Anything Photoshop or Photography

Latest

PUZZLED

Creative digital art image

Decided to start the New Year off doing something different. I had been working on this really intricate Taj Mahal Jigsaw Puzzle and got to wondering why did I enjoy doing this so much? Then I started looking at all the pretty colors and the intricate things the subjects were doing and realized this was a pretty impressive puzzle. Even the painting strokes were interesting, especially in the sky. It appears that many puzzles are made by very serious painters and much research is done to correctly finalize them. The image above did not actually use a separate puzzle effect as created below – it used the background of a phone image from one of my put-together puzzles for the effect. See Image One below for how this was done and what resources were used. This to me was what I wanted to create, but then I decided it would be interesting to learn how the actual puzzle effects for Photoshop were made. So below is what I learned.

The big question was how do you get the Puzzle Effect? These are the choices I found:

  1. Use an overlay that can be downloaded from the internet. I created a free basic Jigsaw Puzzle overlay for you to download on my DeviantArt site since I could not find a free link.
  2. Download the Free Puzzle Pieces action by Bojan Zivkovic from Adobe Exchange (can do a search on the internet for it and then just log into the Creative Cloud to download – a zipped file goes into your download folder along with a nice PDF on how to use it. It will create 2 – 192 puzzle pieces all placed on individual layers.
  3. Go to the Layer Styles panel and click the little upper right icon – in drop down select Select Legacy Styles & More -> All Legacy Default Styles -> Image -> Puzzle. When the style is applied, in the Bevel and Emboss Texture section, there is an Adobe Puzzle Pattern. More on this in Example of Step 3.

See examples for each Jigsaw Effect below.

Example of Step 1: This image was finalized before adding the effect. It was created by following Maddy Bellwoar’s video tutorial on Behance called Painting Beautiful Birds in Photoshop. Her videos are a wonderful way to learn to draw and paint. Now the Jigsaw Puzzle overlay could be added.

Drawn and painted image of a robin

Just use Free Transform (CTRL+T) to adjust the overlay if needed – it is set to a 2:3 aspect ratio (can rotate to 3:2 for Portrait view as shown above). Use layer masks, adjustment layers (try clipping it to the puzzle layer – right click and choose Create Clipping Mask), layer styles including Blend If sliders, blending modes and layer opacity can be adjusted. (The settings for the robin image above were as follows: The jigsaw overlay layer was set to Luminosity blend mode to start; double clicked on this layer to bring up its Layer Style and used the Stroke effect – set Fill Type to Color and sampled a light color from the image and selected a slightly lighter Color, Size 8, Position Inside, Blend Mode Normal, and Opacity 100%; and opened the Bevel & Emboss effect and set Style to Emboss for more of a puzzle effect, Technique to Chisel Soft, Direction Down, Size 16 and Soften 0, Highlight Mode Screen at 48% opacity and Shadow Mode Multiply at 55% opacity. The layer was set to 46% opacity.) Definitely play with the sliders in the Layer Style – the Bevel and Emboss settings can really make some cool looks on the piece edges.

*****

Image of an electric guitar player from Pixabay with puzzle effect applied

Example of Step 2: This action is very easy to use and there is a great short video on how to do this called How to Create Puzzle Effect in Photoshop by ReVon. Basically the biggest thing you need to worry about is the Aspect Ratio of your image so the action runs correctly. Open Image -> Image Size to see how large your image really is – this one was 6″ X 4″ roughly or a 3:2 aspect ratio. Go to the Crop Tool and set an Aspect Ratio that works if needed. Load the Puzzle.atn (just double-click on the action in the Explorer and it puts it in the Action Panel in PS). Open the action to see lots of choices – just beware that each puzzle piece is going on a separate layer so if the image is large, watch the size of the file. This image (called Pixabay Electric Guitar) was set to 3:2 aspect ratio and 54 piece set. When running the action, the top left puzzle piece will be highlighted, and the Drop Shadow Effect (it was turned if off for the above) and Bevel & Emboss Effect (used Depth of 100, Size 3) will be checked and can be adjusted before applying it to all pieces. He has included another action called Change Layer Style to use if you do not like the effect results when finished. The Puzzle action creates a New Document so the original file is not affected. To remove a piece(s), select the Move Tool and hold CTRL + click over the piece to be removed or turn off the layer eyeball on left. This actually gives a pretty nice result and is fast. Read the accompanying PDF for more tips. The Jigsaw brushes from Image One were used on a layer above the puzzle pieces and a Photofocus Sepiatone LUT (not sure where to find it)I at 65% layer opacity.

*****

Guitar Man from Pixabay with puzzle effect on it.

Example of Step 3: Here is another type of puzzle effect that used an old Adobe Pattern for the puzzle template that PS provided with PS2019. (Who knew?) (Used my favorite ISO Republic Guitar Man for a subject.) Download it as discussed in Step 3 above. To find it, double click your layer to open the Layer Style and on the top left, select Styles – go down to the bottom and Puzzle should be listed there. You can see that it has a Bevel & Emboss effect applied to it along with a Texture. The Texture is the key to this puzzle effect – go into the Texture and you will see a Pattern that looks like a puzzle preset. Here you can Scale the piece size for your image (slide right for larger size up to 1000% – this image used 695%). I found turning off the Invert button and changing the Depth to +297 gave a more realistic puzzle look. The pattern can also be dragged around in the image to line it up right. Need to check in the Blending Options area the “Layer Mask Hides Effects” so the next step can be done. Say Okay and add a Layer Mask to the image. Paint out in the mask the little tabs from the edges to look like edge pieces. Create a stamped layer (ALT+SHIFT+CTRL+E) and underneath fill a New Layer with a background color – then add a Layer Mask to the stamped layer and paint out puzzle pieces to remove the puzzle pieces as if the puzzle is not done. This process definitely takes a more effort.

*****

Digital art image of some beautiful arrows and feathers

Used a different jigsaw pattern (that is no long available on the internet) on the above. After loading the Pattern into PS, the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was scaled to the Puzzle using a Scale of 110% for the Arrows image – it fit pretty good, but this will depend on the size of your image and the size of the pieces wanted. Then the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was duplicated and rasterized by right clicking on the pattern and the original adjustment turned off by clicking on the layer eyeball. Why did I do this? So the Free Transform command could be used to adjust the edges exactly right. A Layer Mask was added to the rasterized layer and the tabs on the edges were painted out. The overall puzzle layer was set to 32% layer opacity so as not to overtake the elements in the image. See Image Two below for more info on creating the design.

Bottom Line is to use whatever works for you. I think the Adobe Free Action has a lot of possibilities but I did not spend that much time using it. I hope you at least enjoyed finding out the different ways the puzzle effect can be applied and what different results occur. Stay warm…….Digital Lady Syd

IMAGE RESOURCES AND POST PROCESSING INFO

Image One: Of course, the first image above was just for fun – got some new resources this past month and thought I would try out a few. But the actual background puzzle image is one worked awhile ago of bird stamps (Finchley Paper Arts from Milton Bradley) – a phone image of the finished piece was taken and was placed over a Rusty 3 Vintage Paper by Suna Kosem. To get the paper to show up, used Blend If This Layer settings (56/138 and 162/255). A layer mask was used to paint the pieces off the face. (The face is from an old free brush set on Deviant Art called Phrenology Photoshop brushes by hogret.) The individual Jigsaw Puzzle pieces were from jigsaw(set07)briarrose_icons and are also available from Deviant Art. The Puzzled font is one of my very favorites called Everleigh Serif Font by Gleb Guralnyk – along with the paper, these items were in a Christmas $5 bundle from Design Cuts. Twice a year they run a great deal on some of their best items. The font at the bottom is Rosabelia SLDT, one I have been using a while – just like the way it looks, and it was from Creative Market, another great resource spot (check out their Free Goodies of the Week – this is how I got this font).

Image Two: The rest of the Arrow image was just adding a few arrows and feathers from the same Design Cuts set – this one was called Boho Arrows Clip Art – then changing the colors and adding some layers styles. I really like the pretty arrows so I wanted to try some type of creative image with them. To get the individual loose puzzle pieces from the actual image, a couple of the jigsaw pieces were painted out in Quick Mask to select them. They were put on separate layers and spun a little. 2 Lil’ Owls Mosaic Set’s Delfine Grunge (not sure it is still available) was the background texture (one of my favorites sets from her). It was a lot of fun to do!

LET IT SNOW!

Animated snow GIF of an Old St. Nick image

Happy Holidays!

I had so much fun creating these animated snow GIFs the past few days. Thought I would share how it is achieved since I have been looking for easy tutorials on this forever. BTW, the image above is of a beautiful Holiday item one of my friends had in her living room. The subject was first separated from the background and then snow and lots of other steps added to the it to get the start of a snowy effect before adding the animated snow layers.

The GIF tutorial I followed is by one of my very favorite PS guys, Corey Barker. If you are member of Kelby One, check out the November/December 2019 edition of Photoshop User Magazine, Shaping and Styling a Custom Holiday Scene article, and at the bottom click on the Learn More button – a nice 7 minute video on how to do this is shown and it works perfectly! A more complicated video called Create Realistic Animated Snow in Photoshop that uses 3D by Corey is also very good – basic steps are the same at the end of the video so it does not have to be done with a 3D effect (had to try this in CS6 but any snowy layer should work). Corey used a Pattern Layer Style in a timeline to get his snowy effect and that is what you see above and below. For the top image, two layers with layer styles were used – one that used the ornament image snow layer and one using my blurry snow overlay turned into a pattern. By dragging the blurry snowy pattern a little sideways in the Pattern Layer Style, a soft windy feeling could be achieved. The speed seems to be a bit of issue with this method as I could not figure out how to slow the rate of falling snow down a little.

*****

Animated snow GIF of a Christmas Ornament

The ornament is a shape that was also explained in the PSUser magazine and everything else was painted or used Christmas brush strokes. And for your info, the crazy Fisheye effect is a filter in Topaz Lens Effects, one of my favorites (and it sure is a lot cheaper than buying a fisheye lens). Need to put your image together the way you want it before adding the animation effect. The green tree background was created using a silver colored pattern fill and clipping a Select Color Adjustment Layer to it for color. The bulbs were copied from one of old tree pix. And the branch edges and some ivy painted across some of the more bare areas were painted on using JS Scully’s Christmas Accent Brushes at DeviantArt. Also in the center were some PNG snowflakes from a while back that were turned into large soft brushes (I love doing this!). This time just created one layer with snow that would only show up inside the ornament. This was my first attempt and it took a while to figure out how to set it all up.

*****

Animated Snow Gif

This image is from Deeezy’s 33 landscape photos free set and used a little different process to create the snow animation. This time the Photoshop marvel Colin Smith created a nice video called How to Make Animated Snow in Photoshop – it contains three snow layers in a Smart Object that ultimately ends up on top of your image (or videos). I thought this was an easier way to do the gif, but I had a lot of problems with the slight jiggling when the 5 second loop starts over. I think a lot of experimentation has to be done to get smooth snowfall. But overall it turned out pretty nice. In PS the Landscape Mixer Neuron Filter was set to the first preset image to turn the summery image into a wintry scene. Also a few layers were painted to add a snow accumulation effect to the objects. This effect has a more natural snow look with the snow layer animation speeds set to different amounts. This way of animating the snow does allow from some falling snow rate adjustment so that give a very different feel to the images.

*****

Animated Snow Gif

What is really great is that this animation layer can be placed on a different photo (this last image is from Unsplash by Atikh-Bana) to make it an animation also. I cheated and duplicated the animation smart object layer from the Deeezy image above to this image and then changed the opacity of the different snow layers by opening the copied snow layer’s smart object and resaving. Then Color Lookup and Levels Adjustment Layers were applied before converting the image to a gif animation. To do this correctly, go to Colin’s video link above and scroll down to follow his saving directions so the snow layer can be easily be added into another image easily.

This is very challenging to do, but once you start to understand the Photoshop Timeline Panel, it is pretty easy to figure out. It was fun to have a challenge and hopefully I will learn a few tricks to make this easier, especially with adjusting the snow speed and how the loop interacts. Everyone have a Great Holiday and I will see you next year!………Digital Lady Syd

MORE COLORIZE FUN

Vintage image of the Colonial Hotel in Nassau.

I have been taking a break for a while – lots was going on with all the many Photoshop conferences and the new versions of Lightroom and Photoshop. Everyone seems to be using this one filter in PS – I can’t say that I blame them. It is turning out to be pretty cool! Since writing a blog called Wow! The New Improved Photoshop Neural Filter Colorize in August, the filter has gotten much more stable and works a lot smoother.

The above is an image of the old Colonial Hotel built in 1901 by Henry Flagler in Nassau, the Bahamas. The hotel burned down in 1922 and the British Colonial Hilton Hotel is now located on this area. The image is from Shorpys.com (see original black and white). The area has some interesting history including scenes from the James Bond Movie Never Say Never Again! Thought I’d include this vintage 1918 postcard of the original hotel from Wikipedia. Wish I could have visited the original – it looks quite beautiful!

Postcard of the old Colonial Hotel in Nassau from 1913

For post processing on the top photo the relatively new PS Neural Filter Colorize was selected using just the preset called Retro-Faded. After applying the filter on a New Layer, a stamped (or composite) layer was created on top, and the Edit -> Sky Replacement command was used to add in a more interesting sky. On a new stamped layer, Color Efex Pro 4 was used to soften up the whole image to give an overall nice warm feeling (Ink, Darken/Lighten Center and Film Efex: Vintage filters were used). Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer for some image contrast.

*****

Image of a Fountain sculpture of Neptune

Below you can see the image of Neptune was larger and what settings were used. (See my 1-minute video called Hilton Waikoloa Village Palace Tower Fountain for other fountain images taken a while ago – I have no idea who created it!) It was cropped down to emphasize the expression on Neptune‘s face (this guy had a bunch of children). It took a lot of steps but the color definitely came from the Colorization Neural Filter. Below is the original image in the Colorize Panel. Just the sliders were used this time.

Settings for the Colorization Neural Filter in Neptune image

The main objects were selected, which took quite a while due to the complexity of the subjects and many items had to be covered, removed or added to get a more unified feel in the image – just basic PS clean up. One of my painted backgrounds was used to give a more painterly old feel. An oldie-but-a-goodie filter was brought out to give the image a warmer feel – Topaz Lens Effect’s Gold Reflection filter was applied at 79% layer opacity – then some of the effect was painted out with a layer mask so it was not overdone. Finished up with the Camera Raw to adjust the colors a little more. But overall this is the color palette that was applied from the Colorization filter.

*****

Colorized image taken from Shorpys.com B&W image.

The above image was another Shorpy.com black and white image of Bannack, Montana in 1942. I wanted to show that this image was colorized in the neural filter twice. First converting a duplicate of the original the black and whiter Background layer with the Output to New Color Layer checkbox on (see first screenshot below), and then using four Focal Points, three adding yellow to the dirt road and one to cool down the first hillside area (see second screenshot below). Back in PS the only other things done to the image were a Levels Adjustment Layer and a little bit of Dodging and Burning on the dirt road to define the edges.

Screenshot of the Neural Filter using the Output to New Color Layer checkbox.
Image of the Colorize Filter in PS using Focal Points.

As stated above PS has added a couple extra tweaks to the new PS 2022 upgrade and the filter no longer is crashing as much (also my brushes are working correctly again!) I did have one big program blow-out (PS just disappeared!) while adjusting the Focal Points, but when tried again it worked.

Still figuring out the other filters. It seems there needs to be a little more work done to get them working as good as the Colorize Filter. I did learn that if your Neural Filters keep crashing your system or shuts the filter down, you can delete the filter file and let Photoshop restore them when you restart the program. This fixed some of my errors with these filters, but not all. Here is the Adobe troubleshooting link.

Hope you have tried out this filter – it seems like it does have some very nice uses for the PS creative. It is nice to see PS adding a few new items to try out……Digital Lady Syd

FINDING A PHOTOSHOP BRUSH IN A BIG SET

Drawn and painted image of a Red Legged Honey Creeper Bird

So how do you keep all your great Photoshop brushes organized and how do you remember what they look like for a given effect? This blog shows what I have been doing to combat this huge Photoshop brush debacle! I have two tips on how to do this.

For the past several months, Kyle T. Webster (Adobe Brush Evangelist) has been creating videos on how to use some of the different brushes in his PS sets. It got me to thinking about how to see these brushes and their strokes quickly to decide if I wanted to apply any to an image. Since Kyle has over 2000 brushes to download, with 400 in his Megapack alone, it can get very confusing. (Note: To download these brushes, open PS and go to the Brush Panel’s upper right corner drop-down menu and choose Get More Brushes. If you are on the PS subscription service, you will be able to choose any of his sets.) And if you are like me, I am always on the lookout for other great brushes such as the fabulous GrutBrushes (he gives a free one away every Monday so check him out – you won’t be disappointed with them), Aaron Blaise brushes (the wonderful Disney drawer with lots of nice brushes and wildlife tutorials – watch for his great sales), and Maddy Bellwoar (Adobe Create artist that has some beautiful painterly brushes and great weekly painting videos), to name just a few. Just these few artists’ brushes create a huge amount to organize!

For a quick bit of info on the image above (which was really just a practice image BTW and not finished), it was drawn by following a video by Maddy on Behance called Painting Beautiful Birds in Photoshop. Below most of her videos is a link to download a free set of 44 brushes and many were used on the blue bird she painted. Below is my stroke page for these brushes. (See my American Goldfinch Tidbits Blog for more info on Maddy and her brushes.)

First Tip: Create a Brush Group with Duplicates of Brushes Used in Image

The first tip is what I now do anytime a new image is painted. It is very important that the layers are labeled with the different brushes being used so you know where they were applied in your painting – then you can see how to create a similar effect in another painting.

  • When painting, click the “Create a New Group” in the Brushes Panel – click on Folder icon at bottom and name it. See in screenshot below.
  • A duplicate of any brush being used is created as I paint. To duplicate a brush, highlight the brush to copy and press the middle box with a (+) icon next to the Group icon. Sometimes the duplicated brush will show a different name (the Soft Airbrush below shows a name of Soft Round 200 730) so it is renamed back to the original and sometimes the initials of the brush artist, like MW is added if needed. (You can save any brush you want this way – just rename and decide if you want the Tool Type, Size and Color saved with the brush in the New Brush dialog box.)
  • Then highlight and drag the duplicate brush to the new group. Below is an example of all the Bird brushes used so far for the top image.
  • When finished, be sure to save the Group of brushes by highlighting all the brushes in the Group – then in upper right drop-down menu, choose Export Selected Brushes and Name the file on your computer (I usually use the image name and place in a special folder called Project Set Brushes). It will save down as a PS brush .abr file. If you add more brushes later, the file can always be saved over with the added brushes. To open file in PS, go to the drop-down again and select Import Brushes – go to the file and double click and it will be shown at the bottom of your brush list. Very handy to have!
Image of brushes used in bird image.

Second Tip: Make Brush Stroke PSD Files for Reference in Bridge

Kyle recently created a really interesting video called Brush Hour: the Fall 2021 Brush Set on his Fall 2021 set of 26 brushes where he drew a Halloween-looking guy like below. For this image it was really good practice to try and emulate what he did just to learn how to use the brushes. (I also learned how to stack drawing layer effects in this video.) No Brush Panel Group was created since most of the brushes used were in the his Fall 2021 set.

Drawing of a vampire in Photoshop

To keep brushes straight in all of Kyle’s free sets from Photoshop, or any others I have downloaded, a Photoshop PSD document was created for each stroke, and anything else can be placed in it. Two files are usually made with big sets of brushes – often my own little sketches using the brushes are added. Below is an example of my Fall 2021 Brushes Set showing each brush – the ones liked are marked with a dot. (For the vampire pix, the Double Edged Hatch, Boxit, Circlez, Ripopolo, Pigmentia Edge, and Ratchet brushes were used just to create the background. Then Pigmentia and Rachet were mainly used to create the character but also a little Concept Pencil and Vincent for Vincent Van Gogh were also used – you can see I liked several of these brushes.)

Examples of Kyles Fall 2021 Brushes

Below is the sheet created of Maddy’s Free Brush strokes. (Click on the image to see better in Flickr.) The third brush in the top row is one I created (from a Maddy video) based on the second brush – it has been saved with the brushes in this set file. The Canvas Size (go to Edit -> Canvas Size) was extended to accommodate all the brush strokes in this set (it would be hard to print the files out this way as it needs two files for printing).

Image of Maddy's Free Brush and Variations

The PSD file is saved and placed into a folder to access in Adobe Bridge (mine is called Paintbrush Example Files). This way the files can be reviewed very quickly to see where the needed brush is located or to find a good one to use. Below shows my folder of some of the PSD files in Bridge.

If there is an interesting technique being used, select the Note Tool (toggled with the Eyedropper Tool and several others) to include this info with your image for extra reference – this can show brush change info, like adding a Color Dynamics section to it or changing the spacing of the brush. Or if a change is made to a brush, it can be saved with a name showing what was done to it as shown in the SJ Soft Shading and Blending-no opa transfer brush in Maddy’s Blue Bird Group above.

It takes a while to do this, but it has saved so much time now that they are available. Getting the backlog of Kyle’s and Grut’s brushes set up took a lot of time. And having the brushes in a folder when painting is also very handy, especially if I am trying to get a similar look to a painting or drawing from a previous image. And it is a great way to learn how to use the brushes with your stroke style! Wish I had been doing this all along!

I hope this is helpful to some of you who are like me and collect who knows how many brushes. Hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful weather like we are having here in the States. Fall is such a great time of year!…..Digital Lady Syd

WOW! THE NEW IMPROVED PHOTOSHOP NEURAL FILTER COLORIZE

Unsplash image by Nairit Prachanda of the Himalayan Free Church.

As many of you know I love to colorize images, especially old ones from my own family collection of photos or those from Shorpy’s – the best around for old pix. Now you can actually colorize images that aren’t old black and white shots and get some pretty remarkable results with this updated filter panel. The best information I could find on the Colorize filter is a short YouTube by Photoshop guru Colin Smith called New Neutral Colorize in Photoshop Can do Much More. One thing I found interesting is that the Colorize Filter and the Select Subject command are both using the same AI Sensei Technology PS uses.

The image above is an image by Nairit Prachanda of a Himalayan Free Church from Unsplash. The original image is very dark as seen in the link. By using the Beta Colorize filter, this image can be made to really pop! This filter can be revisited by making the image a Smart Object before beginning the change. Below is a JPG screenshot of what the Colorize interface looked like when opened (go to Filters -> Neural Filters and select Colorize at bottom – need to move toggle to the right to load the panel) and manipulated. In this image an orange triangle told me that the filter had quit working and appeared towards the end of its use – remember, it is a Beta version so it may not work smoothly all the time. The sliders that are checked were adjusted just slightly – a little bit goes a long way. If you do not want the program to do the original adjustments, check Retain original image colors and adjust the sliders manually. To get the warm color on the right, just click in the image and the color picker opens up – choose a color for that area. It will change everything that color so this may have be adjusted back in PS with a layer mask.

Screenshot of Neural Filter Colorize interface

Also note that Colorize has Profiles presets that can be used to give a certain feel – this one used the Retro Green to bring out the oranges especially. (Profiles presets include: Retro in all cases and the following words: high contrast, blue brown, light yellow, purple yellow, bright, red, green, faded, denim, dark, and brown). In this case, it was overall a little too much, so the Profile intensity was checked and the slider set to 70. Note that the Profile and the Profile slider amount settings were not retained in the Smart Object although all the other settings were.

Back in PS, used both a Shadow and a Highlight layer (see my A Few Photoshop and Lightroom Tips and Tricks blog-Tip #2 from Sam Peterson), which showed some of the background a little more clearly. Then the Camera Raw filter’s Calibration Panel was opened and the Red, Green and Blue Primary sliders were adjusted.

A second Neural Filter was applied to add a little more green to the top of the structure and make the orange look more painterly. The colors were reset by pressing the arrow and line icon in the upper right, then the Retro Green Profile was selected again and the Profile intensity was set to 50 – that was all that was done this time. A black layer mask was created and just those two areas were painted back.

********

Colorized image of an old motel from 1939.

The image above is from my favorite vintage site, Shorpy.com – to see the original Black and White version click here. When doing these colorizations, once the image is loaded into Photoshop, be sure to make sure the size is not crazy – like 80 inches X 60 inches at 72 res. What I always do is go to Image -> Image Size and uncheck the Resolution box and change it to 300 ppi, then check the box again and then go up to the size – it should now have adjusted down to something like 8 inches X 5 inches but it can not be changed to a reasonable size. Otherwise you could have problems down the way with the huge size of the image.

This image was taken into the Colorize Filter and not much was done to it – only a little Red and Magenta were added before bringing it back into PS for further processing. (See panel below.) It was definitely too green so a few things were done to get the image above.

Back in PS, a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using the Cerulean preset was added to darken it. Next Sam Peterson’s Shadows and Highlight layers were added to emphasize the shadows and lighten up the foreground shrubs. A Red Channel Luminosity Curve Adjustment Layer was added on top. On a stamped layer (CRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) set to a Smart Object, Color Efex Pro 4 was opened where lots of filters were applied (Tonal Contrast, Brilliance/Warmth, Vignette-Lens, Contrast Color Range, Remove Color Cast, White Neutralizer, Sunlight, and Image Borders) – all of these were set to taste. Finished off with a Levels Adjustment Layer changing the black Output Level amount to 14 to get a little more of a vintage feel in it.

Jean Beraud's Avenue Parisienne from 1880's lightened up with PS Neutral Filter Colorize.

The above 1880 Avenue Parisienne painting (click link to see original) by Jean Beraud was selected for trying out the Neural Filter Colorize because it was rather dark but was a very interesting image. It is also one of my favorite paintings. Below is the panel and basically the only thing done with the Colorize filter was to check the Retain original image colors box and set the Saturation to +50. After that the Camera Raw Filter was used to just slightly adjust the skin tones as the faces were really over colorized but it looked good in other parts of the painting. (Color Mixer – Saturation Reds +8, Orange +21, and Yellows -15 and Luminance Oranges +65 and Yellows -6) This step also lightened some of the buildings in the background which show the Parisian architecture of the time. Since the skin was still too bright, a Vibrance Adjustment Layer set to Vibrance +44 and Saturation -19 was add and the layer mask filled with black (CTRL+I) – then just the skin areas were painted back in. This helped a lot. Last step added a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity to slightly change the tones a little. I really like both iterations and it was fun to try out the filter with a really good painting.

Screenshot of Neural Filter Colorize settings

As you can see, this Colorize filter has a lot of possibilities and I am sure Adobe is working on it as we speak. It is fun just to see what it will do and the creative possibilities are endless. I want to try just bringing a selected area into it to see what it would do in a composite. Hope everyone is having a great summer and gets a chance to play around with this filter and your images…..Digital Lady Syd

A FEW PHOTOSHOP AND LIGHTROOM TIPS AND TRICKS

Image of a lioness drawing

This week I thought I would present a few handy tips and tricks that you may not know or had forgotten – some are from a few years ago. These are ones I found while experimenting on my latest images. Maybe they will be helpful for you while working on yours. The image above was drawn and painted from an photo I took at the Jacksonville Zoo a while back. I love her expression. So here we go…..

  1. CHECK VALUES QUICKLY (PS): Sam Peterson from Adobe Creative Live, has this excellent way to turn your photo to black and white to see how the image values are looking. First need to set up the panel. In PS go to View -> Proof Setup -> Custom and in Customize Proof Condition Dialog, set Proof Conditions – Device to Simulate to Dot Gain 20%, Rendering Intent to Relative Colorimetric, and check Black Point Compensation. Now these settings will always remain. Simply press CTRL+Y and instantly you will see the whole image in B&W. Just press CTRL+Y again and it removes the effect. Also, the Color Picker still works when image is in B&W so you can see what color is causing a problem if you do not like the results. Really cool! I am using this all the time now for a quick view of what is happening with the tones in the image.
  2. SHADOW AND HIGHLIGHT LAYERS (PS): Another Sam Peterson trick – this guy does have some really interesting techniques! For images with really neutral lighting, he creates a New Layer and sets it to Multiply blend mode and selects a grayish-blue tone (try #8e969e). Clip this layer to object layer for keeping shadows confined to the object only. Otherwise can use on the whole image. Use any brush, soft Airbrush or hard edged, to paint in the shadows. (Can create a gobo lighting effect doing this with an interesting stamp brush – see my Photoshop Gobo Lightng Effect blog.) He does the same technique for Highlights using a Color Dodge blend mode and a darkish mid-gray color (try #42403d). These two layers work well together and give some beautiful results. By using these colors and adjusting the brush opacity and flow, a subtle result can be achieved.
  3. BRUSH SMOOTHING FOR TRACING (PS): This tip is from Paul Trani also from Adobe Creative Live. When tracing over an image and are having problems controlling the brush strokes, set the brush Smoothing up to 50 and the lines stroke much easier. It does slow the brush down a little, but it really helps to create nice smooth curves lines. I am finding this very helpful anytime I am using a very small sized thin line brush – used it to add some tree branches on a trunk recently.
  4. SELECT AND MASK REFINE EDGE BRUSH (PS): I have always struggled with getting good results in this panel. Well Sam Peterson once again gave me some insight for this tool. With the layer mask highlighted, go into the Select and Mask Panel and choose the Refine Edge brush icon, 2nd down on left side. In Tool Options Bar at top, open the drop-down next to the brush size field and set the brush Hardness to 0, Spacing to 25%, Angle to 0, Roundness to 100% and Size to Off. Also note that the Radius is set to 0, Smart Radius is not checked, and Object Aware selected. Once I did this, I found it was much easier to get good results on the edges, particularly when selecting hair or fur. He also cautions that dragging the brush too much inside selection will allow the edges to creep in. Drag on the very edges outside of object for best results. Use the ALT key and paint back any area that leaks in or use the Brush Tool (3rd icon on left) to clean up.
  5. CAPS LOCK TO FIND AND PAINT WITH BRUSH (PS): Kim Klassen of texture fame put me onto this one. When painting with a very tiny brush or very large brush where it is hard to see, just press the Caps Lock to get a small cross so you can see where the center of the brush is. It works with painting with a very tiny sized brush. I use this trick all the time when using cleaning up areas with small brushes like cleaning up halos, etc.
  6. SMUDGE BRUSH AND MIXER BRUSH LAG ISSUES (PS): These tips comes from Kyle T. Webster, the Adobe Brush Evangelist. If your Smudge or Mixer brush are acting very sluggish, you may need to turn off Sample All Layers due to several layers in image. Can also go into the Brush Settings Panel -> Brush Tip Shape section and – for Smudge Tool, uncheck Spacing and for Mixers set the Spacing to 5%. Try reducing the brush size also. It helps to close other documents open in PS and any open web browsers to speed things up too.
  7. DEHAZE SLIDER TIPS (LR): Two major Lightroom and Photoshop gurus offer these tips. Moose Peterson, of wildlife reknown, says that whenever he uses Dehaze, he always lowers the Blue Saturation in the HSL/Grayscale tab since the slider tends to crank up the blues. John Paul Caponigro, possibly my favorite PS guru, says that Neutral areas may turn magenta, and Shadow areas pick up strong blue or green casts. Can reduce Saturation after using, but what he likes to do it create a Virtual Copy. On one copy use no Dehaze and on another use it. Highlight both images in filmstrip, right click on an image, and select Edit In -> Open as Layers in PS. Put layer with no Dehaze on top and change to Color blend mode. Something to try IMO.
  8. ADJUSTING PRESENCE SLIDERS IN LANDSCAPE IMAGES (LR): This info comes from Randy Van Duinon, a very good architectural and landscape photographer, who uses an interesting LR workflow. He starts by first adjusting the Texture slider which works in the fine detail adding contrast in these areas; next the Clarity slider which adds contrast in the midtone areas (he keeps this amount around 35 and more on cloudy days); and finally Dehaze which adds contrast to the larger areas. Then he continues with the Basic settings. This has worked out well for me at times.
  9. USING PROFILES IN LIGHTROOM (LR): Daniel Gregory, a professional fine art photographer, came up with what I consider is a rather common sense tip. Since the image can change rather dramatically just by changing a profile, he believes that it should be applied first as he would be making different setting decisions depending upon which profile he uses. The Adobe profiles do not have an amount slider, but usually creative profiles that are downloaded have this slider. Consider the Amount slider the same as an Opacity slider on a layer in PS. I will add that many people do not add the profile until the end (Matt Kloskowsky for example) so this is definitely something to try.
  10. PARAMETRIC AND LINEAR CURVES (LR): This tip is from Tobi Shinobi, a bright young newcomer on the PS scene. In the Tone Curves section, first adjust the Linear Curve (2nd white round circle) and add your points. Press ALT to reset the curve and ALT+click over the curve to set a point to adjust. Right click to delete point. The go to Parametric Curve and adjust – they work independently of each other. Use this order to add some finesse to your images.

I hope there were some new ideas presented in these tips. Some really great PS and LR gurus have some great ideas! It was fun putting this together. See ya soon again…..Digital Lady Syd

DIGITALLY PAINTED OR RETOUCHED?

Image of a painted young person

Hi everybody! I know it has been a while since I blogged, but I really have been busy with Photoshop! Major project going through all brushes! So many to choose from and big decisions on which to use. Of course this is a whole other blog on how to sort through this. The portrait image above, by Christopher Campbell at Unsplash, is one that worked nicely with the brushes for the painting effect required in this blog.

Starting Out

Adobe Creative Cloud has Photoshop Daily Creative Challenge videos that are released for Photoshop every few weeks. A couple months ago Sam Peterson, an illustrator and painter, ran two weeks of some really fabulous PS videos. One was called Brushes where he gives you a starter file and walks you through how to create a similar effect as shown above. The image used PS’s Camera Raw, Angled Strokes and Oil Paint filters to begin the painterly process as Sam demonstrates. He also showed how to create a background to match the image to be painted. This photo used a brush called Clay for the background that was in Kyle T. Webster’s India Set he sold for charity (unfortunately no longer available). It is basically a chunky block brush. For a very similar brush, check out the Brix Brush in Kyle’s Summer 2020 brush set or for the brushe, Disastro or Disastro Spatter in his Summer 2021 Brushes, which uses both the foreground and background colors (press harder or lighter to get variations and a cool texture effect). Lots of different brushes were tried before finding a background brush I liked – but then this is half the fun! For info on how to download and load Kyle’s free PS sets, see my Kyle T. Webster’s Photoshop Brushes blog – scroll down to the How To Find His Brushes and Loading the Brushes sections.

The Mixer Blender

Sam gave guidance on what brush settings to use, but it is up to you to find a brush on which to apply these settings. This process is using a Mixer brush to blend, not a Smudge brush which a lot of people call a blender brush. Mixer brushes are a more advanced version of the Smudge. It does not appear Kyle uses Mixer brushes very often for blending as there are only a few in his sets (there are several Mixers in his Megapack Real Oils section will work nicely). For something like digital painting, I would recommend using Mixer Blenders for this exact and complicated blending. The main thing to remember is that the Wet and Load amounts, which Sam sets at 15% to start, can be adjusted “on the fly” to get a more or less painterly effect from the brush. He did not change his Mix and Flow which were both at 50%. Still okay to change if it helps. Also, if a color is needed to be added in, like for a cheek or lips, there are several ways to do this. I find the easiest is to select a regular brush and splash a bit of color in for blending with the Mixer. In another blog I will discuss some of these Mixer points.

One of my favorite Mixer (blender) brushes, and one I used extensively on this image, is by David Belliveau (free download of 4 brushes at the link and also check out his amazing drawing tutorials – link to my blog on David’s technique is listed below). The settings Sam suggested worked fine with this brush (set to 195 pixels). When set to 15 pixels, used David’s settings to do the detail work on the image, like the eyes, lips, and some hair – mainly where the focal point is, after the original blending was done. The larger brush was used to soften down all the other edges other than the eyes and hair by the right eye which were left sharpened as discussed below. As a reminder, once the settings have been added into the Brush Settings panel for the Mixer, save it down as a new brush. Otherwise all the settings will be lost if you go to a different brush and want to come back to this Mixer.

Once a brush is chosen, it was time to paint with the Mixer – Sam seemed to only paint on one layer, but I found it much better to split it up for the different areas being painted. For the right image below, here is a list of some of the layers created – started with a basic once over on the face smoothing the edges like in Sam’s tutorial, then evening out the lighting effect on the next layer, added color to her cheeks, eyelash layer, pupils layer, iris layer, catchlight layer, fixed the shirt on another layer – just duplicated part of it and blended it together, some hair strands added on another, and lips painted. As you can see, it is a bit labor intensive, but the results are worth it. By putting everything on separate layers, corrections can be made really easily. Below on the left is the original image and on the right is the one that looks like a pretty decent retouch – so what makes it look more painterly?

Original and first attempt at painting portrait

Getting the Final Painterly Look

Mainly adding a texture is a key to getting the more painterly effect needed to sell the look. Sam has a texture in the PSD file he provides and several other brushing suggestions are given to get this look. Also using Color Lookup Adjustment Layers, and possibly Gradient Map Adjustment Layers, using different blend modes and opacities gives some nice painterly effects. And do not be afraid to stack several of the same kind of adjustments using different blend modes and opacities. Just remember that usually a Curves or Levels Adjustment Layer must be added on top to bring back some contrast. So this is what was done on this image to finish up the “look:”

  1. Liquify was applied to enlarge her eyes just little and give her mouth a bit of an upturn (this filter is so cool!).
  2. A stamped layer was created and a Sharpen action was run on the image – a black layer mask was applied and just her eyes, her hair strand on the right and a small section of her ear lob were sharpened.
  3. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer set to 80% opacity was run using On1-Heat Wave LUT – one that adds warmth into the image – any warm one you will probably get this effect. This really filled her face with a beautiful light effect.
  4. Another Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added and set to 12% layer opacity called Teal Orange Plus Contrast preset (not sure where I got this). It darkened down the blues in her shirt.
  5. Added a Levels Adjustment Layer to flatten down the blacks a little since paintings do not have true blacks in them usually.
  6. Added French Kiss Tableaux Mirage-2 Texture – used a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer clipped to the texture with Saturation set to -100 so only the strokes from her texture show up. The texture was set to Overlay blend mode at 46% layer opacity. (See link to my blog on how to do this below.) These layers were grouped and set to 62% Group opacity – then the Group’s layer style was opened and the Blend If Slider was set to This Layer Black tab split to 0/86 and Underlying Layer White tab split to 121/255 so the strokes showed up just like I wanted them.
  7. Next on a New Layer below the Group file, a brush was created from the texture and used to cover the whole image to give it more of a painterly look – the layer was set to a reddish brown brush color, Color Burn blend mode and 93% opacity. It adds some nice soft canvas looking lines in the image, especially on the face. (See link to my blog on how to do this below.)
  8. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the Group above and the Saturation was increased (+44) and Lightness lowered (-38) to darken down and add more color to the image.
  9. Last step was a final Levels Adjustment Layer – Black tab to 16 and Output Levels black set to 5.

Hopefully you can get an idea what really goes into these digital paintings. And I am still not sure it is really a “Painting” since the original image was used, but it definitely looks more painterly than just a good retouching effect. I still look at it and see places where it could be improved, but it is a learning process. Definitely it took me several hours just to figure out the Mixer blending to get the effects needed. Enjoyed being back and plan on doing this a lot more. ……Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:

Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter – David Belliveau tutorial information

How to Create a Texture Brush to Match a Texture

How to Add Texture to an Image without Adding Its Color (You Tube video link in blog)

WORKING ON DIGITAL PAINTING IN PHOTOSHOP

Digital Art image of a cat at a store door.

Sorry I have not been blogging as much as I have in the past. I have been watching a lot of videos and trying to figure out how to use the Photoshop brushes to actually give a reasonable painterly brush stroke. There does not seem to be much on how to actually do this – only a few digital artists talk about it. I felt like the above image starts to emulate painterly strokes as it might look in Corel Painter, but not sure about if it emulates real media results. (In my Painting Acrylics Digitally – Can It Be Done? blog, I did get a pretty decent acrylic look.) The original above image is from Unsplash by Luca Bravo in Arles, France and was posted in my Beautiful Blue Door Tidbits Blog 3 years ago that used the Mixer brushes. For this blog I have been experimenting to try and get a consistent painterly stroke and finding settings that might work on other brush tips for a similar look. I have listed throughout this blog several free resources for brushes used in the above so check out the hyperlinks. I am also finding out this is a huge subject to cover so I am just addressing a small portion this week.

Creating the Sketch (black outline)

In the above the black lines were drawn in to create the layout of the original image. Used the PS Megapack Inkbox and Kyle’s Clean as a Whistle brush – lots of Click + SHIFT’s to draw straight lines (and it still is not perfect). When drawing a horizontal or vertical line, just keep holding down the SHIFT key while dragging to see how it is looking. This was handy for this image. If needing a more diagonal line, it will not work. When doing regular sketching, I usually use Grut – I Qwillo brush ($1 for all his individual brushes). Nicolai has an enormous number of fabulous brushes on this site (his Cloud set is the best around) . Every Monday there is a free brush of the week to download and is a great way to try out different media brushes. In this case a little richer stronger line was needed. So I would suggest trying different brushes until you get the line effect you need.

Painting Brushes

I have been trying to stick mostly to Kyle’s brushes here that can downloaded easily to try tout if you are using the later versions of Photoshop. For more info on how to download his PS brushes, see my Kyle T. Webster’s Photoshop Brushes blog. BTW Kyle has just released his Adobe PS Spring 2021 Brush set, so give them a try. The Edvard Munch brush set first appeared in 2017 in a 4-part video series called Get Started with Digital Painting Photoshop – they are not part of the PS2021 brushes, but are a free download here at the Adobe Creative Cloud. He found the Munch Filbert Dry Mixer gives a sort of an impasto look. To get the painterly strokes on each side of the door, I liked Kyle’s Munch Medium Flat brush but I did make some setting adjustments. I am using the brushes below to get some nice painterly strokes. I did switch a bit between them to get the right stroke effect on the walls.

The first brush was named SJ KTW Munch-Medium Flat-painting (150 px) and does not have much color variation but does use both the foreground and background colors with Pen Pressure (this means press light and background color appears and hard for foreground color when using a tablet.) Only the settings listed were changed: Texture section – was changed to one I imported from Painter, but the Rough pattern texture (Invert checked) seems pretty close (it can be found in the Photoshop default Erodible Textures set) and setting Brightness to -22, Contrast 57, Depth 19%, Minimum Depth 82%, Depth Jitter 27%, and Control to Pen Pressure; in Color Dynamics section checked the Apply Per Tip and set the Control to Pen Pressure; and in Transfer section set Opacity Jitter to 38%, Minimum to 55%, Flow Jitter 13% and Minimum 74%.

The second brush was named SJ KTW Munch-Med Flat-Painting Var1-try sim colors (175 px) to remind me how to use the brush. These settings were changed: Texture – changed it to same Rough pattern (Invert checked), Brightness to -13, Contrast to 33, Depth to 14%, Min Depth to 21%, Depth Jitter to 69%, and Control Pen Pressure; Color Dynamics changes were to check Apply Per Tip, Control set to Pen Pressure, and Saturation Jitter to 4%, Brightness 4%, and Purity to -20%; and Transfer set to Minimum Opacity Jitter 84%, Flow Jitter 43%, and Min 28%. Also the Dual Brush section was opened and the same brush,130 (size) Kyle munch flat medium1, was selected – should already show a Size of 130 px, Spacing 17%, Scatter with Both Axes checked, Scatter to 202% and Count 1; and finally Wet Edges section checked.

Try changing the Brush Tip Shape Spacing to adjust how much texture is showing up. Below are examples of how the strokes look all using the same foreground and background colors. If you have a different Texture pattern you want to try, go ahead but do adjust the sliders. Just be sure to save any brush variants you like when finished. See if you can get some nice stroke effects for solid areas especially. I would suggest trying a different brush tip (check out the list provided in the Brush Tip Shape section and just select one you like) using similar settings (or the settings from any brush you like). This is a great way to create your own paint stroke effect. I will talk more on this in a later blog.

Finishing Up

The bottom sidewalk and door pane effect was created using Kyle’s India Brushes Clay brush that I purchased recently for only $1 for his humanitarian cause of Covid 19 in India. (Available until May 10th.) All these brushes are great but I especially like the effect of this one. Kyle also has a free Builder Brush available at his website seems to do a similar result.

The other brushes used in this image were from Jessica Johnson and her fabulous Pattern Stamp brushes – I always seem to be using them! What I love most about Jessica is that she gives out samples of her different types of brushes which is always very helpful. This time it was the pattern at the top that was a give-away called 3 Modern Renaissance which included a brush and a pattern. Check out her You Tube video Free Photoshop Brush & Metallic Color Palette: Inspired by Dior Couture – Modern Renaissance to get her freebies (see 4-13-Free Renaissance Brush zip file) – and be sure to sign up for her E-mail to get notified when she has new brushes and patterns to release. In this case the Modern Renaissance was used as a regular brush and painted on in a darker gray color. Also used her Moody Floral Bold pattern stamp brush with her English Garden pattern (TM12) was used for the colorful flowers on the window sill and by the cat. When you go to her freebies for the Modern Renaissance brush, click on the 3-15-Free Brush Mon zip folder which contains the Moody Floral Brush and an accompanying pattern. I just love the flower stroke with this brush.

One of Chris Spooner’s free Subtle Grain Textures (6) was applied to give the wall a bit of a cement feel and tie it in as a building. It was masked off the cat and windows. He has lots of nice free resources at his site. The name plate with instructions are in my blog called How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images – one of my most popular blogs.

Contour Trick

The large black cat is part of a set called Egyptian Hieroglyphs by Skybox Creative that cost $12. If you check every Monday several items are available at Free Goods of the Week which is how I got this vector cat. To give him the cool contour (like my gray cat Sophie), a Bevel & Emboss layer style was added using an Inner Bevel, Smooth, Depth 230%, Direction Up, Size 68 and Soften 0. Then in the Gloss Contour, the Gaussian contour was selected – then Highlight Mode Screen, White, at 29% Opacity and Shadow Mode Multiply, Black, at 32% Opacity. The Contour was checked and the Contour was set to one by Jenni and I have no idea where I got it. Just play around a little with – it give some really cool 3D effects. The other cat is from a set called Cat Family by teddybearcholla (found in a very old Photoshop Creative magazine). A Bevel and Emboss layer style was also used on this cat, with a Depth of 532%, Up, Size 7 px and Soften 0 – Highlight Opacity set to Screen and 77% opacity and Shadow Mode set to Multiply and 33% opacity. A Watercolor pattern texture was added and set to a Depth of +26%. The layer styles really gave both cat items a fresh look.

Digital Art image of a cat at a store door.

Above is a variation of the same image with just a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer with a Cerulean preset at 25% layer opacity and a Gradient Map set to Overlay at 34% layer opacity that used purple and pink randomized color added. Quite a different look. Eventually I hope to get an E-book or PDF together that can be used as a basic guide to show some of the little tricks the sliders do. For example, did you know that if you put the Shape Dynamics Size Jitter Control (even with no Jitter set) to Pen Pressure, the actual Brush stroke appears smaller. Check the Brush Preview in the Brush Settings panel to see the range between the thick and thin stroke now. There is a lot more to this, but that is just an example showing how the stroke will be different with just one setting change. And the people who do paint digitally use all kinds of different settings to get their brushes to work. In the meantime, I will try to pop in more often! Have some fun trying out some new brushes……Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:

ReBlog – How to Use Photoshop’s Brush Texture Section for Painting Clean-up

Looking at the Smudge Tool – Again

How Photoshop’s Color Dynamics Brush Settings Work

What about the Pattern Stamp Tool? Not So Bad!

TWO FREE PAINTERLY PHOTOSHOP ACTIONS TO TRY OUT

Watercolor image of a tower in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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

Sepia tone image of a building in Edinburgh, Scotland

Watercolor Artist – Photoshop Action Set

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

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

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

Color Vector Photoshop Action

Pixabay image of a guitar player

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

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

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

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

Trying Some Creative Art

Digital Art image of a tree

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

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

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

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

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

%d bloggers like this: