images for stock libraries such as istockphoto, you never quite know where those images will end up, you hope they will be used in fun and interesting ways that get seen by many people, but you never quite know. A few weeks ago I was standing in the lobby of a local movie theater when I happened to look up at the coming soon posters, to my surprise one of the movie posters stood out as having a very familiar background:
While creating these dystopia stock backgrounds this was always the ultimate hope for how these images would be used, so it's great to see that someone out there decided to use these images in such a way.
My thanks to the person who decided to use these images!
While on the subject of stock images, I've recently added a bunch of new images to istockphoto. These images cover two themes, military and space!
Photoshop - 10 Photoshop tools I love and 10 things I despise!
As far as photo editing and digital painting goes Photoshop is the digital Swiss army knife, the work horse of pixel pushing, the digital ninja of the creative world! Without Photoshop, I dare say my life would definitely have taken a very different path! As a matte painter and concept artist, I use Photoshop every day in my work to bring my ideas to life. Needless to say though, when you spend so much time with one thing, you develop quite a relationship!
A quick disclaimer; some of the points outlined below may not reflect current features at the time of reading this given Photoshop is changing every year. And in some cases, I just might not be aware of existing features; if you see something below that you feel isn't correct, feel free to let me know!! and I would love to hear your own Photoshop favorites, wishlists and villains! Comment below!
10 awesome Photoshop tools and features!
This one is hidden away and not one that everyone is immediately familiar with. However since discovering this myself I now find myself using this tool at least once every 15 minutes while using Photoshop, especially to create nice textural effects. The effect allows you to reveal or hide areas of a layer based on the light or dark areas using a slider that controls the threshold. You can fine tune this by holding down ALT and splitting the markers, allowing you to create a range. All sounds pretty complex, but is simple in practice. This can be found by right clicking on a layer in the layer panel and selecting Blending Options. Inside the blending options locate Blend if at the bottom, center. Next experiment with the sliders, noting the results in the document. As noted above, hold down ALT to break the slider handles.
If this little bad boy had a ninja name, it would be The Chameleon! For the longest time I never used the Match color tool (image > adjustment), in part due to many failed attempts at using it in the past and feeling it was a cheat that could never really provide acceptable results. However that changed when a friend and mentor alerted me to a very simple, and obvious point that until then never occurred to me; with the target layer selected, control click the thumbnail inside the layer to select the active pixels, then switch to the reference layer that you wish to color match too and right-click, and Cut this to a new layer; rename it to something like; "reference color layer" open up the Match color tool and select the referencing document and the referencing layer, which in the example above was, "reference color layer", then click ok to confirm. 95% of the times the target layer will match the reference layer quite accurately. The point that I quite realised previously was to ensure both the target layer and the referencing layer shared the same pixel area in the document. Previously I was taking small crops and trying to match them to another layer that was completely different shape and in different position, and subsequently achieving very undesired results.
Winner of my sweetest new feature badge! imagine my delight one day at work when after a few hours of painting, and forgetting to save (bad me) Photoshop decides to nuke itself! You know the feeling right? like your soul just leaked all over the floor into a depressing puddle of pitty! but wait, wait! behold, Photoshop reveals a new special power, unknown to me at the time; CS6 came with auto backup! Yay! So this is always a good tool to ensure it turned on in preferences.
A handy little feature that often slips by people. If, when you have a box open with various settings, you can hold down alt to reveal a secret reset button, that temporerilly replaces the cancel button! Great for those times when you make a bunch of adjustments and you need to reset the settings, but don't want to close and reopen the box. For example; open the image size box, change a few settings, then hold down Alt and see the little guy reveal himself where the cancel button is located! Nice touch Adobe!
New Window (document instancing!)
This is a great little feature that creates an instance of the document you're currently working on. As you paint in one, it updates in the other. This is useful for many different reasons by where you need to view your document from a different perspective. For example, if you're using two monitors, one might not accurately reproduce the colors of the final output, where you might have a second monitor that does. In this example you can have the images visible on both devices. Another example might be that you wish to view your document at a different scale, for example when painting a landscape, its a good idea to be able to see the image at a thumbnail scale to ensure the composition and values are working correctly.
To access this feature, go to; Window - Arrange - New Window for *document name*
Copy and Paste from Web
Another simple trick that often goes unnoticed is the ability to right-click, and copy an image from a web browser, and paste directly into a Photoshop document. Or once, you've copied the image, simply open a new document in Photoshop, and you will notice the image size is set to the size of the image you're copying.
Using Channels to make a selection when all else fails.
Channels are extremely useful in many different ways, especially when it comes to isolating a an object that is otherwise not so easy with the Lasso and Marquee tools. I find this method very useful for selecting clouds and trees. Using such an image, go into the channels and find the channel that presents the most contrast, usually the blue channel. Right click on the channel and Duplicate. Then select the new duplicated channel below. Using the curves or levels tool you can increase the contrast to create a black and white representation of the object you're trying to select. Once you're duplicate channel is looking good, simply Ctrl click the channel to make the selection, then click the RGB at the top of the channel stack, then go to the layers panel and make a mask from the layer you're trying to select from. The mask is the third icon from the left at the bottom of the layer panel. This will produce a mask based on the selection you made. You may need to invert the mask. If so, simply select the new mask in the layer panel, ensuring you single click the mask itself, then go to Image - Adjustments - Invert.
Tab and Screen modes
The tab key is great for hiding all the panels when you need to see more of the document area. Just hit tab to hide, and tab again to reveal. In combination with that you can also hit the F key. Hitting F will cycle through the different screen modes. One of them will make the document fill the screen area. Hitting F will continue to cycle through the different screen modes. Three in total.
Right click on the document border option
If you right click on the title area of the document border (top of the document) you will reveal a few handy options. I always go here for the Image size and Duplicate document options. I do wish there was an option to customize this menu. Its a nice location for a custom menu.
Save the best until last! Automate, which can be found in File - Automate, has some really great time saving options. I find myself using Photo Merge and Contact Sheet all the time. There's also the Batch Automate tool that can play through a series of repetitive tasks; for example try color correcting and resizing 100 photos by hand, with Batch, you record it once with actions, and then just go into the Batch options, select a folder, select the action you recorded, hit play and sit back and let Photoshop do all the work! Awesome!
10 things I despise about Photoshop
Sorry Photoshop, I love you dearly, but you are not without flaws! Though truth be told, I could only come up with six flaws!
Curve box limitation!
I can't resize the curves box!
I really like to get in there and tweak those curves!
Thou shall not sample colors from beneath!
I can't take color samples from layers beneath the top most layer. Ok, this is a BIG one!! I frequently have a need to A) have a bunch of adjustment layers at the top of the layer stack and B) have a need to frequently color pick and paint beneath those adjustment layers. The clone brush tool has an option to clone current and below the layer, I wish there was an option to do this with the color picker too! To be able to select from the current and below layer only.
Value picker doesn't appear with curve adjustment layer
When using the curves found in Image - Adjustments, you can hover your cursor over the document and a picker will appear that lets you select a value, this in turn is reflected in the curve box, by showing a small circle on the curve line itself. Now try and do this with an layer adjustment curve! This option isn't available.
No shortcut for rotating the brush.
When painting, i frequently have a need to rotate the angle of the brush to a specific angle. A number of painting programs have the ability to rotate by holding down a key such as R, allowing the brush to be rotated to the desired angle. Photoshop however, requires you to go to the Brush editor panel and rotate the brush there.
Color Mixing palette
I know some people out there will point out Painter as an option, but it would be nice if Photoshop had a panel where you could mix colors, in the same way you can with traditional painting. Painter has one! Come on Photoshop!
Tool options bar goes beneath documents.
There's many times when you have multiple documents open, that they conceal the Tool options bar, at the top of the Photoshop interface. It would be nice if the documents went underneath this.
10 features I wish Photoshop had!
Pin to top of stack The ability to draw on one document, and pin another document over the top without it switching beneath in z order. The clear example here, would be to allow you to have reference images above the active working document.
Mesh sub divisions The ability to sub divide the Warp Transform tool. Mari has a great mesh tool that serves as an excellent example of how this should work. Basically I want the options to increase and decrease the mesh subdivisions. It would also be sweet if you could preserve the changes made at different divisions, in a similar way to how zbrush works with mesh subdivisons.
More rebust cell animation tools It would be great to expand upon the existing tineline features in Photoshop to create a workspace for traditional style animation. There's a few plugins available for Photoshop that do just this, but would be nice to have this as a native feature in Photoshop. For example more advance onion skinning features and easier manageability of frames etc
I feel there's definitely many workflows that involve Photoshop that could benefit from having a node based editing system. Especially with Illustrator, Indesign and After Effects.
Custom Menu I would love to be able to craft my own little menu of most commonly used tools and features. I believe there may be a way to do this; if so, then perhaps a more clear and simple way to construct such a menu please Adobe?
The palette dock at the top right of the interface.
Many Photoshops ago, there was a Photoshop feature that allowed you to dock the tool panels into the top right. I preferred this option over the existing option where they're all docked to the right side. I also feel The panels should always pin over the documents. Its very frustrating moving all my documents around to find a panel, which on average amounts to 20-30 documents open. Perhaps a shortcut that brings them all to the top, like Tab and P. There may already be a preference that allows you to do this, I should take a look!
PSD thumbnail previews
This might be a Windows issue, more so than Photoshop. In all the time I've used Photoshop, I've never been able to preview a PSD thumbnail when in the open file box. It simply shows a blue document graphic with the .PSD letters. I understand Bridge is a solution to this, but sometimes, it would be nice to be able to see them in the File - Open box.
Layer management enhancements
It would be nice if there were more options related to layer panel management. A few examples; I wish there were more color tag options (right click left side of layer in layer panel) Such as the ability to be able to define any color. It would be useful to have a divider layer; a layer that perhaps has no thumbnail, just an area for a title. Adding to this, it would be nice to also have a note layer; a layer that again has no thumbnail, but allows you to add a text box / notes into the layer/layer panel.
Fit to Frame
With the hand tool selected, you can right click and present a menu that allows you to fit to screen. I wish there was an option in the same location that would fit the document to the document frame; ie, shows 100% of the image, but doesn't resize the document frame.
3d Warehouse integration
Would be nice to have 3d Warehouse integrated into Photoshop in the same way that it is integrated into Sketchup. Adding to this, I hope Adobe continue to develop the 3d tools in Photoshop, and improve the viewport speed. I would also like to see the ability to have NPR options to allow for quick generation of line art renders, toon renders, cell shaded renders etc. I think having an option that just creates an outline render would be great in itself, similar to Toon / Outline render found in Vray / 3dS Max.
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