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Sign on a deserted beach in Spanish Cay in the BahamasLittle bit of a strange title, but that is exactly where I am with this huge program. I decided to try and see what I could do with this new version of Corel Painter 2015 (this website has lots of resources to help you out), but I must be honest and say I keep falling back on my Photoshop painting experience. I was having a hard time deciding if it was worth the upgrade since I am still just learning this program. I do believe I am happy with the new version if for no other reason than it seems to be running a lot smoother on my older computer. Since I have not fully explored all the new “bells and whistles,” I am not considering this a review – just showing you what I am trying out using this updated version of Painter – I by no means have even scratched the surface of this program. For those who are in the know about Painter, Aaron Rutten has a great video on all the new things called What’s New In Corel Painter 2015 that I just watched and was really surprised at all the updates (he also gives useful tips on how to use them).

The sign image above was located on a beautiful beach on a basically deserted cay – only a marina and small hotel/restaurant were open – but lots of abandoned buildings from the 1990’s were still standing. It was taken at Spanish Cay in the Abacos. Most people only stop here in their boats to get through Customs for entering The Bahamas. This image was first processed in Lightroom using Seim’s (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Power Workflow 4 Super Hero X-Natural preset. The lettering was also sharpened with a Local Brush set to high in Clarity and Sharpen. In Photoshop clean up was done to the image and Topaz (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail 3 was used to sharpen up just the lettering again (a black mask was added to the Detail layer and only the signs were painted back). A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to get rid of some of the shadows on the signs – once again a black layer mask was applied and just the brightened shadow areas were blended back into the image. Topaz Adjust 5’s French Countryside preset (one of a couple of my favorites in Adjust) was applied and this time a white layer mask was added in Photoshop and only the lettering brought back since there is some diffusion going on in this preset.

I opened up the original image in Corel Painter 2015 to try it out. I selected a clone brush using the Cloner Category – Bristle Brush Cloner (which is not new) to paint in the signs and some foreground on the Canvas layer. On a New Layer above I used Karen Bonaker’s July Cloud Category brushes (these were made for the X3 version, but once Imported they seem to work fine) – she did a wonderful video using her Cloud Brushes called Corel Painter Mixed Media Painting (if you have the time, it is worth the watch) and she lets you download them for free from the Digital Arts Academy – actually love all her brushes but these are especially nice. Her Simple Cloud brush was used to create the blue water effect and her Soft Cloud New and Summer Sky brushes were used in the sky. On another New Layer from the new Particles Category – my SJ Spring Feathers Sketch brush variant was used – same as the original Particle brush variant designed by Cher Pendarvis (of Painter Wow! book fame and another one of my favorite Corel Masters) for outlining the signs except in the Brush Calibration Panel the Enable Brush Calibration was checked – the brush just worked better for me this way. I did learn that if you open up this little gem of a panel and check the Enable Brush Calibration box and either adjust the sliders or open up the brush window to add your own stroke effect, you can override your general brush calibration settings and make it specific for this brush variant. Very cool! To learn more about this brush, check out her short video called Painter 2015 Particle Feather Sketch Brush – this brush is turning out to be a new favorite for me. To learn about brush calibration in major detail, check out Jason Maranto’s Chapter 04 Part 01 video on Brush Tracking (I have been following his free Painter 2015 Video Manual series on You Tube – he is doing a fabulous job covering this program.) The image was now saved as a Photoshop (PSD file) and reopened in Photoshop.

Now the cool thing – opened up both versions in Photoshop. Did some clean up to the Corel file layers and added a stamped copy on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E). Copied the Topaz Detail layer into this image to restore the sign lettering. This could be done by adding to the Topaz Detail layer a black layer mask and painting with a white brush just the lettering, or by placing the Detail layer under the stamped Painter layer with a white layer mask and painting with a black brush the the lettering – either way works just fine. Or use the Clone Stamp Tool between the two files to restore the lettering. All work equally well. I am sure I could also have done this some way in Painter, but I have not tried that yet. On a New Layer on top, my chalk brush was set to 19% brush opacity and used to paint in the ground area in the background – the complimentary color from the blue sky tones was used as a color.  To get a complimentary color quickly invert your image (CTRL+I in image thumbnail in Layer Panel) and then sample by ALT+clicking in the image to get color, and finally undo this step. Or add an Invert Adjustment Layer, sample the image, and then delete it. Also added a little bit of this color in the foreground. Next added a Selective Color Adjustment Layer and only adjusted the Neutrals – Cyan +2, Magenta +6, Yellow +3, and Black +17 set to Absolute, just enough to pop the image a little. Another stamped layer was added and Nik Viveza 2 was applied – it was used to bring out the sky and yet slightly soften the structure, and to sharpen the signs a little more. Added a Levels Adjustment Layer and moved Midtones to 0.79 and Output Levels to 36/255. This just gave me the effect I wanted. Usually I use Curves for both of the last two layer adjustments, but I could not get it to look right so I tried something else. That is the end of my workflow for this image. It took a lot more work than I expected but I am find that this is what happens when you are looking for the right effect and working between programs. Here is a link to the first time I published this image, if you are interested.

Image of a Small Barge docked at Spanish Cay in the BahamasThis small barge that was docked at the Marina in Spanish Cay in the Bahamas. Not sure why I painted it, but it was something different to try. Admittedly, I am still in the learning process with using Painter so I am trying out different types of images. I still like doing the final tweaks back in Photoshop and find I am using almost the same workflow I used when just painting in Photoshop. So for a quick recap of how I got to this point, and unfortunately this one took me a while also, the workflow is as follows. Topaz Clarity’s Color & Contrast Boost III preset was used with no changes – wanted a more natural looking sharpening and Detail made it too crisp. Next added Painted Textures Christmas texture and set to Luminosity Blend Mode at 100% layer opacity. I decided to use this as a sort of underpainting since it gave a really simplified view of the image. A layer mask was applied and the barge and some of the pier was painted back in. On top French Kiss’s (see) Studio 3 Wave texture was applied and set to Screen at 79% layer opacity.

Image was opened in Painter several layer were created. First used more of Karen Bonaker’s wonderful July Clouds category brushes from above. On one layer used Impressionist Sky brush variant with blues and whites to create a hint of clouds – layer was set to 17% layer opacity later in Photoshop, and another layer used the Impressionist DW brush variant at 105 pixel size where different colors were added to background to give a green yellow foliage feel and add some color interest. It was also set to Multiply at 76% layer back in Photoshop later. Another Painter person to follow is Aaron Rutten – I have been trying out his Corel Painter 2015 Custom Workspace and brushes and used his Smooth Palette Knife brush variant to emphasize the white color to the barge. I like a lot of his brushes and he also has some great instructional videos on You Tube. Next layer used a brush I created after watching Painter 2015 Particle Brushes Featuring Jeremy Sutton. It was based on one of the new particle brushes, Gravity Lazy Sketch which I really like, but in the Particle General Panel, Jeremy explains some changes that can be made. For my brush I set the Count from 32 to 73, Global Chaos from 0 t0 10, and Local Chaos from 0 to 32. A rather shimmery brush was created that was used add some depth to the water areas and some of the sky. Really liked the effect. Image was then saved and brought back into Photoshop where I proceeded to add yet another layer on top where my SJ Chalk Brush as a regular brush was used to soften some of the harsh edges on the boat. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to get a good contrast. A stamped layer was created and Topaz ReStyle’s Silver and Ivory Cloak preset was used. (Here are the adjusted settings if you are interested: ReStyle Layer Opacity 66% and set to Luminosity blend mode; Color Style Hue Primary 0.14, Fourth 0.14, and Fifth -0.44; Sat Primary 0.14, Secondary 0.02, Third -0.12, Fourth -0.47, and Fifth 0.09; and Lum Secondary 0.16, Third 0.67, Fourth -0.31, and Fifth 0.06; Texture Strength -0.77; Basic Color Temperature 0.33 and Saturation 0.03; Tone Black Level 0.31, Midtones -0.27 and White Level -0.17; and Detail Structure -0.03 and Sharpness 0.66; and in Masks painted back the white of the boat using Brush Edge Aware, Strength 0.55; Brush Size 0.25 and Hardness 0.30, then switched to Strength 0.18 and painted a bit of the in barge softly.) Set this layer back in Photoshop to Overlay at 71% layer opacity. Created another stamped layer on top and this time opened up Nik Viveza – added 13 control points to get the colors the way I liked them! Not sure I have ever used this many before. Mainly wanted to make sure the barge was working properly as the focal point. That was about it. I am always amazed how much work goes into creating these paintings, but usually I like the results if I spend the time doing it.

Well, as you can see I was able to get use some of the new things in Painter, especially the Brush Calibration panel for brush tracking and the new Particle brushes. Watching Jason’s videos (link above) is taking up a lot of time, but he is really covering the different topics very thoroughly so I am find them very helpful – and a lot of it is just on basic Painter. Since there are not many books on the newer versions available, these videos are a great resource. Hope you have all at least downloaded the trial to see what you think. Oh yes, another thing that is pretty cool is that there are now live previews like in Photoshop when using commands like Equalize and others I have not tried. That is very handy! Hopefully I will start to pull some of these new changes into my limited workflow and start painting more creatively! Well, I must get back to my painting and practice, practice, practice!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image from The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Show at Universal StudiosThis week I just did what I call some “fun” Photoshop and just played. Know I have touched on these things before, but liked the results so thought I would share again and go through my plug-in workflow. This time I have added small images showing the results of each plug-in layer. Also wanted to say thanks to the Photography Club of Flagler County, the club to which I am a proud member, for letting me “bend their ears” for an hour on my passion of painting using Photoshop. So many of its members are totally excellent photographers so check them out!

As I said before, for some reason I really loved Universal Studios Orlando and got some different shots when visiting. This image was from The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Show. I liked the flames and graininess that were due to the high ISO (1250) needed to take this shot. The original RAW file was extremely dark (see below). Probably not the best image for drawing your eye to the focus point, which to me was the girl, but I still liked the image so here it is. In the original image as it came from Lightroom, Seim’s Super Gentle X preset was applied as a starting point. Have not talked much about Gavin Seim’s Power Workflow 4.1 Lightroom presets (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) – I really like them and find I almost always use them over playing with the sliders in Lightroom now. They are different from others I have bought – uses a lot of curves and HSL changes to get some very natural effects. You can download a free sampler, which is how I got started with them, and if interested, watch for the good sales he offers every now and then. He also has a really interesting You Tube video called Gavin Seim’s History of Photography. The Noise Luminance was set to 26, Detail 59, and Contrast 30 to handle some of the noise issue. Below is the RAW file and the file as it looked when brought into Lightroom. If that does not sell you on using Lightroom or Camera Raw, I am not sure what will!

Image of Raw file of Sindbad showImage of original file with Lightroom changes of Sindbad Show

Next Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Clarity was used – I did not want to sharpen the noise, but definitely wanted a more natural sharp look to the image so Clarity was used instead of Topaz Detail. The Micro Color Boost II preset was used with a few adjustments (Dynamics White Level -0.55; Hue/Sat/Lum settings: Hue Orange -0.06 and Magenta -0.61; Sat Orange 0.42, Yellow 0.03, Green 0.47, Blue 0.77, and Overall 0.33; and Lum Red 0.17, Orange -0.14, Green 0.38, Aqua 0.33, Blue 0.19, Purple 0.16, and Magenta 0.36). Back in Photoshop a black layer mask was added so the effect was removed, and then it was painted back in where I wanted the nice saturated colors showing up, mainly the foreground and flames. The image below has just Clarity applied. Very subtle difference from the Lightroom preset image – mainly shows up in the colors in the foreground.

Image of Sindbad Show after using Topaz ClarityOn a duplicated layer (CTRL+J) Topaz Black & White Effects was opened and the Toned Collection Sepia II preset was chosen. This time a lot of the settings were changed, or else it would look like sepia, right? Here are the settings used (Selected the 4th over teardrop which set the settings for Section 4 Finishing Touches Silver and Paper Tone. Left Basic Exposure with preset settings. Adaptive Exposure was set to 0.24 and other setting left as set. Creative Effects Diffusion set to Softness 0.71, Diffusion 0.67, and Diffusion Transition 0.56. Finishing Touches used the Quad Tone settings provided by the preset. Vignette was set and centered on the girl. Vignette Strength set to -0.28, Vignette Size 0.61, Vignette Transition 0.83, and Vignette Curvature 0.82. Transparency set to 0.40 to just bring a little color back into the image). What is really neat about Black & White Effects is that the Local Adjustments section has so much variety that you can sort of sculpt the image. Therefore all the brushes were used to enhance most of the special effects above. First the Detail brush was used to paint over the girls face and body to emphasize it a little more. Used these settings for all brushes: brush opacity of 0.14, Hardness 0.00 and Edge Aware of 0.50. This is just enough opacity to see a change. Painted over the area again where more detail was needed. Second, painted with the Color brush over the flames once, her face several times, and her body once. Also the foreground color was lightly painted over. Third, painted with a Smooth brush over the flames – I usually do not see much of a change here with this brush but I wanted the overall feel soft, so it was used. Fourth, painted with the Burn brush on the areas that shows up too bright around the edges. This included part of the flames on the right edge. Fifth, painted with Dodge brush just around the large pot in the foreground and her pant legs to brighten these areas up just a little. In Photoshop a white layer mask was added and some of the detail was painted back in the foreground and flames – that is because the Diffusion settings were pretty strong in this plug-in. I wanted to use it for a more ethereal feel, but there are places that needed more detail. The Local Adjustment brushes did add some of this detail back, but there is a little more painting control back in Photoshop. Once again the difference was very subtle, but there is some definite darkening going on by adding this plug-in. Also, this plug-in’s layer was only set to 59% layer opacity which also lessens the effect. Below is how the image was starting to appear with Black & White Effects applied.

Image of Sindbad Show with Black & White Effects applied

Two Curves Adjustment Layers were added to darken the edges down and brighten the girl just a little. Below you can see the Adjustment Layer mask’s were turned black (CTRL+I inside the mask to turn it black) and a white brush was used to paint back the localized sections to reveal. Since I am never one to leave things alone, Nik’s Viveza 2 was used to add the red tones to the flames (actually used the little eyedropper under the Hue slider and sampled the red in the flame to add more) and pop her face a little (mainly used just a little Contrast of 28% and Structure of 44% to make the face show up just a little more). You can see the flame settings in the screenshot below. (Click on image to see settings larger in Flickr.)

Screen Capture Image of Nik Viveza 2 settingsSince the effect was still a little strong, a black layer mask was added and just the areas I wanted more were painted back in white, of course using my Chalk Brush 60 with 19% Angle Jitter. How cool to use so many of my favorite plug-ins in one image. The final image is shown at top of blog and below is an image of the Layers Panel from the finished file. (Click on the Layer Panel to see close-up in Flickr.)
Image of Layers Panel for Sindbad ShowWell I hope this gave you some insight into how to do use plug-ins effectively in Photoshop. You do not have to overdo the effect – can just add a black layer mask in Photoshop and paint back with white where you want the effect to show up. Or try changing the Layer Opacity or Blend Mode to get a different look. And don’t forget to try some different types of brushes other than the Round brush when painting in that layer mask. Lots of choices here! Until later…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How Topaz Black & White Effects Can Create Some Surprising Results!
More Clarity on Topaz Clarity
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Clarity
Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem!


Image of Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville sign at City Walk in Orlando, FloridaJust having some fun with this week and trying some new things out. This is the sign on the restaurant for Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at City Walk in Orlando, Florida. So the reason this is rather “wonky” is because I decided it looked kind of good “wonky!” This sign was at the top of the building and was not shot straight on, so the sign on the right side was further away than the side on the left. There was lots of reflection in the restaurant windows in the original since it was taken during the brightest part of the day – totally awful! And the blue lettering and the parrot were almost indistinguishable in the sign. I thought this would make a good image to experiment with the brushes created in my How to Easily Create a Photoshop Brush for Painting blog. First the image was cropped in Lightroom and then opened Photoshop where it was taken into the Edit -> Perspective Warp command to see if it could be salvaged. It actually did a pretty good job on it but there were a few disturbing areas. It was tweaked using the Edit -> Puppet Warp command and that is when it went “wonky” – I just started pulling and pushing the pins all over and got this really whimsical look that I liked – it looks like the sign is on the top of a sombrero. (For info on how to really use this tool effectively, see my short Tidbits Straightening with Puppet Warp! blog.)

It occurred to me that Puppet Warp is actually very similar to the Warp Tool in Free Transform (CTRL+T). On a New Layer on top the sky was blended using the Creative Toons Mixer brush from my linked blog. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) above, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail 3 was opened and an underpainting look was created. (Here are my settings: Topaz Detail 3 – used Abstraction II preset. Made changes to Tone Cyan-Red -0.69, Magenta-Green -0.12, and Yellow-Blue 0.09; Color Temperature 0.30, Tint 0.02, Saturation 0.05, and Saturation Boost 0.02; and Effect Mask – Painted out the effect off the bird’s face, trees, and Jimmy Buffett’s lettering using a Brush Strength of 0.45, Brush Size 0.11, Hardness 0.66, and Flow and Edge Aware at 1.00; and Overall Opacity set to 1.00.) This layer was set to Subtract blend mode at 89% layer opacity and on a layer mask the lettering was painted out to make the Jimmy Buffett’s lettering show up better. In the Layer Style dialog, the Blend If This Layer black tab was split (ALT+click on the tab and pull apart) and set to 56/77 to really darken down the sky. (See my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog) How I came up with this I do not know, but on another stamped layer above, the image was inverted by clicking on the layer and pressing CTRL+I – now it was all white looking. A black layer mask was added and just the same lettering was painted back. Looked terrible so a Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer was added to turn the lettering from the ugly yellow to bright red – now you can see it. On another New Layer I used the SJ-Kahara Regular brush from my linked painting blog to paint on the sky around the the bird and trees to make them stand out a little more and add some interest to the night sky. On yet another stamped layer a Camera Raw Radial Filter was added to just the parrot’s head (hum) to bring the focus to him. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added to adjust the green color in the image and that was about it. Oh yes, lastly added Jack Davis’s Wow Texture 02 (got this style along with many others from the CD in a little gem of a book called Adobe Photoshop 7 One Click Wow)– this to give a more painterly look. Whew!

Image inside the Trolley Train Ride at Universal Studios Orlando This image was shot looking up at the center from the stairs going up to get on the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride at Seuss Landing in Universal Studios Orlando. I really loved the bright colors but was not quite sure what to do with the image. It seemed like a good candidate to try a little Puppet Warping on, so that is what you see. In Lightroom the image was cropped and Seim’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Power Workflow 4 Magic Ugly Shade Fixer preset was used to help with this issue. In Photoshop on a duplicate layer, the Puppet Warp Tool was used. Once again, the mesh was turned off first. Then pins were stuck in each corner to hold the image still. The various pins were placed and dragged to get this crazy result. Back in Photoshop Topaz Adjust was opened and a preset I created called Negative Preset was applied with no changes. (Here are the settings: Global Adjustments Adaptive Exposure 0.07, Regions 50, Contrast -0.02, Brightness 0.00, Protect Highlights 0.02, and Protect Shadow; and Finishing Touches Warmth 0.18, Border Size 0.26; and Vignette Strength -1.00, Vignette Size 0.01, Vignette Transition 1.00, and Vignette Curvature 0.87.) It gave it a bit of the surreal look. 2 Lil’ Owls Studio’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Member Freebie of July 2012-57 was applied and set to Hard Light blend mode at 61% layer opacity. The Blend If This Layer black tab was split (ALT+drag tab) and set to 125/191 and the white tab was also split and set to 215/255. This pulled back some of the texture from the image to get this kind of nice effect. Her Ultimate Texture Collection Chalkboard Burgundy was applied at Soft Light and 100% layer opacity. Three New Layers were added with painting on each to smooth out the white highlights in areas that were distracting. A stamped layer was created on top and set to Multiply blend mode and a white layer mask was used to bring back the texture details in the darker areas. Another stamped layer was created and my free SJ Thin Double Edge Frame layer style was applied with the default colors. I think it turned out to look a little scary!

Image of the Giraffes in a Store Sign at Seuss Landing in Universal Studios OrlandoThis was just too much fun to stop at one image. The puppet warp was used to warp another store sign in Seuss Landing at Universal Studios. These funny giraffes are from the first Dr. Seuss book called And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street. I wanted to show a painterly image that had very little brush painting done in it – all done with filters and textures. Ran the same Shake Reduction Filter in Photoshop, selected the plain blue sky using the Select -> Color Range Tool, and added Melissa Gallo’s Painted Texture June Seashore for a bluish sky that looked like painted clouds. Next a new texture by French Kiss called Color Wash Sage was added. What really made this image get this rather grainy illustrative look was in the layer style of the layer (double click on the layer to open). The Blend Mode was set to Color Dodge at 94% opacity and 95% Fill Opacity, and the Blend If This Layer White Tab was split (ALT+drag to get a smooth transition) and set to 224/255; the Underlying Layer Black tab was split and set to 29/47 and White tab split and set to 145/177. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was placed on top but a huge color shift occurred. This is because the blend mode of the texture below was set to Color Dodge and this happens – to get rid of this just set the stamped layer blend mode to Color. Decided to try the whole image in Topaz ReStyle and voila, instead of a blue image, I had pinks and warm tones which I really liked. (Here are the ReStyle Settings: colors based on Orange Peel preset – ReStyle Color Style Hue Fifth 0.53; Sat Fifth 0.41; and Lum Primary -0.48; Texture Strength 0.00; Basic Color Temperature -0.31, Tint 0.61, and Saturation 0.11; Tone Black Level -0.31, Midtones -0.02, and White Level 0.02; and Detail Structure 0.38 and Sharpness 0.16.) The last step added my SJ Thin Double Edge Frame on a top stamped layer – sampled colors in the image to get the frame colors.

Sometimes it is just fun to play with the different tools and see what results you get. I think I would get bored if I did the same workflow on every piece I did. Sometimes you have to when working on a special occasion or group of images, but it is kind of nice to take a break and try something different. Until next time – Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Get Blend If Slider Settings to Apply to a Layer


Image of totem poles in front of a store in St. Augustine, FloridaThis week is all about just having some fun painting – which is why I do anything in Photoshop! Thought I would pass along a few tips that occurred to me while painting away this week. This image is of some really beautiful wood totem poles that are in front of a store in St. Augustine, Florida. Had to take the image! The colors were marvelous!

This is an example of how to use your new brush skills to remove areas in your image – the texture was used to hide a very messy and distracting background and the basic objects were painted a little but kept in tact so you can appreciate the detail of the pieces. Since the last few posts have been about creating some nice brushes, this image used the one created for the first image in How to Paint with a Texture Brush blog. I like this brush because it contains a whole bunch of texture. If you want a more obvious texture in your brush, increase the Depth slider. What does this do? Well basically by setting to a high level, the deepest areas of the texture would not get any paint; set to 0% means that there really is no different between the high and low parts of the texture and very little of it will be seen in the brush stroke. The Depth Jitter adds some randomness to the brush texture in the stroke.

Lots of clean up was done before starting on this image – need to get any distractions out of the way and clone in areas that are covered up. Saves a lot of time later. In this case all the bottoms of the front totem poles had to be reconstructed and many had white sales tags on them. Note – Open up that Clone Stamp Panel and click on icon in front of the W – this reverses the direction of what you are cloning – totally useful to help with reconstructing a missing area. Added on top Melissa Gallo’s August Copper texture. By using a layer mask to paint back the totem poles, a pretty nice painterly effect is achieved. This is actually a very popular technique used whenever a texture is added. (See my Texture Resources – So Many Choices! So Many Choices! blog.)

Another tip is do not forget to try some of your plug-ins once you have got the image close to finished. I have often created much better results by doing this. This image used Nik Viveza 2 (one of my totally in-disposable plug-in) and Nik Analog Efex Pro 2 (another favorite) as a black and white layer and set to Overlay blend mode at 86%. Viveza let me make the faces a little sharper where I wanted to direct focus and add some slight vignetting in the corners. My last step involved adding yet another texture, August Marble also by Melissa, and setting it to a Color Burn blend mode at 52% layer opacity – and no layer mask this time.

So in this case we found that painting is not that much of the process – need to really clean up the image, use  your plug-ins wisely, and find a perfect texture to hide distractions! Always be on the look out for that great texture!
Image of a painted bouquet of flowersThis bouquet is of an image I actually put a white background behind and shot with natural light. All that was done on this image is to just paint on a New Layer on top of the flowers using a Mixer brush. First Seim’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) PW4 Super HDR X preset was added to add some contrast and sharpen the image a little. In Photoshop I converted the image to 8-bit (Image -> Mode -> 8 Bit) and made the image smaller since I was going to use a Mixer brush to paint and it is common knowledge that these brushes slows everything down – a lot! Usually this works along with keeping the brush size pretty small. This image just used Photoshop’s default Flat Fan Single Bristle Wet Edge brush at 25 pixels as a Mixer brush. The Options Bar was set so the “Load the brush after every stroke” icon was turned off – do not want to add any color – and Sample All Layers turned on. Set the Wet to 100%, Load 1%, Mix 100% (want to mix our colors up), and Flow 100%. I could have used the Very Wet Heavy Mix, in the drop down which increased the Load to 50% – not sure it matters at this point since no color is being loaded. Now just dabbed and stroked away to my hearts content on this image trying to keep my focal point in mind and not overdo that area. Two texture layers from French Kiss (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) were added – the Atelier Valley set to Hard Light blend mode at 35% and Tableaux Mirage set to Vivid Light at 67% layer opacity – no layer masks were added. A New Layer was created and set to Overlay – then with a dark greenish brush set to 19% brush opacity, some of the lines in the flower were painted back to emphasize the separation in my focal area. (See my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog.) Another New Layer was added where the Mixer brush was used to just add some extra strokes in the leaves – if the texture that was added is too strong, this can be blended into your strokes to make this less obvious. It just cleaned up some of the painting. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to add back some of the contrast when the textures were added. A stamped layer was created and now I decided to go into Topaz ReStyle just to see if I could improved upon the color palette. The Thistles and Bright Sky preset was used (here are the setting if you are interested: ReStyle opacity 55%; Hue Secondary 0.30, Third 0.38, and Fifth 0.86; Lum Primary -0.33, Third -0.09, Fourth -0.33, and Fifth -o0.37; and Sat no changes; Texture 0.86; Basic Opacity 49% at Color blend mode; Color Tint -0.56 and Saturation 0.03; Tone Black Level 0.20 and Midtones -0.30; and Detail – Structure -0.42 and Sharpness 0.20.) Another Curves Adjustment Layer was added and by dragging in the focal flower area, more contrast could be added. By filling the layer mask with black, just this area was lightly painted back until it looked just right. It took a lot of steps but it ended up creating a very nice result! Used a similar process but different brush in my Tidbits Blog called Red Carnations on a Bright Sunny Texture.

Here’s a little tip I wanted to pass along – actually found this in the Photoshop Manual’s shortcut key section and it is a real time-saver when changing brushes. In the Preset Brush Panel pressing the “.” (period key) takes you to the next brush in the list and the “,” (comma key) takes you to the previous brush. You can skim through all your brushes very quickly by just pressing these keys. Also, by pressing the “<” key, you are taken to the first brush in your preset list and the “>” takes you to the last one. This is very handy since every time you create a new brush, it ends up at the bottom of the stack , and if you are like me, there can be many brushes in your list – so just press the > key and it takes you to the last entry quickly.

Well that’s it for this week. Maybe you picked up a couple new brushes or tips to try. See you next week!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of a painted Rooftop at Harry Potter Land - Universal Studios OrlandoThis week I only have this one example using an image taken at Harry Potter Land in Universal Studios Orlando, but it works well for this very useful technique. Since I have been learning more about the brush engine in Photoshop, I discovered a rather useful way to link a part of the texture of the background to the brush being used to paint over the image.

Here are the beginning steps to making this image. First converted image to 8-bit (Image ->Mode->8-bit) so the brushes will paint faster. The sky was a very bland flat blue color so it just seemed to be begging for something to perk it up. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits blog for website link) Detail 3 was applied for an overall image sharpening and then some basic spot cleaning was done since my camera sensor was a little dirty.

Owl Steps: Next an owl brush from a set called harry_potter_brushes_by_nyvelvet-d4qcowz was applied on a New Layer by clicking just once at 100% brush opacity to get a nice owl outline. On another New Layer underneath, some brown was painted in the owl wings and head, then on another New Layer white was painted in other parts of the owl to make it stand out and look painted – just used a regular soft brush at 100% opacity. These three layers were grouped (highlight the layers and press CTRL+G) and named Owl.

A stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top and this layer was opened up in Topaz Simplify where the BuzzSim III preset was applied to use as an underpainting. This broke up the image into a really nice color palette that can be used to sample colors for painting over the main objects. Note you do not have to use Simplify (or Detail above), these are just some ways I am experimenting. An underpainting could be created using different Photoshop filters or adjustments layers. I plan on covering this topic at a later date. Used Topaz ReMask to remove the sky and the selection was loaded as a layer mask from the plug-in (check ReMask settings at bottom to set this up) although Photoshop could easily have used for this as it was a very easy selection. Now a texture needed to  be added underneath to fill up the sky and various ones were tried. I settled on French Kiss Atelier Georgia texture (see sidebar at my Tidbits blog for website link) which gave the image a nice painterly feel. Obviously the Simplify BuzzSim edges in the towers looked bad, but it is now time to make a brush to smooth these out.

Creating Brush Steps: A brush was made right in this image by turning off all the layers except the texture layer. Next use the Rectangular (or Elliptical) Marque Tool and select a small portion of the texture that represents an area that might make a nice brush. Press CTRL+J and it copies the brush selection up onto its own layer. Turn off the full texture layer and on top of the sample layer, add a Threshold Adjustment Layer to get a strong nice black and white look – all brushes have to be in black and white tones or it will not pick up the texture. I think my Threshold Level was set to 162. Highlight the brush layer under the adjustment layer and go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset. Down at the bottom of your Brush Presets Panel is your new brush. The new Brush now needs to be turned into a pattern, so on a New Layer a one stroke click was done with the new 208 pixel brush at 100% opacity in a black color. With the Marque Tool again just the brush stroke was selected and then go to Edit -> Define Pattern and name it the same as your brush. Deselect and highlight all three layers to put into another group and name brush and pattern.

Now the rest of the Brush in the Brush Panel must be set up. The Brush Tip Shape size was set 30 pixels and Spacing 56% – keep the Size small but play around with the Spacing watching the Preview area. Next in Shape Dynamics the Control was set to Off and the Angle Jitter to 4% – just enough to give a bit of variation. The last step involved adding the new brush pattern that was just created. By clicking on the down arrow next to the current texture, the last entry should be the new brush pattern just created – select it. Set the Scale to 131% – needs to be set over 100% so no obvious patterning is observed. If you are using the CC or CC 2014 versions of Photoshop, adjust the Brightness and Contrast sliders – I used Brightness -19 and Contrast 11. Make sure the Texture Each Tip is checked and change Mode to Multiply. Depth was set to 100% and Depth Jitter to 59%. All these settings can be manipulated until you get a stroke you like, but these are settings I used on this image. A new Brush Preset was created with these new settings by clicking on the Create New Brush icon at the bottom of the panel. A video going over these brush and pattern steps is below in case you got lost in the description.

Finalizing the Image: Several New Layers were painted using just this Regular Brush to paint over the objects – no mixer involved – and by sampling in the different colors that Simplify supplied, the image could be painted fairly quickly. Basically I like to sample a darker similar color and paint over a light one and vice versa to get a nice blend effect. Since the texture adds enough empty space in the stroke the colors blend nicely and it also looks somewhat  like the added large sky texture. This does not have to be painted perfectly and it will give a totally painted look. It really was a lot of fun and did not take too long to complete. A Pattern Adjustment Layer with the new pattern set to 100% Scale was put on top. The layer opacity was set to Normal at just 3% layer opacity – just gave a little bit more of the overall texture. On a stamped layer, a Radial Filter was added in Camera Raw to help draw the focus to the top cupola.

Update: I just added a Tidbits Blogs called A Little More Painting with a Texture Brush where I finished up the image started in the video and got a very different result. Check it out for a couple more tips.

Hope you get a chance to try this – as you can see from the video, a different texture gives a very different brush – some are better and some are worse, but it is nice to be able to match the added texture to the paint brush strokes so the objects fit more smoothly into the texture. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of some of the characters making up the Caro-Seuss-el at Universal Studios OrlandoI think most people are pretty much in a rut and do not even think about using anything other than a basic round brush in Photoshop. But Wow! There is so much more sitting in that Brush Panel that is not really that difficult to use and the results can do some amazing things to an image. This week I am going to give you some very basic settings for making a nice brush variation and how to use it as both a regular brush and a Mixer Brush without having to learn everything “under-the-sun” about them. So here we go.

I have decided I must see things differently since I seem drawn to shooting these sort of close-ups of funny things I see at theme parks. They do such a good job with color and expression that it is hard not to enjoy them. So once again a Universal Studios Orlando image close up of a couple of the characters to ride on from the Caro-Seuss-el in Seuss Landing.

Getting Started

I decided I wanted a painterly feel to this bright colored image. Most people will over-saturate an image in Camera Raw or Lightroom as the painting can make the image lose its contrast. In Photoshop first do any cropping, straightening and clean up of distractions and convert your image to 8-bit mode to help speed up the painting process (Image -> Mode -> 8-bit).

This step does not have to be done – you can just go on to Creating the Brush step and then start painting on a New Layer without an underpainting effect. For this image, on a duplicate layer (CTRL+J),  Topaz (see website link in sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Simplify 4 plug-in was opened to create an underpainting before beginning to add my personal painting brush strokes. This is the same process as traditional painters do when they paint large blocks of color on their canvas before they begin painting the details. Especially for these bright contrasty images, it is a great way to start. Simplify does a great job of doing just that, simplifying your picture so you can take time working on your details. A preset I created back in version 3 was used (here are the settings used: Simplify section: Size 0.60, Feature Boost 0, Details Strength 0.80, Details Boost 1.28, Details Size 0.60, Remove Small 0.10, and Remove Weak 0.47; and Adjust section: Brightness 0.02, Contrast 0.82, Saturation, Saturation Boost 2.31, Dynamics 0, Structure and Structure Boost 1.00; no other settings used. ) This creates a rather bright flat image, but perfect for painting on the image. There are other ways to create an underpainting – the copy of the actual image could actually be blurred so only the basic shapes and colors are distinguishable and the detail removed. Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4 is another plug-in that creates a great underpainting effect. (See the first image in my More Plug-in and Painting Effects blog for an example using Snap Art 4.)

Creating the Brush

Next a New Layer was added on top and a watercolor Regular brush was created from the set I am always talking about – Creative Toons Watercolor Brushes – these were free from Photoshop Creative Magazine No. 113. (See next section for some other choices.) The brush used was Sample No. 15 but in the Brush Tip Shape in the Brush Panel, I set the size to 90, Roundness 100%, and the Spacing to 55%. Then added these brush sections by clicking on the words (not just check boxes or the settings don’t show up): Shape Dynamics was set to an Angle Jitter of 19% – no other settings on; Scattering with Scatter slider turned on and set to 30% and Count to 1 – no other settings on; Texture was turned on and the Gauze Pattern in Photoshop’s Artists Surfaces set was selected – Scale 100%, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Multiply, Depth 100% and Depth Jitter 40%; and of course Smoothing. (To locate pattern, click on side of pattern in Texture brush section, then click on the cog in upper right corner and select Artist Surfaces in list and Append – newly loaded patterns appear at bottom of already loaded patterns.) All the Control settings are turned off in all the sections. Be sure to save down as a Brush Preset so you do not lose your settings by clicking on the third icon over at the bottom of either the Brush Panel or the Brush Preset Panel. These were all settings I figured out since I really liked the shape of the original brush from Creative Toons, a brush that originally had a Size of 2500 px and Spacing of 25%. When painting, the 90-pixel size is as large as you want to use, especially when used as a Mixer brush. I believe any nicely shaped watercolor brush would work with these settings. Please try different settings and different types of brushes, not just watercolor, as you can get some very different but equally beautiful effects – I just happen to think this brush is very versatile and blends so beautifully. When using as a Regular brush, I usually set the brush opacity in the Options Bar to 30% and leave the Flow at 100%. If painting on a layer mask, may want the brush opacity set to 100%. For info on Flow, check out my blog called What Does the Flow Slider in the Options Bar Do?

Where to Find Some Nice Starter Watercolor Brushes

If you are unable to create this brush since the set is not free without the magazine, try downloading this large set of brushes from Env1ro watercolor brush and select Brush 3-697 pixels using exactly the same settings – when tested it creates the same effect as the brush used above since the shapes are very similar. It is also used in image below. Some other similar results were obtained using  SwimchickWatercolours – brush no 480 which gave a little softer result. Kahara has a nice 8-brush set and the third one made a beautiful brush with these settings and a different pattern, a concrete  pattern from Photoshop’s Texture Fill set (click on side of pattern in Texture brush section, then click on the cog in upper right corner and select Texture Fill in list – new patterns appear at bottom of loaded patterns). Changing up the patterns can give a brush new life. For a great list of free brush downloads, check out 45 Watercolor Brushes For Photoshop by Petshopbox Studio.

Turning it into a Mixer Brush

The real trick is to get your new Regular brush to work as a good Mixer Brush, and that is determined by what is up in the Options Bar – these settings are all sticky so when using your Mixer brushes, check them out if the brush is not working correctly.

So here are the options to make this really easy:

  • To blend the colors (creating a blender Mixer brush), in the Options Bar turn off the “Load the brush after each stroke” icon by clicking on it and always leave “Clean the brush after every stroke” clicked on, and selecting the Very Wet, Heavy Mix in the drop-down – have Sample All Layers checked. Now you have a pretty nice blending Mixer brush. If some color shows up, you left the “Load” icon turned on.
  • But what if you need to add some color to an area (creating a painting Mixer brush)? Turn On the Load the brush after each stroke icon (or no color will be painted) and flip the drop down to Dry, Light Load. Dab a few times to add your color and go back and turn off the Load icon and set to the Very Wet Heavy Mix to blend some more.

Really not that hard at all if you know where to look. And that is what I did on this image. Photoshop does try to make it easy. I blended areas where Simplify left a rough edges between color and added color to areas that were blown out as highlights or needed a more solid color added. Be sure to use dabs as well as longer strokes to get a nice painterly feel. If your brush gets much bigger than 90-pixels, the computer may slow down considerably so reduce the brush size – I usually paint at 20 pixels or less anyway. If still having problems, resize your image smaller – it will not matter if you are creating a painting – it can always be increased again after the image is finished. This was just too much fun to do! I love happy characters to work on!

NOTE: For painting with the Mixer brush – to sample colors that are under a brush stroke where you are painting, just press ALT+ click to add the(ose) colors to the “Load the brush after each stroke” icon which shows what is being painted by the brush. If you want to use a pure color from the Color Picker, you will need to use the Eyedropper Tool or double-click on the foreground swatch. I find this very time-consuming, so I do two things. First I have set up a keyboard shortcut for the letter “n” to open up the Color Picker. (Go to Edit -> Keyboard Shortcuts) Since I do not use the letter “n” for the 3D Camera Rotate Tool, I changed it in the Shortcuts For: Tools and scrolled to Foreground Color Picker, clicked Add Shortcut button, and typed in the letter “n” – it said it was in use and do I want to do this and I said yes. There you have it – very handy! Also my Wacom Stylus pen is set up so that the top of the long button opens up the Color Picker by selecting my “n” shortcut key, and the bottom is for Enter to accept the new color. This speeds up the painting process immensely! As a Regular brush – to sample an image color, just ALT+click on the color in image and the Eyedropper Tool pops up and selects it. The “n” shortcut key will bring up the Color Picker no matter what brush tool you are using.

Finishing up Your Painted Photo

I decided that the image needed a few lines showing, especially on the faces to draw the eye a little better. Again, this does not have to be done with a plug-in. One of the best ways to do this is to add a New Layer and select a Pencil Ink pen and add them in yourself – adjust the layer opacity so it is not over-whelming. For my painting the original bottom layer was duplicated and Simplify was opened again. This time the Black Line Only preset was chosen and just the Reduce Weak slider was set to 1.00 – all other settings were left. In Photoshop the layer was moved up to the top and set to Overlay blend mode. A black layer mask was added and just the eye areas and a few other details were painted back with the lines showing using a low opacity white brush. Many painted images have some lines in them and there are various actions around that add lines to your images, but by using just the Edges section in the Simplify plug-in is by far the fastest way to do this. The Reduce Weak slider controls a lot of the lines in the image but also check out the Edge Strength and Simplify Edge sliders for getting the illustrated look you want. This layer was set to Overlay blend mode so the white disappeared and a black layer mask was applied – painted in lightly with white brush where just the eyes and a few other areas had lines added for a little additional definition. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added for contrast. The Camera Raw Radial Filter was added to draw focus to the eyes , especially the center figure (Inside Radial Filter settings: Exposure 0, Contrast +5, Highlights +44, Shadows -4, Clarity +41, Sat 0, and Sharpness +33). And finally OnOne’s (see website link in sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Perfect Effects plug-in was used to add the pretty border – they have always had the best borders. This one was called Antique Rounder Border. This turned out to be quite a lot of effort, but when you are painting an image, it usually does take some extra effort – even with the underpainting already added.

Here is another example using the same settings on a new brush.

Image of Dwarf Firebush flowers with the ICW in the background This image is of some Dwarf Firebush tubular flowers growing in my front yard and the Halifax River (aka Intracoastal Waterway) at Ormond Beach, Florida, is the background. Not sure how I came up with this combination, but it turned out kind of nice and definitely different. The reason it fits in this blog is that the flowers were painted using the same settings as the Mixer Brush in the above image, but with a similar brush I created. Wanted to show you that applying these settings to any brush is totally easy and the results can be very nice. But first I had to select just the flowers from the background using Photoshop’s Color Range Command. I needed to put them on something, so I added a Pattern Adjustment Layer and found this image of the river that looked kind of nice behind it since the roof on the pier is so similar to the flower colors. The pattern was left at a Scale of 100%. I wanted to add a little grunge to the image so Kim Klassen’s Make Grunge Set Allard texture was added and set to Luminosity blend mode at 54% – any grunge texture would be fine but I like really like Kim’s textures as most of them are very subtle. Next Env1ro watercolor brush 697-3 was loaded with the same settings that were used on the Creative Toons brush. Unfortunately due to an electrical storm that knocked out electricity and totally busted my Photoshop preferences, workspace, brushes, and image, I lost the layers for this image – what a mess! But since I did have my History in Preferences set to Metadata and Edit Log Items Detailed, and all my steps were listed in the File -> File Info and the History tab. Pretty nice extra-back up to have, especially in this case! Another Simplify Black Line Preset was added on a duplicate background layer and placed on top, set to Overlay blend mode, and a black layer mask added to paint back the flower details. Topaz ReStyle was applied to a stamped (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top with my favorite Cream and Plum preset (here are my settings: ReStyle blend mode set to Color. In Basic blend mode set to Luminosity; Temperature was set to -0.75, Tint 0.20, and Saturation 0.13; Tone Black Level -0.37 and White Level 0.22; and Detail Structure -0.20 and Sharpness 0.64). This gave it a bit more of a soft look as opposed to a grungy effect. The last step was to use the new brush as a Mixer and blend the edges by painting around it. I am not sure this image has that much of a painterly look, but I still liked the results.

Hopefully this blog makes sense to you and you now have enough information to actually start painting on layers on top of your image. Also use the same brush to paint in a layer mask, to use with the Clone Stamp, and create borders. It really is not that hard. Experiment with the settings in the Options bar – try some of the other choices in the drop-down menu for the Mixer brush. Try different patterns in your brushes. It is all pretty easy – just keep saving your brushes as presets so you do not lose them. I would suggest going in to the Preset Manager (icon at bottom of the Brush Panel) and saving your new brushes down since I did lose all of the ones I had created when my electricity went off. And if you have Topaz Simplify, try out the line and flat painting presets. Hope you have a fun week experimenting – I know I will!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Simplify 4


Image of Edinburgh, Scotland, from the castleI have been enjoying learning about several actions people have created that give some interesting twists to an image, and some are quite painterly. Last week I presented Part 1 on action based images, and this week Part 2 is a totally different kind of look also created with actions. I have to thank Diana Day for the blog comment (here is a link to a beautiful flower image she created with the following set) that directed me to this little gem.

Ultimate Artist Action by Brandy Murry

The above image was taken from Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.The Ultimate Artist packet is an inexpensive set ($7.50 at this time) provided by Scrap Girls, one of the really nice website that scrapbook hobbyists use. Besides the three actions provided, this packet also included three brushes (although you can use any of your brushes),  six layer styles including one pattern for use in the styles and Pattern Adjustment Layers, two videos, and PDF instructions. I wanted to try a landscape so the Sepia Action was selected. The supplied Sketch brush was used to painted detail in the buildings but not the sky area. Following her suggestion in the videos, I copied the bottom original layer and moved it on top to add some color back into the image. This layer was set to Vivid Light at 59% opacity. On a New Layer some color was added into the image by painting with her Sketch brush. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added to get the colors exactly how I liked them, then set it to Darker Color blend mode at 77% layer opacity. Now the sky looked bad, so a cloud texture I had painted in Corel Painter were added for a more painterly feel. Any cloud brushes would also have worked. The sky color was changed back to a beige color as the blue just did not look right from the original. To do this a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the painted cloud layer and the city was painted back in the mask.  Added a painted edge border on a New Layer on top – used the provided Sketch brush again to do this. Finally on a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Brandy’s Texture 2 layer style was applied. The pattern did not completely cover the image and left a line down the right side, so the Pattern Overlay Scale was changed to 165% and the Blend Mode was set to Multiply at 24% (from the default Overlay at 100%) to get a very subtle overall textured feel. I really like the supplied pattern for this effect. This image took a long time for me to get to a point that I liked.

Image of yellow daisies that used Ultimate Artist action for effectThis image of my front yard yellow daisies that gives a very popular effect and is sold as an artistic effect in many stores. This image was cropped into a square and then the Color Action was run. The Watercolor Brush supplied was used to paint in the flowers on the action’s created black layer mask. When finished I decided to apply the layer mask so that I could add a texture behind the flowers that I painted in. The Outline Guide layer was turned off and Melissa Gallo’s beautiful Painted Texture April Pastel was brought in as layer under the flowers. French Kiss’s (see my Tidbits Blog for website link) Vintage French Recois overlay (the French writing) was placed over the flowers layer and set to a brownish color using a clipped Color Fill Adjustment Layer (CTRL+click between layers to clip). A layer mask was added to the lettering layer and it was lightly painted away from the flowers. Next I decided I wanted a more painted texture in the image so several New Layers were added using Creative Toons Watercolor brushes ( Creative Toons Watercolor Brushes – these were free from Photoshop Creative Magazine No. 113) on the different layers in different colors at different opacities. They were grouped to create just one layer look and set to 82% layer opacity. On a New Layer French Kiss Dot Grunge 04 was added and changed to a purplish color using same technique as the French Kiss overlay. Last step involved creating a watercolor border by painting around the edge of a layer with your favorite brush – the supplied brushes can do this easily. This was really a lot of fun to create and the package was very inexpensive.

Image of a vintage post cardJust having some more fun with this little action set. The flower followed basically the same actions and painting steps as above, just different Creative Toons Watercolor brushes. Next added the image to a beautiful free frame from Keep called Antique Design Background and Rustic Frame and then Shadowhouse Creations free vintage Post Card Set 3-post card 3. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReStyle was used to really get the look I liked. The address is one of my overlays I created (see my How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images blog) and the French stamp is from French Kiss Collections. This image really took a lot of fiddling around with to get it to all go together but it was lots of fun to do.

A Few Brush Hints

After spending a large amount of time with these actions, I felt really nice effects can be achieved with them. The bottom two image worked out very well when flowers are used. But the landscape image turned out to be a lot of work and a  lot of manipulation had to be done to achieve a look I liked – I believe I could do this same effect in some of my Photoshop plug-ins a lot easier and get a similar result. I discovered the watercolor brush to be especially nice, but you need to go into the Brush Panel and check the Spacing checkbox to see the stroke effect in the Preview box. I had trouble getting the nice watercolor effect she got in her videos so some of the brush parameters were adjusted. Remember that the Options Bar settings are sticky so check the opacity and flow settings – a wrong setting can give very different results. On her Watercolor Brush she has the Enable Airbrush-style Build Up turned on – this means that the paint builds up as you hold her Watercolor Brush in one place. (To turn on in a brush, check the Build Up section in the Brush Panel – it activates the Option Bar icon at the same time or just check the Options Bar icon.) Jack Davis uses this setting in his watercolor brushes but most do not use it. I got a little bit of edge difference so experiment with turning it on and off – and a mouse vs. a stylus can give very different results so play with these settings. And if your lines are not as scattered as hers, go in and change the scattering – check out the preview section and change the sliders to see what is happening. I got a really nice Scattering effect with this brush by setting the Scatter to 190% and the Count to 2. The Brush Panel can be very useful to help get the look you like. Also, if you find a brush you like, be sure to save it as a brush preset to use again – otherwise your settings are lost when you change brushes.

Overall I think Brandy has done a great job in creating thee actions – it definitely creates more of a sketch look and would look great on note cards or for personal gifts. I still need to work with the actions to get some better results. Definitely spend time watching the included videos as they do give some extra info on how to set up the brushes. There were several images I used that did not work out – the landscape image needed a lot of contrast, which she says to do, to get a good result. What I liked best were her brushes – very nice place to start so you can create some really useful ones of your own – and her layer styles. If you enjoy this painting effect, it would definitely be worth purchasing – there is a lot of “bang for the buck” with this set. See ya next week!…..Digital Lady Syd


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