The above was actually the first image I tried using the new Star Effect plug-in from Topaz – I thought is makes the tree look like it is flowering. The plug-in is a little different than any other ones they offer since it is sold separately from the bundle and it does a very specific effect. (See my Tidbits Blog‘s sidebar for website link.) I beta tested this plug-in before its release so here so are a few tips I learned from using the filter and Topaz’s great Webinars. Topaz suggests this plug-in looks really nice applied to water, candles, city lights at night, dewdrops on flowers, jewelry, Christmas lights, and sunsets to mention a few ideas. This image was first taken into Topaz Simplify and a Paint Colorful preset applied with some adjustments. Next it was taken into Dynamic Auto-Painter program and an Aquarell effect was run. Finally Star Effects was applied back in Photoshop where a Traditional Star was applied using one of their presets.
Star Effects Things To Know:
- Most important thing to understand is that you cannot add stars using the Add brush where you want on an image – if there is not enough light to support the spot where you want the light to appear, it will not let you paint one in that place. However you can remove stars using the Remove brush where the program placed them in areas you do not want them to appear. This is important to know or else nothing makes sense in this plug-in.
- The program places up to 300 stars in the brightest parts of an image. Anything above that amount over this will not be enhanced. This is important if you have a sky image with a lot of points of light but only a few are being picked up by the program. The work-around is to segment you image in Photoshop and select different parts to apply the effect to individually. They say the effect is layer dependent so this works.
- In Main Adjustments settings, must have a setting below 1 in the Threshold slider, above 0 on the Luminance slider, and in Additional Effects section a 0 Glow or you will see no changes. (Threshold near 1 is just one point of light, a setting of 0 is the maximum points of light your can have in that image.) Spread is how thick your star gets – works with Luminance.)
- For a smooth glow to use on water, set Threshold to 0 and Luminance to 0 and paint in a star; then set Glow fairly strong in the Additional Effects section. Be sure to set your Saturation (Saturation set to 0 is white light but as you move it right, it picks up the color from that part of the image so it could be magenta instead of yellow) and Temperature (move to left is cooler colors and right warmer colors) in the Color Adjustments to get a stronger effect. Also try adjusting the Size and Spread to get the final effect.
- Be sure to create presets (identify them as yours with your initials or some other way) so that you can repeat the effect again once you find one you like. Rarely is a preset set up exactly as you need for your image. Topaz says you will probably have to set Threshold and Size with every preset.
- To find out where some of the stars effects are hiding in your image, go to the Star Settings and select Stars Only. I find it very handy to delete the obvious misplaced effects from here with the Remove brush. Sometimes you have to click the Remove brush several times as the stars get stacked easily if the spot is a really hot spot in your image. You can also save image with the just the stars showing on a black background as shown in the Stars Only mode.
- You can remove all the spots in a bright area and then use the Add brush to place the star exactly where you want it – this is particularly handy with a sunset or sunrise image where you want to enhance the sun effect or on candle flames. Even if the Threshold is set to 1, any stars you have set will appear. Also, if the area you are adding stars is not real bright, it will only set a small star, but if area is really bright, then you will get a larger brighter star.
- You do not have to start out with a preset, just select a type of star you like and use the Add brush to place them – note it must be a bright spot for it to stick. It was noted that the Hollywood Star type is good for sun bursts look in sunsets or between trees.
I did not really want to do a Christmas image but I had trouble finding anything with little lights to use, so here it is. I wanted to try two different types of stars applications, so in this image, first a Jewel Sparkle I preset using a Burst Star Type was applied and then adjustments were made. I removed all star effects from the top star area. Next the Sun Flare III preset was applied to just some of the lights to make them stand out more. The Star Type was Traditional and it had more Saturation and Spread than the first stars applied. Once again the star effect was removed from the top star. The last step in the plug-in involved just adding the star effect to the top star. This time I used a Dew Drops I preset as a starting point and added just enough stars to get the top one filled. Then went in the Stars Settings -> Stars Only and removed any points of light that are not in the the top star only. Finally the other sliders were adjusted to get a nice star light feel. Three textures were then added to this image afterwards to get this effect: ShadowHouse Creations Oil Painting-4, Florabella’s Snow 3 (the link is to her Facebook page with the free download on the left side), and OnOne PhotoFrame toner scratch 20 (see my Tidbits Blog‘s sidebar for website link.) . The Sharpen Tool was used to oversharpened to exaggerate the detail and color in the star.
This reminds me of Disney World during the fireworks! Actually it is just a little fountain in our neighborhood. I just wanted to show how fun this effect can be and how pretty the water glow effect is. (See in list above how to do this.) There is not much to say except how did I get the points of light in the sky? Easy, I set up a star scatter brush using the soft brush set to 30 pixels and spacing 1000%. In the Scatter dialog, set the Jitter to 1000% both axis and the Jitter Count to 100. I saved the settings to use the brush again. Just clicked on the sky a couple times and then took it into Star Effects. From there you can use the Remove brush to take them away from areas you don’t want it in. Pretty easy.
An oldie but goodie image from the London Eye is like one Topaz uses to show the City Lights preset effect. It does not look like much but when compared to the original, it is a lot more luminous. Even the sky looks better with a little luminosity in it. Topaz says that the City Light presets can be adjusted to remove the actual stars by setting the Threshold and Luminance to 0, set Glow to a level you like to get a nice glow in the city. For my image the Glow was set to 0.19, Saturation to 0.56, Temperature 0.40, Size of 0.37 and Spread of 0.21. I felt like this gave a very natural look. This image could also have had two different sets of lights applied, one for the city lights and one for the sky.
Topaz has a good User Manual when you download the trial and are offering several more Webinars which is a great way to learn the program. I am not sure this plug-in will be of great use to all Photoshop users, but definitely it makes a great addition if you enjoy the creative aspect of Photoshop. There are so many different looks, and as you can see some are quite realistic looking while others are just for fun. I had a bit of difficulty finding images I have taken that look good with this filter. Several just did not work out. I believe for me to make this plug-in really useful, I need to play more with the controls and see what results I can get. By adding textures after using the effect and creating skies before going into the plug-in will expand the use for me personally. The more I am using it, the more applications I am finding for it.
I have to give Topaz credit for trying a totally different concept from what they usually do. If it does not work on all your images, you won’t feel bad since the price is very reasonable and all upgrades will be free once purchased. That said, it is going to take me some more time before I will really know if it is a plug-in I will use a lot. I will write after I learn more about the effects. Until then, give it a try – it might just be the inspiration you need to get that really great look!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Combining Plug-ins for More Image Interest
This image of the Old State Capitol Building (circa 1837 to 1903) in Jackson, Mississippi, was taken at sunset. It turned out not to be that great an image to work on but the Topaz Black and White Effect Photoshop plug-in (see link in sidebar at Tidbits Blog) using a Van Dyke Collection preset to create my own vintage feel preset created a much better image. Below is how the image looked before processing. The cloud image was taken from my backyard in the morning in May and had to be flipped to get the effect of the sun’s light on the right edges of the clouds to match the sunset light on the Capitol Building. A layer mask was added to the sky image to fit it into the sky correctly and set to 86% opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer may need to be added to get the correct tone in the sky. Be sure to change out the sky before running any plug-ins or filters on the image.
All these images just used a new sky image posted above the original. A layer mask was then added and the sky was painted out where you do not need it. I find it easier to begin by making the layer mask black by holding the ALT button while clicking on the layer mask icon in the Layer Panel (or press CTRL+I while clicking on a white mask) – then paint in white to bring in the sky. Usually I set the opacity of the sky layer down a little to make it blend in naturally with the original image.
This beautiful daisy was processed in the new Lightroom 4 Beta that came out last week. I really love the way it looks. (For more on this, see my Tidbits Blog “Trying Out Lightroom 4 Beta” – this image uses the same flower with a slightly different texture for the background). I wanted to show that you do not have to use an actual image for the sky effect, although if you are doing a very realistic image you would. In this case the flower has a very light painterly look and by combining it with this beautiful texture by Shadowhouse Creations called Marshmellow Skies, the total effect is enhanced. OnOne PhotoFrame emulsion 21 was added to finish. (See sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for a website link.)
This bright image of a caboose in Madison, Mississippi, originally had a totally washed out whitish sky – it actually washed out all the beautiful red and green color in the image. An bright blue sky with puffy clouds image taken in Mount Dora, Florida, replaced the original sky and it gave a totally different feel to the image. OnOne’s PhotoFrame grunge 11 was added and that was it. (This image was also used in my blog called “Different Images-Same Look Using HDR!” if you want more information how this image was processed.)
The Smithsonian Building was a Photoshop CS5 HDR image from 3 exposures. This created some really ugly almost engraved looking indistinct clouds. Therefore I took a clouds jpeg image that had that great blue color and some interesting clouds to use as a background. It definitely enhanced the image. (See my Tidbits Blog “Where Am I?” for more information on this photo and how it was processed.)
This technique can really save an image that was taken at the brightest time of day with no clouds present or with the sky blown out because of the sun placement or HDR processing. It is really handy to have a folder set up with some of your favorite sky scenes. I take a lot of sky images, especially when I see clouds that look unusual or interesting. It does not matter whether the files are in RAW or jpeg format which is nice since my little Canon only does jpegs. Give this a try and see if you do not get some fabulous results by just replacing a washed out sky…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Fun With Clouds – Brush Them In to Add Some Interest
The technique involved in the three images of Aliona followed a blog entry called “Pure White Portrait Retouch” which was quite easy to follow and created a beautiful result – of course it helps to have a beautiful model too! This is a look that you will see in almost any fashion magazine. Basically the workflow involves creating several adjustment layers – a Photo Filter, Hue/Saturation and one or two Curves, depending on your image. I do not do people photography very often, but it is nice to try every now and then. This is a very simple but effective technique to use on portrait images.
I created SJ-Light Desat Portrait action that can be downloaded – it will take you through the workflow pretty quick. You will have to make your own brushes but they are nothing special – just low opacity and a 10% hardness in most cases. The action tells you what brush you need to use where for each step. Hit Stop and do the the step and then click the Play button on the Action Panel to continue the action.
This is a sculpture by an unknown artist at the Lightner Museum in the old historic Alcazar Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida. I applied this action to the image but set the Saturation to -59 in the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Otherwise the default settings were used to get this look. I was surprised how nice it turned out.
The St. Augustine Greeting Center has just a bare hint of color except in the palm tree fronds. The action was run on this image and then in the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer, the Master Saturation was set to -47, Greens Saturation set to +50, Blues Saturation set to -100 and Cyan Saturation -100. That was it – a very clean desaturated look with a selected color only showing.
Definitely try this look. I was surprised by the versatility of the action – not just for portraits! I will keep this one in my arsenal of Photoshop tricks! Enjoy the Action!…..Digital Lady Syd
If you don’t watch the wonderful webinars and training videos that all the major plug-in makers are offering, you are really missing out on some great tips for using their software. Recently Nik released a really great video titled “Mastering Macro Images with Nik Software and Photoshop Elements, presented by Mike Moats” and is located at Nik Software On Demand Center. Mike Moats (he has a really interesting blog) shows how he changes up the workflow from what one might normally do with the Nik products. He first applies Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 (CEP4) and then Nik’s Viveza. He is never quite sure what the CEP4 filters will do to an image. Since the Viveza plug-in adjusts the color and light of an image, it does make sense to apply it after adding CEP4 filter changes. Note: All my CEP4 settings for images are listed at the end of the blog.
I bought the Viveza plug-in when it first came out and everyone was singing its praises. I must confess that after getting Lightroom, I hardly used this plug-in. Now I think I was crazy not too! This video refreshed my memory on why this is the great little plug-in that everyone was raving about. The reason this image pops is that Viveza is able to pin-point small or large areas on the image and adjust it individually – adding in a bit of detail, or toning down a certain color. He teaches you how to set the Control Points that Nik is famous for to get exactly the results you want. In this case, both the saturation and structure control point sliders were individually adjusted on the butterfly and flowers without affecting the background. This is very similar to Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw’s adjustment brushes, but with much better control and more variables available. It absolutely made a huge difference to all of the images in this blog. See the comparison below showing the layer with Vizeva filter turned off and then on. Seven control points were set to get this effect and no Global Adjustments were made. Both plug-ins can be applied to the same Smart Object layer and all image control points are saved for each plug-in on this layer so you can go back and adjust a slider if you do not like the results. The final processing involved cloning out some of the brown spots on the leaves and sharpening the body and wing lines of the butterfly.
The pink daisies are in a container on my front porch. CEP4 and Viveza (using 11 control points) were both used along with OnOne PhotoFrame weathered wood frame (see sidebar on my Tidbits Blog for website).
This last image is a different shot of my carnation and daisies Christmas flowers. The original image required me to duplicate the original layer and apply a Gaussian Blur at 9.1 pixels to block out the distracting background. A layer mask was added and the flower painted back into the mask with a black brush. Then the CEP4 and Viveza (with 17 control points) plug-ins were applied. OnOne PhotoFrame grunge 05 was added along with the Sharpen Tool and a Curves Adjustment Layer.
As you can see, by using the control points to your advantage, very interesting images can be attained. The Viveza plug-in definitely helps sharpen up a slightly soft image. And by setting control points with Structure at -100, the background can be smoothed almost like a gaussian blur effect. If you own either or both of these plug-ins, definitely take a look at this video. Even though he is using flowers and close up photography, he illustrates how to use the control points very well. I learned a lot and am very happy Nik released such a good example of how to use their products…..Digital Lady Syd
CEP4 Settings for each of the images:
The Monarch Butterfly image above was first adjusted in CEP4 with these filters stacked: Detail Extractor (Detail Extractor 26%, Contrast 37%, Saturation 53% and Effect Radius Large); Darken/Lighten Center using #1, Center Luminosity 28%, Border Luminosity -100, Center Size 53% and centered on butterfly head); and Bi-Color User Defined (Opacity 7%, Blend 17%, Vertical Shift 41%, Rotation 46 degrees, Upper Color R66 G68 B98 and Lower Color R184 G103 B4). I would never have thought about using a Bi-Color User Defined filter without viewing this video, but it really enhanced the oranges in the wings and brought out the pink in the flower.
The Daisies used Detail Extractor (Detail Extractor 86%, Contrast 78%, Saturation 39% and Effect Radius Large); Bleach Bypass (Brightness -2, Saturation -20%, Contrast 50% and Local Contrast 50%); and Cross Processing (Method L02 and Strength 45%). This example uses similar setting to his first example.
The Christmas Flowers CEP4 settings were: Bleach Bypass (Brightness -6, Saturation -2%, Control 27%, and Local Contrast 65%), Darken/Lighten Center (#1, Center Luminosity -10%, Border Luminosity -27%, Center Size 44% and Place Center just below red carnation), and Detail Extractor (Detail Extractor 36%, Contrast 6%, Saturation 21%, and Effect Radius Large with control points in background to remove effect).