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Archive for April, 2011

New Plug-In for Lightroom – Perfect Layers!

There is a lot of excitement in the Lightroom community this week about this new plug-in from OnOne software (see Digital Lady Syd’s Tidbits Blog sidebar to access website). If you love Lightroom, like I do, you need to try it out. Not unlike my “Fader” blog from a few weeks ago, this plug-in is accessed from the Plug-In Extras under the File menu. Below is a version I created solely in Lightroom (even OnOne’s PhotoFrame can be accessed from Lightroom) except for my signature layer. The following three images are all of Urquhart Castle in Scotland – a wonderful place to take photos!

I spent a few hours looking at the various short videos (most about 2 minutes long) on the OnOne site that were very helpful. When I first installed the program, I had some problems and had to reinstall it. It worked fine after that. Check out both Matt Kloskowski’s and Scott Kelby’s videos (on the same page as the download) for great explanations on how to use this add on. For the above image, I just used the original image and a Virtual Copy with a preset I created called Emphasize Purple (you may download here). A layer mask made inside Perfect Layers masked out the drab sky from the one image and added the beautiful virtual copy sky layer. which was set to Darken Blend Mode at 100% opacity. Very easy and very clean! Most of the Photoshop shortcuts work so it does not have that large a learning curve. Please note that in this version of Perfect Layer, the following Photoshop options are not supported – text layers, vector masks, layer styles, adjustment layers, paths, alpha channels, smart objects, layer groups, and clipping masks. These options will be flattened into a new psd file copy and rendered as a single layer in Perfect Layers.  Simple psd files containing basic layers and masks will open correctly. Your original version with all your original layers is always left untouched.

The image above uses the original image and a virtual copy that was converted to black and white – no preset used. Both copies of the image were selected and loaded into Perfect Layers with the B&W image on top. A Darken Blend Mode at 84% opacity was added along with a “Painted Out” Layer Mask so that the castle itself would retain its color and detail. The B&W layer was copied so the background water and hill could be emphasized even more – this new layer was set to Multiply Blend Mode at 100% opacity with the Layer Mask painted to hide the castle and foreground. An OnOne PhotoFrame was added to finish.

Below, two virtual copies were created and the Fader plug-in applied with a setting of 150% for each preset: the Blue and Gray preset (one I created to correct the water color) and Lightroom’s packaged preset called Direct Positive (for the castle and foliage). Both virtual copies were selected and loaded into Perfect Layers with the Blue and Gray preset layer on the bottom. The Direct Positive preset layer on top was put into an Overlay Blend Mode. A Layer Mask was “Painted Out” using the Brush Tool at 75% opacity over the water on the bottom edge. An OnOne PhotoFrame was added last. I am glad the two plug-ins both work together in Lightroom.

Texture and image blending can easily be handled. In the image below, after bringing a Maui landscape into Perfect Layers, the sky was stretched and cropped to become the whole image.  One of Caleb Kimbrough‘s beautiful free grunge textures (that can be downloaded here) is not in my Lightroom catalog but was added by going to File and selecting Add Layer(s) From File. Really sweet!

I have not tried all the ideas suggested in the videos and hope to try them soon. Once again, this has been a fun week of trying out something new – that is what is so great about Photoshop and Lightroom – there are always new things to explore! Hope you try out this new plug-in – I believe it is worth the time to do so!…..Digital Lady Syd


The Incredible Editable Easter Egg!

It is that time of year and Easter is just around the corner.  A few great resources are out there that might prove useful if you need to create a quick card or want to create a few pretty Easter eggs for the holiday. It turns out I am showing you three ways to make really colorful eggs using brushes, vectors, and/or custom shapes.

This image uses both free vector and brush downloads to get this effect. The four egg grouping on the right inside of the frame comes from a really nice set of Vector Easter Eggs from Vectorilla Illustrations – use the file named 1.eps (the vector format which puts eggs on a transparent layer). Please review the use rights and other nice items on this site. Just select with the Rectangular Marquee Tool or Lasso Tool the egg or egg grouping and copy it to its own layer. Copy this layer again and run my favorite plug in Kill White that I added to Adobe Pixel Bender – this gets rid of the white shadow look under the egg(s) and leaves nice illustration lines. Highlight the layer underneath and click on the “Lock transparent pixels” icon at top of Layer Panel so you do not have to be as careful with your painting. Paint in colors – I used the Round Blunt Stiff Brush in bright colors. When finished painting, I reduced the top illustration lines down to 62% opacity. Text can be added to the egg(s) – this font is Matisse (it may be on your computer already if you use Microsoft products). Create a layer composite (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and move this layer into a New Document. (I used the standard tutorial card settings of 1280 by 1029 pixels but set the resolution at 240 for printing.) Create a background by adding a New Layer on top of the white background layer. Paint a ground and sky with the Dry Brush Tip Light Flow brush from the default CS5 brush set. The purple egg on the right of the insert image is created using some beautiful Egg Brushes by Melsbrushes. See Step 5 in the tutorial below for more details on how to do this. Do check out his copyright info and look at his other brushes – very nice quality.  The Easter Bunny font by Dieter Steffmann can be downloaded here. A soft yellow Outer Glow Layer Style was added to put yellow around the letters. A new layer was added above the eggs to paint in a little green grass over the bottom edges of the eggs so they look like they are in the grass. The final touch was the Easter frame from OnOne PhotoFrames.

For the rabbit card I tried an Adobe Tutorial’s technique called “Easter Cards.” – they spent a long time making the eggs but there are faster ways of accomplishing this as shown in the first example. If you want to learn how to make some very pretty effects on the Easter Eggs, continue with their tutorial. My template card may be downloaded without doing the following steps by clicking here.  (This is for your use only – please do not redistribute and please credit the sites below if you use in another publication.) To create my card, here are the steps to use (this example also uses vectors and brushes for the eggs):

1.  First decide on an image to add to your card – the rabbits were from three different images that I added together using layer masks and adjusting the colors with a Selective Color Adjustment Layer. A Nik Color Efex Pro filter called User Defined Bi-Color using a dark blue color for the top and gold for the bottom was added to make the image more vibrant.  Points were placed on each of the rabbits so their actual fur color was not altered.  These rabbits with the huge ears are from the beautiful Old Village of Ayaymku in Belarus.

2.  Create a New Document – I used the same settings as stated above as in the first image.

3.  Duplicate the background layer and with the Gradient Tool, select a pleasing gradient – this one started with a lighter to darker yellow radial gradient. Next a texture called Watercolor 22 by SadMonkeyDesign (check out his site – he has many free beautiful watercolor textures) was added. Create a New Layer to paint a little more texture on the background using  the Grunge Paint Brushes by Melsbrushes – the texture brush and texture2 brush with two colors of green.

4.  Copy image into your card.  To just create a template, use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to create  a rectangle the size of your standard image and CTRL+J to place it on its own layer. This layer will serve as a placeholder to indicate where to add in the image. A dotted frame was created easily by duplicating either placeholder layer, or image (CTRL+click on the image thumbnail to select it and filling with with white).  Go to the Brush Panel and select the Hard Edge Round Brush at 15 pixels and 118% spacing.  Select a bright color and click in one corner of the white rectangular, then go to the corner and SHIFT+Click again – a line of dots will appear.  If the spacing is off, adjust in the Brush Panel to fit. Add to all edges to create simple framing. Next go to Adobe Pixel Bender and select Kill White – only the colored dots appear. These can now be transformed to adjust to image.

5.  To make the front egg, create a New Layer. Use Sample Brush 3 from Egg Brushes from Melsbrushes, which is your basic egg, and make one brush stroke with a bright color. Next select a new color and a new brush – in this case Sample Brush 4 and Sample Brush 8 were added on top of the original egg stroke. It produced this beautiful yellow, pink and green egg in no time all! Many different eggs can be made and what a time-saver! Next I took the settings from the tutorial for the Inner Shadow Layer Style. Use an angle of -63, Distance of 35 pixels and Size of 55 pixels. This gave a nice shadow and edge to the egg. Free Transform (CTRL+T) to adjust and line up your egg.

6.  To create the two eggs in back, the vector technique was used. From the fancy eggs sheet file called 4.eps from Vector Illustrations – the Vector Easter Eggs,  just do the same steps as in the first image – use Rectangular Marquee Tool or Lasso Tool to select the egg you want to use, and CTRL+J to put it on its own layer.  Select the small white (shadow) area under the eggs using the Quick Selection Tool and Backspace to delete it, or just use the Eraser Tool if you want.  Next drag your new egg layer from the vector document underneath the Step 5 egg (by highlighting the layer in the card where the new egg should be placed in the Layers Panel, the dragged layer will go above it).  Free Transform (CTRL+T) the egg to make it the same size as the other egg and rotate.  Do this step again for the third egg. These eggs look great but may not look so good if blown up to a large size. Copy down the Inner Shadow Layer Style from the Step 5 egg – SHIFT+click the fx icon on the far right of the layer and drag it down to copy.  Another really easy way to get a great result quick!

7.  Add a little grass with the default Photoshop brush called Grass 134 by painting under the eggs to give them something to rest on.

8.  The same technique was used to create the eggs in the background as in Steps 5 and 6.  This time use the groupings of eggs on the 4.eps sheet.  When placed on their own layer, add a Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer to create a soft solid color for the background images. Merge the two layers to create a one color layer and drag above the painted texture layer.  Do this as many times as you want to add eggs – be sure they are on separate layers so you can move them and transform them to fit your image.

9.  Add some Easter text.  These cute little bunnies are a free font called Bizzy Bunny by Beeline.

10.  The last step was to add some kind of frame.  This one contains a nice frame from OnOne PhotoFrames.  I love this plug in – almost always use them on every image.  Easy to use and many, many choices.

Hope I did not lose you here – it really is not that hard to do. I found it totally fascinating making the eggs with the brushes – how easy to do and yet they are so unique with all the color and brush combinations that can be used.

As an aside, there are some pretty basic Easter template cards by Rock the Shot – three can be downloaded for free from their Facebook page if you want to send pictures of the kids to family. I am not going to show them here but check them out.

This last image was just total fun – had to create more eggs!  (This one uses all three techniques – brushes, custom shapes and/or vectors for its eggs.) I wanted to get that delicious feel of chocolate eggs in this image too so I resurrected the scanned filmstrip that I posted two blogs ago to make this effect. (For more information on filmstrips, see my blogs on Filmstrip Fun and More Filmstrip Fun – How Can This Be.)  I created a New Document and brought in my filmstrip (delete the white areas on the layer by going to the Kill White plug in as referenced above).  Now you can start making eggs and bringing them into the document – Free Transform (CTRL+T) to make them fit.

  • EGG One – Was created using some Egg Custom Shapes by the psd-Dude . Using these shapes is very easy and they give a beautiful look to the eggs. Create a New Layer above the Background layer and select the Custom Shape Tool. In the Shape pop-out on the Options Bar, load the new egg custom shapes. Find a pleasing color and use the solid colored egg to start. Next a Gradient Overlay Layer Style was added first – I created one that went from pink to bright yellow. Add an Inner Glow set to Opacity 100% and Size 13 pixels, and Inner Shadow set to Angle (-90), Distance 26, and Size 81 pixels. These settings were taken from a very nice tutorial that shows how to actually create the custom egg shape at the  psd-Dude site and is called “Drawing an Easter Egg in Photoshop“.  Create a New Layer above your basic shape and select a different Foreground color.  To add a different shape on top of your first shape – drag a new shape out and to make it fit, hold SHIFT to maintain the aspect ratio and use the SPACEBAR to adjust egg shape on top of the first shape. Turn off the background layer and merge the shape layers. This layer can now be dragged into the filmstrip document.
  • EGG Two – This beautiful bunny egg was downloaded from the Dry Icons site – it is in a vector format and can be downloaded here.  Please look at their licensing information before using.  This is another really nice site to visit.  Just used a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to change color to purple, then selected the bunny with the Quick Selection Tool and copied him to his own layer.  Added yellow to the bunny and created a composite on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) to put it all on one layer.  Now drag into the filmstrip and adjust.
  • EGG Three – I call this my Vintage Egg.  It was created by selecting a basic egg from Vectorilla file eps.3 and then adding a Watercolor texture to the egg. Just bring in a texture you like and clip it to the egg (Layer – Clipping Layer Mask).  it shows up on the egg only. Next I added an Easter Eggs from Pehaa brush using Egg 1 in dark blue. Then I duplicated this layer and erased out the circling lines and left the round lines. Now add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Level and clip it to this layer as shown above.  Make the Hue a different color and adjust the Saturation and Lightness to get the color you want. Do a Layer Composite on top. Use the Quick Selection Tool to select the white background and BACKSPACE to delete. Drag this layer into your Filmstrip image.
  • EGG Four – This egg was just like Egg One.  Just used a solid color instead of an Gradient Overlay Layer Style on original egg shape and used a different decoration shape on top.
  • EGG Five – This egg was created just like Egg Three without a texture. A Layer Style was added for a little definition:  Dark to Light yellow Gradient Overlay; an Inner Glow set to Opacity 100% and Size 13 pixels; and an Inner Shadow set to Angle (-90), Distance 26, and Size 81 pixels. (Same settings as in Egg One’s Layer Style.)

Some ground and sky texture was added to the eggs in the filmstrip using the Melsbrushes’ Grunge Paint Brushes (as before) – texture and texture2 brushes. Add a layer to put grass for the eggs to sit on. Put all the layers in a group except the background layer and call it Filmstrip. Right click on layer and select Duplicate Group from menu, and name Reflection Group.  With a CTRL+E, merge the group into a single layer.  Can now Transform (CTRL+T) and Flip Vertical. Add a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer clipped to this layer using White as Foreground and Black as Background colors.  Create a New Layer set to Multiply blend mode above the Adjustment Layer (and also clipped to the Group Layer) and select a dark red color (7e2805) to get the Chocolate color for the eggs. I used an opacity of 74% for the layer. Create a background sky and brown ground just above the Background Layer using another favorite brush of mine, Cloud Brushes by Rubina119-Brush No. 8. The vintage bunny image at the end of the filmstrip is a brush from Bunny Love Brushes by charmedbyjessica – Hatted Bunny brush – scroll down to bottom of list for this one.  There are many wonderful Easter brushes at this site. The first download contains the type brush for the sky from Ruthenia and can be downloaded here.  Create a layer composite on top and add a frame – I used another one from OnOne PhotoFrame.

That is finally it!  Wow – should have been two posts as I did not realize how many cool resources were out there for Easter.  Hope you find some of these sites useful and enjoy creating some fun eggs for the holiday!  Until next time, Enjoy!


More Filmstrip Fun – How Can This Be?

Once again, I am doing a filmstrip blog. Gavin Hoey came out with a couple new tutorials this week and I found an older one from Dave Cross.  So here we go!

Dave Cross is one of the NAPP Photoshop guys and totally brilliant with his use of Photoshop. I have never seen this technique used before or since this tutorial. (Dave Cross recently wrote an article in Photoshop User Magazine‘s March 2011 – pg. 70 called “Bridge Output” using this technique.)  Dave introduced this concept a couple years ago on Photoshop User TV in Episode 155 and called it “Bridge CS4 Outputs – Filmstrip PDF.”

Basic steps for this filmstrip effect occur while using Photoshop’s Bridge:

1. To get images into Photoshop as a small filmstrip, go to the Bridge and select several photos. (As far as I know there is no limit to the number of images you can use – Dave used 12 in his example.) To get the images in the correct order, I would suggest creating a folder and copy and rename each image with a number designation at the start.
2. At the top right of the Bridge, change the workspace to Output – choose it by opening up the drop-down menu and selecting it.
3. On the upper left column, highlight the PDF icon.
4. For this image, create a filmstrip look in the Document section by setting width to 14 inches and Height to 2 inches, Quality to High, and Background to White. You can change the Layout’s columns or rows to get the look you want. There are some Page Presets in a drop-down in the Document section that may work nicely.
5. Press Refresh Preview to preview results of your settings. Make any adjustments and preview again until the effect looks right.
6. At bottom of Output panel, click the Save button – will save to a PDF file.
7. Can now go into Photoshop and open the PDF file or place it into another image, which is what was done above.
8. The filmstrip images may need to be adjusted a little to get the correct spacing or canvas added to make the whole image larger.
9. The Magic Wand Tool was used to select and delete the white background to make it appear transparent.

To create the Photoshop effects above, the technique from Gavin Hoey referenced on my last blog was used. Instead of making the reflected images “true” reflections, a layer was filled with yellow and a layer mask was applied so the filmstrip was not affected, only the reflected images and background. Then a Gradient Adjustment Layer was added using a pink and yellow pastel colored gradient. Finally Topaz Detail‘s Abstraction preset was applied to all but the original filmstrip. The bottom edge of the reflected images was erased slightly. An OnOne PhotoFrame was added to give the interesting framing.

The left image is pretty much a cookie-cutter version of the one Gavin Hoey presented recently. Once the video tutorial “Grunge Filmstrip Template in CS5” is followed, the object can be saved as a template to reuse with a different picture. See smaller image above. A free texture called Color Grunge by Princess of Shadows-Texture 3, (unfortunately she is no longer supporting her wonderful textures at DeviantArt but check out BittBox’s Grunge Frost textures that give a similar look), was used for the background grunge look instead of the Photoshop Fiber Filter from the tutorial. The original image (here on Flickr) was run through Nik’s Silver Efex Pro using control points to highlight the tips of the leaves.  Basic settings for Photoshop’s Unsharp Mask filter were applied, along with a mirror effect (Mirror Vertical Right) and colorize effect from  The Plugin Galaxy. The metallic pattern on the filmstrip was a really nice technique. An OnOne PhotoFrame was used to finish up.

The final image followed a second tutorial by Gavin called “How to Make a 3D Film Strip in Photoshop.” I wanted to create more of a montage feel this time. An Hawaiian panorama of Kapalua in Maui was used instead of trying to place individual images in each slot. (By the way, Gavin discusses how to use Content-Aware to fill in missing areas around a panoramas in the “Photoshop CS5 Top New Features” video from last week – this panorama used 7 images and Gavin’s tip worked great!)  This 3D tutorial starts with creating the filmstrip from scratch. I scanned one in for last week’s blog (download here) if you don’t want to go through these steps or have the new CS5 film shapes. A couple of filled palm tree objects created for a project years ago was added.  The free font is one of my favorites called Fantaisie Artistique.  The beautiful free texture was created by Caleb Kimbrough, the texture guru,  in a great tutorial called “How to Create Subtle Grunge Textures” – this one is called Subtle Grunge-Example 3. (I hope to blog about textures in the near future.)



Once again, these were fun and fairly simple projects to attempt. I like to try different effects from the actual information in the tutorials when I can. I usually get surprised by what happens. It makes Photoshop a very entertaining toy! Now go experiment!


Filmstrip Fun

I had a hard time coming up with something to do this week. I think it is a bad case of Spring Fever – fabulous weather here in Florida this time of year!  Today I watched a really nice video tutorial by Gavin Hoey called “Photoshop CS5 Top 5 New Features.” His fifth new feature was on the Mini-Bridge, which I personally do not use that much. But then he started showing how to put photos into a filmstrip using one of the new CS5 Film shapes and dragging photos into the document from the new Mini-Bridge. I created my blog header using his tips and some photos from previous old blogs and really enjoyed trying the effect. Therefore, I would suggest you check out this quick technique if you want a filmstrip look.

I decided to try out some other filmstrip effects to see if I like them as well as Gavin’s. Below is one created using a frame from OnOne PhotoFrames – there were several choices. The image is a salmon hibiscus I have on my porch. This was also a very easy and quick way to create a filmstrip.

Next I decided to try a tutorial by another Photoshop expert who has been writing great tutorials for several years now – Mark S. Johnson. He created a tutorial a year ago called “Workbench 222 – Floating Film Frame Effect.” I often feel like Mark is working on something I should know already, but he always surprises me with some new information or some technique I had forgotten.  This was the case once again. The beginning part of the tutorial can be shortened quite a bit by using the new single Film shape and Gavin’s tutorial CS5 tips. If you do not have CS5, Mark’s tutorial can be completely followed. (By the way, a single film can be downloaded free from stock.xchng after creating an account – you can also get a filmstrip or download mine below.) Mark shows how to make a quick vignette with a Curves Adjustment Layer and how to turn a Layer Style into a regular layer that can manipulated. (That is what I had forgotten could be done – great tip!) The image below was taken at a vacant beach on Spanish Cay in the Bahamas. I used Topaz Adjust with the Crisp preset on the original image along with Nik’s Color Efex Pro Color Remove Cast setting. This tutorial turned out to be a little more difficult but the results were interesting.


My final image is basically a composite from my Maui trip using the filmstrip effect Gavin discussed in his video, except in this case I scanned one of my old filmstrips (and cleaned it up in Photoshop) hoping to get a real “authentic” strip look. If you would like a copy of my strip, you may download it here. The filmstrip(s) shapes provided with CS5 do look as good as the scanned one. (I used the actual filmstrip color and edge text which the shapes do not have.) Using the shapes is the fastest and easiest way to do this technique if but it does lack the text and correct color. The text could be cloned or added as a text layer to the shape.

I wish to thank Gavin Hoey for giving me an inspiration this week when I was not sure there was any. This once again turned out to be a lot of fun – which is what much of Photoshop is all about!…..Digital Lady Syd


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