This week I am just doing a post for the above image only – it took a long time to complete and I thought I would go over the workflow I used to create this rather current look. I have seen very similar images of famous cities around the world in large poster format. This is an image of the street outside the London Bridge Station in Southwark, London (Boroughs High Street). I took this shot, without getting run over for some reason, during a Scott Kelby PhotoWalk where I joined a British group. It was a total blast and if you have not participated in his PhotoWalks, it is definitely worth the time – great way to meet local fellow photographers and it is free. Below is the original image – I thought you might find that interesting. Not an image that would normally catch my eye.
So how do you get the final image effect? The original image was a good choice for starters since street scenes lend themselves nicely for this look – this particular image has lots of color and detail in it before doing anything to it. Lightroom 5 was used to do a couple things. In the Lens Correction section the new Upright function using the Auto button was first selected. This straightened the image up instantly. The next important thing to do was the crop. After that was done, just minor tone adjustments were made before it made its way into Photoshop. I am finding I use the Auto Upright button on almost all my images now. (See my Tidbits Blog Lightroom 5′s New Upright Adjustments Section.)
I decided I wanted a painterly look so the first place I went was to Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Simplify 4 – this filter gives so many options and presets to try out different looks on your images. Here is what I did to get the image below. In Simplify the Oil Painting B&W preset was applied with the overall transparency set to 0.15 – the opacity of the Simplify layer was reduced to 69%. A white layer mask was added to bring back the detail to all the people’s faces. One of my favorite texture people, Kim Klassen‘s Gentle Whisper texture was added on top and set to Soft Light blend mode at 35% opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used next with a very slight drag down on the curve to increase the contrast a little. I thought I was done and below is what I had created. It was starting to look pretty interesting.
I came back to the image a few days later and just started playing around with it. I actually did three other iterations before I got the final look I wanted. The final image was completed by first adding several steps to the file above, then flattening and finishing up on a different file – this was mainly because the file size was getting too large to handle.
Three layers were added to the second image file using three different grunge brushes and painting different colors into different parts of the image. I used a pinkish-red color for three strips, a light tan on a few of the distant buildings, and pink for the top edge where the bridge bottom shows. It really is not too hard to experiment around and get the look you want. I did use a Burlap texture with the brush to get a nice rough edge. Just be sure you put each color on a separate New Layer so you can play with the opacity and color after the fact. Next Topaz Detail 3 was applied using the Overall Strong Detail II setting – normally I would not use that much but a black layer mask was applied and just the signs were painted back sharp. The Detail was run again to get sharper edges where I needed them. When I do this, I paint on the mask using a 60 pixel brush set to 30% opacity – in fact this brush I use all the time. A New Layer was created to paint out the license plate numbers – just sampled the solid area and painted over them. This is the end of the first file. A composite layer was created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and saved. The image below is where I am now at.
To get the final effect, the image had to be opened in Photoshop CS5 so Mike’s Kill White filter could be run from Adobe’s Pixel Bender filter which only runs on CS4 and CS5. This is one of the main reasons I have left CS5 on my computer. It is still the best filter for removing white in my opinion, and the one using Pixel Bender is better than their regular filter, which will now run on CS6-32 bit only. (Try removing the white in a layer and applying different layer styles or filters to it to get different effects.) Moving right along now, this file was opened in CS6-64 bit where I merged all but the top Kill White layer. On the Kill White layer, that shows holes were the white was, the layer style dialog was opened (double click outside thumbnail on the layer to open) and the Blend Mode was changed to Hard Light. The Blue Channels check box was turned off which popped in some nice cool gray colors that I really liked. In the Underlying Layer sliders, the black tab was split (ALT+click in the middle and pull apart) and set to 0/167 and the white tab was moved as one tab and set to 226. This adjusted the blue tone colors a little bit. The Fill Opacity was set to 55%. I still wanted more color splattered throughout the image but I did not want it to take away from the total image. A Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer (Layer -> New Fill Layer -> Pattern) was added above and several patterns were tried. I settled on one I would never have thought would work – flashtuchka-d3e5lmu floral vintage patterns using the 10flo pattern (a black, pink and white rose pattern) at 515% Scale. If you look at the upper right tones, you can see a bit of the flowers in the grunge effect. The opacity was set to 60%. Four layers were created on top using Kim Klassen’s brush 2204 from the brushes set in her Cloth and Paper Collection. Any kind of light spray textured brush would work fine. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment was added to get rid of any tones that were too yellow – it was ruining the overall effect. The Yellows Saturation was set to -74 and a black layer mask was added. Just the yellow items were painted out slightly using my 30% opacity soft round brush again. Also the faces were painted back to a more natural color. The last step involved adding a Composite layer on top and my SJ B&W Border Frame.
This may not be exactly what your taste is in art, but I hope I was able to give you some ideas on what you can do with an image by just playing. I really had no idea where it would end up, but by trying different effects, I was able to find something that is both personal to me and I would not mind hanging up in my home. I do not consider myself an artist in the strictest sense, but I do look at some of my work and feel that it does express an artistic flair that represents me, and that to me is art!…..Digital Lady Syd
Since I am doing a post on rainbows, I thought I would first pass on a little trivia about them. Did you know that there are usually seven colors in a rainbow, but most people do not see the indigo layer between the lighter blue and purple arcs? The stronger the sunlight and rain, the more intense the rainbow. This is actually a pretty complicated weather effect. The image of my miniature mums was just plain fun to do and is not exactly a very realistic rainbow representation. I started by adding French Kiss Artiste Promenade texture and painting out the mums in a layer mask. Next a rainbow was created following Deke McClelland‘s Creating a Synthetic Rainbow Effect from his Photoshop Masking and Compositing Fundamentals DVDs. (He is coming out with his new Photoshop book shortly that should be great!). The Gradient Tool was selected to create a rainbow. Below are the basic steps for creating a rainbow effect:
1. Add a New Layer. An optional step is to restrain the actual size of the rainbow – select the Rectangular Marquee Tool and in the Options Bar set t0 Style -> Fixed Size and enter Width the settings I used above were 1000 and Height 337 pixels while Deke used 1840 width by 187 height.
2. If using a selection, keep it active and set up a gradient using settings as shown in the screenshot or download my gradient below. The Rainbow gradient provided by Photoshop has some issues – mainly rainbows do not contain any orange colors, the reds are too squished, and a cyan color is included which is not in a rainbow. Deke suggested these basic gradient settings to make a more realistic rainbow gradient.
The lower color tab locations could be adjusted to get more or less of a specific color in the rainbow. Save your new Gradient as a preset so it can be used again or click to download my SJ Rainbow Gradient and resulting rainbow PNG files that contain these settings.
3.Using the Gradient Tool with the Options Bar set with the new rainbow gradient and Linear, drag out to create a horizontal line rainbow. If using an active selection from Step 1, drag exactly between the top Rectangular Marquee line and bottom while holding the SHIFT key to get a straight across effect. Be sure you drag top to bottom or your rainbow will be backwards. (I know because I did this.) Deselect (CTRL+D) the selection.
4. Now go to Edit -> Transform -> Warp and in the Options Bar select Warp Arc and Bend 90% to get a large semi-circle rainbow. To switch back to the other Free Transform settings, just click the Warp icon in Options Bar. To make size of rainbow smaller to fit in your image, set bend and click on the little chain icon (Maintain Aspect Ratio icon) in the Options Bar between W: and H: and change 100% to 70% (or whatever size works on your image). If scaling manually, be sure to hold the SHIFT button while dragging on the corners or the perspective of the rainbow will change. To get a more stylized rainbow look or one that fits around an object, the corners can actually be pulled to adjust the transform lines to make the rainbow line up any way you want by right clicking in the rainbow and selecting Distort or Skew. Then click on the check mark to set the total transformation.
5. Add a layer mask and with a soft low opacity black brush, adjust the rainbow into your image.
6. Set rainbow layer blend mode to Linear Light and change the Fill value to 15%
7. To reduce the edges of the colors in your rainbow, go to Filters -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set a Radius to 8 (or whatever setting you think looks good).
You now have a beautiful rainbow in your image! I actually added a sketch on top of my flower and a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer using the rainbow gradient again and set the layer to 31% opacity to get the rainbow effect on the petals.
Here is another image that uses the same rainbow created for the first image. The PNG rainbow blurred from my rainbow download was brought into the image. The image was first processed in Lightroom starting with David duChemin’s Iceland Split Greens preset (from his newest book The Print and the Process: Taking Compelling Photographs from Vision to Expression) and using an Adjustment Brush to add sharpening and clarity to the houses. In Photoshop Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and the Detail Extractor and Graduated Neutral Density filters were added to enhance the clouds and give them a brighter look on the right side of the image. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to darken down the area behind the houses to give more of a stormy effect, which is needed to get a realistic looking rainbow. Next the rainbow was placed in the image and Free Transform (CTRL+T) to get the right size and location. The rainbow layer was set to 51% opacity and a layer mask was added – the upper right corner of the rainbow was gently painted out. My SJ Painter Oil Frame was applied and a Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers so change only effect the layer below) to the frame – the color was changed to a matching light color in the image. To get the painted edges, a layer mask was added and using a 12% soft brush, the edges were painted out lightly to get more of a painted canvas look. French Kiss Artiste Breeze texture was added on top. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to it and the Saturation set to -100. The texture layer was set to Vivid Light blend mode at 22% opacity. This is an image I probably would not have processed if a texture had not been applied to it and the rainbow really opened up the sky. Now I really like it – it looks like the English countryside that I saw while traveling to Bath.
Just having fun here. Was not sure where this was going and this is what I ended up with. This is actually made up of three groups – Rainbow, Shamrock Pot and Flower Pot. French Kiss Artiste Flower Garden texture was used as a backdrop. It took a lot of manipulation to get the main components set up correctly. The Rainbow was warped to fit into the pots. The flowers were created from an image of a pin I had taken and turned into a brush. All the clip-art is from the wonderful Obsidian Dawn St. Patricks Day brushes. Various layer styles were applied to the different layers and the Cosmi font is called 36 – you might find it on an old CD of fonts.
There are a few other tutorials out there on how to make a rainbow. One in an older book called Photoshop Photo Effects Cookbook has a fairly easy tutorial to follow – I just did not like the gradient effect and final rainbow quite as much. I hope you download my rainbow and give this a try. This was really a fun thing to try….Digital Lady Syd
This simple Amerilius flower image was taken at the grocery store with my Point and Shoot Kodak EasyShare Camera. Not quite sure how I came up with this technique but I loved the result. And it was easy to do.
1. Open image and duplicate the background layer (CTRL+J).
2. Use Quick Selection Brush (or any selection tool you like) to select the Background (or select flower and CTRL+SHIFT+I to invert selection so the background is selected).
3. With selection still active, click on New Layer icon and your selection will appear on the new layer.
4. Create New Layer underneath your object layer.
5. Select the Healing Brush Tool and in the Options Bar click on the Pattern radio button and find a pattern you like. This image used French Kiss Watercolor Expression Set texture called Vivacity – I turned it into a pattern by opening the jpg in a separate document, and going to Edit -> Save as a Pattern. (Note: the size of the texture you are converting will determine how large your repeating pattern will be so try a couple different sizes to see what you like. Also whether you have Sample field set to Current Layer or Current & Below will make a huge difference.) Now when the Source is changed to Pattern, the pattern you just created is at the bottom of the list in the drop down menu on the right of the pattern field. A 235 pixel brush was used which does take a while to paint in – just paint over your selection and the pattern is laid down.
After that you can add plug-ins – this one used Topaz (see sidebar for website link at my Tidbits Blog) Simplify 4′s BuzSim Split Toned I preset with the overall transparency set to .90. I also created an Overlay from 2 Lil’ Owls Bonus Texture 4 (created a PNG file of just the frame by following the steps in my blog How To Make Frames or Borders – scroll down to the section called “To save the frame you created as an overlay to use again.”) and changed to pink using a Color Fill Adjustment Layer clipped (ALT+click between the layers). A Curves Adjustment Layer brought out more contrast and a Selective Color Adjustment Layer brought more color in the background.
…..This image used My Smudge Texture four times. The hardest part with this image was selecting the feathers from my original image to get a nice clean layer mask – Refine Edge was used to really get the clean edges. Next I put a New Layer underneath and painted in my Digital Lady Syd’s Smudge Texture as a pattern for the background. The first pattern I used followed the technique in Step 5 above and was a very large texture pattern as it was a larger size in Photoshop – the Healing Brush default settings for the brush were used and it created a really clean soft color texture for the background. For all the layers in this image, the Sample was set to Current Layer in the Options Bar. (If you set Current & Below, you will blend the layers together.) Next I created another New Layer above it and used my texture at a smaller size which resulted in a repeat pattern look. Using a 100 px brush set to Multiply Mode, several random lines were created down the layer by clicking with the Healing Brush at the top of the layer and Shift clicking at the bottom to get a straight line. Next a Free Transform was done (CTRL+T) to put the lines on a diagonal going somewhat with the feathers. By double clicking on the thumbnail, the Layers Style can be opened. In Pattern Overlay I selected my smaller sized texture again and set the scale to 37 and the Divide Blend Mode at 56% – this pretty much covered the straight line patterns but still kept the straight lines. A Stroke effect was added with the Size set to 35 and the Fill Type set to Pattern using my smaller sized pattern. The Scale was set to 31%. That was it for the background. The layer mask was applied to feathers by right clicking on the mask and selecting Apply Layer Mask. This layer was taken into Topaz (see website link in sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Adjust 5 and the Spicify preset applied to bring out the feathering more clearly. A black layer mask was applied and then just the areas where the effect should be was painted back in. Topaz Detail 3 was added next with the Overlay Light Detail II preset was applied on a duplicate layer and set to 67% opacity. Jess Warriors 1 pottery brush was painted on its own layer at 30% opacity. Finished up with a Curves Adjustment Layer to lighten up some of the white feathers. OnOne’s Grunge 04 Frame was added in a yellow and French Kiss’s Glorious Grunge Edging PNG file (a free download) was added using a dark burnt orange Color Adjustment Layer for the border effect.
Healing Brush vs Pattern Stamp – what are the differences?
After playing around with the Healing Brush technique, I will say it can give similar results as the Stamp Pattern Brush, but actually has fewer choices available. The Healing brush blends the pattern in with the underlying color and texture – the Pattern Stamp lays down the pattern exactly as it appears in the Options Bar. To get the softest edges on the Healing Brush’s pattern, use a soft brush by clicking on the drop-down menu by pressing the arrow by the Brush Size and setting the Hardness to 0% (default setting is 3%). The Pattern Stamp Brush lets you choose many of the Photoshop brushes that come with the program so you can get some interesting effects doing that where you have to use the settings in the Brush drop-down for the Healing Brush, and there is a really neat Impressionistic effect in the Options Bar that gives you some really neat looks for your background. Also, the Healing Brush has no brush opacity setting and only 8 blend mode options, including one, the Replace blend mode, that I have never seen before. To quote Julianne Kost’s blog (she knows everything there is to know about Photoshop and Lightroom and gives great Photoshop World classes), “Using the Healing brush with the blending mode set to Replace makes it behave like the Clone Stamp tool (in that it doesn’t automatically try to blend color or tonality of the source and destination), with one advantage: if you’re trying to clone high frequency image information, the edges of the cloned area will not appear soft as they do with the Clone Stamp tool.” The Stamp Pattern Tool has an opacity brush slider and lets you use all the regular blend modes for your brush and also has a Behind mode. Try out different blend modes on your brushes – it can give really interesting results.
…..This is a female Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly (the males are smaller and blacker in color) that was so much fun to photograph – she would wait for me to take the picture before moving just like a model! Totally adorable! The trick to getting the shots since her wings are flapping like crazy was to set your ISO to 1600 and shot at F11 or higher. Got some great pictures of her. After selecting her and placing her on the top layer, Kim Klassen‘s Cherish Set-Cherishscript texture (sign up for her newsletter to get lots of beautiful textures) was placed right underneath the butterfly layer. A New Layer was placed above the texture and the Healing Brush was selected. The brush was set to Multiply Mode and one of my patterns that had a rough painted texture to it was selected in the Options Bar. Current and Below was set so the colors from Kim’s texture were blended with my pattern. When finished filling in the layer, the Source was changed to Sampled (and brush set back to Normal mode) and the hard edges between the two tiling were blended by ALT+clicking in an area to sample from. Using the Pattern Stamp Tool, French Kiss’s Spatter Brush4-01 was set to 1008 pixels and one stroke was applied. The layer was set to 77% opacity. French Kiss’s French Script No1 1876d overlay was added above that layer and set to 64% opacity with a brown Color Fill Adjustment Layer clipped to it. (The color in the splatter brush was picked up from the pattern shown in the Pattern Stamp Tool, which was the same one I was using.) The butterfly layer is still on top through all this. The last step is to add a Curves Adjustment Layer.
It was a lot of fun to try this out and you can use any pattern you want to get a different look. I am enjoying experimenting with some tools I do not use much to get a different look to my textures. Give it a try and see what you think…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
How to Create Unique Textured Backgrounds
Unusual vintage hearse at Univeral City’s City Walk Horror Night in Orlando, Florida (for a nice video of this event see Halloween Horror Nights 2012 at Universal Studios Orlando). This image was created by using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2, duplicating the layer and painting out the center in a layer mask to retain some of the original color of the image. Brushes used: BB’s Fogs and Mists Brushes; Halloween Spider font with a layer style that includes a Bevel & Emboss, Stroke, Inner Glow, Color Overlay and Outer Glow effects; Obsidian Dawn’s Halloween Vectors and Cobweb Brush Collections; Pureanodyne Halloween Brushes, and Janine Smith’s Vintage Halloween Brushes. Finally OnOne (see sidebar for website link at my Tidbits Blog) PhotoFrame 4.6 was added. I think it is a pretty spooky image!
This is an image I created a year ago on my Tidbits Blog – see Spooky Halloween Fun! for info on how I created it.
Here is another image I created on my Tidbits Blog – see Halloween Resources – Time to Go Batty! for information on how it was created.
Image from my second blog post two years ago. See Around My Neighborhood. Still love it!
…..This may be my favorite bat image – the Haunted House at The Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. This image was included in a previous blog called Digital Landscape Effects with Nik Software.
It is a lot of fun to create your own Halloween images. Give it a try. Have a Happy Halloween!…..Digital Lady Syd
This is a follow-up from last week’s How to Create Unique Watercolor Background Texture blog and more Photo Art examples. Below are listed several ways to create interesting backgrounds using brushes and other Photoshop tools. The above is an example of what can be done using very traditional textures to make your image look a little different. Some clean up and a Curves Adjustment Layer were added to emphasize the sketch lines of the flowers more. Next Lost and Taken’s Remixed Chalk Pastel 03 texture was added and set to Pin Light at 100% opacity. To get the grungy look, a New Layer was created using the Amazing Texture Brush 2 by Nakatoni (apparently these are no long available but any grunge brush you like will work to add some splotchy purple color) – the layer was set to 52% opacity. A little color clean up was done on another New Layer. Next one of my favorite canned textures by Gavin Hoey’s grunge border 2 was added and set to Overlay blend mode. To get the flowers to appear, a white layer mask was added and the flowers were painted back in using black in the mask. This texture was set to Overlay blend mode. Next a composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created and a black 3 pixel stroke layer style was added as a small border line. Next my Cat Painting canvas texture was added using Soft Light at 100% opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer, Levels Adjustment Layer, and Gradient Map Adjustment Layer (using a bright yellow to green gradient and layer set to Saturation blend mode at 46% opacity). Two more layers were created using different grunge brushes set to 20% opacity in purples and blues were the last steps. The reason I went over all this is to show what a few layers on top of rather traditional textures can give a very different look and be very targeted to get an interesting final result. Below is the Layer Panel workflow as basically listed above.
This background was created in an interesting way. A New Document was created using the Photoshop Paint Brush Maple Leaves set to 369 pixels with pink and yellow set as foreground and background colors – the whole layer was covered with leaves. Next the Smudge Tool was selected and I dabbed and smoothed the colors together to give this nice blended look using Fay Sirkis’s Watercolor Liquid Mask I Photoshop Brush with the Smudge Brush Tool. If you do not have access to her wonderful brushes, try Alex Dukai Artist Set 01 using the Impressionist brushes which give a very similar result. (Note: the Smudge Brush Tool takes a lot of Ram to run so use a small sized brush like 150 pixels max to do do this.) Once this is created, save the background down as a JPG so it can be used over as an image texture. I used this background and added my sketched layer from the first image. A New Layer using Obsidian Dawn’s Random Swirls 2 Glitter Brush in light pink was added to add texture to the flowers. Nagel rough pastel brushes 3 and 4 were used in the different colors to fill in blanks spots and add some color to the petals – these are really nice smoothing brushes. My Double Edge Frame layer style was added as a last step. See my blog Digital Lady Syd’s Free Layer Style Frames. Here is just a different way you can create a unique texture for you images. You can download my Smudge Texture – see below how to change the effect and colors in this same texture.
This original image was first taken into Nik Color Efex Pro 4 and three filters stacked: Midnight using Neutral color set, Reflector Efex using Method Gold. and Bi-Color Filters using Color Set Violet/Pink 3. The background came out as black so a layer was placed above and olive green grunge was added on the layer using another one of Fay Sirkis’ textures pastel brush (see last week’s blog for more on Fay). Again a good grunge brush would be fine. A second layer was added and a light pink grunge was painted – the layer was set to 19% opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to darken the whole image down a bit. Next, the Smudge Texture created in the image above was placed in the image on top and set to Color blend mode at 80% opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the texture (ALT+Click between the layers) to adjust the hue (+14) and saturation (-71) of the texture itself – the adjustment layer was set to 49% opacity. Finally a composite layer was put on top and my Double Edge Frame layer style was added to finish up the image. I believe all these steps created once again a very unique background for these flowers.
This image used a pattern applied with the Pattern Stamp Tool. This tool can create some really interesting backgrounds. The original image was loaded. Next a New Layer was added on top and the Pattern Stamp Tool (sits with the Clone Stamp Tool) was selected. Now to make this interesting you have to load some interesting patterns. This is one from Princess of Shadow Victorian Dreams Texture 6 but any pattern that has colors you like can be used. I wanted some blues and reds so that is why this particular pattern was chosen. Note you can use any of your textures and turn them into patterns by opening texture, going to Edit -> Define Pattern and it will be in your group of selected patterns. To make this work you need to go to the Options Bar and in the little box where the pattern is showing, click on the little down arrow and load your pattern. A layer mask was added to remove the color from the flowers. The Pattern Stamp layer was set to Color Burn blend mode at 77% opacity. This layer was duplicated which added in the blue and red tones in the texture once the layer was set to Hard Light at 64% opacity. The flowers were painted over using Mixer Brush blenders. Once again I have to thank Fay Sirkis for her great Signature Schlepp n Smear Blender brush and one by Dave Cross – his close up mixer brush. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added where the RGB, Red and Blue curves were adjusted. Finally I a used my Double Edge Frame layer style, this time adding a Layer Stroke effect and setting the size to 18 and Fill Type to Pattern. I selected the same pattern and set the scale to make it look right.
I thought I would finish up with a couple real quick ways to add an interesting background. Kelby TV’s Ask Dave’s blog has a short video on How Did You Get That Cool Background? that was used to create the background above. This is a really easy technique. Basically Dave Cross (one of the NAPP Photoshop Guys and Hall of Famer at Photoshop World) used the Single Row or Column Marquee tool and apply a couple filters – I did this in a separate PSD file so I could use the texture over again. This time the flowers were cropped and set to Dissolve blend mode. An image that had yellows and reds was selected to create the background and a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer added for the purple/blue tones. A snow texture that Florabella Collections had given away at Christmas was placed under the flowers but above the adjustment layer – any snow texture is fine (it would be easy to create by painting with a spatter brush on a black background on a layer) and set the layer to Color Dodge at 35% opacity. A New Layer was created using Frostbo’s Snow Drops brush with purple tones – this is my favorite snow brush. My Thin Double Edge Frame was used as a last step sampling color from image.
Hope you are not getting tired of my flowers but they were easy to use as an example. This last image first used a Randomized Gradient – it was originally in bright reds and oranges.
See my Tidbits Blog I Didn’t Know That! Randomizing Gradients which uses four steps to create. This gradient had Noise set to just 50%. The randomize button was pushed several times until I got a gradient I liked. In this case I used a Radial Gradient which was pulled out from one corner of the image. A Curves and a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer were added to change the colors to browns and pinks. The flowers were placed above the gradient layer. (See left image.) A New Layer was added under the flowers but above the adjustment layers and a Mixer Brush was used to smear the color behind the flowers to get this effect. (I personally like John Derry’s Mixer Brushes – this used his Flat Fan High Bristle Count brush.) I was really surprised how this turned out. Try out different mixer brush settings to see which one does not pick up the flower colors but just those underneath. Now just a little clean up and frame. The Mixer Brushes can create some really interesting backgrounds.
I hope you have learned a few new ways to create some interesting background textures for your images, especially flowers. In the meantime, try some of these techniques and see if you get some good results!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated!
Create a Winter Scene with Photoshop Brushes and Textures
Adding a Texture for Flair!
Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes
Cold Dolphin Fountain in Florida
Everyone it seems is texture crazy right now! I have to admit that I love to use textures in my photo art but some of what I am seeing does not seem that terribly creative to me. Once you buy a texture action, and don’t get me wrong – there are some beautiful textures and actions to make your photos look great – the results may start to look a little canned. That is what I was feeling when I created the above image from a shot of beautiful white flowers from Hawaii. I have to admit I tried a few boilerplate textures from some of my favorite texture people, but it just did not do anything for me. Then I decided to take things in my own hands and try making some interesting textures that would work for me.
As I have said before, I am not a trained artist, but I do like to play around with brushes. Here is the original image before adding my textures. The first thing I did was to create a sketch in Topaz Simplify (for website link, see sidebar of my Tidbits Blog) using colored edges. (I still have not found anything that works better to get a really good sketch effect.) In fact I got the idea from an image I posted in my My Version of Photoshop Tennis! blog where I used the Simplify plug-in to get a nice line drawing of the outdoor cafe image. The settings are very similar but instead of using mono color edges, color edges were used (see settings for Image 6 in blog). Back in Photoshop, Color Range was used to delete all the green background out of the image so only the sketched flowers remained. I duplicated this layer and put it to Multiply blend mode to make the lines a little darker and even added a Curves Adjustment Layer to bring out more detail in the petals. A New Layer was placed between the original green image layer and the sketch and filled with a light yellow. Above the yellow layer, several New Layers were added where I just painted with a chalk or charcoal brushes using 30% opacity in light pinks and blue colors around the petals to start getting a painted background. This does not have to be painted perfectly as they are blended into the image later. Different new layers were created for the different colors – if one color is not looking that great, you can delete it from the image without losing your other colors. (In fact I had created a rather bright orange layer using a charcoal brush that just did not work so it was deleted.) I used some of my very favorite brushes by Fay Sirtis, a Corel Master Painter, but she also does Photoshop brushes. The best way to get hold of them is to join NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) where her videos and brush downloads are available. She has created several of the old masters’ brushes to use in Photoshop, but also has some of her own pastel, chalk and charcoal brushes. Her dry, texture pastel, and chalk add color brushes were applied to add a nice texture to just the flower petals. Check out your Natural, Dry Media and Wet Media Brush sets that came with Photoshop for some other good brush choices. I try to rename the layer with the name of the brush used if it a unique one. Now a composite (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) stamped layer is created to finish up. Below is where we are at.
The image still needed more interest so a I created one to place over the sketched flowers. This was done by starting a New Document and creating several layers of strokes in different soft colors and opacities. The brushes used in this file are BittBox Free Hi-Res Watercolor Photoshop Brushes. A Composite was created at the top of this document like above. I then saved the Pastel Watercolor texture image as both a .PSD and .JPG file. Click on image to see steps more clearly in FlickR (click again in FlickR to bring up an even larger view). To download my texture from Deviant Art, click here. See “Create a Colorful Paint Background in Photoshop” by EntheosWeb.com for a good article on how to do this.
This watercolor JPG texture image was then placed above the Composite layer of the flower file. I did not like the way it lined up so a Free Transform (CTRL+T) was done and it was flipped vertically and horizontally to get the look I liked. A layer mask was added to clear some of the paint from the petals where it looked overdone. The layer was set to Lighten blend mode at 57%. Note my layer is called Adobe Paper Texture Pastel Watercolor because it was added using Dr. Brown’s Paper Texture Panel (see link below) just like any other texture – it will rename your layer for you which is very helpful when stacking texture effects. What I did next was to add several layers of cloning and painting to clean up or paint some additional color texture and paint on the individual petals to give emphasis in certain areas and less in others. As you can see, there is a little blue painted in the flowers on one layer – this is painted at a very low brush intensity, between 15 and 30%, and the layer opacities were adjusted afterwards. A really light vignette was created and set to 30% opacity and Overlay blend mode to direct the eye just a little. Finally my Double Edge Layer Style (can be downloaded here) was added sampling the colors from the image for the frame on yet another composite top layer.
This seems like a long process, but you now have another texture and it is unique because you made it. I have used this Pastel Watercolor texture in other images. Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and clip it to the texture (ALT+Click on line between the layers) to change the colors in the texture. By adding some textured brush strokes with the Pastel Watercolor texture, a very unique and artistic look can be achieved. Next time I will show a few other ways to get some different background effects. Until then, have fun with your brushes!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Create Unique Textured Backgrounds
How to Turn a Brush into a Watercolor Brush
Digital Lady Syd’s Rule No. 7: Get Textures From Objects Inside Your Home!
Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated!
Orchids with Russell Brown’s Paper Textures Panel
Since I have reached this major milestone, I decided this week I would show a few examples of what I use the most in Photoshop and what is the most fun for me when using Photoshop. In some of these cases, I will be mentioning certain products or people but that is mainly because I really like what they do – they do not know me. Also, no external plug-ins will be discussed here.
- Photoshop’s Merge to HDR 32-bit ability that can be adjusted in Lightroom 4.1 (see my blog New Lightroom and Photoshop 32-bit Processing Capability)
- Photoshop’s Puppet Warp magic (see Straightening with Puppet Warp!)
Several things were done in Photoshop to process this image of a sailboat model of the USS Constitution located at The Casements in Ormond Beach, Florida. The most important is that a 32-bit tone-mapped image was created in Photoshop’s Merge to HDR, saved as a TIFF file, and then brought into Lightroom 4.1′s Develop module using the sliders to bring out all the details. This now makes Photoshop’s HDR processing on par with several of the other HDR software programs. The TIFF image goes back into Photoshop to finish up using another one of my favorite tools – Puppet Warp – to straighten out the extreme warping in the original image (it was actually applied twice). It was a difficult image to work on since it has a square glass encasement and the horizontal louvered blinds in the background. Just using the arrow keys is sometimes enough to push and pull the image pins the correct amount and Puppet Warp works much better than Lens Correction or the new Adaptive Wide Angle filters for me. Puppet Warp can be used in a Smart Object for readjusting later if needed.
- Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel for Photoshop CS5 and CS6 (see Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated!)
I am slowly really getting into textures – they just do so much for a boring image. The texture above was created using one of the best panels you can apply to Photoshop and that is Dr. Brown’s (may be the top Photoshop guru of all time and works for Adobe) Paper Texture Panel – biggest time saver for anyone that likes to experiment with textures! This is one feature I use all the time and can’t believe I used to go through my textures individually to try them out. To really enhance this process, create a folder on your desktop that contains several sub-folders to place copies of your favorite textures. He recommends keeping these folders to around 20 textures as it takes a while to load if it is much bigger. I have sub-folder on textures I created, my favorite textures I use all the time, and a few on textures I have downloaded or bought. You can switch folders very quickly in the panel. This image used Paul Grand’s Scratches Texture and Gavin Hoey’s beautiful grunge frame 1. I am also putting a plug in here for my favorite texture guy, ShadowHouse Creations, who offers all kinds of beautiful textures for free, and I use them all the time. I reference his textures in many of my older blogs.
- Photoshop Brushes including the wonderful Mixer Brushes! (see Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes)
Those wonderful brushes in Photoshop! My very first blog featured the above image where I actually used a Photoshop Mixer Brush to paint in the petals of the flowers. This is still one of my favorite painted images – the Oleander flowers in the original were not near as pretty. The background was a Karen Sperling texture called 08Sperling (I believe this now has to be purchased – not sure how I got it) that added was a very delicate complement to the image. She is actually a Corel Painter Master and does some wonderful things in that program.
- The Curves Adjustment Layer (see I Didn’t Know That! Curves Adjustment Layers)
Totally indispensable! The last step I always do before I save an image. A few months ago I viewed a short video tutorial at Kelby Training called Mastering Curves: Adjusting Tonality by Ben Wilmore, another great Photoshop guru, who teaches how to use Curves correctly. (I have found the Kelby Training tutorials to be the best you can find on every aspect of photography and photoshop.) The basic thing to know about Curves is that by selecting the hand tool in the top left of the adjustment panel and dragging straight up in the image it lightens it up, and down darkens it. If you get two dots close and rather flat on a Curve line, you will lose detail. A black layer mask can be created to target just the areas you want changed. It is a pretty simple technique but can improve an image quickly. Also you can save Curve settings if you want to apply them again. The image above of the beautiful birds in the Spring at the Rookery used several Curves Adjustment Layers to match the tones for the composite.
- Layer Styles to create simple framing effect (see Digital Lady Syd’s Free Layer Style Frames).
I have been using this Double Edge Frame layer style a lot on my images – gives a nice clean look with colors that can be sampled from the image. Also plain black borders can easily be created. To download this layer style for free or directions on how to create it, see my blog referenced above. There are many other uses for layer styles that I love, but I use the frames the most. Also a couple textures were added here with Dr. Brown’s Paper Texture Panel.
- Smart Objects (see Black and White Photo or Not? Give It a Try on That Difficult Image)
I love the way you can go back in and fix your settings if you do not like the way they look. Most of the plug-ins I use have Smart Object capability and this is why I use them. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone back into Nik’s Viveza 2 and adjusted my control points! Just another great Photoshop feature. The image above of the Hilton Time Share swimming pool on the Big Island in Hawaii used Smart Objects for both the Nik HDR Efex Pro using Granny’s Attic preset and Viveza 2. Also two Curves Adjustment Layers were used.
I could go on and on about all my favorite features I love. The above are some of the ones I use the most. I thought about writing on the new Defringe section in Lightroom 4.1 and Adobe Camera Raw that works wonders on this problem – better than any of the noiseware software available for controlling the ugly fringe problem. The new sliders in both are much improved and both now do a great job on reducing noise too. Also the Graduated Filter is much improved. Back in Photoshop I love being able to use LAB mode to sharpen some of my images selectively. Content-Aware tools cannot be beat but I still use the plain old Clone Tool the most. And the improved Sharpen Tool is fabulous for those little areas that need a detail boost. I even love the Color Replacement Tool that hardly no one uses! And all the blend modes just add so much to an image. Needless to say, there is a lot to like about Photoshop and so many ways to do things. I guess the real fun is learning new ways to use it and that is why I blog! Hope you have enjoyed some of what I have learned these past couple years!…..Digital Lady Syd
These beautiful pink dahlias grow in my front yard. This image composition really fits the criteria for a good vintage feel. One of the major objectives is to have some nice negative space – or blank area – in your image to show off the textures. This image had a clean light gray background because they were shot in front of a white board on a shaded porch with lots of natural light before being planted. If they are planted already, try using a very wide open aperture setting so the background is blurred slightly, or have someone hold a white reflector behind them while shooting (and one over them if it is a really sunny day – overcast days are the best for photographing flowers). This image was shot at eye level using a 60 mm AF Micro Nikkor at F6.7. After uploading to Lightroom, the image was cropped and all the sliders in the Basic section were adjusted. In Photoshop bad spots on flowers were cloned out and then the following layers were added: 1) the new Color Lookup 1 Adjustment Layer using 3DLUT File set to FoggyNight preset (gives a more purplish flower color) at 89% opacity; a Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer (adds the pinkish bottom half) set to a deep brown red color (foreground color in Color Picker) to translucent gradient, Linear Style, 90 degree angle and Scale 149% with layer opacity set to 39%; Paul Grand’s terrific Scratches Texture set to Soft Light at 38% layer opacity and removing some cracks using a layer mask on texture; ShadowHouse Creations Old Photo 2 (click Large View and right click to select Save Image As) set to Soft Light at 100% (gives the beautiful old looking frame around image); ShadowHouse Creations Bokeh 2 (really lightens up the image) set to Soft Light at 62% opacity – painted out most of the bokeh on a layer mask; ShadowHouse Creations T2 (this is one of my favorite textures – old lace) set to Soft Light at 63% opacity; a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little contrast back into the image; and finally a Levels Curve with black Output tab set to 8 to lighten the whole image only a little. This is really not as hard as it seems. The important thing is that you need find a few favorite textures and then try them out on various dark and light images to get a feel for how they look when set to different blending modes and opacities. I use Soft Light frequently for the textures but try out other blend modes to see what they will do. The textures used in the above image are some of my favorites.
One of the reasons I am so inspired this week is that Sarah Gardner‘s Art Beyond the Lens book on using textures in your digital images finally was reprinted and came in the mail. She creates some beautiful textures on her website along with some beautiful images. Her book is a great read and very easy to follow. She demonstrates a few different techniques for adding textures and using some of Photoshop’s other tools to create beautiful effects! The above was my first attempt using some of her tips and I am pretty happy with it. These flowers are called Phloxy Lady Phlox and also grow in my front yard. Both textures are from free give-aways Sarah had going a few months ago, one is Beyond – Seagrain Dark set to Soft Light at 100% opacity and Artisan Ink set to Overlay at 42% opacity. She also posts interesting things on her Facebook page so follow her. The frame is my basic layer style using sampled colors from the image (see DLS Free Layer Style Frames blog).
Here are some delicious chocolate covered strawberries from the Melting Pot Restaurant. For starters, this was a five image HDR processed using Nik’s HDR Efex Pro 2. Then in Photoshop lots of the same textures were added – Caleb Kimbrough’s Summer 5 texture set to Overlay at 34% opacity to get that beautiful golden Tuscan feel; Paul Grand’s Scratches Texture (link listed above) used twice to give it more interest (both set to Soft Light with 50% and 23% layer opacities – using layer masks to paint out different parts of image); and ShadowHouse Creations OldPhoto 6 set to Overlay at 100% opacity. Now here are a couple things you can do to get a really nice vintage feel. Next a Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added and the color I used was a deep red (49250f) – it was set to Soft Light at 80% opacity and the plate and chocolates were painted out with black in a layer mask. This created the marvelous deep brown in the upper background especially. I now realized I had some texture areas that were slightly bare looking so this time a New Layer was added on top. Using Gorjuss Grunge Again Brushes (unfortunately these are no longer available but any grunge type brush would do) with Brush 01 at 30% and sampling a darker brown color in the image for foreground color, the area in the upper right was filled in lightly. Another New Layer was created using Brush 08 at 30% and sampling a lighter brown color; and finally yet another New Layer was added using Scratch Heavy Brush (this is a mystery brush – not sure where I got it) at 30% and rotating it 90 degrees to paint in the top with a yellow-gold color sampled from the image. A few more strokes were added to the left to brighten the image a little more. If you find you have a hole or want a little different texture, go back to your brushes and see if you have something that will fill it in. In fact you can make your own textures with these brush effects.
Here is another example of following Sarah Gardner steps from her book. I added three textures using Russel Brown’s Texture Panel (see my blog links below to find more information on this wonderful free panel) – ShadowHouse Creations T2 lacy texture (see download link above), Oil Painting-2 and Painted Clouds. Parts of the lacy texture were painted out to sharpen the mid-section flowers, which is the focus of the image. Something different I did and have not really seen before is to add a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer set to Parchment at Scale 397%. Then the layer mask was filled with black and just the foreground flowers were painted with the pattern texture. Finally the layer opacity was set set to 35%. Since I wanted a little color in those areas, a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added and linked to the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer below by ATL+clicking between the two layers (a little box shows let you know it is working) so the changes in the Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer only occur on the layer below. The Hue was set to +292, Saturation +34, Lightness +21 and Colorize was checked – this gives the light pink color to the grain in the foreground flowers only. That was it – used my layer style to frame the image (see DLS Free Layer Style Frames blog). I believe this image portrays that soft Victorian look quite nicely.
Since this is such a long post, here is a summary of what I think is important about using textures.
1. Textures definitely add that old time look to an image if used properly. Flowers really benefit from this type of look. If you check out some of my blogs below, there are some landscape images using textures that turned out really nice.
2. The Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer can add a vintage feel to your images – they look like a texture when added to an image and by using the Scale slider, very different effects can be created. (See image 4 information.)
3. The new Color Lookup Adjustment Layer in CS6 also gives you another way to add texture and color to get the vintage feel. (See image 1 information.)
4. Create a New Layer and use unique brushes – there are many grunge brushes and scratch brushes available for download on the internet. Sometimes it is necessary to create a texture using brushes to fit the needs of your image. And don’t forget you can change the settings to make the brush stroke in a different direction or to stretch out the spacing. (See image 3 information.)
5. Use a Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer to give some color variation and then paint out in a layer mask areas you do not want affected. Be sure to try different blend modes. (See image 1 information.)
6. Use a Color Adjustment Layer to add a bold color and then reduce the opacity of the layer. Again, be sure to try different blend modes. (See image 3 information.)
7. Use Russell Brown’s texture panel to try out texture looks really fast – this is a really great tool (see download information in blog links below). The Flypaper Textures that are loaded with the panel create some wonderful results. I also keep a folder of my favorite textures on my Desktop so I can access them really fast when using this panel. (See image 1 information.)
It usually takes several attempts to get the effect you want. All these images took several hours to get the look I liked. If one techniques does not work, try a different one. Check out some of my blogs below to find more ways to create the vintage feel in Photoshop. …..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Create Unique Watercolor Background Texture
How to Create Unique Textured Backgrounds
Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel – A Real Winner!
Orchids with Russell Brown’s Paper Textures Panel
Russell Brown Texture Panel Landscape Image
Tips for Flower Textures
Using Color Efex Pro and Texture for a Warm Hawaiian Landscape Effect
Create a Winter Scene with Photoshop Brushes and Textures
Adding a Texture for Flair!
The Soft, Dreamy Look
Soft-Look Flowers Using Textures
A while back I did a Fun Photoshop Blog called “Just Plain Fun Brush Effects!” and I find it is still one of my favorite pastimes, especially when I seem to lack that creative urge. Here is a fairly detailed “how to” on creating the first image. So here we go.
1. First start with a New Document – I used a 10 ” X 8″ size at 240 Resolution. This whole image uses the same gray blue color.
2. One of my favorite places for textures and brushes is from ShadowHouse Creations – almost everything he has is great. On a New Layer I loaded up his Tree Brush Set 2 and started with The Woods brush in a dark blue at the largest size. Clicked once in the foreground of my file and my image is started. Add a layer mask and paint out (in black with a soft brush) some of the bottom edge so it is not just a straight line across but looks like a little snow drifting.
3. Added a New Layer below the foreground tree and selected his Tree 9 from the above set – clicked once near the middle of the image to create a horizon with some soft trees showing by setting the layer opacity to 33%.
4. I had to add another New Layer and selected The Woods brush again. Click once, Free Transform (CTRL+T) and line up with the treeline in the first layer you created. Add a layer mask and paint out the tree sticking in the image so it is just a line of grass across the lower image.
5. In Tree Brush Set 2 add the deer on its own layer on top.
6. In ShadowHouse Creations Birds Brush Set 3 are the Birds – 14. Add on their own layer.
7. With Obsidian Dawn’s Grasses and Plants brush set, use grasses 1 and 8 and at different sizes to cover the sharp edge of the foreground line.
8. Create a group for all the brush layers -all but the background layer and name it Objects.
9. Next I added a sky image above the bottom background image. Add a layer mask and paint black on mask to cover all but the sky. I set the opacity of the layer to 19% as I did not want much color in the sky, just a feeling of blue. Add a Curves Adjustment Layer to further light it up if it is still colorful.
10. Highlight the Objects Group layer and add ShadowHouse Creations Texture ST-8 to give a really old feel to the image.(Go to File -> Place, locate your image, and click Enter. Adjust texture to fit image and click Enter to set. Finally right click and in menu select Rasterize to get rid of the Smart Object.) Set layer to Linear Burn mode at 63% opacity.
11. Florabella’s Snow 3 texture (the link is to her Facebook page with the free download on the left side) layer was added under this layer to add a snow falling effect. Highlight the Objects group and then follow the steps for bringing in a layer as in parenthesis above.
12. The last step involved adding two OnOne PhotoFrames (see sidebar for website at my Tidbits Blog) using Taufer Texture 05 and grunge 09. This gave the cool effect of snow appearing on the tree. A layer mask was used to remove too much white from the tree areas in places that did not look natural. So I don’t eave you at this last step and not know what to do if you do not own OnOne PhotoFrames, try BittBox Ice Texture 2 set to Soft Light blend mode, another one of my favorite textures and gives a very similar effect.
It looks like a lot of steps but it becomes very intuitive once you get going and a lot of fun.
For another winter look, here is an image I created just from brushes and posted on my Tidbits Blog back in September. Since it fits the theme for this blog, I am going to add this image again and give you the resource information to use some of these beautiful brushes. Same basic workflow as above: creating a New Document, adding objects and brush effects (in slightly different colors this time) on individual layers above, and adding interesting textures and frames or styles as a last step.
This images use tree brushes from Winter Trees by Melbrushes and Trees from c4grfx brushes. Textures from Shadowhouse Creations Old Canvas 4 and the Glitter Brush Set by Obsidian Dawn.
I guess you can tell I like to use tree brushes. This look will take a little more time but I love the overall calm feel to the image. Used the same tree brushes as above, from Winter Trees by Melbrushes and Trees from c4grfx brushes with a light gray-tan color. Then I added the best Flood Filter around – the Flood Filter from Flaming Pear to create the water reflection. I have not found any other plug-in that simulates flooding and reflections as well. In this case a simple reflection in Photoshop could be made with a Wave Filter applied. To create the foggy look, BB Brushes Fogs and Mists 12 was used in a soft white. A layer was added just above the white background to add a slight texture effect using a light tan color with Seu Davi brush 775 applied to the upper sky area at only 6% opacity. This layer was copied (CTRL+J) and flipped vertical so it shows up in the reflection area and the layer was set to 9%. Next a New Layer was created using beautiful gradient from Graphix1 Tainted Love gradient set called Contrast 30. The gradient was lined up to separate the sky from the ground and set to 49% opacity. Last, the little lights in the reflection were created in Topaz’s new Star Effects plug-in (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) but a similar effect could be created by using Frostbo’s Snow Drop brush (love this brush!).
I am constantly amazed at all the beautiful brushes available for free download and what great images you can put together with very little effort or artistic skill. Download these brushes and textures that I have indicated and see what you can put together. The sources listed are some of the best resources you will find and their websites are packed with lots of other goodies…..Digital Lady Syd
It’s that time of year and everyone is trying to get creative quickly and present just the right valentine. Here are the latest and greatest I have found in my search.
The first valentine is from Graphics Fuel. I added a layer and painted using brushes . Personally I think is a very classy looking valentine and is very easy to use. The font is called Precious and has a very valentine appeal to it. I created a layer above the background and used Brushesstock Flowers Swirls Hearts Brush 1 and 8 set to a layer opacity of 54%. On the top Obsidian Dawn’s Glitter set Hearts-Glitter brush was used to scatter the little hearts around.
Each year Florabella Collections always has a nice set of free Vintage Valentine templates to give away and this year is no exception. Here is an example of several she has to offer. The font in this card is one she used called Batik Regular. Florabella is known for her wonderful photo actions but now has textures available for sale also.
This valentine is being promoted from their Facebook page, MCP Actions, for a site called Photographer Cafe. The image is just a stock photo and a layer was added on top where a valentine brush from DigitalTouch was used. There were several choices and are free for download here.
This example is from Designrs Hub and uses Photoshop Layer Comps for the cover page and the second page. I had to search around to find suitable fonts and ended up using Loci Cola and adjusting the butterflies to look right. I am not sure this is a correct color representation as it is pretty pinkish but you can see what a pretty background this is.
I hope this has helped out a few of you who are the creative type and want to jazz up a nicely created template. It is never too late to download a few brushes and add a couple layers to give them your own look. Hope you have fun creating some Valentines!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Using a Template to Create Your Own Unique Valentine
Free Valentine Templates and a Valentine with Heart
Creating Your Own Art (and Cards) While You Are At It!
My Valentine Images
A Few More Valentine to Make
Create a Valentine
How to Add Images to Text
I decided to do something different for this week’s post since I love Photoshop and am constantly on the hunt for the best and cheapest items to make it more fun. The following items are some real treasures I have found in the last year that might help you find that perfect little gift for the person who loves to dabble in Photoshop. (For books and prices listed, see Amazon.com.)
DIGITAL LADY SYD’S BEST INEXPENSIVE PHOTOSHOP FINDS FOR 2011
1. TOPAZ ADJUST 5 ($50)
Since I am such a plug-in lover, simply the best value for the price you will find in the plug-in industry is Topaz Adjust 5 (see my Tidbits Blog for a link to the site). I have written several reviews on this plug-in that was recently upgraded and made even better. Plus, once you buy a plug-in from Topaz, you will always receive the updated versions for free – no other plug-in company does that. Check out my blogs for examples of what this wonderful plug-in can do. (See Digital Lady Syd’s Review of Topaz Adjust 5, Why I Love Topaz Adjust, and Topaz Adjust 5 Is Here! First Look.) The image in the above middle filmstrip was enhanced using Topaz Adjust 5 in Photoshop, but it also works with Elements.
2. DAVID DUCHEMIN BOOK VISION & VOICE-REFINING YOUR VISION IN ADOBE PHOTOSHOP LIGHTROOM ($25)
Any of David duChemin’s books or E-books (priced at $5.00) are excellent. “Vision & Voice – Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom”(see Digital Lady Syd’s Favs – Photoshop Books No. 6) has Lightroom tips that can be used with Adobe Camera Raw also. A very enjoyable read for any Photoshop person. The image on the right uses a preset created after reading the book.
3. GAVTRAIN’S BLAST FROM THE PAST ACTION SET ($8.50)
The Blast from the Past Action Set is by Gavin Hoey, a British Photoshop guru. Listed as a great value, these actions are lots of fun to use, but can only be used with Photoshop CS and on and not Elements. I bought them a while ago and use them quite a bit. Great stocking stuffer for the Photoshop Nut. (See my blog “Same Image-Different Look! 6th image down for an example of the Lomo Effect from the set.) The filmstrip is also one of the actions from this set.
4. JIM ZIMMERMAN’S CREATIVE TECHNIQUES WITH NIK SOFTWARE E-BOOK ($9.50)
Creative Techniques with NIK Software downloads as a 79 page .pdf file on the NIK plug-ins, if you have them. Although the book refers to Color Efex Pro 3, it is still very relevant for the new Color Efex Pro 4. It also covers NIK’s Silver Efex Pro 2, Viveza 2 and HDR EFex Pro. Very good information packed into this file.
5. JOHN DERRY MIXER BRUSHES ($20)
Mixer Brush Set contains six very helpful video tutorials on how to use them. These brushes are Photoshop CS5 specific. From my Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes blog, “These brushes are by far the easiest way to get comfortable with the Mixer Brushes and I would highly recommend them if you really like the Mixer Brush effects. In his bundle he includes some textures for the brushes to help get a real painterly look on the image. Also, an action to set up for painting on an image is included and I am still trying this out. What may be the best part of this set is a restore brush that can bring part of the unpainted image back into the painted areas and is totally unique as far as my research indicates.” Needless to say, these are great brushes with great instruction! Great for the artistic Photoshop person.
6. COREY BARKER’S PHOTOSHOP DOWN & DIRTY TRICKS FOR DESIGNERS BOOK ($29)
I do not have this book but I am planning on asking for it for Christmas. Corey is one of the best Photoshop creatives I have ever seen and the book will not disappoint. (For an example of one of his tutorials, see my blog “That Flaming Fire Brush!“)
7. DOVER CLIP ART BOOKS ($10 to $25)
I have used these books for several years and always find lots of fun ways to add them into an image. They have many vintage era, butterfly and flower clip art that is equal to none. Makes for a great addition to any Photoshop fans arsenol. The image on the left uses a sketch from Dover’s Floral Embroidery Designs book.
8. PHOTOSHOP IMPRESSIONISM VIDEO TUTORIAL SERIES DOWNLOAD ($25)
This is a little gem I just discovered. If you like to do artistic looks to your images, this is the information you need. Mark S Johnson has been doing some of the best Photoshop video tutorials for several years – I have learned so much from his expertise and this downloaded information is just an extension of all his knowledge. This would be a great gift for the Photoshop fan!
9. PRESET VIEWER BREEZE PROGRAM ($20)
I would be lost without this Preset Viewer Program. When you need that special brush to load into Photoshop and cannot remember which set is it in, this program will open them up to view within seconds to help you find what you need. Definitely a real time-saver. It also reads patterns, fonts, jpgs, shapes, styles, and swatches. A great addition for speeding up your Photoshop workflow.
I hope that this list will give you a few ideas on getting that special Photoshop person a nice little surprise for Christmas. So much that has to do with Photoshop is expensive and unfortunately that keeps people from being able to explore all the many new techniques out there. These items should help give everyone some new ideas for the coming year. Happy Holidays and Enjoy…..Digital Lady Syd
UPDATE: Since posting the information on the cards below, I have created my own card template for free download – see my Tidbits Blog “Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template” – that can be used in Photoshop and Elements for your use and enjoyment! Also, check my newer blog Where to Find Those Cool Free Christmas Card Templates?
This is going to be a short but sweet post since I posted on the updated Topaz Adjust 5 plug-in earlier this week. Last year I attempted to provide some Christmas Card template links and resources as I was able to find them. Many of those templates are no longer available by various websites. But this week the wonderful people from MCP Actions have posted on their Facebook page a free download link for the card below along with a backside template. (You must be on Facebook to be able to get the download – click on link above and look at left column under Free Holiday Card.)
The postcard below is very nice and the clip art and type can be changed easily. This example involved going to Edit -> Place to add the image above the highlighted photo mask layer. Since this causes the new image layer to be a Smart Object, it is very easy to adjust and rotate to fit the opening. Then clip to the layer below (CTRL+ALT+G). A little Noise was added to give a graininess as in the holly clip art.
The red card is showing how you can take this simple template and make a totally different feel to it.
With this card I first created a New Layer and filled it with a bright green above the photo mask layer. Another New Layer was created and the star in the center was made by stacking several Texturemate Stars2 brushes in different colors. Then BittBoxes Grunge Ice Texture 5 was added below the star to create an interesting setting for the star. The texture was taken into Topaz Adjust 5 and the HDR Strong preset was applied to make the texture pop a bit. Back in Photoshop the blend mode was changed to Divide which makes it green and yellow. Next a Hue/Saturation layer was added above the beige background and the sliders adjusted to get a bright red. The lines were removed on the right side so the type did not have to line up. Snow Drops Frosto brush was used for the small white flakes sprinkled around the background. (This was the best snow brush I could find and it turned out nice!) The large white flakes are from Snow Flakes Brush by Ann Stock Brushes. The Merry Christmas and New Year fonts were changed to SecesjaPL. The text over the star was created using the Razzle Dazzle free font and was placed at the top of the pile. Finally the tape was removed from the frame by cloning it out and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to it to make the frame whiter. It was then transformed to make it larger and straighter on the card.
I am sure there will be more card templates coming out in the next few weeks, but in the meantime enjoy this template and take some time to check out MCP Actions website – not all vendors are willing to share their expertise!
I wanted to show you how you can change things up with a nice basic template to work with. The resources above are a good start to finding more good Christmas oriented items. It is always fun to find new things! Well I guess this officially kicks off the holiday! Hope you have some fun with this template!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template
Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template Using Photoshop Elements
Free Christmas Card Vectors and Brushes
Free Christmas Card Templates
Some Holiday Cheer
I love landscapes but there are so many times when you take an image in the bright sunlight and the sky is just a blaring blue. My favorite method to add clouds is to brush them in using cloud brushes you create yourself or download from someone else. These are placed on a layer by themselves so that the opacity can be adjusted later if they start to distract from the main focus of the image. Add a layer mask and paint out with black over areas where there should be no clouds. Use a brush at 50% opacity to blend in some of the clouds edges if they are too bright or sharp.
In the shot of the side of the old Ponce de Leon Hotel (now Flagler College) in St. Augustine, Florida, clouds were added before processing the image in NIK Color Efex Pro4. I used my Cloud #4 and #1 brushes in my SJ-Clouds Set. If you would like to download some other great cloud brushes, Obsidian Dawn has some beautiful cloud brushes on her site, especially her Cloud II Photoshop Brushes.
The Old Courthouse Cupola in Fairfax, Virginia, and the Ghost House Cupola at the Magic Kingdom, Orlando, Florida, are both examples of brushed in clouds on a separate layer on top of the image and then masked out where the sky is not.
The cupola sky was actually a blown out gray color as the day was very overcast. In this case the color of the sky was changed to a soft blue using the Color Replacement Tool (see my Tidbits Blog “Like a Chameleon – The Color Replacement Tool“) and then another layer was added where clouds were brushed on to get the soft cloud bank look. Finally the image was processed in NIK Color Efex Pro 3 using the Tonal Contrast filter to get the crisp vintage feel.
In the Ghost House image the sky was changed to a blue color using the Color Replacement Tool and then it was processed using the digital workflow by Don Smith (see “Digital Landscape Effects with Nik Software“) where the cloud layer was created with cloud brushes before processing in Color Efex Pro 3. This is one of my favorite cupola images with the unexpected bat flying on top.
One of the best ways to get the cloud effects you want is to photograph different types of clouds at different times of the day. Then create your own Photoshop brushes using you favorite clouds. I did a blog a while back that explains how to create your own brushes in detail – see “How to Create Photoshop Brushes from Objects or Text.” It is really not that hard and it is fun to see your own images in the clouds!
I believe this is the fastest and easiest way to add clouds to images – I have added cloud photos to images with pretty nice results but the selection process can be tedious and the edges will need to be cleaned up. I like being able to choose the clouds I want and place them where I want. The flexibility is very nice. Just be sure to try a Hue/Saturation or Curves Adjustment Level or paint some slight color in your clouds if you are not getting the contrast you need. Also try stacking your different cloud brushes to create some new clouds – possibly add a bit of color on your brush to add some realism. This can all be done on different layers so the color effect can be faded. Experiment!
Try out some of your own clouds or some I have supplied above and see what you think. It really is very easy to get good results!…..Digital Lady Syd
I am one of those people that does love the HDR effect and I do wish I always had the tripod at my beckon call, but usually it just does not work that way for me. I have spent a lot of time trying to get an HDR look anyway. My camera takes a good image most of the time, so the challenge is to find the right program/filters to get that HDR effect without all the perfectly matched images. This blog addresses what I have come up with so far and all sections used Photoshop CS5.
HDR Toning Adjustment Mode
The above Green Turtle Cay Beach is an example of a JPEG image. It was processed in Photoshop using HDR Toning Adjustment Mode. It is possible to get a decent HDR effect with a JPEG image but not all images turn out good using this method.
This image had all the ingredients to make a nice HDR image – the beautiful detail on the restaurant and the windows and stone on the surrounding buildings. (All the rest of the images are camera RAW files.) This process usually gives a bit of the surreal look as shown in the above. Recently Scott Kelby released his CS5′s HDR Pro preset called Scott 5 that creates a really great “Pseudo HDR” effect. All of HDR Pro’s preset along with this preset will appear in the HDR Toning Adjustment Layer also. This preset was used here with a small increase of the Highlights slider to bring out the color a little. Otherwise that was it. If you have only a single image with some great detail in it, try out the preset in HDR Toning. The results are considered hit-or-miss and will probably not be as good as using three HDR images. Check out my blog, Different Images-Same Look Using HDR! - HDR Toning for Single Images section, for more information on this adjustment. Also, several of my images in my blog, Why I Love Topaz Adjust, used this technique before applying the Topaz Adjust plug-in.
Shadow and Highlight Adjustment Mode
This image had the great bright colors that I thought might create a really nice HDR effect. Unfortunately, when CS5′s HDR Toning Adjustment Mode was tried, it just did not look right, even with the Scott 5 preset. Some people have had success using the Shadows and Highlights Adjustment Mode, so that effect was used on this image. It took a lot of manipulation of all the sliders in the dialog, but I believe the “Pseudo HDR” look is present, just not as pronounced as with the HDR Toning Adjustment Mode.
The Sharpen Tool
The image above required a lot of prep work before even thinking about adding an HDR feel to it. The antennae had to be cloned out first.The Color Replacement Tool (see my Tidbits blog, Like a Chameleon – The Color Replacement Tool) was used to make the sky a blue – this tool was used since the sky and steeple were so close in color, it would have been hard to get a really clean selection. By using Options Bar settings as follows: the Mode to Color, Sampling Background Swatch (in this case, sampling the beige sky color to set as the Background Color and my new sky color, #c2d0d8, set as the Foreground Color), Limits to Find Edges, Tolerance 15% and Anti-Alias checked, it was pretty fast to paint over just the sky area. I used my SJ-Cloud Brush Set to paint in a couple clouds on a separate layer and created a composite above (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E).
I did not think the other pseudo-HDR techniques would work on this image since it had a rather flat look to it. I also did not want to HDR the clouds that were just added – only wanted the steeple and roof to have the detail effect. This week I listened to a NAPP Grid where Bryan Hughes, Product Manager for Adobe Photoshop, discussed how much the Sharpen Tool had been improved in CS5 and that it now has the best sharpening capability in Photoshop. That gave me the idea to use it for an HDR effect since I only wanted specific areas processed. So that is how this technique began. Select the Sharpen Tool and in Options Bar, set it to Mode Darken and 50% Strength. Paint over all the areas where the HDR look is to be added. Last, add Curves Adjustment Layer to give a little snap to the color. It may not be as effective as a true HDR processed image (the shadows are probably not as opened up as they would be in a true HDR image), but it does have some of the feel.
Lightroom HDR Preset
Many people say that with the correct settings, a decent HDR effect can be achieved with Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw. Here is an example of about as close as I could get to this effect using Lightroom and Photoshop.
For this Hawaiian landscape, a Lightroom preset from William Petruzzo Photography called HDR Effect – Heavy was applied. The Blacks slider was increased a small amount and a Curves Adjustment Layer added in Photoshop for contrast. I tried this preset on a couple other images and got some pretty bad haloing so you need to find the right image to get this nice look. It definitely is worth trying. I am not sure if there is an ACR preset is created at this time, but if you or a friend have Lightroom, you can easily copy the settings over to create an ACR preset.
I hope this has given you a couple new techniques to try and see if you can get a close copy to the HDR effect. I will keep my eyes open for any new ideas and present them as they become available. In the meantime, have fun playing in Photoshop!…..Digital Lady Syd
I admit it – I have certain people that I think are brilliant when it comes to Photoshop creativity – one is the totally awesome Russell Brown and another one is NAPP guy, Corey Barker. They never let you down when it some to discovering new things to do in Photoshop. This week I listened to this short video on Corey’s website, Planet Photoshop, called “Creating Exploding Brushes.” This first image basically looks very similar to Corey’s but I loved the effect. The cloud brush created in the tutorial was used as the background texture – I used my SJ-Cloud Brushes Set Cloud 4 brush. You may download my SJ-Firebrush used for all these images.
This image uses BB Brushes and Mists Sampled Brush 3 to add a fog feel behind the cloud of flames created in this image. This silhouette is from a set called People Silhouettes by redheadstock at deviantArt. A grunge effect was added with OnOne PhotoFrames (see website link on sidebar of my Tidbits Blog).
First used the Gradient Tool to create a radial gradient using Graphix 1′s Muted 6 gradient. Next two different palm trees brushes by Midnightstouch were added. Char Ultimate Grass Brushes and Obsidian Dawn’s Grasses & Plants Brush No. 9 were used. My Firebrush was used to make a background texture, without the layer style used to create the fire effect. A little Warp Tool on the brushes and that was it for this image.
I started this image by painting a sky with the Photoshop chalk brush using a color I really like for skies (#c2d0d8). A tree from MelBrushes Winter Trees and Falln-Brushes Tree Brushes Set 2 (Dead Tree 1) from deviantArt were added. The tree leaves and the bushes were created using the SJ-Firebrush by just dabbing a bit on the leaves with small size of brush and using a couple different hues – can always a add Layer Mask to trees to hide some of the branches. Also the foreground was created using the Firebrush and the bush, from The Grasslands set by Midnightstouch at deviantArt. The birds are from Obsidian Dawn’s Bird Flying Group. Put a frame on it and it is done. All very easy to do and lots of fun!
This image was created using two of Caleb Kimbrough’s fabulous free textures, Summer texture 4 and Subtle Grunge Example 3. I used my SJ-Soft Blending Brush to create the flower stems and the SJ-FireBrush at a small size to create the flowers. I used Nik’s Color Efex Pro Graduated User Defined filter using a reddish hue for the sky and a Vignette Frame from OnOne PhotoFrame (see website link on sidebar of my Tidbits Blog).
This turned out be just sort of a fun blog – wanted to show that if you get an interesting brush to play with, you can get some really cool effects and it is a lot fun. Experiment! (Digital Lady Syd’s Rule No. 1) You can get some surprising results!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I am going to show pictures I basically created from scratch some of the great Photoshop brushes available for free download. You might get a really nice special effect to fill that space on your wall. A few weeks ago I did a blog called “How to Create Photoshop Brushes from Objects or Text” which contains basic information on how to make and save your brushes and might be useful here.
This image was created using Vintage Grunge Brushes by alex16 at DeviantArt, the great Summer Texture8 by Caleb Kimbrough (one I use a lot – love the warm tones in it) and some plain ole splotches and lines I made just by playing with the brush settings in the Brush Panel. Please note that on the DeviantArt downloads, please be sure you look at the terms each individual requires – these people work very hard to bring you all the many free downloads and you should be kind enough to follow their terms for use. Most have very reasonable requirements such as letting them know when you used their items and back-linking to them on your sites.
Once again, brushes from DeviantArt were used to create this image. The flowers were created using Flowers 1 Brush Pack for Photoshop from Texturemate using flower01.png and 03.png brushes. These are really nice large flower brushes that I also used in an image in my linked paintbrush blog above. For the grunge background, abstract grunge brushes pack 2_by xaliasx at DeviantArt were used. Finally a layer style was created using a Pattern Overlay called Noise (in Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Texture Fill pattern set) at 100% opacity and 1000% scale, an Inner Glow using a cream color at 75% opacity and Size of 144 pixels, and the basic Stroke at dark gray, inside and 4 pixels size.
The Fantasy Look was made by selecting a Radial Gradient called Singing the Blues by cazcastalla (Blues21) centered on the flair (my 3 Lens Flare brushes – SJ-Brush Flare). The snowflakes background is from Obsidian Dawn (SS Glitter Photoshop Brushes – snowflakes-glitter brush), the clouds uses several of my clouds SJ-Cloud Brush Set that contains 6 brushes can be downloaded here), white fog from DeviantArt BB-Brushes Fogs and Mists using Sampled Brush #11. The Female Figure was supposed to be from an image I found on DeviantArt, but was unable to get permission in time to use their photo for this blog, so I improvised with clip art from a book called Dragons & Wizards. The clothing had to be painted in so I used a soft blend brush I created (can be downloaded here). I think in the end it may be as nice as my first attempt. When I get permission, I will post for comparison. Finally a cracked texture effect, I used the one from PhotoFrame plug-in but there are many out there that will give a similar look, was added. Pretty easy and fun to do!
I found this really nice pack of grass brushes and had to experiment. This is what I ended up with. I really love the colors and the image of the girl – and it was a fairly easy image to create. Used my cloud brushes that can be downloaded above, Midnightstouch Grasslands Brushes at DeviantArt (really nice grass and plant brushes), Charfades Ultimate Grass Brush Set (more very nice brushes), Obsidian Dawn’s Flying Bird Brushes (always the best brushes), papyrus brushes in Trees by Horhew Brush Set. The beautiful young lady is from an image called “By the Window” from Eirian Stock at DeviantArt.
This final brush painting was once again created after downloading these great Photoshop Daily Chinese Painting Brushes. Used my Textures – Pastel Watercolor for layer 2 by creating a watercolor texture for the background (see “Create a Colorful Paint Background in Photoshop” by EntheosWeb.com) which is a really fun tutorial to do. I created a Texture Dots texture and then applied the Plug in Galaxy Warp-Flare Warp to the composite. Painted using the Chinese painting brushes one side of flowers, duplicated the layer and merged. Added a few layers styles, adjustment layers, and the frame from PhotoFrames. That’s it.
Sometimes it seems that the images are so complex you forget to see the beautiful colors and the simplicity of a design. Photoshop brushes bring this back into perspective when creating a document. And it never ceases to amaze me how much you can actually create with brushes, whether from others or your own. Hope you got some ideas on what to do when you just need to try something different. It seems I tend to make these images when I discover new brushes to try out. Maybe you will find some inspiration from the ones I mentioned here. Have fun!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I am going to discuss textures since I suggested using them in last week’s blog on “The Soft, Dreamy Look,” which created a free action to apply to your images. Textures are a very popular effect and can give a totally nice and different look to an image if applied correctly.
The basic technique involves just adding a texture image (a jpg can be added to a raw, psd or tiff file at this stage) on top of your image. Do this by dragging the texture into your photo as a Smart Object from Photoshop Bridge or just open the texture file and copy and paste the layer onto the photo. At this point I usually rasterize the layer by right-clicking on the Smart Object in the Layers Palette and select Rasterize from the menu. A Smart Object is not necessary unless you are applying a filter to the texture and may want to adjust the settings at a later date. Most texture effects are achieved by changing the layer blend modes and varying layer opacities, then using layer masks to delete out areas where the texture is too obvious. The uniqueness can come from stacking several textures using different blend modes and opacities. There are many resources available on textures and how to use them effectively. The linked article, called “Tips for Texturing Photographs,” has several great tips – some that I want to share.
- How do you match your image subject to a texture? Look for subjects with a soft quality like flowers, misty images, or of simple composition.
- Figure out what you are trying to do with your picture – fill open spaces, get a painterly look, vintage feel, or grunge look?
- If the texture does not work, try a different one. Usually match the texture strength with the subject – soft textures for flowers, stronger textures for structures.
If using textures over photos of people, please check out this short video, “Guide to Using Textures with Photos in Photoshop (must be a member to access now),” to adjust the tone on the people and their skin. It uses the Average Filter in Photoshop instead of layer masks.
Textures can be bought or downloaded for free
There are many beautiful textures that can be bought. Florabella Collections has two very nice sets of textures. I like the Ash Textures that I purchased several years ago, but I just figured out he is no longer selling them. This is a shame since they are really nice textures. Flypaper Textures (blog linked above to Tips for Texturing Photographs) also has some very nice textures for sale. This site also has a lot of good information on textures so take a look. Caleb Kimbrough has released several hundred textures, some of excellent quality and most are free, at his website Lost and Taken. He has also written a really nice blog entry called “How to Create Subtle Grunge Textures” that shows how to make your own interesting textures by combining several different ones.
The top image uses a very popular effect. It is made simply by adding a worn-looking board texture at Hard Light blend mode over a flower photo (Curves Adjustment Layer on photo gives the blown out look). This particular texture is one from BittBox, another great free texture site – this particular texture can be downloaded from the Bittbox Flickr site here – just select the size you want, right click on image, and choose Save Image As to save on your hard drive.
This image was created using a brownish Ash texture layer set to Hard Light at 75% opacity and one of Caleb Kimbrough Summer textures, which I really like, set to Overlay at 73%.
The daisy image started with my “SJ-Soft Dreamy Look Action” that I created in last weeks blog. The image can be cleaned up on a layer before applying the action since it does not require a labeled Background Layer to run. An Ash Texture was added using the Hard Light blend mode at 75% opacity, and an OnOne PhotoTools (now OnOne Perfect Effects 3.0 – website link at my Tidbits Blog sidebar) layer using the HDR Enhancer effect and HiKey Color – Cool Fade preset as a second effect layer (I am getting some nice results with its stacking capabilities). The OnOne PhotoTools effect was basically a darkening of the edges and brightening in the middle, a heavy vignetting feel. Finally an OnOne PhotoFrame was added.
Textures can be found in plug-ins
As shown in the daisies above using the OnOne PhotoTools 2.6, this plug-in has many texture options as does its sister application, OnOne’s PhotoFrame, which surprisingly has many textures that can be applied with various blend modes, just like in Photoshop’s Layers Panel. Even plug-ins like Plugin Galaxy 2.0 have some interesting effects, such as Rain-Short Streaks, Snowflake effects, and Color Effects section, which can add some interesting textures. You just need to play around with whatever filters or plug-ins you have and start trying different settings with them.
Once again my action was applied to the Scottish home picture which starts you off with a really nice soft look (create a composite layer or CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E layer on top of the action layers to apply the plug-in). An OnOne PhotoTools 2.6 Overlay Effect with the Antique Paper preset at Normal blend mode and 100% opacity was added. A similar look could probably be achieved by adding a final Color Fill Adjustment Layer using a golden tone or a Photo Filter Adjustment Layer using a warm color at a fairly high density, and a layer mask to reduce the color in the house area. That is all that was done to get this nice look.
This image does contain a brownish Ash texture, but any darkish brown texture would look good, set to Vivid Light at 38% but the painterly effect of the sky was achieved in Topaz Lens Effects – with the Graduated Color Blue1 preset applied. Then the layer was copied and set to 62% opacity to make the sky bolder.
Textures can be created within Photoshop itself
I want to show that a texture does not have to be some fancy texture that you have to buy or download – it can just be a really nice paintbrush effect on a layer that you create. Then just experiment with the blend modes, layer opacities, and layer masks to get the exact feel you want.
The above image of Scotland has a rather vintage feel to it. This was accomplished by running my SJ-Soft Dreamy Look Action and then creating a New Layer above and using Grungetract Brushes Sample #16 by alex16 at deviantArt at 2500 pixels with a light tan color. The brushed layer’s blend mode was set to Screen, the layer opacity to 66%, and a layer mask was added using a 50% opacity brush to mask out the texture in certain areas.
In the floral photo, a coral colored Mixer Brush layer was created above the other texture layer using a 300 pixel brush, and was set to Soft Light blend mode. (See my blog “Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes” for more information on the Mixer Brushes.) It can be quite addictive once you start playing around with the Mixer brushes and create some beautiful textures. I found that the by varying the size and the color of the same Mixer Brush, and actually painting with them by moving slightly, you can get really nice effects. I have included my favorite texture Mixer Brush that can be downloaded here (there area two brushes – same brush at different sizes) and added to your Tool Presets. (Put the file in the User Name -> AppData -> Roaming -> Adobe -> Adobe Photoshop CS5 -> Tools file. Restart Photoshop to add brushes to your Tool Presets – go to the top upper left corner icon under the Menu line and click on down arrow, click on right pointed arrow in upper corner to open fly out menu, and select Load SJ Mixer Brushes Presets. I usually Append the tools and they will appear at the bottom of the list. NOTE: You must have the Mixer Brush selected in the vertical Toolbar to get the Mixer Brush variations to appear in the Tool Preset drop-down.)
This is a very simple example of applying texture that can be done just using Photoshop. First two New Layers were created and the Mixer Brushes I created above were used, the small brush in beige on the bottom layer and the larger one with the same color on the top layer to create an interesting texture. A layer mask was added to the top layer to bring out the center part of the flower. Now here is the neat part, a New Layer was created and a gradient applied with the Gradient Tool . This image used Graphix1 Gradient Muted4 which is a white to yellow beige color, but try out different gradients to see what effect you like. In the Options Bar select the Radial Gradient icon and drag with your cursor from the center of the flower outward to create the gradient. Set the layer blend mode to Soft Light and add a Bevel and Emboss Layer Style (2nd icon from left at bottom of Layer Panel) and double click the Texture option. This image used the Fractures Pattern Overlay, which is located in the Texture Fill set of patterns that come with Photoshop CS5, and set the Scale to 555% and the Depth to +34. Create a layer mask to darken the center again so the pattern is not as apparent over the center of the flower. That’s it – a texture applied that gives a really different look. Try other patterns – you can find lots of them on the internet.
And don’t forget the nice filters that come with Photoshop to create pleasing textures. I really like the Texturizer Filter using the Canvas texture set to Relief 3 to add a painting touch to an image.
I have tried to show that adding texture to an image can be done in many different ways and the different techniques can be combined to get some unique looks. Once again, it is just another way the versatility of Photoshop makes it so much fun to use. It is so satisfying to create your own textures that can actually go towards creating your own artistic style. Have fun creating!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I am taking a break from my usual blog topics. Instead I am just going to post a few of the images I created while trying out some of my own blog techniques. I hope you get some new ideas from viewing them.
I added a couple of textures to this image to get the soft vintage look – one an Ash Texture (these textures are no longer available but see my more recent blog “Adding a Texture for Flair!” for other texture sites) and one from OnOne Software’s PhotoFrames. This beautiful egret was taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery in May, a really good place to visit in Spring if you like to take pictures of birds.
Created this image by using Caleb Kimbrough’s beautiful Summer8 texture (he has a vast assortment of really nice textures and most are free – please check them out), the Tranquility Brushes by wyckedBrush, and my SJ-Cloud Brushes.
I loved this building in Jackson, Mississippi. It was perfect for an HDR effect (used Image ->Adjustments -> HDR Toning in Photoshop CS5 on a single image) A wonderful action called “Vintage Effect – Ps Actions – by photoshop-stock” was applied afterwards to give this nice vintage feel. (This site has a number of nice actions and textures – great resource!)
I wish I had a fisheye lens, but since I do not, I used Topaz Lens Effects selecting the Fisheye Lens effect with the Extreme Fisheye preset on this Palm Tree in Palm Beach Gardens in Florida. See my blog on “Topaz Lens Effects Plug-in” for more information on this fun plug-in.
More fun with text – used gradient, cloud layers using cloud brushes (can download my SJ-Cloud Brushes set here) and my blog on “How to Add Images to Text” to do this.
The image above was taken in Phoenix, Arizona at the Desert Botanical Gardens. I used mixer brushes (see my blog “Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes” and followed a tutorial on Sandstorms in the book called “Digital Painting Techniques!,” which is loaded with tutorials from various designers making all kinds of special effects.
Here is a composite of images I pulled from a video I took of the fireworks at Flagler Beach for the 4th of July celebration (video below). See my blog, “Faking Fireworks” for tips on how to create this look.
I hope you liked some of my “Playing in Photoshop” creations – it is just so much fun to make these images. Take some time out and just explore something new – may give you a whole new perspective on what you can achieve! Enjoy…..Digital Lady Syd
I started playing around with the small image below that was taken of the ruins at St. Andrews Cathedral in Scotland. I loved the composition and feel of the image before I ever did any adjustments to it. This image shows what it typically looks like in Scotland.
The original appears pretty flat but overall it has a lot of interest and the details are very sharp in this shot.
- First I tried processing the image in Lightroom and applied my Vivid Drawing Look preset, a preset from a previous blog (Great Free Plug-in for Lightroom – The Fader!) and is available for download here. Then only an adjustment to the Luminance slider to get rid of a little noise and the Detail slider to add detail back to the overall image was done. (This can also be done after loading image into Photoshop by using Russell Brown’s script – see my blog called Edit Layers with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) Script.) I also created this preset for people that use Camera Raw from Photoshop and it may be downloaded here (I just realized it has the wrong extension on the file in the Zip folder – change it to .xmp to get it to work). Just download and load into ACR using the pop-out panel in Presets tab.
- The next effect is from a blog by Rick A. Brown at Moose’s Photography Site called Technique for Dramatic Low Saturation Images (does not appear to be available anymore).
I modified his technique to make it faster and I will give you a quick recap of how to do this here:
- Open image and duplicate the background layer.
- Turn off top layer (click on layer eyeball in Layers Palette to remove) and highlight the original Background layer.
- Create a black and white image using any method you feel gives a really contrasty high key (washed out or over-highlighted) look. He used Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 which is a great program but very expensive. I think the Black and White Adjustment Layer does a fine job and if you own Lightroom, there are many really nice Black and White presets for that program that can be downloaded for free.
- Make a composite of these two layers by highlighting the Adjustment Layer and going to CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E (keeps image intact so you can adjust later if need be by deleting this layer).
- Turn on the top layer (click where eyeball should be and it turn ons) and change blend mode to Soft Light.
- This may be all it needs for corrections. If not, create another composite image as in Step 4, duplicate it and set the blend mode to Screen. Add Layer Mask and paint in area to brighten up image.
- Now this next image really changed up the feeling – it surprised me how good it looks in a monochrome. Nik Silver Efex Pro2 was used but any black and white conversion method that gives a really contrasty appearance can be used. Then a Hue/Sat Adjustment level was added and Colorize was checked. I found a really spooky inky blue color (Hue set to 242) and dropped the Saturation to 25 and this is what you get!
- Below a totally different look was created in Lightroom and used a preset called whoiswolf_cross_retro – there are several nice free presets in this group that can be downloaded here. Only this preset and then the Luminance and Color sliders in the Noise Reduction panel were used.
- For this next iteration, Gavin Hoey’s Blast From the Past actions set called Lomo effect Style 1 was applied to create this soft look. This is a very inexpensive set of actions that are great for creating some new effects.
- In this image below, first the Imaging Factory’s Graduated Fog Filter was applied using a dark blue color for the foggy feel (could just use the Fogs and Mists brush set by BB Brushes to create you own effect – see my Foggy Weather! blog for more on this) ; then a Curves Adjustment Layer to get a vivid blue on top and bright green color on the ground; next a Gradient Map adjustment layer with a tan color (c4b190) to a light blue color (c2d0d8) for the gradient (try different gradients – get some really interesting results doing this) and set layer Blend Mode to Color Dodge at 82%; a Levels Adjustment Layer to wash out the results to get more of a foggy look; added a New Layer and painted on Wycked – birds-sm brush from the Tranquility brush set (this is a fabulous set to own); and finished off with a PhotoFrame from OnOne Software (simply the best!). This image is presented to show what a very different look you can get with just a little experimentation.
- The next picture was created using an action I created in my blog “Create Postage Stamps with Your Images” blog under Method Two called Vintage Effect from Cloudy Text Effect (here is the download link). I am presenting it here, even though it has a similar feel to other effects like the Lomo action above, because the action is free and it gives a very nice look on many types of landscape images.
- My last image is for my son, Metal Chris at DC Heavy Metal (a great music blog with some fabulous musician photography for DC folks), who likes it when I do something different with my photos. The Mirror Filter (Kaleidoscope vertical) was applied from the Plugin Galaxy 2.0 (see my blog Instant Mirror and Quick Mirror for Photoshop for more on this great plug-in), along with the Imaging Factory’s Graduated Fog filter and a Gradient Map adjustment layer. Gives a whole new perspective to the picture.
That should about wrap up the blog for this time. I think I could just keep doing effects – this image lends itself well to that. As I have said before, if you can get a good picture in your camera, you have lots of post-processing options – the image makes the processing easy.
Hope this inspired a few people to try different effects with the same image – it is a lot of fun to see how different the image ends up!…..Digital Lady Syd
This smokey look from all the small forest fires as seen in the photo above taken right outside our addition in Florida a couple days ago made me start thinking about how to get this look without actually seeing (and smelling) it. I decided to try several different ways to create a hazy foggy look and see which I method I liked the best. The image below is of the Scottish Highlands (where Hamish the cow can be seen) and is a great example of how the the last tendrils of fog appears once the sun rises. No corrections were done on this image except some power lines were removed using the Healing Brush in the lower right corner.
Here is a link where I downloaded several free stock images on Stock.xchng to see what the fog really looks like for reference.
The most important thing I learned is that decent fog brushes are absolutely essential. So lets begin with that – these two set of fog brushes will give the needed look: Fogs and Mists by ~BBs-Brushes – Brush No. 11 and Brush No. 13 give really nice fog effects, and Tranquility Brushes by ~wyckedBrush – the Sky brush and experiment with several others to see what you like. Here is a nice link to 10 sites which includes the above at 10 Free Fog Brush Sets.
Two fog tutorials, three Photoshop plug-ins and one action tutorial were tried to see which had the best results. My first attempt began with a tutorial called “Create Dramatic Misty Landscapes” in Photoshop Creative Issue No. 72. There is also a very similar tutorial on the Internet called “Realistic Fog and Mist” and has very clear and simple steps to follow so I will not list them here. After trying both tutorials with several image, I just did not like the results, not even well enough to show them here. I could not seem to get a really good flat colored image appearance and I did not like the way the fog was distributed – too heavy and uneven. Hopefully you might get a better result.
Next, I pulled out my arsenal of Photoshop plug-ins: Nik’s Color Efex Pro 3.0, Topaz’s Lens Effects, and a very old filter I had from 10 years ago by the Imaging Factory called Graduated Fog. (Download it for a 30 day trial – not sure if it is still available for sale.) Believe it or not, the Graduated Fog filter did just as well as the other two advanced plug-ins. They all either made the colors too vivid or the fog effect way too heavy or both – very unnatural looking. Below is an example of what I did with The Imaging Factory’s Graduated Fog effect – note the fog color is a yellow (the white appeared too heavy) and not exactly realistic. I added a layer with some light white brush strokes using BB Fogs and Mists Brushes – Sample Brush #11. Still, this image turned out the best of the plug-ins.
There is another stand-alone program that can be downloaded in the demo mode only (meaning you cannot save any results) – it has a fairly large learning curve, but it appears to have a really great interface for this particular look. It would take some effort but a nice effect can probably be obtained with some experimenting – try downloading AutoFx Mystical Lighting and Ambiance 2.0 demo and go to Ambiance, then Haze and Fog effect. I will definitely spend some more time in the demo looking at some of the other effects also.
Then I came upon a recent blog that made me feel much better! This tutorial supplied an action that works very good and is a great starting point. The link is called: “How to Create Fog in Photoshop: Gloomy Photoshop Action Included” by Timkainu. Definitely check this link out and download Tim Kainu’s Sun to Gloom Photoshop Action – the two photos below (of Maui and the Scottish Highlands) used this action and it required just a bit of touch up. He says that the action works great with images taken in harsh sunlight! I think the image below reflects more what I believe a fog would really look like for this image.
The final image is the same as the one above, but done entirely with the brushes linked in this blog. The effect is a little heavier, and it was created by just putting the fog on its own layer (or several different layers) and building up the effect until you like it. A layer mask can be added to get the exact intensity using different brush opacities, blend modes can be changed, and layer opacities adjusted – it was definitely easier than anything else I tried except for the wonderful action. I would suggest giving this a try if the action does not give quite the look you want.
This has definitely been a long week of experimenting. I learned about many things that did not work! I also learned sometimes it is easier to just go with what you do know – the special filters and tricks may not cut it. I hope I have helped guide a few fellow digital artists to find the resources they need and not waste time with what they do not need. Until next time…..Digital Lady Syd
Since the Fourth of July is just around the corner, I thought I would create a blog for making some of your beautiful night images into spectacular holiday images. Just to get you in the mood, here is a link to Stunning Fireworks Photos from Smashing Magazine. This was helpful to see the colors needed to get a realistic look on some of the fireworks.
As far as I can tell, there are two major ways of making images look like a fireworks celebration: either by adding fireworks images to a nighttime image or painting in the fireworks with brushes. This blog will address both types.
Creating Fireworks with Images
The above image used five different fireworks – old jpg images (from a 2 megapixel camera taken 8 years ago so don’t delete those old images, you may use them years later) brought into the original nighttime photo of the Main Street Bridge in Jacksonville, Florida. The basic steps are as follows:
- Do correction to your original image. A really dark scene is helpful.
- Go into Adobe Bridge and just drag the first image into Photoshop (does the same thing as File -> Place an object).
- The new image comes in as a Smart Object (right click and your will see the Free Transform choices) and can now be moved and sized (adjust by just dragging in the handles). Click Enter. I usually rasterize to get rid of the Smart Object as it makes the file bigger and is not needed for this workflow – just right click on the fireworks layer and select Rasterize layer.
- Double-click on the fireworks layer to open up the Layer Style and go to the “This Layer” slider near the bottom of the dialog box. Since the fireworks images have dark backgrounds, move the black tab right to get the correct effect. Then hold the ALT key to split the tab, click on the left side of the tab and drag it back to get a smooth the transition. If your image has a white background, move the right tab left, hold the ALT key and drag the right portion of tab back for the desired look.
- Add a layer mask to the layer and paint out any areas that are covering up part of the background image to make the fireworks look realistic. May need to lower the opacity of the level to see where to mask and then bring it back up to 100% when finished.
- Keep adding in more fireworks.
- Use a Basic Soft White Cloud Brush (download here) to paint in the soft black smoke coming from the fireworks. Set layer opacity to around 5-10% – do not overwhelm the image with smoke.
This basic workflow is from Scott Kelby’s book, Classic Photoshop Effects, “Adding Fireworks to Nighttime Photos,” one of the few nice fireworks tutorials I could find. Also, the Basic Soft White Cloud Brush was created by following the video “Brush Dynamics and Fluffy Clouds in Photoshop” by Ice Flow at PictureSocial.com.
Several beautiful fireworks images were downloaded for free from Stock.xchng and can be added to your images following the above workflow. They were moved into a black background. Here is a link to the Fireworks images – there are 46 pages of them so have fun finding some nice ones! Once you log in and download an image, you need to right click and select the Save Image As to your computer.
Painting Fireworks into your Images
Here is an example of Fireworks brushes that can be downloaded from the internet. After trying many fireworks brushes, the best are once again from Obsidian Dawn’s Fireworks set. (There are also jpg’s of these same brushes for download – to use follow the steps in the next section.) Obsidian Dawn had some great tips on how to use her great brushes so I thought I would share:
- Can use as just a solid color and they look great but to make them more colorful, apply a Radial Gradient to the layer. This is pretty easy – just follow these steps:
- Create a New Layer above your nighttime image.
- Click to make just one brush stroke – choose a bright color.
- On the brush layer, double click the layer to open the Layer Styles dialog and go to Gradient Overlay. Change Style to Radial and select any Gradient. A new group of gradients may be added by clicking the drop down arrow and clicking on the right pointing arrow in the top right corner. Try clicking Reverse checkbox to change color order. Change the scale to adjust which colors go where and try different blend modes and opacity.
- Remember some fireworks are brighter in the center – some the outer edges. To get this effect for using only one color, use a basic Black and White gradient in the Gradient Overlay Layer Style and set the blending mode to Screen. Set the Gradient opacity to 50% so it is not too bright. Use the Reverse checkbox to toggle where the darker and light colors show up.
- Try an Outer Glow Layer Style to make them more luminescent – try a different color too. Also try Color Overlay in a different color at a very low opacity to add some new color.
The Fountain above was created by using Photoshop Free Brushes Firework’s Brushes no.3 – placed on its own layer, duplicate it, Free Transform (CTRL+T) and flip Horizontal. Add a Linear gradient to get the effect. This set of brushes were created from clip art so most of them are not so realistic looking but nice if you want a more graphic look.
Some great resources for gradients that for fireworks are: Gorgeous Gradients (the one called Preppy give a nice result), Warhol gradients from Graphix1 (check out all their gradients), and Mellow Yellow Gradient from Photoshop Daily.
There is another way to get some interesting fireworks results that was posted as a comment on Photoshop Daily blog by Jo Cole that you might want to try. Once a fireworks brush is selected, here is what Kazzie said in her comment about creating a new brush to get a really nice fireworks:
“Shape Dynamics: size jitter – 75-100%. Color Dynamics: foreground/background 75-100%, Hue – 50-100%, Saturation – 100%, Purity – (+100). Brush Tip Shape: spacing = 1% or OFF. I set the foreground/background colors to bright colors in the main menu. Then I just clicked in the same place to achieve glorious fireworks using basic white color in between clicks.”
I tried this and it creates some very nice results that look similar to the orange and yellow fireworks above, but you must be careful not to click too much or you lose the effect. Go in and try different Hue settings. Once you get some settings you like, be sure to save as a new brush so you do not have to keep resetting it every time you try a different brush. (See my blog on “How to Create Photoshop Brushes from Objects or Text.”)
Combining the two processes
For the above image, both fireworks brushes and several jpg images from Obsidian Dawn were used. Since the fireworks are on a white background, I used the free Adobe Pixel Bender filter and my favorite filter for it, the free Kill White filter (it works better with Pixel Bender than just as a Photoshop plug-in) to delete the white areas – can get some very interesting effects using Kill White so I recommend downloading it. (Note often an error warning comes up when applying Pixel Bender – just say OK.) Below is the workflow used for the jpgs.
- Open up your base nighttime image.
- Drag over one of the jpg from Adobe Bridge – comes in as a Smart Object so adjust the size and position. The right click on the layer and choose Rasterize layer to remove Smart Object.
- Go to Pixel Bender and select MikeYael_Kill White.
- Double click on the fireworks layer and open the Layer Style. Choose the Gradient Overlay and set the Style to Radial. Open up the different Gradients and load any new ones you want to try by clicking the popout at the top right and appending them. Then adjust the Scale, try reversing the colors and changing the blend mode.
To get the reflection on the water, after making all your fireworks, put them in a group named fireworks. Next right click on the Layers Panel popout and select Merge Group to create just one layer of the firework objects. Free Transform (CTRL+T) and select Flip Vertical. Hold SHIFT Key and drag straight down to a point. Enter. Go to Filter -> Blue -> Gaussian Blue and select a Radius between 3 and 10. Add a layer mask to mask out anywhere the reflection should not be or to tone down some of the brighter colors with a 20% opacity soft round Brush. Can add in some smoke with the Basic Soft Cloud Brush and set to a very low opacity – usually between 5 to 10%.
I guess you can tell that an image which may not be that great can take on a really nice look with the fireworks. This has once again been a lot of fun to explore and try. It is really worth your time to play around with some of these effects – you can learn a lot! Hope everyone has a very happy Fourth of July celebration!…..Digital Lady Syd