Passing the ACA Certification Test

A silly guide to the hardest questions
 In this presentation, Mr. Buck will be offering you
advice on how to tackle some of the hardest questions
on the certification test.
 Having already seen the videos, a lot of this should
now be easy for you. But we’re going to go over it
anyway, just in case.
Question types
 In the course of the test, there are two types of
questions you will see:
 Multiple Choice questions
Read them carefully. Sometimes they ask you to choose 2, 3, or
4 answers at the same time.
 Interface Questions
These questions ask you to navigate the actual Photoshop
interface. You must know where your tools are hiding and
most importantly, what options, (like for text or gradients)
are available for these tools.
Test Format
 Test questions tend to be asked in a very particular
way. Look for clues in the sentences to help. For
 “Display the file in Print View”
 There’s a menu at the top that says “View”, perhaps the answer
is there?
 Load the saved selection “Sky”
 WAT. We never learned that! But there is a “Select” menu. I
wonder if the answer is in there somewhere.
 Create a new Solid Fill layer with the Foreground color
 I bet the “layer” menu has that answer!
Test Logic
 The test is looking for you to find the answer in the
least number of clicks. Therefore, if you click anything
and everything to find the answer, and then finally DO
find the answer, hit “Reset Answer” to reload the
question and erase your click history. Then go right to
the answer.
 This may sound unnecessary, but I saw someone miss
passing this test (700/1000) by 7 points. They had a
693 and were appropriately full of rage. A few resets
could have saved them!
Tricky Questions
 The remaining slides are going to be pulled from my
memory of as many of the tricky questions I can
 Some of the descriptions are intentionally vague
because I don’t want to spoon-feed you answers.
 I will try to add as many pictures as I can to save you
some reading.
But first!
 We’re testing for Photoshop CS6, even though we’ve
been working since August on Photoshop CS4, and the
videos were based on Photoshop CS3. Almost
everything we’ve learned applies to CS3/4/6, but a few
are not covered in the videos or the practice test.
 Let’s try to cover that stuff first.
Content-Aware tools
 Questions involving Content-Aware tools only have shown up so far in
multiple-choice questions.
 Content-Aware Fill is a tool to use when you want to remove unwanted content
from an image. Maybe you want to get rid of a power line that obscures parts of
a building and the sky in your photo. Content-Aware fill can make it look like
those things never existed. (automated Clone Stamp on steroids)
 Use the Content-Aware Move tool to select and move a part of a picture. The
image is recomposed and the hole left behind is filled using matching elements
from the picture. You do not need to carry out intensive edits involving layers
and complex selections.
 You can use the Content-Aware Move tool in two modes:
Use the Move mode to place objects in different locations, filling the gaps left behind.
Use the Extend mode to expand or contract objects such as hair, trees, or buildings.
How you feel when using Content-Aware in CS6 ->
 In the Photoshop CS6 exam, it may ask you to “save
the current arrangement of panels”.
 This is asking you to save your workspace.
 In the video, Rob “Kermit” Schwartz tells you to go to
Window->Workspace->Save Workspace. This is no
longer how we do it in CS6 (Or CS4 for that matter)
 Go to the “Window” Menu, and then under
“Workspace” to go “New Workspace”. Just click OK to
whatever name is default, otherwise name the
Workspace as it tells you to.
Layer Mask Settings
 At least one question on the test asks you to modify the
settings of a layer mask. The layer name is called Vignette.
This is a CS6-specific question that we can’t practice or
 There are two icons on the Vignette layer. One is the
picture, the other looks like a black-and-white lemon
(sorta). That’s the mask.
 Double-click on that and wait a second for the menu to pop
up. Adjust the appropriate setting, and move on.
Onward to the Good Stuff
 The rest of these slides should be read over very
 I’m not handing you the answers, so I hope that when
you’re ready for the exam, you can remember it all!
Add a non-destructive Layer Mask
from a selection
 Ignoring word non-destructive for a
moment, this question is easier than it
 Non-Destructive means something that
doesn’t permanently alter the pixels – layer
masks, and any tool with a preview
function are non-destructive.
 There’s one button in the Layer panel
(not the menu, the panel in the lower
right), all you have to do is click it.
 Questions about style have slipped up the
previous test-takers. It’s actually quite easy,
and here’s what you need to know:
Save a style here
 The questions will either ask you to save the
layer style of a certain layer, or apply one
already saved in the Style panel.
 To save a style, go to the Style panel and click
the little icon in the upper right. A menu will
pop out that says “New Style” and name it
however it asks you to name it.
 To apply a style, simply click the appropriate
layer, and find the style (by hovering over it
so it tells you the name) then click on it.
Clicking any of these
icons would apply a
style to the selected
 The exam always asks you about gradients.
 Remember that there are a lot of different settings for
gradients and the default settings are rarely what the
exam is looking for. Take a look at this:
The numerous
presets (hint hint)
Solid Fill Layers
 This is a deceptive question to the rookie ‘Shopper.
 In order to answer this question correctly, do not create a
new layer and dump color in with the paint bucket tool.
Go to the Layer Pallet
Find the button that looks like a
tilted half-moon
Select “Solid Color…”
Ignore your options, just click OK to bring up the color
picker. Whatever color is up there by default, use it!
Text Layers
 Don’t get confused if the exam asks you to make a text layer! Anytime you click with the
text tool (don’t click and drag to make a box, by the way) it automatically makes a
text layer. It may ask you to use the horizontal type tool (default) or the vertical type
tool (which is hiding underneath the standard Type tool. You should probably know
where that is… hint hint)
Text Layers (Continued)
 Should the exam ask you resize the text (200% vertical scale or something to
that effect) the character panel is your key! Select the appropriate text layer,
then click the button in the options bar that brings out the Character panel.
Scaling is in there. You don’t even need to select the text itself – if you select the
layer, the scale will apply to all text on the layer.
Button for the character panel
(This button is only present when the text tool is selected)
Grouping Layers
 Should the exam ask you to group layers, find the
button on the layer panel that looks like a folder, and
click it.
 Select the layers by simply holding the
Command/Apple key and click on the layers it wants
you to group. With all three selected, drag them into
the new group folder.
 Rename the group to whatever the question asks you
to name it as.
Print vs Print View
 Another common stumbling point in the exam is the
difference between “Scale to Print Media” and “Show in
Print View”
 If the question is asking to show the file in Print View, you
need only look in the View menu.
 If the question is asking you to scale the picture to the
printable area of the page, you should actually go to File
> Print and pretend to print it. Look for a checkbox or
something similar that should fit the picture to the page.
You may have to scroll down for it.
Hints for hidden tools
 A few questions will ask you for tools that are not
visible by default in the toolbar.
 Magic Wand (Lets you select all of an area of color in a
single click, hiding under the Quick Selection Tool)
 The Red-Eye Removal Tool (Hiding under the Healing
brush, which looks like a band-aid)
 You may want to find these tools ahead of time in
Photoshop before the test so you know where to look.
Rule of Thirds
 The Rule of Thirds makes your design more visually
 To apply the rule of thirds, you need two horizontal
and two vertical lines to make nine panels.
 Here’s a visual:
Adobe Bridge
 What is it? The exam wants you to tell it.
 You use Adobe Bridge to view and organize all the
different files you are using for the various Adobe
 Adobe Bridge is an organizational tool for visual
people to keep track of all their assets.
Artist Responsibilities
 An artist is responsible for:
 Knowing the client’s goals
 Knowing the target audience
 Making sample images
 Finalizing design graphics
Soft Proofing and Rendering Intent
 The exam may ask about rendering intent.
 “Which rendering intent do you use if you intend to use the
graphic for printing?”
 CMYK is used for printing. Stop forgetting that!
 Soft Proofing is the ability to preview a picture without actually
converting the color mode. That is, previewing it (nondestructively!) in CMYK to see what it looks like if printed.
 “How could you view an RGB file for print without
destroying the pixel information?”
 View > proof Setup > Working CMYK
Docking the Layers panel elsewhere
 The exam will probably ask you to move the layer
panel elsewhere.
So, grab the color panel
Move it under the layers panel until you see a blue
Image Menu – Things to know
 For multiple questions, you’ll be going to the
Adjustments sub-menu of the Image menu.
 To make something black and white:
 Image > Adjustments > Black and White (Click Auto!)
 To adjust saturation:
 Image > Adjustments> Hue/Saturation
 To adjust Saturation of just one channel of color, like Cyan:
 Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation
 Move the Cyan slider to adjust.
Image Menu – Things to know
 This is not BLACK AND WHITE color change
 Image > Adjustments > Levels (Auto)
 Image > Auto Color
 The primary colors in Photoshop are:
 You will also need to know what Analogous colors are,
as well as Complementary colors.
Image Size and Canvas Size
 To adjust the Image size (To inflate the picture from 500px
to 600px, for example:
 Image > Image Size
 Make your adjustments, but the “gotcha” part is at the
bottom. There’s a drop-down menu for methods of resizing
that the exam will ask you to use appropriately. Make sure
you pay attention to which one is best for
 Canvas size
 Image > Canvas size
 Should you need to increase canvas size, make your
appropriate adjustments. But the exam always asks you
expand the canvas in one direction. This is what you
should be looking for             
 (Expanding to the left means you click the right arrow –
expanding up means you click the down arrow… and so on)
Click on this arrow,
for instance, to
expand the canvas
to the right.
 Remember how to put down guides without using the
 View > New Guide
Smart Objects and Layer Effects
 Need to convert a layer into a Smart Object?
 Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object
 Psst! If the question asks you to apply a Smart Filter,
that’s just a regular filter applied to a smart object.
 Layer Effects
 Need to apply an Outer Glow layer effect but not sure
 Layer panel has a button that says FX, and it’s right
 To add an existing selection, grab a tool like the lasso
or marquee tool and hold down shift to add it to the
 You can use the selection tools (Marquee, Lasso) to
rope off an area of an image and go to Edit > Clear
should you be asked to erase part of an image.
Assorted extra information that shows
up in the questions
 Digital Cameras are the most common way to create
RAW files to work with in Photoshop.
 A web browser will apply dithering to any image
where it cannot correctly display the image’s colors.
 Copyright information is stored in a file’s metadata.
 Gamut is the range of colors that can be printed or
Assorted extra information that shows
up in the questions
 To use Photoshop to create a webpage from multiple
 File > Save for Web and Devices
 Sans-serif fonts are ideal for companies like security
 Serif fonts are ideal for prestigious organizations like
banks and lawyers.
 Novelty fonts would be ideal for child-themed
Assorted extra information that shows
up in the questions
 The trickiest question on the test is this:
 “Sharpen the edges of the picture…”
 Oh, I’ll go to Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen Edges
 You must go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask and fiddle
with your settings in there.
 Those sneaky jerks.
 This is everything you need to know!
 Go forth with the knowledge I have given you, study it,
and rule this exam.
 The real fun stuff starts when the class passes the test!
So study hard, and let’s earn this as a group! Don’t be
afraid to ask for help! (Not on the actual test, though!)

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