Smarter Guides

By Mark

A few weeks ago I posted a clip from Julianne Kost demonstrating yet another cool new Photoshop CC2014 feature which they had just rolled out-- http://adobe.ly/1DYHX03 .  I was really thrilled about the new guides feature, but was surprised when Roger said that he “never used them”.  I have always found them useful for laying out my documents, especially when I am doing more creative work like posters, logos or collages.  They used to be a bit frustrating until I learned a few tricks.  Now with the new capabilities, they are super powerful.

First things first, what are guides anyway?  Guides are straight lines, either vertical or horizontal which you can create and place anywhere to define and divide your image.  They stay “above” your layers, so they remain visible as you work.  Of course you can toggle them off if you need to. They don’t print unless you specifically toggle that on. You can choose their behavior as well.  By default, objects will automatically align to their edges. 

Menu with lots of new options

Menu with lots of new options

You find them under the <View<New Guides Menu at the top of the page.  It opens up this not very friendly panel.  

If you change nothing else, and just hit OK, you will see a vertical blue line appear in your document on the left margin.  If you grab the move tool, you can just drag it where ever you want.   Of course you can specify the exact position you want by inputting a number.  In the bottom panel you can change it to pixels, or feet or whatever you want.  The most helpful trick I learned is that you can also change it to percentage.  Just put in 50% for vertical and then horizontal and it will automatically find the center of your document.  

But wait, that’s not all.  If you chose one of the selection tools, the guides act as a boundary.  If you want to draw a perfectly centered circle all you do is <Alt-Shift while dragging out from the crossing point. Cool, right?

Centered circle, with a 10 pixel black stroke

Centered circle, with a 10 pixel black stroke

Well the new features expand on this in some great new ways.  Say you want to create a box around a shape you have created.  Let’s take our circle and save it as a path.  Now go to the Guide menu and select <New Guide from Shape, and wow!  It works with irregular shapes just as well. 

New Guide from Shape

New Guide from Shape

Previously, making rows and columns required a lot of calculations.  The <New Guide Layout menu choice makes that incredibly simple.  You can now create grids and control the width, number and the spacing between them.  

For making your own contact sheets—for those who still know what that means, this is a lifesaver.  It also makes text even easier to manage.  

4 by 3 matrix

4 by 3 matrix

As always the best way to learn about these new features is to experiment with them.  Have fun.