Anything Photoshop or Photography



Image of a Native American Boy and RudolfThis week I wanted to do a quick blog on how to get that Holiday glow look that is so nice to have in Christmas cards or Holiday Facebook/Instagram images. The above is definitely a composite image. I will say this image took several hours to get to a point where it began to look like the image I envisioned.

When I started out, I knew I wanted to do a Christmas theme and wanted a child to be part of the image. So first the image of the Native American boy was found from in a batch of pictures taken several years ago from a festival. I love to go to these festivals as the costumes and people are just wonderful! The boy had to be removed from the background, so in CC2017, the Select and Mask panel was used to get a really nice cut-out. I always have to go back into the layer mask and do a bit more tweaking. The mask was applied and this layer was moved into a New Document to start the composite. Since PixelSquid is my go-to program for finding objects, the reindeer and wolf were downloaded from them and lined up in the document with the child. (See my How To Use the PixelSquid Add-on in Photoshop blog.)

Glow Effect 1:  Now for some Glow – highlighted the reindeer layer and took it into Corel ParticleShop to add some pizazz and turn him into Rudolf. Last week I did a blog on this, and am using the same brush set here. (See my Intro to Corel ParticleShop Brushes for Photoshop blog.) The Cluster brush was used to add the glitter to the antlers. The Flame brush was used to add some snowy feel to the ground. The Light brush was used on the nose to get a shining light – added red color first, then yellow and a dab of white to finish it off. The Hair brush was used to create the background Christmas tree with the Cluster brush set to white to add snow on it. Back in PS just the changes were on their own layer. This plug-in is actually very easy and a lot of fun to use!

Next some grass was added and a background texture (French Kiss’s le Petit Chateau – for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) was placed just above the white original background layer. The neutral color fit the image as too much color would have drawn the eye away from the story.

Glow Effect 2:  This week Pretty Photoshop Actions gave away a really nice Photoshop Action called Holiday Magic. (Sign up for the newsletter to get some great give-aways all the time!) This is a really nice action but their video needs to be watched to really understand how it works. It contains overlays, brushes and the 3 major actions. In the above, the Book Glow action was run first, which added the extra lightness around the nose to indicate a large glow. Next the Brush Applicator Action was run where the fancy snow flakes were added around Rudolf and the tree using their supplied brushes. There is one trick you need to use if you want to run the action in the middle of your workflow. At the point where the actions needed to be added, I had to create a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and name the layer “Background” before running the action. The action will be looking for the Background layer for it to run. Once I finished up with the action, this Background layer was deleted so more editing could be done on all the layers.

Lots of clean up layers were added to get the exact color effects. Several Color Fill Layers (set to Color blend mode and various layer opacities) were used along with many Curves Adjustment Layers to tweak the contrast. What really brought the effect together was creating a stamped layer on top and applying Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (I so wish this plug-in were still available as it is really incredible), and set to a high Smooth of 21 and just a little Detail adjustment of 189. Then this layer was set to 60% layer opacity so it was not too soft.

Last steps were adding the now free Nik Viveza 2 to adjust the focal points, a Curves Adjustment Layer with a Red Channel Luminosity layer mask (see my How To Use a Red Channel To Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog), and a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode to make sure tones were correct (see my How To Use a Black & White Adjustment Layer to See Contrast in an Image blog).

I do not expect you to do all these steps, but I wanted to give a good example of what can be done with a few nice tools. The Glow effect got me thinking about what wondrous Holiday effects could be achieved with composites. I find creating composites takes a lot of work but I always feel good about them when finished.

Image of a Red and Yellow RoseThis rose is a pretty basic example of a Christmas Glow that can be achieved pretty quickly. This rose was taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. It is a painted image using regular and mixer brushes in Photoshop – nothing too hard about painting this image so no special brushes were required. After painting, used Photoshop’s Select and Mask to select the flower. The layer mask was applied and two of my Corel Painter backgrounds were added under the cut-out flower.

Glow Effect 1: Once again, Corel ParticleShop was opened up and this time the Cluster brush was set to Size 156 and Opacity 45% set to a glow yellow color – painted around the flower to get the lit up effect. Used the Eraser brush in the plug-in to remove any mistakes. If the colors look a little strong on the PS layer, use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and clip it (ALT+Click between the layers to clip) to the layer to desaturate just the ParticleShop layer. Mine looked real orange.

Glow Effect 2:  The glow was just not quite enough for me.  Aaron Blaise’s Canvas Texture Brush Set 42 3 is a brush that has a slight edge around it so the strokes will give a glow effect when used with a lighter color. It amazes me where you can find that special brush from ones you already own! The foreground color was set to a bright light yellow and on a New Layer, the Cluster brush lines were painted over again. This layer was then adjusted down to 95% layer opacity.

My snow overlay was set to 32% and can be downloaded free at my Deviant Art site. I think this gives yet another nice Holiday card effect that you might be able to use.

Know everyone is very busy at this time of year, but hope you got a few good ideas for adding a little Holiday Cheer to some of your images. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd




Image of a little tree in a large forestThis week I am going to do a quick post on the Corel ParticleShop plug-in for Photoshop. Lots of ParticleShop info is on YouTube about how to use this plug-in, so this blog is just a quick introduction. Thought I would show the before and after applying the filter  to the images to give a feel for what these brushes can do. The tree image above was taken in Florida and there was absolutely nothing that great about it. Below is the original image after coming out of Lightroom where just the basic sliders were adjusted.

Original tree image from LRThe plug-in is now accessed from the Filter menu in Photoshop so it is really easy to open up once the program has been loaded. The Exclusive Pack of brushes are loaded when the basic plug-in software is purchased.  It consists of 10 different brushes that represent some of the various brush sets you can buy at Corel. This image used three brushes – the Cluster Brush, the Fur Brush and the Flame Brush. The brushes do have a bit of a Painter brush feel to them, as there are several extra variations for the some of the brushes that PS does not offer. All the brushes offer Size and Opacity and the option to turn on pressure sensitivity for both. The Fur Brush also offers a Value Variability – set to 0 and the brush paints with 100% selected color. When set to the max 50%, 50% of the Color Picker Triangle values are added into the stroke. Somewhat like PS Brush Panel’s Color Dynamics Brightness Jitter slider. The Color Picker can be pinned to the interface and there is a Glow checkbox that can be added to your strokes. Set Glow to a darker color to get a full range from dark to light on your stroke. In this case, the tree leaves were brightened using the Cluster Brush to give that special effect to the little tree and the red tree branches. There is also an Eraser brush to remove unwanted strokes and soften areas and Mixer brush to blend the effects. Several people recommended using the Eraser at a very low opacity to smooth as opposed to using the Mixer which tends to smear a little. What I really like about this program is that you have the option to save just the brush strokes made on the image to its own layer in PS where you can further manipulate the results.

I was very skeptical when Corel came out with these brushes since I use Painter and the Particle Brushes are not ones I use much. Therefore, why would I want to use them in PS?  After experimenting with them, I found these brushes can be useful for getting a special effect to finish off an image. I really liked the effect in the image above. Adding them in at the end of the workflow seems to work best for me. As far as I am concerned, the only problem with these filters is the cost – by the time you buy most of the packs, it gets very expensive. I have been having trouble figuring out which extra packs are the best for doing the enhancements I like without getting them all.
Image of Fountain Grass in my yardHere is another image that used the ParticleShop filter brushes – this time just the Cluster brush was used on the individual stalks using purple and darker brown colors. It can be seen how much more color is in the image by just adding a few colorful strokes onto the stalks. In Photoshop, this layer was set to Overlay blend mode at 80% layer opacity. To finish up the image, Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Texture Effects 2’s 90s Cloud preset was applied, and next Topaz Impression 2. The original color from the Cluster Brush strokes layer gave the other filters more colors to work with to get the overall final image. Below is the image as it looked coming from Lightroom with just basic slider adjustments.
Original image of Fountain Grass before filters applied
Image of a Snowy Egret with ParticleShop brush strokes appliedMy final example is of my crazy dancing diva Snowy Egret that I painted a while back. To see the original image, click this link. This image is a little over-the-top, but I wanted to see what I could get for fun. This time the Fabric brush was used to create the long light lines surrounding the bird, the Cluster Brush (I seem to like this one a lot) was used on some of the feathers in the bird body, and the Wild Grain brush (which includes Count and Grain settings) was used in parts of the ground and background areas.

Basically these brushes are a lot of fun. As far as I can tell, there is no free download to try them out. I would love to be able to afford all the brushes, but the basic pack that comes with the plug-in is pretty good. It might make a nice extra Christmas present for the the die-hard Photoshop person. Hope everyone is enjoying the start of the holiday season. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd

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Feeling Fancy


Composited image of a picnic with a yellow corvetteThis week I decided to do some compositing just because its fun to do. There are a lot of reasons to do this besides being fun, like it teaches you to really be aware of your light source and shadows to get a realistic looking the image. Also it gives you a chance to use some of the Photoshop tools and techniques that are not used that often. And finally, by choosing each object a good story can be created in the image.

I have always loved this image of a yellow corvette taken quite a while ago and just had not found a good place to use it. So this is where the compositing process began for me on this image. Since I started with the object first, a suitable background needed to be found to start my story. The image used was of some beautiful trees in Madison, Mississippi. If you are into compositing, it is important to take a few photos  to use as background images – places where anything could be added to make an interesting image. The yellow in the car and the greenish yellow image seemed to be a good fit. The colors of the objects is important in composite images to help blend the objects together in a natural way.

After adding all the objects, the light and time of day of the background image needed to be considered to once again, blend in the objects naturally. Everything added to the image must fit with the scene. The blanket, cooler and picnic table were all downloaded from PixelSquid, but I could have used my own images of these objects. The following is a basic workflow on how this image was put together and a couple tricks I have learned along the way.

Preparing Objects for Placement

So this is where the PS tools and techniques come in handy. The car was sitting in a field with a bunch of other cars around it and a fence behind it. Just a little color adjustment was done in Lightroom before opening up the car in PS. It was removed from its background using PS CC2017 and the Select and Mask panel – the Quick Selection Tool was first used to select the car, and then the edges were refined using the Refine brush. Also the windshield was removed in this panel. Any selection tool or filter that removes backgrounds could have been used, I am just finding the new Select and Mask panel pretty nice to use. I also noted that the light was not shining on the car in the t direction – another problem to address later.

Background Image Prep

Now the Tree image was opened up in PS after just some minor adjustments in LR. Several items were removed in the image using the Spot Healing Brush. Next the corvette was placed in the image and positioned – used Free Transform (CTRL+T) to fit it in correctly. I decided the image needed to be expanded on the lower level to make the image look balanced so the car layer was deleted. In CC2017 the Crop Tool was used and Content-Aware was checked to fill in the Options Bar. Note that the Content-Aware option only works with the Crop Tool on a single layer. Therefore, either the image must be merged down at this point or crop the image first before adding your objects. I found I still had to do a little clean up after the additional pixels were added.

Adding Objects into Image

The car was again placed in the image – you can either use the Move Tool and drag to the composite image tab, go down to the image, and release; or use the old fashion way which is to select (CTRL+A) and copy (CTRL+C) in the object image, then paste (CTRL+V) in composite image. I use both. The car was Free Transformed (CTRL+T), and a layer mask was added to the car to remove the incorrect shadows in front of the car. Next the picnic table, cooler and blanket were added from PixelSquid (see my How To Use the PixelSquid Add-on in Photoshop blog – it is no longer in beta testing but is a pay to use program.) The shadows for these objects could be manipulated with the downloaded objects.

To get the objects to look like they really belonged together, some of the foreground areas had to slightly overlap parts of the blanket, tires, and table legs. So layer masks were used to add this effect in on each object. A very small brush was used to get this effect – try using different brushes in the mask to get a more natural result. The area seen through the windshield of the car had to be slightly blurred , so the Blur Tool, which I almost never use, was selected and just painted in a bit of softening to the windshield. It worked great!

Adding Some Special Effects

A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was placed on top and Topaz (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Impression 2 was opened. The Degas I preset was applied at around 40% – that was all that was changed in this preset. The layer was duplicated and Topaz Glow’s Oh Hey preset was applied at 30% – this filter does a great job of applying an overall lightening to an image. (These settings were from a Flickr friend, K Vaughn, who used them in one of her images – she is a master with these filters!) On another duplicated layer, Topaz Texture Effects 2 was opened and a downloaded Community preset called FallFoliage Fall Trees was applied with a little manipulation to the Vignette and Basic Adjustment sections. Each image will use slightly different settings in these sections. The Light Leak had to be flipped horizontally to keep the lighting consistent in the image.

Final Tweaks

To really soften the edges of the objects, individual New Layers were added to paint in some correction color. For example, on the blanket, a little dark paint was added to give it more of a rumpled feeling on the grass – just used a soft round brush and set the layer opacity to 13%. A little lighter color was added to the right side of the cooler using a dab of light yellow and set to 60% layer opacity. To add a little lighter coloration to the front right area of the car, a little light color was added to just highlight it, and the layer opacity was set to 20%. Even the background was tweaked slightly to blend the image and give that vintage feel. This trick was learned from a wonderful class by Karen Alsop on Creative Live called Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World. Check out Karen’s website for some great compositing images! Some darker shadow effect was needed under the car, so this same technique was used there also – the shadow will be darker right under the car and blended out softly the further away it gets. The layer opacity was then adjusted down a little. This can also be used for the atmospherics in the image – where the further away you look towards the horizon line, especially in landscapes, the more muted the colors become.

The overall image appeared to be too yellow to me so a blue (R156/G161/B220) Color Fill Adjustment Layer was set to Color blend mode and 13% layer opacity to offset this. Blue is opposite Yellow on the Color Wheel so this will serve to curb the yellow color somewhat.

Finally, a little more definition was needed in a couple areas of the image. The area around the headlights was burned. The trees were slightly darkened behind the brighter areas of the light trees to separate the branches a little. To do this, a New Layer was opened, set to Overlay blend mode, and with a soft black brush set to 12% layer opacity, just painted over these areas. (See my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog.) The layer was set to 57% layer opacity.

Now the image is complete! I was pleased that it tells a story, has the vintage feel I was after, and the components all fit together well (using tools and techniques I do not always use) – to me that is what a composite should do when done correctly! It does take a little effort to create a good composite, but it is well worth time if it turns out the way you want it. I know there are lots of ways to create composites, this is a pretty complicated one, but they are fun to do! Hope everyone in the US has a great Thanksgiving Holiday!…..Digital Lady Syd


Template showing various imagesLast week I covered using templates in Lightroom to display your images. (See my How To Use Lightroom’s Print Templates to Display Your Images blog.) This week I am using Photoshop and a template I created a while back that shows another way to display your images and objects. Any template that can be opened in Photoshop can be used, I just like this particular the photo arrangement in this template. Here is the link on my Deviant Art page where my SJ 5 Opening Template can be downloaded if you would like to use it. This blog is just discussing how to use a template in Photoshop. (See my Using a Template to Create Your Own Unique Valentine Blog for steps on how to create this template.)

In each of the two images I selected a color scheme and added texture and natural objects to the mix. When you open the template in Photoshop, you will find a white Background layer and 4 black blocks where images and/or objects can be placed. In most templates, this is what you will find – black or colored boxes where the images are to be placed. For each layer with a black block, an image or object was placed above it. The crucial step is this next step – the image was clipped, which means the image was  linked to the black block and showing up just in the black box area, not outside that area. There are several ways to clip the image or object layer – can go to Layer -> Create Clipping Mask, or use the shortcut keys ALT+CTRL+G on layer, or right click on layer and select Create Clipping Mask from list, or my favorite, just ALT+click between the two layers to be clipped. Very easy! Next using the Move Tool (V),  the image was dragged to fit in the location just right. If it does not fit correctly, go to Edit -> Free Transform or CTRL+T to adjust the size. The top version contains little images I painted or just some of my favorite clip art. For the starfish, a vintage texture was added behind it (all clipped to the black block as more than one layer can be clipped at a time). The background texture was added just above the white Background Layer and only a portion of it was used. It can be transformed and different Adjustment Layers can be added to the texture to match the template pictures. To get the line around the openings, be sure to add a Stroke Layer Style on the black block layers to get the same treatment for each, not the pictures. To copy the Layer Style to another layer, just ALT+drag the fx letters to the new layer.


Template showing several images and objectsThis image uses the same template and same workflow as used above. Just found some interesting objects and one of my painted trees. Again, just clipped them to the black block layers, added one of my painted textures underneath (texture was created in PS using Grut’s Inky Leaks Brushes which are wonderful). No strokes were added to the black boxes in this image. This time Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Texture Effects’ Dingy Cream preset was used with a few changes to give the interesting border. On a New Layer, some texture was painted on the image (see Just Jaimee Summer 2012 Brush Sampler 4) to finish up. Sometimes painting on a little extra texture adds a nice touch.

That was it. The trick to using Photoshop templates is to clip the images to the openings. If you just want the layout without using the block, just add your objects on top, then once placed, just remove the black box layer. Just remember that and it will be very easy – maybe easier than Lightroom. And there is more leeway for creativity with all the cool templates out there that can be downloaded many times for free. That’s it for this week – have a great week and chat at ya soon!…..Digital Lady Syd


Images of Maui from a HelicopterThis week I thought I would discuss using the built-in templates in the Print module of Lightroom. They can be a little tricky. I listened to some videos recently from by Julianne Kost called Introduction to Photo Compositing. She used a Lightroom Print module diptych template for her images before saving them as JPEG files in the Print To field. I just sort of improvised and used a canned LR default called Custom 2 over 1 in the Template Browser, which is an example of a Custom Package Layout Style. Then adjusted each image cell to fit the image selected in the Filmstrip at the bottom. The low original coastline image was more square than that shown – just used Photoshop’s Content-Aware Scale to stretch it out while protecting the coastline. The background in the template was a beach texture created in Corel Painter with some grunge brush strokes added on top – had to select the white border and remove it before adding the texture. The Maui images above were all processed using similar filters – the now free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 set to Luminosity blend mode and then Topaz (see website link at my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle. Pretty simple workflow.

Image of three Florida birdsHere is another image LR template showing my painted birds that used a rather unique set up for presenting your photos. I don’t know why, but I like the vertical strip look. In PS, a different texture was used for this background. Again, selected the white border and added a layer mask. Then applied the mask to just leave the images that can then be placed above the texture layer.

Now for the Layout Style template issue! I find these print module templates not as easy to use as it should be. After playing around with the two templates shown above, I have learned that there are differences between each style and how you load the images. Here are some issues to be aware of:

  • Sometimes the images are not in the same folders. If this happens a temporary new collection needs to be created so all the images appear in the filmstrip together. The Quick Collection does not work, must be in a created one. The Filmstrip is how you add the images to your templates so this is a necessary step. You can remove the collection when you are done printing or saving the final image as a JPEG.
  • A lot depends on whether you are using a Single Image/Contact Sheet template or a Custom Package. Depending on which one is being used determines how the images can be added to the template. If you cannot drag images in individually from the filmstrip, the template is a Single Image/Contact Sheet template. More on this below.
  • Unfortunately, the size of the images cannot be increased or reduced to adjust inside the cells – in other words no Free Transform to adjust image in cell – the aspect ratio is set. The work around would be in the Develop module to create a Virtual Copy of the size or part of image you would like to use and then select it in the Filmstrip using the Print Module.

For Single Image/Contact Sheet templates, the limitation is that the images can only be added based upon the order of the images in the Filmstrip – must select all of the images at once in the Filmstrip to add. Therefore, if you do not like the order, you will have to rename the images to set the order. When using this type of template, the images can be adjusted inside the the individual image cells by just dragging inside them. The Zoom to Fit can be checked to make it fit the cell, but the size cannot be adjusted otherwise. Press CTRL+click on the image to deselect image to remove from template.

For Custom Package templates, the images can be dragged into any cell and in any order. If a template will not let you add another image, that means a Single Image/Contact Sheet Layout Style template has been selected. Unfortunately there are not as many options to create a template when the Custom Package  is selected. There are no Layout Margin or Cell Spacing cells so all the image cells have to be lined up using the Rulers checkbox in the Rulers, Grid & Guides section. This can be tedious to do, but worth the time so that the images can be added in any order. Start with Cells section and press the Clear Layout button – then Add to Package and click the 2 X 2.5 button, then start adjusting the size of the cell to taste by dragging the sides or corners. To adjust the image position inside the cells, must CTRL+drag on image or else the actual photo cell moves. To delete a cell, just press the BACKSPACE key. To duplicate a cell, press ALT+drag to it to a new position. If

Below you can see the difference between the two major Layout Styles. Luckily in this case you can get very similar results, but it is harder to set up the Custom Package style. The top screen shot used a Custom Package layout and the bottom one used the Single Image/Contact Sheet layout. If you would like to see the preset settings more clearly, click on each image to see settings in Flickr:

Screenshot of a Single Image/Contact Sheet for 3 Tall preset

Image of a 3-Tall Custom Package preset After images are lined correctly, go to the Print Job and change Print to: from Printer to JPEG File. The image can then be brought into Photoshop where the background can be changed and text added. Pretty easy at this point.

In my Showing Off Your Images with Lightroom blog a while back, there are several more examples of using LR templates. For more info on how to create your own Print Template presets, Scott Kelby did a really nice job in his Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (any version) Book for Digital Photographers, “Creating Custom Layouts Any Way You Want Them” chapter. Here he goes into more detail on how to make several different creative effects using the Custom Package layout style. This module has not changed since Lightroom 3 at the time of this blog. I really like templates. It is too bad it is so confusing as to how to get these nice effects. I am surprised Adobe has not updated the Print module to incorporate some easier ways to add photos and adjust them. Hopefully that will be part of the next update. Anyway, it was a lot of fun creating some different ways to show my images. Have a good week…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of a Halloween TreeJust having some fun this week. Above is a wonderful autumn display from Hobby Lobby – it just looked like Halloween to me. The tree was selected from the background as a first step. On a New Layer, lots of price tags were removed. 2 Lil’ Owls (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Starry Night 6 texture was placed behind the tree layer – I love her starry textures! Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression 2 was used on a stamped version of the image (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) using the Ethereal Background preset by Blake Rudis. On several layers above, various Halloween spiders were added to the tree – these were Inobscuro Spider free brushes. On a stamped layer Topaz Lens Effects Reflector filter was used to lighten up the right side of the image. On another stamped layer Topaz Texture Effects 2’s Dingy Cream preset without the Texture section was applied. Graphics Fairy Halloween witch was added to finish off this holiday pix.

Thought I would add a couple oldie but goodies images at my Tidbits Blog from several years ago.
Image of a Halloween BatOnly a few resources were used and all the objects were from Obsidian Dawn’s SS-Halloween-Vectors brushes (and includes a lot more than what is shown above) and are definitely of the high quality you expect from this site. The cobweb in the upper right corner was provided from a nice set of brushes called pureanodyne_halloween at Deviant Art – these are actually from a set created in 2004. The Happy Halloween font is called Groovy Ghosties and can be downloaded from And my signature font is my one of my favorite fun fonts – Fantaisie Artistique from DaFont. The white cracks and grungy textures were  from OnOne’s old PhotoFrames program and were called Taufer Texture 01 and Grunge 05 – they are not in the new version of On1 Effects 10 (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link), but there are several new Texture effects that could be chosen. Or Topaz Texture Effects 2 would do this type of effect very nicely also.

More Halloween fun here. Basically using the same Halloween brushes as the image above. The same two sets of Halloween brushes were used (Obsidian Dawn’s Halloween Vector Photoshop brushes and Halloween Brush Set by anodyne at Deviant Art); the orange sky was Obsidian Dawn’s Clouds 16 and 17, the beige background texture is from Shadowhouse Creation – Assorted Paper TS-P-6, Fantaisie Artistique font, and a grunge background was used. Some background grunge strokes were added on a New Layer and that is about it.

Hope everyone has a fun Halloween!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of a Thanksgiving store displaySince I am a big fan of Topaz products and Impression 2 is one of my favorite plug-ins, I had to share this effect I learned from a Topaz Labs webinar this week. An artist named Bobbie Goodrich presented a webinar called RAW to Envisioned (will add link once it is posted). She used a leopard in a tree image to create a similar effect to the one above. My image was taken of a Hobby Lobby’s Thanksgiving display showing some of their wonderful objects for sale. I might add Bobbie had several other great tips, this one just stood out to me as so creative!

Here is how Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression was used to create this image. The other post-processing steps are listed at the end of the blog under Image 1 Info. On a  Stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E), Topaz Impression 2 was opened. The preset named Le Modern was downloaded from the Community and Bobbie’s settings were then applied as listed: Stroke Section – No. of Brush Strokes Low, Paint Volume 1.00, Stroke Rotation 1.00, Rotation Variation 1.00, Stroke Color Variation 1.00, Stroke Width 0.80, Stroke Length 1.00, Spill 0.03, and Smudge 0.12. What really helps create the effect is the Coverage slider – set to a low amount like 0.01, it will show the smallest amount of image; set to a large amount, the whole image will appear. The Coverage Transition slider adjusts the way the edges blend out. Bobbie used a Coverage of 0.01 and a Transition Amount of 0.08. The Coverage can be repositioned to adjust exactly where the effect shows up by either using the little center icon to the left of the Coverage Center or dragging the white dot in the box. She did not include any changes to the Lighting, Color and Texture sections. I used these settings to make a preset named SJ Leopard Preset by Bobbie Goodrich so I could remember how I use it. She apparently is going to upload her actual preset to the Topaz Impression2 Community, but it was not available when I last checked – will add link if I find it. Otherwise the settings above are from the webinar and are a good starting point.

Now these are the changes I made to the created preset above on the holiday image: Stroke Coverage 0.00, Coverage Transition 0.14, Coverage Center X 0.09/Y 0.03; Lighting Brightness -0.55, Contrast 0.00, Highlight -0.56, Shadow 0.80 and Light Position X -0.90/Y 0.77, Vignette 0.53, Vignette Strength 0.76, Vignette Transition 0.52, Vignette Roundness 0, and Vignette Center x 0.00/y 0.00. The Masking was set to Spot Transition 1.00 and Color Aware 0.71. At the bottom of the panel the Opacity was set to 1.00 Opacity and Lighter Color Blend Mode. The Masking section can be crucial as to how the effect fits into the image. Also the Vignette color can be adjusted to get some nice additional effect on the image.

Image of Holyrood Abbey in Edburgh, ScotlandThis image of Holyrood Abbey illustrates more of the artistic feel I think Bobbie was going after. This time the Color section was also used with the above preset and the reds and yellows were adjusted. Also the Lighting section was used to add Brightness, Contrast and a white Vignette. Definitely need to play around with these settings as they can make a big difference in how the final effect looks. The vignette adds to the white space around the image (these settings were used: Vignette 0.71, Vignette Strength 1.00, Vignette Transition 0.72, Vignette Roundness 0.66 and white color). For more image info, check Image 2 Info below. Once you get to this point, it is time to go into the Mask section – and once again I used the Spot Tool. Bobbie used the Luminosity and Brush tabs in her examples, but for this technique, I prefer the Spot Tool (which I could never find a good use for before, so this is nice). The screen capture below shows what the mask looks like – by moving the Edge Aware slider to the right, a more precise selection appears. Adjust the circle into an oval to make the selection fit the image properly.

Screen Capture of Spot Effect in Topaz Impression 2

Image of a male and female tiger in the sunAnother example of using the same Topaz Impression2 preset, this time turning the result into a black and white. This image was taken at the Jacksonville Zoo where these beautiful lions were resting in the sun on a Spring day. This time Topaz Glow2 was used to get a nice lighting effect-used Blake Rudis’s Animal preset. On a stamped layer, Topaz Impression 2 was opened and the same SJ Leopard Preset by Bobbie Goodrich was used with these setting changes: Spill -0.61, Smudge 0.12, Coverage 0, Coverage Transition 0.03, Coverage Center X-0.25/Y0.26; Color Red Hue 0.03 and Sat -1.00; Lighting Brightness -0.21, Contrast 0.12, Highlight 0.52, and Shadow 0.67; and Masking Spot Transition 0.87 and Color Aware 0.65 – centered just on the faces. For more info on image, check out Image 3 Info below.

This effect was a lot of fun to do – give it a try if you want a pretty card or gift label. You definitely have to experiment with the Coverage sliders, Vignette sliders and the Masking tabs to get different looks. Changing the Stroke number from Low to Med or High gives very different looks. Even if the colors do not look just right, they can be adjusted back in PS with the Color Balance or Selective Color Adjustments Layers. I want to try some further experimentation with it, but this is definitely an effect I like. Until next week, have a good one!…..Digital Lady Syd

IMAGE 1 INFO: This image was actually taken with my Android – just did the normal Basic Panel adjustments in Lightroom. In Photoshop it took a lot of clone stamping to get rid of the price tags. Luckily they were all pretty small. On a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Lucis Pro (no longer available) was used to sharpen the overall image (any sharpening filter could be used, it just needed some sharpening at this point). On a duplicate layer, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits blog for website link) ReStyle was used to get a nice color palette – used Ash Gray and Eggshell preset with minor changes. On another duplicate layer, Topaz Glow was opened and My Bliss preset was downloaded from the Community – while in the plug-in, the preset was set to Multiply blend mode at 50% opacity. On another stamped layer, the Topaz Impression 2 preset from above was applied. Last step was to add a little Nik Viveza 2 to the image to really sharpen up the focal point.

IMAGE 2 INFO: Topaz Adjust was used to add contrast to the overall image using the Adaptive Exposure and Adaptive Regions sliders. On a stamped layer Topaz Clarity was used to add contrast (check out Topaz Labs webinar  Creative Essentials with Topaz Plug-ins Plus the Official Introduction to Glow 2 by Joel Wolfson for more info on this.) Then Topaz Impression 2 was applied with the above info on a stamped layer. Back in PS, the image was cropped to balance the image. Nik Viveza 2 was used to adjust the focal point. Since I was not quite happy with the color effect, a Color Balance Adjustment Layer was used to add a little blue to the shadows and yellow to the highlights.

IMAGE 3 INFO: After adding Topaz Glow 2 and Impression 2, a stamped layer was created and Nik Silver Efex Pro2 was opened and the Fine Art (High Key) preset was applied. On another stamped layer, believe it or not, Topaz Black & White Effects’s Tone II was applied with the Red filter chosen and Transparency set to 0.28. It was set to 52% layer opacity. Two Exposure Adjustment Layers were added for the female eyes and nose. Topaz Texture Effects 2 was opened and the Soft Grunge Mauve Fog – Basic Adjustment Brightness 0.29, Shadow 0.18, Highlight -0.22, Clarity 0, Sat -0.20, Temp 0.08, Tint -0.02 and Enable Masking-Mask Luminosity 0.45 and Range 0.75; Texture Brightness -0.12, Contrast 0.26, Detail 0.45, Sat 0.37, Color Strength 0.36, and Color 0.28; Color Overlay #71595c (R113/G89/B92), 0.39 Opacity, and Soft Light blend mode; and Masking section painted just a little back to the face using a Strength of 0.34.

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