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PAINTERLY PLUG-INS – SO MANY CHOICES, SO MANY CHOICES!

Image of a Native American Girl dancing in costumeCreated this blog to show some painterly effects using the same image with some different Photoshop plug-ins. I started by first trying to get Topaz Impression and Alien Skin Snap Art to give a similar look. I really thought that if one looked nice a certain way, the other would give similar results since both plug-ins create painterly, and in this case oil painting effects. It just did not work! They are as different as can be and yet both plug-in are very good at what they do. The final results on all the images are ones that I thought looked good for each of the plug-in(s) used. I was pleasantly surprised at the variety in the images and all the very nice painterly results even though processed so differently! I hope you will get some ideas on how to achieve the look you want. Also, at the end of the blog I have links to reviews on each of the plug-ins used if you want more info on any of them.

The original image above was taken at the Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, Florida. This image had a large group of people dancing and watching so it had to be totally clean up and the sky extended. The clouds were still there at least. Then a stamped layer was opened into Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4 where a preset I created from the Default preset for Snap Art 3 was used. One thing I like is that up to three different Detail Masks can be painted onto the image and different settings can used to pinpoint those areas. In this case two were used. There is a Photorealism brush which will bring back a little more of the image which is great to emphasize the focal point of the shot. Some clean up painting and horizon adjustments were done on separate layers. To get the pretty orange tones, Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) ReStyle was opened and the Shadowy Orange preset was applied. A Radial Filter was used to emphasize the wrap just below her head area. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was used to tone down her shadow. It actually took a lot of manipulation to get the final look but I really like the results. The plug-in settings are listed below under Image 1 if you are interested.

Image of a Native American Girl Dancing in Tribal CostumeThe above was more how I had envisioned this particular image. This time Topaz Impression was applied using the Turner Storms I preset with no changes. I liked the way the ground and shadow looked a little more realistic and the sky does look stormy, which it was not. I had originally tried to get this image to look somewhat like the Snap Art Image by applying the Oil Glaze by Blake Rudis, but it did not give quite as nice a final look.  Therefore I went with a totally different filter look. Topaz ReStyle was also applied to this image – the Zambest Zest preset (changed the Basic section to Luminosity blend mode and the Structure to -0.59 and Sharpness 0.73). Nik Viveza 2 was used to emphasize the back of the wrap.

Image of Native American Girl dancing in tribal costumeFor those of you who own the Topaz Suite of plug-ins, this is an example of using both Topaz Simplify and Black & White Effects to get the above result. I think it looks just as good – just took a little creativity to get the total look. The background layer was duplicated twice. The bottom duplicate was taken into Black & White Effects and a preset showing lots of detail that I created was applied. Then on the top layer Topaz Simplify was applied and another of my presets that added the painterly look was applied. A layer mask was added to it, and just the parts of the B&W Effects that I liked were lightly painted into the Simplify layer mask – used my Chalk brush with black paint at 20% brush opacity. This technique was used since the Simplify preset added the painterly feel but basically wiped out any of the texture in the image – B&W Effects was used to add back the texture a little. This mainly included the shadow area and the details in the wrap. Lots of clean up was done using my Chalk Brush to just go around and sample and add in paint where needed.  A Gradient Map Adjustment Layer, using the Gold-Copper gradient that comes with Photoshop, was set to Darken blend mode. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to add contrast back into the image. Finally Nik Viveza 2 was added to direct attention to the focal point, but the Radial Filter in the Camera Raw Filter could have been used instead. For settings in the plug-ins, check Image 3 below.

Image of Native American Girl Dancing in tribal constumeCan this look more different from the other? This time I used Nik Analog Efex Pro 2 first. Then Smart Photo Editor was opened and just the Daniel-Davidson Lost and Taken 4-02 preset was applied to get this pretty result. The effect had to be adjusted in the plug-in to line it up properly. I did not love the resulting color when brought back in Photoshop – a real color shift occurred. Therefore a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added and Yellows were set to Hue +11 and Sat +29, and then Master Hue -2 and Sat -49. Next a Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added and set to a deep purple color (R68/G35/B75), set to Overlay blend mode at 29% layer opacity to get the final more colorful effect. See Image 4 settings for Nik Analog Efex Pro settings.

I hope you can see that it probably does not matter which plug-in(s) you have, you can get something rather painterly and interesting in many different ways. I guess that is why we get them – you can often get a surprise while using them. I have my favorite plug-ins that seem to give me the results I love, but I was also pretty pleased to see some different results by just combining them in various ways. I hope this blog gave you some ideas on how to use plug-ins you already may have and maybe get you interested in some of the ones you do not have. Any way you do it, it is always fun to play with these filter effects! Have a very Happy Turkey Day if you are one of my U.S. friends and otherwise, just have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Posts:
Digital Lady Syd Speaks Out on Topaz Impression
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Alien Skin Snap Art 4
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReStyle
How About That Update to Nik Analog Efex Pro 2?
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Smart Photo Editor Photoshop Plug-In
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Black & White Effects 2.1
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Simplify 4
Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem!

Image 1 Settings:  Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4 SJ Factory Default preset – Artistic Style Oil Paint; Background – Brush Size 35, Photorealism 35, Paint Thickness 85, Stroke Length 45, Color Variation 30, Brush Style – Default Brush, and Random Seed 7556; Detail Masking used on the feathers and the small face portion – Effect Detail, Brush Size -22, Photorealism 56, Paint Thickness -6, Stroke Length -31, Color Variation 44, and Brush Style Default Brush; Detail Masking used on just the diagonal lines in her skirt – Effect Detail, Brush Size -30, Photorealism 7, Paint Thickness 43, Stroke Length 0, Color Variation 66, and Brush Style Default Brush; Colors – Brightness 22, Contrast 25, Saturation 12, and Temperature (cool/warmth) 34; and Lighting – Preset Default – Highlight Brightness 46, Highlight Size 35, Direction 120, Angle 59, Highlight Color White, and Vignette – Preset: None; and Canvas – Preset: No Texture. Topaz ReStyle settings: Shadowy Orange Rose preset with these changes:  ReStyle blend mode Color; Color Style Hue Third 0.33; Sat Primary -0.69, Secondary 0.17, Third 0.47, Fourth 0.03, and Fifth 0.45; Masked out the bright green shadow to make it much blacker – used Edge Aware Brush, Strength 0.58, Brush Size 0.10 and Hardness 0.33; Basic Color Temperature 0.14 and Saturation 0.19; Tone Black Level -0.47, Midtones 0.14, and White Level -0.20; and Detail Structure 0.42.

Image 3: Topaz B&W Effects settings:  Conversion Section – Basic Contrast -0.33, Brightness -0.01, Boost Blacks 0.25, and Boost Whites 0.25; Adaptive Exposure – Adaptive Exposure 0.86, Regions 18, Protect Highlights 0.02, Protect Shadows 0.10, Detail 2.58, Detail Boost 1.11 and checked PDI; Color Sensitivity – Red 0.15, Yellow -0.14, Green 0.47, Cyan 0, Blue 0.31, and Magenta 0; and Color Filter – Hue 325.1 and Strength 0.27; Creative Effects Section – Simplify 0.12 and Feature Boost 1; and Finishing Touches Section – Silver and Paper Tone – Tonal Strength 0.40, Balance 0.30; Silver Hue 0, Silver Tone Strength 0.50, Paper Hue 4.00, and Paper Tone Strength 0.25; and Transparency – Overall Transparency 1.00. I also had Border (Border Type Grungy BW7 set to Size 0.36) and Vignette (Vignette Strength 1.00, Size 0.71, Transition 0.44 and Curvature 0.55) that were turned off before applying the preset. The Topaz Simplify preset settings were: General Adjustments Section – Simplify – Colorspace RGB, Simplify Size 0.84, Feature Boost 0, Details Strength 1.29, Details Size 0.96, Remove Small 0.10, and Remove Weak 0.20; Adjust – Brightness 0.02, Contrast 1.11, Saturation 0.60, Saturation Boost 2.06, Dynamics 0, Structure 1.00, and Structure Boost 1.00; and Edges – Edge Type Color Edge – Normal, Edge Strength 0, Simplify Edge 0.60, Reduce Weak 24.00, Reduce Small 0.20, and Fatten Edge 0. My Chalk Brush settings: Select Photoshop’s Chalk 60 brush and in the Brush Panel set size to 200 pixels and in the Shape Dynamics section set the 19% – everything else off. I use this brush usually at 30% brush opacity or less to paint in texture and clean up layers.

Image 4: Here are the settings used for my Nik Analog Efex Pro 2 plug-in: Basic Adjustments – Detail Extraction 81%, Brightness 4%, Contrast -17%, Saturation 13% and two control points were used on the image – both placed in the sky on the right and left and set to Detail – 100%, Brightness -16%, Contrast -42%, and Sat -100 to soften the overall detail effect in that area; Bokeh – Bokeh Style – circle for apply elipse, Blue Strength 87%, and Boost Highlights 90%: Light Leaks Strength 50% and set to Soft choosing the 3rd row and 1st column soft red glow leak set right in the center of the image; and my favorite section Levels & Curves – Opacity set to 100%, Luminosity Curve pulled down with two points (7.5/6 and 12/16.5), Red one point at (12/13), Green two points at (7/6) and (12/14), and Blue two points at (5.5/6) and (12/16).


HOW TO COLORIZE AN OLD PHOTO

Colorized Image of my Great-Grandmother Alice Ann GreenNot sure I have blogged on photo restoration much. This week I am going to show you how to colorize old images to give them a nice tinted effect. This image is of my Great-Grandmother Alice Ann Green says it was from 1913. I thought she looked awfully young to be a grandmother at this point in her life since she was born on 7/6/1861, but her hair might actually be slightly grayed as seen in the original below.
Original photo of Alice Ann Green from 1913I learned how to do this from photo restoration specialist Suzette Allen when she appeared on Creative Live a while back. This is how she uses Solid Color Adjustments Layers to add color to her images. I might add the skin effect is also from her video but that is another blog as it is a bit tricky. In this case various Solid Color Adjustment Layers were used for her skin, then hair, and finally the dress and background. In all 7 were used. I would suggest you first download Suzette Allen Color Guide Faces photo – a free download from her website – before beginning. Frequently I open up this image in Photoshop to use for sampling skin and lip color. Nik’s Color Efex Pro was used at the end and  Flypaper Textures Nik Color Efex Presets White Buttons was applied. The Frame was added in the Smart Photo Editor plug-in using the white border with gray stroke classic border. The Solid Color Adjustment Layer technique is the same as in the workflow below.

Image of kids on a jungle jim in 1941The cute kid image was downloaded from one of my very favorite websites, Shorpy Historical Photo Archive (this links directly to the original black and white image and there are some pretty interesting comments on the playground itself), and was taken in New York City on July 14, 1941. A few months ago I did a little vintage blog on how to make a nice old photo really look vintage. (See How to Add More Vintage Feel to An Old Photo blog.) (Also check out my Related Blogs below for how Calvin Hollywood uses Solid Color Adjustment Layers.) So here is the basic workflow on how to colorize your old images.

1. First I sharpened the image overall using Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail 3’s Overall Detail Light preset, but you can sharpen anyway you want. Do any major adjustments to the photo before starting the colorization process.

2. Select a Solid Color Adjustment Layer. Fill the layer mask with black by clicking on it and CTRL+I to fill with black.

3. Change the blend mode of the adjustment layer to Color and the layer opacity to 32%. Name it so you can tell quickly where it was used.

4. Suzette suggests starting to colorize with the skin first. Open up her Color Guide Faces in Photoshop. In the image click on the foreground swatch and then click in the guide and click on a skin tone to use in your image.

5. Go back to your image and double click on the Solid Color Adjust Layer color box in the Layer Panel which brings up the Color Picker. By dragging your cursor outside the Color Picker, it turns into an eyedropper to sample the Foreground Color in the swatch at bottom of the Toolbar. Your adjustment layer will now have the the skin tone color from the guide.

6. Click on the black mask and paint with a brush with a white (brush changes from the colors to black and white when painting in a layer mask). Set your brush to white and 12-30% brush opacity in the Property Bar and add a little hardness to the brush so you can get some fairly close edges. You will now see the color being painted on the skin area.

7. When finished with that color, duplicate the layer by CTRL+J. Now rename this layer to indicate the new area you will be working on and fill the layer mask with black again (CTRL+BACKSPACE in the mask). Go back to the Guide and choose another skin tone for the Foreground Color – back in your photo sample the Foreground color and start painting in white on the mask again.

It really is an easy process once you do it a couple of times. I created separate Solid Color Adjustments layers for each skin area, along with hair, dress color, background colors, etc. To keep everything straight, Groups were created (highlight the layers and press CTRL+G to group them) with those titles since there were 10 or 11 Solid Color Adjustments Layers in each group.

The nice thing about this technique is that it is easy to go back and change a color if it does not look right. By double clicking on the color swatch of the adjustment layer, you open the color picker where several different colors can be selected – a live update will show in your image as you hover over each color. This is a really easy way to add believable color to an image.

The rest of the image effect was created using a New Layer and doing some skin smoothing by sampling nearby colors to smooth some of the splotchiness, and by applying Nik Color Efex Pro’s Glamour Glow, Film Efex-Faded, Image Borders, and Brilliance/Warmth to get the final result. This image actually took quite a while to complete, but the localized colors in both the clothes and skin tones did create a nice result from a rather dull and cluttered black and white image.

Not all images work well for this type of technique – you just have to experiment to see how it looks. It can be a bit tedious to really get a good result, but overall it can really make your vintage images pop. It is fun to try and figure out what your long lost relative may have looked liked in color. Give this technique a try – works great on any type of image. I find I am really enjoying trying this out on my old photos. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How To Use A Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Smart Photo Editor Photoshop Plug-In


HOW TO USE A PHOTO FRAME MASK

Image is of a poster with Dewey Duck at Epcot at Disney World OrlandoThis week I decided to play around with some photo masks – some very nice ones that I purchased from French Kiss (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) called Brayered Blocks Clipping Masks and others that are free to download or I created. The masks make some interesting framing effects, especially when stacked. They are actually a lot of fun to use, but it does take some understanding as to how the masks work to get a nice result. This short tutorial that Nicole created on how to use her masks called Using Masks as Overlays was very helpful and she has several other related blogs to view. The image of Dewey above took a lot of clean up as this image was taken of a display with lots of glass reflection. Check out Image 1 below for all the gory details on how I did this crazy image and how to add in this type of mask! This one took a while to do!
Image of painted gondolas with special framingThis generic image of some gondolas used photo masks created using brushes. A new image was created with the photo added on top. This time Shadowhouse Creations Grunge Frames brushes, which are a free download, were used twice to get this effect along with a free photo mask from French Kiss Collections Facebook page. Now the trick is to get this all connected together correctly. Check out Image 2 information below to get the steps on how this was done.

Some quick points on using these photo masks. Try using the Free Transform on the different layers to line up your masks to your image or get rid of any edges from the image you see. Usually it is not the photo mask you think that is causing the problem – check out the others. Also, if you just cannot seem to get rid of the line from edge, try just painting in your original image with the background color to remove it.

Photo masks can be made fairly easily by using some of the available brushes, like those from Shadowhouse Creations, or by using your own watercolor brushes on a layer. Just start by adding in some texture effects to your brush – can use a lower opacity and get a layered edge. Try using two different brushes together. I even made a couple by just using brushes in Corel Painter and opening the file in Photoshop – just needed to do a Select -> Color Range and in drop down choose Highlights so the whites are selected – then check the invert box. Add a layer mask to the brush layer, right click to apply the layer mask, and there is your photo mask. Now create a brush by using the Rectangular Marquee and placing around the strokes, and go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset. Actually not as hard as it sounds.
Screen shot of photo mask layers in PhotoshopThe screen shot shows how this pretty basic image set up. (Click on image to see larger view in Flickr.) I created the photo mask using free Watercolour Brushes by Leyla – no. 1 and 6 at 30% brush opacity and using black as a color. Just left the edges lighter and painted more in the center area. The layer was duplicated and reduced in size to fit the image. When edges showed up on this image, the actual image was changed in size to adjust for them but also I had to sample the background to get rid of parts of it. The layer mask was used to make some of the lower flowers slightly pop out into the photo mask. You can always go back into the mask you created and paint in more color or erase some to fit the look you want. The interesting background texture is from Kim Klassen called deepsigh.

Hope you get a chance to try this type of effect and maybe experiment with making your masks. This is really a lot of fun to do and I have to thank Nicole at French Kiss Collections for bringing this concept to my attention!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Just a Frame Flower

Image Information:

Image 1:  How did I get rid of the reflections? In Photoshop I used my Chalk Brush (regular Chalk Brush 60 with the Angle Jitter set to 19% in the Shape Dynamics – can’t tell you how much I use this brush in place of a regular round brush!). At a lower brush opacity of roughly 30%, the colors were sampled from the image as I painted over the reflections. Next the image was opened in Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression and the Edward Hopper II preset was applied. A flattened version was created and opened in a new document. On a layer underneath the image, French Kiss  Brayered Blocks 01 was added and a light pink Solid Color Adjustment Layer was clipped to it (ALT+Click between the layers to clip). Under that a mask another mask was added, Brayered Blocks 05, where a brownish color was used in another clipped Solid Color Adjustment Layer. On the original image a layer mask was added and with my Chalk Brush, the edges were brushed around the inside edges to get a rough looking inside frame edge. At this point a Group called Dewey Frame was created and collapsed to keep everything straight. (Highlight your layers and press CTRL+G to place in a group – then rename.)

Upper text was added using 1942 report with an outer glow added. The text layer was duplicated and rasterized (right click and choose Rasterize) and the original text layer was turned off. Under the rasterized text layer, another mask, Brayered Blocks 12 was added and warped to fit underneath the text. French Kiss Chalkboard 2 texture was clipped to the actual brayered block mask layer, and a Solid Color Adjustment Layer was also clipped to this layer using a brown color. Another group was created called Upper Text Group.

Just above the Background Layer French Kiss’s Tableaux Northern2Z texture was moved into the file. An image of the Epcot Ball was moved into the image above this texture and adjusted off-center. It had been previously turned into a black and white image and this layer was set to a 71% opacity. Clipped to this image only was a Curves Adjustment Layer and a blue to white Gradient Adjustment Layer at 52% layer opacity – this gave nice sharp edges to ball pattern. Now the layers involving the Epcot Ball selected and grouped together. The last steps involved adding the text for Epcot Center – this is the Prototype Community 25 little letter a. A layer style was added to the font – Inner Glow for the white edging (Choke 24% and Size 29 px), Color Overlay to get the matching center brSo here are the image details – there are lots of them here so skip down if this puts you to sleep. How did I get rid of the reflection? In Photoshop I used my Chalk Brush (regular Chalk Brush 60 with the Angle Jitter set to 19% in the Shape Dynamics – can’t tell you how much I use this brush in place of a regular round brush!). At a lower brush opacity of roughly 30%, the colors were sampled from the image as I painted over the reflections. Next the image was opened in Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression and the Edward Hopper II preset was applied. A flattened version was opened in a new document. On a layer underneath the image, French Kiss (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Brayered Blocks 01 was added and a light pink Solid Color Adjustment Layer was clipped to it (ALT+Click between the layers to clip). Under that a mask another mask was added, Brayered Blocks 05, where a brownish color was used in another clipped Solid Color Adjustment Layer. On the original image a layer mask was added and with my Chalk Brush, the edges were brushed around the inside edges to get a rough looking inside frame edge. At this point a Group called Dewey Frame was created and collapsed to keep everything straight. (Highlight your layers and press CTRL+G to place in a group – then rename.)

Upper text was added using 1942 report with an outer glow added. The text layer was duplicated and rasterized (right click and choose Rasterize) and the original text layer was turned off. Under the rasterized text layer, another mask, Brayered Blocks 12 was added and warped to fit underneath the text. French Kiss Chalkboard 2 texture was clipped to the actual Brayered Block mask layer, and a Solid Color Adjustment Layer was also clipped to this layer using a brown color. Another group was created called Upper Text Group.

Just above the Background Layer French Kiss’s Tableaux Northern2Z texture was moved into the file. An image of the Epcot Ball was moved into the image above this texture and adjusted off-center. It had been previously turned into a black and white image and this layer was set to a 71% opacity. Clipped to this image only was a Curves Adjustment Layer and a blue to white Gradient Adjustment Layer at 52% layer opacity – this gave nice sharp edges to ball pattern. Now the layers involving the Epcot Ball selected and grouped together. The last steps involved adding the text for Epcot Center – this is the Prototype Community 25 little letter a. A layer style was added to the font -

own tone, and Drop Shadow (Opacity 34%, Spread 35% and Size 57 px). On a New Layer the I Love Donald Brushset for CS3 by xxxNightwingxxx-Donald brush 28 was used and an Outer Glow layer style was added using the pink color set to Structure Opacity of 62%, Spread 48%, Size of 6, Range of 83% and a Contour in a set called 50 Contours that I am having trouble finding the download link. The two text layers and were Grouped in a Donald and Text group. Last step involved created a stamped version (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E). Nik Viveza 2 was used to emphasize the Disney sketch in this image. A New Layer was added and with a round soft brush set to 250 px at 12% brush opacity, a couple large sweeps were painted over the upper text block as it appeared over-powering. A New Layer was created on top and French Kiss Spatter4-01 brush was selected – the Color Dynamics section of selected in the Brush Panel where the Foreground/Background Jitter was set to 49 and Brightness Jitter set to 54% and in the Shape Dynamics section the Angle Jitter was set to 40%. This gave the randomness of the spatters with color sampled from the image. This layer was set to 76% opacity and a layer mask was added where the spatters were removed from Donald and the Epcot Center text mainly. I could do this kind of image all day! Got to love Disney!

Image 2:  A new document was created – 7 inches x 7 inches at 300 ppi. The gondola is one first painted in Corel Painter and you can see the final image at my Hanging With the Gondolas! Tidbits Blog along with the specifics used in Painter. Next in Photoshop the image was opened in Smart Photo Editor (the settings used were: Applied Photo-art at a click o50 by andrewb2012 – Effect Controls: Master Fade all the way right; Multi-color Match 0.81, Exp -0.029, Highlight Clipping 0.254, High Clip Detail 0.044, Vibrance 0.673, Hue -1.000, Sat -0.312, Bright 1.156, Gamma -0.223, Contrast -0.085, High Clipl 0.421, High Clipl Detail 0.54, Vibrance 0.85, Hue 0.146, and Sat 0.265). Check out last week’s Digital Lady Syd Reviews Smart Photo Editor Photoshop Plug-In blog. This is the image that was later added to my file above. Above the background layer which had a golden tone added to it, French Kiss Dusky Rose texture was added and set to Overlay at 100%. A New Layer was created and with one click using a black Shadowhouse Creations Frame 1 brush which size was adjusted to fit the image, a block mask was created. Next a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped to the block mask layer, and from 10 Free Seamless Colored Splatter Textures from Idealhut, Pattern o2 was applied. This pattern can be moved in the image to adjust it the way you it to look – I have used these patterns a lot over the years. Next French Kiss free Photo Mask was added, set to Screen blend mode, and a light creamy orange color Solid Color Adjustment Layer was clipped to the French Kiss’s photo mask. Shadowhouse Creations Grunge Brush 10 was added next and then the gondola image was brought in. Both layers were adjusted using the Free Transform (CTRL+T) – do the image first, then clip it to the Grunge Mask, and then adjust that to fit the image. A Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer was used to get the color just he way I liked them.


Digital Lady Syd Reviews Smart Photo Editor Photoshop Plug-In

Image of Harry Potter trophy and books from Orlando AirportIt has been a while since I did a review on a product that is totally new by a company I have never heard about but that is what I am doing! Anthropics Smart Photo Editor can be used as a Photoshop plug-in, although as a stand-alone program it is a fairly powerful photo editor in it’s own right. My interest is its use as a plug-in for all the special and crazy effects I love to use. This program definitely “fits the definition” with an incredible amount of variety! Even though I just bought the program, I thought I would pass along what I have learned, what I like, and what I do not like.

The top image was taken at the Orlando Airport at the Harry Potter Store using my Android. Here are the settings used for this image: Created a layer mask to mask the background. Then applied Soft colored texture 017 by andrewb2012 – applied it to just the background. Saturate and Glow was applied to just the trophy and books, and then applied Oil painting by Vivienne Li was applied to the whole image.  Applied Stacked photos landscape format 001 by andrewb2012. See the screen shots below for some of the steps used.
Image of painted treesThe tree  image was taken in Tennessee several years ago. It was first painted in Corel Painter and then in Photoshop the Smart Photo Editor was opened and just one preset called DJ Philip was used to give the final nice effect. (Here are the settings for the preset: Fade was about 2/3 of the way over, Merge 0.568, Filter 0.628, Radius 0, and Gradient 0.458.) The preset basically just darkened down the top part of image to direct the focus a little lower in the image – very subtle effect in this case. The results are added to your highlighted Photoshop layer by clicking File -> Save and Close.
Image of some Day LiliesJust another example of a very simple application of this plug-in – these day lilies were actually a very bright yellow but by taking this image into the Smart Photo Editor, an interesting effect could be achieved. The Bittbox-grungy watercolor01 border preset was applied. Back in Photoshop colors were tweaked a little more by using a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and then doing a little painting clean up.  Once again a very quick result that turned a rather ordinary flower image into something quite different. Below are two screen shots – the first showing the Effects Gallery and the second showing how a mask is created to selectively apply the effect.  Click on the image for a larger view in Flickr. Screen shot of the Effects Gallery for Smart Photo EditorScreen shot of masking in Smart Photo EditorJust have to remember that if an effect does not look right, you need to Cancel and then click the Effects Gallery icon again in the upper right to select a different effect. The right and left arrow keys will advance the grid right or left if you do not want to click the big arrows with your mouse. To see your original image, press F5 and to see what difference from the last effect press F6.

 What I Like About Smart Photo Editor:

1. The Effects Library with this wide variety of effects to apply to your image – there are Light, Color, Detail, Artist, Styles, Borders, Mood (weather effects), and Trendy effects that can be applied. It appears that the presets are obtained from the internet so when you open up the plug-in – thumbnails are created to show you want the different effects are. (See Gallery screen shot below.) A Search field aids with finding the effect you want. Also the best effects for your image appear first.

2. The ease with which the total effect can be applied – pretty much just a click or two for applying any preset. Also, there is a Favorites Recent Shortlists button that list the last 20 effects you used – very handy!

3. I really love the borders that can be applied. Ever since OnOne retired PhotoFrames, I have been at a loss to find really nice quick frame effects. This program fills that void.

4. That the program can be used as a photo editor for RAW files – you do not have to use it in Photoshop. It seems like an affordable way to process RAW files without owning the more expensive software to edit them. I checked this out on an image and it worked great with my Nikon camera NEF Raw file. There is an Image Treatment icon on the right side that has a whole bunch of basic image adjustment sliders like in ACR or Lightroom.

5. Can create your own presets for use over and over and can even upload them to the Smart Editor Community for others to use. Also, you can easily open up an existing preset to remove a border effect, for example, or add a different one in if you want to change it. This is really a cool concept!

What I Do Not Like About Smart Photo Editor:

1. Once an effect has been applied, as far as I can tell, you cannot try different effects on the original image to decide which you want. It stacks one effect on top of another one. I may be wrong on this, but so far I am having trouble doing this.

2. Sometimes it is hard to tell if the sliders are making changes when adjusted.

3. It is not easy to use the layer mask, but it actually does a pretty good job with a little practice – need to press SHIFT key to select other areas and ALT key will let you remove areas that got selected (turns it to the Erase From Selection button). I am not sure if the layer mask can be copied to another effect so you get the same mask unless you start out by selecting the Select Area button. Just not as easy as adding the layer mask in Photoshop and painting out what you want. Also I don’t believe there is an opacity slider for the brush so the effect is either in the image or not in the image.

4. Cannot be used as a Smart Object – not that big a deal but it would be nice to get back to your settings.

Bottom Line

This is a pretty good plug-in to get, especially if you need a quick effect for an image. The image can be adjusted using all kinds of regular photo effects for color, vibrance, detail, etc. It also allows Overlays and Underlays to be applied with blending modes and opacity slider. The price is reasonable, especially when bought just as a stand-alone program. I totally love the bordering effects so for me it was a no brainer – get the plug-in!

Image of fish from Epcot The Land rideThis image was taken while on The Land ride in Epcot, Disney World, Orlando, and the fish were just a rather plain white color. The Smart Photo Editor was opened and presets were applied. (The Texture my world preset by andrewb2012 was applied. Next applied Watercolor, texture & vignette 001 by andrewb2012 – Master Fade just past middle, Merge 0.631, 3 Way Combine 0.277, Exposure 0.535, and Saturation -0.151. Selected to add mask and painted off effect from middle fish.) Then in Photoshop just some Sharpen Tool to the eyes was applied. I thought this was a very interesting effect that took just a few minutes to create.

I would suggest you download the trial and check it out. If you download it, they have a very nice website with several tutorials and a community forum. I would suggest you watch this 2:46 minute video for a brief introduction to the program and one I found most useful before starting. It is called The Fisherman Enhancement (2nd video down) and goes through most of the main features quickly. Anthropics had a very good price offer going recently and I am sure they will be offering it again with the holidays nearby. I was pleasantly surprised how versatile this program is and will be presenting more of its effects in the weeks coming up.

Hope you get a chance to experiment with this interesting plug-in. It might be something that you will really like!….Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO CREATE A BRUSH MASK

Image of the Glassblower at the Mexican Pavilion at EpcotJust decided to do a quick border effect presented by French Kiss Collections (see sidebar of my Tidbits Blog for website link) recently. Another favorite image from Epcot this year. I could have watch the Glassblower in the Mexican Pavilion the whole day – and I loved the way this family seemed to be just as interested.

This tip I learned this week from French Kiss Collections’blog called Using and Embellishing Photo Masks on how to use a brush to create a nice border effect. She also has some very nice painted masks that can be bought. I did a blog called How to Paint with a Texture Brush from Your Image that can be used to create your own brush and patterns for the border. In this case a square brush was created and a matching pattern using French Kiss Collections Atelier Georgia texture. Then followed her basic steps in her blog to get a rather interesting border for this image. Basically opened a new document and added a New Layer. Painted with black into the New Layer to get a rough border. Then placed the image on top layer in the document and clipped it to the New Layer (ALT+click between the two layers to clip image layer) . You will see the border in the color of your bottom layer, which can be changed using any color you want or changing it to a texture or pattern. In the above case, a darkish brown color was used – it actually gave some texture to parts of the image I did not want to remove. I did not do much to this image – just used French Kiss Chalkboard texture as a background color (this is a free download from her Facebook page).

Image of some painted flowersThese are just some flowers painted in Corel Painter earlier this while practicing. Wanted to try the workflow of French Kiss – could not get the overlay to stamp into the layer mask, but I do not see the need for it. I just stamped her FrenchKiss Artiste Savoire Faire Overlay on top and then added a layer mask to remove any text that appears on the flowers. Also used her Tableaux Aurora texture for a background and Shadowhouse Creations free Grunge Frame Brush Set Frame 8 for the mask brush.

Think this is a really nice way to get a unique border effect and pretty easy to do. Hope you get a chance to try it – it can make a boring image interesting!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How To Make Frames or Borders
How to Create an Overlay Out of a Texture


HOW TO COMBINE ALL THOSE TOPAZ PLUG-INS FOR AN ARTSY LOOK!

Painted image of a Venetian canalSince a lot of people would like to get a painterly look on some of their images, but not go to the expense of getting Corel Painter or feel they do not have the painting skills needed to get a nice result, I have decided to show you what can be done with just a few Topaz plug-ins and Nik Viveza 2. I am going to go through the different steps and how the layers appeared to get the above result. You may not have all the plug-ins used, but often there are ways to get the same feel without using the plug-in by just taking a few extra steps.

The image above was cropped as a last step, so the workflow follows the original sized image.

1. First need to download the image from Free Images (used to be Stock.Xchng and image is linked). They have several different shots using this basic site so feel free to explore this great website. See original image on left below.

2. The original image was not in a color scheme that I liked so the first thing done was to change the settings in the Camera Raw filter to get some colors more suitable to my liking. On a duplicate layer that was converted to a Smart Object so it can be edited if something looks wrong, changes were made. (These settings were changed: Temperature +15, Exposure +0.40, Contrast +12, Highlights -19, Shadows +11, Whites +5 and Blacks -12; then adjust in this order Hue Reds +11, Oranges +41, Greens -33, Aquas -62, and Blues +20; Luminance Reds +6, Oranges -34, Yellows +51, Greens +2, Aquas  +1, and Blues -7; and Saturation Reds -29, Oranges +10, Yellows, +58, Aquas -26, and Blues +23.) Results are shown in right image below.

Image of first two steps in workflow above

3. Next step takes the right image into the Topaz (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReStyle plug-in where the Cool and Clear preset was applied first. (These settings were used: ReStyle Opacity 78%, Lum Third 0.34 and Fifth 0.45; Basic Opacity 81%, Color Temp 0.13, Tint -0.16, and Sat 0.33; Tone Black Level 0.27, Midtones 0.34, and White Live -0.03; and Detail Structure 0.64 and Sharpness 0.59. Wanted the water to have more blue tones and overall a little less beige look.) If you do not have the plug-in, try using the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer or Selective Color Adjustment Layer to get somewhat of a similar look. I consider ReStyle to be a very unique plug-in and it is one of my favorite Photoshop plug-ins. I kind of liked the blown-out feel in this layer as shown on the left below.

4. Now it was time to go into Topaz’s newest plug-in, Impression. Started with the Abstraction I preset. (These are the settings used: Stroke Brush Type 04; Brush Size 0.91, Paint Volume 0.42, Paint Opacity 0.87, Stroke Width 0.33, Stroke Length 0.89, Spill 0.23, Smudge 0.26, and Coverage 1.00; Color Overall Hue 0.15, Overall Saturation -0.20, and Overall Lightness 0.06; Red Saturation 0.47 and Red Lightness 0.14; Orange Saturation -60 and Orange Lightness -42; Yellow Sat -0.33 and Yellow Lightness 0.13; Green Saturation -0.20 and Green Lightness -0.32; and Blue Sat 0.36; Lighting Brightness -0.04 and Contrast 0.39 – X 0.33 and y 0.06; Texture Strength 0.78, Size .30, Canvas IV and Background Color #d38967, a light orange color.) I can honestly say this does not really look that great but it has the stroke effects that make this plug-in’s effects so great. By adjusting the Stroke Width and Length, you can get a fairly good approximation of having actually painted the effect into the image. I believe there are other art programs that could be used for this step like Alien Skin’s Snap Art or Dynamic Auto-Painter, but it has been my experience that they will result in a very different result, not particularly bad, just different.

Two images from steps 3 and 4 above

5. The sky color was painted in with a sampled color from the water and using just a basic brush – this was one of my basic Photoshop pastel brushes. You can always clone some of the strokes from the water into the sky to get a nice stroke replica effect. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to add contrast back in the image – adding filters and textures often causes a contrast loss. (The settings were Black tab 7, Middle tab 0.89, and White tab 254.) Looking better now.

A texture layer from Painted Textures was added to image called Green Lake (set to Hard Light blend mode at 33% layer opacity). A Color Balance Adjustment Layer was added to try to reduce the strong color shift from the blue-green-yellow texture (settings were: Highlights Magenta/Green -13 and Yellow/Blue +16, Midtones Cyan/Red +13 and Yellow/Blue -3, and Shadows Magenta/Green -3 and Yellow/Blue +10). See left image below.

6. Thought I would try to get it this image to look like my previously painted Corel Painterversion of this image (see my Venetian Dreaming….). Therefore Topaz ReStyle was opened once again and this time the Cream and Plum preset was used (one of my favorite presets). (Settings were Cream and Plum preset to start –  ReStyle Color Style Sat Fifth -0.53; and Lum Primary 0.13, Secondary -0.19, Fourth -0.42, and Fifth -0.44; Texture Strength -1.00; Basic blend mode Color; Color Temperature 0.36, Tint -0.41, and Sat -0.06; Tone Black Level 0.16, Midtones -0.34 and White Level 0.42; and Detail Structure -1.00 and Sharpness 0.19.) As you can see on the right image below, a much more beige palette was introduced.
Images for steps 5 and 6 above.
7. Added a White Color Fill Layer set to Color Blend Mode at 64% layer opacity and filled the mask with black (CTRL+I in mask to invert). Painted back at 30% brush opacity some of the areas that needed some white color but looked beige – mainly on the boat, bridge, sky and in some of the water reflection. Then Nik’s Viveza 2 plug-in was used to help emphasize the focal point, the boat and bridge in the image. 7 control points were added – sharpening and color increased around the boat and bridge area, and the Structure slider was decreased on the painted areas to give more of an actual painterly look. It did help smooth the sky quite a bit. See image on bottom left.

8. Now how did I get the image on the bottom right? Well, a Topaz plug-in I had not used in quite a while. I really liked the tones in the Corel Painter image done in my Tidbits Blog and the best way to get those tones into my image is to use Topaz photoFXlab’s InstaTone. By opening the plug-in and starting InstaTone, the Painter image’s folder was selected and the tones were added directly my Topaz layer. Totally loved the final look! What is so great about this plug-in is that the same brushes from several of their other plug-ins are available and can be used on masks within the plug-in. Therefore Detail, Smoothing, Dodging and de-Saturating could all be done on one mask. Basically the image can be sculpted to get a pretty artsy look without really painting at all. (Here are the settings used: On duplicate layer in photoFXlab, applied the original image from Corel Painter tones using InStaTone. In Adjustments Blending Mode to Color, Contrast to -100, Dynamics 27, Highlights 31, Shadows 11 and Blacks -18. On a From Stack layer on top, went to Brushes and set Smooth/Detail Strength to 0.49, Brush Size 0.09, Hardness 0.22, Flow 1.00 and Edge Aware 0.98 to add Detail to the boat and bridge, my focal point. Next changed Strength of brush -0.81 to smooth and painted over all the buildings which gave a very subtle softening to the edges of the windows and roof lines. Next selected the Burn/Dodge brush – wanted to dodge a little lightening into the distracting windows. Set Strength to 0.18 and Brush Size to 0.02 and with a very soft stroke, paint on the strong black lines and edges of windows to just slightly soften the distracting lines. If you mess, use the Undo Arrow up at the top of image. This gives a really painterly feel to the image. Set Saturation to -0.68 and painted out the overly bright little turquoise boat in front of the main boat by setting Strength to -0.68.) For more on this plug-in, see Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs below. Hope I did not lose everyone on this one! I have talked about using these brushes in other Topaz plug-ins so there is no reason they cannot be used for a similar result.

The last step involved just cropping in Photoshop to get the top image – still not sure if I like the cropped or uncropped version best or whether I like the more beige color tones. That what makes it interesting!

Images of final steps in workflow

I just wanted to show everyone that some really great results can be created just by stacking plug-ins and masking and adding Adjustment Layers in Photoshop to get some pretty fantastic results. This was a lot of fun to experiment this way – I am finding I do not have to paint in just one way. And knowing me, this is all going to get mixed up into the painting style I have been trying to develop this year. Wanted to give some basic guidance on the settings for these plug-ins since it can get confusing as how to actually use all the plug-in sliders. Until next week, keep trying some new combinations!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReStyle
Digital Lady Syd Speaks Out on Topaz Impression
Digital Lady Syd’s Review of Topaz photoFXlab v1.1
InstaTone in photoFXlabs – Great Fun and Great Results!
How Topaz Black & White Effects Can Create Some Surprising Results! – Check out the Settings for Images 2 and 3 at bottom for info on its mask brushes


GETTING BACK TO PLAYING IN PHOTOSHOP

Image of a small girl in her Native American CostumeSince I had a pretty busy week with company, just thought I would post a couple images. This one is of a beautiful little girl who was dancing with the adults at the Native American Festival earlier this year. Totally enjoyed the event once again! For this image a selection was used to remove her from the background (used Photoshop’s Color Range and then cleaned up the resulting layer mask) and next ReFine Edge to fine-tune the feathers (set Radius to 7.2 and Shift slider to -3). Painted Textures Spring Rain texture was placed over the image and a layer mask was added to paint in the little girl. Photoshop’s Flat Fan Thick Stiff Wet Edge brush (located in Photoshop’s Wet Media Brushes group) was used to do this and to paint on several additional New Layers. A smaller sized Mixer brush was used to smooth the facial skin hard edges. The last step used Nik’s Viveza 2 with a control point placed on the little girl to make her pop out a bit from the background and 6 other control points to adjust the coloring to look just right.

I know that Corel Painter does a fabulous job on painting images, and I am working hard on learning it, but sometimes I like a more realistic painted feel by using Photoshop and its Regular and Mixer brushes on different layers as shown above.

Image of water lilies taken at Epcot, Disney World-OrlandoThis is an image taken from the Living With the Land ride at Epcot, Disney World Orlando. Just enjoyed playing with different filters to see if I could make it into something I liked. No painting here. In Lightroom used Seim’s (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) PW4 Magic Portrait preset and actually went into the Lens Correction Manual and changed the Distortion, Vertical Horizontal and Aspect sliders which resulted in some extra white space on the left side and bottom of the image. Next opened up the image in Photoshop CC 2014 with the new advanced Content-Aware Fill command which did a wonderful job of adding into this area of the image. I do not usually use this version since the regular CC still lets me use my flash panels. Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Detail 3 was opened and my SJ Text preset was added. (These are the settings: Overall Detail – Small Details0.08, Medium Details 0.20, and Large Details 0.08; Tone Exposure -0.60, Contrast 0.25, Highlights 0.10, Shadows 0.05, Whites 0.10, and Blacks 0.05; and Color Temperature 0.10, Tint 0.03, and Saturation 0.10.) On a stamped (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) layer, the Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and three filters were used: Midnight using a Neutral Color Set at 93% opacity, Darken/Lighten Center at 59% opacity, and Detail Extraction with Detail Extraction slider at 65% and control points set on each of the flowers only. I liked what I was seeing at this point but still decided to do some more changes. Several clean up layers were added and then Nik Viveza 2 was opened up to add some extra contrast to the flowers. Next my free Cat Painting Canvas was set to Overlay blend mode on a layer above. And just because I could, Topaz ReStyle was opened and the Dark Goldenrod preset was added with no changes. The tone in the image turned out to be just right. A text layer was added using a font called Ruthie and set to Bevel and Emboss and Outer Glow layer style. It was 27% layer opacity.

It was fun to just play in Photoshop for a change. It seems that there is so much to learn that it is easy to forget to create and have fun. Until next week, have a good one creating!……Digital Lady Syd


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