Apr 27, 2012

Creating Noise in Photoshop

The new version of Photoshop (version CS6) introduces lots of new features that designers (in particular UI designers) have been wanting for years. However, there’s one thing I was hoping for that’s still missing: the ability to easily add noise to a layer non-destructively.

When I first started using Photoshop I would rasterize every shape I wanted to apply noise to, because I didn’t know any better. This is definitely the worst method. It prevents pixel-perfect scalability of the shape, and removes editability of the layer styles (they are merged into the layer).

Crazy method.

I’ve since tried several other methods of adding noise non-destructively. Some of them are OK, some not. Recently, I read this article by Marc Edwards of Bjango (you should read it too, it’s good), in which he details four common noise methods. The one I preferred (and the one he recommended) was to create a noise pattern in a new document, define it as a pattern (Edit > Define Pattern), and then use the Pattern Overlay layer style to apply it to a layer. Neat, but there are a few problems:

  • It doesn’t work with the Color and Gradient Overlay layer styles (it’s composited beneath them).
  • It doesn’t allow for the noise to be easily edited beyond changing the opacity and blend mode.
  • When you scale the document, you have to manually reset the Pattern Overlay scale of every single layer to 100%.

Over the past few days I’ve done quite a lot of testing in Photoshop, and I’ve come up with a new way to add noise. And I’ve created an action for it, so it’s just one click to apply.

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Oct 2, 2010

Will the Apple TV Ever Run Apps?

Yesterday (29/09/10), iFixit tore open the new Apple TV and revealed its specs — and amongst other things, it has 8GB of onboard flash storage.

Some people have speculated that this storage is a sign that Apple wants to open an Apple TV App Store in the future. Why else would it be there?

I think these people are forgetting something: that space is needed to store rented content (movies and TV shows) until you watch them. You can’t purchase any content on it, so long-term storage is not an issue. But when you rent a movie or a TV show you don’t have to watch it immediately — you have 30 days to begin watching. Until you finish, rented content is stored on the 8GB flash chip.

I don’t think 8GB is enough to hold both unwatched content and apps. One 2 hour long movie (in 720p HD) is about 3.5GB. One 45 minute long TV show (again in 720p HD) is about 600MB.

As you can probably tell, it wouldn’t take long to fill 8GB. One movie and a few TV shows is about all you would be able to manage before you ran out of space. Most people do watch their content immediately, so this shouldn’t be too much of an issue: however, Apple can’t count on that — not everyone does.

So that’s one reason why I don’t think an Apple TV App Store is likely (at least not in the foreseeable future). There just isn’t enough space to store apps as well as rented content without running into storage issues (something Apple wants to avoid with this model).

That leads to another question. If there were an Apple TV App Store, what apps do you think would be the most popular?

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