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HOW TO MAKE A BASIC COMPOSITE IMAGE

Image of a little girl thinking of her favorite things!The above is a pretty good example of a composite. Just one new image of this beautiful little girl this week as compositing takes a while to do correctly. She was looking through a chain-length fence at some flowers outside the Jacksonville Zoo in very bright sunlight, so I had to put her in a more suitable place. Last year I did a blog called How to Use the PixelSquid Add-On in Photoshop that was an example of creating a composite image using their 3D components. This image used various elements from Scrapbook sites that provide so much wonderful content.

I think the hardest thing about doing a composite is to make it look like all the elements fit together even though they come from different sources. Since the sun was very strong on the little girl, I decided to use her lighting throughout the image. First the little girl was removed from the original image using Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReMask. It was not a perfect layer mask as her hair was a little rough, but for this image the color contamination blended in just fine. The next thing was to find a nice background to place her in. This is one I call Bright Fall Leaves that was created in Corel Painter a while back. With backgrounds it just takes a lot of experimentation to find the one that creates an effect you like. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was actually applied to the background to make it more saturated (+39) and childlike. I liked the way it looked as if there was a little trail she could follow out of the image.

After this, some really cute elements were added in. Note that when using scrapbooking websites, usually the individual person who creates a set of elements requires some form of link back to their sites. Check out these scrapbooking sites as they have some wonderful free sets to practice using and many inexpensive sets for creating some fabulous designs. The E-scape and Scrap Pinkish Frog is from FS Pinkish Scrapbook; the Mr. Whiskers Bird, Deer, and Plant on left are all from a really cute set called Hollewood HappyUnbday by Lorie Davison of scrapbookgraphics.com; the Bug in her hand is also by Lorie called sendingalittlehappinessyourway-littledragonfly1: and the Flowers on the right are from Algera Designs. All these elements needed either a Topaz Lens Effects right side reflector filter preset or a Color Balance Adjustment Layer. It is important to get all the elements blending together and I find both these choices work best for me.

I still was not happy with how everything was blending together, especially the girl’s skin, so I decided to try a technique that seems to be rather popular on images. Many creatives are taking their images into Topaz Impression and applying a preset. Then back in Photoshop they are either lowering the blend mode so it barely applies to the image, adding a layer mask and just using the preset for softening the backgrounds, or changing the blend mode of the filter plug-in to get some different effects. For this image, a stamped layer was created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Impression’s Ethereal Glaze by Blake Rudis was applied. Now the girl’s skin just blended into the image beautifully and the tone was really nice. But it took a lot of the interesting detail out of my background texture. Therefore a layer mask was added and a soft round brush set to 30% layer opacity was added. Just built up areas where I wanted my rough effect showing through by painting in black. The major elements were slightly painted back to make them stand out a little more in the image. The last step was to use Nik Viveza 2 to balance out the brightness in the image to get that balanced sunny feel throughout.

So what I discovered is that for some basic compositing, use a reflector filter effect to even out the lighting in all elements. Topaz Lens Effects or Nik Color Efex Pro both have filters that will do this nicely. I have not tried out PS Lighting Effects, but that might work just fine. Also Color Balance Adjustment Layers work nicely to even out color tones since they can be adjusted in Highlights, Shadows and Midtones. Several were used to blend in the elements. Then try out a paint plug-in like Topaz Impression or Snap Art 4 to blend elements together into something that looks quite natural. And do not forget those shadows – either lighten them up or add them in when needed.

Image of an some Victorian young ladiesThis image is from my Tidbits Blog called A Victorian Visit. Similar steps were used to create this effect. It is so much fun to create images this way. Compositing is a nice technique to learn if you are into the design world. Experimentation can give some of the best results so that is what I recommend to get some really creative results. Check out the blogs below for a couple other examples. Hope you get a chance to try some of these tips!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Related Blogs:
How to Create an Image From Nothing!
Springtime Wishes from Betsy

HOW TO CONVERT LIGHTROOM PRESETS TO CAMERA RAW PRESETS

This week I am reposting one of my Tidbits Blogs from 2012 that is just as relevant now as then. I am constantly wanting to change my Lightroom presets to Camera Raw presets – I have so many new ones, but the basic method still works pretty good. There is only one limitation to this process – there is currently no way to save the Lightroom pin settings for the Radial Filter Tool, Graduated Filter Tool, and Adjustment Brush, which so many of the very new presets contain. The pins will have to be added in manually when using those settings in Camera Raw. But at least the basic effect can be applied.

So why would you want to do this? Since the Camera Raw Filter can now be opened within Photoshop, it is nice to have access to some of your favorite presets. Now the preset effect can be applied to any layer, not just the Background layer, and it is easy to add a Layer Mask to localize the preset effect. And the layer’s blend mode and/or opacity can also be changed to give a different look.

So here is my earlier blog as follows:

I occasionally come across a need to take a Lightroom preset and use it as a preset in Adobe Camera Raw. This is not as complicated as it seems. Below are the steps required to accomplish this task.

1. Apply the preset in Lightroom and make sure you know which panels and sliders were used to create the preset. (If preset not already created, to save preset in Lightroom, on left side of Presets line, click (+) for “Create New Preset.” Name preset.)

2. Right click on image in Lightroom and select Edit in -> Open as Smart Object in Photoshop. The image is opened in Photoshop with the Smart Object icon on bottom right of thumbnail in Layers Panel.

3. Double click on thumbnail and it opens up into Adobe Camera Raw. Go to Presets panel (9th icon on right-hand side under the histogram) and click the folder icon at the bottom of the panel to open the New Preset dialog. Name and click the items you want included in the preset, then click OK. Your new preset now shows up in the Presets panel.

You can now use your Lightroom preset anytime you want in Adobe Camera Raw also. I usually start my personal preset names off with an SJ so I know they are mine. It is easy to get presets from many different sources as time goes on so it helps to know which are yours.

The image above is of a miniature mum in my yard. For information on how to create this preset and how the image was finished, see bottom of blog for details on Image 1.

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Image of a Suit of ArmourNow back to today’s blog which shows an example of combining the presets on different layers using the Camera Raw Filter. This Suit of Armour was in front of the Royal Mile Armouries Store near Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. With this image the Background layer was duplicated (CTRL+J), set to a Smart Object (right click on layer and select Convert to Smart Object), and the Camera Raw filter was opened. Trey’s (Radcliffs) Free Packs A Beautiful Release (from Jan 2015) preset was applied – I had previously followed the procedure above to add the Lightroom preset to my list of Camera Raw presets in the Presets tab. It does not include the Graduated Filter Tool or Radial Filter effects that are part of the the Lightroom preset. (This is because the New Preset dialog does not have an options to save these settings.) Next a stamped layer was created above (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Impression’s Urban Street Art II preset was applied as is. Since I did not like the brick effect running across the armour, another identical stamped layer was created, placed on top, and Impression was opened again. Urban Street Art II was applied again but this time the Texture slider was set to 0 so no texture was showing. Back in PS, a black layer mask (CTRL+I in white layer mask) was added. With a white brush, just the armour was painted back showing the texture now removed in that area. Next the Background layer was duplicated again, moved to the top of the layers stack, and converted to a smart object. The Camera Raw Filter was opened and another preset was applied – one with a lot of HDR for emphasizing the edges of the armour (see Image 2 at end of blog for preset settings). A black layer mask was added and this time just some of the sharp lines in the armour were painted back softly to emphasize the armour effect just a little – used a brush set to 20% brush opacity and 30% Flow. To make the image just a little darker, here is a little trick – instead of duplicating the layer and setting it to Multiply, just add any adjustment layer making no changes and set it to Multiply – keeps the file slimmer and does exactly the same thing. Here a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer was set to Multiply blend mode and the layer opacity was set to 49%. Last step was to add Nik Viveza 2 to even out the tones in the helmet of the armour. Since these steps are a little confusing, here is what my Layers Panel looked like showing two Camera Filters using two different presets.
Screenshot of Layers Panel for Suit of Armour ImageIt really is easy to convert the Lightroom preset into Camera Raw presets – I hope Adobe is considering adding the Radial Filter Tool, Graduated Filter Tool, and Adjustment Brush pin settings in the New Preset dialog. It would really help to get the exact look from the newer Lightroom presets that are now available. At least the results can be mimicked if you have the Lightroom preset, just takes longer to copy the effect exactly. It still is great to be able to combine the preset effects and there are many possibilities for additional creativity here. Hope you give this a try! …..Digital Lady Syd

To create Image 1 preset, changes were made to: the Tone Curve set to Highlights -24, Lights +41, Darks -56, and Shadows -54; HSL – Luminance sliders set to Red -41, Orange -9, Purple -2, Magenta -50 and all others 0, and Saturation sliders set to Red -2, Purple +32, Magenta +59 and all others set to 0; Effects Post-Crop Vignetting Style set to Highlight Priority with Amount -61, Midpoint 33 Feather 0 and others set to 0. To finish, image was sharpened and border was from OnOne (Photo) Effects (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) – in Photoshop petals were painted over frame edge using a layer mask on first acid burn frame.

Image 2 SJ HDR Split Tone Preset settings: Basic Panel – Highlights -100, Shadows +100, and Clarity +73; and Split Toning Panel – Highlights Hue 52 and Saturation 64, Balance +49, and Shadows Hue +215 and Saturation 50.

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Get a Localized Blur in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw
How to Create a Blown Out Effect Preset in Lightroom or Camera Raw
How to Use the DeHaze Slider in Lightroom and Camera Raw

CREATING WINTER WONDERLAND EFFECT!

Image of a wintry landscape with deerThis week turned out to be a little strange as my prepared blog needs some permission clarification before posting. Therefore, I decided to pay tribute to my kids and friends up north who were blanketed with over 20 inches of snow. I found this beautiful free stock image on pixabay (original image linked) and added my own touch to it. The deer that is photo bombing the image was supposed to go in the background, but he just so looked so natural in that spot, so that’s where he remains.

Here is a quick run down of how I achieved this sort of old-fashioned look. In Lightroom Trey’s Free Packs A Beautiful Release (from Jan 2015) preset was applied to the original downloaded image – an Adjustment Brush was used to paint the blue color out of the trees from the gradient in the preset.  In Photoshop Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Clarity was opened where a Basic Tone Preset by Blake Rudis (here are the settings: Micro Contrast 0.13, Low Contrast 0.28, Medium Contrast 0.16, and High Contrast 0.26) was selected. A black layer mask was added once out of the plug-in and just the center area of the image where the creek turns was painted back for more detail. A New Layer set to Overlay blend mode and a soft round black brush set to 12% opacity was used to burn in a little contrast in the tops of the short trees in the middle. (See my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog.) A Curves Adjustment Layer was put on top. A stamped layer was created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and the Nik Viveza 2 plug-in was opened to adjust the color tone in the center and soften the outer trees. On another stamped layer Nik Color Efex Pro 4 filters were stacked: Midnight Neutral at 67% opacity, Reflector Efex Silver to add light from the left, and Vignette Blur using Shape 2 and Type 1. This is when I got the great idea to add a deer – this little beauty is an image from Tara Lesher that she graciously let people use.  The deer was removed from it’s background using Topaz ReMask 5 and placed in this image. Two Exposure Adjustments Layers were used to sharpen the eyes and the nose. (See my How To Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop blog.) Two free snow overlays were added: one by Shadowhouse Creations called Snow Overlay 11 set to Screen blend mode at 74% layer opacity, and one by me called SJ-Snow2-Overlay-slightly blurred, which is a png file, set to 20% layer opacity. Last step was to add Kim Klassen’s Downtown Collection Edith texture (unfortunately I do not believe her textures are available anymore, but 2 Lil’ Owls (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website) has some very similar vintage effect textures) on top set to Overlay at 50% layer opacity. And that is my winter wonderland image.

Image of wintry landscape with a barnHere is another wonderful wintry landscape from pixabay. Just screamed HDR effect to me, although it really is more of an illustrative look. This image used another Trey Radcliff’s free Lightroom preset in the package linked above called Xmas Pants Asunder. That is about all that was done to the image in Lightroom. The background was duplicated (CTRL+J) and Photoshop’s Oil Paint Filter was applied. I usually do not use this filter as it looks so canned, but it does one thing really good – it makes snow look fabulous! Also always set as a Smart Object (Smart Filter) so you can go back in and adjust the settings if the effect gets “over-the-top.” (Here are the settings: Stylization 0.8, Cleanliness 8.3, Scale 0.99, Bristle Detail 9.5, Angular Direction -151, and Shine 1.5 – remember to adjust them if the resolution of you image is very high or low.) The trick is not to use too much Shine, but if you do need it stronger, just paint out the areas that have too much striping effect going on in the filter mask. In this image, some of the snow had a little strip-look going on and it was painted out with a black brush in the mask. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened up as a Smart Object and three filters were stacked: Tonal Contrast using Balanced Contrast Type, Darken/Lighten Center using Shape 2 and centering effect on the barn, and Vignette Filter using Shape 2 – sampled a whitish color from the image and set the Opacity slider to 81%. Nik Viveza 2 was used to draw focus to the main little building in the front. My SJ Snow1 Overlay from same link as above was added on top and set to 20% layer opacity.

These were just some very easy winter looks that can be added to give your winter shots a very unique feel. Do try out the Oil Paint Filter on snow – the settings I used worked pretty well on a couple of different images I did. Also check out pixabay if you need a new image to work with – they have a great assortment of free stock images. Stay warm until next time!…..Digital Lady Syd

HOW TO CREATE AN ORTON EFFECT

Image of the Memorial Gardens, Ormond Beach, FloridaFor a long time I have heard about the Orton Effect, but did not really know what it was. This week I thought I would do a short blog on what it is and how to apply it in Photoshop. Michael Orton created the effect in 1980, and it involved using two photos of the same place, one in focus and one out-of-focus. The result is a dreamy surreal look. It is mainly used on landscapes, but there was a time that it was popular to use with portrait shots.

Two different images can be stacked as layers in Photoshop after processing in Camera Raw or Lightroom, or just one image and adding a duplicated layer can be used, which is what was done with all these images. On method uses the Image -> Apply Image command to accomplish this effect. The image of Memorial Gardens in Ormond Beach, Florida, used this effect on two different duplicated layers to get the dream-like quality in the image. Once the Apply Image is done, the result is supposed to be set to Screen blend mode. I decided it looked better with one layer was set to Multiply blend mode at 44% layer opacity and the other Screen blend mode at 31% layer opacity, so experiment with the blend modes. A layer mask was used on the top layer to remove the effect in the middle of the image where the focal point is. Jimmy McIntyre, one of my favorite landscape photographers, made at his Shutter Evolve website a very short video called Quick Photoshop Secrets 7: How To Create A Dreamy Orton Effect which shows the steps to apply it manually. In one of his blogs (How to Create the Orton Effect), the Orton Effect action can be downloaded. It also contains these two great tips:  Try to be selective in how you apply the Orton Effect as it tends to soften important textures and fine details; and watch the color effect as the result will become strongly saturated, especially the greens. By adding a layer mask and using a black brush set to different opacities, paint away where the effect is too strong. Jimmy also has a free Easy Panel for CS5 and above that contains an Orton Effect button and does the same thing as the action.  He has a great weekly newsletter. For this image a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added and the Reds, Yellows, and Neutrals were adjusted just a little. A Blue Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was placed on top and set to Luminosity blend mode at 25% layer opacity to tone down the yellows a little more. I really wanted a softer look in this image.

Image taken at the Viera WetlandsHere is another example of the Orton Effect using OnOne’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Effect 10 (was called Perfect Effects) plug-in used on an image taken at the Viera Wetlands. The Glow Filter called Orton Hears a Who preset with changes to the Warmth slider (92), Saturation (-4), Amount (88), and Halo (33). Also the Tone Enhancer Filter Midtones Lighter preset was applied on another layer (Tone 19, Contrast 48, Blacks -22, and Highlights -20, and then the Big Softy Vignette. (There is also an Orton Clean preset that was not tried.) On a New Layer above, my free SJ-Clouds 14 was added at 45% layer opacity into the sky. Obsidian Dawn’s Grouping 5 birds were also added to the scene (then highlight bird layer, go to Select -> Color Selection and select Shadows -> OK, add layer mask to add selection,  then right click to apply layer mask). Now a Gradient Fill layer was clipped (ALT+Click between the layers) to add some softer tone to the birds. I believe OnOne did a good job of creating a nice Orton Effect and it was much easier to do.

Image of a Palamedes Swallow Tail ButterflyThis time this beautiful Palamedes Swallow Tail Butterfly from my front yard was brought into Photoshop Elements 10, which actually has an Orton Effect filter effect. So this is how it was done since it is not obvious where it is in Elements: Go to Edit -> Guided -> Create Orton Effect. There are three sliders – my setting were: Increase Blur to under the “n,” Increase Noise set to under the “c,” and Apply Brightness under the “i”. Apply Orton Effect and then Done. Go back to Edit -> Full. A Layer Mask was added to the blurred layer and the butterfly and near flowers were gently painted out with a black round soft brush set to 15% brush opacity. The layer was then set to 85% layer opacity. Next a Levels Adjustment Layer was added to increase the contrast a little bit. A light pink Solid Color Fill layer was added on top and set to Color Blend Mode at 20% layer opacity to offset the overwhelming green color. That was it. A real dreamy effect that is pretty nice on something other than a landscape.

This is definitely a rather nice effect, although I am not sure I would want it on every image. It is actually hard to really understand what it does until you run the action or follow the “Apply Image” steps. I am more into the sharper look, but it still is nice for a change and fun to try. Hope you enjoyed this and try it on some of your images. Until next time, keep smiling!…..Digital Lady Syd

GETTING THAT PAINTERLY EFFECT WITH PLUG-INS

Image of Hawaiian PlumeriaSo even if you do not have Corel Painter or artistic talent, you can get some pretty amazing results with some Photoshop plug-ins and layer masks. These beautiful plumeria were taken in Hawaii and are a good example of what can be done with just a little set up. I am giving you some of my preset settings that you can try to see if you can get good some results.

This image used Topaz (see website at my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Impression to do the basic paint effect in this image. This worked because I created a wild preset in Impression I call SJ WC like effect on bkgds with the Brush Stroke changed to 1.00, to get this abstract background look. (Settings: Stroke: Brush Type 04, Brush Size 0.91, Paint Volume 0.42, Paint Opacity 0.87, Stroke Rotation 0, Stroke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width 0.33, Stroke Length 0.89, Spill 0.23, Smudge 0.26, and Coverage 1.00; Color: Overall Hue 0.15, St -0.20, and Lightness 0.06; Red Sat 0.47 and Lightness 0.14; Orange Sat 0.60 and Lightness -0.42; Yellow Sat -0.33 and Lightness 0.13; Green Sat 0.20 and Lightness -0.32; and Blue Sat 0.36; Lighting: Brightness -0.04, Contrast 0.39, and Light Direction x0.33 and y0.06; and Texture: Strength 0.78, Size 0.30, Canvas IV, Background Type Solid, and Background #d38967 (soft melon color). ) I was really surprised what these rather strange settings did to the background and making it look as though it was actually painted by hand. By duplicating the layer underneath and moving it on top of the Impression layer, then adding a black layer mask to it, the actual objects or flowers in this case can be painted back. See the original image as brought in from Lightroom at end of Image 2 section below. Since Topaz ReStyle had been applied to the layer underneath, there was already a bit of a grainy artsy effect applied to the overall image before Impression was applied to it. By duplicating the ReStyle layer, the graininess is still visible in the flowers when painted back and they blend in nicely with background. I tried adding another dose of the same Impression preset to the layer and got a very different background look so give this a try also. See Image 1 below for full instructions on the image workflow.

Instead of using a plain round brush, I used my SJ Pastel 3-painting texture adder brush set to a 30% or less brush opacity on the layer mask to add some softer edges when painting back the flowers. This is important to get a the painterly look. This same brush was used on several New Layers to clean up more edges, add some defining lines in the flowers, and blend in some additional color. (See my How To Use Photoshop’s Brush Texture Section for Painting Clean-Up blog for settings to create this brush.) Just sample colors, both the darker colors and lighter colors next to it, to soften edges. Any brush you like will do, but try to find something with some rough edges for this technique. I know I have mentioned it before, but GrutBrushes.com has different media type brushes for Photoshop, and on each Monday a free brush can be downloaded-click on Resources tab. This is a great way to try out different kinds of brushes and see which ones work best for painting on New Layers and which work well with layer masks, or both.

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Painted image of Flagler BeachThis image is of beautiful Flagler Beach, Florida, where another example of the same type of painted background effect was created. The original image was very blown out as I thought this was what I wanted the image to feel like at that point in post-processing. This time my SJ Painterly Impressionistic preset was used for the background, which produces a much smoother background effect. (Settings: Stroke: Brush Type 09, Brush Size 0.75, Paint Volume 0, Paint Opacity 0.50, Stroke Rotation, Stroke Color Variation, Stroke Width, and Stroke Length all set to 0; Spill 0.63, Smudge 0.10, and Coverage 1.00; no Color changes; Lighting – no changes; and Texture Strength 0.25, Size 0, Canvas II, Background Type white solid, and Background White.) A stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) without including the Topaz Impression layer, and moved on top. Impression was opened again and my SJ Painterly Imp Mod was applied (Settings: SJ Painterly Imp mod – Stroke: Type 09, Point Volume 0, Paint Opacity 0.75, Stroke Rotation 0, Stoke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width -0.25, Stroke Length -0.17, Spill 0.63, Smudge 0.09, and Coverage 1.00; Color Overall Saturation -0.23, Orange Sat -0.27, Yellow Sat 0.28, and Aqua Sat 0.51; Lighting Brightness 0.08 and Contrast 0.14; and Texture Strength 0.25, Size 0, Canvas II, Background Type white solid, and Background White.) Any plug-in or Photoshop filter could be applied at this stage to get different effects on the main objects. A black layer mask was added and just the wanted objects were painted back. The color scheme did not suit me so Topaz ReStyle was used on a stamped layer to change up the colors. Pretty easy to get this painterly effect. See Image 2 for more post-processing details.

Original images after Lightroom processing

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Image of the Flamingo Boats at Sea World OrlandoThis time the image was taken at Sea World Orlando of the Flamingo Peddle Boats using Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4, which has a rather different approach to adding painterly effects to a layer. This program lets you set control points and make parts of the image very “photorealistic” if you want. In this case no control points were used but just the Impasto Detail preset. I really like the texture this plug-in adds to an image. This time the original background layer was duplicated and a black layer mask added. Only the fountains’ water was painted back from the original image. Topaz ReStyle was added above using a stamped layer on top with the Saturation Station preset, which created the pinkish tones. See Image 3 below for more details.

I hope you will try out either one or both plug-ins, Topaz Impression and Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4, to see what results you can get. The whole basic concept is to change up a duplicate layer and apply something a little outrageous but making a nice background look. Then duplicate the original background layer, place it on top –  then apply a different filter to it, use the same filter with different settings, or just use the original layer. Add a black layer mask (CTRL+I in the mask to change white to black) and with a white low opacity brush paint back what you want to show through. Use different types of brushes to paint back these effects in the masks. These two painterly plug-ins are not the only ones that will give nice effects – try Topaz Adjust or Topaz Simplify, or maybe Nik Analog Pro 2 for example. And don’t forget to try Topaz ReStyle if you want to change up the color scheme. This all can give a really nice painterly effect without having to paint every stroke in the image.

Enjoy your painting!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image 1:  First do the basic tone and color changes in Lightroom or Camera Raw. In Photoshop, I used Topaz Detail to sharpen up the image as I wanted the details to still show up nicely in the flowers and the colors were also adjusted in this plug-in. Topaz ReStyle was applied on a stamped layers (CTRL+ALT+SHIFTS+E) above. This time I used a preset that had lots of blue tones as I wanted the colors to be more bluish as opposed to the yellow and green colors in the original and it softened the background colors. A Basic Mask in the plug-in was used to paint back just the flowers to keep the details. Next Topaz Impression was opened on a duplicate layer and my SJ WC like Effect on bkgds presets was used to get this crazy painterly background. Settings are shown above. The ReStyle layer was duplicated and placed on top with a black layer mask (Add layer mask and  (CTRL+I) in the mask to turn black).  Clean up on several layers and Nik Viveza was used to slightly darken the background edges and lighten the flowers a little. The last step was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer to increase contrast.

Image 2: First Topaz Clarity was applied to the image – used one of my presets to get the image the sharpness I wanted (SJ Big Clouds preset with changes: Dynamics Micro Contrast 0.98, Low Contrast -0.14, Medium Contrast 0.22, and High Cntrast -0.37; Tone Level -0.23, Midtones 0.19, and White Level -0.19; Hue Green -0.30; Sat Red 0.03, Orange -0.78, Yellow 0.28, Green 0.19, Blue -0.25, and Overall 0.03; and Lum Red 0.39, Orange 0.11, Yellow -0.47, Green 0.23, Aqua 0.55, Blue -0.09, Purple 0.14, Magenta -0.20, and Overall -0.20. ) I like to use Clarity on landscape images. Topaz DeNoise 5 was used set to Overall 0.13 and Highlights 0.72. Since I am never sure how my final image will look, I usually try to get my image as sharp as I can. On a stamped layer above, Topaz Impression preset (SJ Painterly Impressionistic) was added as discussed above. Then another stamped layer and the second Topaz Impression preset (SJ Painterly Imp Mod) was applied with the black layer mask. Just painted back what I wanted with my SJ Past 3-painting texture adder brush. Curves, Selective Color and Color Balance Adjustment Layers were added. Then on a stamped layer Topaz ReStyle was opened and a preset taken from an image processed previously was used or I would give you the settings. Nik Viveza 2 was used to add a little structure to the focal point. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added to tone down the dark areas.

Image 3: There was not as much to do with this image as Snap Art added a lot of the effect I actually wanted in the image. Next ReStyle was added using the Saturation Station preset. Two separate layers were added where Kyle’s Spatter Brushes – Spatter Bot B (75% layer opacity) and Aaron Nace’s Glitter Brush (12% layer opacity – info for making this brush can be found at end of my Some Christmas Cheer and Resources blog) for a little more miscellaneous water being thrown around. Nik Viveza 2 was used to give a little bit of a darkened vignette feel around the edges of the image. The last step was a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer with Master set to Saturation -76 to try and soften the big dark blue splotches in the trees. The layer mask was filled with black and just the splotches were painted back with a white brush where the blue was.

HAPPY NEW YEAR WITH SOME TOPAZ TRICKS!

Image of Edinburgh Castle in ScotlandLooks like I am back up and running with my new computer and Windows 10. Hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday and a very Happy New Year. Since I have not had a lot of time to come up with new tips, I am presenting a couple images that I used to see how my programs were working on the new set up.

The image above is one taken at Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle a while ago. What I really liked is how the colors “popped” with Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Glow. I keep forgetting how nice an effect this filter will give. Need to take a few minutes and try making a few of your own presets. Most of my presets look terrible at Normal blend mode, so do not let that stop you – the blend mode must almost always be changed. I tend to start with Soft Light, which is what this image used. (My SJ Mysterious II desat was applied – here are the settings: Primary Glow:  Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 0.30, Effect Sharpness 0.63, Electrify 0.14, Simplify Details 0.17, Edge Color 0.28, Detail Strength -0.06, Detail Size 0.20, Brightness -0.56, Contrast 0.44, Saturation 0.00, Line Rotation 0.00, and Glow Spread 0.00; Secondary Glow:  Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0.00, Effect Sharpness 0.22, Electrify 0.03, Simplify Details 0.00, Brightness 0.45, and Contrast 0.64; Color: Overall Saturation -0.54, Red Saturation 0.18, Orange Hue 0.68, Saturation -0.47, and Lightness 0.41, and Yellow Saturation 0.79; Finished Touches – all set to 0.00.) Instead of changing the blend mode in the Glow filter, the preset is applied when it looks crazy and it is adjusted back in Photoshop. It will create exactly the same effect no matter where the blend mode is added, so use PS as there are a lot more blend mode choices (Glow only has Normal and 5 other blend modes). This image used Soft Light at 79% layer opacity. The sky looked really bad with the Glow effect on it, so the layer was duplicated and taken into Topaz ReMask 5 where just the sky was removed very quickly. For me ReMask is still the best place to get a good selection. The filter created a layer mask that allowed the original sky to be used. The last step used Nik Viveza 2 to drive the focus of the image toward the Scott Monument in the center background. I would suggest trying out Glow on architectural type images – it gives a very nice effect to the lines of buildings.

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View from Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

This image was a happy accident as I was reinstalling the various Topaz Filters. I was using just one of my favorite basic images to make sure they were running correctly, and the above was the result of combining Topaz Adjust and Topaz Black and White Effects! There was very little work done on this image. (To see original image, check out View from Edinburgh Castle on Flickr.) Just duplicated the background layer (CTRL+J) and opened Topaz Adjust. A preset created from a Topaz video on “Rick Sammon’s Top Topaz Tricks, Tips, and Techniques” that used the Spicify preset to create a soft artsy effect was applied. (Settings used: Adaptive Exposure section: Adaptive Exposure 0.50, Regions 25, Contrast -0.56, Brightness -0.13, Protect Highlights 0.03, and Protect Shadows 0.03; Details section: Strength 0.87, Detail Boost 1.15, Threshold 0.12, Radius 25.00, and Sharpen 1.01; Color section: Adaptive Saturation 0.33, Color Regions 10, Saturation 1.00, Saturation Boost 1.00, and Hue 0.00; and Noise section: Suppression 3.24, Amount 0.51, and check Use Topaz DeNoise.) In PS the layer remained set to Normal at 100% layer opacity. This layer was duplicated and Topaz Black & White Effects was opened and my SJ Poolside preset was applied. Now this looked not too good, but when flipped to a Multiply blend mode at 77% layer opacity, these beautiful warm colors popped out! (Here are the settings for SJ Poolside preset: Conversion:  Basic Exposure – Contrast -0.01, Brightness 0.04, Boost Blacks 0.24, and Boost Whties -0.03; Adaptive Exposure – Adaptive Exposure 0.28, Regions 26, Detail 1.10, Detail Boost 0.98, and check Process Details Independently; and Color Sensitivity Yellow 0.19 and Blue -0.06; Color Filter – Hue 32.90 and Strength 0.60; Creative Effects: Diffusion Softness 0.39, Diffusion 0.57, and Diffusion Transition 0.55; and Finishing Touches: Quad Tone Color 1 Region 15.08 and color R1/G1/B12; Color 2 Region 143.9 and color R63/G78/B85; Color 3 Region 227.5 color R216/G211/B129; and Color 4 Region 255.0 and color R255/G254/B237; Vignette -0.42, Vignette Size 0.88, Vignette Transition 0.80, and Vignette Curvature 0.83; and Transparency Overall 0.65.) A layer mask was added and with a brush set to 30% layer opacity, a little bit of the sides of the buildings were painted over to brighten up just a bit as in the layer below – this is a way to guide the eye through the image.

Well, hopefully you got a few Topaz tricks since I have not had much time to see what new is out there. If you have a few different Topaz filters, try applying them and then using different blend modes on the layers and adding layer masks to drive the eye through the image. I am going to try and find some different filter combinations to get that unique feel to an image. Also listening to those Topaz Labs videos on their website can give you some great ideas for presets. Hopefully I am able to get some final tweaks on my computer and be back and running as before!  And once again – Happy New Year Everyone!…..Digital Lady Syd

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Holiday Image with a Laughing KookaburraThis week I am just doing a short blog and taking a few weeks off – been blogging for 5 years without missing a week, and am updating to a better computer. As great as it is to get a new computer, it is hard not to anticipate some issues! This beautiful bird is a Laughing Kookaburra whose image was taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. Basically this image used my regular workflow for painted birds. Used Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) ReMask 5 to separate him out from his background and then applying the resulting layer mask. In Photoshop my own Corel Painter texture was placed below. In this case the texture was duplicated and set to Vivid Light blend mode. (The halftone effect was painted on a separate layer in PS when creating the texture.) In the Layer Style dialog (double click on the layer), the Blend If This Layer’s Black tab was split (ALT+drag apart) and set to 0/94, and the Underlying Layer White Tab was split and set to 84/129. The bird was painted above blending the edges of the texture into his feathers. An Exposure Adjustment Layer was used to enhance the eye before painting it. The nice Christmas greeting is a freebie from a scrapbook site using G&T Designs Card Topper 02. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E), Nik’s Color Effects Pro 4 plug-in was opened and 4 filters were added – Cross Processing, Levels & Curves, Graduated Neutral Density, and Classical Soft Focus. My free SJ Snow 2 Overlay was placed on top and set to 45% layer opacity. Nik Viveza 2 was used to adjust the focal point. And obviously some clean up was done.

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! …..Digital Lady Syd

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