Using Templates in your Photoshop projects can be an underutilized way to help improve your work flow. If you sketch out a few concepts before you get started on a project, then you’re already used to the idea of using templates to helpmdash;after all, sketches are just a template for your scene. I like to take this a little further and use templates—whether they are guides and grids, or completely custommdash;in order to help in the more difficult parts of a project. Below, I’ll examine a few of the templates I’ve created to help produce a better result.
1. Simple Templates
The image below was created with the help of some simple template. Not only does it use a sketch as a template (which, in my opinion, is a template that you should always use), but it also uses an even simpler template. Take a look at the bristles—when creating these, I wanted to make sure they were all generally the same length. Rather than relying on guessing, I took an extra few seconds to create a simple template that would make this easier.
Here’s How I Did It:
The first thing I did was to create a sketch. The sketch is the most important template you can have. Start incorporating this step into your process and you’ll notice your projects becoming more refined.
Before drawing any bristles, I screened back the opacity of the sketch and created two red rectangles. These red rectangles will act as the starting and stopping points for the lines that will be created.
Drawing lines will be easier and will look less disorganized with the help of the simple template.
2. Vanishing Point Template
In the scene below, I wanted to create a believable picture frame that sat in perspective. The trick was to make sure the perspective was believable and also to make sure the middle cutout area of the frame was positioned properly. Instead of guessing at the position of everything, I decided to create a template with the help of the Vanishing Point Filter.
Here’s How I Did It:
The first thing I did was to open the Vanishing Point Filter (Filter > Vanishing Point). Using the interface, I created a dense grid that was in perspective. The shape of the grid will help me create the face of the picture frame. The grid lines will help me later when I create the cutout. After my grid was complete, I used the settings icon to render the grid to the canvas.
Since the grid rendered to a new layer in the scene, I was able to use it to help me create the basic components of my frame. I transformed pieces of a texture to fit in the same perspective as the grid. I also added the side of the frame to give it depth.
Using the grid lines to help keep perspective, I made a selection in the center of the grid. Deleting the selection left me with the basic shape of my frame.
3. Smart Object Templates
Sometimes, a task can be so complicated and a simple template won’t suffice. In this case, resorting to the power of Smart Object may be the trick. In this scene, I had a coffee cup in which I wanted to remove a wedge. Due to the contours of the cup, I was uncertain that I could manually make an accurate selection for this cutout. Instead, I relied on smart objet to help me.
Here’s How I Did It:
Since the idea was to remove a wedge of the coffee cup, I knew I could start with a simple template shaped like a pie and wedge. Once this template was created, I converted it into a smart object.
Next, I transformed the template to match the perspective of the base of the cup. At the point, I was not worried about the positioning of the wedge, I knew this would be corrected later.
I made a copy of the smart object template and moved it to the top of the cup, making sure to match the perspective. I continued to make copies of the smart object template and move them to different sections of the cup, re-transforming as necessary to match the perspective.
Once I had enough template over my scene, I was able to go into one of the smart objects (by double clicking the thumbnail in the Layer’s Panel) and reposition the wedge by using the Transform command.
After saving the smart object and returning to my scene, I could instantly see the changes reflected in all of my template layers. With the wedge positioned properly, I could use the multiple template layers to easily make my complex selection.
Incorporating the use of templates in to your workflow has several advantages. They can improve the quality of your work by giving you a guide to follow. They can also save you time and even make complicated tasks a little easier. If you don’t already use templates as a normal part of your process, I would challenge you to use at least one template in your next project. Good Luck!