Anything Photoshop or Photography



Image of a Native American Doll in a papooseJust a simple blog this on Content-Aware Fill and and Nik Viveza 2, that I consider as the best Photoshop plug-in around and how I use it. Once again the Native American Festival displayed their beautiful doll collection. This year they were all shown in a tee-pee type structure, and this little doll was swinging around rather aggressively as it was pretty windy! The doll looks totally scared which I found rather comical! And the papoose was a very interesting object so I had to take some pictures.

For this image, nothing was done in Lightroom except to check Enable Profile Corrections and Remove Chromatic Aberration. Below is how the RAW image before taking it into Photoshop – not that great!
Lightroom Screen shot showing original image as shot in RAW Normally I would do a straighten and/or Crop in Lightroom and adjust the Basic sliders, but in this case, Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop was going to be needed to fill out areas due to the straightening and then cropping in Photoshop. Lightroom will not let you crop outside the image area, but Photoshop will. See below how the image looked after this step.

Image shown after crop and straighten in Photoshop

You can see the pink areas that have no picture info in them – these areas need to be filled in using Content-Aware Fill. I have created an action using the following steps which usually gives a decent fill-in result.

1. If possible use the Magic Wand Tool, which was done in this case, to select the areas to be filled in. In the above, the process was repeated twice, but you could select both areas by clicking the SHIFT button and clicking with the Magic Wand into the second area. I find that if too much area is chosen at once, the results might not be as good. Also, any way of selecting is fine and do use the Quick Mask Tool (Q) to clean up a selection if it needs it before proceeding.

2. This step is where I begin my action. Go to Select -> Modify -> Expand and put in 4 pixels. This is enough information for the Content-Aware command to work pretty well.

3. Go to Edit -> Fill (SHIFT+F5 or SHIFT+BACKSPACE) and select Content-Aware in drop down list, Mode Normal and Opacity 100% in the Fill dialog box, then OK.

4. Press CTRL+D to deselect the selection.

At this point some clean up on a New Layer is required using the Clone Stamp Tool or the Brush Tool. Below you can now see how the image looked as I took it into Nik Viveza 2 – just ignore the control points icons. You can see that it added in the upper right area perfectly, but top and left side had to corrected a bit after running content aware. In fact the doll on the left had been cut off in the original image, but Photoshop picked up some brown, so I just painted in an arm and smoothed out the brown edging. Since it was not a focal point in the image, it really is unnoticeable.

Image as shown in Nik Viveza 2 with no filter changes applied.

Next the image is shown with all the Control Points turned on.

Image showing Nik Viveza 2 control points turned on

Before going into the filter, I always make a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top and then right click on the layer and select Convert To a Smart Object. That way if the effect does not look good, I can go back into the filter and adjust the settings easily. There are 9 control points in this image. Usually I am looking at 4 or 5. The first control point is usually placed on the focal point of the image – in this case the doll’s face. The face was brightened up a little, Contrast added, and Structure pulled all the way out to show the detail of the face. The Control Point was adjusted so it only affected here face. Other control points lightened up the post on the right to make it almost disappear, the one shown above is for the middle of papoose to show a little more detail in that part of the object, and the bottom box was set with the Structure slider left to totally soften it instead of add detail. The Structure slider is very similar to Clarity in Camera Raw. In other words an image can be totally tweaked by adjusting the same sliders shown on the left for each control point. I really like the fact that a color can be sampled from an image and changed if it is not working in a certain place. Very easy to use.

Since the basic sliders – Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, and Structure – can all be adjusted in the Control Points, it is very easy to adjust the image to get the effect you need. I use the Shadow Adjustments and Warmth much less, but occasionally they really help. Also, by sampling a color you like, you can adjust a color very easily in a different part of the image.

Now that I have said all this about Viveza, you can do almost all of the same things in the Camera Raw filter in Photoshop – you just have to do it with Adjustment Brushes and Radial Filters, but it can very easily be done. I would recommend you try this if you do not have the Viveza filter as it is just about as good. I find Viveza is very quick and easy to use but I do use the Camera Filter a lot now that Photoshop CC and CC2015 have it. And you Photoshop CS6 users can get to it very easily on a layer by using Dr. Brown’s ACR Script (See my Edit Layers with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) Script blog for download link.) The only thing it will not have the is Radial Filter, but it does have the adjustment brush capability.

Since it is usually at the end of my workflow I find that major flaw, Viveza has saved a lot of images. Also it can create a really nice subtle vignette by putting control points in each of the corners and just adjusting the Brightness slider down. A layer style was used to add the large brown stroke around the image.

Hope you get a chance to use this filter, you will not be disappointed with the results. Later…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem!


Image of a Totem Pole from the Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, FloridaThis image was taken at the 2015 Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, Florida. It is a very different type of totem pole and I wish I knew more about which group it was from and what it meant. In Lightroom Seim’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Classic Holga preset was applied. Once in Photoshop some clean up was done on a New Layer. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impressions was used (see preset settings at end of blog). Painted Textures Sunrise Canvas texture (one provided in one of their workshops) was used – it has some very soft yellow/orange colors. The Layer Style of the texture was opened (just double-click out side the thumbnail on the layer to open dialog box) and the Blend If sliders were adjusted to bring back some of the greens in the grass. On the This Layer slider, the white tab was moved left and split (ALT+drag on tab to split) with settings of 186/204; and on the Underlying Layer slider the Black tab was moved right and split with settings of 49/93, and the without splitting the white tab was set to 221. The next thing done, which is a little unusual, was to turn off the G and B Channels so only the Red one is checked. The layer Blend Mode was set to Hard Light and the Layer Opacity to 52%. You need to experiment with these settings as they can make some dramatic color differences to the image. (See my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog.) Another stamped layer was created on top and set to Multiply blend mode at  60% layer opacity, and then the layer was duplicated (CTRL+J) and this layer was set to Screen blend mode at 14%. This adjusts the contrast in a different way. The last step applied Nik Viveza 2 to direct focus to the face. Loved the colors that came from the image!

Painted Clouds using Aaron Blaise Cloud Set Brushes imageRecently I wrote about some Pen and Ink Photoshop brushes created by Aaron Blaise, a wonderful illustrator and former Disney movie artist (see How to Create a Watercolor/Ink Image in Photoshop blog). Since these were so fun (and inexpensive), I decided to try out his Cloud Brush Set and this was my first effort. I believe that Corel Painter makes the best cloud effects, so I was surprised how good Aaron’s Photoshop brushes are! By following his video and learning about all the 30 different brushes included in the set (see Painting Clouds – Custom Photoshop Painting Tutorial video), it was not really that difficult to do this. I did find that some of the edges were a bit rough, but by just switching from the regular brush to the Mixer brush, those edges could be smoothed away when used as a Blender. To use it as a blender type Mixer brush these Option Bar settings were used: Turn on Load the Brush After Each Stroke (there will not be much color coming in due to the low Load amount), Wet 100%, Load 1%, Mix 90% (high amount indicated more paint is being mixed from canvas), Flow 100%, and Sample All Layers checked. Adjust the brush size and use it to push the color slightly from one area to another. Aaron does not use the Mixer brush, but does like to use the Smudge brush – I found this worked fine with the brush set to Normal Mode, 50% Strength, and Sample All Layers.

That’s it – just wanted to share a few things I learned this week, mainly what turning off a Channel does in the Layer Styles dialog box as in Image 1 and how to paint some pretty nice clouds in Photoshop using Aaron Blaise’s brushes. Total fun. Hope you all have a good week!……Digital Lady Syd

Image 1: Topaz Impressions SJ WCII background preset settings: Stroke: Brush Type 09, Brush Size 0.50, Paint Volume 0.68, Paint Opacity 0.83, Stroke Rotation 0, Stroke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width 0.44, Stroke Length 0.38, Spill 0.09, Smudge 0, and Coverage 1.00; Color: Overall Hue 0, Saturation -0.02, and Lightness -0.04; Red only Sat 0.41; Orange only Sat 0.43; Yellow only Sat 0.43; and all the other color settings at 0; Lighting Brightness 0.17, Contrast -0.29; and Vignette 0; Light Direction x0.52/y1.00; and Texture Strength 0.16, Size -0.68, Canvas IV used, Background Type solid white, and Background white.



Image of a Common Moorhen BirdThis week I thought I would just address a topic I consider when choosing pictures to post-process. That is, how do you get the most out of that not quite perfect image that you really like? Many times I end up taking a picture that does not look like much out of camera. I do not want to discard some of these pictures – after all, they are my memories, but it does seem to be a constant battle to figure out a way to pull out a good result with them.

One of the best starts is to try out different crops. Lots of times I have taken too much background and/or foreground in the shot, but the main subject does not look too bad close up. The image above is an example of this. This only works with my better camera where I have pixels to spare. Due to the lower resolution of my phone pix, they may not give a better result with a crop. That is one reason I like filters. So often a special effect turns a shot into something I totally love. With some pretty cool phone apps, you can get some very impressive results. But with my dSLR, I like to use the Photoshop plug-ins since I can often get some good results with marginal images. So let me walk you through the above example.

The image is of a male Common Moorhen – who knew – it was a really striking bird hiding in the grass. (To see the original RAW images, check out the end of the blog.) The patterns in the water were totally lost in the original image, but in Lightroom the image was cropped extensively and a totally different look appears. A good crop can make all the difference. Since cropping can create some rather soft edges in the image, Seim’s Super HDR X preset was applied to sharpen up the image overall. Then in Photoshop, Topaz Detail 3 was used to sharpen just the bird – a black mask was applied and the bird was painted back.  (See sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for Seim’s and Topaz website links.)

Now it was time to try out some different filters on this image. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Impression was applied. This is such a painterly look that I did not consider it one I would like, but it is still worth trying different effects to see what you get. One of my favorite Topaz filter guys, Blake Rudis, created a video called Atmospheric Backgrounds with Topaz Impression. Since this image had such a crazy zig-zag pattern in the background water, it seemed like a good time to try out the Ethereal Background preset he created in his video. All the settings are listed at the link and it really did calm down the color so the bird stands out. A Lookup Adjustment Layer using the Crisp Winter preset was added and set to 55% layer opacity to cool down the colors just a little bit. The last step was using Nik Viveza 2 to direct the focus to the bird a little more – this is almost always my last step, but it you do not have this filter, try using Photoshop’s Camera Raw filter and adjust some Radial filters in the image. It creates a very similar result and I use it a lot also. I now have a shot I really like!


Image of a Cattle Egret riding on the back of a cowThis beautiful little Cattle Egret was riding on the back of this gigantic cow. I was sitting in the backseat of a car and shot this through the opposite side window – I am still surprised it turned out at all! Now to be honest, this image was not really that great – lots of the background was very blurred. But the bird was not in too bad a shape. This image was turned into a black and white in Lightroom – it really made the bird show up nicely. (Used Seim’s Angels Kiss preset.) Otherwise its tiny size and all the colorful wild grass and reeds really made the bird hard to find. So definitely check out a black and white treatment just to see if it could enhance a rather tired looking color image. This is pretty easy to do in either Lightroom with the canned presets or Photoshop with the black and white adjustment layer.

In Photoshop the Shake Reduction filter was used, and it worked nicely on the bird, but way overdid the rest of the image. Therefore a black layer mask was used and just the bird and part of the palm tree in front were sharpened. The Shake Reduction filter can sometimes really straighten out a soft shot so check it out. Use the black layer mask if it is too much and paint back areas that needed the sharpening.

Use your brushes to paint in over the soft edges of focal objects. A New Layer was created on top and the bird edges were lightly painted in cleanly. Used a tiny soft round brush set to 7 pixels, 30% layer opacity, and sampled the bird color (ALT+click on object) – only painted his edges and a little bit in the beak area.  I still did not like the overall appearance. Topaz Clarity was opened and my SJ Artsy with highlights preset was applied, and all of the sudden it looked so much better! This is a preset I created for something totally different ages ago, but it worked on this image. In a layer mask only the bird was painted back to retain its detail as this preset really softened everything in it. (Here are the settings if you are interested: Clarity Dynamics Micro Contrast -0.86, Low Contrast -0.86, Medium Contrast 0.63, and High Contrast 0.94; Tone Level Black Level -0.19, Midtones -0.36, and White Level 0.19; HSL Filter Hue – no changes; Sat Orange 0.06, Yellow 0.63, Green 0.13, Blue 0.25 0.25, and Overall -0.45; and Lum Orange 0.36, Yellow -0.34, Green -0.42, Blue 0.61, Purple 0.11, Magenta 0.75, and Overall -0.27 – all other colors were 0.00. Adjust these settings around if they do not quite fit the effect you want.) The layer opacity was set to 84%. Since this filter was applied to a black and white image, it gave a different result than on color images. The post-processing could have been finished here as it looked pretty good. A blue toned Solid Color Adjustment Layer was placed on top and set to Color blend mode at 33% layer opacity to get a really pretty night feel to the picture. And once again, since the background was pretty busy, Topaz Impression was opened and the new Ethereal Preset by Blake Rudis was applied. The layer was set to 75% layer opacity and in a white mask, the bird and some of the areas I wanted the detail to show up was painted back. The last step was using Nik Viveza 2 to draw the eye to the bird.


Image of a Wood Stork and his reflectionHere is another example of an image a thousand people have taken and I wanted to get something a little different out of it. I have to say I have a soft spot for Wood Storks since they are all around where I live. In Lightroom the Crop was set, Seim’s Super Gentle X was applied, and the head was sharpened with an Adjustment Brush. The Clarity and Sharpness were set up fairly high. In Photoshop the first step was to extend the image size 50% so Flaming Pear’s Flood filter could be used. This is an oldie but goodie filter, but it is still one of my favorites and it gives major realistic results. (Flaming Pear Flood Settings: Horizon 56, Offset 0, Perspective 41, Altitude 29, Waviness 2, Complexity 43, Brilliance 39, Blur 27, Size 0, Height 24, and Undulation 38.)  Next Topaz Detail 3 was applied. (Here are the preset settings: Overall Small Details -0.51, Small Details Boost -0.40, Medium -0.39, Medium Details Boost -0.30, Large Details -0.51, and Large Details Boost -0.41; and Tone Exposure -0.40, Cyan-Red 0.48, Magenta-Green -0.29, and Yellow-Blue 0.31.) This looked really good as is when applied twice. (See my Tidbits A Reflecting Wood Stork blog.) But I decided to go after one application and use Topaz Glow on a stamped layer and my SJ Inter Web Variation preset. (Settings are: Primary Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 1.00, Effect Sharpness 0.12, Electrify 1.00, Simplify Details 0.06, Edge Color 0, Detail Strength 1.00, Detail Size 0.42, Brightness 0.16, Contrast 0.18, Saturation 0.08, Line Rotation 0, and Glow Spread 0; Secondary Glow Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0, Effect Sharpness 0.54, Electrify 0.11, Simplify Details 0, Brightness 0, and Contrast 0; Color Overall Saturation to 0.62, Red Sat to 0.44, Yellow Sat to 1.00 Yellow Lightness -0.36, Green Sat 1.00 and Lightness -0.51, Aqua Lightness -0.36, Purple Sat 1.00, and Magenta Sat 1.00 and Lightness 0.50. Set to Screen blend mode at 66% Strength; and no Finishing Touches.) This gave a very, artistic twist to the image. On another stamped layer Topaz ReStyle was applied to get the pretty pink and greens in the image. (Here are the settings: SJ Thistle Blush 2-Sr1 Sh1 preset – ReStyle Sat Fourth 0.78; Lum Fourth -0.52 and Fifth -1.00; and Texture Strength 0.05; Basic Blend Mode Soft Light at 62% opacity; Color Temperature 0.25, Tint 0.42, and Sat -0.06; Tone Black Level -0.33, Midtones -0.06, and White Level 0.64; and Detail Structure -0.09 and Sharpness 0.97.) The lower part of the image was darkened to try and copy the way a true reflection looks. And of course my last step was using Nik Viveza 2.

Original images for the above post-processed images

I am showing thumbnails of what the originals looked like or this whole blog would have little meaning. It really does not matter whose filters you apply or what colors, it is just experimenting until you get something that makes the image look good. I could have used other filters and gotten totally different results. And by using adjustment layers and blend modes, even better results can be achieved. I know I have covered this before, but it is something I consider for the post-processing of each image. I love to just play in Photoshop and have fun – and that is what this whole blog is about. Challenge yourself to get something nice out of a “maybe not so nice” image. Have a good week…..Digital Lady Syd


Pen and ink painting of some trees in winterI was not sure what I wanted to blog about this week until I ran into some wonderful Photoshop brushes that really got my attention. This image was created using some new Wet Media Photoshop Brushes by Aaron Blaise, a former Disney animator. I was pleasantly surprised how nice they are. He also teaches you how to make a very similar image as above in his video where he describes how each brush works and how to use them together. By the way, they are very inexpensive and contain 27 different brushes including several direction sensitive splatter brushes. This was so much fun to try. I have not done this type of creative art very often, and I believe I am now hooked. I also discovered Aaron does some very nice artwork himself.

A Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was placed above the bottom layer and set to a Watercolor type paper. The technique uses the same brushes Aaron used in his video example. A little note here is that when he is switching to white from black paint brush color, he sometimes is using a slightly grayer version of white and a true white as the foreground/background colors – this kept the spatters lighter and gave the brushes a different effect. A Solid Color Adjustment Layer was added above the painting layers and set to a bluish color using Color blend mode at 39% layer opacity. A white to transparent Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer was next to keep the lower part of image whiter. A generic Mixer Blender brush was used on a separate layer on top to clean up some still showing rough spots. The last step placed a Levels Adjustment Layer on top to add a little more contrast to the image. No filters were used!
Painted image of a sunset landscapeSince I am still learning about these brushes, this was a lot of fun to try them out. By varying the sizes, colors and textures, a very different look can be achieved with Wet Media brushes. This time each different brush used was placed on its own layer so it could be adjusted easier. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReStyle was used to make the color palette a little more to my liking. It started out in yellows and greens. Next two of Jai Johnson’s free textures were used:  Cotton Candy Wall set to Darker Color blend mode at 77% layer opacity and Antique Brown Light Canvas set to Hard Light at 74% layer opacity. The Blend If sliders were used to really target the look I wanted. The text is Kaushan Script Regular.

If you like this type of creative artistry, these brushes are a very good value. Since I understand the Photoshop brushes, for me this is a refreshing change to have a set with this variety. Most Photoshop brushes do not have this range and are not created by actual artists to give the best results. Check out his video linked above if you would like to see them action. I will be working on my technique using these brushes – this is definitely a good start towards learning this technique. Have a good week everyone and try some painting!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Easily Create a Photoshop Brush for Painting
Sunny Desert Day
Just Painting!


Image of several American Coots swimming at the Viera WetlandsThis week I thought I would discuss how to turn an ordinary picture into something with a bit of “creative flair” using a couple basic brushes in Photoshop. This is not a new topic for me but I keep coming back to it since this is how I spend a lot of my time working creatively. I had such a fun time going with the Photography Club of Flagler County to the beautiful Ritch Grissom Memorial Viera Wetlands in Brevard County, Florida. I really love photographing and painting nature and these little American Coots were one of my favorite subjects from the day! Probably not what everyone was looking at, but I thought they were very entertaining! Hum! I knew most of my images would be similar to the many taken by the group and that is one reason why I wanted to do something a little different with them! So the image above was changed drastically by just adding a nice texture and painting in Photoshop. And it will look different and hopefully everyone gets a feeling of what I was experiencing when watching these entertaining creatures.

So exactly how did I do this? There are not really that many steps – I have included settings in case you are interested in getting some similar results.

1. For me the first step is always Lightroom – used Seim’s (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Power Workflow 4 Sunday Cross preset. Usually I just go through and look at the different presets in the Navigator until one is found that suits the image. Also an Adjustment Brush set to Clarity 73 and Sharpness 65 was used to sharpen anything in the image that may need it. Just be sure that before opening the photo in Photoshop, the Lens Correction section has checked the Enable Profile Corrections and Remove Chromatic Aberration boxes. Can save problems down the road. Also, now is a good time to Crop your image as it is easier and faster than in Photoshop. This photo was cut almost in half and only the foreground grass and birds were left.

This Photoshop file was divided into two Groups – one containing the Filters and Textures used and the other has the Painting layers.

2. Since Topaz (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail 3 is my second most used filter that I own and used almost exclusively at the beginning of my Photoshop workflow. It is used to overall sharpen my images. Sometimes Topaz Clarity is applied instead for the same reason with a slightly different result. Detail has always served me well and this image shows why. There are some very painterly effects that Detail can give by just creating and using a preset. On a duplicate layer (CTRL+J), one of my presets was applied – it basically removed all the sharp edges, and but left some very pretty colors that is used as an Underpainting layer. (The settings are: Detail Overall – all the details are set to -1.00 and all the Boosts are left at 0; no Tone changes; and Color Temperature -0.27, Tint 0.34, Saturation -0.65, and Saturation Boost 0.21.) This gives a really flat look to the image. A layer mask was added and with a small black brush, just the eyes were painted back and kept sharp. The preset layer and mask were duplicated and set to Linear Dodge (Add) and set to set to 77% layer opacity to lighten up the image overall.

3. Now the texture was added and usually a bit of trial and error is done to figure out which to select. In this case at least 5 textures from different people were tried before the effect that looked best was found. 2 Lil’ Owls Studio’s (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Mosaic Set Destine was applied and set to Darken blend mode at 69% layer opacity. This texture was chosen because the colors gave the image almost that “golden hour” feel and it seemed perfect for this nature image. A layer mask was added and the ducks were painted black so that the colors in the texture did not interfere with the white feathers in the birds.

4. A stamped layer was created on top next (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and converted into a Smart Object. Nik Viveza 2 (my most used and favorite Photoshop filter) and a control point was placed only on the ducks (Brightness 31%, Contrast 48%, and Structure 100%). On the same layer Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 was applied and Fly Paper’s Nik Color Efex Preset Thialand Surfing was selected for this image. (The filters in this preset were Detail Extractor, Cross Processing Darken/Light Center, Glamour Glow and Reflector Efex.) These are inexpensive presets that have really helped me speed up my workflow in this program. This layer was then set to 76% layer opacity so as not to overdo the results.

5. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to bring back a little contrast since textures can often removed it.

Now all but the bottom Background layer were put into a Group (CTRL+G in Layers Panel) and named Filters and Texture. The image actually looked pretty good at this point, but it seemed to be begging for some paint strokes.

6. Now the fun started. What makes this image so painterly is what brushes are used to get the effects. You cannot do this with just a soft round brush – you need to use the Brush Panel sections to add texture and jitter to your strokes. So lets create some useful brushes. For a regular painting brush, my Pastel Brush is used most often for regular painting in Photoshop.  (I used Pastel 11 in SDW Pastel Brushes-a free brush that comes in as a huge 2130 px brush! Used these settings:Brush Tip Shape section Size 35 pixels, Angle 137 degrees, and Spacing 35%; Shape Dynamics section Angle Jitter 8% and Control Pen Pressure; Texture section using the Rough texture or any texture I feel like, Scale 87%, Brightness -45, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Multiply, Depth 50% and Depth Jitter 1%; and Smoothing – if these settings are not working for you, just move the sliders around, especially in the texture section, until you see something you like in the bottom preview.) You really need to find a brush that works for you and use it. I also like my really basic Chalk 60 Brush that just has an Angle Jitter of 19% – you can always add in other items like texture or dual brush for different paint strokes. Just save as a variant.

A good blending Mixer Brush is also needed to blend in some of the more obvious edges of the regular brush to get that soft painterly look. A lot of Photoshop’s canned Mixer brushes are really good. I find the Flat Fan Single Bristle Wet Edge Brush in the Wet Media Brushes from Photoshop to be really good for both a Mixer and regular painting brush. Any brush can be a Mixer brush by turning on the Mixer Brush in the Tools Panel and then selecting the brush in the Brush Picker. The regular brush created above makes a really nice smooth mixing effect as a Mixer. Just remember if you do not want to add any color to the image but just want to mix or blend colors or hard edges, be sure to untoggle the “Load the Brush After Every Stroke” in the Options Bar – otherwise you will get some amount of color being added. In the large drop down in the Options Bar there are a lot of choices to try out for painting. Just experiment. You can get very different effects by just adjusting the Shape of the brush by dragging on the the little circular graphic on the right under the Size slider. Just watch the preview for the results of the changes. I like a rougher edge to give more of a brush-like effect and used the same brush as both a regular brush and Mixer brush for a lot of this painting.

7. Ten layers were added for painting and clean up. I like to switch between the regular brush strokes on one layer and Mixer brush strokes on another since the effects are so different. I have the brushes set up so that B is the regular brush and A is the Mixer brush (this was changed by going to Edit -> Keyboard Shortcuts and selecting Tools) for fast switching. Two different brushes can be connected with each type of brush. With the regular brush, you can sample the color by ALT+clicking in the image and then just start dabbing. With the Mixer brush, you can either click anywhere in the image to get what color is under the brush tip, or you must click on the color swatch to sample in the image and change just one color. Not sure why they are different. If you make a lot of changes to the brush, save it as a Brush Preset by clicking on the Create New Brush icon at the bottom of the Brush Panel or Brush Picker –  Photoshop always sets the brush back to the default settings when you click on it brush again.

For this layer, I really wanted the colors to show up in the foreground grass and reeds so first the regular brush was used at a very small size to add in a little rough grainy edge feel and color, then on the layer above, it was turned into a blending mixer and smoothed out some. Did the same thing on the birds and with the reflections. You can paint as much as you want and can adjust the blend modes and layer opacities to adjust the look. I sampled lots of the colors from the texture to get its colors in the foreground.

8. All the Painting layers were put in a group just to keep it all organized. A final Curves Adjustment Layer was added to get the contrast exactly right.

Painted Image of pink and white flowers in a vaseAbove is another image created with some inexpensive flowers and vase from the Dollar Store and shot with a white cardboard background. This is a good way to practice your flower shooting and post-processing. It was then painted in Photoshop using the basic steps from above. French Kiss’ Solstice Elan2 (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) was used as the texture. A 2B Pencil brush was actually used as a Mixer to get fine detail in this image.

I am constantly surprised how nice an image can look with just a few brush strokes added to give it your own look. It is not that hard – just find a couple brushes you like and adjust them to fit what you are doing. It is lots of fun and you do not have to be a major artist to get a beautiful representation of your image. Hope you get a chance to try out the brushes – I know you will love the results once you try it!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Just Painting in Photoshop and Having Fun!
6 Tips for Painting in Photoshop
How to Easily Create a Photoshop Brush for Painting
Photoshop Brush Fun!


Image of bushes with snow created in Corel PainterBeen doing a lot of experimenting and learning about Corel Painter brushes and thought I would share how my Weed Brush was created. This process is very similar to what is done in Photoshop but requires a few different steps. The above image is an example of just playing in the program, with a little help from Photoshop. It is fun to sometimes not use a photo but just paint. I had never understood how the Painter brushes worked until I started taking Jason Maranto’s Brush Engine Essentials at the Digital Art Academy . These are the most thorough and informative videos that teach everything about how all the brush dab types work all the way through the manipulation of the different panel sliders that apply to each dab type. Probably overkill if you do not love brushes, but since I do, these are an absolutely fabulous way to learn about the brushes and at your own pace! I will be watching his Brush Engine Extended videos soon and hopefully will be creating some watercolor images with my own brushes!

A captured “dab” brush was created to use as the basis for the large bushes that are the main subject of this image. (This always confused me – a dab is the actual mark laid down by the brush – a stroke is made of many dabs created by moving your stylus before lifting it from the canvas. A captured dab can originally be made up of several strokes that are now captured into one dab by following this method – and this is what I did to create the second brush below.) Therefore I thought I would go over how this brush was created in Painter with a few tips I have learned.

Image of captured brush dab in Corel PainterHere are the basic steps that were used to create this brush:

1. Created a square document to keep the proportions of the brush accurate. Painter will let you make a brush up to 750 pixels, but you do not want to make it that large or else it will slow your computer way down when using it. Choose an amount that is approximately the largest size you will need so no artifacting occurs. Try something in the range of 128 to 256 pixels for both the width and height sizes and set the resolution to 150 ppi. The brush above was set to 200 pixels square.

2. I used the Airbrush Category Fine Tip Soft Air with these settings:  Size 4.0, Opacity 100% which creates “a smooth fast-drawing tool” according to the now defunct Corel Magazine Issue #24 where they talked about the Airbrushes. (If you have any of the them, they are still great references for even the current version of Painter.) Since brushes will look best if created in black and white, select black color and paint a stroke similar to the one above on the Canvas. Corel will make the dab black and white if you do not and the results are not always great.

3. Select the whole brush document to CTRL+A and then go to Brushes -> Capture Dab. To deselect, press CTRL+D. Just to be safe, at this point I usually save the new brush by going to Brushes -> Save Variant and select a category for saving the brush.

4. Open the Dab Preview Panel to see how your new capture brush dab looks. Now it’s time to tweak your brush.

-General Panel Subcategory was changed to Grainy Hard Cover to pick more texture in the paper. Leave it to Soft Cover to get brighter more solid lines in your dab.

-If the brush is not a circular, go to the Angle Panel and change it from a 25 degree angle to something more reasonable or 0 for none. The above is set to 8 degrees for a slight variation with an Expression set to Pressure.

-The spacing of the dabs needs to be set in the Spacing Panel – set to 200% for one dab without overlapping. My brush is set to 56% Spacing and Min. Spacing of 0.1.

-Color Variability Panel Settings were used to get the variation in color. These need to be tweaked quite a bit to get the effect you want in your brush, if you want this look. For my brush, the H (Hue) was set to 15%, S (Saturation) 30%, and V (Value) 6% since I wanted that colorful variation. Do not open this panel if you do not want this effect.

-The Size Panel is set to 200 pixels, Min Size 29%, Expression Pressure, and Size Step 14%.

-The Opacity Panel is set to 100% for the Opacity, but Min. Opacity to 64% for some variation, and an Expression of 76%.

5. The last step is to update the brush you saved with the new settings by going to Brushes -> Set Default Variant. Next time you open brush, your new settings are there.

You do not have to use any of these settings for your captured dab. This is an example of how my Weed brush was put together to get the wispy texturized effect. By adjusting the size and changing the Color Variability and Subcategory, very different results can be obtained with the same dab. There are many other panels which will influence your stroke. By pressing the last icon on the Menu bar with the dot and brush, you can see which panels affect this brush for more choices.

For the rest of the image, here are the steps used. Each brush used was placed on a different layer so the opacity could be individually adjusted. The clouds were created by using a couple of brushes from Karen Bonaker’s Around the World Clouds that are free from her website. The Impressionist Sky brush is definitely a great one to begin with – then use a blender brush to smooth the edges. To really create some wonderful clouds, follow her Corel Webinar called Corel Painter Mixed Media Painting to really learn how to use all the brushes. The 3rd example is about creating the clouds.
Image as completed in Corel PainterOnce finished in Painter, the image above was brought into Photoshop where French Kiss’ Brayer Blocks 02 was used (it is very similar to her Free Photo Mask on her website if you would like to try out the effect) to add the whole scene onto it. A pink Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between layers) to the block to remove the black color in the block. This was done by creating a group in the Layer Panel, duplicating the group, right click and select Merge Group, and turn off the eyeball of the original group. Now you have just the elements alone to clip to the Brayer Block layer. (See Related Blog below for more info on this.) On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReStyle was applied using a preset I created way back that gives a bluish tone to rather bright original. My free SJ Snow 2-Overlay-slightly blurred overlay was added on top and set to 94% layer opacity. On a separate layer under the trees I used Fay Sirkis’s Snow Classic Powder Highlights (I love her brushes! If you are a KelbyOne member, they can be downloaded from her older webinars) but as you can see just a simple whitish sponge brush could be used to add a little snow. A light blue Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added since the blue tone effect was just not right – it was set to Color blend mode at 41% layer opacity. The last step was to use the Camera Raw Filter Radial Filter to emphasize the middle bushes to draw the eye.


Above image painted in Corel Painter of a skierThis image used the same brush created above, but this time several dabs were put down in a document and then it was saved as a new brush called Lots of Weeds. The reason there are bare spaces between the trees is that it was not converted to a black and white brush first, so the lighter variations did not appear. I did not mind that as it gave a totally different feel to the same stroke. Below is the brush file used to create the new one in Painter.Brush Created in Painter for above imageThe trees were on a separate layer, some sprayed snow was placed underneath on a different layer, and then the file was saved as a psd file and brought into Photoshop. The skier is from a free brush pack by brusheezy called Vectoroom Snowy 2.0 and the skier was rotated in the Brush Panel Brush Tip Shape section to approximately -45 degrees, spacing set to 1000% and size down to about 80 pixels to get the downhill effect correct. I used the Blur Tool to slightly soften the edges of the skier. A think pencil effect was used to the the slight ski lines. The original tree layer from Painter was duplicated and set to Vivid Light blend mode and a Drop Shadow layer style was added to give a setting sun feeling. (Blend Mode Multiply, Opacity 55%, Angle -33, Distance t0 px, Spread 0, and Size 13.) Jai Johnson’s beautiful free Iced Blue Canvas texture was added on top, set to Multiply blend mode. In the Layer Mask the Blend If This Layer white tab was split (ALT+drag to split) and set to 130/209 and on the Underlying Layer the white tab was set to 239/255 – this gives the sort of snowy effect granular effect I wanted in the image. On a stamped version (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E), Topaz ReStyle’s Snow Cover II was applied. (Here are the settings if you want them: ReStyle to Layer Opacity of 81% and set to Multiply blend mode. Set Basic to Color Blend Mode; Tone Black Level 0.17, Midtones -0.16, and White Color -0.37; and Detail Structure to 0.14 and Sharpness to -0.39.) This layer was set to 55% and on a Layer Mask, just the skier and center focal point area was lightly painted out. That was it and it gives a totally different look from the above with essentially the same brush.

As you can see, it is major fun to create brushes in Corel Painter if you can figure out what you need to do to make it look good. The brush classes really help. There are also several You Tube videos that I have found to be really helpful with these settings. Check out Karen Bonaker’s Favorite Brushes-Artists Sargent Brush, Heather Michelle’s Brushology 101 for Corel Painter, and Cher Pendarvis-Theiren’s Painter Wow! Exploring Brush Expression videos, for starters. They contain some great tips on how to create brushes and use the brush engine panels. Hope you get a chance to try out some new brushes – it is so much fun!

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Bring a Corel Painter Brush into Photoshop
How To use a Photo Frame Mask (using Brayer Blocks)


A Valentines Day Wish for You with a vase and flowersHappy Valentines Day to everyone! Finally got a chance to get create a valentine for one of my favorite holidays! I took some still life type images today and used this wonderful pitcher purchased a while back at at the Deland Antiques Show. I bought the fake flowers at Michael Arts and Crafts Stores. Used Seim’s and 2 Lil’s Owls Studios (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for both website links) in Lightroom before bringing the image into Photoshop. Topaz (also linked at my Tidbits Blog above) Detail 3 was applied to overall sharpen up the detail. Then the hearts were adding using a valentine brush I created – to get the random opening in the heart, use a dual brush. The background doily was from Design Cuts Valentine Poster Freebies and a Pattern Fill Layer and a Gradient Fill Layer using a red gradient were clipped to the doily object. Some layer style effects were added to make it stand out a little. Similar effect was created using little valentines and setting the Color Dynamics section to add different colors. On a stamped layer Topaz ReStyle’s Pastel Green Field preset was added. The last step was to add the valentine pattern on the background just to add some interest.

Another Valentine this time using Corel PainterThis is another Still Life image created using a different pitcher. I like this plain white vase as it is easy to put things on it, like the soft pink valentine, to fit your theme.  So the original raw file was opened Lightroom where I used Jack Davis’s Five Step Tango from his videos at Creative Live to clean up the image. In Photoshop the image was sharpened using Topaz Detail 3. It was changed to an 8 bit image for Painter at this point. Then in Painter, 4 source images were created. A source using Topaz ReStyle was used the most to get the warm pinkish colors. Just did the basic painting steps to lay out the background and then bring in the object details. My favorite brush for this image was one from Legacy brushes called Medium Bristle Oils 25. Also one created from watching Commercial Packaging Illustration with Michael Bast – a Corel webinar. He uses a Distorto Brush that breaks up the texture – it really works great to get rid of those really eye drawing sharp lines. Painted Textures‘ Concrete Canvas was added and a Layer Mask was used to bring back the flowers. The layer was set to Multiply blend mode before bringing back into Photoshop. Here a very basic heart was added onto the pitcher and warped to look correct – then Pink Sherbert Dirty Grunge texture (not sure this is available anymore) was added and clipped (ALT+click between layers to clip) to get the right color in the heart. The heart layer was set to 63% layer opacity. The font is Kingthings Pique’n’meex, and a Levels Adjustment Layer was added last.

Hope everybody is having a great day!…..Digital Lady Syd


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