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TWO FREE PAINTERLY PHOTOSHOP ACTIONS TO TRY OUT

Watercolor image of a tower in Edinburgh, Scotland.

This week as I was working on finding some interesting ways to use Photoshop to paint, two people came out with free actions that can really give your images painterly looks. Thought I would do a quick share as I continue on my other quest of finding good brushes for drawing and painting with Photoshop. The above image is from Edinburgh, Scotland – below is a sepia tone effect.

Sepia tone image of a building in Edinburgh, Scotland

Watercolor Artist – Photoshop Action Set

Recently Adobe Create Magazine sent out links to a free action by Nuwan Panditha (also known as Black Null) – it contained an action set (Setup and Watercolor Artist actions), 20 watercolor brushes (all kinds of regular and splatter brushes), 5 patterns to use with your watercolor (or any) images, and a 7-page PDF Guide on how to load and use all the included items. This version is an update from the one I wrote about in my Trying Out the Free Watercolor Action from Adobe – Pretty Nice! a couple years ago. The information and steps in my older blog still apply to this newer version. Use the nice PDF guide supplied which has good advice on how to make the action work smoothly.

There were a few issues with the action that need to be addressed. Make sure you stay within the image size parameters or your document will be huge. My file still came out to over 1.8 gigabytes – that is too much for my computer to give really good response time for detail work so I ended up having to delete layers that I did not use – the finished file was almost 1 gig. Also, it took several minutes to run – like up to 5 minutes. The author says he ran the action with a 5,000 pixels for Width and Height, but he recommends using 3,000 to 3,500 pixels. Make sure your image has some detail in it and is not all black or white. The Brush and Art History Brush parameters are listed in his very helpful PDF file. My files were set to 2493 width by 3256 Height and 300 ppi resolution.

Several layers were added after running the action to add in more of the watercolor feel. The furnished Watercolor Artist Wet and Wash brushes were used to supplement the color in the top image – these brushes are all pretty nice watercolor brushes. A Color Lookup Table was selected, a border effect was painted in, and a few flowers were added in with a Pattern Stamp Brush from Jessica Johnson using a pattern created from part of the flowers already in the image. (I can’t believe how often I use these flower brushes for filler areas.) You can do anything you want to your image after the original strokes are laid down. A pretty easy way to practice your painting!

Color Vector Photoshop Action

Pixabay image of a guitar player

This is another action that creates a really huge file so be ready for that. The image is from ISO Republic and is one of my favorites to try new techniques on. It was created by Justin Haider and can be downloaded for free from Deeezy. It is very similar to the above action in the way it is set up and has a Word file to explain how to load all the components. However there are a couple differences between the actions.

  1. The website says this about the size: Check the resolution of your photo. If its a low-resolution photo (1000 px), take the shortest length of your photo and increase it to around 2000 px or more. He recommends using photos that are 72 ppi resolution and at least 2500 px width. The image above was 300 ppi resolution, 3300 px wide X 2200 px high and it was almost 1 gig after removing a few layers that were not needed.
  2. Photo must be in 8-bit and the bottom layer must be a “Background Layer” – cannot use the Layer -> New -> Background from Layer. I got around this on one of my images by saving a copy as a JPG and which then had a natural Background Layer.
  3. THIS STEP IS IMPORTANT AND EASY TO OVERLOOK: Before running the action, create a New Layer and select the Brush Tool – I used the first one, Illustration-br-0, to paint over the subject with a black color on the layer. If you want a really sharp selection and not a real loose look, need to make a really good selection of your subject and fill with color on New Layer. In the above, it was painted in somewhat close to the subject – I did have to run the action twice to get the look I wanted.

There are 9 Brushes (these are also rather interesting and I think I will try them in some other images for painting), 8 Patterns, the Action and a Background texture which was used above, although any texture could be used. I deleted a lot of unused layers in this image also. The colors I got were created from the different adjustment layers provided in the various sections of the action. I did put a Lookup Table on top set to a Cerulean Blue at 65% layer opacity. The texture provided was flipped a couple ways to get this effect. Overall very easy and fun to do.

Hope everyone is easing into Spring. These actions were not hard to do, just a little labor intensive on your computer while they are running. Hope you enjoy trying them…..Digital Lady Syd

Trying Some Creative Art

Digital Art image of a tree

This week does not include a lot of actual painting, but it does contain a lot of free textures and brushes. I am not sure it matters as long as the creation is one of your own. Once again I followed a Julieanne Kost video called Photoshop Compositing Tools and Techniques from Adobe MAX 2020. It was an excellent fairly short video and a good refresher on how to make “fine art” digitally. Previously I did a Creating Composite Images Using the Julieanne Kost Workflow blog which gave details on her basic workflow. I am still learning her techniques and trying to keep my images as simplistic and to the point as she does. Her art does make me think about what I am trying to do with mine.

Julieanne says the “majority of her photos contain a primary subject, a secondary subject, and are set in a background or landscape that she creates.” All her items are there for a reason and she does not like to add in extraneous items that could be distracting. This is the goal I was trying to achieve with the above image.

I thought it might be helpful to include where my resources are from for this image and some of the basic techniques that were used. I hope this is something most people will find useful to do get a similar effect and quite easily.

  1. The tree was created first – just used the Filter -> Render -> Tree. No. 4 Maple Tree was selected (Light direction 36, Leaves Amount 1, Leaf Size 0, Branches Height 153, and Branches Thickness 58) which created a tree with no leaves. Lots of trees can be chosen here and the settings can be changed to get different effects easily. Really fun to do!
  2. Next a free texture was added from Shadowhouse Creations called Daguerreotype-8 to get the really odd foreground pattern. I have talked about his fabulous textures for years and he still has them all available for free. In a layer mask, the Gradient Tool was used to remove the texture from the sky area and leave it in the foreground only. A Black and White Adjustment Layer was clipped to the texture and set to Linear Dodge blend mode.
  3. Next a sky was needed so back to Shadowhouse Creations to get one called GF-5 – a beautiful painterly texture. A duplicate of the sky was flipped horizontally with the Free Transform tool to get the the look needed. A layer mask on the top one was used to blend the two versions together.
  4. I felt like a hill would make a nice element behind the tree so one was painted in using a great free set of Chalky Brushes by Ioana Sopov and containing Chalk Noisy-2 texture brush, which gave the painted soft edge – it was set to 89% layer opacity. It still needed more texture so one called GF-3, which is an old post card in the same group of textures as the sky, was added to the image and clipped (ALT + click between the two layers to link the top layer to the bottom one) to the plain painted hill and set to Multiply blend mode. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added to blend the hills into the scene, mainly desaturating and lightening it in the Master settings.
  5. Then to cover up the harsh horizon line, a brush from Jose Rodriguez called PTC Hair Brush set to 200 pixels and a darkish brown color (can download brush for free at his How to Blur Backgrounds in Photoshop video which was very good) was used to create the fence, and I thought it was an important element to further separate the tree and give it more of a sense of loneliness. Note this is a small Hairbrush but it worked great for this image so keep this in mind when using brushes – they are not always what they seem!
  6. The tree looked too harsh so it was duplicated and taken into Topaz (see sidebar of Tidbits Blog for website link) Studio 2 where Impression was opened with just the Oil Pastel preset applied. (The older version of Topaz Impression would also have worked.) Now it looked a lot more painterly. The original tree layer was turned off permanently now. For the Painterly tree, a Black and White Adjustment Layer was clipped to it and set to 68% layer opacity to almost turn the tree black and white. This is something else to remember, single layers with just one element can often be brought into PS filters to give interesting element effects.
  7. On two New Layers, the first airbrush found in the Converted Legacy Tool Presets Airbrush folder (loaded just like the Legacy brushes – see my Kyle T. Webster’s Photoshop Brushes blog on how to load brushes) – it was set to a regular brush (it is a Mixer in the Tool Presets so select any regular brush first, then on the Airbrush mixer press CTRL+ALT+ click to switch it to a regular brush – and now adjust the brush settings to 3 pixels Size with Build Up and Smoothing checked) was used to draw along the tree roots – first used a dark brown, then with the same brush a lighter color was drawn next to them to make the roots stand out. If you have not used these older Tool Preset brushes, check them out – there are some good ones in there.
  8. Added textures – used the Adobe Paper Texture Pro, which is still working in PS for me, but it is no longer available from Adobe. Not sure what has happened, but textures can be added manually quite easily. The first one was called Necropolis that was set to Difference at 55% opacity – this gives a bluish tone to the whole image. Then Villa Adriana set to Color Dodge – opacity 32% and Fill 30% – a black layer mask was added and just the root area and a little bit of the trunk was painted back to get the rather glowy edges for the roots. They are both from Flypaper Textures – I believe I got the textures a long time ago with the PS extension so if you have it or had it previously, you may have already have a nice set of textures.
  9. Next a Photo Filter Adjustment Layer was added using a dark gold color (#8e7329) at 50% opacity.
  10. Added a Curves Adjustment Layer – just a straight diagonal line to upper right with a starting point at lower left set to Input 0 and Output 40 – gave a little bit of a matte look to the most dark pixels in the image.
  11. Next added a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer to give more of a dark blue as opposed to a dark black to the image – this technique was discussed in Julieanne’s video. A stop was added on the bottom of the gradient at Location 20 and a color swatch set to #292d33, a very dark blue. She continued adjusting the Saturation and Brightness amounts in the HSB settings of the swatch, but I did not need this. I liked this color that was being added. Only wanted it applied to the top area of the image, so in the layer mask a black to white gradient was created with the Gradient Tool to blend it in at the horizon.
  12. Added a New Layer and selected a brush I call “SJ Soft Br (MK) to blend orig. bkgds back into mask for animal pix” created from a Matt Kloskowski webinar. Basically the settings use a 30-pixel soft round brush with the Options Bar set to Opacity 41% and Flow to 26%. Matt uses this brush in a different way than how it was used in this image to soften the edges of the tree trunk so it blended into the background more, and soften some of the sharp color and edges of the smaller branches high up in the tree. A sampled color from the sky was used for this.
  13. A Color Balance Adjustment Layer was added and just a subtle change was made to add some lightness into the Highlights (Yellow-Blue set to -3) and darkness to the Shadows (Yellow-Blue +4).
  14. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was used to adjust the color in the overall image. The one used was called On1-Heat Wave LUTs-7 but there are so many to choose from that several were looked at before settling on this one – set to Normal at 19% layer opacity. I like to look at these last because LUTs tend to pull colors together really well.
  15. A Spotlight Effect was made with a New Layer set to Overlay blend mode at 87% opacity – using a white soft round brush to lighten up the middle of the sky where where the branches are. See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog for more on this.
  16. Last step was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer which was applied to only the top of the image by using the Gradient Tool in the layer mask at 90% layer opacity.

As you can see, it was a pretty large endeavor to get this image. Even though the steps look straight-forward, it definitely was not. Several adjustment layers were added and removed and changes in opacity were made to them as an after-thought. I guess one of my main points is that if you look around there are lots of free resources that can be added into your composites. I wanted to share some of these with you since it is expensive to always be buying products that you may only use once or twice. Some brushes included are all pretty simple to make and several free ones are very nice and totally different from what Kyle Webster offers with PS. And as a second point, if you are like me, I am always trying to find something new and different to do in PS and to add some new dimension to an image. I think Julieanne has lots of good ideas and it did start me thinking. Have a good one!…..Digital Lady Syd

Happy Valentines Day

Image of a Valentines Day card effect

This week I did a quick little Valentines Day card. Most of this card has the standard valentine elements I have used before. But I did create the element in the middle from a video I recently watched on Design Cuts called How to Create a 4-Way Mandala in Photoshop by Leslie Nicole from French Kiss Textures (her textures are some of the best you will find). It was so much fun trying out the Mandala designs that I had to show a couple. The design above also used some really nice valentine elements from Karen Bonaker, the Corel Painter Master. At her site, she gave these away as Painter brushes, but I switched them over to Photoshop ones by following one of my old blogs called How to Bring a Corel Painter Brush into Photoshop – worked like a charm! I painted the background using almost all the brushes she offered – lot of fun here.

Back to the Mandala – I had never seen Leslie’s technique for creating these so it really intrigued me. Below is an example of one created following the basic steps she uses. The video gives a great explanation of how it is done. Leslie mainly uses flower stems or designs to create them. Below my white lily image that is posted here was used as the starting element for the design.

Mandala of a White Lily

Some painted texture was added behind and Kyle’s Spatter brushes were used also. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Simplify was used on the flower in the center to get it to match the image.

This technique is really not as hard as it seems and it gives a beautiful and original result. I plan on trying several more as they are quit fun to do! (Check out this one I just finished a little late: Valentines Mandala) Enjoy the Day!…..Digital Lady Syd

Kyle T. Webster’s Photoshop Brushes

Digitally painted image of a Kingfisher

I am continuing with another painting blog just because that is what I am doing right now. I am still getting caught up on my digital art skills which was one of my New Year’s resolutions. The beautiful Common Kingfisher image above was downloaded from Unsplash and was taken by Boris Smokrovic (there are many iterations of the bird on this site).

Since Photoshop’s brush engine has not really changed much since CS6 – and the Mixer showed up in CS5, there have been lots and lots of brushes available thru the years. The Regular brushes and the Mixer brushes are the ones most people think of using for digital painting in PS. But there are many Smudge brushes and Pattern Stamp brushes also available for painting, so don’t discount their usefulness.

The brushes used on the above Kingfisher image were from Fay Sirkis, a Corel Painter Master, who created some great PS Mixer brushes years ago (some of them can still be downloaded from KelbyOne) – not much was available back then but these hers are still great! Lots of brushes now come with PS so it is easy to get started trying a little painting of your favorite images. A huge amount of brushes were created by Kyle T. Webster are provided for free when you subscribe to Adobe’s program.

I spent a long time trying to find a few I thought would be useful to get everyone started with painting. Kyle has a lot of Regular brushes and Smudge brushes. The Goldfinch image below (by Stephen Walker at Unsplash) used : Kyle’s Drawing Box – Hatch Soft Mixer brush, Kyle’s Drawing Box – Shady Graphite Damp brush, Kyle’s Paintbox – Big Rough 880 Smudge brush, Kyle’s Inkbox – Spatter 1 brush, and at the bottom behind the bird in Kyle’s Spatter brushes – Wet Splat brush. Kyle’s Paintbox Seurat brush (pointillism-type brush) and Kyles Paintbox Cezanne2 brush both are contained in a different download called the Impressionist set and not the Megapack Paintbox folder. These brushes will give you a good idea of what is available for painting.

HOW TO FIND HIS BRUSHES: As you can see by the names of the brushes, they fall into different groups of brushes. To find the Drawing Box brushes, the Megapack must be downloaded and loaded into PS. To do this, just go to the Brushes Panel, open the Pop-out menu in the upper right corner and select Get More Brushes. All of Kyle’s brush groups will be listed – just scroll down to the one you want and download it.

LOADING THE BRUSHES: The way I load .abr or .tpl files is to open PS and then go to folder on my computer where the brushes were download and double click on the .abr or tpl files – they will load immediately as folders at the bottom of your brush list. With Kyle’s brushes, you can just select to add them right into PS instead of saving the brushes down. This is a very quick way to do this.

FINDING THE BRUSH YOU WANT: The Megapack is huge, so once loaded into PS, go to the Search field located at the top under the Size slider in the Brushes Panel and type in part of the brush name – all loaded will be listed. They added the search mechanism with the latest version of PS and it is a life-saver if you have lots of brushes loaded (which I do!). Try searching to find the above Hatch Soft brush or Shady Graphite brush. The Paintbox brushes are also listed in one of the Mega Pack folders, so search for those brushes and they will show up. There is another nice painterly set to download and it is called the Impressionist Brushes if you want to load the Seurat and Cezanne2 brushes – several other famous painter’s brushes are located here also.

Image of a painted American Goldfinch

In just the Megapack folder there are these different subfolders: Erasers (6 brushes); Drawing Box which contains these types of brushes – Charcoal, Markers, Crayons, Pencil, Colored Pencil, Sketch, Lots of Mixers both blenders and those that add color including Pastels/Oil Pastels/Pastel Smudge, and Smudge (74 brushes); Inkbox (157 brushes!); FX Box which contains Grains, Noise and Canvas brushes (27 brushes); Paintbox which contains 8 Smudge, 2 Acrylic, Bristle Brushes, Gesso brushes, 10 Gouache brushes, 8 Watercolor and several other kinds (53 brushes); Real Oils which contains the 6 Sargent brushes (44 brushes); Classic Group which contains all kinds of useful brushes (19 brushes); Bonus which just contains Chunky Charcoal brush; and Tech Pens which contains 5 brushes. I felt like this may help if you are looking for a particular type of brush. The Impressionist set contains 24 brushes and blenders.

The other brush sets that can downloaded are: Keith Haring-Inspired Brushes, Watercolor, Dry Media, Gouache, Spatter, Runny Inkers, Manga Brushes, Crosshatchers, Rake Brushes, Impressionist, Letterers, Halftones, Copier, Concept, Art Markers, Charcoal, Summer 2018 Brushes, Winter 2019 Brushes, Summer 2019 Brushes, Spring 2020 Brushes, Summer 2020 Brushes, and Winter 2020 Brushes. If you go up on Kyle’s brushes, there is a small description of what each set contains to help you decide if they will be useful. I did not look at all of these, just the Impressionist set which contained the Seurat and Cezanne2 brushes. The ones dated by year contain several different types of brushes so it definitely worth the time to try them out – your favorite brush may just be included! Kyle did say that he is planning on releasing a Spring 2021 group of brushes in May which will contain a brush with leaf shapes, so that should be fun to get.

Image of a painted Roseate Spoonbill from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.

The above image was taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm but was painted using some extra free Kyle Munch brushes. To create this effect, duplicate the image. The bird was then isolated from the top layer by using the Quick Selection Tool and Select Subject – add a layer mask and clean up any areas that need to be added or removed. Since it is being painted, it does not have to be perfect. A white Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added underneath the selected image. Now for the fun part – used brushes from Kyle that are not in the program files – they are called Munch brushes and were created to imitate Edvard Munch‘s brush style (his most famous painting is The Scream). I would recommend watching the first 7-minute video at the brush download site to learn how to use them properly – 7 brushes are included. This image only used the Munch – Filbert brush, set to a very small size for the details. A texture was added underneath the bird and over the Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer. As a final touch, a Romantic English Garden Pattern Stamp Brushes and Patterns from Jessica Johnson was used to scatter a little color on the bottom. This was totally fun to do and not hard at all. These steps are basically how all three images were painted.

I thought I was ready to post this blog a few weeks ago, and then I started finding a number of Adobe Creative Cloud videos by Kyle to help understand how to use the PS brush engine and all the various types of brushes he created. If interested, check out these videos: Photoshop Masterclass: Brushes, Photoshop Brush Top Tips and Tricks with Kyle T. Webster, Brush Hour with Kyle T. Webster: Episode 1-Spatter Time (apparently he will be doing different types of brushes this year) – he produces videos at least weekly. Kyle basically says you don’t have to know how to create brushes, just experiment with the ones he has provided. He does spend a lot of time explaining what each of the Brush Settings Panel sections do so a brush can be changed “on the fly” to get a good result. He is a designer and illustrator and knows what kind of brushes are needed for all types of painting media.

I plan on expanding my brush info and some painting tips with you soon – you can never have too many brushes! Hope everyone is doing well and getting a chance to try some new things in PS. Until next time…..Digital Lady Syd

Painting Acrylics Digitally – Can It Be Done?

Happy New Year everyone! One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to get back to what I really like and learn some new things. Therefore, I did my first project – digitally painted this rose following the acrylic painter David Jansen’s video called Painting a Beginning Rose with Acrylics. I wanted to see if I could actually follow his painting directions to create a similar result. I have never painted so this was a real challenge for me.

The basic flower was done in Corel Painter 2020 on several layers – created my own Acrylic brushes using their Opaque Acrylic Brush and adjusted some of the settings. (In Painter you can go in and change the Resat and Bleed settings easily to change the strokes and create blender brushes to somewhat get David’s stroke effect.) If you want to try this in Photoshop, I would suggest you download a set of free acrylic brushes by Jess Robley – select the first brush and try reducing opacity and adjust stroke angle to create some good acrylic strokes. (I tried size 30, 21% opacity and 86 degrees for angle.) I believe converting it to a Mixer Brush would be great for blending. NOTE: Here is a cool tip for converting a regular brush to a Mixer: select a Mixer Brush whose settings you like, then hold ALT + CTRL and click on the regular brush to convert to a Mixer – Voila! It is now a Mixer! This is a fairly new shortcut to PS. Just click off and then back on the brush to bring it back to a regular brush.

Now that the flower is basically there, the image was saved as a PSD file in Painter and brought into PS to finish up. The bottom flower cluster was created using what I consider a very cool Pattern Stamp Tool technique by Jessica Johnson (see video and some freebies at this link and my blogs listed at end). This image used a Pattern and Brush from her inexpensive Romantic English Garden Set. These are really nice brushes and patterns and is a great way to add in a little color or detail into all kinds of images, not just painted ones – good for filling in those little holes that show up in odd places. I actually had a hard time deciding which brush and pattern to use for this image! The flower was darkened down the right side with an Overlay burn layer with black paint and 9% Flow on a soft brush. Last step was to add the text – it is called modernline by Ef Studio and I really like it.

So the bottom line is that if you were familiar with painting in acrylics, the transition to digital painting with an acrylic look would probably be very easy for you. For me, I am not sure I got the true essence of acrylic paint but as a first attempt, it was really fun to try. I definitely want to try this flower again using just the PS brushes – I believe it would be just as good. I am glad I got a start doing something different and working on a new set of skills. I hope everyone is trying out some new things since we are still pretty much working at home. In the meantime, enjoy the New Year!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:

What about the Pattern Stamp Tool? Not So Bad!

Trying Out Some New Things

The Rag-a-Muffins

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE

Image of a Christmas Holiday scene

Just wishing everyone a wonderful holiday – it has been a rough year and we all deserve a little time to relax and look forward to 2021. Planning to be back blogging more regularly next year – needed a little down time just to put everything into perspective and see what direction my photography and art is going. I am planning on watching a few videos this next week and trying out some new things.

This image just contains fun things I have accumulated over the past several years. Basically just used some Corel Painter clipart they gave away last year. The Santa and reindeer in the sky is from a brush I created a few years ago and just painted in some color. The background was a purple and blue one created a while back and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added to give it the color. Used an Ivan Rosenberg snowflakes overlay for the authentic-looking snow (in his Christmas Overlays Creator set offered by Design Cuts a few years ago). A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer and a Curves Adjustment Layer finished it up. Lots of fun – I love doing holiday pix!

Hope everyone will start 2021 much more refreshed with new ideas and ready to dig into new projects. That’s what I am planning on doing …. and in the meantime have a great time this week!…..Digital Lady Syd

TRYING OUT SOME NEW THINGS

Image of flowers taken at the Garlic Restaurant in New Smyrna Beach, Florida

The last few weeks have been pretty busy for us Photoshop groupies what with all kinds of webinars and tutorials being released by both our favorite software companies and photographers. I thought I would just go over a few techniques..

Side Note here: With Black Friday coming up, here are my favorite filters: Viveza – still cannot be beat as an overall filter; Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website links for all plugins) AI Sharpen – use it on every photo and can’t live without it; and a tie between Luminar 4 – just has some cool things in it – not sure yet on their new AI, but I happy with this version for now; and Topaz Studio 3 – this program has so many filters that are so useful like Impression, ReMix, Color Theme, Glow and Edges (and DeNoise Clear). If I just had these filters, I would probably be totally happy. Now I will say Topaz DeNoise AI is excellent when the need arises but I do not use it on every image, and Topaz Gigapixel I use all the time as a stand-alone mainly. And yes Color Efex Pro is always great – I just do not use it much.

The above image of the inside at the Garlic Restaurant in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, is a good example of what can be done with the Pattern Stamp Tool. It can create some pretty impressive results and is major useful for creating textures. Used Jessica Johnson‘s new techniques (video and some freebies) at this link – she has lots of newsletter freebies so sign up at her site. I recently bought her Instapressionist brushes and am having a lot of fun experimenting with them. I am finding I can blend this tool with my regular painting to get some very unique effects. I also use the brush to fill in places in my image that needs some soft detail in the backgrounds.

Pixabay image of a violin

The above violin image from Pixabay was used to apply Frequency Separation (FS) to the rather wrinkled backdrop behind the instrument – the link will show you the image as downloaded. I wanted to try this technique out on something other than portraits since I am not really a retoucher or portrait photographer. So in October Adobe Max 2020 had an on-line virtual Photoshop Creativity Conference. Their link takes you to gobs of sessions, many on PS only. (I believe I heard these videos will be available to access for a year.) Earth Oliver, a commercial retoucher, did three classes all on Frequency Separation 2.0: Part 1 – Photoshop FS2.0 Retouching, Part 2 – Taking Images to the Next Level, and Part 3 – Problem Solving Techniques. And he also supplies you with an action to use. He speaks pretty slowly, but he makes it really easy to understand FS. He also uses the Mixer Brush in some of his steps which I found really useful. FS videos were also presented by Lisa Carney at the Photoshop Virtual Summit 2 (created by Photoshop Guy Dave Cross) which brought together 20 PS experts for roughly 40 hours of videos, but these summits are always fun to watch and full of great tips in them – the videos had to be purchased at time of viewing. Lisa Carney did a Basic FS Class for Beginners and one using FS on all types of files, including smoothing out wrinkles in clothes or backgrounds. She also has a Creative Live video called Retouching Clothing and Fabric, which is really good. Using the info from two retouchers, the above image was adjusted. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was used to create the interesting color of the violin (just dragged in the image with the toggle finger). Design Cuts Blooming Corner by Maria Letta Corner1 brush was used as detail behind the violin after selecting the violin. Last step was adding a Curves Adjustment Layer selecting the preset Basic Matte Effect. I can finally say I understand FS and will now use it a lot more.

Image of a man with NYC in the background

This image uses two free images: etty fidele in Bologna Italy (Unsplash) and New York City from Deeezy (Image 12). Chris Spooner, a British PS person, recently gave away this really cool Gold Action. In the above case it was run separately on each photo and then combined with a nebula image (from Unsplash) added that was also turned to gold using a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Just sort of one of those fun things to try and every now and then and whenever something gold is needed. This really works!

Same image as above, but this time I put one of my own Corel Painter textures behind the violin and added some sand on the instrument (this was actually a snow brush from Serge Ramelli with a brown color). The colors were changed by using the old Match Color command which Ben Wilmore explained clearly in his Summit video. On Creative Live Ben has this info in his Photoshop Mastery Retouching and Collage videos – they are older but still very good. I have never used this command so I was surprised how good it turned out. As a Source image, one of the textures I had created with a beige color was selected. Then the Luminosity, Color Intensity and Fade sliders were adjusted to get the overall colors wanted. It was pretty easy and turned out nice. To get the beach feel, the PS Lighting Effects filter in the Render grouping was used with a Point light set to a yellowish color and Intensity of 19, a white Exposure of 26 and Ambience of 29 to get this soft beach feel.

Hope my US friends have a great Thanksgiving – probably a bit low key – I know mine is going to be. But have fun anyway. Hope you get in on some great sales – the plugin companies all have good deals going on. Later…..Digital Lady Syd

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Image of a Halloween Scene

Happy Halloween! Hard to believe it is here already! It is always fun to create a Halloween image. This year a lot of the the imagery came from a nifty little program that JixiPix Software gave away a few months ago. (I have gotten several free software programs from them by just being on their mailing list so sign up if you are interested.) It is called Hallows Eve and was really simple to use. JixiPix has several smaller plugin and stand-alone programs that look really nice also. Below is what the interface of Hallows Eve looked like as I was putting this image together.

A few other elements were added – the Zombie and the Moon from PixelSquid, a great program for adding elements (check it out to see the large amount of objects they have – great for compositing in images) and the objects can be accessed from a panel inside of Photoshop. Viveza 2 was used to balance out the image. The cobweb was a brush from Obsidian Dawn and the font is called Strings.

Hope everyone is having a great holiday. In the meantime enjoy playing around with all the new features in Photoshop 2021 – lots of fun trying them out. Will get back soon with info on some of my favorite plugins and PS features. Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd

REBLOG – HOW TO USE PHOTOSHOP’S BRUSH TEXTURE SECTION FOR PAINTING CLEAN-UP

Image of three painted birds on a branch

Since I have not been taking a lot of images recently, I decided to practice some painting in Photoshop. The image above is one I experimented with using what I hope looks like a bit of a Fall background scene. These birds were mainly painted using PS Mixers – mostly the blenders at different sizes and shapes. Check out some of the Converted Legacy Tool Presets – Default Tool Presets (open the top left pop out and select) to get some really nice brushes to start some painting. (Check out the Blunt – Round Blender and Fan – Flat Blender – I have used both mixer blenders to paint images – try adjusting the Size and some of the Options Bar settings for different results.) If you change some brush settings and like the results, be sure to save the preset to keep those settings. There is definitely a bit of trial-and-error and so much depends on the image. I was not too sure how these birds would turn out, but I think they are fine. It is very relaxing to paint also. Well, hope you are enjoying cruising into the wonderful Fall weather. I hope to get going on those Halloween pix soon!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image of painted purple hydrangeaI have been painting in Corel Painter more but finding I just have to use Photoshop to finish up most of my work. This can be frustrating because as we all know, Painter excels with their hundreds of brushes and usually the strokes and dabs look much better when created in Painter. Therein lies my dilemma. How do I clean up some mis-strokes when I am in PS so that you can’t tell the clean up was done.

I have been working on a brush all week and a lot of the best results came from the PS Brush Panel’s Texture section settings. If you understand this section, you can create some really nice brushes for smoothing out hard edges or blending texture into a big splotches of paint.

Some Important Brush Panel Notes:

  • The Brush Panel in Photoshop is often called the Brush Engine as it is in Painter.
  • Also when creating a new brush, be sure to actually click on each brush section name to open it up. By clicking on the check box, the existing settings from the last brush used will be applied to it. This can wreak havoc on a brush!
  • Texture and Pattern can mean the same thing, depending on what you are doing in Photoshop (and Painter). A texture is really a texture that you are adding in as a layer to an image and usually have .jpg or .png file extensions. A texture can be a pattern when using the Paint Panel’s Texture Section, the swatches as shown below are actually patterns and will have a .pat extension. To convert a texture to a pattern, open the Texture in PS, and to a Pattern, go to Edit -> Define Pattern – a Rectangular Marquee Selection can be made of just part of the texture to use as a pattern also. It will now appear at the end of your Patterns list.

Brush Panel Texture Section Basics

Below is what the Texture section looks like when the brush created was used to clean up the above hydrangea image. See My Pastel Brush Settings section below for all the original brush settings – it is a favorite of mine to just paint with, without these Texture settings. The new settings are also listed again if you would like to create the brush.
Screenshot of Brush Panel Texture SectionAs you can see in the image, the Painter strokes created a lot of differing and textured swirls within this image. When the image was opened in Photoshop for final processing, I looked at the strokes more closely. Several looked too sharp – too much bristle or sketch-looking lines – and did not blend well with the other parts of the image.

The brush created was for adding texture into painted areas to either soften edges or add some interest. This is done in PS by adding one of the same patterns already listed in the drop-down (click on down arrow to left of pattern swatch to open up).  This is the same pattern list used with the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer, Layer Style Pattern Overlay Section, Bevel & Emboss Texture Section, and Stroke Section. Here are a few of my Obsidian Dawn patterns shown in my drop-down list below.
Screenshot of pattern drop-down Menue in Texture SectionA colored pattern can work in the brush if it has lots of contrast, which is determined not by the color saturation but the light and dark tones. The black and white patterns seem to be the best choices. The texture used in this brush was called 12 and the link is in brush settings section below. The pattern had a nice contrast to it and created an interesting texture in the stroke. The pattern may not be visible in the stroke preview at all until the following section sliders are adjusted.

The Scale can be adjusted to get a bigger or smaller pattern size. If you make it too small, a repeat pattern line in larger brush strokes may be seen, so watch out for this. When the pattern is added and no change is visible, try adjusting the Brightness slider first and watch the Preview for a change. The Contrast can help but it is not usually as noticeable. The Mode can make a big difference. Try all the different modes as they sometimes give drastically different results. The Preview will show these differences. The Depth, Minimum Depth (must set a Control to use this slider), and Depth Jitter (randomness) sliders can also add some major texture contrast, especially on the edge of the stroke. Overall adding texture to a brush requires a lot of tweaking, but when you get a good result, it is so rewarding and helpful to have.

How to Paint with This Brush

Now that you have a brush you like, here are a couple little tips for using it. Since you are using a texture (pattern) in your brush, it can make your computer use a lot of ram to keep up with your stroking since most of the time the Texture Each Tip box is on. This means it is applying the texture to each stroke laid down. Try increasing the spacing just a bit – usually this will not make a very noticeable change and speeds up the stroking. Since I have an older computer, CS6 runs much smoother when painting with a textured brush. It can also help to change your image to 8-bit mode if having problems.

Next point, if you want to just smooth some of the strokes with this brush, sample the color you are painting on (ALT+click on spot). If you want to add a little texture to the stroke, just sample a similar color nearby or go a lighter or darker using the color swatch. This is how I mainly added the soft color in some of the larger areas of this image. This brush can be used without the Texture Section checked to make a much more smooth stroke for color clean up or sharp edges.

Sometimes a funny color results if you are painting on a layer that is underneath an adjustment layer. That’s because you are technically sampling All Layers even though it is not shown in the Options Bar. Either need to turn off the adjustment layers above and sample the colors before the adjustments layers were added, or create a stamped version (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top and then add the New Layer for painting on. Now the sampled colors will be as you adjusted them. The stamped layer can then be deleted but the colors will stay correct.

Why Not Use the Smudge Brush or the Mixer Brush?

The Smudge brush does some wonderful things, but there is no access to the Texture Section in the Brush Panel for Smudge brushes (only Basic Tip Shape and Shape Dynamics can be adjusted with a Smudge Brush and no color can be laid down, only get blending). The Mixer brushes work very well but I find it takes a lot of experimenting to get the exact stroke needed. Since what I needed was a quick little clean up brush, this seemed a bit like over-kill unless it is needed for some fine art.

My Pastel Brush Settings

I really like the shape of this brush – as a starter it is very textured and makes a nice subtle rough edge with the dab. The new brush used in my image and in this blog was called SJ Pastel 3-painting texture adder2 (I do not remember why I named it Pastel 3 since it used their Pastel 11???). Both the new brush and my original brush (called SJ Pastel 3 Use) used this wonderful dab (tip shape of brush – similar to a captured dab type in Painter) can be found in SDW Pastel Brushes set as Pastel 11 brush. I listed my settings. I also created brushes using their Pastel 5 brush – try this one out for a good experiment – slightly different dab shape. I am not exactly sure this qualifies as a true pastel brush since the Erodible Tips are often used for pastel effects.

Brush Tip Shape:
Size: It opens up at a huge 2130 px brush! Here are the settings for the other sections so you can create the same brush or use this one to try and create some better results. The original SJ Pastel 3 brush was set to 35 pixels in size. For this painting brush, the size is set to 8 pixels. I like to use a small size for clean up and this can be adjusted easily.
Angle – 137 degrees – change by moving the little circle with the arrow around
Roundness – 100% – change by moving the little dots on circle inward
Spacing – 35%

Shape Dynamics:
Size Jitter – 17% but Control on Fade
Minimum Diameter 23%
Angle Jitter – 42% and Control Off
All other settings at 0.

Texture:  For SJ Pastel 3 Use (original brush)
Pattern in drop-down:  Rough, located in PS Erodible Textures
Scale – 87%
Brightness – (-45)
Contrast – 0
Check Texture Each Tip
Mode – Multiply
Depth – 50%
Depth Jitter – 1%

Texture:  For SJ Pastel 3-painting texture adder2 (new painting brush)

Used was Pattern 21 from Obsidian Dawn’s SS-grungy-dirty-patterns set. Check out her website – one of my favorites for brushes and everything Photoshop and some good tutorials are also available.
Scale – 87%
Brightness – 101
Contrast – 60
Check Texture Each Tip
Mode – Height
Depth – 36%
Depth Jitter – 55%

Smoothing:  Always leave toggled on

Options Bar Settings

For beginning setting, the brush Options Bar shows a Mode of Normal, Opacity 67% and Flow 100% for both brushes. Need to be careful. If your brush does not act correctly, take a peek up at these settings to make sure they are set correctly.

I usually save these brushes as both Brush Tool Presets and Brush Presets. Also go into the Preset Manager and save them on your hard drive so if you lose them accidentally, they can be restored easily.

Pink Wildflowers image These pretty little wildflowers were growing on my deck a while back. They were painted in PS using the original My Pastel Brush, and then clean up using the new SJ Pastel 3 brush from above. The background was painted in Painter and added over the image. There was a lot of clean up in this image, but overall it came out pretty much how I wanted it to look.

I hope you get a chance to try out the brush and experiment making your own. It can really help to clean up those over-looked Painter mistakes without having to go back and forth into the different programs. Also it works great when painting in PS as in the wildflower image, with and without the Texture Section turned on, to clean up the layers below.

COMMENTS ON HOW GREAT LUMINAR 4’S AI SKY REPLACEMENT IS

Image of Tree in Maui, Hawaii
Just popping in (apparently I can’t stay away from blogging very long) to show you an image I did using Luminar 4’s AI Sky Replacement (for website go to my Tidbits Blog sidebar). There has been so much controversy at the moment over what is too much Artificial Intelligence (AI) to apply to an image and what is acceptable. I do believe a lot of AI is being developed for apps to place on phones or tablets, but serious Photographers and Photoshop Users really don’t need or want a lot of it. It takes away some of the creative decisions we like to make. That being said, there are a few major exceptions to this rule of not using AI. I am totally in love with Topaz (for website go to my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Sharpen AI and Topaz Denoise AI (and don’t for get Topaz Gigapixel) – use them a lot, and I am totally crazy about Luminar 4’s AI Sky Replacement Tool (what I see as a filter). The image above is a great example – no matter what you do in PS, it cannot be done this quickly and easily as it is in Luminar. If you do sky replacements often, you have got to try out this software and all the sliders that are available to get a great result.

Below are a couple of Screenshots of the settings used on this image – and with Luminar as a Smart Object plugin in Photoshop, if you do not like the settings, they can be readjusted easily, including adjusting the individual tool layer masks. For information on what each of the Sky Replacement Tool sliders do, check out this Luminar 4’s Manual page on AI Sky Replacement Tool – they are all defined there. Click on each image below to see the Flicker image showing the settings used on this image. There are 29 skies provided by Luminar or you can provide your own sky JPGs. This one is from Karen Hutton’s Heavenly Clouds set called Delicate Staircase (Kelby One supplied these as a bonus a while back). Very easy to substitute in any sky!
Screenshot of Sky Replacement Settings in Luminar 4
I found that by tweaking the Landscape Enhancer Tool, the sky could be made to look even better!
Screenshot of Luminar 4's Landscape Enhancer settings

What I like best, is that there is no deterioration in the image after applying it – it looks totally natural!
Screenshot of Close Up of tree leaves
Below is the original image so you can see what a difference the sky made, and literally in just minutes.
Image of the original tree in Hawaii
Anyway, thought I would share what I think of this great AI Tool from Luminar. I know they are coming out with a whole new program of AI effects before long, so I cannot comment on what else they are doing. I just know that Luminar 4 has a real winner with the AI Sky Replacement Tool. I have not used the AI Augmented Sky Tool so I do not know how good it is. Will try to evaluate it soon. Hope this was some help for those of you who do want a decent sky replacement program – not sure this can be beat. Will blog again soon…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Checking Out Skylum’s Luminar 4
Tree on Fire

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