It seems like this has become a rather popular look, especially with the Vintage Film looks that are so popular right now. Thought I would preset a few different sources for creating some nice looking light leak effects. The Belarusian Chrysanthemum image above used the Light Leak tab (see below) in Nik’s Analog Efex Pro (Crisp – 5th row down-3rd over) to get this nice subtle effect on these flower.
Well I just found several good short Lightroom videos that Gavin Hoey, a great Photoshop guru from England, posted on his Gavtrain website. I followed his Light Leak Effect Creative Lightroom Episode 1 to get the beautiful color in this image of St. Andrews Castle in Scotland. He gives you two ways to do this, one using Graduated Filters (the left side of image) and one using the newer Radial Filter in Lightroom (the right side of the image). I was totally surprised how nice this turned out. First I applied Jack Davis Cross Processing 01 Lightroom preset (basically it is a higher Clarity, lower Vibrance and higher Saturation for the sliders, and a slight backward S-shaped Tone Curve – download his Lightroom presets on link above) before adding Gavin’s light leaking effect. In the Adjustment Brush settings that Gavin used, I did change a few settings to get the effect to look right on this image. The image was taken into Photoshop where Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Clarity was opened and the Architecture Collection’s Exterior Texture preset was applied as is – it really sharpened up the bricks on the castle. That was all that was done. I guess I got more of a dramatic effect, but I really liked the result so it is my customized “Light Leak Effect.”
Using a Photoshop Plug-in for a Light Leak Effect
This Santa image took advantage of the beautiful Light Leak choices in Nik’s new Analog Efex Pro plug-in. This one used the first one listed in the Soft list of Light Leaks and set to a 50% Strength – definitely created a little pop to the image. All but the Lens Distortion, Zoom & Rotate Blur, and Dirt & Scratches tabs were used. In the Light Leak tab there is a large dot on the image that can be adjusted so the light leak affects just the part you want. The candy cane border was created by adding a Stroke Layer Style (Position Inside, Blend Mode Color Burn, and Opacity 82%) and setting the Fill Type to Pattern using Christmas day by Photoshop-Stock pat 5 set to a Scale of 239%. Once again I love the vintage effect that Nik’s Analog Efex Pro gives to an image.
This image at The Old Village of Ayaymku in Belarus of a guy blowing a wooden whistle was processed in both Nik Color Efex Pro using Flypaper Textures Steps preset and then in OnOne (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Photo Suite 7.5, (but the new Suite 8.0 will have these effects), using their Light Leak 3 and Brushed Realism 10 set to 81% opacity, then Amazing Detail filter, and topped off with Sloppy Border 19 and the Tin Type 001 at 57% to get the real vintage look. I did not want to overdo the leak look, but it does add some colorful effects to the image.
Using a Light Leak Overlay on the Image
There are actually quite a few jpg Light Leak images on the internet that can be downloaded for free. The image above used one from Lomo Light Leaks by Denny Tang (scroll way down to download from website) – really nice light leak images. Have to talk a little about this image – it was an awful image taken from a moving car and the third shot I took in Minsk, Belarus. I wanted to see what the new Trey Radcliff’s (my favorite HDR guy) Lightroom presets could do with a bad image – I loved the results and I love the new presets – this one used Super Flatjack – really grainy and very subtle. Once in Photoshop I had to remove a whole bunch of electrical lines (see my Get Rid of Those Power Lines Fast – with Paths and Spot Healing Tool! blog). Next I applied Topaz Adjust’s Classic Collections Low Key I preset – another great product from Topaz. Of course, I could not stop there even though the image looked really nice – Nik’s Analog Efex Pro was added and the beautiful vintage color came out (used Basic Adjustments, Light Leaks which added a slight red tint using just a -36% amount, Lens Vignette, Film Type and Levels & Curves) and the layer opacity was set to 76%. The sky still did not look quite right to me, so now Denny Tang’s light leak was applied – set to Screen blend mode and 75% layer opacity – to add just some subtle interest into the sky. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added and I just dragged in the sky with the Targeted Adjustment Tool to get the color I wanted (note – used ALT+CTRL to get the Hue slider to change as the Tool defaults to the Saturation slider).
Hopefully you can see what a nice effect the Light Leak can create. They really add a little additional vintage feel to an image. It does not have to be overdone and with a Hue/Sat or Selective Color Adjustment Layer, you can tweak the colors for a great subtle look. Hope you get a chance to try out this technique. It really can add that little bit of extra interest into an image to really make it pop!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I have been really busy watching Creative Live and Jeremy Sutton‘s presentation called Intro to Photo Painting: A Creative Approach Using Corel Painter X3. Wow – had not realized all the things Painter could do. I have Painter XI and was able to learn a lot in spite of not having the newest version (on my major wish list now!). This week I am doing just a short post showing you a few tips on adding some texture from Painter into an image first processed in Photoshop. This is pretty basic info since I am not that well-versed in Painter yet, but I thought it would prove interesting all Painter user, especially those who have never used it much.
The violet image above was first cleaned up in Lightroom and Photoshop before saving a copy down as a JPG for Painter. Several brushes were then used in Painter: Painter 11 Custom Brushes by Mitkov Abstract 1 brush (these are a nice group of brushes that are a free download on Deviant Art), Jeremy Sutton’s “Jeremy’s Jittery Dabber” brush, and Fay Sirkis’s “Sea World Fan Blender” brush, along with others that were used in small amounts (more info on Fay and Jeremy’s brushes below). In Photoshop the Mixer brushes were used to do some clean up I missed in Painter and to add the text using Radium J font. The reflection of the violets was created by using the Clone Stamp Tool and in the Clone Stamp Panel, setting it to a 180 degree angle and Flip Vertical – turned out pretty cool. Just a lot of fun to create.
With the image of the little gerbera above, I was happy with the bokeh effect, but was disturbed by how bright the bokeh was in the image – really pulled the eye away from the main focus, the flower. By taking the image into Painter, other color and blending could be done just to the background to soften the bokeh spots in the background by replacing them with some interesting texture. This was done by finding a couple brushes you like and alternating between sampling a color you want, painting on the background, and then blending the texture to soften somewhat. In this case it almost gave a shimmer to the background. I am still using a regular brush that lays down color and a blender brush which blends it in. Now this could be done in Photoshop with the Mixer Brushes, but Painter has so many more brushes to choose from that it is easier to get some pretty nice textured results.
Much more was done in Photoshop in this image – just skip the italics if you are not interested. Details on how this image was created. The RAW file was first opened Lightroom and Auto Tone was used and David duChemin‘s Classic India Split Tone preset for the soft vintage colors. (Here are the settings if you want to create it: Split Toning Panel using these slider settings: Highlights Hue 50 and Saturation 60, and Shadows Hue 266 and Saturation 35.) The Adjustment Brush was used to slightly sharpen the flower. In Photoshop Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) DeNoise 5 was used set to Overall .07 and Shadows .47 since I wanted a little noise left in the flower petals. Kim Klassen‘s Brush 1793 was used to add some color grunge in the top part of the image and the layer was set to 61% opacity. 2 Lil Owl’s Workbook Bonus Texture Set-14 was placed on top and set to Linear Burn blend mode and 61% layer opacity. Nik Analog Efex was used adding these tabs: Basic Adjustments, Lens Distortion, Zoom & Rotate Blur, Light Leaks, Lens Vignette, Film Type, Frames, and Levels & Curves. As you can see, this was a major evolution! At this point the image could have been done and it looked pretty nice.
After saving as a PSD file, I saved it as a high quality JPG and took the image into Corel Painter. Since Analog Efex Pro changed the tone of the image when the pretty frame was applied, I could not remove it so I had to work with the edges of the frame in Corel. Painter is basically a pretty destructive program – I am find out that not every brush will work on layers above the canvas like it does in Photoshop with the Mixer Brushes. Therefore, most of the painting is done on the canvas itself. When it gets to a point you like, do a Save As and number it. Then go back and try some more painting and do the Save As again with a new number. I did this several times until I got a look I really liked. Basically worked with a Jeremy Sutton “Jeremy’s Jittery Dabber” brush from his Painter X Creativity book’s extra CD, and Fay Sirkis‘s “Sea World Fan Blender” brush from her Fay’s Master Brush Collection from Kelby Training several years ago (unfortunately it does not appear to be available anymore – her brushes are the best!) Since Painter has so many different brushes, and there are many available for free on the Internet including Deviant Art, it is pretty easy to find some brushes you like. By adding color and blending, the background is what resulted. Jeremy has a website that you can join and get all of his workspaces and brushes – see Paintbox TV.
The PSD file from Painter was brought back into Photoshop where a little Topaz Detail 3 was added – really added a nice edge to both the flower and texture in the background. I duplicated the layer and converted it to a Smart Object. Then I went into the Camera Raw filter just to fine-tune the colors in the HSL sliders. That was it!
This is just a simple frame that I created in Painter using a brush called Dems Oil Chunky Funky, a favorite of Jeremy’s and a free download. I saved the frame as a JPG and brought it into this image of the top of an old historic building that is the Armstrong Junior College building in Savannah, Georgia. The frame layer was highlighted and Select -> Color Range was used to select the white inside – then check invert box, click OK, and add a layer mask. There is your frame. You can adjust the opacity, change the blend mode, add Solid Color Adjustment Layer or Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to get the effect you want. Very simple. And you can use it on many different images if you save it with your own texture collection.
I hope you found this blog useful. Using Painter with Photoshop is really not that difficult and you can get some startling results without too much effort. I hope to be able to show some more techniques using both programs in the near future……Digital Lady Syd
Well this was a most unexpected and very much appreciated addition to the Nik Collection since Nik had not given us any hope that they would be updating or adding to their plug-ins. If you own the Nik Collection already and have not gotten the update, just go over to Nik’s website and download the trial – it will automatically update and add the new plug-in into your software for free. Since I am not very familiar with some of the older film processing, it has been fun to try some of these looks on my images. The above image is of the top of Lafayette Fountain in historic Savannah, Georgia. All filters but the Lens Distortion, Zoom & Rotate Blue, and Light Leaks were used on this image – that means the other 8 camera filters (Basic Adjustments, Bokah, Dirt & Scratches, Photo Plate, Lens Vignette, Film Type, Frames, and Levels & Curves) were added! (Other than Lightroom basic slider changes and a Selective Color Adjustment Layer adjusting the Reds and Yellows for more yellow tones, there were no other changes but the plug-in.) Since I love adding a vintage feel to an image, I am finding this plug-in to be one I am using more than I thought I would! All my original images are shown in the Tych Panel at end of blog so you can get a feel for what this plug-in actually does to an image.
All but the top image were taken with my cheap little point-and-shoot, which does not take the best images to begin with, and were then processed in the new Analog Efex Pro by Nik. It was a perfect match and I totally love the results. For the gumball machine image a basic Lightroom workflow was done and then in Photoshop the Adaptive Wide Angle Filter was used to straighten out the shelves a little. Since the edges got a little wonky, I added Kim Klassen‘s Serendipity texture set to Normal behind the image to fill in the blank edges with her beautiful brown texture. The last step involved add the new plug-in – opened up the Toy Camera presets and choose the fourth down, then just did a few adjustments to get the look I liked. Most of the changes occurred in the Basic Adjustments sliders and Lens Vignette tab. The Film was changed to the bottom middle one the Subtle group and a more Faded look was added. Not much to change here. For a quick overview of what each filter does, check out the Nik Collection Help link here.
What I Like About Nik Analog Efex Pro
1. It is totally creative and fun – what a big surprise since I was not even sure what these different type of old-time cameras did. Can make a boring image into something fabulous.
2. There are On Image Controls for most of the filters – very easy to adjust and set up in your image.
3. Love that you are not limited to the settings they want you to use for each of the camera categories. By going into the Camera Kit, you can add any of the other filters not used in the original camera preset. Totally creative use of the filters!
4. I love that they gave us Nik Collection owners the plug-in for free – totally made my day!
What I Don’t Like About Nik Analog Efex Pro
These are pretty minor gripes.
1. It would be nice if you could apply some of the filters more than once. For example, I would like to add more than one Light Leak on the same image. At least they can be moved round inside your image but not rotated or resized. It would be nice to have more border choices too or to be able to adjust the width of the frames in this section.
2. Not real happy with the Vary button since you never know what the variation will be and what sliders will be changing – just have to hope a nicer one comes up next. It can be fun to try different looks within the filter by clicking on the Vary button and if you hold down the SHIFT and click Vary, all the filter’s settings randomizes for all the filters being applied. Luckily you can get back to the original settings in the History tab as long as you have not applied the plug-in first.
3. No control points. Nik says at this point that the plug-in does support U-Point Technology but they plan on adding it in later versions. It would be nice to have that.
I am finding that if I get settings I like, I am saving them down as presets such as SJ Toy Camera-gumballs. Since I have been using the Vary button a lot, this seems to be the only way to save those effects to use again. It is nice there is Smart Object capability which will save these settings, but you would have to open the original image that contains them by moving all the settings or writing down the settings and resetting to a new image to achieve the same look.
This guy below was an image taken at the wonderful Gulfstream Family Day in Savannah, Georgia, a while back. He really screamed vintage to me so he got it!
This image needed some major clean up since there were distracting feet at the top and a rope on his foot, and it just did not seem right to have this beautiful bird looking this way. In Lightroom just basic changes were done. In Photoshop the Patch Tool was used to get rid of a lot of the problem areas. In Analog Efex Pro the Wet Plate Camera 9 preset was used as a starting place. I removed some of the filters on the right by going into the Camera Kit and picking what ones I wanted removed and what I wanted added. This really is a trial-and-error process since every image I process comes out quite different when applying similar effects. The Wet Plate presets are quite lovely and I could have used several of them on this beautiful bird. The plug-in really is one of those that is just plain fun to use.
A cowboy picture is definitely a worthy image for this plug-in! This guy was up on tall stilts greeting everyone coming into Family Day – what fun! Just the basic panel sliders and cropping were used in Lightroom before going into Photoshop. Then Analog Efex Pro was applied – not sure what I started with but the following filters were used: Basic Adjustments, Bokeh at 45% blur strength, Dirt & Scratches at 67% strength, Photo Plate at 31% strength, Lens Vignette left for darker edges, Film Type at 100% strength, and Frames. It does not seem to matter where you start if you plan on adding the filters you like and saving it as a preset. Very simple to use. That was all the changes made on this image.
This may be my favorite image I have processed using the new plug-in. Again not much done in Lightroom except for a dramatic crop. In Photoshop I applied a saved preset I had used on my first image using this plug-in and saved the results at a preset. So you can compare how the strengths and filters varied, I have given you basic strength settings. It started with a Vintage Camera preset and the Basic Adjustments, Bokeh at 88% blur strength, Dirt & Scratches at 82% strength, Photo Plate at 20% strength, Lens Vignette set to the right for a white edge, Film Type at 52% strength, and Levels & Curves dragging RGB curve down in midtones were added. The Camera Toolkit was used to get all the filters used. I added my own little edge frame as I did not like how the ones in the plug-in looked. I love the delicate colors in the final image!
As promised, here are the originals – don’t be too critical – my point-and-shoot is not the best, but as the saying goes – at least I got the shot! (Got to get my phone upgraded – on the to-do list!) It is pretty amazing what you can do with an imperfect image!
This plug-in is definitely worth a second look. You can get similar results using Photoshop or other plug-ins. But Nik does such a super job of interfacing with Photoshop, and they make it so easy to apply the effects, that I think it is a real winner. I think the greatest thing is that Nik is back and gave us another great plug-in – we Photoshop Nuts have to be ecstatic! This plug-in is lots of fun and I am starting to see many uses for it. I am now going to get back to having some more Fun with the Analog Efex Pro plug-in – please excuse me!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Using Nik’s Analog Efex Pro on a Historic Statue
This week I am celebrating three years of blogging on my Fun Photoshop Blog! I can’t believe it – time passes by so fast! (See My First Post – Painted Oleander.) Since my mission is to have “Fun with Photoshop,” so far it has been great fun creating this blog. The good thing about Photoshop blogging is that it takes some effort to really learn about a new technique or tool so that you can share it properly. This week I am taking a little breather and just looking back. Below is a little slideshow compilation of some of the images I used or created for my blog during the past three years. (It runs for 2:46.)
The slideshow was done totally in Lightroom using the Default template in the Slideshow module. The music is a little ditty called Malt Shop Bop by Kevin MacLeod that is royalty free – basically you must use music if you do a slideshow or it does not look good. It was then uploaded to my You Tube account and linked into the blog. If you have some photos you want to share, give this quick slideshow effect a try – very quick and easy to do.
While celebrating, I thought I would share with you a list of a few of what I consider are some of my most useful and favorite Photoshop things from the last three years. I find it funny that I often go back to my own blogs for steps on how to do various tasks that I don’t use that often (like creating seamless Panoramas) – another benefit of blogging!
Digital Lady Syd’s Most Used Blog Techniques From the Last Three Years
I do a lot of Photoshop technique blogs, and I use them all to some extent, but the ones listed below I use on a regular basis and are, should I say, my very favorite techniques. There usually is more than one way to do something in Photoshop, but I have found that when a technique sticks in my mind, that is the one to use.
How to Use a Selection to Draw Focus in an Image
Learned this technique from an Australian wedding photographer Yervant and use it all the time! Just works wonderfully!
Using Curves Adjustment Layers to Get Rid of Shadows and Highlights
This is a similar technique by David Nightingale, a famous photographer from England, as the one above and I use it equally as often.
The Best Dodging and Burning Technique!
I use this technique by John Paul Caponigro (one of best Photoshop guru’s) every day – period!
How to Create an Overlay Out of a Texture
I was pretty excited when I figured out how to do this. Now a texture can be added as if it were a vector and the color changed easily using a Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer clipped to the texture – opened up a whole lot of new possibilities. Beautiful framing or borders can be added to your image this way. Also a soft grunge feel can be used on the whole image to get that perfect effect.
HDR Using Photoshop Merge to HDR and Nik”s HDR EFex Pro and Silver Efex Pro? Wow!
This is definitely one of my favorite blogs on post-processing landscapes and it was developed by one of the top Photoshop guru ladies, Katrin Eismann. Everything she does in Photoshop is wonderful and creative! This blog discusses one of her many techniques and I still use it all the time!
Digital Lady Syd’s Favorite Plug-ins
Let the celebration continue! Since I am a big fan of Photoshop plug-ins I thought I would sum up what my very favorite ones are. This does not mean I do not use lots of the others I own, and they may be equally as good, but these fit my style and I use them regularly. My plug-in favorites are:
Nik Viveza 2
I have always said if I could only buy one plug-in, this is the one. I did not use it that much when I first bought it – thought it was like ACR – but now I use it on almost every image. What does it do? It will crisp up soft edges, adjust a color glare spot by letting you change the color with a control point, add a slight vignette around the edges, desaturate a color competing with your main focus, add clarity (structure) where ever you need it in an image, remove shadows, add warmth – all in very localized areas. It can fix up a ruined image in a few clicks. And it does it much quicker than the Adjustment Brush in ACR and Lightroom since you use their Control Point technology. See my Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem! blog for more info.
I love all the Topaz plug-ins – can’t say enough good things about this little company that keeps the big plug-in producers on the run (and gives free updates to its owners). Almost all their plug-ins have an interesting twist to them that can really make an ordinary image look creative and unique! My biggest surprise came with their latest release, Topaz ReStyle. I really thought I would not love it, but I use it all the time! It puts different color combinations together based upon the Saturation, Luminance and Hue of your original image that can make your image look totally different and incredible! I usually check this out as one of my final steps just to see if I can get a little better result. And I do not know of any other plug-ins at this time that can do this! See my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReStyle blog.
Alien Skin Snap Art 3
This plug-in blew me away! The results can be totally stunning, especially when you have a soft image but really like it. After setting up a few presets, and making a few localized tweaks in the image, it can make almost any image beautiful. This is not for a realistic image look, definitely for creatives. Alien Skin will be coming out with a new version very shortly. I use it all the time and it looks great with ReStyle. See my blogs Digital Lady Syd Reviews Alien Skin Snap Art 3 and Get Great Results with Alien Skin Snap Art 3 and Topaz ReStyle Together!!
There are several other plug-ins I use quite a bit, OnOne Suites (new version coming out very soon) and the Nik Collection (especially love their vintage effects), but the ones above I use the most. I also use Topaz DeNoise for problem images – by far the best around for this since you can target just the Shadows (or other areas) if that is where the issue is. And there are specialty plug-ins for HDR and black and white processing, that I use (see the last blog technique above), but maybe not quite as much those listed above. As an aside note, Nik recently came out with a new free plug-in for their Collection owners called Analog Efex Pro that appears to be quite intriguing.
Digital Lady Syd’s Other Favorite Photoshop Things
Photoshop amazes me when I see all the different things you can do with just this one program! Below are a few miscellaneous things I really like and, once again, use all the time.
Many panels are now being created to make things easier to access, including one I made for myself when painting in Photoshop – definitely a major time-saver. See my How to Create Your Own Panel for Photoshop blog. They are so handy to have. Perhaps the best ones are created by the brilliant Dr. Russell Brown of Adobe – I have written several posts on his panels. Check out my blog link above and scroll down to the bottom for several more blog links to other great panels.
I have to say that Fay Sirkis in particular has taught me so much about Photoshop brushes and hers are the best. In order to download them though, you need to be a member of NAPP (best Photoshop value for the money in my opinion). There are many other people with good brushes, but I still think Fay’s are the best! See my How to Turn a Brush into a Watercolor Brush blog for one of her wonderful brush tips. Click on my Photoshop Brushes category on the right side for more on brushes.
Wow – there is so much going with textures these days, and so many great ones to choose from. During the past three years I have had the opportunity to really learn about some of the great texture techniques and I have totally enjoyed the results. I have discovered new ideas and learned so much from many talented people. But what is the most fun is to create my own textures and I have tried to pass on tips about this. See my Texture Resources – So Many Choices! So Many Choices! blog for so many great texture sites that usually share their tips on their websites. There are too many of my blogs on texture techniques to list – just click on my Textures category for a long list.
This is a rather vague term, but I have learned so much from two major sources – Kelby Training and CreativeLIVE. Both present top-notch Photoshop and Photography experts and I always learn something from their videos. Kudos to them for making available the kind of videos that really help when learning Photoshop. Kelby Training (and NAPP) have a long track record of creating some great videos by the Photoshop Guys along with the most talented photographers. CreativeLIVE is fairly new in the process, but you can watch live shows for free and around the clock for the next 24 hours so you can decide if you want to buy the videos – I have several in my Photoshop arsenal. And there are so many wonderful things I have learned from the many Photoshop experts presenting at the sites above that I have not listed – Jack Davis, Ben Wilmore, Scott Kelby, Dave Cross, just to name a few. I would highly recommend either training site or both for anyone wanting to learn Photoshop seriously.
Well that about wraps it up on some of what I have learned over the past three years. It has been a pleasure to learn and try to share with you some of the wonderful things Photoshop can do – as much as I grumble about the software and all the changes, I could not live without it! So thanks Adobe for creating such a wonderful software and making it so much fun to do what I love! Let the Celebration continue and let’s have some more Fun with Photoshop!…..Digital Lady Syd
Please check me out at my other sites:
My short sister blog at Digital Lady Syd’s Tidbits Blog or click tab at top of this blog.
My personal website at Syd Johnson Photography
My Flickr Account at Syd Johnson (aka Digital Lady Syd)
Digital Lady Syd on deviantART where my recent give-aways are located
Digital Lady Syd’s Files on File Social for my older give-aways
Digital Lady Syd’s You Tube link
Three Year Anniversary Image Notes: Need to give a few credits for items used in the top image. The bottom texture is one I created in my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog – turned it to purples and blues and used the Blend If slider again set to This Layer 102/255 to get the edge effect I wanted. Used Mel’s New Years Brushes for the wine glass and some of the bubble background. Used Bubble Sparkler 2 by Cloud 9 for the bubbles coming out of the glass. Painted a layer with white foam for top of glass. Used Nagel Rough Pastel 3 for the rough purple color behind the glass. Used the Birch Standard font for the Celebration Time Is Here font and made one line into a brush that I sprayed on the image in different hues. The three year anniversary font is Angelic War and the I Must Blog font is Batik Regular. Just put them all together with different layer styles. Lots of fun to celebrate!
A few weeks ago I discussed one of the ways to use Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layers in my How to Use the Apply Image Command for a Cross Processed Look blog. This effect used two fill adjustment layers set to the Color blend mode to create a very nice effect. This week a few more tricks using them will be shown. The image above was taken recently in Savannah, Georgia, on a perfectly gorgeous Sunday morning. Color Fill Adjustments were used to make the beautiful colors in this image. But this is not the only way to use these rather obscure layers for adding “color” to an image. As shown below, they can be used as an overlay to add soft colors or localized ambient light to an image, or to match borders seamlessly to a finished image.
Adding Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layers to Add Color to an Image
This technique is just one of several I learned from Calvin Hollywood in his Color Adjustment and Manipulations video on Kelby Training. This is another top-notch Kelby Training video and Calvin has many great techniques once again. (See my Spotlight Effect With the New Subtract Blend Mode blog for another of his creative techniques.) This was a 3-image HDR TIFF file that used 4 solid color fill adjustment layers in Photoshop using the technique below. See image 1 info at end of blog for more details.
1. By going to Layer -> New Fill Layer -> Solid Color, the New Layer dialog opens up where the Mode can be changed to Soft Light and click OK.
2. In the resulting Color Picker (Solid Color) dialog, sample a color over an area you want to enhance in the image. To get a really nice rich tone of that color, choose a little darker color than what you sampled by dragging straight down in the swatch so it is just below the middle. In this images case, a rich brick brown, a turquoise, a golden yellow and a light brick colors were used. Be sure all the Color Fill Layer Masks are set to Soft Light Blend Mode.
3. Fill the layer masks with black by clicking inside the mask and inverting (CTRL+I ).
4. Paint with white in the layer mask over areas matching the color in the layer color thumbnail.
5. Now the layer’s opacity can be adjusted as a last step so you do not over-saturate the image.
Adding color in the image this way can really just “pop” the colors, and it can be localized to just include the colors you want more vivid. I find this definitely works best on images where there is a very colorful element in the image to begin with. You can see in the above the difference between just a tone-mapped image, and the addition of the Solid Color Fill Adjustments. And notice that the street and most of the greenery were not changed much – just the house colors added the pizzazz to this image. It takes a few minutes to do, but I think it is definitely worth the effort since the effect can be localized to just what areas you want.
This pink gerbera image contains two Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layers – one was added to bring out the pinks more and it was set to Saturation blend mode, and the second was a white one with a pattern painted on the layer mask to add some subtle texture to the background – it was set to Soft Light blend mode at 69% layer opacity. Both of these layers added some color shifts and lightening that I really liked in the image. See Image 2 info below for more about processing. You can experiment here using different blend modes and also filling the layer masks with black and painting in the localized effect.
Use Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer to Add Some Localized Ambient Light to an Image
Here is a great example how using a Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer can help lighten an image to give it a real warm feel. This image of a porch in Savannah, Georgia, was taken in bright sunlight but it did not have that real translucent golden-hour feel. I followed a similar technique as used above, but this time just a really bright Yellow Fill Layer was added, then filling the layer mask with black and painting back only the leaves and flowers, thus directing the lighting effect to areas I wanted brighter. I love the final look – a beautiful place to have your morning cup of coffee! For more post-processing info, check out Image 3 at end of blog.
Add Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer to a Border or Frame
I have used this technique many times where an already created PNG overlay file is used as a border and I want it to blend in perfectly. (See my How to Create an Overlay Out of a Texture blog.) By clipping the Solid Color Adjustment Layer to the PNG or JPG border (ALT+Click between the layers to clip), you can sample (click on swatch and move eyedropper in image and click on a color) to match the border to the image background color easily. This can give a nice finished feel making it look like you painted the frame in the image. Below, the Granada Bridge on the Halifax River in Ormond Beach, Florida, used a Watercolor Border Frame from another image and then a sampled light beige solid color fill was clipped above it and set to 69% layer opacity. For more details on image, check Image 4 information at end of blog.
The solid color fill adjustment layers are often overlooked but can be quite effective with some experimentation. Note that lots of the expensive actions use the layers in their actions setting them to different blend modes and opacities to get certain looks they want. Lots of fun once you start playing around with these layers and so easy to manipulate. Definitely take a look at what they will do and I think you will like the results. I know I did!…..Digital Lady Syd
Image 1: In Lightroom three images were opened in Nik HDR Pro 2 where the Graduated I preset was applied – top image in tych above. It came back into Lightroom as a TIFF where Basic panel sliders were set and the Lens Correction panel with the Remove Chromatic Aberration checked and Upright Auto used – bottom image. Next it was opened in Photoshop as a Smart Object. Note the Layer opacities were set at various amount depending on what looked right – you do not want to over saturate the image. Then just a little clean up to the sky area was done. Very simple process and quite lovely!
Image 2: In Lightroom just the Basic panel changes and some sharpening with the Adjustment Brush on the flower center. In Photoshop a bright pink Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added and set to Saturation blend mode to really bring out the colors in the background. Also in the Layer Style the Blend If This Layer black tab was split and set to 0/94 to add a little more lightening to the background. 2 Lil Owls Studio French Script Brushes 31 and 27 were added and the lines were painted off the leaves using a layer mask. Next a white Solid Color Adjustment Layer was added and set to Soft Light blend mode. I used a really rough brush I had created years ago to add a grainy feel to the whole image and painted with black into the layer mask of the fill adjustment. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added and the Output Levels was set to 30/255 to lighten up the image more. The last step involved adding Nik Viveza 2 to give the center a little sharpness and the edges just a little darkening vignette.
Image 3: I had to crop this image in quite a bit to get the look I wanted. Next Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) DeNoise 5 was set to an overall setting of 0.09. To get the fall look, a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added and the Reds, Yellows, Greens, Neutrals and Blacks were adjusted to get colors I liked. The Camera Raw Filter was applied to get rid of some purple fringing I found while clean up the image – worked great! Nik Viveza 2 (my favorite plug-in) was applied and the flowers were sharpened and saturated with control points. Next the Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added using the color #e7e148 and a black mask – just the leaves, flowers and gold fence tips were painted enhanced. Set to Soft Light at 57% layer opacity. Next a Color Balance Adjustment Layer for the pinks in the image (same process as the Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer) and another Selective Color Adjustment Layer for just the Yellows were added. It sometimes takes a lot of little tweaks to get the image the way you like it.
Image 4: The image was created using a technique I discovered. French Kiss Collection Studio 3′s White Wash texture (my favorite of hers) was applied on top of a white background in a New Document. Next the texture’s layer style (double click on layer in Layers panel) was opened and a Pattern Overlay was added that used my original image that had been saved as a pattern (Edit -> Define Pattern) along with a Pattern Blend Mode of Vivid Light, Opacity 100%, and Scale 53%. The texture layer was set to 55% layer opacity. Next a composite (stamped) layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) ReStyle’s Tuscany Memories preset was applied (set Texture to 0.33 and Structure to -0.44). Back in Photoshop the Sketchy font was used with an Outer Glow (Opacity 27%, Spread 44%, and Size 62 px) and Drop Shadow (Opacity 41%, Distance 9 px and Size 4 px) Layer Style applied. The frame I had created used my free SJ WC Salt Brush set to 69 px on a blank layer clipped on top and painted around edge of a different image to get a nice effect. This layer was then saved as a PNG file to be used on other images, as in this case. The last step involved clipping the Solid Color Adjustment Layer with the cream color sampled from the image to the frame.
This week I am just adding a few little topics for a change and I hope you will find something useful in them. Enjoy!
The Trapeze Artist! Creating a Simple Painterly Border
I just had to post this little Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly hanging almost upside down in a breeze on one of my pink pentas – it was amazing to watch! This image was really cropped down tight in Lightroom to focus in on the butterfly. Her body, legs and antennae were sharpened using the Adjustment Brush. Besides the basic tone adjustments, a Lightroom preset I created from David duChemin’s older Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom book (still a great read) that I call “duChemin Classic India” preset was applied. It contains just the Split Toning Panel using these slider settings: Highlights Hue 50 and Saturation 60, and Shadows Hue 266 and Saturation 35. It creates a really nice soft feel and I have used it many times. I love the simple things! In Photoshop I added Isabella Lafrance’s Facebook overlay called Bedrock set to Hard Light blend mode at 100% layer opacity that can be downloaded under her Freebies tab. I think her overlays are some of the best around! In a Layer Mask, the butterfly was painted back to make it sharper.
Okay – I cheated when making the light pink painterly border (not the sharp edge border on the outside) and took the next few steps directly from Creative Live’s 30 Days with Dave Cross – Day 7 on Layer Masks that had been running around the clock. Love this website and love Dave Cross! This process is a very “simple to do” look. A composite layer was placed on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E). Next a New Layer was created and placed underneath the composite layer, then filled with white (Edit -> Fill -> White). A layer mask was added to the composite layer and inverted to black (CTRL+I inside mask). Now to create the border, I used a Stipple Brush set to 30% opacity at 100 pixels to create a first pass at the border – painted in white on the layer mask. Dave used a Chalk brush in his tutorial. Then a Mixer Brush was used to make interesting edges around the image. (I used Dave’s Mixer Brush setting of a Round Fan set to Load and Clean, and load was set to Wet 100%, Load 90%, Mix 60% and Flow 100%, and do not check Sample All Layers.) You could stop here, but I decided to add a Color Fill Layer in pink to create a pink effect in the border just made – the Layer Mask was copied from the composite layer by clicking on the mask, holding ALT, and dragging to the Color Fill layer mask. Next the Properties Panel was opened and the mask was inverted, and the Density set to 48%. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added on top to put a little contrast back into the image. The last step was another composite layer where I added my SJ Thin Double Edge Frame layer style for a second finishing frame – sampled from the image to get the pink and green colors. Dave’s border can get a really nice painterly feel This can be a very creative border process – it was easy and a lot of fun!
Creating a Vintage Image
While listening to a Creative Live rebroadcast (this is a great site to have running in the background when playing around in Photoshop – just click on their Watch tab and select a show), I created this image. This is not really a tip, but is an example of how to combine old images, clip art, text, and textures to get a unique, and rather in-vogue look. I am a big fan of The Old Design Shop and am constantly downloading so many of Julie’s vintage images – this is a real treasure site if you love vintage items which I do! For this image I actually started with a New Document set to 10 inch X 10 inch at 240 resolution and then added in the American Agriculturist magazine cover from November 1879. It was too nice an image not to do something with. (On her website just click on her image to make it bigger on your computer and then right click and select Save Image As to download.) I took this image into my new document. First selected the beige using Select -> Color Range (see my How to use the Color Range Command with CS4 Through CC 14.1 blog) and exited to show a selection. Changed the swatch to black as foreground color and added a new layer; then CTRL+Backspace to delete the beige in the clip art and set the layer to Color Burn blend mode. A brownish Color Fill Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers) to the turkey art. Erased some of the edges out. Next I brought in Clip Art flowers from Dover Floral Bouquets CD Rom clip art 029 as a jpg – went to the Color Range Command and Sampled the white setting the sliders to Fuzziness 200 and Range 4 and Localized Clusters checked. Back in Photoshop a Layer Mask was created and it looked kind of nice, so I left the dark square around the flower and left the lines white. A darker color was added using a darkish brown Color Fill Layer clipped to the flower layer. 2 Lil Owls Workbook Bonus Texture Set 17 was added as a background texture underneath the above layers. A New Layer was added directly above the texture and Brush Lovers 1st 2000 brush was used in upper left corner (not available anymore but any nice flower petal would work). Shadowhouse Creations Text Brush 9, which is a nice script, was used and set to 39% opacity. A Layer Mask was added and the text was removed from the cover magazine and clip art flower areas. A greenish Color Fill Layer was clipped to the text to make it green. A New Layer on top and Kim Klassen’s squiggle 2 brush was painted on top of magazine cover. Kim Klassen’s Cloth & Paper touch1 was used as an overlay on top and changed to a light peach color. The last step was a Levels Adjustment Layer. This was a lot of fun to create – almost like doodling in Photoshop! I am not sure you can go wrong with any creative approach to this.
Lightroom/ACR Hand Tinted Portrait
This is a very simple technique I first saw from a video called Adobe MAX: Expressive Painting in Photoshop that Jack Davis (Photoshop Hall of Famer and very creative artist besides being the Wow Book guy!) did for the Adobe Max 2013. He does a beautiful vintage image of his mother using this technique. It involves first taking a color image in Lightroom or ACR and turning it into a black and white, digitally or actually scanning an old image that is already in black and white. The trick is to select the Adjustment Brush and set the color swatch to a color, then paint in different areas of the image with new brushes using different color swatches. You do not have to be real exact with your colors – that creates some of the charm of the image. Jack basically does this hand-tinting in just a few minutes. Needless to say it took me a little longer – maybe 20 minutes. For Aliona’s picture, 8 different pins were created each with different colors and slider characteristics. Remember when using the Adjustment Brush sliders that the Exposure and Contrast sliders are equivalent to Luminance in the HSL tab, and the Color Swatch is your Hue and Saturation. By combining these settings, you should be able to get the exact colors you want. For Aliona’s eyes and lips, the Clarity and Highlights sliders were adjusted to get the look I needed. A light pink tone was used on her cheeks. The lips used a darker tone of pink. Also a Radial Filter was used to emphasize her face. That was basically it – turned out very beautiful and unique. Take a look at the video for some other great tips from Jack too!.
I hope you enjoyed my short little blogs post this week. It is fun to try some little techniques and see what you get! Now go have some fun!…..Digital Lady Syd
Aaron Nace had this wonderful little tip to go along with his ad for his Phlearn website (this site has gobs of Photoshop tips) on Creative Live‘s Photography Week in September 2013 . The technique uses a rather obscure command, Image ->Apply Image, to add color to the highlights and shadows of an image quickly, thus creating a very nice cross-processed effect.
The above shows a sculpture of a little girl knitting by a Florence sculptor named Ella Pollock Bidwell – probably my favorite piece at the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, Florida. (See my Tidbits Blog The Art Corner: Little Girl Knitting – A Mystery Sculpture! for more on her story.) This image started with the Apply Image Command workflow as described below, with some texture and other Topaz (see sidebar for website link at my Tidbits Blog) Restyle to finish it off. For setting details, see Image 1 at end of blog.
Since I love St. Augustine, Florida, I am going to make you suffer through some history since this fountain is so different. The following two images of the terracotta Turtle and Frog Fountain in the plaza area of Flagler College has a unique history. The Fountain was created to be a part of Henry Flagler’s Ponce de Leon Hotel back in 1890. According to Summer Bozeman’s St. Augustine Then and Now book, the Fountain “…. was necessary to aerate the sulphur-infused spring water before it could be pumped through the hotel’s pipes into the guest rooms. The Fountain also served as a sundial, with each frog representing each hour.” There are 12 frogs and 4 turtles on this fountain. The book has a charming sepia toned back cover image showing two little girls in white garb sitting by the fountain. The walkway forms a Celtic Cross and the center of the fountain looks like the hilt of a sword – that one took me a long time to see! If you go to St. Augustine, Florida, you have got to take a few minutes and check out this beautiful building and its architecture!
The above is an older image of the lovely turtle fountain with frogs in the background that was a hand-held 3 image HDR processed using the free Lightroom Photomatix Pro’s Merge to 32-bit HDR plugin, if you own the HDR program. (This way I can use the Develop module in Lightroom instead of using ACR in Photoshop which I find the interface more difficult to understand.) The resulting TIFF file was adjusted using Basic Panel sliders before taking into Photoshop where the magic happens!
Create a Cross Process Effect Using Apply Image
I am going to list the steps of this very easy workflow:
1. Open image.
2. Go to Layers -> New Fill Color -> Solid Color Layer (or click on the third icon at bottom of Layers Panel and select the top item – Solid Color). Select from the Color Swatch a color for the Shadows (in this case a teal color was used #0a4642). Set this layer to Color Blend Mode.
3. Duplicate the Solid Color Fill Layer and this time set the colors for the Highlights. (This time a light cream color was used #e5d8b3.)
4. Highlight the top Solid Fill’s Layer Mask and go to Image -> Apply Image. This time check the Invert checkbox. Voila! There are your Shadows with the color applied to the shadow areas in the Layer Mask and in your image.
5. Highlight the bottom Solid Fill’s Layer Mask and go to Image -> Apply Image and uncheck the Invert checkbox. Voila! There are your Highlights with the color applied to the highlights in the Layer Mask.
6. Adjust both the Solid Color Fill Layers opacity in the Layers Panel.
This workflow can create some beautiful results. See Image 2 for the specific details for the above image.
This image used the same technique as the one above, just different colors in the Color Fill Layers. I wanted to try and keep this image representing the terracotta color that is so prominent throughout the building. See Image 3 at end of blog for more details on image. I really love the slightly nostalgic look I got from this combination of colors. And you should be able to see what a different look you can get by varying the colors. This is a great technique and so easy!
I did spend quite a bit of time using one of the more traditional ways to use this command. Photoshop User TV – Episode 100 had a tutorial called Experimenting with the Apply Image Command, which goes through some steps for combining two images into an interesting combination or by just applying a certain blend mode to one channel only. Ben Wilmore also did a series on Creative Live and in his Photoshop Mastery: Ultimate Mastery he did a section Apply Image Command. I did not get good results with either, but I think with the correct images, it could create some good results. The way Aaron used this command is very creative and definitely an easy one to put into your Photoshop toolkit!…..Digital Lady Syd
Image 1: This image uses the same steps described below with Color Fill Color of bright yellow for the Highlights and red for the shadows. French Kiss Artiste Summer Garden texture was applied at 59% and then adding a layer Mask to bring back the girl. Nik Viveza 2 was used to sharpen the face area a little. I was having a hard time getting the look I really wanted when I decided to try Topaz ReStyle. I cannot say enough good things about this program if you need some creative spark! This time I used the Pale Beauty preset as a starting point, set the ReStyle tab to 74% opacity and set Texture Strength to 100%. Next in the Basic tab the Black Level was really opened up at 1.00 and Midtones slightly adjusted to -0.17. The whole section was set to Color blend mode inside Topaz. Out came this really soft look effect – just what I would think a little girl knitting would want.
Image 2: To finish up the first image a Levels Adjustment Layer was used to add a little tonal adjustment to just the Midtones (0.89). Next a composite (stamped) version of the image was created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and it was converted to a Smart Object by right-clicking on the layer and selecting from menu. The Camera Raw Filter was opened and a Radial Filter was added to showcase the turtle in front. Nik Viveza 2 was used to add just a little more detail to the turtle’s face. Some dodging and burning was done to the front turtle using my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique blog.
Image 3: So the Highlights were set to an orange and the shadows to a blue. Alien Skin Snap Art 3 using the Factory Default as a starting point was used on this image next – this time the Photorealism slider was placed all the to the right so it does not look so painterly, just a little. The fountain was painted back lightly in a Layer Mask. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to create a slightly darkening feel the outside edges by dragging the far right top dot straight down to Output 145. Then I painted back the center to make sure it was not too dark and set the layer opacity to 81%.
I have to admit that I had no idea what a gobo effect was until I saw Mark S. Johnson’s nice tutorial on Planet Hollywood called Using Photoshop to Create Digital Lighting that goes step-by-step on how to create this lovely lighting effect. Mark is the creator of the fabulous Photoshop Workbench videos (also see his Workbench 398 – Digital Gobos for a video of the same effect) that can be accessed at his website – I have learned so many Photoshop tips from these workbenches over the years. Since this effect seemed so striking, I just had to try it for myself and found out it was not that hard to create. Mark gives really straight forward steps and I had never heard of the CTRL+ALT+T keyboard shortcut to copy and open Free Transform at the same time, much less CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+T to repeat the last transformation. Major cool stuff here!
So what is Gobo Lighting? Wikipedia explains that Gobo means “goes between optics” – a piece of metal with patterned holes through which light passes is placed in a beam of light to allow only the desired “shape” or pattern through, while blocking the rest of the light, casting a specific shadow/light into the space. When created in Photoshop, the resulting png file looks like an overlay with a specific design in it. It is a great way to add a little interest to a flat background. I see it used a lot with portraits, like in my bottom photo.
The image above was one I created basically using two textures, a flower object, and the 6-pane gobo created using Mark’s tutorial. Painted Textures beautiful Mountain Range texture was used as a bottom layer, and Kim Klassen‘s July Trio Red texture was placed above it and set to the Hue blend mode at 100% layer opacity. The Zinnia flower is one I had selected from another image so I just dragged it over into this one as a layer. Followed Mark’s video to create the 6-paned Gobo window light as a Smart Object. The Gaussian Blur Radius was set to 40 pixels in this case. When the lighting effect was transformed and placed correctly, a composite (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) layer was created and turned into another Smart Object. Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 was applied to this layer using the Monday Morning filter set to Sepia, Midnight filter set to Neutral Color Set, and Image Border Type 12. The Gobo window lighting layer was saved as a separate file PNG so it could be used in other images again, like the one below.
I decided to help you out with these steps. I have posted a free download of my two Gobo png files for your use up on Deviant Art. Enjoy!
Here is an example where the same Gobo effect created above was moved into this image and instead of it acting as a light window, it was reversed so that the inner frame is light and the window enhances the background colors. To do this, the png Gobo file created above was moved on top of this image. Using Free Transform (CTRL+T), it was adjusted so it lines up as a horizontal window across the image. Then a Color Fill Layer filled with black was clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip) to the Gobo layer so it turned the panes black instead of white. You could make this color fill any color you wanted to get a nice creative feel. A Gradient Fill Layer was added on top with the cream foreground color to transparent gradient and set to 66% layer opacity to get a nice soft bright look. 2 Lil’ Owls Studio’s The Artisan Collection Big Set 2-texture 5 was placed on top and set to Soft Light blend mode. Nik Viveza 2 was used to sharpen the center of the flower. Jack Davis‘s Wow Texture 02 Layer Style was added on top to give a little more texture feel to the image. This is “an oldie but goodie” layer style from a book I bought years ago called “Adobe Photoshop 7 One-Click Wow!” by Jack Davis and Linnea Dayton.
This image was taken by Premiere Model Management as a JPEG. My daughter-in-law’s wonderful image was first adjusted in Lightroom and an Adjustment Brush was used on her eyes and eyelashes before bringing into Photoshop. Topaz Black & White Effect Platinum IV was applied to get the beautiful color. I created a shuttered looking Gobo to add some interest to the plain background. Used the same technique Mark used except made it a double-pane, 18 horizontal lines down. In this case, a Gaussian Blur filter was not needed.
For some great Gobo effects that can be bought, check out Layer Cakes Collections Window Gobos. They really have created some interesting gobo overlays that I think would look great on all kinds of images. This is a fun effect and can add some unique or subtle interest to a plain image.
Thanks Mark for finding this one – really nice!…..Digital Lady Syd
I have not often discussed using the Color Range Command to make selections, but I do use it all the time! This blog is a pretty long explanation, but maybe it will help you understand what is happening next time you need it. I have always found its dialog box a little bit confusing. It was updated in Photoshop CS4, and then a big update was done in Photoshop CC recently. So I will go over both versions. Richard Curtis, who wrote a great blog called Photoshop 14.1 Update – Color Range Enhancements and Micro Contrast, explains the new features. Color Range always has had the ability to find Highlights, Shadows and Midtones, but the results were based on fixed values. With the CC update, you can now select a range of tones for each as Adobe now provides Fuzziness and Range sliders for fine-tuning (but no eyedropper sampling yet). This is a major improvement, although I still was able to create a very nice berry image as shown below using the CS6 Highlights in the Select drop-down menu.
The image above of is of Iao Valley in Maui, Hawaii (see Battle of Kepaniwai link for the significance of this area), and is an example of Richard’s use of his Micro Contrast technique (see Micro Contrast section below for more info and a screenshot) which added contrast to the distant trees on the far hillside. To really understand how to use the Color Range no matter what version you are using, I would recommend taking time playing with the sliders on a test image to try out the different settings – it is much easier to understand. And note that what you are creating is a selection, so all the other selection tools will work with it for adding to or taking away from the selection (like the Quick Selection Tool, the Lasso Tool, etc.) Just be sure to use the SHIFT key to add to a selection or ALT key to take away from a selection when switching to different methods. And the Quick Mask Tool works good with this command also!
Dialog Box Definitions
For all versions, go to Select -> Color Range. There is only one level of Undo in the Color Range Command. (Just for your information, if you are in a Layer Mask with the Properties tab open, a bad option is to click on the Color Range button in the panel in CS6. It has been reported this can cause Photoshop to act a little erratic and may even crash the program. I have not had a chance to fully try this out – so just be aware there might be a problem. It seems to work fine with CC as far as I can tell and I used it without a problem for my berry image using CC.) The dialog box should open with these options available:
- CS4 Through CC
Select: Default is set to Sampled Colors – check out the drop down menu (click downward arrow) to see if one of the other choices might work, but they have very limited capability with grayed out slider controls or eyedroppers as compared to the Sampled Colors choice, except in CC. To turn the Cancel button into a Reset button to set sliders to default settings, press the ALT Key and the Reset button. Very handy! To reset in CC use SHIFT+ALT keys. Note CS6 and CC also have a choice for Skin Tone that can be selected. See Detect Faces section below for more info. When selecting a Color in this field, I noticed that the Eyedropper will let you click on the image and does nothing, but it sets down a Color Sample point – to get rid of this, just highlight it with your mouse and drag it off the image. I also just found this nice tip in the free 798-page PDF download called Adobe Photoshop Help and tutorials. Here is a quote from their section on Color Range using a color in the drop-down: “To refine an existing selection, use the Color Range command repeatedly to select a subset of colors. For example, to select the green areas in a cyan selection, select Cyans in the Color Range dialog box, and click OK. Then reopen the Color Range dialog box, and select Greens. (The results are subtle because this technique selects parts of colors within a color mix.)” Also you may get this notice: “No pixels are more than 50% selected, The selection border will not be visible.” If so, the color chosen in the drop-down field does not contain any of that color’s hues with a high enough saturation to select.
Fuzziness: Martin Evening explains this best in his Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Photographers book by saying it “….adjust(s) the tolerance of the selection, which increases and decreases the number of pixels that are selected based on how similar the pixels are in color to the already sampled pixels.” Its default is 40 similar to the 32 Tolerance default for the Magic Wand – same principle in place here. While the Magic Wand selects more solid pixels as you increase the Tolerance number, the Fuzziness Slider selects more transparent pixels which leaves edges softer. Think of the Fuzziness Slider as a feather slider – just not as dramatic as the other Feather options. That is the major difference between the tools. (Thank you Lesa Snider, from her Photoshop CS6, the Missing Manual, one my favorite reference book). Lesa recommends setting this fairly low to begin with. In CC the default is 142.
Range: Adjusts the range of colors selected. This slider works with the Localized Color Clusters and will be grayed out if the the Localized Color Clusters checkbox is not checked.
Localized Color Clusters: When checked, the Range slider will be set to 100%, default setting, and looks across the entire image. To quote Martin Evening again , “….the Range slider lets you determine which pixels are to be included based on how far or near a color is from the sample points that are in the selection.” If Localized Color Clusters is unchecked, the Range slider is grayed out and cannot be adjusted. This feature allows you to isolate just part of an image. This is useful if you have two objects with the same color, and you only want one of them selected – just reduce the Range slider so that only one is selected.
Radio Buttons: Set to Selection. You can go between them while selecting to see the original image in preview pane. Since the pane is so tiny, I do not do use the Image button often.
Selection Preview: Many people leave this set to None as they find it distracting. Personally I like to see the selection on the image so I set it to Grayscale – this helps me tweak my edges since this is important for the texture selection and you can see the effect of the Fuzziness slider. This shows what the selection would like if applied to a Layer Mask.
Eyedroppers: To select, just click with the left eyedropper anywhere in your image that you want to select. SHIFT+click will add to the selection or click the Eyedropper with the plus sign and use ALT+click to delete or the Eyedropper with the minus sign. TIP: Can SHIFT+drag in your image to increase selection size quickly. You can also click inside the preview box if needed. Notice that when you click with the Eyedropper, the Foreground color in the Toolbar swatch changes to the sampled color.
Invert Checkbox: Remember White reveals (this is your selected area) and Black conceals. If it is easier to select what you do not want, go ahead and then check the Invert box. I do this a lot. Pixels that are partially selected will appear gray.
- CS6 and CC
Detect Faces Checkbox: For CS6 and CC users, this option is available. It helps make quick selections of faces so you can adjust just that part of an image or protect that part of the image in a layer mask. When using the Skin Tones in the Select field, it does not do a good job on all ethnicities. The Detect Faces Checkbox will become available if Skin Tones is selected. Lesa Snyder says it works only on a limited number of images – it tends to select anything in the image with the face colors present.
- CC Only
Select: (These are all notes and settings from Richard Curtis’s Blog from above who gave great examples. Watch the short video to really understand what I am repeating here.)
Highlights – Small Fuzziness value (like 20 for a 20% feather) keeps the selection tight with a Range of 190 (all pixel values of 190 thru 255 are selected just like on a Histogram or in Curves and Levels). These are the default settings. Change Range to 250 and it narrows the overall selection for Highlights. Set Fuzziness value to something like 80 (80% feather) and Range to 250 – the results of the feather start to include other tones. The Fuzziness slider gradually fans out the selection.
Midtones – Has two tabs that can be set. The default settings (area between the two tabs will be selected) for the Range black tab is 105 and white tab is 140 and the Fuzziness slider set to 40. Set black tab to 120 and white tab to 130 for a very narrow long blended selection. Change Fuzziness to 10 and the feather is restricted to 10% thus reducing the selection.
Shadows – Works like the Highlights sliders except Range selects lower values – for example a setting of 20 selects all pixel values between 0 and 20 for the selection. Default settings for Range is 65 and Fuzziness is 65.
Can save the settings as presets and use them in actions and scripts. Legacy default values are obtained by SHIFT+ALT and the Cancel button turns into a Reset button. For more info on the new update on this tool for CC, check out another Adobe free PDF download called Adobe Photoshop CC 14.1 update.
CS6 Color Range Example
One of the best uses of Color Range Selections is for creating a detailed Layer Mask. For this image done completely in CS6, I decided I wanted to use a texture in the background instead of the out-of-focus background. The first step was to decide what you want to select – what you want to delete or what you want to keep. It was easy to select the whites – just went to Select field and choose Highlights. See Screenshot below – the sliders are grayed out.
On a duplicated background layer, a Layer Mask was selected which added this selection to it. Now the Highlights (whites) are in the Layer Mask. Next the background layer was duplicated moved on top of the layers. Once again the Color Range Command was opened and this time a Sampled Color was used – browns and greens on the berries and branches were selected using the eyedroppers. It was not inverted since I wanted these items selected – it seemed easier than trying to select all the greens in the background. It really does not matter how you select, it can always be inverted once added – just click CTRL+I inside on the highlighted mask or go to the Properties Panel and click Invert button. The screenshot below shows what the second Color Range dialog looked like with the sliders working when using Sampled Colors.
In Photoshop the top two layers with the layer masks were highlighted by shift clicking the layers. Right click and choose Merge Layers – the layer masks are applied and the layers are combined. See Screenshot 3 below with the bottom background layer turned off.
This gives results that look a little messy, but can be cleaned up really easily by adding a Layer Mask or using the Eraser brush on the obvious areas. Now textures can be added below or above or both (which I did with this image using French Kiss’s Atelier MayDay texture twice, once set to Normal blend mode underneath and Divide blend mode at 44% above). Some clean up was done. To get the pretty colors in the texture, Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) ReStyle plug-in was set to the Mongoose and Nutmeg preset with a few adjustments.
Photoshop CC Color Range Example
I am using the same image so you can see the differences between the dialog boxes and some of the results. This time I used a little technique that I learned from Deke McClelland, another one of my favorite Photoshop gurus, on using the Properties Color Range button from some videos he did at Lynda.com called Photoshop Masking and Compositing Fundamentals.
To create this image, I duplicated the layer and added a Brightness and Contrast Adjustment Layer. It was set to Screen blend mode and used the settings Deke used, Brightness -125 and Contrast +100. Select the Layer Mask and go the Properties Panel where there is a Color Range Button. By clicking on it, the Color Range Command dialog comes up. In this case the new Highlights were chosen and the selection appears immediately in the layer mask of the adjustment layer. Pretty cool and quick! This was done again with different slider values using a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer.
Next one of 2 Lil Owls Workbook Bonus Texture Set 13 was added underneath the duplicated berry image. A layer mask was added to the berry layer to remove some areas that did not come completely out of the image since the green leaves in the background and the green leaves on the branches were very close in color, but overall it came out pretty clean and it was fast to clean up the Layer Mask. To get the final illustrative look, Topaz’s Black and White Effects was applied – this is a preset I created a long time ago that just works sometimes. This plug-in is simply fabulous for giving a different feel to an image.
Micro Contrast Technique
The top image is a good example of how selecting the Shadows in the new CC update can really add incredible contrast to an image. I followed Richard’s steps in his video and was able to get a really great image from a pretty flat one. By first over-sharpening the image in Lightroom, then selecting the Shadows in the new Color Range Command in Photoshop, and lastly adding a Selective Color Adjustment Layer, the image got the extra contrast it needed to make all the little trees on the hillside show up. This is a really great way to improve your landscape images! The screenshot below shows a comparison of before and after adding the Micro Contrast. Just an OnOne PhotoFrame was added to finish up the image – no Sharpening or Curves Adjustment Layers.
It is definitely worth the time to learn how to use this selecting method. Once you have applied a selection to a layer mask and see how it can be tweaked, it will be one of your favorite Photoshop Tools. The Micro Contrast technique is something that can be quite useful on the right images. Hopefully this info will help you out if you get stuck. Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd
Last week I did a blog on the “retro” effect (see How to Add a Little Retro to Your Shots) and was going to include this image – it really fits the scope of that blog. But then I wanted to go over how easy it is to create a panorama like this. Now Photoshop has the Adaptive Wide Angle Filter which helps get rid of all the distortion that used to be a big problem. I will say that this is a destructive process, unless you want to make a massive file by creating a composite or stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top to do more processing.
Basic Panorama Workflow
1. Need to take several overlapping shots to use for your panorama. Since this can be a very complicated process, I am not going into details on how to shoot a panorama. Just be sure to overlap 1/3 of the image as you take the shots. One quick tip – if you know you are going to take a pano, first take a picture of your finger to show the beginning of the images used, and the palm of your hand for the end. Now they are easy to find and put together.
2. Next the images need to be lined up and stacked using one of these three ways:
- After selecting your images in the Library module in Lightroom, right click Edit In -> Merge to Panorama in Photoshop – it now pops into Photoshop and the dialog opens.
- If using Bridge, select you images by CTRL+clicking on each and go to Tools -> Photoshop -> PhotoMerge which open up the dialog box.
- If starting in Photoshop, go to File -> Automate -> Panorama where you select the images in the dialog box that opens up.
3. Usually the default Auto setting works but if it looks funny, just do Step 2 over and choose another one – I have used Reposition at times.
4. At this point the layers are all Merged Down in Photoshop – do not use Flatten or you lose the transparent areas. Now there is just one large layer with some transparent parts.
5. My experience says to do this step next, although it can be done after Step 7. Go to Filters -> Adaptive Wide Angle Filter and select Auto and the top left Constraint Tool. In most cases you will be straightening a landscape horizon so drag a line as far as you can across the horizon, then still holding mouse down, press the SHIFT button to make horizon perfectly straight (horizontal). Do this again from the middle of image to other end if you need to adjust both sides of image. If lines look bent, drag down without holding SHIFT. This feature is available in Photoshop CS6 and CC. If you need a vertical line up, do same thing but drag down holding the SHIFT button.
6. Want to select the checkerboard to fill in. Double-click on the layer thumbnail to select the image. With selection still active, go the Select -> Modify -> Contract and set to 2 pixels – this blends the semi-transparent pixels on the edge. Then go to Select -> Inverse so the Checkerboard areas are now selected.
7. With the checkerboard selection still active, go to Edit -> Fill and select Use: Content-Aware and OK. The area will be filled with very similar looking pixels as in the edges.
8. Crop image the way you want – do not have to crop too close – want the image to be balanced. Can always use Content-Aware Fill again.
9. The last step is to clean up any areas that did not match up great in Step 7. The image can now be processed as any image.
The panorama of the Flagler Beach Fishing Pier above was created by, believe-it-or-not, hand-holding in a pretty stiff breeze. All I did was select the seven best images in Lightroom and followed the above workflow. I felt like the sky looked really flat so I added two New Layers, one using my SJ Clouds 1 brush at 4734 pixels and 92% layer opacity and the other using my SJ Clouds 8 brush flipped at 5000 pixels at 64% layer opacity. (Download my set of 12 free Cloud brushes here.) Be sure to try out the cloud brushes to make sure the clouds have the same highlights or it looks terrible – that is why in the brush palette the one cloud brush was flipped by checking Flip X in the Brush Tip Section. Now the image looked nice, but no retro feel. I keep going back to these two filters – they work so well together for this effect. Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 was applied and the Oil Paint (dry brush) preset where Saturation was increased in the Color tab to 42. A Layer was brushed in over the pier and people that maxed out the Photorealism slider so it has lots of good details. Another layer was placed on the foreground and waves that had much less Photorealism. The last step used Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) ReStyle’s Peppermint Gray preset to set the colors for the real retro feel I was after. The whole layer was set to 83% layer opacity and the image was complete. I loved how the detail is perfect in the image and yet the clouds look perfectly painted. I think this definitely captures Flagler Beach!
This image of Pololu Valley on the Big Island in Hawaii was created from 5-images. The above workflow was used and the Reposition setting (which just lines up the layers – no stretching or skewing) was used in the Photomerge dialog box. Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 stacked these filters: Darken/Lighten Center, Brilliance/Warmth, Tonal Contrast, Dark Contrast, Film Efex Vintage 14, Graduated Filter, and Image Border. Topaz ReStyle’s preset Tangerine Gauze was applied to a composite layer created on top. These settings were changed: Hue Fifth -0.11, and Texture Strength 0.45, Tone Black 0.06, Midtones -0.09, and White Level 0.09, and Detail Sharpness 0.06. In Photoshop a black layer mask was added and with a white soft low opacity brush, the clouds and parts of the valley were painted back. That is all that was done and I love the results!
This last pano image of some shops at Flagler Beach was just a little experiment I tried. I really was not trying to connect these two images, but did it anyway and got a pretty nice result. I have to admit the sky was a little crazy that day, but overall it gives a nice pleasing, still a little retro like from last week’s blog, look and it was fun to do. The workflow above was all I did to get the nice pano result. Topaz Adjust 5′s French Countryside preset was applied (my favorite preset in Adjust), and then a Color Balance Adjustment Layer to add a little more Cyan to the sky. The layer mask was filled with black and just the sky painted back. Then my favorite plug-in Nik Viveza 2 fills in all the shadows, color imperfections, sharpness and vignetting to make this image pop! It is unbelievable what this plug-in can do! The last step involved adding another one of my favorites again, Topaz Adjust using HDR Light Pop Smooth preset. Once again, a couple images I was not too excited about turned into a nice memory of the Flagler Beach area.
Photoshop is really an amazing piece of software and if you know a few of the tricks, the results can be quite spectacular. The Panorama function is very good, especially for the type of work I do. And it is not that hard to work with – my computer can handle the activity as long as I don’t load up too many images! Now that the Adaptive Wide Angle Filter is available, a very realistic image can be accomplished in just minutes. By following along with the workflow, you should get a nice result, even with hand-held shots like above, using this fabulous little sub-program in Photoshop. Give it a try!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I decided to combine a little Flagler Beach in Florida with a little Lightroom and Photoshop. Got a chance to get down to the beach recently on a beautiful day. This little beach is about as laid-back and what I call “retro” as you will ever find in the US. I just love this place! The retro effect seems to be very trendy right now in photography processing. When I think of what is retro vs. an old photo look, I believe that a retro look is what you personally remember or think something would have looked like when you were younger, not just adding some effects to make something look old. All the images in this blog have my personal retro stamp on them – they were pretty good to begin with, which always helps when post-processing your photos. The colors and softness are what I added to get my personal retro affect.
Create a Lightroom Preset For a Vintage Feel
The above may be one of my favorite recent photos. What a wonderful place to spend a sunny day and this family epitomizes what I think of as a great beach day, now or when I was younger! I was really happy to be able to get this nice effect from a Lightroom preset. First I downloaded a preset from Allen Mowery’s Photography Site’s blog entry called Allen’s Vintage Retro – A Free Lightroom Preset. His work is really interesting. Then in Photoshop I further tweaked it to make it mine and saved it as a new preset. The Luminance and Saturation sliders and Split Toning Colors adjustments from Allen’s preset gives this image a great feel. I added Basic slider adjustments along with a Tone Curve adjustment on the RGB channel by creating points on the curve and dragging to get a softer look. (Here are all my Lightroom preset settings if you would like to create it: Basic Panel Highlights -100, Shadows +45, Whites -53, Blacks +25, Clarity -27, Vibrance -2, and Saturation +39; Tone Curve RGB Channel Points at 19.6/27.8% and 52.5/56.9%; HSL Saturation Red -42 and Blue -83 – all others 0, and Luminance Red +25, Orange +19, and Yellow +21; and Split Toning Highlights 64, Saturation 56, Balance -54, Shadows Hue 229 and Saturation 23.) In Photoshop the image was duplicated and Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for link) Clarity’s Micro Contrast Boost preset was applied. In Photoshop a black Layer Mask was created and just the water area and a little of the people were painted in to get just a little more detail. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added using these settings: (27/0.70/255 and Output Levels 23/255). That was it! A very magical Summer Beach Scene!
This pirate stands watch at the doorway to Bahama Mama’s Tropical Gift shop a block off the beach. Looks like a cute place. Very little was done to this image after some cropping. In Lightroom three presets were applied – each one affected different sliders so three can be applied to get this look. An HDR Split Tone preset I had created a while back (Highlights Hue 52/Sat 64; Balance +49; Shadows Hue 215/Sat 50), Jared Platt‘s Sharpen Sharper preset which is just an Amount of 50, Radius of 1.0 and Detail 25 – pretty much the default; and Dave Delnea Backlight Horizontal Right preset which uses a bunch of different settings to get this effect (I just bought his presets and am using them a lot). In Photoshop Nik Viveza 2 was used – three control points on the pirate to draw focus. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added and the Output Levels was set to 18/255. The last step used Topaz Clarity’s Flowers III preset. I think it has a really vintage feel to it.
Using Photoshop Filter Add-on Plug-ins
Had to give this colorful surf shop image a bit of a retro feel – love the dogs, but maybe the tattoos give away how current this image is! (See Sullys Surf Shop Facebook link.) Only a few changes were done in Lightroom – just Lens Correction, Cropping, Auto Tone and Clarity applied. In Photoshop the image was turned into a Smart Object and taken into Alien Skin’s Snap Art and Oil Paint (Landscape – Soft) preset was applied. This filter can give a really nice vintage feel to an image. Two layers were created to bring back more of the photo effects on the people and dogs and the painted flowers on the building. A Layer Mask was added and with a large soft black brush set to 12% brush opacity, the details were further painted back. On a composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top, Jack Davis’ Wow Edges 01 was applied for a frame effect – it is basically a soft edge created by using a white Inner Shadow but I love Jack’s Layer Styles, even if they have been around a long time. That was it and it sure looks like a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning at the beach!
Just another example of using filters on an image to get a really nostalgic look – this time it’s the Flagler Beach Fishing Pier (the same one at the top of my Flickr site). The shot was a three-image, and the tone-mapped HDR tiff file was processed using Nik HDR Pro Deep 1 preset. On a duplicate layer Topaz ReStyle was applied using Teal Skies and Setting Skies color preset. Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was used and Monday Morning filter set to Color Set Sepia and White Neutralizer was applied. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used next with the Output Levels set to 14/255 to get a slightly hazy look. A Color Balance Adjustment Layer was next selected and Shadows Yellow to Blue was set to +14 and Highlights Yellow to Blue -50. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used next and the curve was pulled up to get a slightly over-exposed look. Because grain was added to this image in the HDR preset, it has a very vintage feel.
This beach image uses very similar processing as the one above, except there was a lot more processing done in Lightroom first. Once again three images were stacked to get a 32-bit tonemapped image (using Photomatix Pro’s owners free add-on for Lightroom Merge to 32-bit HDR). Then I set all the Saturation sliders to -100 and slowly started adding in the colors the way I liked them. The Hues and Luminance sliders were also tweaked to get the colors right. An Adjustment Brush was opened just the water was selected – then the Tint, Exposure, Contrast, Shadows, Clarity, and Saturation sliders were changed. The Color was changed to a turquoise color. Another Adjustment Brush was opened and just the people were painted. This time the Contrast, Highlights, Clarity and Sharpness sliders were reduced, and the Shadows increased to soften the people. Jack Davis’s Bluish Split Toning Curve was selected in the Tone Curve drop-down, and Dave Delnea’s Backlight Horizontal Left was used to brighten up the image. At this point the image looked pretty good, but in Photoshop Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened to add grain to the image. Jared Platt says they have the very best grain filter. So the Film Grain Filter was applied along with the one of my very favorite filters in CEP4-Monday Morning using the Neutral Color Set and the filter set to 55% opacity. That really made the image look the way I wanted it to look.
This image has a combination Lightroom preset and Photoshop plug-in to get this look. The more greenish aqua sky is one characteristic I think of when creating retro effects. Dave Delnea’s Lightroom preset Washed Vintage 01 and Backlight Vertical Right presets were used to get this beautiful color and lighting on the image. Then in Photoshop, Snap Art 3′s Oil Paint (dry brush) was once again used to get a painterly look. Three layers were used to bring in details more clearly. On a layer mask in Photoshop, more was softly painted out in a layer mask so you can see the chairs and windows more clearly. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to add some Midtone contrast and that was it! I could see myself living on the beach in this house!
I am finding that if I try out different combinations of colors and my filters, I can get a nice nostalgic feel to an image. I especially like the new Lightroom presets I got from Dave Delnea and Topaz ReStyle, Nik Color Efex Pro’s Film Grain and Monday Morning filters, and some types of media in Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 can turn an image into a very retro feel with just a few clicks. I really enjoyed creating a personal interpretation of what is my “retro” look……Digital Lady Syd
It seems like I have been using these Blend If sliders a lot recently. (See my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog.) For this blog I used a little known tip from the brilliant Ben Wilmore who explained a while back how to apply the blend-if sliders permanently (see his Photoshop Mastery: Retouching and Collage videos – this is a great course on CreativeLive BTW). Probably the first question is why would you want to do this? Firstly, it is one of the easiest ways to remove the white (or black) pixels from an image. It is a simple way to indirectly select and turn transparent the white or black pixels in a the background or complicated image areas for creating collages or adding textures. And secondly, it is a way to add texture to an image without it covering up all parts of the image – it keeps lines sharp as shown in the last image. This can be a major problem when adding textures.
Here is a quick reminder of what the Blend If sliders do. Double click on the layer to open up the dialog box shown below. By moving the This Layer white tab to the left, all the corresponding white tones (as seen in the black to white strip) to the right of the tab are removed from the the image and turned clear or transparent in the layer. For example if you moved the white tab left to 159, all the white pixels between the 159 and the 255 tone values will be removed. If you further split the tab (ALT+drag on tab to split) to say 124, then the gray tone pixel values between 124 and 159 will be partially deleted. The rest of the tone values will stay the same. These numbers correspond to the same values that are very visible under the histogram in the Levels Adjustment Layer – same concept here. See the screenshot below demonstrating the Blend If Slider dialog box info.
The individual Layer Style Blending Options on the left side can be applied by going to Layer -> Layer Style -> Create Layers. Each effect is lined up and clipped to the original layer so they only affect that layer. But when just the Blend If Sliders are changed, the Create Layers option is grayed out or ignored if some affects are checked on the left. Layer Styles cannot be Rasterized into one layer like Smart Object or Text layers. So here is the tip on how to apply those Blend If Slider settings and all other affects checked into one layer. Once you have the Blend If Sliders set up the way you like (and the Blending Options wanted checked), duplicate this layer. Next Create a New Layer Underneath the duplicate layer. Highlight the top layer and press CTRL+E or right click and select Merge Down. Voila! the layer is now free of its layer style limitations and shows an image with transparent areas that correspond to the deleted pixels. The workflow below goes into more detail.
On the resulting layer, textures can be added under this layer, the layer can be set to different blend modes and opacities, and new Layer Styles options can be added. My workflows below show how I achieved the results in the images in this blog. You are not limited to just the Blend If Gray channel (which is equivalent to the RGB channel), but in the drop down the Blue, Green and Yellow channels can be used alone or together to get some different results. Ben says to look at these channels if there is a big difference in colors in your image such as a blue sky and a green foreground. Also by selecting the resulting image layer (CTRL+click on the layer thumbnail) and adding a layer mask to the original layer or to a texture, some more very interesting effects can be created easily – and without a lot of hand-selection going on, which I always like.
Workflow For Using Blend If Sliders to Remove White From a Texture
1. Open up the texture and duplicate Background layer.
2. Add a New Layer between the two texture layers and fill with a bright colored color. This is so you can tell if you are getting the right effect with your slider adjustments and can be deleted when finished with the effects.
3. Take the top texture layer and make the tab slider adjustments to get rid of the white areas. In my image the white tab on This Layer was set to 124/159. (See screenshot above.) If you want to remove black, just move and split the black tab, and if you want both black and white removed, use both tabs.
4. Duplicate top layer with settings.
5. Create a New Layer underneath the top duplicated layer and leave it blank.
6. Highlight the top texture layer and merge it down by clicking CTRL+E or right click and selecting Merge Down now there is only one layer which contains image with Layer Style including Blend If settings applied.
The texture overlay applied to the Meadow Mushroom image above used Painted Texture‘s Taupe Canvas texture, The screenshot below shows the blue layer that lets me see what parts of the texture is still there and what were removed. Notice that I got a white result – this was done by following the workflow steps above and changing the black tab to a split 157/237 (instead of the white tab) – just a little of the colored tone highlights showed up and the darker areas were deleted.
You now have a basic overlay layer with just the parts you want from the texture or image. This layer can be added into another image (highlight layer, CTRL+A to Select All, CTRL+C to copy, and go to other document and CTRL+V to paste into new image) or saved as an overlay PNG file. (Turn off all layers but this one and go to File -> Scripts -> Export Layers to File and save in a 24-PNG format and add to your textures and overlay files.) To get some different results, try selecting this layer by CTRL+clicking on thumbnail and adding a Layer Mask to another layer. More Blend If slider settings can be applied to the result. There are all kinds of options. Try inverting the Layer Mask (CTRL+I on Layer Mask) to see how it might look on different backgrounds.You can now get really nice embossing on the edges as shown in the image above. And you can save different versions using the same texture.
Remember that if you are getting some color shifts on composite (merged layer using all the layers underneath – CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) after using the Blend If Sliders on a layer, the work-around is to just set the Fill Opacity to 0% on the composite layer. Also another little thing I noticed is that if one of the check boxes for Channels R, G, or B is unchecked, you get some really odd color shifts when you merge the layer down so don’t mess with these unless you like the results. Also, don’t get discouraged if it does not work out on the image you are trying it on – it does not work for all images.
Using Blend If Sliders to Remove White in Image to Let Texture Show Through
This image was one I used in a previous blog (see my Flickr Image for original). Just showing you a slightly different way of doing what was done to the texture example above. I decided to remove the white in the original image using the Blend If sliders and to place a texture under the resulting transparent layer to add a painterly look. The same workflow as above was used – this time it was used on the image instead of a texture and of course it is not saved down as a PNG file (unless you wanted to use it that way). I really liked the how the texture showed through the transparent areas in this image. Basically by converting the RAW file to a pretty monochromatic (see my Get Great Results with Alien Skin Snap Art 3 and Topaz ReStyle Together!! blog) image and then removing the whites, the texture shows through very nicely.
You can paint more in the Layer Mask using different brush opacities to hide more or less of the underlying texture that you added. You can also add another Layer Style to the layer that contains the transparent image. All kinds of possibilities are present including changing the blend modes.
Here is another image that uses the same workflow steps as the Belarusian Countryside image. In this case the image was turned into a sepia tone in Lightroom before opening in Photoshop. Three textures were combined to get this effect after creating a layer mask of everything except the sky basically. The This Layer Blend If settings in this case were split Black tab 56/78 and White tab 102/161. As you can see, quite a few black tones and white tones were removed from this image. I really liked the final result which added a lot of texture throughout the image without covering up the actual details in the image. (See Image 3 for more info on settings.)
This is such a great way to get some wonderful and unique effects that can be reused on other images. The reason this is major cool is that you can add layer styles to these resulting layers and even more Blend If sliders. And it really is not that hard once you try it a couple of times. It seems we are always looking for ways to add something just a little different to our images and this may be one to keep in your arsenal just for that purpose. And it is so much fun to try on different images – and that is what it is all about!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
My Version of Photoshop Tennis! -Sixth Image is another good example of using the Blend If Sliders
Image 1: This is another shot of a large Meadow Mushroom that appeared in my yard recently. In Photoshop the image was processed in Nik Color Efex Pro 4 where the B/W Conversion filter was set to Dynamic Control and an opacity of 56%; Film Efex/Vintage was set to Film Type 11 and 85% opacity; and Bi-Color Filters set to Color Set 3 with a control point placed on a mushroom at 39% opacity and an overall opacity of 20%. Next French Kiss Collections Artiste May Roses texture was applied. The mushrooms were lightly painted out in a layer mask. A New Layer was added where I added a little white cloud in the upper right of image at 89% layer opacity. Next Painted Textures Taupe Canvas was added to image – but I used the one created from the texture with the white removed from the texture and inverted. It was set to a Difference blend mode and a pink Solid Color Fill Layer was added to turn the remaining texture to a pinkish color. The Blend Mode made the color actually look dark blue which I really liked. A Bevel and Emboss Layer Style Effect was added to the layer. Some of this effect was removed from the mushroom with a layer mask. A composite layer was created on top (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) . The background was darkened and the mushroom brightened.
Image 2: For this image, French Kiss Collection Tableaux WindSong 2z was applied on top. Next the composite layer (which was the charcoal image posted previously) was duplicated and the Layer Style opened up. This Layer Blend If White tab was split and set to 102/184 and in the Underlying Layer the Black tab was split and set to 191/194. Since this image had the texture underneath, the Underlying Layer tabs could also be manipulated. The Blend Mode was set to Vivid Light. A Brightness/Contrast layer was added with no settings and set to Multiply at 28% layer opacity – to darken image just slightly. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added next to add contrast to the midtones and darker areas. The Blend If layer was duplicated and placed above – a blank New Layer was set underneath – then the layers were merged together to apply the Blend If sliders to make transparent some of the white and black tonal areas. A selection was made by CTRL+clicking on the thumbnail and adding a Layer Mask to the original Blend If layer. Since all this did was select the structures, and I wanted the transparent areas preset, it was inverted by clicking CTRL+I in the Layer Mask so the texture will show through this layer. A white border was created using Photoshop’s Natural Brush Spray 41 pixels in a white color to create the white edging. Another Curves Adjustment Layer was added just for brightening up the image to emphasize the white a little more. A composite layer was added on top and the Fill Opacity was set to 0% to reduce the color shift.
Image 3: As described above, a sepia tone preset was used on this image in Lightroom. Painted Textures Confetti texture was set to 12% on top of the original image. Next 2 Lil’ Owls Mosaic Set Benoit texture was added at 12% opacity also. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added and clipped to the top texture and set to Hue 57 and Saturation 12. Next the original background layer was duplicated and placed on top where the Blend If sliders were set as described above. The steps were followed with the a duplicate copy merged down, a selection created, and a Layer Mask added to the layer above the textures and to the Confetti texture. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added and contrast was added by pulling down on the curve. Next 2 Lil’ Owls Light It Up Mini Set 1 texture was added and set to Color Burn blend mode. French Kiss Collections free Glorious Grunge Edging was added and the Color Fill Layer was clipped to the edging and set to a light yellow. On a composite on top, the Fill Opacity had to be set to 0% to stop the color shift.
The above image is a modeling shot taken of my daughter-in-law with Painted Textures beautiful Seafoam texture added above. The first tip below was used to apply the texture. This week I thought I would pass on a couple painting tricks I am currently using. (See Image 1 in Image Notes at end of blog for more info.)
Creating a Nice Simple Brush for Painting Out Textures
These were fairly good-sized mushrooms that popped up in my yard this week – had to take a picture of them as the natural texture of the mushrooms was so pretty. (See Image 2 in Image Notes at end of blog for details and resource info.) Painted Textures Christmas texture was added and on a layer mask, the mushrooms were painted back using a very simple brush – Photoshop’s Chalk Brush 60 with the Shape Dynamics Angle Jitter set to 19% and a brush opacity of 30% – I use this brush all the time to add a painterly edge to textures. By changing the Angle Jitter setting just a little, a different looking stroke is laid down each time. Use this brush at different sizes and opacities (I often start at 12% opacity) to get the effect you like. It has a little bit of a watercolor brush look to it, but build up the effect by painting over the areas several times. It really works great for painting out textures in masks. It works very well for creating the frames that many of the painted-looking images require.
Clipping a Texture to a Border for Extra Effect!
This may be one of my favorite images that was just a quick snap taken on my porch. It has an autumn Victorian feel to it! What was done with this image to get this look? Lightroom and Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 created the painterly effect. (See Image 3 in Image Notes at end of blog for details.) What I discovered is that you can actually clip a texture to the frame (ALT+click between layers to clip the top texture layer to the frame below) to get some very interesting textures applied to them. In this case Kim Klassen‘s July Set Rue texture (if you are not on her newsletter list, get on it to receive beautiful free textures like this one) was clipped to the frame to give the vintage feel to the whole image. You can try any of your favorite textures.
Saving a Border You Created
Remember you can always save any borders you create by selecting just the border layer. Turn off all the other layers by ALT+clicking on the border eyeball and go to File -> Scripts -> Export Layers to File and select the PNG-24 default settings. Click Run button and Voila! you can drag it into any image you are working on as a border. In the case above, a frame was created using my free SJ WC Salt Water Brush. Then just clip a texture to it (as described in section above) and adjust the layer opacity of the clipped texture (and don’t forget to try different blending modes too). For more information and a visual of the PNG dialog box, check out my How To Make Frames or Borders blog.
Add Blend If Sliders to Textures for Extra Texture
This large Barking Tree Frog that fell out of my Palm Tree while it was being trimmed was very patient while I photographed him. It only lasted a few minutes, but he was very still for me – I love his little hands. This is the same frog that was in my Viveza 2 Does It Again! Tidbits Blog. Three of Kim Klassen’s textures were added and the Blend If sliders were applied to her textures to get the above effect. The combined Blend If slider adjustments give that sort of spotty grungy look that I liked for the nature image. (For details on which textures and settings see under Image Notes – Image 3 at end of blog.) I covered these sliders in a previous blog, but this image shows more exact results of what the Blend If sliders can create. (See my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog link.) One important thing to watch out for is a color shift if a Stamped (or Composite layer) is created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) – just set the Fill (not Layer Opacity) to 0% and it will work fine.
Using a Pattern Overlay Layer Style to Add a Texture Effect to a Border
These large Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies love my yellow and bright pink Lantana flowers in my front yard. This girl had her eye on me – my camera makes those little click sounds and some of the butterflies are disturbed by this – but it did not stop her from what she was doing. All the techniques described in this blog were used in some way on this image border. Another way to add texture to your border layer is to use a Pattern Overlay Layer Style (just double click in the layer to the right of the thumbnail to open up) – then by clicking on the words Pattern Overlay (the check box does not open up the dialog info for it), a pattern can be selected in the drop-down menu. , The pattern can be moved around by dragging the mouse in the image and moving the texture, and blend modes, scale, and texture opacity can also be adjusted.
The border above was created in white on its own layer using pastel brush settings in the Image 5 notes below. A bright pattern was stretched to 852%, which is okay since it is just for a little bit of border color (normally this is way too high and the pattern is greatly degraded unless it is a very high resolution pattern). A bright yellow-green texture was added on top and the Blend If tabs were adjusted to slightly break down the edges to give more texture in the border – these settings are also listed below. Check out my short More Border Fun! blog for another example on how to do this.
Converting a Texture or Image to a Pattern
This concept can be a little confusing since Photoshop seems to use the word texture and pattern interchangeably. Basically the way I see it is that a texture is usually in a JPEG or PSD format while you must use a special extension, PAT, to use the Photoshop Pattern items. This includes using the Pattern Stamp Tool, Pattern Fill Layer, Content Aware Fill Pattern, and Pattern Overlay Layer Style. Note that any texture or image can be easily converted into a pattern by opening up the texture in Photoshop, go to Edit -> Define Pattern. A dialog opens up and the texture or image name appears in the Name field. Now when you open up the Pattern drop down list, it appears at the end.
I hope some of this info will help you with your basic texturizing and painting of an image. They are really simple tips that can be big time-savers. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd
Image 1: This image was taken by Premiere Model Management as a JPEG. My daughter-in-law’s beautiful image was first adjusted in Lightroom and an Adjustment Brush was used on her eyes, eyelashes and eyebrows before bringing into Photoshop. Painted Texture’s beautiful Seafoam texture was added and a layer mask was added where the Chalk brush was used to hide and reveal the image underneath using different brush opaciites. In the Layer Styles Blend If section, the Underlying Layer black tab was split and set to 5/17 which brought out the jean outline nicely. A composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created on top and made into a Smart Object. The Camera Raw filter was opened and the image was adjusted to correct her skin tone with the texture around it. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added on top to add back just a little bit of contrast into the image, and her face was painted back so the effect was not on her skin.
Image 2: Took a 3-shot HDR and selected PhotoMatix Pro’s Merge to 32-Bit HDR to create a Tiff in Lightroom before adjusting the Basic Panel sliders. I bought some really beautiful Lightroom presets at Craft and Vision by Dave Delnea and applied his Washed Tropics Look3 preset – I really like his photography style too. (Craft and Vision is one of my favorite places to get interesting and inexpensive E-books and was created by one of my favorite photographers David duChemin.) In Photoshop just did a little clean up removing a strand of grass. Next Nik’s Viveza 2 was opened and a control point was added to each mushroom to add a little structure and adjust the tone. The last step involved adding Melissa Gallo’s Painted Textures Christmas texture. As noted above, a layer mask was added to the texture and the Chalk brush was used to add in the painterly border. In the Layer Style the This Layer white tab was split (ALT+click on tab to split) and set to 48/173. I really love what the texture did to bring out the color in the mushrooms!
Image 3: First in Lightroom I used my old SJ Vivid Drawing Look preset – still works pretty good when converted to Lightroom 4 and 5 settings. In Photoshop Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 was opened up and the Watercolor Abstract preset was applied using Cold Press Paper in the settings. Three layer effects were used to add back some Photorealism to the flowers and clouds in the background. Different brushes were used on each layer so experiment with this when you set up the layers. Back in Photoshop the next step was to create a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle was opened where the Cream and Plum preset was selected. Settings were: Color Style Sat – Primary -0.30 and Fourth 0.44, and Lum Primary set to -0.37; Texture Strength -1.00. In Basic Section, Color Temperature set to 0.36 and Saturation -0.11, Tone Midtones to -0.14, and Detail Sharpness 1.00. This preset brought the nice fall colors. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to increase contrast. On a New Layer a border effect was created around the image by using my SJ WC Salt Water Brush painting in white.
Image 4: This time I added Topaz Clarity to the image using the Morning Dew preset and then I popped into Topaz ReStyle, their new plug-in, and changed the color to more of a greenish-brown color scheme. Started with Gable Green and Gandis. Changed these settings: Color Style: Sat – Primary 0.75 and Fifth -0.30; and Lum – Primary -0.31, Third -0.83, Fourth -0.20, and Fifth -0.66; Texture Strength 0.72; Color: Detail Structure 0.03 and Sharpness 0.42. Three Kim Klassen textures were added this time: Loveinlayers (set to Hard Light blend mode, 69% layer opacity, and in the Layer Style the Blend If This Layer white tab was split (ALT+click on tab) and set to 182/216 and Underlying Layer black tab set to 0/56.) and the B channel was unchecked): Ugglovebandw (set to Linear Light blend mode, 94% layer opacity, and in the Layer Style Blend If This Layer white tab split and set to 156/205 and Underlying Layer black tab set to 45 – a layer mask was added to texture to remove some of the black in the final result for this layer); and UggLove Ugglove (set to Hard Light blend mode, 96% layer opacity, and in the Layer Style This Layer white tab split to 159/175.) A New Layer was created and set to Overlay blend mode – with a low opacity soft small brush, some of the areas I wanted to emphasize were painted in. (See my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog for info on this.) A Curves Adjustment Layer was created to get rid of the over-dark blue tones in the shadows by changing the colors in the Red, Green and Blue Curves. The last step was to add a stamped or composite layer that is composed of all the layers on top (SHIFT+ALT+CTRL+E). When this was done, the color changed in the image. I believe this was due to the Blend If Layer Style changes. I figured out that to get around this, set the Fill Opacity for the composite to 0 and it is no longer an issue.
Image 5: In Lightroom the Lens Profile and Remove Chromatic Aberration boxes were checked, and then the image was cropped tight and switched to Portrait layout. Another preset from Dave Delnea’s group, C+V Washed Vintage 001 preset (link in Image 2 info) was applied and the butterfly was painted over with an Adjustment Brush with the Saturation, Exposure, Sharpness and Clarity sliders were adjusted to sharpen his body and eye a little. In Photoshop a duplicated layer was made (CTRL+J) and the image was opened in Topaz ReStyle. I am finding I always check this out before going on as sometimes I can get a slightly better color palette for an image, as I did in this case. Used Moody Collection’s preset Wedgewood Blue and Tan. Set Structure slider to -0.39. In Mask painted out the butterfly and foreground area to keep background blurry but not foreground. Back wing was set to just a little blur. This was a great way to sharpen the foreground area and slightly blur the background to direct the eye to the butterfly. Nik’s Viveza 2 was applied as a Smart Object with several control points placed on the background to slightly desaturate the area around the butterfly wings, and some to sharpen and add a little more saturation to the foreground colors. Back in Photoshop a Curves Adjustment Layer was chosen and just a little more contrast added to the outside areas by dragging down on the curve – then in the Layer Mask the butterfly was painted to appear a little brighter to draw the eye a little more. This is just standard processing. Now a border was created using a basic Photoshop Pastel brush from the Natural Brushes 2 set and in Brush Tip Shape set the spacing to 81% and size 60 pixels, Smoothing was turned on, and Shape Dynamics Angle Jitter set to 10%, just like in the Chalk Brush. The edge was painted in white around the image where I wanted. A Pattern Overlay Layer Style (click fx at bottom of Layer Panel and select) and this time a free brightly colored pattern was used that contained the colors of the image. The one used is from 10 Splatters Patterns by Idealhut 07 pattern. The Pattern Opacity was set to 46% and the Scale was set to 852%. The pattern was moved around to get the effect I liked. Next French Kiss Artiste Collection’s Autumn Leaves texture was clipped on top of the border. In the Layer Style the Blend If This Layer black tab was split and set to 82/120 and the white tab was split and set to 151/214.
This week I am just going to show just a short little trick. Alex DuKal did a post called Real Time Symmetry in Photoshop CS6 and John Nack picked it up on his Adobe blog (see Symmetrical drawing in Photoshop). Alex uses Smart Objects to create layer symmetry in Photoshop. There are roughly 11 steps to creating the above effect, but John Nack on his blog link above has created a free Photoshop PSD file to use so you do not have to go through all the steps in the video. Basically just open up the top Smart Object and add your image or texture, then CTRL+S to save the update and you get a perfect mirror of your image. The pix above used two different Monarch butterfly images recently shot. The sideways butterfly was brought into the top Smart Object file that once updated, created the mirror image. For more post-processing info, check out Image 1 at end of blog. I add this info so that you can find resources if you like some of the effects – you don’t have to follow along on all the details.
This basic image was created for a my Create a Winter Scene with Photoshop Brushes and Textures blog – check it out for the details on brushes used. The two deer are from Shadowhouse Creations Rural Objects Brush Set. Same process as above to get the mirror effect.
OK – this was one I was totally just playing around and having some fun doing – I jokingly say this is my Bunny Rabbit from the Hat – he is looking down on the fish with two of the fish hatching out of the bowl! The Symmetry really brought out an interesting story! For info on how this image was created, see Image 3 below.
This is really a fun application to try. It takes a minute to see what type of image would look good mirrored, but if you don’t like it, just don’t used the PSD file. I did a blog called Instant Mirror and Quick Mirror for Photoshop a while back that gives some different symmetry effects. If you want to try something a little different, download Alex’s file and give it a try. It can actually give some different results that you just might like!…..Digital Lady Syd
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Take the Time to Experiment!
Digital Lady Syd’s Rule No. 1: Take the Time to Experiment!
A Little Kaleidoscope Fun!
Image 1: Just the basic sliders were used in Lightroom along with the Adjustment Brush to sharpen and add clarity to the butterfly. Once in Photoshop, the image was taken into the PSD file. This image was opened up in the Smart Object and some clean up was done on the image. Also 2 Lil’ Owls Studio The Artisan Collection Big Set 2-Texture 2 was added twice as an overlay texture that I created (see my blog). The Smart Object was saved and back in the main file, a stamped layer was created on top (CTLR+ALT+SHIFT+E). Next another butterfly image was opened in Lightroom, settings from original image copies, and opened in Photoshop. The butterfly was selected from the image and brought in as a layer to the symmetry layer. It was turned into a Smart Object and the Camera Raw filter was opened to make this butterfly really look the same as the other one. Another stamped layer and another Smart Object was applied. This time Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 was opened and the Favorites Pencil Sketch preset was selected with no changes. This layer was set to 81% opacity. Next French Kiss Studio 3 White Wash texture (my very favorite texture) was added and set to Linear Burn blend mode. In the Layer Style the This Layer black tab was set to 223 and the Advanced Blending Fill Opacity was set to 68%. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to adjust contrast. Another stamped layer was created and then Topaz Black & White Effects 2 (see website link in sidebar of my Tidbits Blog). A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added to adjust the color saturation.
Image 3: This is one of the strangest progression of an image I have ever done! It actually started out with Painted Textures Spring Sky that I turned into a black and white texture in Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. Then I stacked Painted Textures Summer Balloons texture and the white color was removed using an action called Mikes3D Kill White so the black level showed through in the white areas (note: to use this filter the best way, you must use Pixel Bender in CS5 – it is still the best for removing all the white and worth the time to do this). A Levels Adjustment Layer was added on top to add a little contrast. After that various layers were added using regular brushes like Nagel Series 41 Charcoal brushes. Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was used to change the image to blue and purple colors. These filters were stacked: Detail Extractor set to 71% and Large Effect Radius; and Infrared Film set to Method 3. Next the image was duplicated and taken into Nik HDR Pro 2 using a preset I had created earlier and brought out more of the dark tones in the texture. The wonderful Fay Sirkis o3 Palette Knife Blender Brush was used to just start mixing on the texture and creating these funny little creatures. (This is one of the great brushes that can be downloaded for use with her Four Seasons painting online training classes on NAPP – she teaches you how to use this brush in her great Four Seasons painting series Fall training class on NAPP.) Several layers were created with more colors and blending until I got this childlike painting. Water Bubbles by millertimesu Brush 3 was used to created the bubbles on a separate layer. A composite was created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and this layer was taken into Topaz Simplify using the Color Sketch II preset. It was filled with black and the just the objects were painted back to get some lines in the underwater creatures. The last step involved add 2 Lil’ Owls Color Bokeh Grunge Set retro cool overlay set to 27% layer opacity. This is the end of the basic image. Once this image was put into the Symmetry file, French Kiss Artiste Autumn Fauve was added on top and set to Saturation blend mode at 83% layer opacity to brighten up the whole image. This whole image was created from a couple textures and was major fun to do!
I did recent posts on my Fun Photoshop Blog called Digital Lady Syd Reviews Snap Art 3 and Digital Syd Reviews Topaz ReStyle. Both of these plug-ins have captured my “inner creative me” so it seemed logical to try to combine them and see what happens. I think they are a perfect match – both have creative aspects but emphasize different elements. For the above Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog for website link in sidebar) ReStyle was added first to get a gorgeous fall color palette that gives this image a totally awesome feel. (The preset used was Leaking Red on Blue.) What I like about Snap Art is that it lets me try different mediums of art – I have never tried a colored pencil image, but I loved how the treatment worked with this image. (The preset in Snap Art was Colored Pencil Landscape-More Coverage.) I also have to admit that the wonderful Topaz Clarity was added first to give me sharp edges for the pencil look. Not much to it but really great results. This photo was from the countryside outside Minsk in Belarus – it was such an interesting and beautiful area to photograph.
…..Above is a beautiful purple mum from a dacha in Belarus. In Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 the Favorite section’s Oil Paint (thick brush) preset was applied followed by Topaz ReStyle’s Cream and Plum preset was selected. (See settings under Image 2 for more details.)
Same image as the first one, but this time the original RAW file was converted to a black and white on a Virtual Copy in Lightroom using the Lightroom B&W GA Infrared 01 preset that turned this image into a fabulous looking shot to begin with! (Once again, just goes to show what a good image to start with can do.) I wanted to see what Snap Art’s Charcoal effect would look like since the Colored Pencil effect looked so nice. The Landscape Charcoal preset was selected. Three Layer Masks were created in the plug-in to direct the tone and focus throughout the image. I really liked the result – beautiful sketch – but it just did not have any real pizzazz! That’s when the image was opened in Topaz ReStyle. Not all the presets looked great, but the Teal Frost looked beautiful – no changes! It now has a beautiful winter feel – Amazing! The last step involved adding a New Layer and painting a frame around the image. (See settings info under Image 3.)
Just another example of how plain white flowers can be changed into a beautiful color palette and turned into a lovely oil effect.
The Baby Blue and Pink preset was used in ReStyle. This image looks very soft since the Detail Structure slider was moved left. The flower centers were kept sharp by masking out the effect using the Basic section Mask. In Snap Art an Oil Paint (dry brush) saturated preset was applied. The flower centers were once again made more sharp than the rest of the image by adding more Photorealism and small Brush Size to a Mask on the flowers.
I used this image previously in my Snap Art Review without the new Topaz ReStyle plug-in applied to it. I really love how the two plug-ins together created this very painterly and sculpted look – it really makes me want to sit on the bench and enjoy the surroundings. The Snap Art plug-in used the Impasto Landscape (Small Brush) preset. (See Digital Lady Syd Reviews Alien Skin Snap Art 3 blog for more on image settings.) I had created a preset that used the Raw Sienna Haze preset with several of the sliders adjusted to get this pleasant result (all the settings were lost). A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT_SHIFT+E) was created on top and this was what made the image really work – the Blend If sliders in the Layer Style. The This Layer black tab slider was split (ALT+click on tab) and set to 69/143. (See my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog.) A Layer Mask was added and areas that did not look like it fit in were painted out with a soft black brush. That was it and you get this nice fairytale look!
As you can see, there is definitely a very complimentary nature between these plug-ins, even though they are made by two totally different companies that use totally different methods to create the effects. I am constantly amazed at how far plug-ins have come in the past several years. A while back it cost almost as much as Photoshop itself to get them, and now there are so many reasonable choices and so many incredible effects. The technology has come a long way, but you have to thank Adobe and Photoshop for giving us the capability to have all this fun! So kudos to Adobe (in spite of all this Cloud mess) and kudos to all the plug-in companies that are now producing reasonably priced, inventive plug-ins for us Photoshop “nuts!”…..Digital Lady Syd
Image 2: Sean McCormick’s LR5 Essential Development Preset Toolbox was used to apply his LR TB63 Tone Curve preset to the image in Lightroom. I hope to review this down the road as the PDF looks very interesting along with his preset concepts. In Photoshop the Shake Reduction filter was applied as a Smart Object and then Snap Art was applied to the same layer. The Favorites category Oil Paint (thick brush) was used as a starting point and then the Background Tab slider Photorealism was changed to 22. In the Color Tab the Brightness slider was set to -19. In the Layers Tab, two different layers were created – one for the center of the flower and one for the long lines of the petals. The Mask Tool was set to Feather 50 and Amount 30. The center of the flower Effects were set with Detail, Brush Size -41, Photorealism 85, Paint Thickness -50, Paint Stroke Length 0, Stroke Color Variation 57, and Bristle Brush Style. For the long petals these settings were used: Detail, Brush Size 57, Photorealism -44, Paint Thickness -50, Paint Stroke Length 100, Stroke Color Variation 55, and Bristle Brush Style. The Canvas Tab used the default settings except for the Lighting which was set to the Diffuse setting. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was added on top and the Topaz ReStyle plug-in was opened. Cream and Plum preset was used as a starting point. Then in ReStyle Tab changed Texture Strength to 0.39. Painted in the Mask back some of the interesting color effects from the original image – brush was set to Strength 0.23, Brush Size 0.25 and Hardness 0.30 using Edge Aware and building up the effect the way I liked. Went to Basic Tab and set Detail Structure to 0.61 and Sharpness 0.11 to bring out the painterly texture more from Snap Art. In Mask painted out the flower to keep it from being affected as much using a brush Strength of 0.74. Back in Photoshop the layer opacity was set to 48%. Isabelle Lafrance Daiphanous Overlay Cobwebby was added on top and set to Linear Burn blend mode at 100% opacity. The last step added a Curves Adjustment Layer to enhance the contrast just a little.
Image 3: Once Lightroom Develop sliders and Photoshop CC’s Shake Reduction filter were applied, the Snap Art plug-in was opened. F5 was pressed to reset the plug-in and in the Pencil Sketch section, the Landscape Charcoal was applied. Pencil Width slider was then changed to 35 and Photorealism to 89. In Tone tab the Brightness was changed to 44, Contrast 10, and Red Channel Strength 42%, Green Channel Strength 72%, and Blue Channel Strength 41%. Canvas tab was set to Paper, Cold press, and Lighting was set to Diffuse (warmer). Layers tab was set to three different layers, the first was placed on the center tree to sharpen it a little (by increasing the Pencil Width and Photorealism Amount), the second on the front plant to tone it down some (by reducing the same sliders the other way), and the third on the structures to slightly enhance the details on them (sliders set in between the other two layer amounts). This is where the real strength of this plug-in lies – this enabled me to direct the focus through the image. Back in Photoshop a Darken and a Lighten layer were created to dodge and burn a few areas in the image (see my Fun Photoshop The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog). A Levels Adjustment layer was added to get the final correct tone to the image. Then Topaz ReStyle’s Tiara Frost preset was applied. The last step added the frame on a New Layer using Photoshop’s Natural Brush Spray at 41 pixels using a color sampled from the image.
Topaz has once again come up with a very innovative plug-in that can quickly transform an image that is missing a certain look into something quite spectacular. I am finding it more and more fascinating the longer I work with it. The top image is what I call my psychedelic bus – would never have thought to add this color scheme to this vintage RV image without Topaz (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) ReStyle, but I really love the final look – much better than the original flat grungy colors and tones.
This image of some crafts at an Old Belarusian Village outside Minsk is a great example of the easy, dramatic change that can be made in an image to give a totally different look and feel. I love both images – the one on the left is the correct color scheme, but the one on the right is my favorite. The Muted Apricot preset was applied as a last step – and adds the contrast to pull the puppet out from the background and I like the color scheme better.
What I Like about Topaz ReStyle
1. The best thing about using Topaz ReStyle is that you can take an image into the program and see if you can find a little more interesting or better color scheme. Sometimes an image just needs a bit of punch with some different colors to get a really fabulous result. Also, you will be able to see if the image color and tone is correct just as it is. NOTE: To start with the original image color scheme, follow the work-around steps in the comments at end of blog.
2. When you find a color scheme you think you like, you can click on the little camera icon and add it to a preview group where several different schemes for comparison. This can be handy as there are so many choices and so many categories to choose from. This can be quite addictive going through all the presets!
3. You can search for presets that are similar by clicking on a preset on the left that you would to find similar preset styles, and then click the fourth icon over on the Presets bar on the left. Can also search for dominant colors in presets by hovering over the color bar below the preview and clicking on the color you are interested in finding in other styles. This is a lot of fun to do and very easy.
4. There is a Texture slider in the Color section and in the Structure and Sharpness sliders in the Details section that are very handy. Just by adjusting these three sliders you can get some interesting results.
5. You can copy a layer mask from one section to the other – great new feature that would make a great addition to the Topaz Clarity plug-in.
What I Don’t Like about Topaz ReStyle
1. I wish there was a way you could tell which blend mode you are using once applied. I know they are working on a solution to this issue, like adding a letter in the icon or something else, but it is very difficult to tell if you have added a blend mode, and if so, which one. In their defense, it is highlighted when you open up the blend mode icon.
2. There are times on my system when the my preset settings do not look quite like what was applied – in my case a little over-saturated. I am still trying to figure out if this is my problem or the plug-ins problem. Not a major issue, but I would suggest checking out your preset results to make sure it is applying the colors correctly. Also be sure to give the program time to save the preset – it takes a while to create.
3. No Apply button. Since there is this great masking capability and are blend modes that can be used, it really needs an Apply button so a couple different effects could be locally stacked and masked.
Topaz ReStyle is very easy to use and a very unique plug-in so if you like to give your images unique looks, this definitely is a plug-in you want in your arsenal of tricks. If you are a purist, this is probably not a good match – it definitely changes the feel and look of an image from what the camera captures. I would think anyone into graphic design would love this plug-in – the creative possibilities are incredible! Needless to say, this is definitely a plug-in I will use frequently.
…..The image above is an excellent example of how a basic HDR image was changed into a heavily vintage feel by adding a different color palette to the major colors represented in the image. Below see how the image progressed from HDR to Painterly look to the above final image. That is what ReStyle does! Right at the start you can tell that the highlights are much more accentuated by slightly changing the color palette from a cooler original version to a warmer look. Of course the HDR image is what the actual shot looked like, the painted version adds some color and softness to a rather cold image, but Topaz ReStyle really popped the shot! The actually interface that was used to create this effect is shown below (click on image to see large view in Flickr) where you can see what colors were substituted for the the ones in the image. …..
This flower image below shows another comparison of what ReStyle can do – it is really amazing with just a few clicks what you can get. It is very similar to the InstaTone function in Topaz photoFXlab – one of my favorite features of that program. (See my Tidbits Blog InstaTone in photoFXlabs – Great Fun and Great Results! for more info on this.) …..
I have been taking some of my earlier images I thought looked pretty nice and trying them out. This image below is one of my favorites from my trip to Belarus and it used Topaz Simplify (click to see in Flickr). After applying the Soft Pearl preset with some slider adjustments, I got this completely different looking image – and still very charming!
Many people are finding using this on a black and white image can give some wonderful results. Since I was intrigued by this suggestion, I tried one as shown below. This is an image of a little private cove on Spanish Cay in the Outer Banks of the Bahamas. The Peppermint Gray preset was applied – it gives the black and white treatment a bit of a cross-processed look. I really liked the effect. And applying them to a favorite texture can also make a major change in compositing an image.
Topaz is a really great plug-in company that is always trying to give us Photoshop nuts new options for making our images interesting and beautiful. And, as always, they give you free upgrades once you have bought the plug-in – I don’t know of any other Photoshop company that does this! They have very reasonable prices and often run great specials on their software. And check out their webinars – some of the best photographers are presenting for them and the videos are on their site.
If you are at all intrigued by this plug-in, it is definitely worth a download to try it out. I am finding it fits nicely in with other plug-ins as shown in my photos above, and not just Topaz plug-ins. It works best for me as a last step, but there are times I use it first to get a different feel before adding other effects. I especially like using it with Topaz Clarity – for some reason the natural sharpness from Clarity and then the color shaping with ReStyle makes a nice combination. Have fun trying this one out!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I decided to do the same image using different painting effects to see which ones I like the best. Since I was surprised by how nice Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 plug-in performed in last week’s blog, I thought I would compare it to other programs and see if it was really that good. I wanted to keep to an Oil Paint look, but not all the software supports this. I must admit this is not a very scientific comparison since I used different steps for the different results each software presented – but it still gave me a feel for what painterly looks can be achieved with a little manipulation. This picture was taken along the International Coastal Waterway in Ormond Beach on a very windy day – the clouds were building. It is probably not the best image but I thought it made a good test choice since it had lots of foreground details and color, and a beautiful landscape cloud expanse in the background, All the examples started with the same basic brightening done in Lightroom and then applying Nik’s fabulous Viveza plug-in in Photoshop. (See my Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem! blog.)
Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3
I really like the very final look Snap Art gave this image above. The Oil Paint (dry brush) was used as the basis for this image with several slider changes made to get the final look. For more info on the post-processing settings, see Image 1 at end of blog. This plug-in is definitely a good choice if you want this type of look. (See my blog Digital Lady Syd Reviews Alien Skin Snap Art 3 for other examples of what this plug-in will do.)
Photoshop’s Oil Paint Filter
This image is one I created in Photoshop CC using the Oil Paint Filter, which was added in Photoshop CS6 (although it is available for CS4 and CS5 users by using the Pixel Bender Panel). I did a rather popular blog a while back that gives definitions of what each slider does and what effect is creates for both versions – see my Photoshop’s CS6 (and Pixel Bender’s) Oil Paint Filter blog. In fact I used it to help me create this image along with a recent short tutorial by Mark S. Johnson on Planet Photoshop called Luminous Painting Effect Using Oil Paint Filter. As I said in my previous blog, it is not a look I would use a lot since it definitely has a Photoshop look to it, but it gives a pretty rendition of this image. Apparently it is very popular effect since it is used in most recent tutorials for creating the oil painting look in Photoshop. The Jack Davis Action image below also uses this effect but a little differently. For information on the settings used here, see Image 2 info located at the bottom of the blog.
This image took a lot longer than I thought it would. Since Topaz (for website link see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog) Simplify 4 is such a terrific plug-in for us creative types, I though it would whiz through this comparison. Instead I had a hard time getting a good oil painting look and never did get what I wanted without cheating a little. So above is what I came up with by applying Topaz Clarity, Adjust, and a new one coming out next week (I will add that info in once released but I needed the plug-in to get the effect I wanted) and never did use Simplify! The trick was to add a texture afterwards in Photoshop set to Hard Light at 34% opacity and desaturate it so it looks like an oil painting. Now that does not mean that I don’t like Simplify’s oil paint look, it just means it did not work on this image. (Check out my Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs listed below for some that really worked.) One of the issues in Simplify was a little webbing in the foreground grass which can be an issue for this plug-in on some images. For the actual settings and texture info, check out Image 3 below.
Jack Davis Wow Smart Object Painting 1 Action
Thought I would show you what Jack Davis’ action does for this photo since he does add several filters together in this action to get this result. It still uses the Oil Paint filter in Photoshop, like image 2 above, but it does look different when added in a group with the other filters. I also ran it twice on the image like I suggested in my Can You Get a Painting Look With a Photoshop Action? Jack Davis Can! blog. Check out this link for download information for this free action and the blog tells you most of the specifics to get this effect. Also see Image 4 for a little more info. I really like the result as I did the results from my previous blog.
This image uses Media Chance’s stand-alone Dynamic Auto-Painter that paints images in all sorts of styles and there are effects that can be downloaded to add to their presets. I have not used this program in a while and am not real proficient with it, but it gives some really interesting results and I felt it was worth a mention. The files must in 8-bit mode in JPG format. Other than that, it appears it has lots of options including masks that can be saved as PSD files. This image used Whistlers Rainbow for painting and I let it run for 14023 iterations. By placing the brush over areas you want emphasized, you can direct where more detail is applied. This is a really cool program and you should check it out if you want to try something different. I personally felt this look was pretty good. For a few more details, check out Image 5 below.
Auto-Painting with Corel Painter II
I wanted you to see what a nice result you can get with the incomparable Corel Painter – this took just a few minutes. I am not that proficient with this program, but the Auto-Painting technique is quite nice. Unfortunately I could not find an Oil Paint brush in my version to use when auto-painting, so the Acrylics Captured Bristle Brush was used. If I understand correctly, many people using Painter use the auto-painting function for underpainting an image and then paint on top the details. This image would look great if I knew how to use the actual brushes effectively in Painter. It does look quite a bit like the Snap Art plug-in, which is to Snap Art’s credit since it is quite a bit less expensive. For info on how this image was processed, check out Image 6 below.
There are a couple other ways to get a really nice painterly effect. The brilliant Russell Brown has developed two scripts panels to use inside Photoshop that guides you along as you paint. The oldest is called the Adobe Painting Assistant which has different download links for CS6 and CS5 versions – just keep scrolling. The newest panel is the Adobe Watercolor Assistant Panel that can only be used with CS6 and on. These are all free downloads at this link. The Watercolor Painting Assistant takes some practice to get a really nice result, but it will give a beautiful result. See my blog Dr. Brown’s Painting Assistant Panel for CS6 and CS5! and Think Pink! Rally for the Cure Pink Rose for more information on the older and more user-friendly Painting Assistant Panel. I will also mention another Digital Painting program called PostworkShop 3 which has received some excellent reviews for its beautiful results. Their website has some excellent resources for using the program. I have not had time to try it, but I hope to in the near future. There are some older Photoshop plug-ins that I remember from days past like Virtual Painter and Twisted Pixels, but I do not remember if they were that good. And I even tried out my old PhotoArtMaster Gold stand alone that was given away in a magazine by the now defunct fo2pix.com. (Lots of webbing occurred using this program.) It was a lot of fun just to try them out. I hope we have advanced our painterly form a little from those times.
Well, I hope you got to see what a variety of plug-ins and programs are out there to use for painting. At this point, I am not sure which one I would go with – it totally depends on the image. In this case I still like Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 rendition the best although also liked the soft effect with Photoshop’s Oil Paint filter image. It was fun to take just one image and try different styles just to get a feel for the differences. If you have a chance you should try this out. And you can always learn to paint with the Mixer and Bristle Brushes in Photoshop and probably get even better results!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Painterly Effect using Topaz Detail and Simplify
Getting a Nice Painterly Landscape Effect with Topaz Simplify and Texture
Corel Painter and Photoshop Together to Create a Pastel Painting
Topaz Adjust Using Painting Venice Preset – Beautiful Effect!
Topaz Simplify Artistic Workflow
How to Get That Creative Painterly Look
Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes
For All Examples: In Lightroom the Lens Profile was added and Remove Chromatic Aberration was checked. Auto Tone was applied and Clarity (+67), Shadows (+73), Highlights (-92), and Vibrance (+47) were then adjusted before going into Photoshop. The Background layer was duplicated and by right clicking on the layer and selecting Converted To Smart Object. Nik’s Viveza plug-in was opened and no control points were used, which is unusual for me. Instead Brightness was set to -30%, Saturation 26%, Structure 28%, Shadow Adjustment -67%, Warmth 12%, and all other sliders set to 0%.
Image 1: A composite (stamped) layer was created by pressing CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E and it was converted into a Smart Object. The Snap Art plug-in was opened and these settings were applied. The Oil Paint (dry brush) preset was selected leaving the default settings in place for the Background tab. In the Color tab these settings were applied: Brightness 11, Contrast -40, Saturation 42, and Temperature -18. No changes were made in the Canvas tab. In the Layers tab, three layers were created and used the same Mask Tool setting of Feather 50 and Amount 53. Layer 1 had only the pink flowers selected and these were the settings: Effect Detail, Brush Size -54, Photorealism 61, Paint Thickness -28, Paint Stroke Length -34, Stroke Color Variation -54, and Brush Style Default Brush. Layer 2 selected the stems to the flowers and these were the settings: Effect Detail, Brush Size -15, Photorealism 0, Paint Thickness 48, Paint Stroke Length -34, Stroke Color Variation 40, and Brush Style Bristle Brush. Layer 3 selected parts of the clouds that needed more attention. These were the settings: Effect Detail, Brush Size 100, Photorealism -100, Paint Thickness -76, Paint Stroke Length 100, Stroke Color Variation 9, and Brush Style Soft Brush. Basically these settings were chosen by just experimenting and seeing what looked good in the image. A New Layer back in Photoshop was created and the Spot Healing Brush tool was used on a couple places in the image to remove distractions. That is all that was done to this image.
Image 2: Following Mark’s video, a Levels Adjustment Layer was added on top of the Viveza filter layer and set to Screen blend mode. A composite (stamped) layer was created by pressing CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E and it was converted into a Smart Object. By going to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur with a radius of 34.6, a nice soft glow appearance was created. The layer blend mode was set to Multiply. Another composite layer was created and also turned into a Smart Object. This time Filter -> Oil Paint was added and the following settings were applied: Stylization 3.57, Cleanliness 10, Scale 0.55, Bristle Detail 8.1, Angular Direction 264.6, and Shine 1.2. A layer mask was applied and using a 30% opacity brush, the flowers were lightly painted back just give a little more detail in the image along with the shoreline in the background. A Curves Adjustment layer was added on the very top and using the little hand, the curve was dragged up a little. It ended up that my left edge point was moved to Input 0/Output 23 and that was it.
Image 3: This time a Composite layer was created and Topaz Clarity was applied – I love this plug-in, maybe as much as Detail! First started with a Reset and here were the settings: Dynamics: Micro Contrast 0.30, Low Contrast -0.19, Medium Contrast 0.91, and High Contrat -0.11; Tone Level: Black Level 0, Midtones 0.27, and White Level 0.42; and HSL: Sat: Red -1.00, Orange -1.00, and Magenta 0.14; and Lum: Red 0.30, Yellow 0.52, Green -0.55. The Opacity for the whole section was set to 62% and the foreground rock was selected in the Mask so the HSL settings only applied to that area. Once out of the plug-in, a black layer mask was added and just the rock and cloud areas were painted back. Next another composite layer was created and Topaz Adjust was opened up. Started with Stylized Collection – Painting-Venice preset (one of my favorites). Then added Diffusion settings: Softness 0.29, Diffusion 0.93, and Diffusion Transition 0.50. In the Local Adjustments section, the Brush Out brush was set to Opacity .50 and the leaves to the flowers were painted back, then set to 1.00 and the flowers were painted back in the mask. The Sky was painted back using a brush set to .20 and the blue area was painted over in one long sweep. A last new filter was applied that basically just correct some color issues here. Back in Photoshop the last step involved add one of Melissa Gallo’s textures from Painted Textures called Snowy Sky set to Hard Light at 34% – A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to it (ALT+Click between the layers to clip) and the Saturation was set to -100. This way only the textured brush strokes show up but no color. (See my Tidbits Blog Getting a Nice Painterly Landscape Effect with Topaz Simplify and Texture.)
Image 4: This imaged used the default settings for the filters except for the Oil Paint filter where the same settings as for Image 2 were used. The layer was set to 72% opacity. Then a Composite was made on top and turned into a Smart Object. The action was run again. This time these settings were changed: Oil Paint filter – Stylization +10, Cleanliness 0, Scale 223, Bristle Detail 2, Angular Direction 264.6, and Shine .15; and Rough Pastels filter was set to Stroke Length 7, Stroke Detail 20, Scaling 67, Relief 4 and Top Right. This layer was set to Overlay blend mode and 68% layer opacity. A black layer mask was added and the sky was painted back.
Image 5: This image started as the same places as the others – just converted it to an 8-bit mode jpg to work on it in Dynamic Auto-Painter. By clicking the brush on the flowers while the program was running, I was able to get a little more emphasis on this area. The image was brought back into Photoshop for some clean up. A Color Balance Adjustment Layer was used to add more yellow into the image – in Midtones Yellow was set to -31. In the Curves Adjustment Layer, all the individual channels were adjusted to get the correct balance of colors. A composite layer was created and then a Gaussian Blur filter was applied with the radius set to 2.3, just enough to blend some of the painting lines on the rock. Then the flowers and shoreline were painted back slightly in a layer mask.
Image 6: The image was taken into Painter II with the Lightroom and Viveza changes. I changed the Underpainting settings that were set to Classical Color Scheme to Brightness +27%, Contrast -55%, Hue +2%, Saturation -8%, Value -17%, and Smart Blur 0%. The Acrylics Captured Bristle Brush from the Smart Stroke Brushes category was selected and Scribble Large was used in the Stroke Box. Very basic stuff here. Hopefully I will learn how to use this program better. Once the painting was finished, it was brought back into Photoshop where a clean up layer was created. A Curves Adjustment Layer, Color Balance Adjustment Layer and Selective Color Adjustment Layer were added to get the contrast and color correct.
Got to say I love this plug-in! I had never used it before but I saw a few of Dave Higgins images where he had used this plug-in and I decided to check it out. Alien Skin Snap Art has been around for awhile – this is version 3 – but it never seemed to do anything more than I could accomplish in other plug-ins or in Photoshop itself. Now it has really increased its appeal and is definitely a great plug-in for us “creative-types” to keep in our Photoshop arsenal.
The image above was taken in the little town of Mir outside the beautiful Mir Castle in Belarus. (See one of my Mir Castle images on Flickr.) The Oil Paint Abstract – Soft preset was used as a starting point and then various sliders were adjusted to get the final result. (To see how the whole image was processed, see Image 1 information at bottom of blog.) You can very quickly go through the Factory Settings presets to get a feel as to which artistic media you want to apply to the image. The Favorites section is a good place to start as all the different artistic media is represented here. It is definitely worth the time to watch the short videos on Alien Skin’s website to learn how to use most of the sliders. Also Dave Higgins has two great short videos on how he uses the plug-in – one called Snap Art Review and the other is Snap Art Tutorial on Using Layers – I would recommend that you take a look at these as it gives you a feel how the program is set up and actually works.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT SNAP ART 3!
1. Many choices for using different types of media – and you can save your own presets with the layer masks maintained in a special layers section. Very handy – and you can reset the layer masks by clicking CTRL+R if you do not want them applied to a different image.
2. What sets this program apart from the others is one slider I particularly like – the Photorealism slider that can be used on the whole image or in the Effects section for the layer masks. You can make just one part of your image more detailed and really direct the focus into that part of the image while the rest is left with a more painterly appearance. Also the Brush Size can be adjusted to add more emphasis. My other favorite slider is the Temperature (warm/Cool) slider in the Color Tab – along with the Saturation slider, they can really pop an image.
3. This program works seamlessly with Photoshop and is very fast loading. It uses the same shortcuts as Photoshop has set up so you do not have to learn a bunch of new key strokes. This applies to brush size, zooming, Hand Tool, Preferences, etc.
WHAT I DO NOT LIKE ABOUT SNAP ART 3!
1. Some of the presets are not real practical – really need to play in the program and set your own presets once you figure out what all the sliders do. I am still trying to figure out the Pencil and Sketch settings.
2. I find it hard to correlate the sliders in the Background tab to the ones in the Layers tab since they both cannot be open at the same time and the Layer tab Effects do not come up with matching numbers. It would be nice to have both areas open so you can adjust between the two sections. Update: Ben Wilmore just set me straight on CreativeLive in his Extending Photoshop using Plug-Ins video where he says that in the Layers tab the center tick mark is where the slider is set in the Background tab. By double-clicking on the slider white tab, it puts it on the tick mark. Move the tab right or left from that point to add more or less of the effect for each sliders. Still a bit cumbersome, but better than nothing at all.
3. Wish they had a reset button or keystroke command for the Effects section and the Mask Tool brush in the Layers Tab. The Effects section is reset by choosing No Change in the drop-down preset and the Mask Tool has to be manually set. You have to be careful that you are not using the old settings from the last item you did although it appears F5 or CTRL+R Reset (which resets the Background tab settings) does change these sections to their Factory Default settings. The actual layer masks can be reset or removed by pressing R.
A couple nice to know things are: Need to turn off the Duplicate Layer option in Preferences if using in a Smart Object – otherwise it adds the filter twice. This program interfaces great with Lightroom also, but you will not have a layer with your settings saved as you can with a Smart Object in Photoshop. Press the Spacebar to see your original image.
This image was taken at a dacha in Belarus – the flowers are so beautiful there in the summer. This time the Pastel Sketch Factory preset setting was first applied. A layer mask was not even added – basically just stuck with the values given. In the Colors tab, the Brightness was set to 12, Contrast -11, Saturation 17 and Temperature 26. I am finding that the Saturation and Temperature sliders can work wonders on the images so check them out before applying the plug-in. See Image 2 info at bottom of blog for more info on post-processing.
Another example of the beautiful treatment the plug-in can give an image. This was a really busy looking image, but by adding the Impasto – Landscape – Small Brush preset and then changing a few settings, the colors and tones look fabulous in comparison. Below is how one of the layer masks looks for this image (click on it to see a larger view in my Flickr account). By varying the Amount of the Layer Brush (in this case it is 27), you can paint a lighter strength in parts of the image. The fence was just lightly selected while the sunflower and background bench were selected with a larger amount of 58. See Image 3 below for more settings info.
As you can see this plug-in has a lot of great options and gives some really nice results. It is interesting that you never add a brush stroke to it other than strokes for a basic layer mask.
Here is another example of how layers were used to direct focus to the center flowers. This image used the Factory Setting Watercolor preset and there were three layer masks with varying amounts of the brush effects. See Image 4 info at end of blog for settings used.
Alien Skin’s Snap Art plug-in has some great versatility and I believe it will work well combined with other plug-ins or the Photoshop brushes including the Mixers Brushes to get some great results. I plan on experimenting with it in this way in the future. Bottom Line: if you like the painterly look, it is a nice choice since it has so many choices. I found this plug-in to be totally fun to use and I believe I will be using it a lot in my future creative Photoshop endeavors. In the meantime check out the trial and see if you like it as well as I do!…..Digital Lady Syd
Image 1: After just he general RAW processing in Lightroom, the Content-Aware Move Tool (it lives with the Spot Healing Brush) was used to move the dog into the image more. He was almost out of the image in the original. General clean up was done and a composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was placed on top and turned into a Smart Object (right click on the image and select Convert to Smart Object). First Photoshop CC’s new Shake Reduction Filter was was run on the image using just three sample areas – one on the horse and driver, one on the trees, and one on the dog. It created a very subtle change. Next a Shadow/Highlights Adjustment was added to make the color more vibrant and sharp. (Shadows 19%, Tonal Width 39%, Radius 30 px; Highlight Amount 17%, Tonal Width 50%, Radius 30 px; and Adjustments – Color Correction +100 and Midtone Contrast +31) Now the image was ready for Snap Art 3. I created another composite layer on top and converted it to a Smart Object also before going into Snap Art. Once Snap Art is opened, the Background tab is active. The Factory Setting Oil Paint using the Abstract – Soft preset was first applied. Now you can play around with the five sliders – Overall Brush Size (this image used 63), Photorealism (59), Paint Thickness (52), Paint Stroke Length (69), Stroke Color Variation (70), Brush Style – Soft Brush in drop-down, and Random Seed 3258. This is a huge amount to adjust just to the overall image and you still have three other tabs to adjust – what a wonderful amount of options! The Color Tab was selected next where the Brightness (0), Contrast (-18), Saturation (30) and Temperature (Cool/Warm) (15) was set. In the Layer Tab is where the layer masks are applied – up to three layer masks can be added. To create a mask, the Mask Tool located in the bottom section – first icon next to Add/Erase – must be clicked. Click on the right side black arrow and three sliders appear so the brush can be set up painting the mask on the image. This image used Size (10), Feather (50) and Amount (21). Now just paint over any areas you do not want the effect appearing. To create the strength of the mask, adjust the Effect sliders – there is another drop-down here if you want to use them – there is a None choice if you do not want any effect on those areas! This image used just one layer mask painted over the horse, man and dog – wanted a little more detail in those areas. In the Effect drop-down, Detail was chosen (Brush Size (54), Photorealism (79), Paint Thickness (41), Paint Stroke Length (68), Stroke Color Variation (-47), and Brush Style – Default Brush)). To see the actual layer, press the right-hand black arrow across from Mask Layer 1. This is where you can add another layer. The last tab is Canvas and there are so many options that I am not sure how they all work – just click on all the little right-hand black arrows. This image was set to the Default Canvas Preset and Lighting Preset. The Vignette used different settings to get the lighter edges (Amount (74), Size (56), Softness (53), and Distortion (41)). The vignette settings can also be saved as a vignette preset by clicking on the icon next to the black arrow. The last step was adding a Curves Adjustment Layer back in Photoshop to add just a little more contrast. Loved the saturated color look!
Image 2: Very little processing in Lightroom – just the basic Lens Effect and Chromatic Aberration check boxes and a crop. Once in Photoshop, the Shake Reduction filter was applied – I am finding this tends to help any hand-held images you take. Shadows and Highlights did not help this image so it was opened as a Smart Object in Snap Art. The Pastel Sketch preset was used as a starting place. Most of the settings were left at the default except for the Color tab settings given under image. Back in Photoshop a layer mask was applied to the image and just the center of the red flower was lightly painted over to draw as a focus point. My free SJ-Painter Oil Frame was applied and transformed to give a nice painterly border. That was it!
Image 3: Once again very little processing in Lightroom. I did try to make the image very vibrant by adjusting some of the colors in the HSL panel. Once in Photoshop, the background layer was duplicated and a Smart Object created before opening up Snap Art. I first tried this as a Pencil Sketch but it just did not look good. Then I tried the Impasto section and the Landscape-Small Brush setting really looked nice. In the Layers tab three different mask were created – one for the foreground bench and stone steps, one for the flowers on the side and behind the bench, and one for the dacha itself and bench in front. The most detail was placed in the foreground bench, a little less for the flowers. Different amounts of masking was used on the dacha with the fence getting very little. See Dave Higgins videos on how to do this as reference above. Nothing else was done to this image – it looked great as it was in Photoshop!
Image 4: This image was first made very vivid in Lightroom by adjusting the Vibrancy and HSL sliders. Once in Photoshop Snap Art was opened as a Smart Object. In the Background tab the image was set to Watercolor from the Favorites Factory Settings. Then all the sliders were adjusted: Overall Brush Size 24, Photorealism 15, Paint Coverage 85, Paint Stroke Length 100, Stroke Color Variation 47, Brush Style – Dry Brush, and Random Seed 9809. In the Color tab only the Temperature (cool/warm) slider was changed to 26. In the Layers tab, the Mask Tool was set to a Feather of 50 and an Amount of 100 – this will apply the Effect section above changes at 100% strength to the main focus area, the center purple flowers. For the two purple flowers slightly behind and to the left of the main flowers, the Mask Tool Amount was changed to 17 and they are not as affected by the effects. Layer One Effects settings were: Brush Size 10, Photorealism 73, Paint Coverage 65, Paint Stroke Length 93, Stroke Color Variation 10 and Brush Style Default Brush. For a second layer mask the front little purple flowers were selected using a Mask Tool Amount of 100. Layer Two Effects settings were: Brush Size 76, Photorealism 52, Paint Coverage -36, Paint Stroke Length 93, Stroke Color Variation 66 and Brush Style Default Brush. The last layer mask covered the flowers growing up the brick wall using a Mask Tool Amount of 100. Layer Three Effects settings were: Brush Size 76, Photorealism -17, Paint Coverage -36, Paint Stroke Length 93, Stroke Color Variation 10 and Brush Style Wash. In the Canvas tab the Lighting was set to the Diffuse (warmer) preset. Now it was taken back into Photoshop where a Curves Adjustment Layer was applied to add just a little more contrast into the image.
I am a huge fan of Kim Klassen textures and her type of photography. I joined her test kitchen a few months ago and have learned much from her site. All the images in this blog use the same beginning shot. This plain white cup was bought from Tuesday Morning for just a couple dollars. The picture was taken by placing the cup on a white piece of cardboard for the bottom and a 22″ X 14″ Elmer’s Tri-Fold Display Board (found in WalMart). It was shot using a 60-mm macro lens at F/3.2 for 1/60 sec and was taken on a table near a window where there was natural lighting. In Lightroom only the basic sliders were adjusted and some chromatic aberration was removed.
Since I wanted a bit of a vintage feel for the top image, Caleb Kimbrough’s free Old Wood 4 texture was used for the floor. All but the bottom area was painted out and the opacity was set to 25%. The canvas was expanded on the left side of the image by using the Content Aware Move Tool. Next Kim Klassen’s iAm texture was applied using Soft Light blend mode at 100% layer opacity. Her marchtrio totally texture was added using Soft Light at 79% layer opacity. By signing up for Kim’s newsletter, she will send you lots of textures throughout the year – these both were links from her newsletters. A light blue Color Adjustment Layer (#b8bfe0) was clipped (ALT+click between layers) to the marchtrio texture texture to give it more of a soft blue tone – it was set to a 49% layer opacity to lighten up the photo just a little. A New Layer was created and placed between the two texture layers – Kim Klassen’s Cloth & Paper Extras Brush 1084 was selected to paint in light gray on the left side of image at 2285 pixels to add a little more texture to the image and set to 59% layer opacity. Here was the tricky part – a New Layer was created and with Brush Lovers 1941 brush (these used to be posted at BrushLovers.com but they do not appear to be available anymore – but there are many other choices at this site), one click was painted on the front of the cup. The layer was duplicated and set to Multiply blend mode to darken. Then with a layer mask, the highlights and shadows were carefully painted out so it looks like the flower design was already on the mug. I put this in a group (CTRL+G on the two selected layers). Added a Levels Adjustment Layer and moved Output Levels a little left to lighten the whole image and painting back the mug so it shows up a little better. Added text using Batik Regular font and it’s done!
Got into some Hawaiian dreaming on this one. I used an image I had taken while in Hawaii and placed the cup on a sand-like texture. The cataramaran in the water is the whale-watching boat where a whale actually hung around our boat for 5 minutes while we were on it – biggest thrill I had while in Hawaii! (See Topaz Simplify and Lens Effects Saves an Image! blog for image processing.) First the water image was stacked on top of the cup image. Next the cup layer was duplicated and the sky and background were cut out using a layer mask and applying it. It was moved on top of the water layer. My wonderful palm tree clip art objects (created from an image I took of the palm trees that were extracted from the background and filled in with a solid color), and a Bevel and Emboss layer style was added using a Size of 7 px, Soften of 10 px, and Depth of 50%. A dark blue Color Fill Layer was clipped to the tree layer (ALT+click between the layers to clip). Next Kim Klassen’s Cloth & Paper Touch texture (my favorite) was added using Soft Light blend mode at 95% opacity. Shadowhouse Creations Photo Tint Peach was set to Soft Light at 100% layer opacity, and then a Levels and a Curves Adjustment Layer were added to get the right tonal effect. A second Curves Adjustment Layer was used to make the bottom color look like sand and the rest of the image was painted out in the layer mask. A Text Layer was added using FFF Tusj font at 65% layer opacity. An Outer Glow Layer Style was added to the text using a sampled light tan color set to 62%, a Spread of 8, and Size of 193 – this was done to make the lettering stand out just a little from the sand background. The whale is from a Dingbat Font called Flood Font Dingbat m and was set to 47% layer opacity. Painted Textures Winter Wheat texture from her Cyber Monday Set 1 was applied using the Subtract blend mode at 45% opacity to add a painterly look to the overall image. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the texture and Saturation set to -67 to remove most of the color from the texture. Another Hue/Saturation Adjustment was clipped to the texture – the layer mask was filled with black and just the cup was painted back so no color showed up in the white cup.
Just another example of how to fix up the same image. This time Kim Klassen’s Cloth & Paper touch texture was added behind the cup. A shadow was added to the cup. Fay Sirkis’s Texture Pink Rose (from her Fay’s Master Background Collection at Kelby Training) was used for the beautiful flowers on the cup – just cut out the flower and added as a layer. As you can see a lot of clean up was done to get the cup looking right – just created New Layers and painted by sampling the image to even out the colors. 2 Lil’ Owls The Artisan Coll-Big Set 2-2 texture was used – it was turned into an overlay using my How to Create an Overlay Out of a Texture blog. Kim Klassen’s Dream Definition was added as text. Two layers using my free Cloud Brushes – Cloud 1 set to 43% layer opacity and Clouds 3 at layer opacity 23%. The last step was a Level Adjustment Layer to add some overall contrast.
This was a lot of fun trying different effects on a very basic image. Not sure which one I like best but it is interesting to see how you can change up an image by using different textures. And thanks to Kim Klassen for her great textures and techniques in creating this type of effect. Until later…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Same Image – Different Look!
Creating a JPG From a Video in Lightroom 4
Whale Watching with Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 & Viveza 2
Got a little creative here and thought I would share what motivated me. Recently I purchased this little gem of a book called Digital Art Wonderland by Angi Sullins and Silas Toball. They do some incredible creative work and include several tutorials on how to make textures and create interesting fun images. So I decided to try out what they were showing and just start playing. Blend If sliders were a big part of the effects in their examples. So what am I talking about? These are the very under-used sliders that create the most interesting effects once you start applying them. They have been in Photoshop since the first version, which is hard to believe. Lots of the very creative work you are seeing in today’s digital art uses these sliders. To get to them, the Layer Style for a layer has to be opened. There are a few of ways to find the Layer Styles: 1) From the Menu, go to Layer -> Layer Style -> Blending Options; 2) Click on the fx icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel and select Blending Options; or 3) The easiest way is to double-click on the layer (not the thumbnail or layer title but just on the empty part of the line) and Blending Options dialog box automatically opens up. Once opened, towards the bottom are the Blend If sliders. The strips represent the darkest to lightest parts of your image – just like the strip in the Levels Adjustment Layer. If the black tab is pulled to the right, then the dark parts of your image to the left of the tab will be removed – the more the tab is moved right, the more pixels are removed. The same goes for the white tab – pull left and anything white to the right will be removed. The tabs can be split by ALT-clicking on them – this creates a smooth transition between the pixels that can and can’t be seen – the area between the tabs is the fade area. With no split, there will be an abrupt edge change, which sometimes you want. This Layer affects the layer you are working on and those pixels are removed; Underlying Layer removes the pixels from the layers below and how they blend with this layer. The rather rough edges of the corners in the shown texture is the result of using the Blend If sliders. I am never sure what I will get when applying these sliders, but it can prove to be quite interesting. See this screenshot for how the Layer Style looked after adding the White Hawaiian Flowers layer.
My basic background texture is actually layered textures from all sorts of places: 1) VP-Brown Paper 4 on the bottom (this texture came from Advanced Photoshop #84′s CD); 2) Caleb Kimbrough Subtlegrunge 2 was added and in the Layer Style the This Layer black tab was split and set to 121/166 – this gives the beautiful dark edge around the image; 3) a New Layer was created and French Kiss Splatter4-01 and 02 were painted in a dark color and set to 78% opacity; 4) Tim in Ohio’s Mr. Wilson’s Front Porch was set to Luminosity blend mode, 68% layer opacity, and in the Layer Style the Underlying Layer white tab was set to 142 (no split); and 5) Flypaper’s Taster Elysium texture was set to Overlay at 61% opacity. This provided a really nice base texture to use in the top and last images.
Once I created the texture, the rest of the image was pretty easy to do. First a White Hawaiian Flowers object I had created from an earlier post was placed on top. The settings used are in the above screenshot for the Layer Style. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment was clipped to the flower layer (ALT+Click between the layers to clip) and the Hue of the flowers was set to -141 to blend in nicely with the texture colors. A Levels Adjustment Layer was also clipped to the flowers and the Midtone tab was set to 0.35. It still looked too plain for me, so Painted Textures Black Friday Set 1-Floral Swirl was added and set to Overlay at 56%. In the Layer Style the Underlying Layer black tab was split and set to 62 and 93. A New Layer was created and some petal outlines were painted in with a small brush set to 12% opacity, and using a sampled color to emphasize some areas that were washed out slightly. The last step was to add a Curve Adjustment Layer to pop the color a little. In the layer mask, the right top corner was slightly painted out so it did not push the eye into the image too strongly.
You can see how great the Blend If sliders work on an image – they can really change the whole effect of an image. Angi and Silas and many of the really great texture creatives use these sliders all the time. If you are interested in getting unique perspectives or interesting textures, it is worth learning how they work and their book gives some wonderful examples and tutorials on how to do this.
…..Here is another image inspired by the Digital Art Wonderland book. Below I have gone to great length to show you how the various combinations of layer styles and Blend If sliders are working together to give the results for each of the items in the above image. You don’t have to understand it all – just get a feel for the steps that can be done to get a very unique look. Also there are some great resources at these links (some are free downloads and some are not) if you need some new ideas. This is basically a two-step process: create a unique texture and then add your own elements to get a charming personal image.
Once again a texture was created before adding elements to the image. The texture was created using these components: Lost and Taken‘s Hand stained paper 11 texture; Isabelle Lafrance Photography Christmas 2011-Lift texture and in the Layer Style Blending Options, the B Channel was unchecked and the Blend Mode was set to Overlay at 100% layer opacity; a New Layer was created and Nakatoni Custom Brushes Amazing Texture 2 (does not appear to be available anymore but any soft grunge brush would do) at 1500 pixels was used to create a beautiful textured effect that combined the soft pink and light yellow foreground and background colors – the layer was completely covered and set to 32% layer opacity; on a New Layer French Kiss Spatter4 Brush 21 was set to 3719 pixels and a greenish color and a few splats were painted on the layer – the layer opacity was then set to 23%; a New Layer was created and in a light pink foreground color, the Straight Grunge Lines by DieheArt was used to add lines across the image – the layer opacity was set to 52%; and a New Layer was created and the foreground color was changed to a light brown tone and also painted across image – the layer opacity was set to 41%.
Now for the various items. On a New Layer the first item added was a big dark green flower brush 1997 by Brush Lover (these used to be posted at BrushLovers.com but they do not appear to be available anymore – but there are many other choices at this site) at 1600 px and set to 72% opacity. An object added was from Obsidian Dawn’s Fairies Brushes oo12. Since it was black, a Solid Color Fill Layer set to a darkish pink was used for a color. On the brush layer, the Layer Style was opened and a Bevel and Emboss was selected and set to the default and a Depth of 164; and Stroke set to 3 pixels, Position Outside, Opacity 72% and Color set to White. That gave the cutout edge around the brush. A vector from Buburu Resources called Pink and Green Clipart which was a plant, flowers, and butterfly on top, was added – since I only wanted the butterfly, I removed the rest of the vector. The layer was set to Luminosity Blend Mode at 67% opacity. In the Layer Style, lots of things were done: This Layer white tab was set to 213/255; Underlying Layer black tab was set to 79/128; Outer Glow was applied using a reddish color sampled from the Fairy layer and Size set to 8; Pattern Overlay was applied using a Normal Blend Mode, Opacity 100%, 10 Splatters Patterns by Idealhut – pattern 09 at 87% Scale; and Color Overlay sampling a light tan color from image using Normal Blend Mode and Opacity of 39%. A Text Layer was created using Beyond Wonderland font set to a light pink color. The layer was set to 65% opacity and a Layer Style set to Outer Glow set to Dissolve blend mode, Noise 20%, and Size 98 px; Pattern Overlay set to Normal Blend Mode, 100% opacity, and Photoshop’s Watercolor Pattern Bockingford Rough; and Color Overlay using a orange-tan color set to 71% opacity. Playful Flowers vector by Dryicons.com was added and once again the Layer Style was opened – in Blend If This Layer white tab was set to 139/223, and a Drop Shadow using an Opacity of 64%, Distance of 12 and Size of 5. The Layer was set to Color Dodge at 80% opacity. Kim Klassen‘s Frame It was applied on a New Layer and transformed to fit – a light pink color was used and the layer opacity was set to 50%. The last object was the Dirigible4 by NadinePau stock – a Layer Style was applied using Blend If This Layer black tab at 51/74; Drop Shadow set to Color Blend Mode, 100% opacity, Distance 11 px, and Size 9; and Bevel & Emboss set to a Depth of 100 and Size of 5 px. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added on top to increase the Midtone colors and add some contrast.
Just another example of what you can get with those Blend If sliders. They can definitely give an image a totally different look. The above is an image of some yellow gerberas in a pot on my porch. This image turned out pretty crazy but once again it was a lot of fun to do – and that is why you do this! The first thing done was to work on the bottom layer that is covered up here. Last week I took some pix of clouds that were all broken up by shooting straight up and a brush was created. That is why you see a little bit of cloud along with some texture that was added on another layer. 2 Lil’ Owls Bokeh Grunge Set 5 overlay was placed above all this to soften the image. Then a composite of the image was made (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created on top and taken into Topaz (website link in sidebar of my Tidbits Blog) Simplify 4 – Watercolor II preset was used and the pot and flowers were painted out with a brush set to .62 opacity. With a little clean-up, I ended up with a really pretty flower picture, but nothing special. The layer was duplicated and to get the funny hanging effect, the top layer was created by using Photoshop’s Lens Correction filter with the Remove Distortion at +50 and Scale of 67% as a Smart Object. A layer style was added and these styles were applied: Stroke set to 9 pixels; Outer Glow using a light pink color set to Normal, 75% opacity, Spread of 19% and Size 250 px; and Drop Shadow with an opacity set to 75, Angle 52, Distance 40 and Size of 4. On a New Layer, one brush stroke of Midnight Touch’s rEgrets I’ve Had a Few Sampled Brush #6 at 500 px. was applied. Then the Blend If This Layer slider’s black tab was split (click ALT+click to split) and set to 6/55 and the Underlying Layer black tab was set to 188. Then the default Bevel & Emboss, Stroke, Inner Glow and Outer Glow were added to create an interesting white flying egret. The Blend If sliders make the wing slide under the top left corner paint. These were grouped and turned into another Smart Object. The Layer Mask Hides Effects was checked and then a layer mask was added to the image. Some of the edges caused by the layer styles could then be softly painted out. One of the final steps involved adding Nik Color Efex Pro 4′s Solarization filter set to Method 1, Saturation 50%, and Elapsed Time 50%. That’s what made the back pop – and that is where you can see the white area that was the Blend If sliders letting the layer underneath show through. Really interesting effect. Not sure how I feel about this image, but it was a good example of what you can do with the sliders.
This image was created using one of the tutorials in the Wonderland book – didn’t think I would like doing it but was a lot of fun creating it. It basically involved taking some old master paintings that you like and combining them into something different. This image contains three paintings I admire with areas masked so they blend together nicely. Then Topaz Clarity’s High Contrast and Color Pop II preset was added to get the colors to work together better. Then Topaz Simplify 4 was a applied to a duplicate layer and Watercolor II was used with the Transparency set to .30 so some of the original poked through. My palm tree object with a Gradient Overlay Layer clipped to it was added to get the color correct in the trees. Kim Klassen’s Cloth & Paper Touch texture was used as an overlay and set to 50% opacity. (See my How to Create an Overlay Out of a Texture blog on how to do this.) Text was ExtraOrnamentalNo2 font. A Levels Adjustment was added increasing the contrast a little and setting Output Levels to 15/255 for a bit of a hazy look. The last step involved adding the texture shown above on top and setting it to Difference blend mode at 100% opacity. The Blend If This Layer black tab was set to 0/77 and the white tab was set to 80/183. The Underlying Layer black tab was set to 0 and the white tab was set to 178/233.
I hope you get a chance to try out these sliders. Also turn off the Channel R or G or B check box(es) and move the Fill slider around to see how the colors in the image are affected. (This was done on the texture for I Can Fly image above.) And of course keep trying out the different blend modes in this dialog box. It all adds together to give some very unique results. Have fun experimenting!…..Digital Lady Syd
This may sound like a really hard thing to do, but it is amazing how easy it is! And it can save a bunch of time if tailored to your own workflow. Adobe states “Configurator is a utility application that helps create custom panels for Photoshop and InDesign. Configurator makes it easy to drag and drop tools, menu items, scripts, actions, and other objects into a panel design, then export the results for use in Photoshop or InDesign.” Many people use specialized panels set up just to teach Photoshop.
Why use a personal panel? For me it saves a lot of time when I am switching between two different tools. For example, there are many times I am going between a regular brush and a mixer brush. By setting up the two tool icons in the panel, it is very quick for me to click on the icon with my Wacom stylus to switch between them. Switching to the Eraser Tool is nice to have. Menu items used all the time can be added to your panel (like the Convert to Smart Object button below) and even actions can be connected here (see in the Postcards panel all the actions I have connected there). Here is an example of a pretty basic panel I created and actually nested with the History, Adjustments, and Properties panels. Multiple tabbed panels can be created. I will be tweaking this one since you can go back and edit them to make it easier to use, but it was a good start. (Double-click on screenshot to see it better in Flickr.)
Go to Adobe’s website and download the Adobe Configurator 4 – here is the link to the Adobe page for Photoshop CS6 and CC. The basic steps needed to get the panel up and going on your computer are provided. Basically Adobe AIR needs to be downloaded to make sure the latest edition is on your computer, then load the Adobe Configurator 4. Unfortunately it appears the Adobe Configurator 3 download links have recently been removed from Adobe Labs which CS4 and CS5 need – if you are interested, I would drop them a line and see if they could hook you up with the ones that worked with those two versions.
Adobe has a 16-minute introductory video on the Adobe Configurator 3 from Adobe TV which also shows how to put your panels up on Adobe Exchange if you have created one you would like to share. The Sample Panels version 4 does not appear to be working but Adobe is expecting to update Configurator within the next few weeks. When you first open up Adobe Configurator 4, you get a nice 5 step workflow to get your started. Thought I would copy them for you to give you an idea about how easy it is to get started doing this. So from Adobe:
1. Begin by created a new panel (File -> New Panel).
2. Drag items you want to add to your panel from the area on the left, then drop them inside the new panel.
3. Use the controls on the right to customize the layout and functionality.
4. When finished, export your panel (File -> Export). NOTE: At this point also do a File -> Save Panel As to get a File Name.gpc file that is needed to edit the panel in Configurator at a later time – and be sure to save it in a different place than the Photoshop Panel folder.
5. In Photoshop CC or Photoshop CS6 or InDesign CS6, load your new panel from the Window -> Extensions menu. (Restart Photoshop or InDesign after exporting your panel for the first time).
That is really all there is to it – very simple to do. I don’t know why everyone is not creating panels for all their different workflows. Adobe says to make a CS4 or CS5 panel compatible with CS6, you must open the Configurator 1-3 format file in Configurator 4 and when it asks you to create a CS6 panel – say yes. Then export for CS6 (File -> Export Panel). To make your panel compatible with CC, choose Edit > Convert to CC, then go to File -> Export Panel and navigate to the CC Panel folder. There is a slight difference between the files the two programs use. (In Windows the Panel folder resides in the Plug-ins folder.) If also saving your file for further editing, be careful not to Save As to your Photoshop Panel folder, or the panel will not appear in the Windows -> Extensions list. (I did this and had to figure out what went wrong.) I had forgotten how much I used the panel created for Dan Margulis’s workflow in CS4. (Double-click on image to get a better look in Flickr.) Here is a screenshot of the Postcards panel when opened in Photoshop CS6 – obviously I put it on my second monitor or I would not be able to see anything! You can make the column quite small so it does not get in the way for less complicated panels. If you are having problems with the Configurator, Adobe does have a forum group that is linked with the download link above. BTW, if you decide you do not want an Extension in your program, open up the Adobe Extension Manager and go to File -> Remove Extension. You will need to download the Adobe Extension Manager CC from the Adobe Application Manager if you did not while installing the new Photoshop CC. The top image was created using the my Postcards panel created for Dan Margulis’ techniques – he goes for very exact color and sharpness to an image. He is one of the original Photoshop Gurus – at Photoshop World in Las Vegas in 2009 he presented his Picture Postcard Workflow, and that is what my panel was based on. Here is the Dan Margulis website to get more info on his techniques and a free download of a much better panel than what I created earlier. Dan’s panel is an excellent example of what can be done using the Configurator. (Once his file is downloaded, double-click on the file and the Adobe Extension Manager for your version of Photoshop will open. It then adds it into the correct panel folder in Photoshop.) All of his books are excellent but extremely technical, so be ready for a challenge!
If you have looked through any of my Fun Photoshop Blogs, you will find several other people’s panels that can be added to Photoshop to do all sorts of things. See my Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs below for links to panels others have created. They are all using this program to create some very original uses. Hope you get a chance to try this out. At least it is very easy to create new ones. Give it a go and see what you think!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Using a Tych Panel to Show Off Your Images
Dr. Brown’s Painting Assistant Panel for CS6 and CS5!
Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated!
Edit Layers with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) Script
Every now and then I come across a new technique that totally blows me away. That is what happened last weekend as I was listening to Creative Live‘s workshop by Yervant, a very prestigious Australian wedding photographer, on Shooting and Designing Wedding Albums (click link for DVD course info). Creative Live always has top-notch presenters, and even though I am not a wedding photographer, I like to tune in when I am just playing in Photoshop (I have two monitors so it is easy to do!) Yervant uses different Photoshop techniques, and this is one that is working quite well for me. The Windsor Castle guard image is my first attempt at using the selection technique I am sharing today. This actually is a very similar process to David Nightingale’s Curves technique (see my Using Curves Adjustment Layers to Get Rid of Shadows and Highlights blog). But instead of using Curves Adjustment Layers to even out tone, Levels Adjustments Layers are used – and what makes this technique so effective is the use of a Feather to blend in changes subtly. Below is the original image that was brought into Photoshop from Lightroom. The image was first treated in Lightroom with a beautiful free preset called The 70′s Look by Matt Kloskowski, one of the Photoshop Guys at NAPP.
This technique contains just a few steps.
1. Do all your basic corrections in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw. In Photoshop remove any obstructions, etc.
2. Next create a flattened image or a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) to use as a basis for the next few steps.
3. With the Lasso Tool (or any selection tool you like), create a selection around an area that needs some lighting correction. In the image above, I started with selecting the window in the upper left over the guard’s hat.
4. Go to Select -> Modify -> Feather (SHIFT+F6) and enter an amount to use on your selection to blend in the changes. A basic amount of 200 pixels is a good starting point – the size of the selection will determine how big the feather will be. If the feather size makes the selection area too small so it no longer covers the area you want selected, CTRL+Z (Undo) and reduce the size of the feather. For the window, a Feather size of 100 px was used. The doorway through the walkway used a feather setting of 200 pixels.
5. CTRL+J and place the selection on its own layer. Now would be a good time to name the layer.
6. Add a Levels Adjustment Layer and clip it to the selection layer (ALT+click between the layers). Move the Midtone slider either right or left depending on whether you are trying to lighten or darken the selection. The black or white end tabs can be moved to clip some of the colors. Also the Output tabs can be adjusted to get just the right blend. The adjustment layer opacity can be reduced if the effect is overdone.
7. Next a Color Balance Adjustment Layer can be clipped above the Levels Adjustment Layer to get the color correct and was done in the case of his red jacket. It also works very nicely on skin to get a nice color. Hue/Saturation, Brightness and Contrast, and Vibrance are other Adjustments Layers that work nicely with this technique.
For this image, the wall on the right through the doorway was over exposed with light – a selection of this area was made and with Levels Adjustment Layer it was darkened, and then a Color Balance Adjustment Layer was used to match the color in the image. The whole image used 6 Levels Adjustment Layers to get the total color and tone corrections.
This really gives nice results on any kind of image – landscape or portrait. Very localized selections can be made to make an area have exactly the correct tone and color needed to draw the eye into a certain part of the image. The image below was taken several years ago while visiting at the The Roman Baths at Bath. The water is approximately 114 degrees – that’s hot! This image was processed exactly the same way as the one above and also used 9 Levels Adjustment Layers. It was a lot of work, but it ended up as a beautiful intimate image that I would not have used otherwise.The trick is to work your way around the image darkening areas that are distracting or lightening areas you want more detail in. On a complicated image I found it helps to put each area into a group or at least name your layers so you know what area it contains. Then the groups can be easily moved or stacked in a logical order since every time you copy your selection, it is placed directly above the composite layer. If you notice you are not getting a change, you probably have another one covering up the one you are working on so you will need to move the layers or groups around.
Usually the last step is to add a Vignette using the Rectangular (or Elliptical) Marquee Tool. Create a rectangle (or oval) inside your image, set the Feather to 300 pixels, invert the selection by going to Select -> Inverse (CTRL+SHIFT+I), and go to Levels Adjustment Layer and adjust the Midtones slider and black tab to get a nice darkish vignette.
Here is a screenshot of the original image (the layers are all turned off but the original layer) as it was brought into Photoshop from Lightroom with just the straightening, cropping, and basic sliders adjustments applied to the RAW file. The layer structure is shown on the right – the reflection and pool group was opened to show how the adjustments fit onto the selection layer. Click on image to see the layer list more clearly.
This little boy is my last example – taken several years ago in London. Loved the tired look! This image used the same process as the others. In this case 9 Levels Adjustment Layers were added along with Vibrance and Hue/Saturation Adjustments Layers. A vignette was created just focusing on the little boy’s face, which could be adjusted to get just the right amount of color on the face.
I think what I like best about this technique is that it is very subtle – you can leave the details in areas but really quiet down the colors so they don’t draw the eye away from the focus. Or vice versa as in the image above where the stonework is so beautiful behind the people and it is an area you want to slightly emphasize.
I love this technique, especially on people images. Yervant uses this technique very effectively on portraits and his bridal images are gorgeous – he does a great job of really showing you how to do this technique (and several others) on all kinds of images on his DVD at CreativeLive. I was very surprised how the color in the image is very exact and the focus using the vignette is spot on. Definitely a new technique to add to your Photoshop arsenal…..Digital Lady Syd
Since I have been trying Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Clarity for a few weeks, I thought I would just pass on some of my recent image results. I am using this plug-in more now that I have created a few of my own presets for a starting point with the sliders. So far I have not had a reason to selectively apply it – although a few times I have taken out a sky so it is not affected. The yellow gerberas above provides one of the sentiments that I base this blog on – playing in Photoshop! The image used Topaz Clarity twice, and then I went back to the original background layer and processed it using Topaz Detail without the Clarity layers included. It was then placed on top and a layer mask allowed the Topaz Clarity results to pop through. Then just some textures, text and fancy brushes. Total Fun! For specific information how I processed this image, check out Image 1 at end of blog.
…..This is one of my favorite images from Belarus I took several years ago. This time Photoshop’s HDR Toning was applied first, then Topaz Clarity and Detail. The last step was to add a light pink overlay from Kim Klassen – all this resulted in this magical effect. See end of blog for Image 2 settings.
The image below represents some of the tools used on a the windmill above. I thought I would show how the image will differ when a Topaz plug-in is used without Clarity applied first, and when it is applied before the other plug-ins. Below is what the image looked like with just the Enabling Profile Corrections and Removing Chromatic Aberration checked – basically a RAW file. The right image is after using Topaz Clarity on the image. See Image 3 notes below for the exact settings if you would like to see them.
Now this next image shows both Topaz Simplify with a preset I had created a long time ago that I call Nice Soft Pastel Effect. I selected it as it really shows what a different look you can get with Simplify on an image. For settings used, check out Image 4 at end of blog.
BelowTopaz Black & White Effects plug-in was applied – another one of my very favorites. This plug-in always produces absolutely incredible results and was recently updated to add most of the interface features Clarity has. The preset used was Platinum III. You can really see what a nice job Clarity did to enhance this black and white image.
The last image is Topaz Adjust with my personal favorite preset, French Countryside. I don’t know why, but this preset has the look that I really like on images. I would probably print this one as it gives a little bit of that vintage feel the log cabin building exerted, but still has the nice country colors in it. As you can see, adding Clarity first can really change the whole look to your image. I would recommend trying both ways if you are having problems getting a plug-in to look the way you want it to. It may need Clarity to boost the contrast in a very natural way. Well, if you have not tried out this new plug-in from Topaz, you might want to give it a whirl. Check out my related blog links at the very bottom for more info on using this plug-in. It adds that very subtle contrast to an image that I really love, and am finding I am using it more and more!……Digital Lady Syd
Notes for Images:
Image 1: Just the little processing in Lightroom (Cropping, Lens Correction and Defringe) before opening in Photoshop. The background was duplicated and Topaz Clarity was opened and only changes to the Clarity section were applied. (Settings include: Dynamics settings – Micro Contrast 0.91, Low Contrast 0.53, Medium Contrast -0.86, and High Contrast -0.48; Tone Level settings – Black Level 0.56, Midtones -0.16, and White Level 0.28; and HSL Filter – Hue: Orange -0.11, Yellow -0.02, Green -0.05, and Overall 0.09; Sat: Red -0.03, Orange 0.02, Yellow 0.17, Green 0.03, Blue 0.27, and Overall 0.11; and Lum: Red 0.16, Orange 0.30, Yellow 0.55, Green 0.50, Blue -1.00, and Overall 0.08.) Once applied the layer was duplicated in Photoshop and Topaz Clarity was opened up again. (Settings are the same for the Clarity section above. HSL Filter – Hue: Orange 0.52, Orange -0.30, Yellow -0.31, Green -0.05, and Overall 0.09; Sat: Red -0.03, Orange -0.62, Yellow -0.37, Green -0.27, and Blue 0.27; and Lum: Red 0.30, Orange -0.67, Yellow 0.20, Green -0.39, Blue -1.00, and Overall 0.08.) The Background layer was duplicated again and this time Topaz Detail was applied. (The settings: Detail Section – Overall, Small Details -1.00, Small Details Boost 0.00; Medium Details -1.00, Medium Details Boost 0.00, Large Details -1.00, and Large Details Boost 0.00; Tone Section – no changes; and Color Section – Temperature -0.27, Tint 0.34, Saturation -0.65, and Saturation Boost 0.21.) This layer was moved above the top Clarity layer and a layer mask was applied. The yellow flowers and center were lightly painted out in the mask so the detail from the Clarity layers showed through. Next a Darken layer was created (see my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog). This time I used a dark brown brush sampled from the image instead of a dark black brush. 2 Lil’ Owls Color Bokeh-Grunge Set – 3 was added as a layer on top and set to Hard Light blend mode and 100% opacity. A layer mask was added to remove a little bit of the texture from the centers of the flowers. French Kiss Artiste Old Master texture was placed next and set to Soft Light at 73% opacity. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added to lighten up the image a little by moving the Midtones slider to the left. Two text layers were created – one using Rough Typewriter and one using Batik Regular and the opacities of both reduced almost halfway. My free SJ Cloud 1 (actually taken while on the International Coastal Waterway in St. Augustine, Florida) was set to 4300 pixels was added in a New Layer on top. Shadowhouse Creations free Bird brush 7 was added on another New Layer and set to 30% opacity. The last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer where I just dragged down in the image to get the right tone.
Image 2: In Lightroom David duChemin’s New Maasai Split Tone preset was applied along with some basic slider adjustments. In Photoshop’s HDR Toning, the Vibrance was set to +100, Saturation +100, and Detail +100. I had thought I might try to make this a painting, and I still might, so these settings were used to enhance the image. A duplicate of the image was created and Topaz’s new Clarity plug-in was applied. These were the setting used: Dynamics – Micro Contrast 0.98, Low Contrast 0.42, Medium Contrast 0.22, and High Contrast -0.37; Tone Level – Black Level -0.23, Midtones -0.19, and White Level 0.06; and HSL Filter – Hue Green slider set to -0.30, Saturation sliders: Red 0, Orange -0.47, Yellow 0.36, Green 0.47, Aqua 0, Blue -0.12, Purple 0, Magenta 0, and Overall 0.11; and Luminosity sliders: Red -0.72, Orange 0.11, Yellow 0, Green 0.19, Aqua 0.55, Blue 0.10, Purple 0.66, Magenta -0.05, and Overall 0. Next Topaz Detail was applied to a duplicate layer setting the Overall Detail to 0.78 and Red 0.40. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was put on top and Cyans were set to Hue 41, Saturation 5, and Lightness 31, and Blues set to Hue -13, Saturation -37, and Lightness 1. A Darken Layer was created and set to Overlay blend mode to burn in some of the clouds. Kim Klassen’s beautiful Cloth & Paper Texture Touch was used – an overlay had been created using it and it was set to Normal blend mode at 77% opacity. The last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little contrast back into the whole image. (See my How to Create an Overlay Out of a Texture blog.)
Image 3: The Topaz Clarity plug-in was opened and I started with Street Scene Strong Contrast. Changed several settings to: Dynamics: Micro Contrast 1.00, Low Contrast 0.30, Medium Contrast -0.34, and High Contrast -1.00; Tone Level: Black Level -0.14, Midtones 0, and White Level -0.44; and HSL Filter: Hue – Red -0.83, Orange 0.10, Yellow 0, Green 0.10, Aqua -0.29, Blue -0.83, Purple -0.10, and Magenta -0.17; Sat – Red 0.06, Orange 0.17, Yellow 0.94, Green 0, Aqua 0.78, Blue 0.27, Purple 0, and Magenta 0.38; Hue – Red 0.61, Orange 0, Yellow -0.45, Green -0.12, Aqua -0.36, Blue 0.06, and all the rest 0. Named preset Balanced Contrast. That is all that was done at this point.
Image 4: The Topaz Clarity settings are the same as those in Image 3. The Simplify plug-in used these settings: Global Adjustments: Simplify – YCbCr, Simplify Size 0.27, Feature Boost 0, Details Strength 0, Details Boost 1.00, Details Size 0.20, Remove Small 0.10, and Remove Weak 0.31; Adjust – Brightness 0.10, Contrast 1.48, Saturation 1.70, Saturation Boost 1.24, Dynamics 0.36, Structure 3.33, and Structure Boost 0.67; and Edges – Edge Type Color Edge-Normal, Edge Strength 0.00, Simplify Edge 0.30, Reduce Weak 10.00, Reduce Small 0.20, and Fatten Edge 0; and Finishing Touches: Tone – Color 1 Region (R0G0B0) slider 0, Color 2 Region (R54G27B9) slider 100.0, Color 3 Region (R170G135B136) 180.0, and Color 4 Region (R255G255B255) slider 255.0; and Tone Strength 0.46.