Instant Background

Want an instant background for a project when nothing inspires you? Take an image – just about any will do – and apply a motion blur at the maximum setting of 999 (or some other high number). You’ll blur all the detail but will often end up with some pretty interesting looks.

Experiment with duplicating the blurred image by pressing Command-J, running the motion blur filter in a different direction and/or different amount, then play with the blending mode of the duplicated layer.

To create an instant background with a feeling of depth, first apply the Render> Clouds filter then use Blur> Radial Blur with an amount of 100 and zoom as the Blur method. Then use the Distort> Pinch filter using 100 as the amount.

You can press Command-F to run the Pinch filter several times to make the effect more pronounced. (If you didn’t use colors when you applied the Clouds filter, use the Hus/Saturation command to add color to the effect).

Change the Order of Brushes

If you don’t like the order in which the Brushes, Gradients, or Swatches appear in their respective palettes, use the Preset Manager to change their display. Just choose the Preset Type in the Preset manager, then simply drag items to change the order. To move several items at once, hold down shift to select several items before you drag them.

Mask the Masks

Can you mask a Layer Mask? You can if it’s in a layer set. If you have several layers with Layer Masks and you want to hide portions of all those layers with another layer mask, put the layers into a layer set, then add a layer mask to the set.

Controlling the Histogram

By default the hiostogram palette displays the histogram for the entire image. To display the histogram for only one layer, use the pop-up menu to change Expanded view, then change the source from Entire image to Selected Lay.