Useful Photoshop Tools and Techniques For Your Workflow

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Productivity is a crucial asset of professional designers. Photoshop is an extremely powerful application for photo processing and image manipulation, and we can make it even more powerful by using handy tools, actions, plugins and templates to save time for solving mundane regular tasks. The better our professional tool set is, the more time we can spend to focus on the actual design process rather than the tool we are using to implement it on screen.

Here at Smashing Magazine, we’re continuously searching for recent time-saving, useful Photoshop resources for our readers, to make the search of these ever-growing techniques easier. We hope that these techniques will help you improve your design skills as well as your professional workflow when using Adobe Photoshop. A sincere thanks to all designers and developers whose articles are featured in this roundup. We respect and appreciate your contributions to the design community.

Useful Photoshop Tools

Mr. Stacks
A small Photoshop script that can quickly generate storyboards, stacks and PDFs for project CDs, client presentations or anything else — right from the Layers Comps in your Photoshop file. The script would be useful for a series of animations, storytelling elements in a design and advertising.

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Photoshop Tych Panel
Every photographer and Web designer who has spent time arranging images and photographs knows that scaling and resizing takes time. But even existing templates are unnecessary when you try out Reimund Trost’s latest little Tych Panel for Photoshop. It completely automates the n-Tych creation process, and it has a lot of layouts to choose from. The tool has been open sourced by Reimund Trost and can be freely used, modified and redistributed in any way.

Tych in Useful Photoshop Tools and Techniques For Your Workflow

Pixel Proliferation: A Toolset For Managing Screen Resolutions
This tool will help you to manage screens resolutions more easily. The toolset contains a collection of PS5 marquee-tool presets for common screen resolutions, covering fixed-screen resolution sizes, ratios for less common resolutions and standard ratios. Also, a collection of layered CS5 PSDs provides common devices for computing and design presentations. Finally, there is a reference chart for resolutions and design landscape. Useful.

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Generating CSS positions for Sprites
A Photoshop plug-in by Arnau March that generates sprites with your given CSS file. You can then add the sprite locations and also create hover and click effects with the help of jQuery. You might want to check out CSS Sprite: Photoshop Script Combines Two Images for CSS Hover as well: the article presents a simple JSX Photoshop script for creating image sprites, and you can also assign a keyboard shortcut to it.

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Golden Crop
Golden Crop is a Photoshop Script making cropping with respect to division rules (golden rule, 1/3 rule) very easy with visual guides. Requires installed Photoshop CS2, CS3, CS4 or CS5 (either x86 or amd64 version). Works on Windows and Mac.

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Browser UI
The Browser UI is an action that creates a browser window around any size Photoshop document you can throw at it. The free version includes only Internet Explorer 6 UI. The deluxe edition with current versions of Chrome, Safari and Firefox is not free ().

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Open With Photoshop 0.6
An add-on for Firefox that is a new companion for Web and graphic designers to open up any Web image with Adobe Photoshop via a single and quick mouse click. A useful time saver.

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foxGuide: Photoshop Guides Inside Firefox
A Firefox extension that displays horizontal and vertical guides. You can move or remove the floating guides on a webpage just the way you do it Photoshop with the help of foxGuide. Guides are useful for laying out elements symmetrically, structure a design and improving the overall layout.

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Modular Grid Pattern: create a modular grid in Photoshop, Fireworks and GIMP
Modular Grid Pattern is application for web designers, which helps you quickly and easily to create a modular grid in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Fireworks, GIMP, Microsoft Expression Design and other applications. The extension requires Adobe Photoshop CS5

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960gs ExtendScript for Photoshop CS5
The script is very raw and crashes easily with the wrong input or settings. However, it has some nice features such as disabling gutters by putting 0 for gutter width and optionally adding evenly-spaced horizontal guides.

Psd-104 in Useful Photoshop Tools and Techniques For Your Workflow

Workspace import/export script for Photoshop
John Nack has written a script to enable simple importing and exporting of Photoshop workspaces. It should work in both CS4 and CS5 (although it is a little more robust in CS5), so you can use it to migrate workspaces from CS4 to CS5 in addition to using it to enable easier sharing of CS5 workspaces between machines or people.

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Subpixel Hinted Font-Rendering
This technique is great for your concepts when you want to simulate actual text in your Photoshop file. Thomas Maier has saved his workflow as an action. You can download the subpixel-rendering technique and use it for free.

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GuideGuide 1.0
What actually started out as a script that drew guidelines at the middle of the document, turned out to become a quite helpful extension for Photoshop when working with columns, rows and midpoints in CS4 & CS5. You can download Cameron McEfee’s GuideGuide to help you find midpoints, make margins and create rows and columns much easier while working in Photoshop.

Photoshop-101 in Useful Photoshop Tools and Techniques For Your Workflow

Photoshop Animation to Sprite Sheet
This tool enables you to easily export a framed animation in Adobe Photoshop to a packed sprite sheet. The tool is available for Photoshop CS3 or higher. Developed by Peter Jones.

Automatic Tile Cutter
Some images are made of dozens to thousands of tile images, depending on the zoom level. At the distant zoom levels you only need a few images to cover a large area. Creating and then uniquely naming each of these images would be a daunting task if you had to do it by hand. Will James has solved this problem and released a batch processing script to use with Photoshop 7 or CS that will carve all the titles you need and name them exactly as you need them named.

The Image Processor Script
The Image Processor in Photoshop CS4 is a simple way to quickly resize and convert a bunch of images to JPEG, PSD or TIFF format. The modified script allows exporting CMYK JPEGs as CMYK, as well as support for exporting PNG images.

Further Resources

Adobe Photoshop Scripts
Trevor Morris provides more than a dozen of free scripts for Adobe Photoshop. All scripts are commented, making them easy to modify and/or learn from. Among other scripts, you’ll find Layers to Comps, Rename Layers, Sort Layers and Distribute Layers Vertically scripts.

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The Photoshop Scripting Community Forum
PS-Scripts is a community for Photoshop scripting and automation. The site contains articles Members of the community release their script on the site’s forum; for instance, you can find the Smart Object links panel, Listing fonts used in PSD files (alternative), Distribute Layers. Unfortunately, the forum’s activity is quite low, although the scripts are being released quite often.

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Russel Brown’s Scripts Page
Russel Brown provides a number of free useful Adobe Photoshop Scripts and Panels for CS4 and CS5. Among other things, Adobe Emailer Panel, Image Processor Pro and Edit Layers in ACR scripts are available.

Scriptopedia
Another community that helps to find scripts and scripters for Photoshop and other Adobe applications. The site is frequently updated; you’ll find various scripts as well as tutorials on the site.

Useful References and Articles

The Photoshop Etiquette Manifesto for Web Designers
The recently updated Photoshop Etiquette can be quite useful when wanting to improve the clarity of a PSD when transferred. This site provides you with rules that will show you examples and bonus points ranging from external as well as internal file organization to exporting and design practices.

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Photoshop Secret Shortcuts
This old, yet still very useful article by Nick La provides an overview of secret (i.e. not documented) Photoshop shortcuts that the author has learned from years of experience.

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Photoshop Tip: Organizing Layers
Daniel Mall has thought of a super handy Photoshop file organization trick that separates layer groups for different stages of a page within the same PSD. You can prefix your layer groups with a bullet to organize your PSDs but also using a hyphen will enable you to create a horizontal divider in the context menu.

Photoshop-110 in Useful Photoshop Tools and Techniques For Your Workflow

Photoshoptimize: Optimize Photoshop Performance
To improve the performance of Photoshop, this list of best tips will help any designer to optimize Adobe Photoshop for Mac as well as PC; from reducing cache levels to disabling export clipboard in Photoshop, and much more.

Photoshop-125 in Useful Photoshop Tools and Techniques For Your Workflow

Super Crisp Font Anti-Aliasing With Sub-Pixel Hinting
David Leggett shares with us the most useful technique in creating concepts in Photoshop, especially when you’re working on a website layout in Photoshop, and want an accurate representation of what a font is going to look like in your content body. This surely helps bring the frustrating times when working with small font using anti-aliasing in Adobe Photoshop to an end.

Freebies, Goodies

100+ Free HTML Email PSD Templates
CampaignMonitor has released a large collection of freely available high quality email templates which have been thoroughly tested in more than 20 of the most popular email clients like Outlook 2010, Gmail, Lotus Notes, Apple Mail and the iPhone. They are completely free. Every template contains a Photoshop document, HTML template and a Campaign Monitor Template. The complete packages with all templates is 320 Mb.

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Bottles and Cans Photoshop CS4 Actions
3 exclusive Photoshop CS4 Actions that might save you some time when you are working on the next soda, wine or bottle label design.

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Pricing Table PSD Template
A free pricing table template with various button states.

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Search and Email Input Text PSD Template
A free template for search field and email input fields. You can find new freebies released every Friday on the site.

Search-email in Useful Photoshop Tools and Techniques For Your Workflow

Free PSD: Seven Tickets
Seven Tickets inspired by Seven Dribbble Shots.

Tickets in Useful Photoshop Tools and Techniques For Your Workflow

Free PSD: Simple Download Buttons
Orman Clark has released a set of simple download buttons in three different states: nroaml,normal, hover and active. These download buttons use a subtle icon to suggest the action of downloading. The download includes the editable PSD. You can download even more PSD buttons.

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Album Cover Art Carousel (PSD)
The download (PSD) includes styles for the covert art, the hover and/or active state, and the next/previous arrows. Try experimenting with the colour of the album cover hover state, a vivid orange looks great.

Cover-art in Useful Photoshop Tools and Techniques For Your Workflow

Flip-Clock Countdown (PSD)
A groovy little countdown flip-clock design: the perfect event/product launch companion.

Clock in Useful Photoshop Tools and Techniques For Your Workflow

Big Green Button (PSD)
This template is perfect for when a regular sized button just isn’t cutting it; this big fat round button should grab a visitors’ attention with ease. The download (PSD) displays a pricing plan as an example.

5-bucks in Useful Photoshop Tools and Techniques For Your Workflow

Free PSD: Tagtastic Tag Cloud
The topic of this article is a nice and simple little tag cloud – tagtastic!

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The Ultimate Free Master PSD File
The download features one master .PSD file with folders, assets, grid folders and layer comps ready to be used. The master file is using the best practice featured in Dan Rose’s Photoshop Etiquette.

Resource-ultimate in Useful Photoshop Tools and Techniques For Your Workflow

OS X Leopard GUI Freebie
A freebie including a GUI set for Mac’s OS X Leopard operative system for all Web developers who want to integrate great designs into their applications. This package includes fully editable vector Photoshop sources and a customizable Fireworks PNG file; the original fonts that were utilized for the making of the GUI are also included.

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Tabs Icons: Interface Icons for iOS & Designers
You can find free iPhone tab bar icons for Mac OSX Lion and iOS here which are specially designed and optimized for toolbars and tab bars. All these icons have been created for iPhone, iPhone 4 and iPad and are provided as fully editable and scalable Photoshop PSD files.

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Designmoo
Designmoo is a community for discovering and sharing free PSDs, vectors, textures, patterns and fonts.

Premum Pixels
Premium Pixels is Orman Clark’s remarkable resource with free design resources and tutorials.

Last Click

PSDcleanup
It’s very difficult for coders to work with someone else’s PSD files if they’re not organized correctly. This online service helps fixes that problem by organizing PSDs and polishing them for you. We aren’t advertising here, but it’s quite sad that services like this one exist at all.

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Method & Craft
Method & Craft features the stories behind the work and the techniques professionals have developed throughout their professional career. A very useful resource for designers permanently looking to improve their skills.

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Related Articles

Mastering Photoshop: Unknown Tricks and Time-Savers
Keyboard shortcuts can be very useful and are truly essential to our busy, daily workflow. Occasionally, we stumble upon a shortcut we wish we’d learned years ago. Please note that the shortcuts listed in this article are for Photoshop CS4 on OS X and can also be converted apposite to Windows.

Photoshop-133 in Useful Photoshop Tools and Techniques For Your Workflow

Pixel Perfection When Rotating, Pasting And Nudging In Photoshop
When creating Web and app interfaces, most designers slave over every single pixel, making sure it’s got exactly the right color, texture and position. If you’re not careful, though, some common functions like moving, rotating and pasting can undo your hard work, resulting in a blurry mess. But with some small changes to your workflow, you should be able to maintain the highest-quality artwork from the start to the end of the project.

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Compositing in Adobe Photoshop: Time-Saving Tips
Daniel Durrans shares his own time-saving tips for compositing in Photoshop with us and emphasizes on adapting a certain technique for each one of us to make our work more efficient and improve our workflow.

Photoshop-122 in Useful Photoshop Tools and Techniques For Your Workflow

Useful Photoshop Tips And Tricks For Photo Retouching
In case you’ve been searching for some insight on the most useful techniques tips and tricks when working in Photoshop, then this is the article you shouldn’t miss out on. Dirk Metzmacher shares with us even more tips and tricks to improve your workflow.

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Useful Adobe Photoshop Techniques, Tutorials and Tools
Our recent overview of useful Adobe Photoshop techniques and tutorials that we have found and collected over the last months.

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