Trace Existing Icons to Create New Shapes in Photoshop

by Jake Rocheleau
on February 19, 2015

Icon design is one of the most tricky fields of digital design. It often requires some understanding of composition and other art fundamentals like symmetry, lighting, and color. The best way to learn icon design is by studying under the best of the best. Unfortunately they probably don’t have time to teach you so it’s important to learn how to practice on your own.

In this how-to guide I want to explain the basics of tracing existing icons using Photoshop. This requires some knowledge of the pen tool because you need to edit paths and anchor points according to existing shapes. But everyone has to start somewhere so I highly recommend using the pen tool at every opportunity.

ios camera icon trace path shape

I’ll demonstrate how to trace the camera icon found in Apple’s iOS 8 SMS app. This uses a flat design style which is traditional and great for beginners.

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Create Non-Destructive Filters using Smart Objects in Photoshop

by Jake Rocheleau
on January 26, 2015

We all know about the tremendous benefits of Photoshop. It offers a solution for editing photos, designing logos, mocking up websites, and refining vector graphics all in one location. But while Photoshop can handle a number of different tasks it is most well-renowned for photography editing. Every graphic designer or photographer can find dozens of tools directly related to enhancing and retouching images.

For this post I’d like to demonstrate how to create smart filters applied onto any digital image. Smart filters behave just like regular filters but are more fluid and flexible in long-term work. Not every project has a need for smart filters, but understanding how to use them properly is yet another tool worth adding into your graphic editing tool belt.

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The Basics of Photoshop Quick Masking

by Jake Rocheleau
on January 19, 2015

Selecting and rendering objects from their background can be a difficult skill to master. Nobody is inherently born with an understanding of Photoshop – it takes years of practice and lots of screw-ups to become even remotely good. Yet it seems that rendering and selecting an object always remains one of the most difficult tasks to incorporate into regular workflow.

photoshop featured quick mask preview

In the past I covered a method of selecting objects using the Photoshop pen tool. Although it’s always an option, the pen tool is traditionally considered to be the most complicated method. Excellent for advanced users but not perfect in every situation.

For this post I’ll cover how to get into quick masking with Photoshop by creating selections around objects. Much like the pen tool, quick masking will feel a little wonky at first. But stick with it and soon you’ll be rendering out images like it’s nobody’s business.

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