Anything Photoshop or Photography

Photoshop Filter


Image of family at Flagler Beach
This week I decided to combine a little Flagler Beach in Florida with a little Lightroom and Photoshop. Got a chance to get down to the beach recently on a beautiful day. This little beach is about as laid-back and what I call “retro” as you will ever find in the US. I just love this place! The retro effect seems to be very trendy right now in photography processing. When I think of what is retro vs. an old photo look, I believe that a retro look is what you personally remember or think something would have looked like when you were younger, not just adding some effects to make something look old. All the images in this blog have my personal retro stamp on them – they were pretty good to begin with, which always helps when post-processing your photos. The colors and softness are what I added to get my personal retro affect.

Create a Lightroom Preset For a Vintage Feel

The above may be one of my favorite recent photos. What a wonderful place to spend a sunny day and this family epitomizes what I think of as a great beach day, now or when I was younger! I was really happy to be able to get this nice effect from a Lightroom preset. First I downloaded a preset from Allen Mowery’s Photography Site’s blog entry called Allen’s Vintage Retro – A Free Lightroom Preset. His work is really interesting. Then in Photoshop I further tweaked it to make it mine and saved it as a new preset. The Luminance and Saturation sliders and Split Toning Colors adjustments from Allen’s preset gives this image a great feel. I added Basic slider adjustments along with a Tone Curve adjustment on the RGB channel by creating points on the curve and dragging to get a softer look. (Here are all my Lightroom preset settings if you would like to create it: Basic Panel Highlights -100, Shadows +45, Whites -53, Blacks +25, Clarity -27, Vibrance -2, and Saturation +39; Tone Curve RGB Channel Points at 19.6/27.8% and 52.5/56.9%; HSL Saturation Red -42 and Blue -83 – all others 0, and Luminance Red +25, Orange +19, and Yellow +21; and Split Toning Highlights 64, Saturation 56, Balance -54, Shadows Hue 229 and Saturation 23.) In Photoshop the image was duplicated and Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for link) Clarity’s Micro Contrast Boost preset was applied. In Photoshop a black Layer Mask was created and just the water area and a little of the people were painted in to get just a little more detail. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added using these settings: (27/0.70/255 and Output Levels 23/255). That was it! A very magical Summer Beach Scene!
An image of a pirate statue at Flagler Beach This pirate stands watch at the doorway to Bahama Mama’s Tropical Gift shop a block off the beach. Looks like a cute place. Very little was done to this image after some cropping. In Lightroom three presets were applied – each one affected different sliders so three can be applied to get this look. An HDR Split Tone preset I had created a while back (Highlights Hue 52/Sat 64; Balance +49; Shadows Hue 215/Sat 50), Jared Platt‘s Sharpen Sharper preset which is just an Amount of 50, Radius of 1.0 and Detail 25 – pretty much the default; and Dave Delnea Backlight Horizontal Right preset which uses a bunch of different settings to get this effect (I just bought his presets and am using them a lot). In Photoshop Nik Viveza 2 was used – three control points on the pirate to draw focus. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added and the Output Levels was set to 18/255. The last step used Topaz Clarity’s Flowers III preset. I think it has a really vintage feel to it.

Using Photoshop Filter Add-on Plug-ins

Image of kids and dogs in front of a surf shop in Flagler BeachHad to give this colorful surf shop image a bit of a retro feel – love the dogs, but maybe the tattoos give away how current this image is!  (See Sullys Surf Shop Facebook link.) Only a few changes were done in Lightroom – just Lens Correction, Cropping, Auto Tone and Clarity applied. In Photoshop the image was turned into a Smart Object and taken into Alien Skin’s Snap Art and Oil Paint (Landscape – Soft) preset was applied. This filter can give a really nice vintage feel to an image. Two layers were created to bring back more of the photo effects on the people and dogs and the painted flowers on the building. A Layer Mask was added and with a large soft black brush set to 12% brush opacity, the details were further painted back. On a composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top, Jack Davis’ Wow Edges 01 was applied for a frame effect – it is basically a soft edge created by using a white Inner Shadow but I love Jack’s Layer Styles, even if they have been around a long time. That was it and it sure looks like a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning at the beach!

Vintage Retro look of Flagler Beach in Early Spring imageJust another example of using filters on an image to get a really nostalgic look – this time it’s the Flagler Beach Fishing Pier (the same one at the top of my Flickr site).  The shot was a three-image, and the tone-mapped HDR tiff file was processed using Nik HDR Pro Deep 1 preset. On a duplicate layer Topaz ReStyle was applied using Teal Skies and Setting Skies color preset. Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was used and Monday Morning filter set to Color Set Sepia and White Neutralizer was applied. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used next with the Output Levels set to 14/255 to get a slightly hazy look. A Color Balance Adjustment Layer was next selected and Shadows Yellow to Blue was set to +14 and Highlights Yellow to Blue -50. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used next and the curve was pulled up to get a slightly over-exposed look. Because grain was added to this image in the HDR preset, it has a very vintage feel.

Image of people relaxing on Flagler Beach with a retro lookThis beach image uses very similar processing as the one above, except there was a lot more processing done in Lightroom first. Once again three images were stacked to get a 32-bit tonemapped image (using Photomatix Pro’s owners free add-on for Lightroom Merge to 32-bit HDR). Then I set all the Saturation sliders to -100 and slowly started adding in the colors the way I liked them. The Hues and Luminance sliders were also tweaked to get the colors right. An Adjustment Brush was opened just the water was selected – then the Tint, Exposure, Contrast, Shadows, Clarity, and Saturation sliders were changed. The Color was changed to a turquoise color. Another Adjustment Brush was opened and just the people were painted. This time the Contrast, Highlights, Clarity and Sharpness sliders were reduced, and the Shadows increased to soften the people. Jack Davis’s Bluish Split Toning Curve was selected in the Tone Curve drop-down, and Dave Delnea’s Backlight Horizontal Left was used to brighten up the image. At this point the image looked pretty good, but in Photoshop Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened to add grain to the image. Jared Platt says they have the very best grain filter. So the Film Grain Filter was applied along with the one of my very favorite filters in CEP4-Monday Morning using the Neutral Color Set and the filter set to 55% opacity. That really made the image look the way I wanted it to look.

Image of a beach house near Flagler Beach using Snap Art 3This image has a combination Lightroom preset and Photoshop plug-in to get this look. The more greenish aqua sky is one characteristic I think of when creating retro effects. Dave Delnea’s Lightroom preset Washed Vintage 01 and Backlight Vertical Right presets were used to get this beautiful color and lighting on the image. Then in Photoshop, Snap Art 3’s Oil Paint (dry brush) was once again used to get a painterly look. Three layers were used to bring in details more clearly. On a layer mask in Photoshop, more was softly painted out in a layer mask so you can see the chairs and windows more clearly. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to add some Midtone contrast and that was it! I could see myself living on the beach in this house!

I am finding that if I try out different combinations of colors and my filters, I can get a nice nostalgic feel to an image. I especially like the new Lightroom presets I got from Dave Delnea and Topaz ReStyle, Nik Color Efex Pro’s Film Grain and Monday Morning filters, and some types of media in Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 can turn an image into a very retro feel with just a few clicks. I really enjoyed creating a personal interpretation of what is my “retro” look……Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Little Red Corvette
Vintage Roman Bath


Image of Aliona with textureThe above image is a modeling shot taken of my daughter-in-law with Painted Textures beautiful Seafoam texture added above. The first tip below was used to apply the texture. This week I thought I would pass on a couple painting tricks I am currently using. (See Image 1 in Image Notes at end of blog for more info.)

Creating a Nice Simple Brush for Painting Out Textures

Image of two mushrooms treated with a textureThese were fairly good-sized mushrooms that popped up in my yard this week – had to take a picture of them as the natural texture of the mushrooms was so pretty. (See Image 2 in Image Notes at end of blog for details and resource info.) Painted Textures Christmas texture was added and on a layer mask, the mushrooms were painted back using a very simple brush – Photoshop’s Chalk Brush 60 with the Shape Dynamics Angle Jitter set to 19% and a brush opacity of 30% – I use this brush all the time to add a painterly edge to textures. By changing the Angle  Jitter setting just a little, a different looking stroke is laid down each time. Use this brush at different sizes and opacities (I often start at 12% opacity) to get the effect you like. It has a little bit of a watercolor brush look to it, but build up the effect by painting over the areas several times. It really works great for painting out textures in masks. It works very well for creating the frames that many of the painted-looking images require.

Clipping a Texture to a Border for Extra Effect!

Image of my porch using Alien Skin's Snap Art 3 Photoshop plug-in This may be one of my favorite images that was just a quick snap taken on my porch. It has an autumn Victorian feel to it! What was done with this image to get this look? Lightroom and Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 created the painterly effect. (See Image 3 in Image Notes at end of blog for details.) What I discovered is that you can actually clip a texture to the frame (ALT+click between layers to clip the top texture layer to the frame below) to get some very interesting textures applied to them. In this case Kim Klassen‘s July Set Rue texture (if you are not on her newsletter list, get on it to receive beautiful free textures like this one) was clipped to the frame to give the vintage feel to the whole image. You can try any of your favorite textures.

Saving a Border You Created

Remember you can always save any borders you create by selecting just the border layer. Turn off all the other layers by ALT+clicking on the border eyeball and go to File -> Scripts -> Export Layers to File and select the PNG-24 default settings. Click Run button and Voila! you can drag it into any image you are working on as a border. In the case above, a frame was created using my free SJ WC Salt Water Brush. Then just clip a texture to it (as described in section above) and adjust the layer opacity of the clipped texture (and don’t forget to try different blending modes too). For more information and a visual of the PNG dialog box, check out my How To Make Frames or Borders blog.

Add Blend If Sliders to Textures for Extra Texture

Image of Frog using Topaz Clarity and ReStyleThis large Barking Tree Frog that fell out of my Palm Tree while it was being trimmed was very patient while I photographed him. It only lasted a few minutes, but he was very still for me – I love his little hands. This is the same frog that was in my Viveza 2 Does It Again! Tidbits Blog. Three of Kim Klassen’s textures were added and the Blend If sliders were applied to her textures to get the above effect. The combined Blend If slider adjustments give that sort of spotty grungy look that I liked for the nature image. (For details on which textures and settings see under Image Notes – Image 3 at end of blog.) I covered these sliders in a previous blog, but this image shows more exact results of what the Blend If sliders can create. (See my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog link.) One important thing to watch out for is a color shift if a Stamped (or Composite layer) is created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) – just set the Fill (not Layer Opacity) to 0% and it will work fine.

Using a Pattern Overlay Layer Style to Add a Texture Effect to a Border

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly image with special border effectThese large Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies love my yellow and bright pink Lantana flowers in my front yard. This girl had her eye on me – my camera makes those little click sounds and some of the butterflies are disturbed by this – but it did not stop her from what she was doing. All the techniques described in this blog were used in some way on this image border. Another way to add texture to your border layer is to use a Pattern Overlay Layer Style (just double click in the layer to the right of the thumbnail to open up) – then by clicking on the words Pattern Overlay (the check box does not open up the dialog info for it), a pattern can be selected in the drop-down menu. , The pattern can be moved around by dragging the mouse in the image and moving the texture, and blend modes, scale, and texture opacity can also be adjusted.

The border above was created in white on its own layer using pastel brush settings in the Image 5 notes below. A bright pattern was stretched to 852%, which is okay since it is just for a little bit of border color (normally this is way too high and the pattern is greatly degraded unless it is a very high resolution pattern). A bright yellow-green texture was added on top and the Blend If tabs were adjusted to slightly break down the edges to give more texture in the border – these settings are also listed below. Check out my short More Border Fun! blog for another example on how to do this.

Converting a Texture or Image to a Pattern

This concept can be a little confusing since Photoshop seems to use the word texture and pattern interchangeably. Basically the way I see it is that a texture is usually in a JPEG or PSD format while you must use a special extension, PAT, to use the Photoshop Pattern items. This includes using the Pattern Stamp Tool, Pattern Fill Layer, Content Aware Fill Pattern, and Pattern Overlay Layer Style. Note that any texture or image can be easily converted into a pattern by opening up the texture in Photoshop, go to Edit -> Define Pattern. A dialog opens up and the texture or image name appears in the Name field. Now when you open up the Pattern drop down list, it appears at the end.

I hope some of this info will help you with your basic texturizing and painting of an image. They are really simple tips that can be big time-savers. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Try Again!
How to Turn a Brush into a Watercolor Brush
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReStyle


Image 1: This image was taken by Premiere Model Management as a JPEG. My daughter-in-law’s beautiful image was first adjusted in Lightroom and an Adjustment Brush was used on her eyes, eyelashes and eyebrows before bringing into Photoshop. Painted Texture’s beautiful Seafoam texture was added and a layer mask was added where the Chalk brush was used to hide and reveal the image underneath using different brush opaciites. In the Layer Styles Blend If section, the Underlying Layer black tab was split and set to 5/17 which brought out the jean outline nicely. A composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created on top and made into a Smart Object. The Camera Raw filter was opened and the image was adjusted to correct her skin tone with the texture around it. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added on top to add back just a little bit of contrast into the image, and her face was painted back so the effect was not on her skin.

Image 2: Took a 3-shot HDR and selected PhotoMatix Pro’s Merge to 32-Bit HDR to create a Tiff in Lightroom before adjusting the Basic Panel sliders. I bought some really beautiful Lightroom presets at Craft and Vision by Dave Delnea and applied his Washed Tropics Look3 preset – I really like his photography style too. (Craft and Vision is one of my favorite places to get interesting and inexpensive E-books and was created by one of my favorite photographers David duChemin.) In Photoshop just did a little clean up removing a strand of grass. Next Nik’s Viveza 2 was opened and a control point was added to each mushroom to add a little structure and adjust the tone. The last step involved adding Melissa Gallo’s Painted Textures Christmas texture. As noted above, a layer mask was added to the texture and the Chalk brush was used to add in the painterly border. In the Layer Style the This Layer white tab was split (ALT+click on tab to split) and set to 48/173. I really love what the texture did to bring out the color in the mushrooms!

Image 3: First in Lightroom I used my old SJ Vivid Drawing Look preset – still works pretty good when converted to Lightroom 4 and 5 settings. In Photoshop Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 was opened up and the Watercolor Abstract preset was applied using Cold Press Paper in the settings. Three layer effects were used to add back some Photorealism to the flowers and clouds in the background. Different brushes were used on each layer so experiment with this when you set up the layers. Back in Photoshop the next step was to create a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle was opened where the Cream and Plum preset was selected. Settings were: Color Style Sat – Primary -0.30 and Fourth 0.44, and Lum Primary set to -0.37; Texture Strength -1.00. In Basic Section, Color Temperature set to 0.36 and Saturation -0.11, Tone Midtones to -0.14, and Detail Sharpness 1.00. This preset brought the nice fall colors. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to increase contrast. On a New Layer a border effect was created around the image by using my SJ WC Salt Water Brush painting in white.

Image 4: This time I added Topaz Clarity to the image using the Morning Dew preset and then I popped into Topaz ReStyle, their new plug-in, and changed the color to more of a greenish-brown color scheme. Started with Gable Green and Gandis. Changed these settings: Color Style: Sat – Primary 0.75 and Fifth -0.30; and Lum – Primary -0.31, Third -0.83, Fourth -0.20, and Fifth -0.66; Texture Strength 0.72; Color: Detail Structure 0.03 and Sharpness 0.42. Three Kim Klassen textures were added this time: Loveinlayers (set to Hard Light blend mode, 69% layer opacity, and in the Layer Style the Blend If This Layer white tab was split (ALT+click on tab) and set to 182/216 and Underlying Layer black tab set to 0/56.) and the B channel was unchecked): Ugglovebandw (set to Linear Light blend mode, 94% layer opacity, and in the Layer Style Blend If This Layer white tab split and set to 156/205 and Underlying Layer black tab set to 45 – a layer mask was added to texture to remove some of the black in the final result for this layer); and UggLove Ugglove (set to Hard Light blend mode, 96% layer opacity, and in the Layer Style This Layer white tab split to 159/175.) A New Layer was created and set to Overlay blend mode – with a low opacity soft small brush, some of the areas I wanted to emphasize were painted in. (See my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog for info on this.) A Curves Adjustment Layer was created to get rid of the over-dark blue tones in the shadows by changing the colors in the Red, Green and Blue Curves. The last step was to add a stamped or composite layer that is composed of all the layers on top (SHIFT+ALT+CTRL+E). When this was done, the color changed in the image. I believe this was due to the Blend If Layer Style changes. I figured out that to get around this, set the Fill Opacity for the composite to 0 and it is no longer an issue.

Image 5: In Lightroom the Lens Profile and Remove Chromatic Aberration boxes were checked, and then the image was cropped tight and switched to Portrait layout. Another preset from Dave Delnea’s group, C+V Washed Vintage 001 preset (link in Image 2 info) was applied and the butterfly was painted over with an Adjustment Brush with the Saturation, Exposure, Sharpness and Clarity sliders were adjusted to sharpen his body and eye a little. In Photoshop a duplicated layer was made (CTRL+J) and the image was opened in Topaz ReStyle. I am finding I always check this out before going on as sometimes I can get a slightly better color palette for an image, as I did in this case. Used Moody Collection’s preset Wedgewood Blue and Tan.  Set Structure slider to -0.39. In Mask painted out the butterfly and foreground area to keep background blurry but not foreground. Back wing was set to just a little blur. This was a great way to sharpen the foreground area and slightly blur the background to direct the eye to the butterfly. Nik’s Viveza 2 was applied as a Smart Object with several control points placed on the background to slightly desaturate the area around the butterfly wings, and some to sharpen and add a little more saturation to the foreground colors. Back in Photoshop a Curves Adjustment Layer was chosen and just a little more contrast added to the outside areas by dragging down on the curve – then in the Layer Mask the butterfly was painted to appear a little brighter to draw the eye a little more. This is just standard processing. Now a border was created using a basic Photoshop Pastel brush from the Natural Brushes 2 set and in Brush Tip Shape set the spacing to 81% and size 60 pixels, Smoothing was turned on, and Shape Dynamics Angle Jitter set to 10%, just like in the Chalk Brush. The edge was painted in white around the image where I wanted. A Pattern Overlay Layer Style (click fx at bottom of Layer Panel and select) and this time a free brightly colored pattern was used that contained the colors of the image. The one used is from 10 Splatters Patterns by Idealhut 07 pattern. The Pattern Opacity was set to 46% and the Scale was set to 852%. The pattern was moved around to get the effect I liked. Next French Kiss Artiste Collection’s Autumn Leaves texture was clipped on top of the border. In the Layer Style the Blend If This Layer black tab was split and set to 82/120 and the white tab was split and set to 151/214.

Get Great Results with Alien Skin Snap Art 3 and Topaz ReStyle Together!!

Dachas in Belarus using Colored Pencil in Snap Art 3I did recent posts on my Fun Photoshop Blog called Digital Lady Syd Reviews Snap Art 3 and Digital Syd Reviews Topaz ReStyle. Both of these plug-ins have captured my “inner creative me” so it seemed logical to try to combine them and see what happens. I think they are a perfect match – both have creative aspects but emphasize different elements. For the above Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog for website link in sidebar) ReStyle was added first to get a gorgeous fall color palette that gives this image a totally awesome feel. (The preset used was Leaking Red on Blue.) What I like about Snap Art is that it lets me try different mediums of art – I have never tried a colored pencil image, but I loved how the treatment worked with this image. (The preset in Snap Art was Colored Pencil Landscape-More Coverage.) I also have to admit that the wonderful Topaz Clarity was added first to give me sharp edges for the pencil look. Not much to it but really great results. This photo was from the countryside outside Minsk in Belarus – it was such an interesting and beautiful area to photograph.
Original and Topaz ReStyle image of dacha tych…..Above is a beautiful purple mum from a dacha in Belarus. In Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 the Favorite section’s Oil Paint (thick brush) preset was applied followed by Topaz ReStyle’s Cream and Plum preset was selected. (See settings under Image 2 for more details.)
Original Image and Snap Art image of Mum…..
Same image as the first one, but this time the original RAW file was converted to a black and white on a Virtual Copy in Lightroom using the Lightroom B&W GA Infrared 01 preset that turned this image into a fabulous looking shot to begin with! (Once again, just goes to show what a good image to start with can do.) I wanted to see what Snap Art’s Charcoal effect would look like since the Colored Pencil effect looked so nice. The Landscape Charcoal preset was selected. Three Layer Masks were created in the plug-in to direct the tone and focus throughout the image. I really liked the result – beautiful sketch – but it just did not have any real pizzazz! That’s when the image was opened in Topaz ReStyle. Not all the presets looked great, but the Teal Frost looked beautiful – no changes! It now has a beautiful winter feel – Amazing! The last step involved adding a New Layer and painting a frame around the image. (See settings info under Image 3.)
Original image and Snap Art Charcoal image…..
Soft Pink Flowers using Topaz ReStyle and Alien Skin Snap ArtJust another example of how plain white flowers can be changed into a beautiful color palette and turned into a lovely oil effect.
Original and Topaz ReStyle results of white flower image

The Baby Blue and Pink preset was used in ReStyle. This image looks very soft since the Detail Structure slider was moved left. The flower centers were kept sharp by masking out the effect using the Basic section Mask. In Snap Art an Oil Paint (dry brush) saturated preset was applied. The flower centers were once again made more sharp than the rest of the image by adding more Photorealism and small Brush Size to a Mask on the flowers.
Snap Art and Topaz ReStyle Used on Dacha ImageI used this image previously in my Snap Art Review without the new Topaz ReStyle plug-in applied to it. I really love how the two plug-ins together created this very painterly and sculpted look – it really makes me want to sit on the bench and enjoy the surroundings. The Snap Art plug-in used the Impasto Landscape (Small Brush) preset. (See Digital Lady Syd Reviews Alien Skin Snap Art 3 blog for more on image settings.) I had created a preset that used the Raw Sienna Haze preset with several of the sliders adjusted to get this pleasant result (all the settings were lost). A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT_SHIFT+E) was created on top and this was what made the image really work – the Blend If sliders in the Layer Style. The This Layer black tab slider was split (ALT+click on tab) and set to 69/143. (See my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog.) A Layer Mask was added and areas that did not look like it fit in were painted out with a soft black brush. That was it and you get this nice fairytale look!
Dacha Original image and Snap Art Impasto Landscape image


As you can see, there is definitely a very complimentary nature between these plug-ins, even though they are made by two totally different companies that use totally different methods to create the effects. I am constantly amazed at how far plug-ins have come in the past several years. A while back it cost almost as much as Photoshop itself to get them, and now there are so many reasonable choices and so many incredible effects. The technology has come a long way, but you have to thank Adobe and Photoshop for giving us the capability to have all this fun! So kudos to Adobe (in spite of all this Cloud mess) and kudos to all the plug-in companies that are now producing reasonably priced, inventive plug-ins for us Photoshop “nuts!”…..Digital Lady Syd


Image 2: Sean McCormick’s LR5 Essential Development Preset Toolbox was used to apply his LR TB63 Tone Curve preset to the image in Lightroom. I hope to review this down the road as the PDF looks very interesting along with his preset concepts. In Photoshop the Shake Reduction filter was applied as a Smart Object and then Snap Art was applied to the same layer. The Favorites category Oil Paint (thick brush) was used as a starting point and then the Background Tab slider Photorealism was changed to 22. In the Color Tab the Brightness slider was set to -19. In the Layers Tab, two different layers were created – one for the center of the flower and one for the long lines of the petals. The Mask Tool was set to Feather 50 and Amount 30. The center of the flower Effects were set with Detail, Brush Size -41, Photorealism 85, Paint Thickness -50, Paint Stroke Length 0, Stroke Color Variation 57, and Bristle Brush Style. For the long petals these settings were used: Detail, Brush Size 57, Photorealism -44, Paint Thickness -50, Paint Stroke Length 100, Stroke Color Variation 55, and Bristle Brush Style. The Canvas Tab used the default settings except for the Lighting which was set to the Diffuse setting. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was added on top and the Topaz ReStyle plug-in was opened. Cream and Plum preset was used as a starting point. Then in ReStyle Tab changed Texture Strength to 0.39. Painted in the Mask back some of the interesting color effects from the original image – brush was set to Strength 0.23, Brush Size 0.25 and Hardness 0.30 using Edge Aware and building up the effect the way I liked. Went to Basic Tab and set Detail Structure to 0.61 and Sharpness 0.11 to bring out the painterly texture more from Snap Art. In Mask painted out the flower to keep it from being affected as much using a brush Strength of 0.74. Back in Photoshop the layer opacity was set to 48%. Isabelle Lafrance Daiphanous Overlay Cobwebby was added on top and set to Linear Burn blend mode at 100% opacity. The last step added a Curves Adjustment Layer to enhance the contrast just a little.

Image 3: Once Lightroom Develop sliders and Photoshop CC’s Shake Reduction filter were applied, the Snap Art plug-in was opened. F5 was pressed to reset the plug-in and in the Pencil Sketch section, the Landscape Charcoal was applied. Pencil Width slider was then changed to 35 and Photorealism to 89. In Tone tab the Brightness was changed to 44, Contrast 10, and Red Channel Strength 42%, Green Channel Strength 72%, and Blue Channel Strength 41%. Canvas tab was set to Paper, Cold press, and Lighting was set to Diffuse (warmer). Layers tab was set to three different layers, the first was placed on the center tree to sharpen it a little (by increasing the Pencil Width and Photorealism Amount), the second on the front plant to tone it down some (by reducing the same sliders the other way), and the third on the structures to slightly enhance the details on them (sliders set in between the other two layer amounts). This is where the real strength of this plug-in lies – this enabled me to direct the focus through the image. Back in Photoshop a Darken and a Lighten layer were created to dodge and burn a few areas in the image (see my Fun Photoshop The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog). A Levels Adjustment layer was added to get the final correct tone to the image. Then Topaz ReStyle’s Tiara Frost preset was applied. The last step added the frame on a New Layer using Photoshop’s Natural Brush Spray at 41 pixels using a color sampled from the image.

Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReStyle

Image of old Airstream RV that used Topaz ReStyleTopaz has once again come up with a very innovative plug-in that can quickly transform an image that is missing a certain look into something quite spectacular. I am finding it more and more fascinating the longer I work with it. The top image is what I call my psychedelic bus – would never have thought to add this color scheme to this vintage RV image without Topaz (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) ReStyle, but I really love the final look – much better than the original flat grungy colors and tones.
Image of a puppet and crafts using Topaz ReStyleThis image of some crafts at an Old Belarusian Village outside Minsk is a great example of the easy, dramatic change that can be made in an image to give a totally different look and feel. I love both images – the one on the left is the correct color scheme, but the one on the right is my favorite. The Muted Apricot preset was applied as a last step – and adds the contrast to pull the puppet out from the background and I like the color scheme better.

What I Like about Topaz ReStyle

1. The best thing about using Topaz ReStyle is that you can take an image into the program and see if you can find a little more interesting or better color scheme. Sometimes an image just needs a bit of punch with some different colors to get a really fabulous result. Also, you will be able to see if the image color and tone is correct just as it is. NOTE: To start with the  original image color scheme, follow the work-around steps in the comments at end of blog.

2. When you find a color scheme you think you like, you can click on the little camera icon and add it to a preview group where several different schemes for comparison. This can be handy as there are so many choices and so many categories to choose from. This can be quite addictive going through all the presets!

3. You can search for presets that are similar by clicking on a preset on the left that you would to find similar preset styles, and then click the fourth icon over on the Presets bar on the left. Can also search for dominant colors in presets by hovering over the color bar below the preview and clicking on the color you are interested in finding in other styles. This is a lot of fun to do and very easy.

4. There is a Texture slider in the Color section and in the Structure and Sharpness sliders in the Details section that are very handy. Just by adjusting these three sliders you can get some interesting results.

5. You can copy a layer mask from one section to the other – great new feature that would make a great addition to the Topaz Clarity plug-in.

What I Don’t Like about Topaz ReStyle

1. I wish there was a way you could tell which blend mode you are using once applied. I know they are working on a solution to this issue, like adding a letter in the icon or something else, but it is very difficult to tell if you have added a blend mode, and if so, which one. In their defense, it is highlighted when you open up the blend mode icon.

2. There are times on my system when the my preset settings do not look quite like what was applied – in my case a little over-saturated. I am still trying to figure out if this is my problem or the plug-ins problem. Not a major issue, but I would suggest checking out your preset results to make sure it is applying the colors correctly. Also be sure to give the program time to save the preset – it takes a while to create.

3. No Apply button. Since there is this great masking capability and are blend modes that can be used, it really needs an Apply button so a couple different effects could be locally stacked and masked.

Bottom Line

Topaz ReStyle is very easy to use and a very unique plug-in so if you like to give your images unique looks, this definitely is a plug-in you want in your arsenal of tricks. If you are a purist, this is probably not a good match – it definitely changes the feel and look of an image from what the camera captures. I would think anyone into graphic design would love this plug-in – the creative possibilities are incredible! Needless to say, this is definitely a plug-in I will use frequently.
…..Topaz ReStyle image of ICW in Ormond BeachThe image above is an excellent example of how a basic HDR image was changed into a heavily vintage feel by adding a different color palette to the major colors represented in the image. Below see how the image progressed from HDR to Painterly look to the above final image. That is what ReStyle does! HDR and Painted Image of ICW in Ormond BeachRight at the start you can tell that the highlights are much more accentuated by slightly changing the color palette from a cooler original version to a warmer look. Of course the HDR image is what the actual shot looked like, the painted version adds some color and softness to a rather cold image, but Topaz ReStyle really popped the shot! The actually interface that was used to create this effect is shown below (click on image to see large view in Flickr) where you can see what colors were substituted for the the ones in the image. Screenshot of Topaz ReStyle showing interface…..
This flower image below shows another comparison of what ReStyle can do – it is really amazing with just a few clicks what you can get. It is very similar to the InstaTone function in Topaz photoFXlab – one of my favorite features of that program. (See my Tidbits Blog InstaTone in photoFXlabs – Great Fun and Great Results! for more info on this.) Image of flower before and after using Topaz ReStyle…..
I have been taking some of my earlier images I thought looked pretty nice and trying them out. This image below is one of my favorites from my trip to Belarus and it used Topaz Simplify (click to see in Flickr). After applying the Soft Pearl preset with some slider adjustments, I got this completely different looking image – and still very charming!
Hidden Dacha in Belarus using Topaz ReStyle filter
Many people are finding using this on a black and white image can give some wonderful results. Since I was intrigued by this suggestion, I tried one as shown below. This is an image of a little private cove on Spanish Cay in the Outer Banks of the Bahamas. The Peppermint Gray preset was applied – it gives the black and white treatment a bit of a cross-processed look. I really liked the effect. And applying them to a favorite texture can also make a major change in compositing an image.
Image of Spanish Cay with Topaz ReStyle treatment…..
Topaz is a really great plug-in company that is always trying to give us Photoshop nuts new options for making our images interesting and beautiful. And, as always, they give you free upgrades once you have bought the plug-in – I don’t know of any other Photoshop company that does this! They have very reasonable prices and often run great specials on their software. And check out their webinars – some of the best photographers are presenting for them and the videos are on their site.

If you are at all intrigued by this plug-in, it is definitely worth a download to try it out. I am finding it fits nicely in with other plug-ins as shown in my photos above, and not just Topaz plug-ins. It works best for me as a last step, but there are times I use it first to get a different feel before adding other effects. I especially like using it with Topaz Clarity – for some reason the natural sharpness from Clarity and then the color shaping with ReStyle makes a nice combination. Have fun trying this one out!…..Digital Lady Syd

Painting Effects – Which Ones to Use?

This week I decided to do the same image using different painting effects to see which ones I like the best. Since I was surprised by how nice Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 plug-in performed in last week’s blog, I thought I would compare it to other programs and see if it was really that good. I wanted to keep to an Oil Paint look, but not all the software supports this. I must admit this is not a very scientific comparison since I used different steps for the different results each software presented – but it still gave me a feel for what painterly looks can be achieved with a little manipulation. This picture was taken along the International Coastal Waterway in Ormond Beach on a very windy day – the clouds were building. It is probably not the best image but I thought it made a good test choice since it had lots of foreground details and color, and a beautiful landscape cloud expanse in the background, All the examples started with the same basic brightening done in Lightroom and then applying Nik’s fabulous Viveza plug-in in Photoshop. (See my Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem! blog.)

Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3

I really like the very final look Snap Art gave this image above. The Oil Paint (dry brush) was used as the basis for this image with several slider changes made to get the final look. For more info on the post-processing settings, see Image 1 at end of blog. This plug-in is definitely a good choice if you want this type of look. (See my blog Digital Lady Syd Reviews Alien Skin Snap Art 3 for other examples of what this plug-in will do.)

Photoshop’s Oil Paint Filter

This image is one I created in Photoshop CC using the Oil Paint Filter, which was added in Photoshop CS6 (although it is available for CS4 and CS5 users by using the Pixel Bender Panel). I did a rather popular blog a while back that gives definitions of what each slider does and what effect is creates for both versions – see my Photoshop’s CS6 (and Pixel Bender’s) Oil Paint Filter blog. In fact I used it to help me create this image along with a recent short tutorial by Mark S. Johnson on Planet Photoshop called Luminous Painting Effect Using Oil Paint Filter. As I said in my previous blog, it is not a look I would use a lot since it definitely has a Photoshop look to it, but it gives a pretty rendition of this image. Apparently it is very popular effect since it is used in most recent tutorials for creating the oil painting look in Photoshop. The Jack Davis Action image below also uses this effect but a little differently. For information on the settings used here, see Image 2 info located at the bottom of the blog.

Topaz Filters

This image took a lot longer than I thought it would. Since Topaz (for website link see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog) Simplify 4 is such a terrific plug-in for us creative types, I though it would whiz through this comparison. Instead I had a hard time getting a good oil painting look and never did get what I wanted without cheating a little. So above is what I came up with by applying Topaz Clarity, Adjust, and a new one coming out next week (I will add that info in once released but I needed the plug-in to get the effect I wanted) and never did use Simplify! The trick was to add a texture afterwards in Photoshop set to Hard Light at 34% opacity and desaturate it so it looks like an oil painting.  Now that does not mean that I don’t like Simplify’s oil paint look, it just means it did not work on this image. (Check out my Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs listed below for some that really worked.) One of the issues in Simplify was a little webbing in the foreground grass which can be an issue for this plug-in on some images. For the actual settings and texture info, check out Image 3 below.

Jack Davis Wow Smart Object Painting 1 Action

Thought I would show you what Jack Davis’ action does for this photo since he does add several filters together in this action to get this result. It still uses the Oil Paint filter in Photoshop, like image 2 above, but it does look different when added in a group with the other filters. I also ran it twice on the image like I suggested in my Can You Get a Painting Look With a Photoshop Action? Jack Davis Can! blog. Check out this link for download information for this free action and the blog tells you most of the specifics to get this effect. Also see Image 4 for a little more info. I really like the result as I did the results from my previous blog.

Dynamic Auto-Painter

This image uses Media Chance’s stand-alone Dynamic Auto-Painter that paints images in all sorts of styles and there are effects that can be downloaded to add to their presets. I have not used this program in a while and am not real proficient with it, but it gives some really interesting results and I felt it was worth a mention. The files must in 8-bit mode in JPG format. Other than that, it appears it has lots of options including masks that can be saved as PSD files. This image used Whistlers Rainbow for painting and I let it run for 14023 iterations. By placing the brush over areas you want emphasized, you can direct where more detail is applied. This is a really cool program and you should check it out if you want to try something different. I personally felt this look was pretty good. For a few more details, check out Image 5 below.

Auto-Painting with Corel Painter II

I wanted you to see what a nice result you can get with the incomparable Corel Painter – this took just a few minutes. I am not that proficient with this program, but the Auto-Painting technique is quite nice. Unfortunately I could not find an Oil Paint brush in my version to use when auto-painting, so the Acrylics Captured Bristle Brush was used. If I understand correctly, many people using Painter use the auto-painting function for underpainting an image and then paint on top the details. This image would look great if I knew how to use the actual brushes effectively in Painter. It does look quite a bit like the Snap Art plug-in, which is to Snap Art’s credit since it is quite a bit less expensive. For info on how this image was processed, check out Image 6 below.

There are a couple other ways to get a really nice painterly effect. The brilliant Russell Brown has developed two scripts panels to use  inside Photoshop that guides you along as you paint. The oldest is called the Adobe Painting Assistant which has different download links for CS6 and CS5 versions – just keep scrolling. The newest panel is the Adobe Watercolor Assistant Panel that can only be used with CS6 and on.  These are all free downloads at this link. The Watercolor Painting Assistant takes some practice to get a really nice result, but it will give a beautiful result. See my blog Dr. Brown’s Painting Assistant Panel for CS6 and CS5! and Think Pink! Rally for the Cure Pink Rose for more information on the older and more user-friendly Painting Assistant Panel. I will also mention another Digital Painting program called PostworkShop 3 which has received some excellent reviews for its beautiful results. Their website has some excellent resources for using the program. I have not had time to try it, but I hope to in the near future. There are some older Photoshop plug-ins that I remember from days past like Virtual Painter and Twisted Pixels, but I do not remember if they were that good. And I even tried out my old PhotoArtMaster Gold stand alone that was given away in a magazine by the now defunct (Lots of webbing occurred using this program.) It was a lot of fun just to try them out. I hope we have advanced our painterly form a little from those times.

Well, I hope you got to see what a variety of plug-ins and programs are out there to use for painting. At this point, I am not sure which one I would go with – it totally depends on the image. In this case I still like Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 rendition the best although also liked the soft effect with Photoshop’s Oil Paint filter image. It was fun to take just one image and try different styles just to get a feel for the differences. If you have a chance you should try this out. And you can always learn to paint with the Mixer and Bristle Brushes in Photoshop and probably get even better results!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Painterly Effect using Topaz Detail and Simplify
Getting a Nice Painterly Landscape Effect with Topaz Simplify and Texture
Corel Painter and Photoshop Together to Create a Pastel Painting
Topaz Adjust Using Painting Venice Preset – Beautiful Effect!
Topaz Simplify Artistic Workflow
How to Get That Creative Painterly Look
Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes


For All Examples: In Lightroom the Lens Profile was added and Remove Chromatic Aberration was checked. Auto Tone was applied and Clarity (+67), Shadows (+73), Highlights (-92), and Vibrance (+47) were then adjusted before going into Photoshop. The Background layer was duplicated and by right clicking on the layer and selecting Converted To Smart Object. Nik’s Viveza plug-in was opened and no control points were used, which is unusual for me. Instead Brightness was set to -30%, Saturation 26%, Structure 28%, Shadow Adjustment -67%, Warmth 12%, and all other sliders set to 0%.

Image 1: A composite (stamped) layer was created by pressing CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E and it was converted into a Smart Object. The Snap Art plug-in was opened and these settings were applied. The Oil Paint (dry brush) preset was selected leaving the default settings in place for the Background tab. In the Color tab these settings were applied: Brightness 11, Contrast -40, Saturation 42, and Temperature -18. No changes were made in the Canvas tab. In the Layers tab, three layers were created and used the same Mask Tool setting of Feather 50 and Amount 53. Layer 1 had only the pink flowers selected and these were the settings: Effect Detail, Brush Size -54, Photorealism 61, Paint Thickness -28, Paint Stroke Length -34, Stroke Color Variation -54, and Brush Style Default Brush. Layer 2 selected the stems to the flowers and these were the settings: Effect Detail, Brush Size -15, Photorealism 0, Paint Thickness 48, Paint Stroke Length -34, Stroke Color Variation 40, and Brush Style Bristle Brush. Layer 3 selected parts of the clouds that needed more attention. These were the settings: Effect Detail, Brush Size 100, Photorealism -100, Paint Thickness -76, Paint Stroke Length 100, Stroke Color Variation 9, and Brush Style Soft Brush. Basically these settings were chosen by just experimenting and seeing what looked good in the image. A New Layer back in Photoshop was created and the Spot Healing Brush tool was used on a couple places in the image to remove distractions. That is all that was done to this image.

Image 2: Following Mark’s video, a Levels Adjustment Layer was added on top of the Viveza filter layer and set to Screen blend mode. A composite (stamped) layer was created by pressing CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E and it was converted into a Smart Object. By going to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur with a radius of 34.6, a nice soft glow appearance was created. The layer blend mode was set to Multiply. Another composite layer was created and also turned into a Smart Object. This time Filter -> Oil Paint was added and the following settings were applied: Stylization 3.57, Cleanliness 10, Scale 0.55, Bristle Detail 8.1, Angular Direction  264.6, and Shine 1.2. A layer mask was applied and using a 30% opacity brush, the flowers were lightly painted back just give a little more detail in the image along with the shoreline in the background. A Curves Adjustment layer was added on the very top and using the little hand, the curve was dragged up a little. It ended up that my left edge point was moved to Input 0/Output 23 and that was it.

Image 3: This time a Composite layer was created and Topaz Clarity was applied – I love this plug-in, maybe as much as Detail! First started with a Reset and here were the settings: Dynamics:  Micro Contrast 0.30, Low Contrast -0.19, Medium Contrast 0.91, and High Contrat -0.11; Tone Level: Black Level 0, Midtones  0.27, and White Level  0.42; and HSL: Sat: Red -1.00, Orange -1.00, and Magenta 0.14; and Lum: Red 0.30, Yellow 0.52, Green -0.55. The Opacity for the whole section was set to 62% and the foreground rock was selected in the Mask so the HSL settings only applied to that area. Once out of the plug-in, a black layer mask was added and just the rock and cloud areas were painted back. Next another composite layer was created and Topaz Adjust was opened up. Started with Stylized Collection – Painting-Venice preset (one of my favorites). Then added Diffusion settings: Softness 0.29, Diffusion 0.93, and Diffusion Transition 0.50. In the Local Adjustments section, the Brush Out brush was set to Opacity .50 and the leaves to the flowers were painted back, then set to 1.00 and the flowers were painted back in the mask. The Sky was painted back using a brush set to .20 and the blue area was painted over in one long sweep. A last new filter was applied that basically just correct some color issues here. Back in Photoshop the last step involved add one of Melissa Gallo’s textures from Painted Textures called Snowy Sky set to Hard Light at 34% – A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to it (ALT+Click between the layers to clip) and the Saturation was set to -100. This way only the textured brush strokes show up but no color. (See my Tidbits Blog Getting a Nice Painterly Landscape Effect with Topaz Simplify and Texture.)

Image 4: This imaged used the default settings for the filters except for the Oil Paint filter where the same settings as for Image 2 were used. The layer was set to 72% opacity. Then a Composite was made on top and turned into a Smart Object. The action was run again. This time these settings were changed: Oil Paint filter – Stylization +10, Cleanliness 0, Scale 223, Bristle Detail 2, Angular Direction 264.6, and Shine .15; and Rough Pastels filter was set to Stroke Length 7, Stroke Detail 20, Scaling 67, Relief 4 and Top Right. This layer was set to Overlay blend mode and 68% layer opacity. A black layer mask was added and the sky was painted back.

Image 5: This image started as the same places as the others – just converted it to an 8-bit mode jpg to work on it in Dynamic Auto-Painter. By clicking the brush on the flowers while the program was running, I was able to get a little more emphasis on this area. The image was brought back into Photoshop for some clean up. A Color Balance Adjustment Layer was used to add more yellow into the image – in Midtones Yellow was set to -31. In the Curves Adjustment Layer, all the individual channels were adjusted to get the correct balance of colors. A composite layer was created and then a Gaussian Blur filter was applied with the radius set to 2.3, just enough to blend some of the painting lines on the rock. Then the flowers and shoreline were painted back slightly in a layer mask.

Image 6: The image was taken into Painter II with the Lightroom and Viveza changes. I changed the Underpainting settings that were set to Classical Color Scheme to Brightness +27%, Contrast -55%, Hue +2%, Saturation -8%, Value -17%, and Smart Blur 0%. The Acrylics Captured Bristle Brush from the Smart Stroke Brushes category was selected and Scribble Large was used in the Stroke Box. Very basic stuff here. Hopefully I will learn how to use this program better. Once the painting was finished, it was brought back into Photoshop where a clean up layer was created. A Curves Adjustment Layer, Color Balance Adjustment Layer and Selective Color Adjustment Layer were added to get the contrast and color correct.

Digital Lady Syd Reviews Alien Skin Snap Art 3

Got to say I love this plug-in! I had never used it before but I saw a few of Dave Higgins images where he had used this plug-in and I decided to check it out. Alien Skin Snap Art has been around for awhile – this is version 3 – but it never seemed to do anything more than I could accomplish in other plug-ins or in Photoshop itself. Now it has really increased its appeal and is definitely a great plug-in for us “creative-types” to keep in our Photoshop arsenal.

The image above was taken in the little town of Mir outside the beautiful Mir Castle in Belarus. (See one of my Mir Castle images on Flickr.) The Oil Paint Abstract – Soft preset was used as a starting point and then various sliders were adjusted to get the final result. (To see how the whole image was processed, see Image 1 information at bottom of blog.) You can very quickly go through the Factory Settings presets to get a feel as to which artistic media you want to apply to the image. The Favorites section is a good place to start as all the different artistic media is represented here. It is definitely worth the time to watch the short videos on Alien Skin’s website to learn how to use most of the sliders. Also Dave Higgins has two great short videos on how he uses the plug-in – one called Snap Art Review and the other is Snap Art Tutorial on Using Layers – I would recommend that you take a look at these as it gives you a feel how the program is set up and actually works.


1. Many choices for using different types of media – and you can save your own presets with the layer masks maintained in a special layers section. Very handy – and you can reset the layer masks by clicking CTRL+R if you do not want them applied to a different image.

2. What sets this program apart from the others is one slider I particularly like – the Photorealism slider that can be used on the whole image or in the Effects section for the layer masks. You can make just one part of your image more detailed and really direct the focus into that part of the image while the rest is left with a more painterly appearance. Also the Brush Size can be adjusted to add more emphasis. My other favorite slider is the Temperature (warm/Cool) slider in the Color Tab – along with the Saturation slider, they can really pop an image.

3. This program works seamlessly with Photoshop and is very fast loading. It uses the same shortcuts as Photoshop has set up so you do not have to learn a bunch of new key strokes. This applies to brush size, zooming, Hand Tool, Preferences, etc.


1. Some of the presets are not real practical – really need to play in the program and set your own presets once you figure out what all the sliders do. I am still trying to figure out the Pencil and Sketch settings.

2. I find it hard to correlate the sliders in the Background tab to the ones in the Layers tab since they both cannot be open at the same time and the Layer tab Effects do not come up with matching numbers. It would be nice to have both areas open so you can adjust between the two sections. Update: Ben Wilmore just set me straight on CreativeLive in his Extending Photoshop using Plug-Ins video where he says that in the Layers tab the center tick mark is where the slider is set in the Background tab. By double-clicking on the slider white tab, it puts it on the tick mark. Move the tab right or left from that point to add more or less of the effect for each sliders. Still a bit cumbersome, but better than nothing at all.

3. Wish they had a reset button or keystroke command for the Effects section and the Mask Tool brush in the Layers Tab. The Effects section is reset by choosing No Change in the drop-down preset and the Mask Tool has to be manually set. You have to be careful that you are not using the old settings from the last item you did although it appears F5 or CTRL+R Reset (which resets the Background tab settings) does change these sections to their Factory Default settings. The actual layer masks can be reset or removed by pressing R.

A couple nice to know things are: Need to turn off the Duplicate Layer option in Preferences if using in a Smart Object – otherwise it adds the filter twice. This program interfaces great with Lightroom also, but you will not have a layer with your settings saved as you can with a Smart Object in Photoshop. Press the Spacebar to see your original image.
This image was taken at a dacha in Belarus – the flowers are so beautiful there in the summer. This time the Pastel Sketch Factory preset setting was first applied. A layer mask was not even added – basically just stuck with the values given. In the Colors tab, the Brightness was set to 12, Contrast -11, Saturation 17 and Temperature 26. I am finding that the Saturation and Temperature sliders can work wonders on the images so check them out before applying the plug-in. See Image 2 info at bottom of blog for more info on post-processing.
Another example of the beautiful treatment the plug-in can give an image. This was a really busy looking image, but by adding the Impasto – Landscape – Small Brush preset and then changing a few settings, the colors and tones look fabulous in comparison. Below is how one of the layer masks looks for this image (click on it to see a larger view in my Flickr account). By varying the Amount of the Layer Brush (in this case it is 27), you can paint a lighter strength in parts of the image. The fence was just lightly selected while the sunflower and background bench were selected with a larger amount of 58. See Image 3 below for more settings info.
As you can see this plug-in has a lot of great options and gives some really nice results. It is interesting that you never add a brush stroke to it other than strokes for a basic layer mask.
Here is another example of how layers were used to direct focus to the center flowers. This image used the Factory Setting Watercolor preset and there were three layer masks with varying amounts of the brush effects. See Image 4 info at end of blog for settings used.

Alien Skin’s Snap Art plug-in has some great versatility and I believe it will work well combined with other plug-ins or the Photoshop brushes including the Mixers Brushes to get some great results. I plan on experimenting with it in this way in the future. Bottom Line: if you like the painterly look, it is a nice choice since it has so many choices. I found this plug-in to be totally fun to use and I believe I will be using it a lot in my future creative Photoshop endeavors. In the meantime check out the trial and see if you like it as well as I do!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image 1: After just he general RAW processing in Lightroom, the Content-Aware Move Tool (it lives with the Spot Healing Brush) was used to move the dog into the image more. He was almost out of the image in the original. General clean up was done and a composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was placed on top and turned into a Smart Object (right click on the image and select Convert to Smart Object). First Photoshop CC’s new Shake Reduction Filter was was run on the image using just three sample areas – one on the horse and driver, one on the trees, and one on the dog. It created a very subtle change. Next a Shadow/Highlights Adjustment was added to make the color more vibrant and sharp. (Shadows 19%, Tonal Width 39%, Radius 30 px; Highlight Amount 17%, Tonal Width 50%, Radius 30 px; and Adjustments – Color Correction +100 and Midtone Contrast +31) Now the image was ready for Snap Art 3. I created another composite layer on top and converted it to a Smart Object also before going into Snap Art. Once Snap Art is opened, the Background tab is active. The Factory Setting Oil Paint using the Abstract – Soft preset was first applied. Now you can play around with the five sliders – Overall Brush Size (this image used 63), Photorealism (59), Paint Thickness (52), Paint Stroke Length (69), Stroke Color Variation (70), Brush Style – Soft Brush in drop-down, and Random Seed 3258. This is a huge amount to adjust just to the overall image and you still have three other tabs to adjust – what a wonderful amount of options! The Color Tab was selected next where the Brightness (0), Contrast (-18), Saturation (30) and Temperature (Cool/Warm) (15) was set. In the Layer Tab is where the layer masks are applied – up to three layer masks can be added. To create a mask, the Mask Tool located in the bottom section – first icon next to Add/Erase – must be clicked. Click on the right side black arrow and three sliders appear so the brush can be set up painting the mask on the image. This image used Size (10), Feather (50) and Amount (21). Now just paint over any areas you do not want the effect appearing. To create the strength of the mask, adjust the Effect sliders – there is another drop-down here if you want to use them – there is a None choice if you do not want any effect on those areas! This image used just one layer mask painted over the horse, man and dog – wanted a little more detail in those areas. In the Effect drop-down, Detail was chosen (Brush Size (54), Photorealism (79), Paint Thickness (41), Paint Stroke Length (68), Stroke Color Variation (-47), and Brush Style – Default Brush)). To see the actual layer, press the right-hand black arrow across from Mask Layer 1. This is where you can add another layer. The last tab is Canvas and there are so many options that I am not sure how they all work – just click on all the little right-hand black arrows. This image was set to the Default Canvas Preset and Lighting Preset. The Vignette used different settings to get the lighter edges (Amount (74), Size (56), Softness (53), and Distortion (41)). The vignette settings can also be saved as a vignette preset by clicking on the icon next to the black arrow. The last step was adding a Curves Adjustment Layer back in Photoshop to add just a little more contrast. Loved the saturated color look!

Image 2: Very little processing in Lightroom – just the basic Lens Effect and Chromatic Aberration check boxes and a crop. Once in Photoshop, the Shake Reduction filter was applied – I am finding this tends to help any hand-held images you take. Shadows and Highlights did not help this image so it was opened as a Smart Object in Snap Art. The Pastel Sketch preset was used as a starting place. Most of the settings were left at the default except for the Color tab settings given under image. Back in Photoshop a layer mask was applied to the image and just the center of the red flower was lightly painted over to draw as a focus point. My free SJ-Painter Oil Frame was applied and transformed to give a nice painterly border. That was it!

Image 3: Once again very little processing in Lightroom. I did try to make the image very vibrant by adjusting some of the colors in the HSL panel. Once in Photoshop, the background layer was duplicated and a Smart Object created before opening up Snap Art. I first tried this as a Pencil Sketch but it just did not look good. Then I tried the Impasto section and the Landscape-Small Brush setting really looked nice. In the Layers tab three different mask were created – one for the foreground bench and stone steps, one for the flowers on the side and behind the bench, and one for the dacha itself and bench in front. The most detail was placed in the foreground bench, a little less for the flowers. Different amounts of masking was used on the dacha with the fence getting very little. See Dave Higgins videos on how to do this as reference above. Nothing else was done to this image – it looked great as it was in Photoshop!

Image 4: This image was first made very vivid in Lightroom by adjusting the Vibrancy and HSL sliders. Once in Photoshop Snap Art was opened as a Smart Object. In the Background tab the image was set to Watercolor from the Favorites Factory Settings. Then all the sliders were adjusted: Overall Brush Size 24, Photorealism 15, Paint Coverage 85, Paint Stroke Length 100, Stroke Color Variation 47, Brush Style – Dry Brush, and Random Seed 9809. In the Color tab only the Temperature (cool/warm) slider was changed to 26. In the Layers tab, the Mask Tool was set to a Feather of 50 and an Amount of 100 – this will apply the Effect section above changes at 100% strength to the main focus area, the center purple flowers. For the two purple flowers slightly behind and to the left of the main flowers, the Mask Tool Amount was changed to 17 and they are not as affected by the effects. Layer One Effects settings were: Brush Size 10, Photorealism 73, Paint Coverage 65, Paint Stroke Length 93, Stroke Color Variation 10 and Brush Style Default Brush. For a second layer mask the front little purple flowers were selected using a Mask Tool Amount of 100. Layer Two Effects settings were: Brush Size 76, Photorealism 52, Paint Coverage -36, Paint Stroke Length 93, Stroke Color Variation 66 and Brush Style Default Brush. The last layer mask covered the flowers growing up the brick wall using a Mask Tool Amount of 100. Layer Three Effects settings were: Brush Size 76, Photorealism -17, Paint Coverage -36, Paint Stroke Length 93, Stroke Color Variation 10 and Brush Style Wash. In the Canvas tab the Lighting was set to the Diffuse (warmer) preset. Now it was taken back into Photoshop where a Curves Adjustment Layer was applied to add just a little more contrast into the image.

How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders!

Got a little creative here and thought I would share what motivated me. Recently I purchased this little gem of a book called Digital Art Wonderland by Angi Sullins and Silas Toball. They do some incredible creative work and include several tutorials on how to make textures and create interesting fun images. So I decided to try out what they were showing and just start playing. Blend If sliders were a big part of the effects in their examples. So what am I talking about? These are the very under-used sliders that create the most interesting effects once you start applying them. They have been in Photoshop since the first version, which is hard to believe. Lots of the very creative work you are seeing in today’s digital art uses these sliders. To get to them, the Layer Style for a layer has to be opened. There are a few of ways to find the Layer Styles: 1) From the Menu, go to Layer -> Layer Style -> Blending Options; 2) Click on the fx icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel and select Blending Options; or 3) The easiest way is to double-click on the layer (not the thumbnail or layer title but just on the empty part of the line) and Blending Options dialog box automatically opens up. Once opened, towards the bottom are the Blend If sliders. The strips represent the darkest to lightest parts of your image – just like the strip in the Levels Adjustment Layer. If the black tab is pulled to the right, then the dark parts of your image to the left of the tab will be removed – the more the tab is moved right, the more pixels are removed. The same goes for the white tab – pull left and anything white to the right will be removed. The tabs can be split by ALT-clicking on them – this creates a smooth transition between the pixels that can and can’t be seen – the area between the tabs is the fade area. With no split, there will be an abrupt edge change, which sometimes you want. This Layer affects the layer you are working on and those pixels are removed; Underlying Layer removes the pixels from the layers below and how they blend with this layer. The rather rough edges of the corners in the shown texture is the result of using the Blend If sliders. I am never sure what I will get when applying these sliders, but it can prove to be quite interesting. See this screenshot for how the Layer Style looked after adding the White Hawaiian Flowers layer.
My basic background texture is actually layered textures from all sorts of places: 1) VP-Brown Paper 4 on the bottom (this texture came from Advanced Photoshop #84’s CD); 2) Caleb Kimbrough Subtlegrunge 2 was added and in the Layer Style the This Layer black tab was split and set to 121/166 – this gives the beautiful dark edge around the image; 3) a New Layer was created and French Kiss Splatter4-01 and 02 were painted in a dark color and set to 78% opacity; 4) Tim in Ohio’s Mr. Wilson’s Front Porch was set to Luminosity blend mode, 68% layer opacity, and in the Layer Style the Underlying Layer white tab was set to 142 (no split); and 5) Flypaper’s Taster Elysium texture was set to Overlay at 61% opacity. This provided a really nice base texture to use in the top and last images.
Once I created the texture, the rest of the image was pretty easy to do. First a White Hawaiian Flowers object I had created from an earlier post was placed on top. The settings used are in the above screenshot for the Layer Style. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment was clipped to the flower layer (ALT+Click between the layers to clip) and the Hue of the flowers was set to -141 to blend in nicely with the texture colors. A Levels Adjustment Layer was also clipped to the flowers and the Midtone tab was set to 0.35. It still looked too plain for me, so Painted Textures Black Friday Set 1-Floral Swirl was added and set to Overlay at 56%. In the Layer Style the Underlying Layer black tab was split and set to 62 and 93. A New Layer was created and some petal outlines were painted in with a small brush set to 12% opacity, and using a sampled color to emphasize some areas that were washed out slightly. The last step was to add a Curve Adjustment Layer to pop the color a little. In the layer mask, the right top corner was slightly painted out so it did not push the eye into the image too strongly.

You can see how great the Blend If sliders work on an image – they can really change the whole effect of an image. Angi and Silas and many of the really great texture creatives use these sliders all the time. If you are interested in getting unique perspectives or interesting textures, it is worth learning how they work and their book gives some wonderful examples and tutorials on how to do this.
…..Here is another image inspired by the Digital Art Wonderland book. Below I have gone to great length to show you how the various combinations of layer styles and Blend If sliders are working together to give the results for each of the items in the above image. You don’t have to understand it all – just get a feel for the steps that can be done to get a very unique look. Also there are some great resources at these links (some are free downloads and some are not) if you need some new ideas. This is basically a two-step process: create a unique texture and then add your own elements to get a charming personal image.

Once again a texture was created before adding elements to the image. The texture was created using these components: Lost and Taken‘s Hand stained paper 11 texture; Isabelle Lafrance Photography Christmas 2011-Lift texture and in the Layer Style Blending Options, the B Channel was unchecked and the Blend Mode was set to Overlay at 100% layer opacity; a New Layer was created and Nakatoni Custom Brushes Amazing Texture 2 (does not appear to be available anymore but any soft grunge brush would do) at 1500 pixels was used to create a beautiful textured effect that combined the soft pink and light yellow foreground and background colors – the layer was completely covered and set to 32% layer opacity; on a New Layer French Kiss Spatter4 Brush 21 was set to 3719 pixels and a greenish color and a few splats were painted on the layer – the layer opacity was then set to 23%; a New Layer was created and in a light pink foreground color, the Straight Grunge Lines by DieheArt was used to add lines across the image – the layer opacity was set to 52%; and a New Layer was created and the foreground color was changed to a light brown tone and also painted across image – the layer opacity was set to 41%.

Now for the various items. On a New Layer the first item added was a big dark green flower brush 1997 by Brush Lover (these used to be posted at but they do not appear to be available anymore – but there are many other choices at this site) at 1600 px and set to 72% opacity.  An object added was from Obsidian Dawn’s Fairies Brushes oo12. Since it was black, a Solid Color Fill Layer set to a darkish pink was used for a color. On the brush layer, the Layer Style was opened and a Bevel and Emboss was selected and set to the default and a Depth of 164; and Stroke set to 3 pixels, Position Outside, Opacity 72% and Color set to White. That gave the cutout edge around the brush. A vector from Buburu Resources called Pink and Green Clipart which was a plant, flowers, and butterfly on top, was added – since I only wanted the butterfly, I removed the rest of the vector. The layer was set to Luminosity Blend Mode at 67% opacity. In the Layer Style, lots of things were done: This Layer white tab was set to 213/255; Underlying Layer black tab was set to 79/128; Outer Glow was applied using a reddish color sampled from the Fairy layer and Size set to 8; Pattern Overlay was applied using a Normal Blend Mode, Opacity 100%, 10 Splatters Patterns by Idealhut – pattern 09 at 87% Scale; and Color Overlay sampling a light tan color from image using Normal Blend Mode and Opacity of 39%. A Text Layer was created using Beyond Wonderland font set to a light pink color. The layer was set to 65% opacity and a Layer Style set to Outer Glow set to Dissolve blend mode, Noise 20%, and Size 98 px; Pattern Overlay set to Normal Blend Mode, 100% opacity, and Photoshop’s Watercolor Pattern Bockingford Rough; and Color Overlay using a orange-tan color set to 71% opacity. Playful Flowers vector by was added and once again the Layer Style was opened – in Blend If This Layer white tab was set to 139/223, and a Drop Shadow using an Opacity of 64%, Distance of 12 and Size of 5. The Layer was set to Color Dodge at 80% opacity. Kim Klassen‘s Frame It was applied on a New Layer and transformed to fit – a light pink color was used and the layer opacity was set to 50%. The last object was the Dirigible4 by NadinePau stock – a Layer Style was applied using Blend If This Layer black tab at 51/74; Drop Shadow set to Color Blend Mode, 100% opacity, Distance 11 px, and Size 9; and Bevel & Emboss set to a Depth of 100 and Size of 5 px. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added on top to increase the Midtone colors and add some contrast.
Just another example of what you can get with those Blend If sliders. They can definitely give an image a totally different look. The above is an image of some yellow gerberas in a pot on my porch. This image turned out pretty crazy but once again it was a lot of fun to do – and that is why you do this! The first thing done was to work on the bottom layer that is covered up here. Last week I took some pix of clouds that were all broken up by shooting straight up and a brush was created. That is why you see a little bit of cloud along with some texture that was added on another layer. 2 Lil’ Owls (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Bokeh Grunge Set 5 overlay was placed above all this to soften the image. Then a composite of the image was made (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created on top and taken into Topaz (website link in sidebar of my Tidbits Blog) Simplify 4 – Watercolor II preset was used and the pot and flowers were painted out with a brush set to .62 opacity. With a little clean-up, I ended up with a really pretty flower picture, but nothing special. The layer was duplicated and to get the funny hanging effect, the top layer was created by using Photoshop’s Lens Correction filter with the Remove Distortion at +50 and Scale of 67% as a Smart Object. A layer style was added and these styles were applied: Stroke set to 9 pixels; Outer Glow using a light pink color set to Normal, 75% opacity, Spread of 19% and Size 250 px; and Drop Shadow with an opacity set to 75, Angle 52,  Distance 40 and Size of 4. On a New Layer, one brush stroke of Midnight Touch’s rEgrets I’ve Had a Few Sampled Brush #6 at 500 px. was applied. Then the Blend If This Layer slider’s black tab was split (click ALT+click to split) and set to 6/55 and the Underlying Layer black tab was set to 188. Then the default Bevel & Emboss, Stroke, Inner Glow and Outer Glow were added to create an interesting white flying egret. The Blend If sliders make the wing slide under the top left corner paint. These were grouped and turned into another Smart Object. The Layer Mask Hides Effects was checked and then a layer mask was added to the image. Some of the edges caused by the layer styles could then be softly painted out. One of the final steps involved adding Nik Color Efex Pro 4′s Solarization filter set to Method 1, Saturation 50%, and Elapsed Time 50%. That’s what made the back pop – and that is where you can see the white area that was the Blend If sliders letting the layer underneath show through. Really interesting effect. Not sure how I feel about this image, but it was a good example of what you can do with the sliders.
This image was created using one of the tutorials in the Wonderland book – didn’t think I would like doing it but was a lot of fun creating it. It basically involved taking some old master paintings that you like and combining them into something different. This image contains three paintings I admire with areas masked so they blend together nicely. Then Topaz Clarity’s High Contrast and Color Pop II preset was added to get the colors to work together better. Then Topaz Simplify 4 was a applied to a duplicate layer and Watercolor II was used with the Transparency set to .30 so some of the original poked through. My palm tree object with a Gradient Overlay Layer clipped to it was added to get the color correct in the trees. Kim Klassen’s Cloth & Paper Touch texture was used as an overlay and set to 50% opacity. (See my How to Create an Overlay Out of a Texture blog on how to do this.) Text was ExtraOrnamentalNo2 font. A Levels Adjustment was added increasing the contrast a little and setting Output Levels to 15/255 for a bit of a hazy look. The last step involved adding the texture shown above on top and setting it to Difference blend mode at 100% opacity. The Blend If This Layer black tab was set to 0/77 and the white tab was set to 80/183. The Underlying Layer black tab was set to 0 and the white tab was set to 178/233.

I hope you get a chance to try out these sliders. Also turn off the Channel R or G or B check box(es) and move the Fill slider around to see how the colors in the image are affected. (This was done on the texture for I Can Fly image above.) And of course keep trying out the different blend modes in this dialog box. It all adds together to give some very unique results. Have fun experimenting!…..Digital Lady Syd


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