Anything Photoshop or Photography



Image of Dive Boat and riders heading to ocean at Boynton Beach, FloridaI started to add this info into my How to Create My Favorite Brush post which used a Pattern in the Brush Panel and played a big role in the brush creation. There was so much to discuss about this topic, I decided to turn it into two blogs. Glad I did as I have recently learned a few new tricks on using Patterns that are discussed below.

Patterns..and How Crazy This Gets

When downloading Photoshop patterns from the Internet, the files must have a PAT extension (not JPG which most texture file extension use) to load them into your Pattern list. With Photoshop open, just double-click on the downloaded .PAT file and they load right into PS. Where are these patterns used? In the Pattern Fill Adjustment and Adjustment Layer where the Dialog obviously contains a Pattern drop-down menu. Click the little cog in upper right of the Pattern drop-down to add in other Patterns (another way to add them in – see below for more on this). The Content Aware Fill (Edit -> Fill) has a choice for Contents Pattern. Also are used in Layer Styles – Pattern Overlay section, Bevel and Emboss Texture section, and Stroke section (Fill Type) all contain the use of Patterns. When creating a brush using the Texture section of the Brush Panel, you are really adding a Pattern that carries a .PAT file extension, not a JPG. The following Brush Tools allow the use of a Texture section which uses Patterns: the Mixer Brush Tool, Pencil Tool, Eraser Tool, History Brush Tool, Art History Brush Tool, Clone Stamp Tool, Dodge Tool, Burn Tool, and  Sponge Tool . The Pattern Stamp Tool uses Patterns in both the brush settings and Options Bar. Several Tools have Patterns as a choice in the Options Bar: Bucket Tool (check out the Foreground drop-down. You can actually pour a Pattern onto a layer – who knew?), the Healing Brush (this is strange too!), all the Shape Tools set to Shape and clicking on Fill swatch and then clicking on the Pattern swatch, there is the pattern list. I may have missed a couple uses, but overall, I was amazed that Patterns are in all these places in Photoshop. And unfortunately, sometimes the Patterns are in Texture areas and sometimes not labeled at all – it can be a little confusing!

Loading and Creating a Pattern

If you want to convert one of your favorite textures or images into a Pattern, open the texture (which can be a JPG or PSD file) and go to Edit -> Define as a Pattern, name it and the pattern now appears at the bottom of your Pattern list. To see all your Patterns and to add more, go to Edit -> Presets -> Preset Manager and open Preset Type drop-down and select Patterns. The Patterns can be dragged around in the Preset Manager to put them in a better order. Click Load to add new ones or click the the little cog at top and see all the Photoshop canned presets available. (In case you wondered, the sets are: Artist Surfaces, Artists Brushes Canvas, Color Paper, Erodible Textures, Grayscale Paper, Legacy Patterns, Nature Patterns, Patterns 2, Patterns, Rock Patterns, Texture Fill 2, Texture Fill, Watercolour Patterns and Web Patterns – I had no idea all these were here!) Go to next section to see how to create a new pattern. It is useful to have colored and grayscale Patterns loaded. Even though the brush panel only uses the Patterns as grayscale color, the other Tools and commands will use the color. It is fun to try out watercolor blobs and brightly colored textures that you liked. And remember if you download Patterns, by double-clicking on the .PAT file will add them to the bottom of your Pattern List.

Creating a Noise Pattern for Your Library Panel

For some reason, it had not occurred to me that an Adjustment Layer could be saved and reused in the Library Panel. I do not use this panel much, but after watching Lisa Carney’s Color Techniques for Retouching classes on Creative Live this week, I am reconsidering. This noise tip came from her class on Portrait Retouching and involves creating a Pattern Adjustment Layer to add the final grain effect at the end of your workflow. She feels that adding a slight noise will pull an image together, especially when compositing. The image above of the Dive Boat going out to sea used this Noise Adjustment Layer – it looks really good with the vintage feel. (This results in a very similar look as the first tip in my 10 Not So Well Known Photoshop Tips blog where the Lens Blur Filter was used.)

Here is the workflow for this useful Adjustment Layer:

  1. Create a New Layer by clicking SHIFT + CTRL +N. In the Dialog name the layer Noise at this point, set it to Overlay blend mode, and check the Fill with overlay-neutral color (50% Gray). Note the blend mode must be set to Overlay before check box shows up.
  2. Go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set to 3, 5 or 8. Turn on Gaussian radio button and uncheck Monochromatic (do not want black and white grain on faces and skin especially).
  3. Go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set to a Radius of .3 or .5 to lightly smooth.
  4. Desaturate the layer by going to Image -> Adjustments -> Hue/Saturation and set Saturation to -50.
  5. Go to Edit -> Define Pattern and name the pattern Add Noise 5-Gaus .3 Desat -50 so you know the settings used to create this Noise layer.
  6. In the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel, select the Pattern Adjustment Layer – go to the bottom of the Patterns list and click on the new Pattern created in Step 5. The Scale can be adjusted if needed. Now would be a good time to rename the layer the same as the Pattern name if saving to the Library Panel in next step.
  7. Open Library Panel and drag the Pattern Adjustment Layer into panel. Anytime you want to add some noise at the end of your workflow, just right click on the Noise Pattern icon and select “Place Layers” – it appears in your image as a Pattern Adjustment Layer. Note: if you just select it, it will appear to be a rasterized version of the adjustment layer – this may be okay if that is what you want.
  8. Set the adjustment layer to Overlay blend mode and tweak the layer opacity if it needs it.

Image of New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas

Using a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer to Add Texture to an Object

This image of New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas used a little trick I use all the time to give the little birds on the sand some texture. Birds are from a 7 bird brushes for You set by justadistrict12 girl on DeviantArt (could not find a link). They were added using black color at 100% Brush Opacity and Flow. Then a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was added on top. It was then clipped to the bird layer (ALT+click between the layers) so that the Pattern is only applied to the birds and not the whole image. The Pattern used was a brown colored texture with beige lines going through it from a set redheadstock at DeviantArt called Lace Photoshop Patterns. It gives some detail to the birds making them look like they have a little definition where the wing would go. See Screenshot below. When dialog is open, the Scale can be changed and the Pattern moved by dragging it around in the image. This way the Pattern can be adjusted to give a nice effect. Now in this image, it may not look necessary to do this, but it makes the difference between making an image look finished or not. This is really nice on images where flying birds are added. Solid color birds will look like they are pasted into the image.

Screenshot of Pattern Adjustment Layer dialog
What is really nice about using the Pattern Adjustment Layer is that different noise patterns can be made using different settings in the Noise Filter, Gaussian Blur Filter, and the Saturation slider in the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Each one can be saved in the Library Panel so different effects can be tried out quickly to decide which one looks best. Just be sure they are named so the difference between them is obvious. The one used above I named SJ Add Noise 5-Gaus .3-Desat -50 (same as pattern name) to remind me what is applied. And favorite Patterns can also saved as adjustment layers in the Library for using just on bird brushes or anything that needs this type of effect applied.

Hope you enjoyed the Pattern post – it can get a little confusing! Try out the Noise Adjustment Layer – I think I will be using mine a lot….Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs
How To How To Use a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer
I Didn’t Know That! Use A Pattern Fill Layer to Add a Painted Texture
A Little Layer Style Fun
Christmas Card from Digital Lady Syd!
How to Use Photoshop’s Brush Texture Section for Painting Clean-Up



Image of The Eye in LondonAs you all know, I am a huge Topaz Labs fan so I have been busily figuring out what can be done with the new Topaz Studio. To link to the download, go to my Tidbits Blog sidebar which goes directly to the free download and other info on the different adjustments. I will keep this link going since Studio has it owns Topaz site. I am not ready to do a full review so I will just go over what I have learned and pass on a few thoughts. It appears to be a wonderful upgrade to their original Topaz photoFXlab from several years ago (and which I have always thought was one of their best releases). Studio acts as a hub for all the programs from Topaz you already own. It can be accessed as both a stand-alone program or as a plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom. Studio is a basic RAW editor that contains several features similar to Lightroom or PS Camera Raw. JPG, TIFF, and PNG files may also be opened in the program. The heart of the editing lies in the various “adjustments” that are applied individually to create an overall original image effect. The London Eye image is an example of combining several of their adjustments to get the final image effect. (The Adjustments applied and saved in a preset are: Basic Adjustment, Precision Contrast, Radiance, Dehaze, Bloom and Posterize, then Reduce Noise and Vignette were applied on a separate layer.) There are also a myriad of presets on the left side that can be selected that contain several adjustments to apply in one click. This is very similar to the original photoFXlab. But now if a feature is not one you like, it can be deleted from the preset.

For starters, the program offers free adjustments to apply to your images. These 10 effects are:  Basic Adjustments (similar to photoFXlab Adjustments section), Blurs, Brightness/Contrast, Color Overlay, Dual Tone, Film Grain, Image Layer, Posterize, Tone Curves, and Vignette. Sounds a bit like Lightroom or Camera Raw doesn’t it? If you do not own Photoshop or Lightroom or know someone who does not, this is a great way to process RAW files and it is free download. The program adjustments work from the top down as opposed to bottom up like Photoshop layers. The adjustments actually look like layers, but you are unable to apply them as a group of layers as in PS, but you can create your own presets to use the same settings over again.
Image of Hillsboro Lighthouse in Pompano BeachThe Adjustment Pro Pack contains another 14 adjustments to apply more unique effects to the image. Each adjustment can be downloaded individually and  tried out for 30 days before buying. Definitely take advantage of this trial period to see how you like what Topaz is doing with this program. The Pro Pack has some really handy effects such as: Abstraction, Black and White, Bloom, Color Theme, Dehaze, Edge Exposure, Focal Blue, HSL Color Training, Precision Control, Radiance, Reduce Noise, Sharpen, Smudge, and Texture. I like the Precision Control Adjustment which is a contrast adder and is a lot like Clarity with the miracle Micro slider and also a pretty nifty Color slider. It is too bad it is not in the original set as it is a really nice effect. Reduce Noise takes some really good info from the Topaz DeNoise program that is so fabulous. And in Sharpen, the Lens Deblurring section is very similar to their Infocus plug-in and works wonderfully. Each of these adjustments can be duplicated and applied more than once. I believe Topaz tried to take some of the best from each of their plug-ins to make editing an image must faster. The image above is of the Hillsboro Lighthouse in Broward County, Florida, and used the Recital 001 preset in Topaz Studio. The image below was used in the stand-alone version of Studio – used Topaz ReStyle plugin’s Rusted Gray and Light Blue preset and then the Basic Adjustment. Quite a different feel to this image that was taken on a very overcast day.

Image of South Lake Worth Inlet in Southern FloridaOne of the best parts of the program is their Masking features. If you own Topaz Texture Effects 2 or Topaz Impression, the brushes and masking is very similar – but with a difference. Now the mask can have more than one way to localize the effect. Therefore the Gradient and Spot masks can both be used on the same mask or also add in the Brush or Luminance Mask – very nice! This way the adjustment can be localized to just one small area of the image. And they are using their Edge Aware technology that I have loved for years. I am missing the Burning/Dodging, Saturation/Desaturation/ and Smoothing/Detail brushes from the photoFXlab and a few of their other plug-ins like Black and White effects, but hopefully they will be added soon.

If you want to just jump right in and start using the program, check out a short video called Topaz Studio Welcome and Walkthrough by Heath Robinson of Topaz. He goes over the program interface very thoroughly. But to learn a little more about how to use the actual adjustments, check the video Intro to Topaz Studio by Greg Rastami – he gives some great ideas on how to actually use the adjustments on all types of images – very helpful! I know Topaz Labs will be coming out with many more videos as they are pros at getting their fans up to speed on their products. There are also short videos on each adjustment in case you need more info on how to use it.

As stated above, you can  still get into your regular Topaz plugins by going to the Menu Bar and selecting Plug-ins to further enhance the image. If you do apply a plug-in, it will duplicate the image in the Workspace at the bottom and now you have to finish adding effects onto the new one – there is not way to know what plug-in was applied by looking at the list in the left panel. I have had a few problems with this if I get too fancy and apply too many plug-ins. Just be aware of this. I know the Topaz group well enough to know that they are definitely working on this issue. The program is automatically updated when new versions are ready so no more downloading and executing new versions – that alone is a great new feature! Another drawback at the moment is that they do not have any tools for removing distractions like a Healing Brush Tool or Clone Stamp Tool – apparently this is going to be included in one of the next updates so watch for this. Below is a succulent plant that uses one of my presets called SJ Colorful Plant Effect that was uploaded to the community and can be found  from the preset search section of the program.

Image of a succulent plant leavesConsidering that this is a free program and it is hugely complicated, Topaz has really done a fantastic job! It is lots of fun to fiddle around with all the different adjustments and try out other presets – I can see that they will be fine-tuning this program as it continues to grow and will be a real contender in the RAW field down the road. Lots to check out and some incredible effects can be created! I will be using the plug-in more in the future and try to keep everyone updated on all the new software additions. In the meantime I would suggest you download it and enjoy! ….Digital Lady Syd


Image of three Roseate Spoonbill babies with Mom at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm RookeryA couple years ago this info was presented, but I feel it is an important topic – creating a reliable brush that will work most of the time. This brush is my SJ Pastel 3-painting brush, my “go-to brush” for cleaning up an image such as filling in spaces, cleaning up uneven edges, painting small places in layer masks, and adding in some texture where needed. This does not mean I do not use other brushes, I am a major Photoshop brush collector. But this brush is used to do all the little clean up and detail work that almost every image, whether a realistic photo image as above, or a more artistic creation, will require. The image of a Roseate Spoonbill family was taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery, a very noisy place at this time of year. I loved the bird expressions but it was difficult to get the birds to show up – they actually were nestled back in a tree and the light was very dappled and harsh. The brush created described below was used extensively to get in close to clean up the edges and even out some of the color. By sampling nearby colors and setting the brush in the Options Bar to 67% Brush Opacity, and adjusting the Flow as needed, it turned out to be quite useful. Need to experiment a little and I think you will get some good results with this brush. Another good image example that used 7 clean up layers with lots of sampling and painting is The Mighty Bat Flower from my recent Tidbits Blog.

My Favorite Brush

I have changed this brush only a little over the last 3 years to get what I consider is a really nice stroke effect. Here is the link to download the basic brush from a free set by Stacy David Wallingford at DeviantArt’s SDWHaven Pastel Brushes.abr to be used both personally and commercially. Photoshop makes it really easy to add these brushes to the Brush Preset list – first open up PS, then double click on the .abr file that was downloaded – they pop into the bottom of the brush list. The brush used is his Brush 11 at the very bottom of the list.

Open the Brush Panel by clicking F5 (or with the Brush Tool selected, choose the third icon over on the Options Bar at top) and make the following changes to the brush – be sure to click on the underlined word so it opens up the dialog for each section, except Smoothing which does not have settings.

Brush Tip Shape:
Size: It opens up at a huge 2130 px brush! The size was changed to 8 pixels. I like to use a small size for clean up, but this can be easily adjusted, when needed, like to add texture to an area.
Angle set to 137 degrees – change by dragging the arrow in the circle or adding in the Angle field
Roundness is 100% – can drag the little dots in the box to make tip elliptical
Spacing is 35%

Shape Dynamics:
All are set to 0 and Off except Angle Jitter slider set to 42% – this gives a slight variation of stroke effect, especially on the edges

Texture (which is really a pattern):
Uses the Rough pattern located in the free PS pattern set that come with the program called Erodible Textures. To load pattern, click on the little down arrow next to the texture window in the top of the panel, then press the little cog wheel that opens up drop-down menu. Select the Erodible Textures in the list which contains the last 8 textures in pattern list. Select Append in dialog box. See screenshot below and select the blue highlighted pattern called Rough.
Screenshot of Pattern panel in PhotoshopSelect Rough pattern
Scale is 87%
Brightness is -45
Contrast set to 0
Check Texture Each Tip
Mode is Multiply
Depth is 50%
Depth Jitter was set to 1%

Smoothing check box is turned on – it has no settings.

Be sure to save the brush as a Brush Preset by clicking on the Create New Brush at the bottom of the Brush Panel and Brush Preset Panel – it will appear at the bottom of your brush list. I personally saved the brush as a Brush Tool preset so that the Options Bar settings are also preserved which are set to Opacity 67% and Flow 100%. To do this, in the first icon on the Options Bar, select the little down arrow – click the Create new tool preset icon under the cog wheel icon and name your brush. It will always appear in the Tool Presets when the Brush is selected with the additional settings.

To add more texture into the brush, change to a different Texture pattern. I like the Guaze pattern which gives a hatch effect (it is located in the PS Artist Surfaces pattern set) to use for an interesting background effect – it especially looks good in a Mixer brush for both blending and adding color. Adjust the Scale, Brightness and Contrast sliders and change the Mode – watch the Brush Preview at bottom of Brush Panel to see what the changes are doing to the brush stroke. And of course try changing the Spacing in the Brush Tip Shape section and adding Scattering can result in an interesting brush to use. Check out my related blogs below for more info on saving and changing brushes.

I hope you will try the brush – it is pretty easy to create and with just a few tweaks, it works very nicely. And try using a different brush that has a different dab tip with the settings and see if you get an even better brush. I still use a soft round brush a lot, and many of my Grut Brushes (get a free brush to download every Monday) are other favorites, especially his Cloud and Inky Leaks Splatter brushes. But I still return to this stand-by of a brush for most of my clean up – it is always at the top of my brush list. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Save Your Favorite or Newly Created Brushes
Why Use the Tool Preset Panel? Photoshop Painters Listen Up!
What Does the Flow Slider in the Options Bar Do?
How to Use Photoshop’s Brush Texture Section for Painting Clean-Up


Image of Native American Festival BlanketsRecently I have been watching many Photoshop videos. This week I thought I would share some quick tips that I am finding to be very handy. These may be obvious things to many of you, but all of the tips below were new to me. For info on the Blankets image taken at the Native American Festival, see bottom of blog.

Add Noise to Bring an Image Together

This really works and looks nice, especially if a texture was added for a background or creating a composite. Just go to Filter -> Blur -> Lens Blur and set all sliders to 0 except the Noise slider which is set to 4 and Distribution Uniform. Very subtle but nice effect.


Okay – this is something that I never knew was in Photoshop, but what a major time-saver it is (unfortunately it is not in CS6)! We all know pressing the SPACEBAR turns any tool into the Hand Tool, but did you know it can be used to also move the image around the workspace? Go to Edit ->Preferences -> Tools and check the Overscroll box. That is is! What a time saver. Now the image still stays attached as a tab, but it can be moved around to avoid panels opening in the workspace or for close up painting.

Rotate View Tool

Here is a tool I have never used much but will be. It is indispensable when trying to paint in a certain direction or draw black lines around objects. The Rotate View Tool (R) icon is hidden behind the Hand Tool in the Toolbar. Need to select it and then click on your document. A large star-shaped pointer icon appears that indicates the direction of the image – adjust by spinning the document to the angle needed. The cool thing to know is this tool has a “springboard” R key – this means that while painting, just hold down the R key and the pointer icon will appear in the image to readjust the angle, let go, and continue painting! To return image to upright, just double click on the icon or press the ESC key. It is very quick and handy to use. Try it and I bet you will like it also!

Printing Out the Steps to an Action

The individual action steps cannot be printed out, but all the actions in a set can be printed out. To do this, highlight the set that contains the action you want to see. Next hold down the ALT+CTRL keys and Open the pop-out menu in the upper right corner of the Actions panel. Do not lift up on mouse, but just scroll down the menu to Save Actions. When the explorer opens us, the file will show a .txt extension on it instead of the regular action .atn extension.  Now the action steps will be listed when file is opened. This is really handy if you are trying to figure out exactly what settings are being used or to trouble-shoot a action that is not working properly. Who knew!!!

Preparing Image for Web

A famous portrait photographer suggested this tip to use after saving your image for print. Add a Levels Adjustment Layer to image and set Black tab to 0, Midtones to 0.95, and White tab to 255, then set Output Levels sliders to 5 and 250. Will look better on the web. To create a more matte appearance, set the Black tab to 14 to flatten out the shadows.

When Scanning Old Photos – What Resolution is Needed?

If you want to make an old image into a larger size, before scanning image create a New Document to the size of 8 X 10inches at 240 pixels/inch for example. Once created, go to Image -> Image Size and in the dialog box uncheck Resample Image box and enter one of the dimension sizes of the original old photo being scanned, say 2 ½ inches into the Width field.  Photoshop will show in the Resolution field the number needed for scanning (960 pixels in this case) to make this image 8 X 10 at 240 ppi. Set scanner to 960 pixels to get the image to look right for printing. This is ingenious!

Adjusting Skin Tones That Do Not Look Quite Right

I tried this tip a couple times and it works really well. Add a new layer above a person with bad skin tone and set the blend mode to Hue. Hue shifts just the tones when used on a New Layer. Sample new skin color and paint with 100% brush opacity and a low flow of no more than 2% on skin – it warms up the skin just a little. To adjust lips, use Hue blend mode on painted lip layer. Try using the Color blend mode if Hue is too subtle. By adding a little blue tone to this layer on skin that is too yellow, the skin can look much better.

Select and Mask Command

This command (to be used once a selection has been made) seems pretty much self-explanatory, but there a few things to consider when using this dialog. Did you know that if you hold the ALT key down while pressing the Refine Edge Brush, Brush Tool or the Quick Selection Tool, it will switch between the Add (+) and Remove (-) setting. I have been trying to use the X-key and it does not work. Apparently I forgot this was used in the Refine Mask dialog box. This is a very handy tip for me.

Also, when using Output Settings, check out your image with both the Decontaminate Colors on and off – it does not always create a good result. Note that in CS6, the Refine Mask dialog box actually has a slider where the amount of decontamination can be set – I really liked this slider but they have removed it in the Select and Mask Command dialog box. If you really want to use this feature in CC 2017 just click on the layer mask or create a selection, go to Select -> SHIFT + Select and Mask and the old Refine Mask dialog opens up. Now the Decontaminate slider is available. There is a slight controversy among some Photoshop gurus as to which dialog is best. I personally like the new Select and Mask as it has many more features, just not a slider for decontamination.

Once back in Photoshop if you missed some areas while in the dialog, just duplicate both the layer and layer mask several times to build up the selection.

Merging Layers and Blend Mode Issues

Have you ever noticed that after merging layers, the blend mode goes back to Normal? If a color shift occurs after merging, this is what has happened and the blend mode probably needs to be reset.

Sometimes when creating a stamped or composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top of the Layer stack, a slight color change occurs. This has driven me crazy on several occasions! By setting the stamped layer to Color blend mode, the image colors will go back to the original underlying layer color before the layer was created. This shift seems to occur after using several blend modes and layer styles on different layers with varying the opacities. There probably are other ways to fix this, but I find this tip works pretty well.

History Log Metadata

This is one tip I have used for a long time and it has saved me when I forgot what settings I applied. Create a text History Log of every step that done on an image by going to Edit -> Preferences -> General and check the History Log and the Metadata radial button. Now when you a apply for example a Levels (not as an Adjustment Layer), the settings used can be found by going to File – > File Info and selecting the Photoshop section (History tab in CS6 at top) – a list of everything done to that image will appear. In CS6 can be exported as a .txt file, but in CC need to select all the text (CTRL+A) and paste (CTRL+V) into a text editor like Notepad. Right now some of the settings from external plug-ins will show up in the settings , but this is not working on the newer ones. For example, it currently lists Topaz Adjust actual settings, but only lists that Topaz Texture Effects 2 was used but no settings. Google Nik plugins and On1 2017 products have the preset used listed but no setting info. Also, the actual brush and settings being used will not show up, but if a Tool Preset brush is used, it is listed without its settings. That can be very helpful too. This log stays with the PSD file so you can always go back to it, unlike the actual History Panel states and snap shots.

I hope some of these tips were helpful – not real hard things to do, but just handy to know! Have a nice weekend!…..Digital Lady Syd

Notes on Blanket Image: I wish I knew who was selling these beautiful blankets, but I am sure most of the Native American Festivals will have them for sale. In Lightroom used Kim Klassen’s Melancholy preset to give more of a wilderness feel right from the start. Did a little adjustment brush work on the blankets. In Photoshop on a duplicate layer, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Restyle was opened and a Cold Frosty Day preset was applied with a few corrections. This layer was duplicated and Topaz Texture Effects 2’s Crisp Morning Run preset was applied next, set to Color blend mode and a layer mask was opened to remove some of the effect off the birds in particular. The Blend If sliders This Layer tabs were adjusted. A clean up layer was added to remove the price tags. Two Curves Adjustment Layers were opened, set to Luminosity blend mode, and one was set for darkening the image and one to lighten – then both layer masks were inverted to black and just areas that needed more emphasis were painted back. A Spotlight Layer was created, set to Overlay blend mode at 37% layer opacity. Next Nik Viveza 2 was added to add a little focal direction to the image. A Color Balance and Levels Adjustment Layers were added. A Red Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer was applied. French Kiss’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Glorious Grunge Edging was used as a border with a dark blue Solid Color Adjustment Layer clipped (ALT+click between layers) to add color to it. It was a pretty long workflow but I liked the final result. These blankets were really nice!


Image of an egret at Sea World OrlandoRecently I purchased a video class called Quick & Easy Digital Painting Like a Professional by Kristen Palana from Udemy. Not sure how often I will use the technique, but it was a lot of fun. The image above was taken during a show for the seals at SeaWorld Orlando a few years ago. This was actually a live egret walking along the fence. Kristen’s techniques create an underpainting layer, a regular painting layer, a drawing layer, and an effect layer, at a minimum. She tells you what brushes to use and how to paint the layer effects. On the above, all of her steps were not followed, but it has her illustrative look to it. On the Spoonbill image (from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery) below, I tried to follow all the steps. I still do not quite get similar results, but I did learn a few new painting techniques and created a couple new brushes to use for my own style. She does supply an image to work along with her and that was very helpful. I like to try out the different procedures as they are presented. Overall it was a lot of fun to do. The Spoonbill image also used on top French Kiss (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) texture Atelier Canvas Overlay set to Vivid Light blend mode and 37% layer opacity to get the canvas effect, and a Matt Kloskowski vignette (see my How to Create a Subtle Vignette blog).

Image of a Roseate Spoonbill from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm RookeryYou may not be a professional after trying this tutorial, but good results can be obtained with a just a little effort. The instructions are not too difficult to understand, and if you make the brushes as she explains, the images end up with a nice illustrative feel to them. Kristen’s technique is great for illustrating books. I thought the postcard effect was kind of nice. The process seems to create a little vintage feel in the images. One thing I learned is that by using a drawing layer, many areas of an image can be emphasized or short-comings on the painting can be diminished. This will be useful for all types of painting techniques. On the Spoonbill, the line drawing effect was greatly reduced but on the top image, it had more of an emphasis. If you want to have some plain ole’ painting fun, this is a nice little video. Watch Udemy’s website as they often have big savings on their videos – it is a great place to pick up all kinds of Photoshop and Photography instruction. Hope everyone in the US is having a great holiday – see ya later!…..Digital Lady Syd


Close-up image of an Oleander FlowerIt has been a busy week as CreativeLive has had their 5th Photoshop Week and it was really good! There were lots of interesting classes covering all kinds of Photoshop uses. Plan on getting some new tips and tricks together to present soon on my blog. This week I am showing my pretty little Oleander flower growing in my yard. This flower was shot using with my Lensbaby Composer at F/4 using a Macro +4 Lens, which is why it was so soft and wispy looking. There is a newer version of this lens, but mine seems to still work well, especially on macro shots. I would recommend your trying one out if you get a chance.

In Lightroom just the Basic exposure and contrast sliders were adjusted. Then the image was taken into Photoshop and Topaz (for website see my Tidbits Blog‘s sidebar) Impression was opened using one of my presets (SJ Watercolor like effect on bldgs. – click link for settings at bottom of blog.) Some Mixers and Regular brushes were used to smooth out the background and paint the actual petals. Added one of my textures on top set to Soft Light blend mode at 62% layer opacity. One of Kim Klassen’s older beige textures was then added and set to Multiply blend mode. A Blue Luminosity Curve was created and an S curve was used to increase contrast.

Now to the Topaz Texture Effects 2 tip. In the above image, the plugin was used to only add two stacked light leaks. Presets are just a guidelines for effects that can be added, but this is not where the power lies in this plugin. By clicking up in the top right-hand corner in the box that says New and than Add Adjustment, all kinds of choices are opened up. To add the two Light Leaks in this image, the Light Leak section was added twice, once for each leak added. It was then saved as a preset since I liked the effect of how the two leaks blended. There are 13 different section types that can be added as often and in any order as needed. Only one light leak can be applied and that may be all that is needed in your image. Could use just a diffusion effect, or several texture sections, or only the Double Exposure section for your image. Texture Effects has so many sections with so many sliders and a great masking capability with blend modes, making it easy to tweak the individual sections once opened in the plugin. It is a bit like using Lookup Tables in Photoshop, but much more flexible.

To finish up this image, a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was used to add some blue tones to the shadows by adding blue to the Black color. The flower does really light up! I would recommend you try out Texture Effect’s different sections without using a texture to see what fabulous capability this plugin has built into it. Be back next week with some new tips!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of a Cape Griffon Vulture Mom and Baby at the St. Augustine Alligator FarmWhile visiting the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery, I decided to take a spin around some of their other exhibits and see what was going on. In fact that is where the An Army Tortoise Tidbits Blog image started. Well not only are the Florida birds having babies, but so are some other bird inhabitants, the Vultures – in fact there were two chicks born in recent months.  Above is a wonderful Cape Griffon Vulture baby boy chick born on March 4th.  For some reason he is being raised by a foster mom (Sefara as seen in the image) and foster dad (Kwa) – I can honestly say they keep all the other birds away from him. He is only one of four hatched chicks in North America and all were born here. Below is a family portrait of the Hooded Vulture chick with her family. This baby was very quiet and I could hardly see her in my camera, but apparently she had spotted me. This baby girl was born on February 24rd and is sitting with her parents Ashaki and Bosco (the adult bird that acts a lot like her mother). It looks like the dad is wearing a tux quietly in the background!  Both vulture species are on the Endangered Species list. Lots of noise going on in this exhibit!
Enough about the birds – they are just so fascinating! Not a lot was done to the Cape Griffon Vulture image other than my overall workflow with a pretty good dose of Topaz (for website link, see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog) Detail 3 to pop those feathers just a little. (Here are the settings used – apply to images that are a little soft in places, especially on birds and their feathers: Small Details 0.60, Small Details Boost 0.12, Med Details 0.22, Med Details Boost 0.22, Large Details -0.02, Large Details Boost -0.08. I called this preset SJ Add Detail. Add a black layer mask (click in white mask and press CTRL+I) to the layer after exiting out of the plug-in and just paint back where needed in the image. Use a large low opacity brush like 20% and build up the effect to make it look natural; use a smaller brush on dark lines that need to be more emphasized. It is easy to overdo this so try adjusting the layer opacity to reduce the effect.) Used a couple Exposure Adjustment Layers on the eyes and beaks (see my How to Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop blog), and Nik Viveza 2 to adjust the focus more onto the chick and less on the Mom. Used Matt Kloskowski’s subtle vignette (see my How to Create a Subtle Vignette blog). A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was used to emphasize just a couple colors in the image, keeping it mainly in a light sepia tone. Birds can be tricky when shooting – it seems like they are perfectly still, but they actually are moving a little bit of a wing or foot or something. When you get ready to process their images, it is easy to see. Birds are pretty amazing and agile.

For the Hooded Vulture Family portrait below, pretty much the same work process but without the desaturating effect. This image was actually not as good since they were way off to the side and I had to do a massive crop. Not much of the Topaz Detail 3 plugin effect was added into this image – just in a few places like with the dark area of the back bird and a few of the Mom’s  bird feathers.
Image of a Hooded Vulture Family with the chick at the St. Augustine Alligator FarmWell hope everyone is celebrating a great Mother’s Day or at least giving your Mom’s a call! We only get one day a year to enjoy the kids we are so proud of, just like the Cape Griffon Vulture and Hooded Vulture Moms!…..Digital Lady Syd

%d bloggers like this: