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HOW TO SAVE A PHOTOSHOP CC2018 REGULAR BRUSH AS A DIFFERENT TOOL

Image of a Leopard in a poster effectJust dropping in this week to share this composite Leopard image. The whole image started because of a blog that Chris Spooner recently wrote called How To Create an Animal Fur Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop. I am not sure how often I will use this text effect, but he gives instructions on how to make a fur brush using the Pen Tool so I had to try it out. It has turned out to be a very nice brush and was used in several places in the above image. The actual brush created has several little spikes sticking out in a circular manner and is mainly used to create a fur edging on a path for the actual text effect. I personally found it to be very useful for adding softness to the edges of the Leopard around the cat’s body and to add more of a hairy emphasis to the lettering edges. I applied it manually using different sizes. I wanted to use it as a Clone Stamp Tool to add some of the actual texture and color from inside the Leopard body to the outside edges. That is how the steps below were created which turns a Regular Photoshop brush into any other type of Brush Tool.  Since PS’s latest updates that now keep a brush’s Options Bar info with the brush preset, it has been difficult to use it for other Tools such as the Clone Stamp, or Eraser, or Smudge Brush. So here is the trick to actually using the brush for other tools:

    1. Save the Regular Brush created as a preset in the Brush Settings Panel using the default settings if the brush was just created. The Create New Brush icon is at the bottom of the Brush Settings Panel or the Brush Preset Panel (located to the left of the Trash Can) and the brush will be shown at the end of the list in the Brush Preset Panel. If brush to be converted is already listed, skip this step.
    2. Highlight this brush in the list and create a new preset by clicking the Create New Brush icon as in Step 1.
    3. When dialog opens up, Rename brush but do not check “Include Tool Setting” – now no tool will be connected with this brush. No brush icon appears to the right of the name in the Presets Panel.
    4. Select a different Tool such as the Clone Brush Tool. The settings from the regular brush are now connected to the selected Clone Stamp Tool.
    5. To save this Clone Stamp brush, create another preset and this time check “Include Tool Setting” – all your settings will be preserved with the brush.

For the above fur brush, the spiked ball brush settings from both the Brush Settings Panel including the dab structure and the Options Bar settings are now part of the my new Clone Stamp brush which was immediately saved down as a new Clone Brush to retain the settings.

It seemed to take a long time to complete this image but all the layers are just the same ones used in any composite. The Background was created in Corel Painter. The Fur font is Cosmi 04, a really old font. The Leopard font is one called Braveheart, which was rasterized and warped on a New layer to get it to fit over the Leopard (which was a free image from Pixabay). The font letters were also connected by hand as they did not look correct after warping. On1 (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Photo Raw 2018 Effects was used to initially sharpen the leopard. The cat’s Paw and the little cat are a set of brushes from Brusheezy and a black leather texture was clipped to the paw. The fur brush was then used to paint on the paw print at a low opacity to get the shiny highlights. A Dodge and Burn layer at 50% gray set to Overlay blend mode was used. A shadow was created for the leopard and smudged to smooth out. One of the legs of the leopard look strange so the front forward paw was duplicated, warped and placed in back to cover up this area. The last step involved going into Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Studio and applying AI ReMix using the Ink Blot swatch set to Overlay blend mode at 0.89% opacity (Topaz Studio has added several new swatches to AI ReMix so if own it, update to get them). It gave the whole image a sort of abstract feel. This was all very easy to composite.

If you like making brushes, I would recommend checking out Chris’s tutorial – it is a really interesting brush and a new way to create a brush effect. Well, so much for being gone – will probably miss the next couple weeks. Hope you are enjoying the lovely Spring weather!…..Digital Lady Syd

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HOW TO ADD A SKETCH EFFECT QUICKLY

Image of a Japanese Festive Doll This week I wanted to say that I will be taking several weeks off from blogging (after 7 1/2 years of this) to take care of a few other things on my list. Will be popping in as time allows and will definitely not be closing my site. Just a temporary break as these blogs take some time to do and my schedule is currently a bit limited. That being the case, I will present a quick sketch tip today that was used on the above image of a Japanese Festive Doll at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island.

First began by creating a sketch effect. This was one I had forgotten about from the great Photoshop guru, Corey Barker, who used it in a tutorial a long time ago. This effect was first done on the doll image and then on the background image. This technique can be done on just one image also. Make sure you have all the clean up that needs to be done on the image(s) and also make sure the image is a sharp as you wanted. The background was from an image on  Unsplash by Sorasak of Kyota, Japan – when opened in Photoshop, it had a resolution of 72 so this had to be changed: go to Image -> Image Size and uncheck the Resample box – change the resolution to 300; then click the Resample box again and set to Bicubic Sharper (reduction) since the size of the actually image gets much less (though still pretty big). Now to create the Sketch Look.

  1. Duplicate the background and desaturate the image. This can be done quickly by either pressing CTRL+ALT+U (Image -> Adjustments -> Desaturate), or could add a Black & White Adjustment Layer, or a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer set to Black and White gradient or a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer with the Master Saturation set to -100.
  2. Create a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and set the layer to Divide blend mode. Now you see a sketch effect.
  3. Go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to a sketch effect you like. The doll was set to 5.5 pixels and the background to 24.9 pixels which gave a heavier look to the lines of the city. There is your sketch.
  4. To add color back into the image, duplicate the bottom background layer and place it on top. Add a black layer mask to this layer and gently dab into the mask with a lower opacity brush. The color will appear very much like an illustrated watercolor effect. On this layer, other filter effects can be used like from Topaz  (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Studio or Nik Color Efex Pro 4 to give a different color and look to the color being brought back into the image. Or add another copy on top of this layer to get even more effects into the image.

For the doll, another 2nd copy of the background was placed on top, then CTRL+I was pressed on the layer thumbnail to invert the colors. A black layer mask was added and just a bit of complementary color was added back into the image to add interest.

To finish the image, the doll was selected using the Quick Selection Tool and Select and Mask in Photoshop. The layer was then taken into the Kyota image where the sketching and light color effect was already done. A stamped layer was created and then Topaz Adjust’s Setting Sun preset was applied. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to bring back some of the image contrast and then on another stamped layer Topaz ReStyle was opened and the Travertine Tint was added. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to add more contrast back into the image. Some clean up and a watercolor edge was done to complete the image.

Well I hope you get a chance to try out this sketch technique. It is pretty easy to do and works rather nicely, especially if you want to add some color back into the image. I will be returning in a few weeks……Enjoy the Spring!…..Digital Lady Syd

SOME CREATIVE EXPRESSION IN PHOTOSHOP

Image of a bird on the side of Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, ScotlandThis week I am taking a break from the technical aspect of Photoshop and am presenting a couple images which is what I consider was a lot of fun create in Photoshop. Usually when I do creative art, I start out going in one direction and end up in another. Many times there are several iterations of an image I really like, which happened in this first image – it looks pretty good in blue tones and warm tones.

The image above is from Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland. I love to photograph the interesting details in the historical architecture that is so prevalent in Europe. The workflow for this image was actually pretty simple. Just using my basic workflow and through in a bit of Nik Viveza 2, Topaz ReStyle and several Adjustment Layers. This was definitely created with a lot of experimentation.

The image below went a totally different direction where the elements were added onto a blank layer.

Colorful image of an Egret's PlaygroundThis Heron had this crazy idea of what he would like to be his playground. I just had to follow his lead and created this rather “groovy” looking image. Started with this really beautiful background from Unsplash by Steve Johnson that had all the bright colors in it.Then just used several elements – some I created and a few are from other people. The really weird line art in this image is from a large Cruise Ship at night taken from a small sailboat – got sort of a creepy result that looks kind of good here but was very scary when you actually are there! My bird chose it anyway. All the elements were added to New Layers also. The sunflower is from PixelSquid. The bee is one I painted. The Tree is also from PixelSquid and the Heron is my pet, the little guy from Graphics Fairy – painted him up a bit with one of my favorite Grut charcoal brushes, Shin Ding which adds great texture on anything, to give him some matching color. The Grass is from Frostbo Set 1 Grass 03 brush. I actually added a little touch of Impasto effect on the orange block on the left using a blank layer set to 0 Fill opacity and painting with the Grut Shin Ding brush to add the texture on it. Last step I added the border using the one I created in my video and blog on my How to Create a Quick Layer Style Border or Frame.

One thing I have learned is not to throw out those really weird images you get – sometimes they can turn into something quite  interesting! Hope you enjoyed it! Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

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.

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

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