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HOW TO PAINT AN IMAGE USING REGULAR AND MIXER BRUSHES IN PHOTOSHOP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOW TO CREATE A CAPTURED DAB BRUSH IN COREL PAINTER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VALENTINE WISHES FROM DIGITAL LADY SYD!

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

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

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

JUST HAVING FUN!

Image of Somewhere in ScotlandCould not resist blogging just a little bit on what I did recently in my favorite programs, even though I am taking a vacation from blogging. The above image was post-processed in Photoshop – an image in Scotland that I overlooked. Won’t go into great detail as this was pretty basic – each was done on a duplicate layer – Shake Reduction filter, Topaz (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Clarity Clouds 1 preset, then Clarity Color and Contrast III preset, Topaz Glow using the Room Glow Blake Rudis preset created in blog link below, a couple Selective Color Adjustments Layers, one for the clouds in particular, and Nik Viveza 2 to adjust vignetting.
Landscape image painted in Corel PainterJust created a little impressionistic painting following the basic steps from Thomas Churchwell’s video called Turner Style Painting in Corel Painter using Marilyn Sholin Brushes. I did have to add the my image in as a Source in the Clone Panel for me to get it all the brushes to clone correctly. And a pretty rough paper texture worked best on the canvas for the effect. Love the free cloner brushes from Marilyn (see bottom blog link below for site).

Well that is it – have a good week!

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Get the Soft Glow in Topaz Glow
Corel Painter’s Auto-Painting Results – Not Bad!

HOW TO BRING A COREL PAINTER BRUSH INTO PHOTOSHOP

Image of a snow scene created using brushesI will be taking a few weeks off from blogging to “regroup” – need to get caught up with both my favorite programs – Photoshop and Painter. But for this week I am going to carry on with my tree theme a little more since I seem to like to do tree images! Not sure why???

Created the above because I love this Bare Trees Brush that Karen Bonaker made in her Happy Holiday a Day brushes for Corel Painter. (It is in a few of my other blogs too.) This time it was turned into a Photoshop brush and below is how it was done.

Creating a Photoshop Brush Out of a Corel Painter Stroke

1. Open Corel Painter and set foreground color to black on a white canvas by setting the Color Wheel RGB sliders all the way left.

2. Select a brush in Painter to bring into Photoshop – in this case Karen’s wonderful Bare Brush Tree for me. The stroke can be placed on its own layer or just on the bottom white canvas. With Painter, there are lots of ways to adjust the actual brush to adjust the dab. What was done above was to just use Karen’s basic brush (and which I like). Save the file keeping it as a PSD file.

3. Open the file in Photoshop and turn it in a brush by going to Edit -> Define Brush Preset. The wonderful Painter brush has been converted to a brush in Photoshop, listed at the bottom of the Brush Preset Panel!

4. Make adjustments to the new brush in the Photoshop Brush Panel. For the brush used above, these settings were applied: Basic Tip Shape – Size 1190 and Spacing 63%; Shape Dynamics – Size Jitter 36% and Control set to Pen Pressure; Scattering – Scatter 30%, Control Pen Pressure, and Count 1; Texture – Texture set to Burlap and Invert was checked, Scale 100%, Brightness -29, Contrast 33, Check Texture Each Tip, Mode Multiply, Depth 100%, and Depth Jitter 38%; Color Dynamics – Check Apply Per Tip, Foreground/Background 11%, Saturation Jitter 12%, and Brightness Jitter 13%; and check Smoothing. The texture in the brush is due to the settings in Photoshop, not Painter, so the Texture setting can easily be turned off or changed if the effect is not right. Try adding a Dual Brush to get a snowy tree look or Wet Edges for a watercolor feel. Experiment with all these settings!

5. Last step is to start painting with your new brush – in this case, just painted a treeline of trees. If you like your brush, now is the time to go to the bottom of the Brush Preset Panel and select Save Brush. Usually I end up with several different variations of the brush and as a last step will save them together as a set in the Preset Manager by clicking on the 2nd icon on either Brush Panel or Brush Preset Panel – select each one (CTRL+click on each brush variation) and then Save Set. If the brush gets deleted, it can easily be added back in the Brush Preset Panel.

The rest of the image steps are as follows: Added 2 Lil Owls Enchanted4-1 overlay (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link), a New Layer with just some line definition, three more New layers – one with Shadowhouse Creations Fence brush, one with the two dear using different brushes, and one with the Barn1 brush; a New Layer with the painted deer tracks; Texture Mate’s Free Grunge Texture (was Original Starfield) set to 85% layer opacity and a layer mask painting out the center of the image – it really has a vintage snow look to it; a New Layer using the Sharpen Tool just on the deer faces; and my SJ Snow 2 Overlay-slight blur set to 53% layer opacity. Two Text Layers were used – first with Marcelle Script font and then Kayleigh font. Topaz (see sidebar for website link) ReStyle was added and the Peppermint Gray preset was applied at 75% layer opacity. And there you have it – a pretty nice wintry scene!

Image of trees created in PhotoshopThis is another example of using the above brush. This time a new brush was  created by combining a few strokes so it looks like a treeline. Then on a New Layer above the Background Layer, just a couple strokes were used in the image making the brush smaller for the distant trees. After that a couple of my textures were placed underneath the trees and a stamped layer was placed on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E). In Nik Analog Efex Pro 2, these settings were used: Basic Adjustments (Detail Extraction 22%, Brightness -17%, Contrast -15%, and Saturation 27% – and then 4 Control Points were added to image to pinpoint the detail and brightness exactly), Dirt & Scratches (Strength 26%, Organic, bottom center example), Lens Vignette (Amount -62%, Circle more than Rect, and Size 100%), Film Type ( B&W toned third down 2nd over, Faded, Strength 79%, Grain per pixel 500, and Soft), and Levels & Curves (100% opacity and Luminosity – one point -pull up slightly in upper left). Back in Photoshop, a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer set to Foreground to Background and in the Layer Style set the Blend If Underlying Layer black tab split to 55 and 116 (Alt + drag on the tab to split). Nik Viveza 2 was used to add emphasis to the final tree. Very different look from the first one!

Hope this gave you some ideas on how to use your brushes and how to bring them in from other programs. Not too hard and worth the time if you are using the Painter brush a lot. Will catch up with everyone in a couple weeks!…..Digital Lady Syd

HOW TO CREATE A PHOTOSHOP ARTISTIC TREE

My Robinia Tree created using the Photoshop Tree FilterSounds simple enough! It is but it is not. Had a lot of fun trying out a few techniques and going back and forth between Photoshop and Painter. Unfortunately, I believe this will be my workflow since both programs have things I like.

So let’s start with this top image. This actually is a tree that was created in Photoshop with their relatively new Tree Filter – it is in both Photoshop CC (go to Edit->Fill->Pattern Fill and open Scripts-has a few of the sliders missing from CC2014) and CC2014 (go to Filters->Render->Tree). It took some experimenting to get what I consider an artistic feel to the tree, but it can be done. Two files were created to do this. First I found a texture that I liked – it was Anna Lenabem’s Texture 208. (If you have not seen her textures, check them out – they are absolutely beautiful!) Next the tree was created on a New Layer above. (Here are the settings in case you want to see how it was done: Base Tree Type:  Robinia; Light Direction 180, Camera Tilt 3, Leaves Amount 100, Leaves Size 98, Branches Height 100, Branches Thickness 112, Check Default Leaves, Check Custom Color for Leaves – color used R255/G255/Blue147, Check Custom Color for Branches R238/G128/B99, and Arrangement 94.9.) I think I am turning into a Blake Rudis “groupie” – he definitely has the best tutorial on how to create trees in Photoshop – see his recent video tutorial called How to Make a Tree in Photoshop CC. He also gave me the idea to try and make a fine art image out if it. Now here is where it gets a little sticky – the layer was duplicated and just the tree was taken into Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression. (Here is my preset and the settings applied: SJ WC like Effect preset-Stroke: Brush Type 04, Brush Size 0.91, Paint Volume 0.42, Paint Opacity 0.87, Stroke Rotation 0, Stroke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width 0.33, Stroke Length 0.89, Spill 0.23, Smudge 0.26, and Coverage 1.00; Color: Overall Hue 0.15, St -0.20, and Lightness 0.06; Red Sat 0.47 and Lightness 0.14; Orange Sat 0.60 and Lightness -0.42; Yellow Sat -0.33 and Lightness 0.13; Green Sat 0.20 and Lightness -0.32; and Blue Sat 0.36; Lighting: Brightness -0.04, Contrast 0.39, and Light Direction x0.33 and y0.06; and Texture: Strength 0.78, Size 0.30, Canvas IV, Background Type Solid, and Background #d38967 (soft melon color). Changes I made to it: Stroke Color Variation 0.52, and Green Sat -1.00 and Lightness 0.) The layer was set to 63% layer opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was placed and clipped to tree layer on top with Master Hue set to -43, Sat +36, and Lightness 0 – this added some pink tones into the leaves. A stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4 was applied. (Here are the settings used:  SJ Abstract Large Color Variation – Artistic Style Oil Paint; Background:  Brush Size 27, Photorealism 4, Paint Thickness 100, Stroke Length 49, Color Variation 73, Brush Style Bristle Brush, and Random Seed 418; Detail Masking none; Colors Brightness 59, Contrast -14, Saturation 54, and Temperature 33; Lighting: Highlight Brightness 45, Highlight Size 26, Direction 120, Angle 65, Color White; Vignette none; and Canvas Rough Paper, Thickness 26, Zoom 16, Texture Paper, rough, Color white.)  Since it puts the layer on white background, the layer was set to Multiply back in Photoshop and the layer opacity set to just 21%. The last step in this file added a Gaussian Blur filter with the Radius set to 1.1 – added a black layer mask and painted back just the sharp edges of some of the leaves that looked unnatural. Saved this image and then saved another version that was flattened to take into Corel Painter. Here is what the image looked like at this point.

Image of Tree as taken into Corel Painter

All that was done in Corel Painter is a New Layer was added and Karen Bonaker’s Bare Trees brush from her Holiday 2014 Brush-a-Day Set (this is brush 1) was used to add the trees in the background. The file was saved as a PSD file and taken back into Photoshop where the Painter layer was set to 49% layer opacity. A little clean up was done on a New Layer. Next Painted Textures Desert Sky Canvas texture was applied twice, first set to Divide blend mode at Fill of 26%, and the second one set to Linear Burn at 68%. Another stamped layer was created and the image was taken into Nik Viveza 2 where the focal point was clarified just a little – I love what this filter does to a photo! Created a stamped layer and this time another of my all-time favorite plug-ins, Topaz ReStyle, was added. (These settings were used: Silver and Ivory Cloak preset – Set ReStyle to Screen at 53% opacity and Texture 1.00; Basic Tone Temperature -0.34;  Black Level 0.66, Midtones -0.27, and White Level 0.05; and Detail Structure 0.39.) On a New Layer above back in Photoshop, the Blur Tool was used to further blur the edges of just the dark leaves on the tree that appeared too sharp. The last step was adding a Curves Adjustment Layer to give a little more contrast. That was it – a really involved workflow, but it was not that hard – just a lot of experimenting. It was really fun to create something that looks so artistic with just filters!
Image of Robinia tree using the Photoshop Tree FilterThis is the same tree – the only difference in the whole workflow is that I used a different preset for Topaz ReStyle – the Guite Chrysanthemum preset. The settings were lost but is was slightly lightened in the plug-in. I liked the results so I thought I would show you what a different color palette can do for the image. I really like the way the oranges and blues play off each other.

Hope this blog gave you some ideas on how to use your filters with the Tree Filter in Photoshop. It really can give some beautiful results. And what the heck is a Robinia Tree? Have a great week and grow a Photoshop tree!…..Digital Lady Syd

HOW TO GET THE SOFT GLOW IN TOPAZ GLOW

Image of Pink Hibiscus Well, now that the holidays are over, I have had a chance to get reacquainted with Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Glow and start to understand this little gem of a plug-in a little bit more. I watched a Topaz Webinar by Blake Rudis’s (Integrating Topaz Glow into Your Workflow) and then another shorter video (Topaz Glow A Closer Look with Blending Options), and the program actually makes a lot more sense to me. I thought I would show you a few more examples of how Blake is using Glow to get some absolutely beautiful soft glow effects. Click on the Webinar link above for a download button that links to a Glow PDF file showing how to make his presets and several of his actions – I refer to the PDF file all the time now.

For me it seems Topaz Impression works great as the second step once Glow has been applied. The image of the two pink hibiscus has both filters applied. If you would like the detailed steps and plug-in settings used, check Image 1 info below. Two things were done differently from the usual application of this filter: 1. A black layer mask was added to the Glow layer and just the parts where I wanted the Glow to show up were painted back in the layer mask. Since the original image was pretty nice for starters, Glow was used to just add detail and highlights to just the flower centers and leaves – the rest of the image looked way over-the-top with the settings used. 2. Then the layer opacity of the Impression layer was reduced so you can still see some of those preserved Glow strokes. This image resulted in a pretty natural final look, which is what I wanted.

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Image of Pink Flowers taken at Epcot Disney WorldThese flowers were taken at Disney World Epcot Center last year. I could not get this image to post-process correctly so I had skipped it. Then Glow came out and it has actually turned it into a rather unique feeling image. Glow added the light to the foreground colors but by using Topaz ReMask, it did not affect the reflection and sky in the background. Then Topaz Impression was applied using one of my presets at 82% Strength. All the steps and settings are below under Image 2.

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Image of White Tree In this image of a leafless tree taken from above on my phone, a different workflow was used. First some texture and Topaz ReStyle was applied before Topaz Glow was used. That is because I felt the image needed that beautiful light effect that Blake discusses in his videos. His Room Glow preset was applied at 66% Strength and set to Hard Light blend mode before going back into Photoshop – it basically popped the picture! See Image 3 info for settings.

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Image of bottles at Takeya Steak House in Ormond Beach, FloridaThis image is from my favorite eating place in the Daytona Beach area, Takeya Steak House – just the best! I could not resist taking this image while waiting of a table recently. It seemed to be begging for a Glow application, so here it is, but it definitely also shows the fractal side of the plug-in. Not much was done this image other than adding Glow and clean up. See Image 4 for the complete workflow and plug-in settings. I like this sort of illustrative feel that Glow can give to an image.

I decided to give you a small look at the original images as it is really hard to tell what effect this plug-in had on the images without them. So below are the images as they appeared after Lightroom but before Photoshop.
Originals for image shown

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This last example is for all of us animal lovers – wanted to show how this plug-in does a great job with lighting on animal images. The image is from MorgueFile Free Photos – this site is loaded with fabulous pictures. The beautiful dog image was taken by GaborfromHungary, and I wish I had taken it. I wanted to try out Blake’s Animal Glow preset. It did not work well with this image, but my Graphic III Beach preset looked real great on the image. You need to try different settings for different types of images. The presets Blake gave us and the ones I am providing are just nice starting places. Once you find one you like, make a few changes for the specific image – you will get a real feel for what the sliders do and what effects you like. For all the settings on the dog image, check out Image 5 below.

Image of a beautiful Huskie dog I hope this blog has shown you how to get some gorgeous lighting effects with this plug-in. One of Blake’s workflow steps when using Glow is t0 set the Overall Saturation to -1.00 so you can see what is going on with the luminance and not the color. Then adjust your saturation back. I find this very helpful to do when adjusting the sliders for each image – you are just looking at the black and white tones and not the vivid colors, which can sometimes get in the way. You really need to at least look at his PDF and try his settings to see how the light effect changes in your images. It really is an incredible result and I am so happy I tried out the presets. Maybe this info will make you look at what can be done with this plug-in from a little different point-of-view – I know it changed how I am using it. Blake has really found a new way to use Topaz Glow that makes this plug-in much more useful and interesting. Hope you give it a try at least! Until next week, stay warm and have a good one!…..Digital Lady Syd.

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Glow
Simply Glowing!
On the Beach
Using Topaz Glow to Add Color
HDR Tree

Workflow Steps and Plug-in Settings:

Image 1: This is a very basic image taken with my Android phone camera, then in Lightroom 2 Lil’ Owl (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Hazy Days 22 preset was applied to get a bit of a Tuscany feel to the image. Once opened in Photoshop, some clean up was done on a New Layer, a stamped layers created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E), and Topaz Glow opened. If you watch Blake’s videos, you will find he uses the plug-in to add a beautiful soft light effect to almost all his images. That is is exactly what I did with this image. A preset I created was used to get some very nice lines in the leaves and flowers and some nice lighting. Then once back in Photoshop, a black layer mask was added (CTRL while clicking on layer mask icon at bottom of Layers Panel) was added – just the flowers and leaves were painted back into the mask. Next Topaz Impression was opened and a preset following the instructions in Blake’s free download PDF (see first paragraph above) was used to create a preset I call Abstract Settings-Blake Rudis. (Here are the settings if you would like them: Primary Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 1.00, Effect Sharpness 0.12, Electrify 1.00, Simplify Details 0.06, Edge Color 0, Detail Strength 1.00, Detail Size 0.42, Brightness 0.16, Contrast 0.18, Saturation 0.08, Line Rotation 0, and Glow Spread 0; Secondary Glow Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0, Effect Sharpness 0.54, Electrify 0.11, Simplify Details 0, Brightness 0, and Contrast 0; Color Overall Saturation to 0.62, Red Sat to 0.44, Yellow Sat to 1.00 Yellow Lightness -0.36, Green Sat 1.00 and Lightness -0.51, Aqua Lightness -0.36, Purple Sat 1.00, and Magenta Sat 1.00 and Lightness 0.50. Set to Screen blend mode at 66% Strength; and no Finishing Touches. In this image I set the Primary Glow Saturation to -0.41.) Since I did not want too much applied, the layer was set to 55% opacity. A New Layer was created above and I just painted using my Chalk 60 Brush (just the Shape Dynamics Angle Jitter is set to 19%) to clean up some of the painted areas that need to be smoothed out – here your own touch can be added. Last step was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little contrast back into the image.

Image 2: Just basic changes were made to this image in Lightroom, no preset. This time Topaz Clarity was applied using the settings Blake suggested in his Webinar (here are his basic settings and they usually are a pretty good starting point for the image: Micro Contrast 0.13, Low Contrast 0.33, and Medium Contrast 0.52 – than can look at histogram and black tone – I did not adjust that here). Next Topaz Remask was used to separate the foreground from the background so Topaz Glow would only be applied to the foreground. In Glow, Blake’s Abstract setting was applied as shown with no changes and no blend mode changed in the plug-in. Back in Photoshop, the blend mode was changed to Pin Light at 100% layer opacity. On a stamped layer (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) above, Topaz Impression was applied using my Abstraction preset set to 82% Strength (Stroke Type 12, Brush Size 1.00, Paint Opacity 0.38, Stroke Rotation 0, Stroke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width 0.85, Stroke Length -0.50, Spill 0.72, Smudge 0, and Coverage 1.00; Color Overall Hue 0.14, Sat 0.23, and Lightness 0.06; Red Lightness 0.14, Yellow Sat -0.11, and Green Lightness -0.36; Lighting Brightness 0.13, Contrast -0.23, and Vignette 0, Light direction X 0.34 and Y 0.05; and Texture Strength 0.19, Size -0.43, and Canvas I, Background type white solid and Background White). Now the painterly effect was added to the whole image, not just the foreground. A little clean up was done and that was it.

Image 3: In Lightroom used 2 Little Owls’ Fresh Color 1 preset. In Photoshop Topaz Clarity was used, but this time John Barclay’s settings were used (check out his Topaz Webinar called Creating Your Images with Topaz Plugins (not posted yet but is from 12/23/14) for another good video and some good Clarity info here.) The settings used for this image are: Micro Contrast 0.36, Low Contrast 0.20, Medium Contrast -0.11, and High Contrast -0.23 (see the stair stepping effect of the sliders) – then he looks at the histogram to adjust the Tone Levels – I usually do this in Photoshop but Clarity does a great job with the tones and colors. I am finding I like these basic settings a lot for this plug-in. Next Painted Textures Thanksgiving Winter Marsh was added twice – once set to Multiply at 64% layer opacity and Blend If This Layer white tab split (ALT+drag) was set to 96/130 and the top texture set to Linear Light at 22% layer opacity. Then Kim Klassen’s Deep Sigh texture was added and set to Hard Light at 74% layer opacity and the layer style Blend If sliders were set to: This layer white tab split and set to 149/196, and Underlying Layer black tab split and set to 14/42. This lightened up the background some. Next on a New Layer I used a brush I created using a portion of French Kiss’s Atelier Georgia texture set to 1600 px and just painted some green texture over the tree and everything –  set layer to Soft Light blend mode. Created stamped layer and applied Topaz ReStyle Regal Blue Shades (settings changed here: Restyle Opacity 50% and Color blend mode; Basic Opacity 22% and Multiply blend mode; Detail Structure 0.50 and Sharpness 1.00. Mask for Basic painted to bring back some of the white in the tree – Brush Strength 0.77, Brush Size 0.05, and Hardness 0.30 using Edge Aware and Color Aware sampling tree branch). On a New Layer above, the Sharpen Tool was used to sharpen up the tree branches – it did a pretty good job on this image. Next Topaz Glow was applied using the setting in Blake’s PDF for his Room Glow preset – the Strength was set to 66% and blend mode was Hard Light before returning back to Photoshop. This one really took a while to complete and ended up very different from the start. Totally fun to do!

Image 4: In Lightroom 2 Lil’ Owls’ At the Vineyard 7 preset was applied. In Photoshop John Barclay’s Topaz Clarity preset was applied with same settings as Image 3. In Topaz Glow I used these settings for my Inter Web Variation preset (Here are the settings: Primary Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 1.00, Effect Sharpness 0.12, Electify 1.00, Simplify Details 0.06, Edge Color 0, Detail Strength 1.00, Detail Size 0.42, Brightness 0.16, Contrast 0.18, Saturation 0.08, Line Rotation 0, and Glow Spread 0; Secondary Glow Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0, Effect Sharpness 0.54, Electrify 0.11, Simplify Details 0, Brightness 0, and Contrast 0; Color Overall Saturation to 0.62, Red Sat to 0.44, Yellow Sat to 1.00 Yellow Lightness -0.36, Green Sat 1.00 and Lightness -0.51, Aqua Lightness -0.36, Purple Sat 1.00, and Magenta Sat 1.00 and Lightness 0.50. Set to Screen blend mode at 66% Strength; and no Finishing Touches.) On a New Layer above, the Sharpen Tool was used on the lettering in the bottles and hats. A little vignetting on the sides was applied with a Brown Solid Color Fill Layer with the mask filled with black (CTRL+I in white layer mask) and the edges painted back.

Image 5: First the image was duplicated and taken into Topaz Clarity (John Barclay Basic Settings from Image 3 was used, then Tone Level Black Level 0.13, Midtones -0.16, and White Level 0.30; HSL Filter Sat Red 0.45, Aqua 0.69, and Blue 0.33 were added). The Spot Healing Brush Tool was used to get rid of areas. Then in Topaz Glow my Graphic III Beach preset was applied ( (Here are the adjusted settings I used:  Secondary Glow: Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0.23, Effect Sharpness 0.47, Electrify 0.17, Simplify Details 0, Brightness 0.36, Contrast 0.62, and the other two 0; Color: Red Sat 1.00, Orange Sat 0.27, Yellow Sat 0.20 and Lightness 0.09, Aqua Sat 0.78 and Lightness -0.26, and Blue Sat 0.49). The Blend Mode and Strength is the same as the blend mode and layer opacity in Photoshop, so usually I do not apply them until I go out of the plug-in so they can be readjusted easily. This time the Overlay blend mode was used and set to 67% layer opacity. A black layer mask was added, and the dog was painted back in. In the Properties Panel, the Density was set to 85% and the Feather 31.6. The last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer that was used to add back just a little contrast and the Blue/Yellow curve was used to move the image to a more cool look. That was it.

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