Jan 06, 2012

How to Not Hate Cutting Things Out

A Much Easier Way to Draw

If you have ever had a really hard time making a layer mask or retouching someone’s skin, this cool tip will really help you.

Today’s Episode Timeline

  • 0:03 – Infomercial Intro
  • 1:40 – Make sure you have Enable OpenGL Drawing (Note: You may have to restart Photoshop for the OpenGL to work)
  • 3:00 – Sculpting the model’s cheeks
  • 5:10 – Making a Phlearn Ad with Stephanie
  • 5:40 – Masking out the Phlearn logo
  • 6:40 – Great for people who hate the pen tool
  • 7:40 – My definition of cool
  • 9:10 – Sharing your tips with the community
  • 9:30 – Updates on Phlearn

Rotate View

This seems like a really stupid tool, but it actually does make painting in Photoshop much easier. I know that when I draw on a normal piece of paper, I am always rotating it around to make my lines better and to make it more comfortable. This is basically the same thing.

We all have a natural motion that our hands move in, this is consistent whether you are using a mouse or a tablet. Trying to make well controlled strokes that go against that motion often results in failure.

Or you are like me, and twist your head and neck around every time you do something to the point of near injury.


I make it pretty obvious in this video that I don’t really know what this means. I know one of you brilliant Phamily members does though. Help us out!

Your Tricks

Have you learned any cool tips or trick when it comes to Photoshop or photography lately?
Let us know what they are – The coolest tip will get a Phlearn PRO.


user image You
(will not be published)

  • user image
    Dave Prince

    The rotate canvas tool is great for exactly the reasons you’re describing. Two tips to keep in mind when using the tool are:

    1. Hold in ‘R’ while using the tool. That way, when you release the button, your tool automatically goes back to the tool you were using. (If you simply press ‘R’ it will switch to the rotate canvas tool, but then you will have to reselect the previous tool once you’re done rotating.)
    2. If you want your canvas to snap back to the default position, just press escape. (I usually just press it a couple times out of habit since there’s no harm in doing so.)

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    Keith Crusher

    OpenGL in a few words – the video card stores what’s displayed on your monitor in it’s own RAM (the video card RAM). When you rotate – rather than re-dumping all that data to the video card again, PS just tells the video card to rotate the image, essentially sending a few commands rather than a huge dump of more video data.

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    Mariah Texidor

    I am so happy to finally know what that tool is! I was using CS3 for so long, and now I have CS5 and I saw it like “What is this thingy”.

    A tip or something to share: In Lightroom, I suggest if you’re learning about creating tones in an image its a good base to use the preset LR has and adjust and observe the settings for that preset. Okay now bye 🙂

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    ed perabatida

    WOW! This is BY FAR my favorite tip from Phlearn! I suffer from severe wrist pain (carpal tunnel) every time I spend more than a couple of hours using Photoshop. I’m gonna start practicing with this ASAP. Thanks Nacer!

  • user image

    OMG Thanks for this tip! I use the tablet and am always complaining about the weird angles that I have to try to contort to do what I need to do. This will help make my work flow go so much faster!!

  • user image

    Yesterday I learned that you can use the Extract Tool to cut things out of the background.  You go to Filter > Extract > choose a small-ish brush size then trace around what you’re trying to cut out.  Highlight centering on the edge of what you’re trying to cut out and a little of the background.  After it’s all traced click on the Fill Tool  then click OK.  Hope that makes sense.  🙂  It works great!   

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    Sylvain Garabiol

    Not a big thing but I used this a lot lately, it is to put blending mode to luminosity to a curve adjustment layer. It allow playing with light without disturbing the color saturation, really handy on landscape and other… Not much but you have to think about it.
    And to mask things I like to use use the quick selection tool ( shortcut W ) + refine edge, and then brush on  layer mask for last details. It’s really worth trying on hair, on most cases it’s just amazing.
    Using refine edge take some use to but when your ok with it it save a lot of time.

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    Shahram Rad

    I am no Photoshop
    expert but here a shortcut combination that is not very known:

    Credit goes to a Online teacher of mine.

    As we know.

    Ctrl+T =Free Transform

    Ctrl + Alt + T = Copy Layer + Free Transform on copied Layer.

    Ctrl +Shift + T = will repeat the last Free Transform on the same Layer.

    Ctrl +Shift + Alt + T =  Will Repeat the Free transform on a new copied layer.

     If it is not clear , maybe Aaron can try this and explain it better.

  • user image

    I remember you said you never use the wacom buttons because they’re kinda gimmicky, but did you know the fourth preset on the scroll wheel thing is canvas rotation?

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    Angela Butler

    Aaron, like, that intro.
    HAHAHHA so funny, I just kinda lost it. My boyfriend in the other room was kinda like WTF are you watching and WTF is so funny?!?!
    LOL going to actually watch the episode now rather then just replaying the intro…… hahaha

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    Sarah Allegra

    This looks like a lot of fun, but do you have tips for those of us with very old versions of Photoshop who don’t yet have the Rotate tool?  Just wondering 🙂

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    Paul Liebrand

    Some of the Wacom tablets actually have a “canvas rotate” feature right on it so you can use the little wheel on the tablet to rotate the image around while editing.

  • user image

    FYI, this rotate shortcut key for rotating canvas is one of the many new shortcuts in cs5 that is classified as “spring-loaded tool shortcuts”.

    common tool shortcut keys switch you to a tool by tapping a letter into your keyboard, example the brush tool, tap the b key and you switch to the brush tool.

    while spring loaded tool shortcut let’s you switch to a tool from any other tool temporarily. after you let go of the key it brings you back to the original tool you are using. like the rotate tool, just press and hold the r key. the zoom tool also has a spring loaded function by just pressing and holding the z key.

    sampling a color – press and hold the ctrl+alt+cmd and right click your mouse.
    panning – pressing and holding the h key takes you to the spring loaded version of the pan key. it is like the combo version of pan and zoom command.
    resizing your brush – hold the ctrl+alt key and right click and drag left and right.
    feathering your brush – hold the ctrl+alt and right click and drag up and down.

  • user image

    Hey Aaron 

    I really like the rotate tool but I see you’re working on a Mac just like me so if you have open GL enabled you don’t even have to bother pressing the R you can just rotate the canvas by using two fingers on the touchpad and make a rotational move with you fingers a bit separated. Give it A go works just fine for me, especially when I’m not working with my Wacom tablet!

    Hope this helps someone!!

    • user image

      Woops forgot to mention something 🙂 . If you use it with your Wacom tablet it’s also very handy because you can continue to rotate your canvas with your left hand and draw with the right, this way you can keep on drawing in the most comfortable position without having to switch between tools.

  • user image

    Hahaha…I use the rotate a lot. As a matter of fact, it was the foremost reason I upgraded from CS3 to CS4. Love it!

    Check out the puppet warp tool. I made good use of it a few times, bending arms and tilting heads. So cool, and fun! Not a tool you will use everyday, but fun none the less. 

  • user image

    LOL the accent was hilarious! So excited to see whats to come with Phlearn! I have learned so much from the Phlearn community, I wish you all the best! Adriana

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    Jenny Su

    Maybe add the following to Keyboard Shortcuts:
    Copy Layer Masks: Alt+drag
    Apply inversed Layer Masks: Shift+drag
    Copy and Apply inversed Layer Masks: Alt Shift+drag

    they are useful, and i figured out by myself :]

  • user image

    I have no idea whats happened to the recent vids Aaron, but I can’t watch them on my android device any more – they freeeze up, and even on my PC I’m now having to right click and ‘watch on vimeo’. Works fine on older ones. Bummer.

  • user image
    Daniel Tuck

    Aaron, you made me laugh out loud at work with your infomercial and British rugby player impressions – you brighten my working days 🙂

  • user image
    Daniel Haskel Holm

    My latest Photoshop discovery is how handy the Vanishing Point filter can be. I’d love to see it used in a Phlearn episode. I’m sure I’ve got more to learn about it!

  • user image
    Malcolm Debono

    A further tip based on the rotation: You can also rotate the canvas with the Wacom tablet. It’s the last option (4th) on the Intuos’ multi-jog. For me this is a godsend as I can easily rotate and continue editing without having to switch to the keyboard.

  • user image

    I just have to say I stumbled upon your page yesterday and I cant stop watching your videos. Youre a great teacher and your sense of humor is captivatingly hilarious!

  • user image

    Hi Aaron.

    I watched this episode for the first time today, nearly three years after you made the recording. It seems like a very useful feature yet I don’t recall seeing you use it in any of your more recent tutorials. Are you using it much? If you still find it to be a useful tool you may want to mention it again in an upcoming tutorial in order to enlighten those new to the phan club.

    I’m quite new to Photoshop and have learned an immense amount from you. Thanks!

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    Malcolm Sherris

    I have enjoyed your tutorials and have learned much from them. You are blessed with having an easy style of instructing people what to do and I can only hope that you continue in sharing your enthusiasm with us poor mortals. However as a non US citizen (I am resident in Scotland) you and Dick Van Dyke possess one unfortunate trait, neither of you can speak English with a passable English accent.

  • user image

    Your tutorials are great. I am currently in school for photography and your tutorials are awesome, they help me out a lot!

  • user image

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