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SOME PHOTOSHOP WITH SAM PETERSON

Pixabay image of a model changed into a fairy

A few weeks ago Photoshop Guru Sam Peterson did another two weeks of challenges on the Adobe Creative Cloud website. I have done several of his challenges before, and it is always fun to try out new things following his new videos. Therefore, thought I would show what kind of things were presented in his short, but informative, videos last month. Sam always provides starter files to use for practicing and usually a timeline is added in the YouTube description showing what Photoshop skills were used.

The video covering the fairy image is called Caricatures for Beginners – Photoshop Illustration Challenge. The above fairy was created by first downloading this image from Pixabay (Jerzy Gorecki portraits are the best). In PS the model was selected and put on her own layer before taking the layer into Topaz Studio 2 or just Topaz Impression could have been used (Type 09 brush, Number of Strokes High, Brush Size 0.47, Paint Opacity 1.00, Stroke Color Variation 0.50) for the skin effect – a layer mask was used to paint it off her face a little. The Stroke Color Variation slider created the skin markings. Obviously Liquify layers were used for the eyes. Also a FaerieWings ii4 Falln Stock on Deviant Art brush was used. Fantasy Light Dirt 2-Large Glitter with spacing set to 126%, Opacity 52%, and Flow 62% was used for the fairy dust. The background was just painted using his brush (he tells you about it) and Fantasy Light Dirt 2-Flair 1 was used to create the fog look at the bottom. This was my favorite effect I did.

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Image of a flower pot with a watercolor border

The above is a really nice effect and can be used on any image. What is really nice is that Sam teaches you how to make an action so it can be applied very quickly since several PS filters are used to get the effect. Some of Kyle T. Webster, the Adobe brush guru, watercolor brushes were used to finalize the effect. The photo is by Annie Spratt at Unsplash. The effect is pretty easy video to follow – it is called Watercolor Effect – Photoshop Illustration Challenge. I actually ran it on the baby image from last week and it turned out really nice.

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B&W image of a lady playing a violin with text on the image

The typography look is another effect that was pretty easy to do – the video is called Text Portrait – Photoshop Typography Challenge. It basically creates a lot of different text layers that are rasterized and merged together to get the final effect. It is done several times and is a creative way to add text to an image. The image is from Pixabay (unable to find a link). A different font was used from the one that Sam preferred – this one is called Naive Deco Sans. The larger text was placed behind the player at 30% layer opacity while the smaller text was laid on top at 91% layer opacity. The background is called Texture Time Music Layer Mask by Evelyn Flint from 2013 (not sure how to find it now) and was set to black and white already.

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This video seemed to be the hardest for me – getting an image I liked and then making it look like it was popping off the page was not easy. Still it was a lot of fun to do. The video is called Illustrated Composite Effect – Photoshop Compositing Challenge. It took a while longer to do as there were a lot of steps in the technique. The starter file set has this nice notebook that can be used as a platform for the effect, but I had to mask out the wiring so the wood background could be changed. The image of the model is from Dollar Gill at Unsplash.

Adobe Create Cloud provides several PS experts that create Masterclasses and challenges – there is always something that catches my eye each week. I did not do all of Sam’s challenges this time as there were a few I was not interested in doing. It is fun to try out different techniques when you have a few minutes and Sam’s videos are only about 25 minutes long. In the Related References, there are a few of my blogs that used some of his previous challenges. Let me know if these were fun for you……Digital Lady Syd

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DIGITAL PAINTING A PHOTO IN PHOTOSHOP

Painted image of a baby by Traci Stewart.

Just a refresher blog on what to do if you want to do a quick little painting of a photo you have. This cute downloaded image is by Traci Stewart at Unsplash. It was actually a great one to practice on to try out some different painterly brushes. It takes a bit of planning and time to get a good result – not unlike painting a drawn image. What is a good way to start painting a favorite photo as many people really want painted images of their children, grandchildren or pets? Photoshop makes it pretty easy to get some great results without using their filters.

The obvious way to do this is just to use New Layers when changing colors or brushes and name the layers (with the object or brush name if changing to different ones for different areas) so you know what was done. I did a blog a while back on how to use the PS Mixer brushes with several links for more info – see A Little Digital Painting in Photoshop and New Photoshop Brushes! blog – contains give very painterly results. Another thing to check is the size of the image if it is not your photo. Go to Image -> Image Size and check out what the resolution is set to and how the large the image is. If it is set to 72 dpi, uncheck Resample and change the amount to something more reasonable like 240 or 300, especially if printing. Then recheck Resample and the size of the file should be much more manageable.

There are a few PS people that do teach digital painting on photos and I have written about them in the past. Below are my recommended resources for learning this technique.

  1. Check out some videos by Lisa Carney, the famous poster retoucher. She did a course in 2017 at Creative Live called Advanced Techniques with Brushes in Photoshop CC – a few things are slightly out-of-date or PS has added some new features not covered (like using the ~ key to erase instead of the Brush Mode called Clear – they do the same thing and the ~ key is so much faster). But overall she does an excellent job of showing how to use the different media types of PS brushes to paint in PS and what the various brush settings do. It is not as thorough as Kyle T. Webster’s Adobe Creative Cloud YouTube videos, but Lisa’s are a great place to start if you are interested in trying out different brush types for painting. Currently her class is on sale for $24 – Creative Live runs sales frequently and this class has 22 not too long videos which are downloadable when bought. The best part of this class is the accompanying 92-page PDF which I have found really helpful. Covers all the information she covers and more. The child image used her class information.
  2. There is a photographer/painter called Lori Jill that did some really nice painting classes at Udemy. Her course called Turn Photographs into Digital Paintings is an excellent course (although it is from 2014 I think), and is often on sale for a very inexpensive amount (right now it is about $12). I really enjoyed her teaching style and the class contains resources where she teaches you how to use them (an action, brushes, and several images). The Victorian House image below used Lori’s techniques. She also has a class on “Digital Pet Paintings using Photoshop” and “Digital Painting Pinup Portraits from a Photograph” which are also really fun to do. I might add that Udemy has several other digital painting classes you might want to check out. Unfortunately you cannot download the videos, but they will always be available to you when logged in.
  3. I would be remiss if I did not include the fabulous Adobe Guru Jack Davis and all he has done for the artistic flavor of PS alone. I have written several blogs on his Creative Live videos, which are now rather old but still relevant – an older Adobe Max YouTube video covers a lot of what is in the course. The last image below was from a previous blog. His Creative Live course is called Painting with Adobe Photoshop and is usually offered at a really reasonable amount. ($24 as of today) It contains 40 videos (all are downloadable and almost 16-hours of teaching) covering all the PS and LR (ACR) tools for painting. The biggest problem is that his action and presets can no longer be downloaded from his Facebook page. The presets were all the same as those in is Wow! books – nothing updated for this. I think the action is the same one Dr. Russell Brown of Adobe fame created with his Watercolor Panel for CS6. I hope that Creative Live will fix Jack’s link soon or include the info in his download. But even so, the videos are excellent and very entertaining.

Here are a few of the brushes used to get the child’s image effects. Some of these brushes were suggested by Lisa in her course 30-minute video called Impressionist Brush that show how this is done. The sky and tree background were painted on separate layers using Kyle’s Impressionist Brushes set – French Sharp Block brush. To download his brushes, go to the Brushes Panel’s top right pop-out menu and choose “Get More Brushes” – it takes you to the Creative Cloud login after which you can download hundreds of brushes. Just download to your computer, then go back to the same Panel menu and click Import to add them in or follow my next tip. A trick with .abr files (or most of PS files like Patterns, Swatches, Gradients, etc. which have unusual extensions) is that usually you can double-click them and they go into PS immediately. Watch out now that there is Fresco, it also uses these files and double-clicking them might open Fresco up if you just upgraded or used it. To stop it from doing this, in your Windows file folder right click on the .abr file and select Open With, then select Choose Another App and choose Adobe Photoshop 2022 and check Always use this app to open .abr files. Now it will always open PS when the brush file is double clicked.

For the grass Grut’s OI Stump Trough was used – it looks like grass and was perfect for this image. Grut Brushes are one of my favorite brush makers and he gives away a new brush every week so it is always fun to see what is coming up. Also Kyle’s Real Watercolor – Stamp Damp Paper was used in the background to get the slightly foggy effect and to make the background less noticeable. The baby’s skin was painted with Kyle’s Natural Edge Texture Stain and mixer was used to smooth it out a little (see David Belliveau free Mixer – it is the best). Both of the watercolor brushes were recommended by Lisa. The rabbit is from PixelSquid. The flowers were from Jessica Johnson at Creative Couture – she is the Pattern Stamp Brush guru. My favorite set from her is called the Romantic English Garden set and the flowers were created using her brush #35 and Pattern 25. You should check out her samples if you have never tried the Pattern Stamp Tool (it is housed with the Clone Stamp Tool). I painted the flower in and Viveza 2 was used to overall sharpen up the image. A Solid Color Adjustment Layer was added at the top using a turquoise color at 13% layer opacity to slightly soften the brightness of the image – it had seemed a bit overwhelming to me.

Here is an image created using Lori Jill’s course – this is one of my favorite painted photos. She has a similar style to Jack Davis’s techniques. I have painted many photos using her technique as the rather smooth effect is one I like.

Painted image of a Victorian house

The image below is one I did a while ago and shows some of Jack Davis’s techniques. His style is always very fun to use, but is a little less smooth than Lori’s technique.

Image of apartment houses in Belarus

I was surprised to find very little recent info out there of people who are teaching this. I will continue searching to find a few more current videos. Hope you check out a few of these painters who really do know how to use the PS brushes. Digital painting a photo is a great way to have some fun!…..Digital Lady Syd

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HOW TO CREATE A FUN CARTOON

Cartoon drawing of a pretty woman

If you are like me, you probably spend a lot of time just doodling in Photoshop. I like to try out new brushes and end up creating some pretty weird but fun cartoon characters. Then I end up tweaking it until it is something, well, as seen here in this blog. What I like best about doing this type of digital art is that it does not have to be perfect. I thought I would share with you some of my favorite brushes that work really good when cartooning or doodling. Also some nice brushes for adding color to the cartoon along with a couple little tricks to try out. This blog is a bit huge, but it is a lot of info to cover.

The cartoon lady above was the first one developed for this blog. Below are the basic steps I usually follow to create my cartoon images:

  • The first step is to draw a “Rough” drawing layer using a nice drawing brush. Usually a pencil or ink brush is selected to start – this image used Kyle Webster’s Tilty Pencil Brush from his Winter 2022 set (I changed mine from a Mixer to a Regular brush – see Appendix at end of blog on how to do this – it makes a great sketch brush, but both the Mixer and Regular brushes are great!) Begin by just doodling a few items to start your character, and black is my preferred sketch color. Usually I begin with the nose or eyes – then I throw an oval shape around the figure to create areas to build on. Then the body is drawn, if needed. Remember at this stage, it does not have to be proportioned perfect.
  • This step is optional if you are happy with the Rough drawing layer. Next create a “Refined” drawing layer by starting with a New Layer and setting the “Rough” drawing layer to a lower opacity. Then either use the same brush or a different one to draw over the original in a darker ink to fine-tune the lines. This totally depends on the look you want. For the above image, a New Layer was used to fine-tune the face separate from the body – the layers were merged together when the refining was done. Sometimes a rougher ink brush looks better at this stage for the character being put together.
  • Put a New Layer underneath the Rough Draft layer (turn it off now if there is a Refined drawing) and start painting in the different areas of your character. This image used a few of Kyle’s Real Watercolor Brushes – the Skirt used Wet Pull and her skin used Natural Edge Painter 2. The hair was called Sampled Brush 2 3 by Daarken in his Full Daarken Brushes Full Set (some really cool brushes in this large free set). It just created this great mass of hair! For the Blouse the Natural Edge Painter 2 was used again and Kyle’s Real Watercolor Spider Spread Blend smudge brush was used to spread out the paint and smooth the fabric effect. I love this smudge brush!
  • TIP 1: This next step is really important so the texture placed underneath your character does not show through, especially when using watercolor or if the layer opacity of one of the objects is less. To do this, duplicate your Refined drawing layer and paint solid white over just the character. Once done, move it down under all the color layers. If white shows through a little after moving, just erase what looks bad on the white layer. This will make your image look so much better!
  • Create shadow and lighten layers. TIP 2: For the lady above, a technique by Pratik Naik was used where a large round 100-pixel soft brush with Smoothing checked on. In the Options bar set the Flow to 9% and turn on the Airbrush. Created a white layer to lighten and a black layer to darken the image. This brush is my go-to do this and often a different color is used to get a different look. Very handy to use!
  • To finish up, just below the white layer a texture can be added. The one above was mine created in Corel Painter. A Color Look-up table was used to give a little more contrast. Could also add on top Curves, Levels, or Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers.

This is the basic process.

Cartoon of a guy

The Unhappy Man image above was created using a different free brush called Scratchy Scratchy by David Belliveau at Paintable from his Sketch Set (I have learned a lot from David and followed several of his classes – see my Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter blog for an example and more info on him.) Another really nice brush – there are so many choices in PS for this kind of art. His lips were created using my SJ KTW Tilty brush (I have trouble with lips so to learn to do this, Etherington Brothers visual lip tutorials were very helpful – search on their Twitter Feed for How to Think When You Draw – Lips – Part A and Part B from May 21, 2021. It shows you how to draw spheres in the lips to get them balanced.)

The T-shirt pattern is from the Old Design Shop – Keating Bicycle Ad and the Free Transform-Warp tool was used to get it crooked (this layer was set to Multiply to remove the white – this messed up everything when a stamped layer was created on top at the end of the process. MAJOR TIP 3: If creating a stamped layer and a weird color shift or a layer style does not work correctly, go the layer(s) with the blend mode(s) that are different from the Normal layer blend mode and convert them into a Smart Object(s) – now everything will work once the original stamped layer is deleted and a new created on top. This took me forever to figure out but I find color shifts comes up a lot!

Grut’s NM Knowit was used for the light whiskers on the Refine drawing. A solid color brush was used on a layer underneath the Refine drawing layer and different colors added to the character. Sam Peterson’s Pencil Stumpy 6 was used to paint in the solid colors. Then Sam Peterson’s Airbrush for Shadows at 25% opacity to finish up. Both of these brushes can be downloaded for free by going to his in his Character Design in Photoshop YouTube video and in the chat relay sidebar there is a link – he does discuss how to use his brushes in this video. Sam always has some good PS techniques in his Creative Challenges. Next the white figure was painted on a layer underneath the colored parts of the person as explained in Step 4 of the process. Last step involved adding the texture background below the white layer. The background texture was one created from an elephant tutorial by Aaron Blaise (see my Got Some Free Time! Try Drawing blog for info on getting his fabulous tutorials) – he often starts his tutorials by creating really nice basic textures so check him out to learn about this and all sorts of drawing. This image is similar to the top image but used different brushes.

Cartoon character of a guy outside

This above Outdoorsman image followed the same basic steps, but once again used some different brushes. This time the Rough drawing layer was used with no Refine drawing layer. TIP 4: Where I differ from most drawers is that I do erase out lines and remake them on-the-fly or use the Lasso Tool to change the size or line up my lines. My Wacom pen is set to toggle between the ALT key for sampling and E for erasing – very handy. My new favorite drawing brush for cartoons is Kyle’s Clean Comic brush from his Magapack set – created a brush by changing these settings in the Options Bar: Size of 10 pixels, Flow 36% and Smoothing 12% – then the saving brush. It makes for a very clean line. The painting color brush is one I named SJ Smooth Painting and it uses the tip of Aaron Blaise’s Local Color Brush (from the Brush Tip section) with my settings. (His brush used a lot of settings, but I only used Transfer (Opacity Jitter 0% and Control Pen Pressure) and Smoothing. The Options Bar is set to Size 35 pixels, Opacity 100%, Pressure for Opacity on, Flow 83%, and Smoothing 10%.) It makes a really nice paint stroke for applying color. TIP 5: It is fun to try different brush tips from with other brushes to create new ones. Sometimes really great brushes are created as this one is for me.

The background was created by adding a layer underneath the white painted layer and just lightly drawing in some background features with the Clean Comic brush. I followed some tips from a recent video by Kyle T. Webster called Tips for Creating Space and Distance in Your Art – very informative. On a layer underneath the background sketch, Kyle’s Smitty brush from his Spring 2022 set was used for the landscape and the tree. The sketch was left just slightly showing by lowering the Sketch background layer to 64% opacity – wanted a bit of the cartoon look to still show to tie it into the character drawing. The slight floral effect was created by using a Pattern Stamp by Jessica Johnson using her English Garden Set (brush 30 and pattern 37) – my favorite set of hers! She is the Pattern Stamp expert! Used my Pratik Naik from above for the slight shadow effect.

Cartoon of a man sitting in a chair

This image is a lot more basic than the others. Just a Rough layer was created using a new ink brush called Tick Fission by GrutBrushes – it is his free brush of the week this week but all his brushes are only $1 if you find one you want. This site is fabulous if you have not checked it out before. I am really enjoying this brush as it gives some nice variety of lines for drawing. Underneath, a brush created from a texture brush using French Kiss was used to add some texture to his pants. (See my How to Create a Texture Brust to Match a Texture blog to learn how to do this – it is nice to have a texture brush from one of your favorite textures to use in images.) Under that is the painted white figure. TIP 6: A Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was used to add the background – the above uses Kyle’s Gesso Canvas Knife pattern from one of his brushes. I can’t find the brush where this pattern is from, but several of his brushes have similar effects – Kyle’s Megapack Inkbox Brush Pen Queen uses one called kyle nupastel 2017 that also looked nice in this image. To download the pattern (texture) from the brush, just click the + icon to the left of the pattern line – it will automatically go into your pattern file. Use a Selective Color Adjustment Layer using the Colors Black, Neutral, and White colors and the black slider to adjust pattern contrast – try both Relative and Absolute. This is a great way to get a really nice painterly texture. By using the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer, they can be swapped out really easily. Even if the pattern is too light or dark, just change the blend mode or layer opacity of the adjustment layer and it may look really good. To learn about the textures in brushes, check out Brush Hour with Kyle T. Webster: Let’s Create Some Pattern Brushes video for great info on this. The font used was Segoe Print and is free for personal use.

Thank you so much for hanging in there with me on this huge blog. It has been a while since I did one – this is something I have been wanting to write about for a while. Hope you found something useful in it, even if it just finding some new brushes to try out. Have a great one!…..Digital Lady Syd

APPENDIX:

TIP 7: As promised here are the instructions on how to convert brushes between Mixers and Regular type brushes and other types too. The bottom line for converting a regular brush into a mixer: Select the Mixer brush that has the settings you like, then press down the CTRL+ALT keys while clicking on the Regular brush you want to convert to a Mixer with the original Mixer settings. They will appear in the Options Bar. Below is how I actually created the SJ Tilty Pencil brush.

How to turn Kyle’s Tilty Pencil Variant Brush from his Winter 2022 set from a Mixer into a Regular Brush. Not exactly how I figured this out, but it works great for me as a Sketcher. It gives very delicate lines, like the ladies face above, but much darker lines for more emphasis. To convert the Tilty Pencil Variant into a Regular brush is just the opposite from turning the above info on changing a a Regular Brush into a Mixer. In this case either create a basic Regular Brush with the Option Bar set to Opacity 100%, Flow 100% and Smoothing 20% or find a brush that is set up the way you like. Select this brush and press down the CTRL +ALT keys, keeping them held down until you get to the Tilty Pencil Variant, and click on it – it now turns into a regular brush with all the Mixer’s Brush Settings but the Options Bar will use the regular brush settings. Immediately go down and save the brush by pressing the + icon and naming it. Otherwise once you use a different brush, it goes back to a Mixer. Now you can change the size and the settings to match what you want. For my brush (a small round brush tip), it is no longer an Erodible brush (since the regular brush tip used was not Erodible brush type – need to create an Erodible brush like the Mixer settings on the new one if you want it to be an erodible Regular brush) – but is set to Size 7 pixels and Spacing 10%; Shape Dynamics – Size Jitter 11%, Control Pen Tile, Minimum Diameter 36%, Tilt Scale 104%, Angle Jitter 39%, Control Pen Tilt, Roundness 0% and Control Off; Scattering Both Axes at 30%, Count 5, and Count Jitter 62%; Texture – Pattern is Kyles WC Seamless 1 (saved down from one of his Watercolor brushes – see TIP 6 above), Scale 100%, Brightness -122, Contrast 5, Check Texture Each Tip, Mode Height, Depth 22%, Minimum Depth 0, Depth Jitter 0% and Control Pen Tilt; Transfer – Opacity Jitter 0%, Control Pen Pressure, Minimum 26%, Flow Jitter 0%, and Control Off; and Smoothing checked. In the Options Bar, Opacity is 100%, Flow 31% and Smoothing 20%. There you have it! This same technique can be used on most brushes in PS except the Clone Stamp Tool. Try it out – it works really good.

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HOW TO GET A GRAPHIC LOOK IN PHOTOSHOP

Graphic image of a girl in a garden

I have been having a lot of fun trying out a new look I learned from TikTok. A 52-second video called The Lady in Green got me thinking about how to create that smooth graphic effect that is very popular right now. My reference image was by the Impressionist painter Charles Courtney Curran called Blue Delphiniums created sometime in the early 1900’s.

A sketch was created first – mine was not near as good as the video’s. Not everything in my reference painting was going to be added, just the pretty lady that was changed a bit. Next, the video suggested using the Pen Tool to get the really smooth lines that are key to creating this popular graphic look. Several different Shape layers of the different sections (Umbrella, Hat, Face, Rt Arm, Lt Arm, and Dress) were made. It could even be used as a poster effect using just the image below.

Example of how the shape layers looked

To make Shape layers (which I find a little tricky since the paths need to be pretty close to what you are selecting), the Pen Tool Options Bar needs to be set to Shape (not Path or Pixel) with any color for the Fill ( just not No Fill) can be used to start – the color can be adjusted once the shape path is connected with the Pen Tool. Then PS pops into the Layers Panel where a layer named Shape (#) appears. May need to adjust the layer order if areas are covering over other parts. If a mistake was made with the path lines, you can’t paint directly onto a Shape layer to fix it so the layer may need to be rasterized (right click on the layer and select rasterize). From this point on, almost anything could be done to the image now that the Shape layers are done. By clipping (ALT + click between the two layers) a New Layer to the Shape layer, any changes done will be confined to just that layer. If a line needs to be smoothed out, choose a Mixer Brush with bit of a point on tip and set it to Very Wet, Very Heavy in the Options Bar – then just smooth or straighten out an edge with a very small brush (like 15 pixels or less) and paint to get the sharp line feel. TIP: If you do not have a Mixer brush with a sharp point, just select the Mixer Tool icon (using the above settings), then press CTRL+ALT+click on an a regular brush with a tip you like and the Mixer settings are applied to it. (Thank you Nicolai at GrutBrushes for that tip!)

Below is an overview of the different resources used and how they were changed to give unique effects:

  • French Kiss Tableaux Mirage texture brush was applied at full size clicking just once. This gave the interesting painterly effect to the background. This brush was created using the French Kiss Texture (for info on how to do this, see my How to Create a Texture Brush to Match a Texture blog – this is a really handy way to match texture to your image.)
  • On a clipped layer above the dress Shape layer, the Grut NM (natural media) Swing Swish brush (watch this site for a weekly new free brush and lots of great regular brushes) set to 1000 pixels was used to paint in the dress texture. The brush was changed in the Brush Settings Panel by adding a Color Dynamics section (settings are set to Apply Per Tip checked, Foreground/Background Jitter 2% with Control set to Pen Pressure, Hue Jitter 7%, Saturation 7%, and Brightness 8%), and in the Texture section, the texture was changed to Grut’s Rigeribs texture (a much more smooth and solid colored texture will do) with the same settings. This gave the nice overall textured effect on the dress.
  • The lacy effect around the lady was created from watching another TicTok short video by Carol Tayler – a Photoshop Trick called Silk Texture, and yes it uses the Pen Tool also. This brush was easy to create and looks pretty cool. Brushed this effect on a New Layer on top of the Shape layers and a layer mask was used to remove areas that should not have the netting on it. (Tips to make this look like mine: I created the brush like they showed in the video, then to get the pretty effect, the Size was set to 250, the Spacing 11% instead of the video 44%, and the Angle Control Fade amount to 200. Also try to use a loose looking figure eight effect when creating the shape and a small , like 4 px small hard round brush, to Stroke the brush with in the Path Panel-set this up ahead of time in the Brush Panel.)
  • Background grass and floral items on several New Layers: Kyle’s Smitty brush from his Spring 2022 set was used to create the painterly effect in the sun, which was just a circle selection created using the Elliptical Marquee Tool. The green foliage (brush SB 46 3) and flower (SB 46 3) brushes all came from Aaron Blaise Photoshop Foliage Brush Set (check out some of the best inexpensive brush and drawing tutorials at his site, and watch for his sales).
  • Edging around the Umbrella was made by adding a Neon Layer Style on the edges and using just the Color Overlay and Outer Glow effects to create it. For instructions on how to do this, check out Spoon Graphics video called Neon Light Effect Photoshop Tutorial. This effect looks slightly different in each of the image iterations.
Alternate graphic image of lady with the umbrella

A couple things needed to be done to each of these images. It was hard to get the hands and fingers looking just right. A very small hard round brush was used and the small Mixer brush were used to smooth the fingers on each image. Also the arms have different shading effects that were also smoothed with the Mixer brush. The other thing that differentiated each of the images was the Color Lookup Adjustment Layers used. For the top image, a LUT called On1-Summertime1 was applied (if you have On1 software, their LUTs will work in PS – just have to add them in). On1 has some of the best LUTs available. To create the color above, on top of the Summertime1 LUT, PS’s Candlelight Color Adjustment Layer was added and set to Color Burn blend mode. Next the Layer Style was opened and in the Blend If This Layer, the black tab was split (ALT+click on tab) and set to 0/99. Then in the Layer Mask, the green grass in the background was lightly painted back and finally, the mask density was set to 35%. It created what I consider a very different look from the first image.

Another graphic iteration of the lady with the umbrella

This image is yet a different iteration and the only change is that a different Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added on top of the Summertime1 LUT (try PS’s Soft_Warming LUT for a similar look). It is a free one from Sparkle Stock’s Winter Mood set called Polar01. A Curves Adjustment layer was added on top for more contrast. This image seems so much more formal. (Switched the LUT to PS’s LateSunset and it gave even a different beautiful look.) The Color Adjustment Layers is a great way to change up any image!

It was hard not to add too many things to the images and keep them simple. I hope everyone got a few new ideas for creating images – not a lot of painting but just creative uses of resources. It was fun to try some new things and it was not that hard – just had to get the hang of using the Pen Tool and Shape Layers. You really don’t have to use either one – use any selection tool you like and just use layer masks to clean up problem areas if that is easier. I did a little of this on clean up layers and it worked out fine. Hope you are having a great summer! Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd

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THE BALD EAGLE AND HOW TO DRAW ONE

Image of a drawn American Eagle for Memorial Day

I wanted to do something a little patriotic as my contribution to Memorial Day, a most important holiday in my country. The Bald Eagle has been the national bird of the US since 1789. Today, the Bald Eagle, which is indigenous to the US, is protected under the National Emblem Act of 1940. If you love Eagles like I do, check out these web cams of the various Eagle families. I drew this eagle before I decided to put him into a Memorial Day background. I have to admit that I spent a long time drawing this bird, a lot of steps to learn and attempt to master, but overall a lot of fun to create!

I will try to keep this short by listing my references used as the main ingredients on how the Eagle was created. First, a wonderful YouTube video by Aaron Blaise shows how to create the actual bird was used. It is called Birds of Prey Course Sneak Peak Out Now! from 2020. I only followed his first example of the Eagle head, where he takes you very thoroughly through the steps needed to get a pretty good result. Here is what my bird looked like after doing the above video. Still a lot of work was needed.

Basic drawn image of the eagle

Next a background was added using a few layers in Corel Painter, but I could have used oil or acrylic brushes in Photoshop to get a similar results. From this point on, a lot of improvising was done. Photoshop’s Kyle T Webster’s brush Pollock CD from Summer Set 2019 set (Kyle’s brushes are always free to PS subscribers) was used at lower opacities to add the speckles above the background and also lightly on the Eagle. Lots of different brushes were used to add more details into the feathers. Used a lot of Aaron’s brushes for the basics. One of my favorite brushes used was the glitter effect added on some of the darker areas of the feathers – Grut’s major cool OI Brief Shona brush was used but the texture in the Brush Settings Panel was changed to a gold glittery pattern – this gave a really nice glittery feel to the brush when adding in some of the shadow lines. And note, just because the pattern is gold does not mean you get the gold effect – must first select a gold color for painting (could use gray to get a silver which was also done in spots). It sort of felt right for a regal Eagle! Also used Grut’s brush ICitrose for roughing in some of the feathers. (Grut’s brushes are the best and if you visit his website, every Monday he posts a free brush to download which is how I got the ICitrose brush a couple weeks ago – this is always a lot of fun to try out a new brush each week!) Lots of strings of whites a grays were used to add in more feather details. When finished, a Gausian Blur was set to 1.6 Radius to keep these detail lines from being too sharp. Some dodging and burning was used. The font is one I really like called Zahra In Line Grunge – layer style effects of Bevel and Emboss, Pattern Overlay, Outer Glow, and Drop Shadow were applied to make the gold effect. The same gold pattern used in the glitter OI Brief Shona brush was selected, except the gold color now appears in the lettering. The gold pattern effect is from Gold Foils 7th Ave Design textures – the Gold-8 texture was converted into a pattern by going to Edit -> Define Pattern. Any gold glitter textures you have would work or you can even make them. (See my How to Create a Glitter Texture blog.) It is now added to your pattern list and be selected for a brush in the Texture brush settings or as a Pattern Overlay in Layer Style Effects.

I enjoyed doing this bird so much I actually purchased the How to Draw Birds of Prey Course from Aaron – it covers 15 different types of birds and lots of material – still just getting through the basics on birds. Hopefully I will have a few more drawings soon. In the meantime, hope everyone is having a great holiday in the US and a great weekend in other locations! Summer is almost here!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Reference Blogs:

A Little Aaron Blaise Digital Drawing Practice

Creative Photoshop Digital Art Tips

Got Some Free Time! Try Drawing!

A Leopard Thinking

Introducing the Beautiful Fox

WHEN LEARNING TO DRAW – PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE

Watercolor drawn image of a vintage woman reading

Happy Mothers Day to all and I hope everyone is having fun with their Moms or remembering the good times if they are not around. This vintage lady, in remembrance of my fabulous Mom, is one I drew based upon an image I particularly like called A Holiday at Mentone (a beach near Melbourne, Australia) by Charles Conder in 1888. I learned this is a great way to practice a little drawing and try out some new brushes.

The brushes used here are all from Kyle T. Webster sets that are free with your Photoshop subscription. To load them, open up the Brush Panel and go to the settings hamburger icon in the top right corner of the panel – in the drop-down select Get More Brushes. Just search through the list until you find the ones you want to download. Note that there are hundreds of brushes so I never load them all at once. Just save the sets to your hard drive and load the set as needed.

First step was to draw the vintage lady – tried several digital pencil brushes and finally settled on one of the Winter 2022 brushes called Tilty Pen Alt. Never really liked the brush but for some reason it worked out very nice for this type of sketching. On layers created underneath the now locked sketch layer set to a lower layer opacity (36%), several digital pastel and oil brushes were tried to add in the color – it did not look great. Having never tried the Watercolor painting effect before, it was my next choice. Therefore, the Real Watercolor brushes were opened up and mainly Kyle’s Real WC-Flat Thing to Thick (in Options Bar, changed the brush Mode to Normal and Angle to 93 degrees), Kyle’s Real Watercolor – Clean Edge Thick ‘n Thin 40, and Kyle’s Real Watercolor – Basic 50 were selected. I found I liked the watercolor brush Mode set to Normal instead of Multiply on many of the watercolor brushes I tried. Separate layers were used to paint the different parts of the image. Also Kyle’s Summer 2020 set called Impressionista was used on the skirt. Viveza 2 (from the free Nik filter set from years ago – still the best filter around for quick changes IMHO) was placed on her face and reading material to slightly lighten the tone. A Gradient Adjustment Layer was added underneath the lady and set to a diagonal. The Microsoft font Segoe Print was used and a Stroke Layer Style was applied to make it stand out.

How do you know which brushes to try? One of the best ways is to watch Kyle T. Websters’s YouTube videos on Adobe Creative Cloud – he does a Brush Hour every other week where he talks about how to use his brushes and how to change the settings to work for you. This is how I found out about the Tilty Pen Alt – once he showed how to use it, I followed along and tried it out. Some of his brushes do not work for me. Recently I did a blog on how to find ones you like. (See my Finding a Photoshop Brush in a Big Set blog.)

One major issue I had was with Photoshop 2022 was when it hung up several times while painting – not sure why but it just stopped making marks – showed it was painting in the History Panel, but they were not appearing. Also the Eraser and Smudge Brushes did not work. Had to save, close and reopen the program and then the painting brushes worked again. Therefore, I have decided to continuing using PS2021 for drawing and painting – never have problem with it. At least the exact brushes I want to use can be set up just for this. My last blog also addressed similar problems and that is why PS2021 was added back on my computer – you can still have PS2022 on your computer at the same time. (See Download Old Versions of Creative Cloud Applications – Bypassing the Creative Cloud App by Helen Bradley.)

Hope everyone has a great day and does a little Photoshop just for fun!…..Digital Lady Syd

A LITTLE AARON BLAISE DIGITAL DRAWING PRACTICE

Drawn B&W image of a Malayan Tiger at the Palm Beach Zoo.

If you enjoy wildlife animals and want to try your hand at drawing them, Aaron Blaise has some of the best videos to fine-tune your skills. I can honestly say, it is taking me a long time to get a good workflow, but I am finding that most digital artists follow similar steps no matter what the subject matter or media they are using is.

The videos used for the Tiger images are in Aaron’s Digital Painting in Photoshop (20 videos and 12.5 hours of lessons) set that were created a while ago (December 2017). In you catch a one of his recent YouTube videos, he still follows the same basic workflow as presented, just uses a different brush. If you are interested in any of many videos he offers, click the link above to sign up for his newsletter – he has fabulous sales several times a year that include his great brushes and many videos (he offers them for $1 to $5 and gives an extra !0% off if you get the newsletter). Since I am on a pretty tight budget, this has been wonderful!

The Malayan Tiger above resides at the Palm Beach Zoo – I have some great images of their tigers so I tend to draw them. Aaron suggests using your own photo images for drawing and painting (especially if you plan on posting or selling your art) as the drawings are still considered under copyright laws of the image. This was just a black and white rendering to practice using your brush in a tutorial called Getting Started-Sketching in Photoshop. Here you learn to use your sketch brush and how to do rough sketch layer, refined sketch layer, highlight or white line layer, and background layer. It’s a great way to practice your drawing skills. These digital drawings are similar to drawing them on a piece of paper with a regular pencil. They have a very grainy line in most cases.

These images both used the Legacy Default 9 Pencil brush that comes with Photoshop – it is an Erodible Pencil and Aaron used it for these videos. I did try several other brushes but ended up using the Pencil 9. I did find the Erodible Pencils have problems a lot in PS2022 – the computer runs hard and sometimes the PS History Panel says a stroke is being laid down, but it is does not show up. It seems to happen often when toggling to the Eraser Tool or the Tilde key. (Also check to make sure your brush is not set to Clear mode in the Options Bar.) By clicking on another brush or tool, it usually comes back, but this is very annoying. My personal work-around was to reload PS2021 for just drawing as there are no brush issues with it. I am hoping Adobe gets this fixed soon.

Drawn image of a Sumatran Tiger at the Jacksonville Zoo

The above used the same workflow, but this time some color was added and a texture placed over him for a different look. This is a Sumatran Tiger from the Jacksonville Zoo. To get him colorized, a Color Lookup table preset color Edgy Amber was added at 72%, then Viveza was used to spot color the orange in (this filter is still the overall best for doing all kinds of things including adding local color to areas). Kim Klassen’s The Studio Collection texture beekeeper (not sure this available anymore) was applied on top using the Divide blend mode. I just posted another example of this technique on my Tidbits Blog called Living in the Abstract – it used some of Kyle Webster’s newly released Spring 2022 brushes.

TIGER TALK: Both these tiger subspecies are on the critical endangered species list. There is no clear difference between Malayan Tigers and Indochinese Tigers except for their geographical location (Malaysian Peninsula) and they are a little smaller, but it is a subspecies of its own. They can swim, can eat elephants, and are born blind. They live in tropical and subtropical forests, shrubland, and grassland, Compared to other subspecies, the Sumatran Tiger, which is only found in Sumatra, has a darker orange color in its fur and stripes that are closer together, and it is the smallest of the tiger subspecies. Their color pattern allows them to blend into their habitat. They prefer tropical forests with dense cover, freshwater swamp forests, and peat swamps. They eat larger ungulates, including tapir, wild boar and deer, as well as smaller animals, like monkeys, birds, and fish. Of the nine subspecies of Tigers, three of them are now extinct. So sad….

I have not finished doing all the tutorials – presently working on an Elk with many Color, Highlight and Shadow layers – lots of fun. One clever thing he did teach us is how to apply a texture to fit an object or subject. Below is my favorite free stock image called guitar man where the guitar material was changed from a solid yellow to a wood texture. To do this, clip the texture to the image, then use the Free Transform Warp tool to adjust to the guitar. If needed add a layer mask after adding the texture and brush away any that is not needed. In this case, the layer was set to Color Burn blend mode and 58% layer opacity. Pretty cool technique and pretty easy! The background used a brush I created from French Kiss Tableaux Mirage texture a long time ago – just stamped it down with different colors, blend modes, and opacities.

Image of guitar player.

Last week I posted a short Tidbits Blog called Waiting for Sunset that used one of the atmospheric effect techniques from this set. I have learned that to get good at drawing, you have to practice some every day or so. It is really easy to lose the stroke feel with the brushes. And Aaron has many other sets of videos including several “How To Draw” animal videos. See the first three links below showing some other images I drew from other sets of his videos. Also see my Learning to Draw a Wolf! blog which is a link to a free YouTube showing his basic workflow that is similar to what he is teaching here – I would suggest you check it out to see if you like his style of drawing and teaching.

Well that is it for now. Hope you try out some of Aaron’s drawing techniques – it is a lot of fun to see what results you get without using a camera! Have a great week…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:

Got Some Free Time! Try Drawing!

A Leopard Thinking

Introducing the Beautiful Fox

Painting Acrylics Digitally – Can It Be Done?

ADDING GRAIN TO A VINTAGE COLORIZED PHOTO

Colorized image of an old home in Kearney Nebraska 1940

This week I decided to colorize more vintage images using Photoshop’s Neural Filters as I have realized most vintage images need a bit of grain added after colorizing them. This is a very subtle change but it does seem to make a difference. There are so many ways to do this, and I tried several different methods out on these images before creating this blog (i.e, created a film grain layer or downloaded one from the internet to use as a grain overlay and possibly using the Overlay blend mode; applied filters from Topaz Studio, Color Efex Pro, Luminar and others grain settings; or downloaded grain brushes and painted onto a new layer only where the grain should appear). My older blog still seems to have the best method of doing this. It is a workflow by Katrin Eismann. Also, I had created a very simple action for it that still works great.

The image above is of a home in Kearney, Nebraska from 1940 and Shorpy.com (click link to see original image – scroll down through the comments to see how different the house now looks!) had it on their site. They have some of the best vintage B&W photos from all over the US that are just perfect for PS’s Neural Filters, especially the Colorize Filter.

NOTE: Wanted to remind everyone when colorizing a downloaded historic photo, especially from this site, the first thing to do is to check its size by going to Image -> Image Size. If it is too large, change the resolution (if needed) to 240 so the image becomes manageable, like somewhere around 10″ X 7″ is what I like – otherwise it is way too large to process. For the other post-processing steps used on the Old House image, check Image 1 info at bottom of blog. The last step involved adding grain using the workflow below:

Film Grain Effect Workflow and Action Steps

This workflow was a tip in an older KelbyOne class by Katrin Eismann (another brilliant PS guru) called Color to Black and White Artistry, but the basic grain technique is still quite current. In this blog’s case, it has been used on colorized Black and White images. Using this method gives a really natural subtle result to the image and adds the effect in the areas you want it, mainly the Blue and Green channels, and leaves the Red Channel alone where the subject usually resides. The film grain is added so that the Blue Channel gets the greatest amount of grain, Green channel less, and Red Channel the lowest amount.

1.Create a stamped layer (CTRL_ALT+SHIFT+E) where the grain will be added.

2. Open the Channels Panel. Note that on the sub-steps below, all Channels used the Add Noise Filter radial button with Gaussian and Monochromatic selected.

  • Highlight Red Channel (no need to duplicate the channels) and go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set Amount to 4%
  • Highlight Green Channel and go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set Amount to 6%
  • Highlight Blue Channel and go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set Amount to 8%

3. Next Highlight each channel again and go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set Radius Amount to 0.3%

4. In the Layers Panel, change the blend mode to Luminosity so any color noise is reduced.

5. Will probably need to adjust the layer opacity as the effect may be is too much. Or a layer mask could be added and the grain added/removed in just local parts of the image.

For the Old House image, the layer opacity was set to 56% which seemed to be just enough to give a nice vintage feel to the whole image. It also made the replacement sky match the house very nicely.

This technique/action works very well on regular black and white images and I am sure it would look good on any regular image that needed a little grain added. Below is a screenshot of my action panel showing the steps so you can reproduce them if you wish:

Image of the steps for the SJ B&W Grain by Channel action

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Image of old filling station from 1941

Shorpy.com (click link for original B&W image and great comments again) posted this image a few days ago. I remember seeing one of these little Conoco Stations in Annapolis, Maryland, a long time ago (not sure I ever saw another one). Biggest issue here is that the replacement sky needed some grain to match the image original image grain. By creating a stamped layer on top of the Sky Replacement Group (making sure any layers above it are turned off-by clicking off the eyeballs on the layers above), the grain steps were applied. Then the Sky layer mask in the Sky Replacement Group was copied so only the sky had the grain applied (set layer to 89% opacity). See Image 2 info at end of blog for other post processing steps.

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Vintage colorized image of a portrait from Shorpy.com

The image above is another Shorpy.com one (click link to see original) and was taken by Fritz W. Guerin in 1902. I wanted only a very subtle colorization (and not a lot of film grain, but enough to match the model to the background. Wanted to mention Skylum’s new Neo Filter was opened – the Relight section (which IMHO makes it worth buying) and Film Grain section were applied just to the background by masking out the model in the filter. See Portrait Image 3 below for the Neural Filters used and other steps. The last step was adding the overall grain to a stamped layer and setting it to 43% layer opacity. Two other methods were tried (one using a created film grain layer and another where the grain was actually painted on using a downloaded grain brush), but the above workflow gave the best results.

This grain gives a really nice effect on vintage images, but don’t overdo it or it will not look good. Have a great week!….Digital Lady Syd

OTHER STEPS FOR IMAGES:

  1. Old House Image: After resizing the image, the Neural Colorize Filter was added. It really does not matter what order most of the steps are done, just important to do them. Did a Filter -> Neural Filter -> Colorize and used the default settings. Next a PS Edit -> Sky Replacement using a blue sky from their set was done. Did some sharpening using Topaz Sharpen AI, but any sharpening would have been fine for this. On the above, the house lines were not perpendicular, so the Liquify Filter was used to push it all together. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using a Cerulean preset was added at 26% layer opacity along with a Levels Adjustment Layer. Viveza 2 was added. This post processing was definitely just a try this and try that until you get a look you like. The last effect was adding the Film Grain using the Workflow above – it was applied to the whole layer and the opacity was reduced to 56%.
  2. The Filling Station Image: After sizing the image, the image was sharpened. Problem areas were cleaned up – this one had power lines and the kid scratching his face. Created a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) set as a Smart Object, and chose Filters -> Neural Filters -> Colorize. The Adjustments sliders were changed to desaturate it a little to get the overall very sunny effect. (This filter just keeps getting better!) On another stamped layer, the image was taken into Lucis Pro 6 (it appears it is still not available – I keep watching for everyone) to sharpen it just a little more. Then a PS blue sky Replacement Sky was added to add some beautiful clouds. Biggest issue here is that the sky – see blog on image to see how this was handled. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added at 73% opacity using a Cerulean preset. A Photo Filter using Warming Filter (85) with a Density of 56% was added next – it really warmed up the image to make the image look very sunny. A new layer set to Overlay blend mode was created and white color on a brush at a low Flow was used to paint over the gentleman’s shirt, the little boy, and a little on the gas pumps themselves for the focal points. The brush used was just a soft round brush set to 100% Opacity, 9% Flow, and the Airbrush turned on in the Options Bar. The last step added just a slight vignette set to 17% layer opacity.
  3. Portrait Image: Not a lot of steps although I tried a lot of things with this image. After adding Neo, back in PS the Colorize Neural Filter at the default setting was applied (it gave the nice soft colors – I tried the more colorful look but the shadows were too heavy on the face and chin with this filter) and the Smart Portrait Neural Filter – just used the Expression-Surprise set to +16 and Global Light direction set to -14 (gave her a more serious look). Had some clean up layers, and created a stamped layer on top. To get the nice skin tone, a turquoise Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was set to Color Burn blend mode at 29% layer opacity and a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using a free Sparkle Stock’s Choi Hung Estate 01 preset set to 60% layer opacity was added.

CREATIVE PHOTOSHOP DIGITAL ART TIPS

Digital art scene

I have been working on getting my digital painting skills back up to speed and learning some new tips. Thought I would pass along a couple things I learned while creating these images this week – maybe some will help your workflow.

TIP 1: HAVE A BASIC IDEA OF WHAT TO CREATE. This image above may look simple, but it took forever to get this effect. Part of the problem is that I did not have a good “roadmap” of where the final composition should go so lots of bad choices were made before it was finished (in this case 7 iterations were made). One issue was finding a font that fit the the feel of the image (this one is from Design Cuts Nordica Collection where a slight Outer Glow layer style was added to it for contrast – the bear, which was later painted and redone to be a Polar Bear is included). So Tip One, if possible, is try to get a basic idea or make a sketch of where you want the image to go – it will save lots of time! That said, half the fun can be just experimenting which is what was done here. The eye is from a set called Mystic Sun Moon Logo Templates Kit by Olya Creative – it just looked so different!

TIP 2: MAKE LOTS OF LAYERS. The above contains 56 layers. Many digital painters will paint different elements and objects on different layers so they can be manipulated to get the correct opacity or effect needed to enhance the image. Then they merge them together. I am not that brave – usually I group the layers and close them up when finished, but never merge. Definitely start with many layers before merging.

Digital Art image of winter trees

TIP 3: WATCH FOR COLOR SHIFTS WITH STAMPED LAYERS. This is a problem that has driven me nuts for years. Once the layers are all finished, I find a final composite layer comprised of all layers merged into one is needed so a stroke layer style (set to Size 2-pixel, Position Inside, Opacity 100% and using a medium dark gray color) can be added for uploading to social media – it gives a nice hard edge differentiation for different formats. Often a color shift occurs when the merged or stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) is created. The Snow Tree image above had this problem – not sure why (it appears to happen when using some layer styles on one of the layers in the stack). To remove the color shift, set the stamped or merged layer to the Color blend mode and it will go back pretty much to the original look. Made the Snow Tree image just for fun to learn how to use Kyle’s Winter 2022 set of brushes – he has a good video called Illustration Masterclass New Photoshop Brushes for 2022 where he goes through every brush in the Winter 2022 set and Describes what it does. He also has one called Brush Hour with Kyle T Webster: The Winter 2022 Brush Set where he actually draws a scene using them. Used one of his tree brushes in the top photo left panel. The Font is called Thankful Sans.

Digital art image of a snow scene using Vesner's brushes

TIP 4: TRY OUT NEW BRUSHES AND SAVE THE ONES YOU LIKE. This sounds like a very logical thing to do, but it is very easy to download new brushes and forget all about them. The Winter Wonderland image used just a set I have had for a while and never checked it out. It has lots of fun brushes – all are in a free set of 174 brushes called Lazy Brush Set by Vesner on DeviantArt. It is an older set from 2013, but the brushes work great with CS5 and above. The image used several and three were added to my Creative Brush group (and there are a lot of other brushes in there) for use when doing this type of art work. Check out my blog called Finding a Photoshop Brush in a Big Set for tips on how to find brushes you do not use that often but want to remember. If you do a screen copy or right click and Save As on the download page image of the brushes, it creates a jpg of the different brush strokes similar to the example sheets made in my referenced blog. In this image only the birds from Shadowhouse Creations free Birds Brush Set 4 were not Vesner brushes. To get the birds on the left-hand side to appear in the distance, a layer mask was added to the bird layer and the Gradient Tool set to Linear Gradient was used to diminish their appearance by dragging diagonally top left to bottom right.

TIP 5: HOW TO STOP LAG IN YOUR BRUSHES. It has come to my attention that some brushes just have more adjustments and PS has trouble making them zip along the image as fast as most artists would like.

  1. First of all, yes it is great to have the ability to add just a little more smoothing to your brushes other than the default 10% PS gives you. This is very helpful if sketching or outlining an object, but it can really slow down the painting process. Turn it off up in the Options Bar if the brush is really slowing down.
  2. Adjust the Spacing of your brush. For example if the brush size is 100 pixels and the Spacing is set to 100%, a new stamp occurs with each stroke separated by 1 pixel. The PS Default is 5% – lots of overlap of strokes which can cause painting to slow way down when lots of other settings are turned on in the brush so just bump up the Spacing a little to make it paint faster.
  3. Turn off the Extras like rulers or overlays that may be visible. It can affect painting, transforming and dragging layers onto the canvas. Go to View -> Show -> None to turn off. I never knew this but it was in an Optimize Photoshop Performance article by Adobe (other good info in it also).
  4. Minimize or turn off the Preview thumbnails in the Layers Panel. Each time you change a file, PS updates all the thumbnails visible in the Layer Panel (and also Channels Panel). This affects painting, moving, or nudging layers. And the more thumbnails visible, the greater the effect. I will check to see if making stamped layers and hiding the merged layers below will make it faster to paint, but it makes sense it would. To minimize or disable previews, go to the hamburger icon in the upper right of the Layers Panel and selection Panel Options – select either small size or None. If switching to the small size thumbnail, it can be handy to switch from Thumbnail Contents Entire Document default to Layer Bounds to be able to see what is in the layer easier.
  5. Close the Library Panel if it is not being used much by going to the hamburger icon and selecting close. This will make your computer and brushes run faster. Not sure how much this helps as I have not tried it, but it seems like it might.

TIP 6: COPYING SETTINGS FROM ONE BRUSH TO ANOTHER. In the Brush Settings Panel, click the little locks on the right side of the sections in the brush panel to copy those setting to a different brush. Be sure to turn them off in the brush with the new settings or they will get applied to the next brush used. This can be a little tricky but it is an easy way to copy setting over. Very helpful if creating a new brush and wanting to use similar settings from one of your favorite brushes.

TIP 7: WORK WITH JUST A FEW BRUSHES AND REALLY LEARN HOW TO USE THEM. Similar to Tip 4, it is easy to get distracted by a new brush and think it is really so much better than your stand-by brushes just to find out that it really is not as good as it seemed. I am still using a pastel brush created back in 2017 to do a lot of the basic painting – it is a brush that I am very comfortable using and have learned how it works with different settings added. The Polar Bear in the top image was painted using it. (See my How to Create My Favorite Brush Blog.)

I hope these tips will help you a little with your digital painting and art. I am slowly learning more about this from the many wonderful digital artists that use Photoshop for their jobs. It is amazing what the brushes can do! Hope everyone is getting through winter just fine and are Waiting for Spring!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:

How to Do a Little Subconscious Digital Art Journaling

Working on Digital Painting in Photoshop

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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