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HOW TO CREATE A QUICK LAYER STYLE BORDER OR FRAME

Image of a quiet cove at Spanish Cay in the BahamasThis week I am just going to share a few simple border techniques I have used for years. Many people do not realize how easy it is to create these to finish off an image. Both Topaz and On1 (for websites, see sidebars at my Tidbits Blog) have some great frame filters for doing this, but sometimes you just want to finish off an image with a quick border. Photoshop’s layer styles dialog box is a great place to do this. Both plain color, pattern, and some with a bevel effect can easily be created. The image above was taken at Spanish Cay in the Bahamas. For post processing info, see Image 1 at end of blog.

Basically the process involves opening up some of the Effects in the Layer Style dialog box and just changing the settings to get something you like. I find that the Inner Glow and Inner Shadow work best for my borders, but often the Stroke effect is used also. (Settings for above are: Inner Shadow: Blend Mode Normal, Tan color swatch, Opacity 100, Angle 135 and no Use Global Light, Distance 0, Choke 67, Size 54, regular Contour map, no Anti-aliased, Noise 0; and Inner Glow: Normal, Opacity 100%, Noise 0, Swatch purple, Technique Softer, Source Edge, Choke 99%, Size 57 pixels, Contour Map 5th one to right, Range 100 and Jitter 0). The following slider information is mostly from The Photoshop Wow! book referenced below.

Settings for Both Inner Glow and Inner Settings

Size determines the amount of blur applied to the border. The greater the size, the more the Glow or Shadow is blurred so at a higher setting, it is more diffuse – thinner and spreads out more.

Increasing Choke makes the effect more concentrated – it controls the transition made from dense to transparent as set by the Size (in the Outer effects, the spread slider does the same thing). Set the Choke high, and it gives very sharp edges and set it lower to get a soft blended look.

Contour settings remap the intermediate tones that are created by the blur used to make a Shadow or Glow. Using the default 45 degree straight contour causes the blur to thin out more as it goes from outside to inside. By changing the Contour in the drop-down, different types of effects can be obtained. These can be fun so definitely try them out!

Inner Glow Settings

The only sliders I look at here are the Opacity, Color Swatch, Choke, Size and sometimes the Contour, changing to a drop-down choice. Try changing to the 2nd Contour map and you will see a thin line created inside the edge of your image for a nice single line effect.

A Glow effect is usually light and radiates evenly in all directions. Therefore a Glow has a Gradient choice in the dialog box. I have not used this but it appears that a change in blend mode would be needed to look good.

I set the Technique to Softer – I do not see much difference in my thin borders when it is set to Precise but there is a difference if the frame is larger.

There are no Distance or Angle settings for Glow effects.

Set the Source to Edge (which I always use for a border) to radiate Glow from the edge getting thinner as it moves further away. Set the Source to Center for some artistic looks that radiate color from the center outward, getting thinner as it moves away.

FYI: For use with the Contour drop-down, Range determines which part of the gradient is used for the Glow and Jitter mixes up the pixels in the gradient for less defined transitions.

Inner Shadow Settings

A Shadow effect is dark and can be offset while here Shadows only have a color swatch.

There is an Angle field showing where the light source is. If the Distance is set to 0, this does not matter what the setting is. If there is a Distance amount, then adjust it and try clicking use Global Light to set with the other effects – but make sure you like how it looks.

When using Contour map, Noise helps prevent any banding, but may help when printing. I do not use this setting for frames.

Stroke Settings

A basic large Size set to Position Inside and Fill Type Color gives a nice solid color effect. I have done this several times. This can be combined with the other two effects above for some more different looks.

For a different look set a fairly large Size and set to Inside. Then go to Fill Type and choose Gradient. The same Gradient Styles are in the drop-down and also one that only appears in this dialog – the Shape Burst gradient (it can create a neon effect, an inline-outline effect for text or a multi-color glow outer edge effect). Who knew? I demonstrate this effect in my video.

Also the Stroke effect is really good for adding a pattern effect as a border. If you have a texture you would like to use as a border, first open the texture in Photoshop and go to Edit -> Define Pattern – just name it and it appears at the bottom of your pattern list. Set a fairly large Size (like 200 px) and set to Inside. Go into the Fill Type and change to Pattern. Open drop-down and at bottom is the new pattern from the texture. This can create some really looks. Combine this with the other two effects above for more looks.

Below is a quick video just showing how to do this – it seems to be easier to look at it than read about it. If you do not see the video link in your RSS feed, please open up blog and click through.

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Image of a Scottish Church with a viewIn the image above, a very nice basic layer style was applied to get this frame. For post-processing info, see Image 2 below. This image used the same basic Effects in the Layer Styles Panel: First added an Inner Glow (set to Normal blend mode and black color, Technique Softer, Source Edge, Choke 100%, Size pixels); next the Inner Shadow (set to Normal, a peach orange color, Angle 135, Distance 0, Choke 44%, and Size 54 pixels); and finally a Stroke (Size 2 pixels, Position Inside, Blend Mode Normal, Opacity 100%, Fill Type Color, and Color Black). Pretty simple settings and easy to adjust – change the sizes and colors in the Inner Glow and Inner Shadow effects for a different look.

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Image of a herd of African Antelopes
The African Antelope image uses one of the Star Burst gradients in the Stroke Effect. This border was created using a Stroke Layer Style and setting the Size t0 49 pixels, Position Inside, Blend Mode Normal, Opacity 100%, Fill Type Gradient using Gold Sepia (in Photoshop Toning Gradient set), Style Sharp Burst with Align with Layer checked, Angle 89, Scale 100%. If you like the result of the style, click New Style and name it. It will appear at the bottom of the canned Layer Styles when you click on the section labeled Styles at the top of the Effects list. I actually changed the color from a blue to a green for the inside color by going into the gradient and changing the 2nd from the right tab to a sampled green color. For info on how this image was post-processed, see Image 3 below.

I have some canned layer styles for download free at my DeviantArt site – then just change the colors of the Inner Shadow by clicking on the color swatch and sampling a color in the image. These work great as a starting point. Last week I added a layer style to my image using the same style as in the top image except instead of a tan color, it was a brownish gray color (see my How to Create Profiles in ACR from LR Presets and Some LUT Files blog).

The best reference for layer styles is from one of my favorite Photoshop Gurus, Jack Davis, and Linnea Dayton who created a little gem of a book called Adobe Photoshop 7 One-Click Wow! book. This book covered everything I needed to know about layer styles. Also Linnea Dayton and Cristen Gillespie co-wrote the older but still fabulous The Photoshop Wow! books which go into great detail on everything to do with layer styles.

I hope you get a chance to try this out – it can really give an image a very finished look. Until next time, have a good one…..Digital Lady Syd

Post Processing Information:

Image 1: This image was taken on a relatively deserted island in the Bahamas called Spanish Cay. There were many little hidden coves and beaches. The birds were added using a low res free stock photo and selecting just the birds with Color Range. Opened up Topaz Studio and followed steps in a Topaz video called Creating Imagery Driven by Imagination with Topaz Studio Creating Imagery Driven by Imagination with Topaz Studio. (Actual settings: Impression Adj: used the settings from Shannon Rose and saved a custom preset called SJ Acryllic Painting by Shannon Rose preset (see Lovely-pg. 18); Add mask to mask just the body of one bird and the heads of the others; AI ReMix Adj: used the Pasture (Row 3/Col 2) and set it to Opacity 0.37 and Color blend mode – applied layer mask to area in water with little island that was already muddy looking – also mask out odd color in the birds, esp the wings; HSL Color Tuning: Overall Hue 0.19 and Lightness 0.19, Orange Sat 0.37, Yellow Sat 0.37, Green Hue -0.32 and Sat -0.36, and Blue Sat -0.57, Details 0.26, Suppress Artifacts 0.08 and Color Sensitivity 0.28 – used same mask as in AI ReMix adj and Opacity 0.72; Color Theme: set to Normal blend mode, used same mask inverted to just affect the muddy water and turned it slightly bluish – changed the 3rd icon to #498727 (Lightness 0.53), 4th icon to #8ba9c7 (Lightness 0.83) and 5th icon to #e8e8e8 (Lightness 0.91); and added Second Color Theme Adj: Changed first icon to #422c16 at Lightness 0.26.) A Dodge and Burn 50% gray layer was added. Also a Color Dodge lighting layer was applied (see Digital Painting Blending Modes: 3 Easy Ways to Color Artwork by David Belliveau). Last step was a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and applied the above listed Layer Style settings.

Image 2: This image of a Scottish Church had a most beautiful view. On1 Photo Raw 2018’s Effects using Dynamic Contrast and Sharpen filters was used first on the image. A Color Lookup Table using the Candlelight preset was added and set to 76% layer opacity. The Warming Filter (85) was added and set to 51% Density and set to Multiply blend mode and 77% layer opacity. Then some clean up and spotlight effect on the buildings. There was a lot of window reflection in this image, so it took a lot of clean up. A Color Dodge layer was used to light up the sky a bit. A Lighten-Darken 50% gray layer was used to add some contrast. Last step adding the layer style to a stamped layer on top with settings listed above.

Image 3: This image is from a packet I recently bought from Deal Jumbo in a set called Amazing Wild Animals 2 from images taken at South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. This is a group of Red Hartebeest African Antelope. On1 Photo Raw 2018’s Effects using Dynamic Contrast and Sharpen filters was used first on the image. Next, one of my new favorite filters called Topaz AI ReMix was applied (Settings:  AI ReMix Adj: Opacity 0.78, Luminosity blend mode, Style Strength High, Row 2/Col 2 swatch, Brightness 0, Contrast 1.00, Sat 0.75, Hue 0, and in mask painted out the animals lightly and more so in some of the white flower foreground; HSL Color Tuning Adj: Opacity 0.58, Orange Hue 0.10, Sat 0.02, and Lightness 0.73; Dehaze Adj: Opacity 0.62, Strength 0.54; Impression Adj: Opacity 0.71, default settings painted out the animals using an 0.58 Mask Transparency). Nik Viveza 2 was used to direct the focus of the image. A Black & White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode and a Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer were added. The last step involved create a stamped layer on top and adding the Layer Style as described above.

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HOW TO CREATE PROFILES IN ACR FROM LR PRESETS AND SOME PS LUT FILES

Image of small palms at Viera Wetlands in FloridaEveryone is very happy about the recent update to Adobe Lightroom (LR)and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). I have been pretty happy too, but one thing has been bothering me a lot. How do you make these new profiles? This blog is not going to discuss how to use these profiles as there are many great videos on this topic. I just want you to understand how profiles differ from presets: Presets once applied have all kinds of different settings from the various panels throughout the program in either ACR or LR; but once a Profile is applied there are no settings changed in the panels or tabs – they simply act as a kind of film sitting on top of your original RAW file (they will not work with JPG files) and now the various program settings can be changed from this point on. Also, to find the new Profiles and all the Legacy files, go to the top right of the Basic section in both ACR and Lightroom and click on the 4 square icon to open up the browser. Usually an Amount slider is available that can go all the way up to 200% to adjust how much of the profile is applied. The default profile for any new downloads is now the Color profile in the Basic folder, which is better according to my sources – for older photos Adobe Standard in the Legacy folder will be applied so switch them over in the Basic settings to see if it helps the image. When done, press Close to access the rest of the Basic Panel. The image above is from the Viera Wetlands in Florida. It is the final image of photo used in video.

Everyone has been talking about the fact that you can make your own profiles, but no one was showing you how. But the New Profile dialog in ACR or the Camera Raw Filter will let you convert your presets and some LUT files with the .cube extension to a new profile. Colin Smith at Photoshop Cafe in his How to Make New Color Profiles for Lightroom and ACR video finally discussed the secret on how to create your own profiles. Although not based upon settings in Adobe Photoshop CC or LR, but from within ACR itself – it is not that hard to do at all. I included a short video on this and give you the steps below. Several of the profiles are based on my own or those from others Photoshop LUT files (see my How to Use and Create Lookup Table (LUT) Files blog). I also cover this in my video, but I have to admit the LUT file created looked different in ACR than in LR – not sure why but checking on this – all my other ones were fine.

Here are the steps for converting ACR presets (which are now the same as the ones in Lightroom) into profiles.

  1. Profiles can only be created in Adobe Camera Raw or the Camera Raw filter, so first an image needs to be opened in either one, but not in Lightroom.
  2. Make some changes to the image that you think would make a great profile to apply to other images or select one of your existing presets. Changes can be made to the settings to add additional changes to existing presets.
  3. Go to the Presets tab in either (the second from the right in ACR as the end one contains a Snapshot tab or the last tab in Camera Raw which does not allow snapshots).
  4. Now here is the clincher – go down to the bottom of the Preset Panel to the Create Preset icon and instead of just clicking on it, hold down the ALT  key + the icon and the New Profile dialog box appears! (See screen capture below.)
  5. Name the Profile and create a New Set for the profile if you want to put them in a special folder.
  6. Next time you open up Photoshop or Lightroom, the profile will be in this folder. Note the folder will not be in the Presets list if you created a new one unless you also saved it down as a Preset, but only in the new Profiles browswer in the Basic Panel.

Image of New Profile dialog box

I have included a very short video below so you can see exactly how a preset is turned into a profile. Also I am showing how to do a quick LUT or Color Lookup Table using the .cube extension in Photoshop to use as a profile. I have not tried a Look Table using a .csv file, which is one of the choices for saving a LUT file. The default Photoshop LUTs use a .look file extension – I have not figured out how to convert it to a different usable extension. Adobe has issued an article with more info how to do this on their Digital Negative (DNG) page – scroll down to Resources Profiles SDK (2018) to download the PDF. Apparently it is a pretty complicated process. If viewing in the RSS feed and video link does not show up, please visit my blog site to activate the video.

I find it odd that everyone is leaving out this bit of info. I have to give Colin kudos for sharing this. It is so easy to do, but it must be done in Camera Raw. Who knew, but now you can at least go on and make your own to your hearts content. Hope you have a good weekend creating profiles!…..Digital Lady Syd

USING TOPAZ PLUG INS CREATIVELY

Digitally painted landscape image I find Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Labs and/or Topaz Studio is totally in a “league of its own” when it comes to helping digital artists take their images to a new level. Even though I have blogged about Topaz plugins and most recently Studio’s AI Remix adjustment (see What is Topaz AI Remix????), this week I am presenting a short blog and video on how I created this image using some of the Topaz Studio’s and Lab’s plugins.

The products that really are outstanding to me for creativity are: Topaz Studio AI ReMix adjustment, Topaz Studio (and previously Labs) Impression, Topaz Labs ReStyle, and, believe it or not, this wonderful little program no longer marketed called photoFXlab which uses an InstaTone program section (the 500 px and 1X.com do not work, but the other three do so it works just fine) (See my short InstaTone in photoFXlabs – Great Fun and Great Results! blog). This is not to say that many of their other plugins, like Topaz Adjust, Black & White Effects, Glow, and Texture Effects are not useful for the creative – they are great but maybe not as unique as the ones I mentioned.

AI ReMix adjustment fits right into what I like about Topaz products. It has a bit of a steep learning curve to figure out what works and what does not when trying to get that creative uncanned look. That is why I decided to do this quick blog and video. The original image was beautiful and is from a group of photos at Deeezy called 20 Free Photos from Seychelles – I like to practice with some of these free images. I did not realize I would like the results but since it has an interesting artistic appearance applied, it does not matter that I did not use my own equipment for the image. Wish I had been there to do so. If you do not see the You Tube link in your browser, please open the video from within the blog.

Steps for Post-Processing the Top Image

Once opened in Photoshop, the image was duplicated and taken into Topaz Studio where two adjustments were used: the Impression Adjustment (used Default settings but set it to Stroke Type 09) and AI ReMix (used my SJ Soft Painterly Effect in Preset dropdown and adjustment 0.27 opacity – the SJ Soft Painterly Effect has these settings:  Opacity 0.27, Style Strength Low, Col 7/Row 3 swatch, Brightness 0.53, Contrast 1.17, Saturation 0.98, Hue 0.04, Smooth Edge 1.00 and Sharpness 0.50). Back in Photoshop, many tweaks were made since the adjustments had added a great creative starting point. I will not go through all the steps – they were quickly reviewed in the video – but it did take a bit of work to get the image to a place that worked for me. Nik Viveza 2 was used to help direct focus and there was a spotlight effect layer. John Derry’s Impasto Varnish Smooth layer style (no longer available-Kyle Webster had some also but I cannot find them either – try searching for Photoshop Impasto layer styles. Basically what is going is that a Bevel and Emboss layer style is added and the Layer Fill slider is set to 0 – preferably use a brush with some interesting edges to paint add the painterly effect on the layer). Used my SJ Pastel 3 favorite brush to paint over a few waves and rock edges to add some additional definition. Then a texture called Solstice Elan2 from French Kiss (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) was added – the same layer style was used on the texture set to 22% layer opacity to soften the whole foreground effect. Then added a frame I created in Corel Painter was added for a final more painterly touch.
Image of a digitally painted landscape

Steps for Post-Processing this Image

Same steps were as above with the same Topaz Studio Impression and AI ReMix adjustment settings and clean up layers. To get this different effect, a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was taken into Topaz ReStyle and I used my SJ Tulips preset with changes to some of the sliders. This preset was created from a tulip image previously processed in ReStyle (see my How to Use a Topaz ReStyle Trick for Improving Your Image blog). You can actually get a very similar effect as the ReStyle filter gives when photoFXlab Instatone is opened and applied. Nik Viveza 2 was also used and Curves Dodge and Burn adjustment layers were also used. A little clean up and spotlight effect was applied but no impasto layer styles.

Issue Encountered

One thing noticed was that by applying so much post-processing to an image that was not as high a quality as a RAW file, some artifacting became apparent. On the cooler image below, I rather meticulously painted away the artifacting in the foreground mountain and rock formations mainly using a very tiny (3-9 pixel) brush at 50% strength – this took several hours and could probably use more. On the top image, I got smarter. It occurred to me to just use the Spot Healing Brush set to: Content Aware, Multiply, and Sample All layers using a small brush around 7 pixels. Just smeared long strokes over the areas – only the white artifacting was healed (colored in), but the color in the darker areas was left alone. It took about 10 minutes instead of several hours. Wish I had thought of it earlier before hand painting and healing the first image.

Anyway, I thought it might be fun for you to see how these creative plug-ins can be used together. Below are a couple recent blogs you might have missed on my Tidbits Blog showing some other image examples. Hope everyone is enjoying the Spring – looks like the weather is starting to improve finally!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Enjoying the Attention (Studio AI ReMix Adjustment)
Stand Tall (Studio AI ReMix Adjustment and Impression Adjustment)
Dodging the Fire (Studio AI ReMix Adjustment)
A Scottish Countryside Town (Studio AI ReMix Adjustment)
Four Picture Triptych with Topaz ReStyle (Topaz Labs ReStyle)
Heathcliff in Toon Lagoon (photoFXLab InstaTone)

COMPARING SOME SHARPENING TECHNIQUES


Image of some lovely Spring African Violets
I have never really discussed sharpening so this week I am going to just cover the surface of this topic. It is such a huge subject and there are so many ways to sharpen that it is almost impossible to figure out which is best. Lots of questions here on when to apply the sharpening filter that I am not covering. Basically this blog is a quick comparison of techniques to see what is happening when sharpening is applied using different plugins – in both PS and from other software products.

What is sharpening?

Bottom line: Adding edge contrast to make an image look sharper. So when you go through the various plugins, watch for what the various sliders are doing. For more technical info, check out the Resources paragraph.

Now we can understand a little more what is going on when sharpening an image and figure out what is really affecting the sharpness in an image. Different methods were tried to see if one really stood out or does it actually matter. And are they all just doing sharpening or are they added other changes to make the image look better, and possibly affecting the overall tone of the image. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer or Levels Adjustment Layer may need to be added on top. One big issue I found is that some generate a large amount of noise. Therefore a Noise Reduction filter might be needed. A black layer mask to localize the sharpening could be used to contain the noise by painting back just where the sharpening is needed. Also Blend If sliders in the Layer Style could be used – apparently it does not matter which slider is used for sharpening since just adjusting the impact on the far highlights or shadows in the image. Also, look at the Radius settings in the filters – that is where the halo issued develop many times.

These plugins and filters were explored and just the results for each are shown in the short video (see link below): Topaz Studio and Labs Detail or Clarity adjustments, On1 Photo RAW 2018 Precision Contrast and Sharpening filters, Google Nik’s Color Efex Pro’s Detail Extractor filter, Lucis Pro’s 6.0.9 filter with a layer mask, Luminar 2018’s Details Enhancer and Structure filters, and even Aurora 2018 HDR software. Photoshop’s own methods were also tried including: the Unsharp Mask Filter, Shake Reduction Filter, High Pass filter, the Sharpen Tool, the Camera Raw Filter, the Hard Mix blend mode, and Smart Sharpen Filter. It has also been demonstrated even HDR software can do wonders to sharpen an image so I added an example using Aurora 2018. No wonder there is so much confusion about which is the best to use. So many of these examples sharpen very nicely. Just want for the color or noise changes. For links to all the software, check out my Tidbits Blog sidebar). If the video link is not appearing in the RSS feed or phone, click on the blog to access.

Bottom Line

My favorite techniques as noted in the video were:

  • Topaz Studio or Labs Precision Detail – have used it for years and it never lets me down but did not like Studio’s Unsharp Mask. (Settings:  Shadows Small Detail 0.58, Medium Detail 0.65 and Large Details 0.51; Highlights Small Detail 0.35, Medium 0.37, and Large Detail 0.32; Lighting Midtones -0.12, Shadows 0.36, and Highlights -0.50. In layer mask painted effect into the flowers only.)
  • On1 Photo Raw 2018 Sharpening Filter – I have noted this before and it is still gives excellent results. (Settings: Type High Pass, Halo 84, Amount 68, Protect Shadows 11 and Protect Highlights 11.) I did not like their Dynamic Contrast for this, but it is still a really good filter.
  • Photoshop Unsharp Mask using LAB Mode twice. (Settings: Amount 100, Radius 3.0, and Threshold 4.) Downside is that I had to create a duplicate document to go into LAB mode to apply and then bring the layer back into PS. (This technique was first seen in Scott Kelby’s The Digital Photography Book. (Go to Image -> Mode -> Lab color; Highlight the Lightness Channel in Channel’s panel, Apply Unsharp Mask Amount 100, Radius 3, and Threshold 4; Apply Unsharp Mask filter again; and go back to Image -> Mode -> RGB.)
  • Photoshop Smart Sharpen filter. I have never used this much, but Blake Rudis discussed it in his Photoshop CC Boot Camp on Creative Live recently and it really looks good. (Settings: Amount 417%, Radius 2.7, Reduce Noise 40%, Remove Gaussian Blur, Shadows Fade Amount 12, Tonal Width 50%, Radius 21, and Highlights set to Fade Amount 0.)

The High Pass Filter effects in the past have proved to be quite nice, but not so good on this image. I will still use the Sharpening in Lightroom – it does work well at the very beginning of the workflow when just a little sharpening is needed. I will probably use the Smart Sharpen Filter in Photoshop when I need a hammer! And a lot of people use Topaz Detail to do a final sharpening for printing. Many of the other choices would do fine for sharpening and with a different kind of image, they  might look a lot better than what the floral results were. And remember if you are working in a plugin using various adjustments or filters, using the compatible sharpening filters will probably work just fine – they were developed to work with their own products. This blog just presented some examples of some of the things that can be done to sharpen an image. There are so many combinations that I could have done many more techniques. Check out the resources below for other ideas on how to do this well.

Resources

Continue reading for a good technical explanation of this and some good resources to learn about this subject. Harry Guiness gives an excellent explanation as to what sharpening is and what has to be done. To take a quote from his blog at EnvatoTuts+ in What is Image Sharpening: “Sharpness is a combination of two factors: resolution and acutance. Resolution is straightforward and not subjective. It’s just the size, in pixels, of the image file. All other factors equal, the higher the resolution of the image—the more pixels it has—the sharper it can be. Acutance is a little more complicated. It’s a subjective measure of the contrast at an edge. There’s no unit for acutance—you either think an edge has contrast or think it doesn’t. Edges that have more contrast appear to have a more defined edge to the human visual system. …..Sharpness comes down to how defined the details in an image are—especially the small details. For example, if a subject’s eyelashes are an indistinct black blur they won’t appear sharp. If, on the other hand, you can pick out each one then most people will consider the image sharp……the only way to increase apparent sharpness is by increasing acutance. If you want your image to look sharper, you need to add edge contrast.” This was a great article and part of 3 so check out his The 7 Hidden Dangers of Image Sharpening blog and his Selective Sharpening Using High Pass in Adobe Photoshop blog – all excellent information. I have an older book that is still really relevant called Image Sharpening by Bruce Fraser and Jeff Schewe that is considered one of the best on the subject ever written. So if you want some really good info on this, check out this book. I wanted to figure out which of the various plug-ins and filters work the best for this. Also Martin Evenings Photoshop books all cover this topic very thoroughly.

This blog turned into quite a project but I learned a lot about sharpening. If you have time, try out some of the filters I used above, especially the Photoshop filters to see what results you are getting. I did all my changes on a flower image, but a landscape image would be nice to try with the same set of filters to see what happens. Hope everyone has a great week – Spring is finally here!…..Digital Lady Syd

HOW TO QUICKLY ADD A TOUCH OF GOLD TO YOUR TEXT

Image of beautiful gold colored fonts Just popping in to do a quick blog on having fun with text. Recently I blogged about using a word(s) created from interesting fonts to make brushes or PNG files for graphic projects. Sometimes it is fun to just create using all the beautiful digital fonts available. (See my Enjoying Some Spring Butterflies blog.) This week I ran across a couple quick and easy ways to add a really nice bling look to your fonts.

PSD File

The image above was created using a very sophisticated Photoshop file that contains lots of Smart Objects to create most of this final result. The file is called Free 3D Gold Text Effects by Alifuwork. The file comes with a font Smart Object layer and three groups – Effects, 3D Gold which contains all the layer styles with smart objects (all the same smart object so when the top Text Here layer smart object is updated, all the others update with it), and Backgrounds which contains all the lighting effects and background color. So by double clicking on the Text Here layer to open the main Smart Object, the fonts can be changed to different ones easily – just click CTRL+S to save the resulting PSB document and it all update in the PSD file. This was really a great way to add the gold lettering effect without having to do a lot of work.

Layer Styles (Patterns)

To get the other nice gold effect on the above image, a really wonderful pack called Gold Foils 7th Avenue Design Textures was used – it contains 20 different gold jpg files to choose from – I only loaded my 6 favorite which included the gold 9 as patterns. Just open the JPG file and go to Edit -> Define Pattern. The pattern will appear at the bottom of your list to use with PS’s various adjustment layers, brushes, layer styles, or tools that use patterns. Major cool! So add in your favorite texture effects for sure. In the image above, Pattern 9 gold was used several times. The bird image below used the gold glitter texture created from my How to Create a Glitter Texture video and blog, where the texture was saved as a pattern, just like with the gold images from the Foil Pack. To change the color to a gold, the glitter texture was opened, a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer added setting the Hue to something like 57 and Saturation to 100. Next a Levels Adjustment Layer was added to accentuate some of the lights and darks. Finally go to Edit -> Define Pattern. Now a personal gold glitter pattern can be used in your projects. If you want a silver one, use the Black and White Adjustment Layer instead of the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Very easy.

Photo details for above image are as follows: The fonts used above are: Rich were Buffalo Inline 2 Grunge, Lucious was Points and Lines, “and” was Castile Inline Grunge, and Expensive was Alex Brush. I added a new group in my file called Background Elements that was placed just above the Background group. There was a layer with just a glitter look behind the text and was created using Grut’s Charcoal Shin Ding brush (free brush for this week) set with two layer styles – a Pattern Overlay using the Gold 9 pattern set to Scale of 85% and a Stroke using a Size of 18, Inside, and Fill Type Pattern using Pattern 9 again – the whole layer was set to 80%. The object on the upper left from 2 Lil’ Owls Studio (see the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) All New Textures/vintage frames 2/frame 25 using the same layer styles and pattern, but the Pattern Overlay was set to 59% opacity and the Stroke was set to Size 7, Blend Mode Screen. The leaf on the upper right was from Ginko Textured Watercolor Graphics by Paperly Studio/elements 13 with same layer styles. The Pattern Overlay was set to 60% opacity and the Stroke set to Size 7 and Opacity 93%. In the Backgrounds group the Color Fill was changed to a green color. For the last step, a stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top and yet another Stroke layer style was added using Size 7, Inside, Screen blend mode, Fill Type Pattern using the same pattern 09.

Graphic image of a white heron and some textThis image used my gold glitter pattern in the Pattern Overlay layer style set to Size 18 and Scale 47. The White Heron was from Graphics Fairy, the background texture was from French Kiss Artiste Bold Brush2 (see the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link), filter used was Topaz Studio (see the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) AI ReMix SJ Graphic Design Effect preset, and the font was Mr. Grieves.

Hope you enjoyed the gold extravaganza!…..Digital Lady Syd

ENJOYING SOME SPRING BUTTERFLIES

Graphic image butterflies and flowersThought about taking a few weeks break so I can try out some things I am learning, but I am still here – I keep wanting to pass on info. I created this image just for fun and trying to reinforce a few work habits when creating this type of composite. Also thought I would add  on a few more tips I promised when creating my Giraffe composite a few weeks ago. (See my Taking a Break to Learn Some New Things blog.)

FONT TIP: This image started when I downloaded a couple new free fonts from Design Cuts called Style-Casual and Style Endings by TypeSETit. At first I was not too taken by either one of the fonts, and then I realized that by using the Style Endings font for the first and last letters of the text, and then using Style Casual font to connect the rest of the text, it looked really good – along with the pretty nice fancy small “o.” A Simply Wonderful text line was created and then turned into a brush by going to Edit -> Define Brush Preset. This is really fun to do if you have some nice fonts on your computer – they can easily be turned into text brushes and .PNG files. Very could be very useful for graphic projects.

ADDING A SUBSTRATE LAYER TIP: My substrate layer was non-existent almost until the end of working on this project when I finally put the white one created in the Azaleus image (see my How to Create a Pretty Simple Background and Text Effect blog) the text added. It definitely filled in some texture that was missing especially in the lighter areas of the image. So that is one thing I learned while creating this image – be sure to add some kind of bottom level texture just to fill in the holes. It can always be swapped out later after adding your elements.

PAINT ON THE ADDED ELEMENTS TIP: Another thing I did was to actually paint on some of the elements that were put in the image. The two butterflies on the left side were from a really nice brush set by Marrielle P Kokosidou – by painting in the elements after stamping down the original element, some additional interest could be achieved. The same was true with the branch of leaves at the top (from a painted set from Design Cuts in their Nature Plant Graphics Watercolour Grit Textures set with Octopus Artis elements), additional painting was done using some other colors on it. Design Cuts is a great place to get free samples of very good elements from great artists for these type of photos. The brush I used was mainly the SJ Pastel 3-painting brush (see my How to Create my Favorite Brush blog) – use it every day along with my SJ 3 Pastel-Van Gogh TI brush. (It can be created by following my Painting Fun in Photoshop blog’s third paragraph – gives an explanation on how to make the base brush more painterly.) The other butterfly was also one from Design Cuts called Watercolour Butterfly by Octopus Artis – not much was done to the butterfly itself, but a watercolor paint stroke (stroke by Vintage Design Co. but could not find the download link) and a moon brush stroked (from 20 moon brushes by Liza Giannouri-moon 3) was placed behind it. Wanted to give credit to the people who did the flowers in this image – the pink center flower is from a frame in a set by from Creative Market (another site to follow – they  have some great free sets like this one and good deals like the Hydrangea set)  Ginko Textured Watercolor Graphic by Paperly Studio; and the Hydrangea flower is from Beautiful Watercolor Butterflies Knopazyzy Handrangea Flower set.

CREATE MORE PAINTBRUSHES TIP: Created a paintbrush (named it SJ Butterfly Brush 5 Row-Marrielle P Kokosidou) at a very small size and setting it to a small size with Spacing at 180%, Shape Dynamics Size Jitter 24% and Angle Jitter 21%, and a Color Dynamics set to 100% Foreground/Background Jitter and Purity -24%. It was used at the top of the image using a slight color variation and at the bottom of the image in just one color. I have brushes using hearts and bubbles using similar settings. So the  tip is: make a small object type of brush to add some interest around major elements instead of just using round splotches (which does work in some cases).

BRUSH IN SOME COLOR BEHIND YOUR ELEMENTS TIP: This is something I have been doing for a while, especially using the spotlight effect with white and black color at a low opacity and the layer set to Overlay blend mode. (See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog.) It also works for any color using any type of brush – it will add some soft color into your image. The layer does not have to be set to Overlay blend mode – some very interesting effects can be achieved using other blend modes like Linear Burn – and be sure to adjust the Fill (not Layer) opacity to get some really nice effects. NOTE ON FILL SLIDER IN LAYER PANEL: The Layer Opacity will affect certain blend modes differently than the Fill slider – Color Burn, Linear Burn, Color Dodge, Linear Dodge (Add), Vivid Light, Linear Light, Hard Mix, and Difference. Check out which effect you want. Also the Fill opacity does not affect the opacity of layer effects such as drop shadows – this can be important if you have added a layer style like a stroke or bevel effect on a element. A reddish effect was added to the upper left corner. And obviously green in the upper right. The corners were subtlety darkened down using this technique to draw the eye in. Some texture was actually painted on the font lettering to add some interest by using a texture brush and setting the layer to Overlay blend mode – it really brightens up parts of the font.

A couple last things were done in this image. Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Studio was opened and a black and white sketch effect was applied. It is called SJ Graphic Sketch 1 preset (contains these adjustments: Basic, Precision Contrast, Tone Curves, Smudge and Abstraction) and is up in the community if you would like to try it out. And for me the best way to pull this whole image together is to use the (Google) Nik Viveza 2 – I could not have done this without using this filter. It adjusted out the focus since so much is going on in the image and the colors by adjusting the brightness of each element and sharpness. Need to try it out and since it is still free right now and still works just fine, definitely worth using.

The final image had 43 layers and lots of tweaking but I like the final result. It is important to find a subject you want to work on – this suited me just fine since Spring is almost here! Hope this answered everyone’s scrapbook effect questions – I have learned a lot and it just takes practice to get some nice designed. Also be sure to check out my Tidbits Blog – I added a nice sharpening tip last week. Have a wonderful week!…..Digital Lady Syd

HOW TO CREATE A PRETTY SIMPLE BACKGROUND AND TEXT EFFECT

Image of a group of Pink AzaleasI started to write about some of the things I learned from a mixed media scrapbooking class a few weeks ago and found that it was just too huge a topic to cover in one blog. Therefore, this week I am going to discuss only a couple items used in the Pink Azaleas image blooming in my yard right now. It is so good to see some Spring flowers and these were real beauties. Think I will take next week off (I say this right now – hum!)

First a  substrate for the flowers needs to be created. This is basically just a “pumped up background” layer(s). The texture often has a gesso effect applied to it. It can include typed text layers (as shown above), or various kinds of brushes to create stamps elements or strokes for color effects that make for an interesting background. It can contains multiple layers of stacked paper or texture layers using different blend modes and layer opacity to get some very unique effects. I hope to try creating my own gesso texture soon – it looks like fun but could be messy. This image used French Kiss’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Tableaux Wind Song texture for a  painted gesso-looking bottom layer substrate.

To me, it seemed logical to use text that is relevant to the subject. I decided I wanted to use a little poem from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses book called The Flowers (this was one of my very favorite books as a small child) as text for the image. The poem was converted into a Photoshop brush as follows:

  • Go online and find some text you like on the subject.
  • Highlight text and CTRL+C to copy
  • Open up a Text Layer in Photoshop by choosing the Horizontal Text Tool – make sure the color swatch is set to the default Black and White (D) and the actual size of the font is not too large for the text being brought into the image – otherwise the text can be cut off at the bottom. Just start by selecting a readable size that is fairly small as it can be expanded to fit later.
  • Next drag out a text block in the image in Photoshop approximately where the text will be placed.
  • Inside the block, paste by clicking CTRL+V and the text will appear as black in the box.
  • With the text added, it is time to turn this text layer into a brush for use in various places on a layer above the substrate layer. Make sure the Opacity and Flow in the Options Bar are set to 100%, and go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset and name it. It does not need any additional tweaking since the text is a dark black – no midtones to worry about. The new brush appears at the bottom of the list in the Brushes Panel. If the size is really large, that is Okay – it will reduce down in size just fine. If not large enough, just delete the created brush and go back to the text layer and increase the size in the Text Layer. It is harder to get clean edges by sizing up a brush so larger is better.

The brush can now be stamped down in several places on a layer above the substrate layer(s) – add a layer mask to the text layer and using a brush set to 30%, paint out some of the text so it does not look all one brightness. I applied this mask and saved the text down as a second brush and used both in the image above. If using text from a PDF document, then check out my How to Create Vintage Text for Images blog for instructions on how to do this.

If you want would like to convert the text layer to a PNG file to add as an element instead of stamping as a brush, highlight the Text layer. Duplicate the text layer by right clicking and selecting Duplicate… in menu, then in Document drop down, choose New. The document can now be named if you want – it creates a new document. Go to File -> Save As and select the .PNG format so the transparency is retained for adding as a layer into another image. This can be very  handy to have as it seems to me the edges are sharper on the individual element than when using it as a stamped brush. Totally depends on the effect needed.

To finish up the image above, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) AI ReMix adjustment was used to sharpen the stamens in the flowers by using a black layer mask to the Topaz layer in PS and painting back areas to reveal the sharpening (here are the settings using in AI ReMix: Set to Luminosity blend mode using last row/first column swatch and Medium Style Strength. Slider settings were: Brightness -0.12, Contrast 0.98, Sat 2.91, Hue 0.10, smooth Edge 0.11, and Sharpness 0.59.) The actual Azaleas image was copied and placed on top and another black layer mask was added so the flowers could be lightly painted in so some of the text showed through in places. A Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode and 65% layer opacity was added along with a Color Look Up Adjustment Layer using the Crisp Warm preset (see Matt Kloskowski’s short video called My Favorite Tool for Styling in Photoshop) set to Color blend mode and 54% layer opacity. On a New Layer some painting was done to define edges of the flowers a little more. Nik Viveza 2 was used to emphasize the center of the flowers and add a little corner vignetting and set t0 58% layer opacity. A Red Channel Luminosity Adjustment Layer was added for a little contrast.

This is a pretty simple way to include a few scrapbook effects to an image but I think it also has almost a painterly look to it. I will go over a few more tips on how to add some more interest to a piece in a later blog. Have a wonderful week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs
How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images
How to Create Photoshop Brushes from Objects or Text

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