Anything Photoshop or Photography



Image of a wintry pond
This week I am just doing a short blog on plug in that has been around awhile, and one I have not used recently. The plug-in is called Topaz (see website link in sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Lens Effects and it creates a lot of special effects. I was able to get this rather unique look above by painting in Photoshop and using Lens Effects.

The above is just a little pond image created using my favorite Frostbo’s Grass Set2 for Photoshop brushes and Topaz Impression to get this painterly look.

These steps were taken before the plug-in was used. First a basic light blue painted background was created in Corel Painter to use for building up my image.  A similar result could have been done using a watercolor wash brush in Photoshop. Then in PS, several of Frostbo’s brushes were used to create the reeds and grass around the water – see blog link below that shows how to tweak his brushes for even some different results. Separate layers were used for each brush type and different colors were used and blended. TIP: If the brush strokes look too sharp, just use a small 4 pixel Smudge Brush set to a Strength of 15% and paint over edges. The plant layers were all grouped. Then the group was duplicated, merged, and flipped upside down to create a slight reflection in the water. On a stamped layer above (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Impression’s Ethereal Background by Blake Rudis preset was applied. A B&W Adjustment Layer was added to see where the focal point was going – and it needed to be adjusted. The adjustment was set to Luminosity blend mode at 83% layer opacity since it was used to adjust the focal point. Nik Viveza 2 added a little color to the water in the middle and some to the upper corners where the sky is. I still did not like the colors in the image so Impression was applied to another stamped layer using Swirly Strokes III. In Photoshop a black layer mask was added and just where I wanted more color added was painted back. Below is where the image was at this point, and I thought I really liked it.

Image of a wintry pondBut then it seemed like a little directional color needed to be added. So that is when Topaz Lens Effects was opened two filters were applied.  The Reflector (set to Golden Type, Strength 0.20, Transition 0.23, Position 0.31, and Angle 306.5) to add just a little warmth in the lower right foreground. The next filter was the Split Prism (Two – Mixing level 0.44, Radius 0.27, Rotation 45.00, Type II, Effect Center (659,349)) which added another smaller version of the painted image into the photo. A layer mask had to be added and edges cleaned up. Also on a New Layer above, some Clone Stamp and Spot Healing Brush clean up was done. On a New Layer, Frostbo’s Snow Drops brush (just one brush but really great to add in a little snow look) was used to add in some scattered snow, and then the Blur Tool was used to soften them slightly – similar effect to using the Smudge Tool above. I could never think of a good use for Split Prism filter and this image is really a cool way to use it! You can see this made an immense change to the image and I think it definitely added interest into it.

Image of a Roseate Spoonbill landing in a treeThis image is of a Roseate Spoonbill taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery. Not sure how I got this crazy landing shot, but it sort of fits the crazy antics these birds do. The texture was one I created in Corel Painter to use with this beautiful bird. The bird image was first painted with Mixer Brushes in Photoshop. The texture layer was added at the bottom of the Layer Panel. Then a black mask was added to the top bird layer and just the bird and part of the tree were painted back so the background showed up. I wanted some colors in the background that blended nicely with the beautiful pink in the bird. Topaz Lens Effects Reflector filter was used to lighten the bird slightly (settings were Type Golden, Strength 0.47, Transition 0.40. Position 0.30, and Angle 271.3). Next another copy of the texture was placed on top and set to Multiply blend mode at 62% layer opacity. Created a stamped layer above (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and opened Lens Effects again and selecting the Fisheye Lens filter set to Distortion Amount 0.25. By placing the effect on the bird, it gives a very comical effect to the image. Back in PS the bird was selected and the Content Aware Move tool was used to move the bird over to the right a little more in the image. Another stamped layer was created and this time the same Fisheye filter effect was centered on the tree to stretch it out some like it was reaching out to the bird. Back in PS a black layer mask was added and just the tree was added back into the image, so now both the bird and tree had exaggerated characteristics. On another stamped layer a Lens Effect’s Single Tone Filter using the Old School Haze II was applied. After that a little PS Camera Raw Filter magic was performed using the Radial Filters to get the bird colors and tree colors just right. There were some adjustments layers and burn layer to finish up, but basically the Lens Effect filters created the colorful result of this image.

So we covered the Topaz Lens Effects’ Reflector Filter, Split Prism Filter, Fisheye Lens Filter, and Single Tone Filter. I actually added the UV Haze Filter on the image above – the paint strokes could be seen really nicely but decided against using it for the final version. There are really nice Lens Motion effect, Streak Filter, a Diffusion Filter, Polarization Filter, Graduated Color Filter, Fog Filter, Toy Camera effect, and Tilt & Shift Camera effect to name a few, all with presets or sliders to make your own presets. There are some serious Bokeh Effects that can be achieved with this plug-in also, but I have not covered this. Check out Topaz Labs website for more info on these.

Well I hope this will give you a little incentive to take another look at the Topaz Lens Effects if you own this plug-in, or download a trial to try out. There are lots of choices and it definitely adds some dimension for the creative post-processing of images. Many of the effects are not contained in other plug-ins, which is one of the reasons I really like the Topaz plug-ins. And it was a lot of fun, and for me that’s what it is all about!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How To Create a Magical Feel in Photoshop
Topaz Lens Effects Plug-In


Image of a Native American Dancer dancingStill enjoying my summer so decided to present a couple of images that used both Painter and Photoshop, apparently my favorite way to process an image. The dancer image was taken at the Annual Native American Festival at Ormond Beach, Florida – one of my favorite events for photographing. This lovely dancer is performing the Butterfly Dance (check out the link for the uplifting legend associated with this dance). It is definitely a difficult balance to achieve in an image that contains some detail and realism to it, but yet has a definite painterly quality.

Both images took a long time to complete. I had trouble above getting the balance I wanted. I am glad I did not give up as it forced me to think about what  was really wrong with it. This image was actually opened in Corel Painter first – to get the colorful strokes in the background for the painterly feel. See below for the original image. Karen Sperling’s Artistry Quick Fix Video (#4 in this case) Series brush 02 was used to paint the texture along with a  couple of her blenders. Then it was saved as a PSD file and taken into Photoshop to do a lot more work on this now rather roughed in image. Several layers were created and the Mixer brush and Smudge brush was used to further blend the background in. One of the textures I created previously was added and set to Color Burn blend mode at 15% layer opacity to add a slight gold tone.

Here is where I had problems – I could not get her face to blend in nicely with the image – it stood out too sharp and bright. After trying a lot of different things in Photoshop, I decided to open an earlier RIF revision of the Corel Painter image. I wanted to soften the whole costume and face area. After trying a lot of different brushes, I ended up selecting Karen’s o1 brush with some brush modifications in the General, Well, and Color Variability Panels.  Used lighter colors to blend and soften the dancer. The adjusted brush did the trick and this time the image was saved as a PSD file to use in Photoshop.

Back in Photoshop just the top layer was copied and moved into my later image and set to Soft Light blend mode at 51% layer opacity. On a stamped layer, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Lens Effects was used twice: once with the Diffusion Filter (Softness 0.41, Diffusion 0.25, and Edge Transition 0.50) to soften image overall; and then the Reflector Adjustments filter (set to Type Golden, Strength 0.34, Transition 0.62, Position 0.33, and Angle 208.5). A layer mask was applied so only the tents and sky got the warming effect – when the tents were lighter, it drew the eye to them instead of the dancer. A final check with a B&W Adjustment Layer to see if the focal point is set correctly, and it was not. Nik Viveza 2 was opened to tone down the white in the tents even more. Now the lady is just a little softer and blends better into the painted background behind her.

Bottom line here – walk away, come back later, and try something radically different if you do not like the results. I am not sure why I took used an older Painter revision of the image to correct this issue, but it worked!
Image of a Flycatcher bird on one of my textures
I think this little beauty is possibly a Least Flycatcher, but authorities disagree on where they live. Anyway, he was very tiny and fairly friendly. This is another example of blending the image and the texture to give an overall pleasing effect. The workflow was similar. See image below for original as shot. This time opened a new document in Painter, placed the bird in as a layer, and then proceeded to paint a texture that would enhance his colors and location. At this point, the texture was painted in soft browns and light greens since he is standing in grass and the sun is pretty strong on his left side. When the file was brought Photoshop, the color in his body is both the golden back feather area and the bluish-brownish breast area. The color tones just appealed to me. But this image had a little different issue. It was warm on the left side and cooler on the right. This time Topaz Lens Effects Graduated Filter was used to lighten up just slightly the left side of the image so you can feel the sun on his side – a light yellow was used to get this effect. The more brushy grassy effect in foreground was added on a New Layer by laying down the stylus and pressing hard with my brush to create these more squiggly marks. (For brush used, see my How to Use Photoshop’s Brush Textures Section for Painting Clean-Up.) This brush was also used to clean areas on the bird where grass was running through his body. There were several clean up layers and adjustment layers to get the colors just right, but overall it is just he same basic process of adding your image on top of texture and painting out the distractions. I am finding this is not something you do in an hour – it takes a while to get the overall effect adjusted correctly.  Original images Well, hope you enjoyed the images and got a little inspired to try this. It is really fun to create your own textures, although I have not mastered this in Photoshop. Corel Painter does a great job when making the textures, and then using them in Photoshop with different adjustment layers to get the tones and color right is really not that hard. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
A Tricolored Heron That Fell in a Painting!
How to See If You Captured the Focal Point


Image of palm trees and the ocean in HawaiiThis week I just felt like exploring what I could do with landscape images to get a painterly, yet somewhat realist feel. Took this image of the Pacific Ocean at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island in Hawaii – one of those places that is total “eye candy” for the camera! Just a beautiful place to visit!

This image used a lot of Topaz plug-ins. Started with Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Clarity (my TC-John Barclay Basic Settings preset from one of his webinars – HSL-Hue – Blue -0.12; Sat – Red -0.16, Orange 0.13, Aqua 0.19 and Blue 0.11; and Lum Red -0.58, Orange -0.17, Yellow -0.39, and Green -0.19. Tone Level White Level 0.38). This is a nice preset to use for landscape images in Clarity. Next Topaz photoFXlab was opened (not available for use with Photoshop CC2014 and on but is a stand-alone app also) and on a duplicate layer in the plug-in, Topaz Lens Effects Diffusion filter was applied first (Softness 0.60, Diffusion 0.60, and Edge Transition 0.50) – in a layer mask used these brush settings: Brush Value 51, Brush Size 0.09, Hardness 0.17, Flow 0.18, and Edge Aware 1.00. Painted around the tree trunk to remove the diffusion effect around it and a little in the front palm leaves. Also painted over the white waves coming in. A stacked layer was created and the Adjustments tab sliders was used (Temp 21 and Sat 8; Contrast -15, Dynamics 22, Sharpness -51, Shadows 28, Whites 38, and Blacks 34). In the Brushes Tab, used Dodge Brush to paint in the distracting plant dark spots in foreground (brush settings were: Strength 0.68, Brush Size 0.25, Hardness 0.17, Flow 0.41, and Edge Aware 0.90). Exited photoFXlab and created a stamped layer on top. Note that all the steps in the photoFXlab filter could have been done in Photoshop using Topaz Lens Effects and adjustments layers and masks. Next a Curves Adjustment Layer and a Selective Color Adjustment Layer were applied to get the contrast and color correct. On a New Layer Aaron Blaise’s Cloud Brushes were used to add some interest into the plain sky. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Glow was  opened to get some sharp detail back into the tree leaves. A black layer mask was added and just the trees and surf were painted back on the mask in white. On another stamped layer, Topaz ReStyle was added (TRS-White Veil preset – Set ReStyle blend mode to Multiply set to 54%; Basic Tone Black Level 0.36, Midtones 0.11 and White Level -0.45; and Detail Structure 0.41 and Sharpness 0.06). And yes, another stamped layer was created and Topaz Impression was applied using the Watercolor II preset set to Multiply blend mode at 31% layer opacity. On a New Layer above a mixer brush was used to smooth the cloud edges to clean up. And this is the final. image. Lots of Topaz here!
Image of a road while crossing the Big Island in HawaiiThis is a beautiful drive through The Big Island in Hawaii (near Waimea) – I am always surprised at the Island’s terrain and how you can have this little forest in an area that is totally devoid of trees otherwise. That is why you love the Big Island – always something surprising to see with all the different

This image used Trey Radcliff’s Lightroom free preset called A Beautiful Release – he has some really nice presets that I have used for a long time. Topaz Glow was applied using my SJ Inter Web Variation ((Settings are: Primary Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 1.00, Effect Sharpness 0.12, Electrify 1.00, Simplify Details 0.06, Edge Color 0, Detail Strength 1.00, Detail Size 0.42, Brightness 0.16, Contrast 0.18, Saturation 0.08, Line Rotation 0, and Glow Spread 0; Secondary Glow Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0, Effect Sharpness 0.54, Electrify 0.11, Simplify Details 0, Brightness 0, and Contrast 0; Color Overall Saturation to 0.62, Red Sat to 0.44, Yellow Sat to 1.00 Yellow Lightness -0.36, Green Sat 1.00 and Lightness -0.51, Aqua Lightness -0.36, Purple Sat 1.00, and Magenta Sat 1.00 and Lightness 0.50. Set to Screen blend mode at 66% Strength; and no Finishing Touches.) It is really hard to see the Glow effect, very subtle, since the layer was set to Soft Light at 51% layer opacity. In a layer mask some of the lines were painted out by setting the brush to Multiply mode, Opacity 47%, and Flow 50%. This way I could adjust the darker tones and blacks yet leave the color alone in the image. It brought out some of the structure in the fences and wires by the road, but did not interfere with the soft lines of the background. On a stamped layer Topaz Impression was applied using their Watercolor IV preset to soften the image. In the layer style (double-click on layer to open) the Blend If Underlying Layer white tab was split was set to 110/255 – this brought back some of the natural clouds in the sky and a lot of the image below but not all (all the tones between 110 and 255 below were added back). A layer mask was applied and some of the Impression filter was removed from the darker tones in the background. In Nik Viveza 2 seven control points were used to draw the eye gently down the road to the little forest. On a New Layer, the right edge was painted over to soften with yellow on a brush set to 11% brush opacity and Flow 50%. Very subtle again but it removed a distraction easily. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to add back some contrast. With Clone Stamp set to reverse (and Options Bar settings of Mode Lighten so just white parts are copied over, brush opacity 32% and Flow 42%), the clouds were added on right side of image. With a little more clean up, the above was the result.

I always enjoy playing the wonderful filters or plug-in available. Topaz creates a nice one-two punch when Glow and Impression are used together, especially nice in landscapes. By using layer masks, the Layer Style Blend If sliders, and different blend mode and layer opacities, a very nice effect can be added to your images. And ReStyle can turn the color into something that you may never have thought of using in the image. I will try to use some different plug-ins available in the near future and hopefully give you some new ideas on how to use them. There are so many choices, so many choices! ….Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:


Image of a Snowy EgretHappy Holiday! Doing just a quick post this week. Thought I would show a beautiful Snowy Egret that required a rather complicated selection to show off his feathers appropriately. The bird was photographed at my favorite St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery where the egrets were in a frenzy looking for mates.

This was not an easy task to get a good selection, especially in the tail area. I created several files and trying out Photoshop CC2015’s Channel selections, Color Range Selection, and Refine Edge, OnOne’s (see sidebar of my Tidbits Blog for website link) Perfect Layers 9.5 and even OnOne’s Perfect Mask 8.0, and Topaz (see sidebar of my Tidbits Blog for website link) photoFXlabs and ReMask. I even combined some using the layer mask in Refine Edge after creating it another way. I can honestly say I spent several hours trying to get a good result, and for this image the winner was:………. Topaz ReMask. It took a little figuring out exactly how to get the tools to do what I wanted, but it by far gave the best results of the techniques tried. That does not mean that the others are not good selection tools, it just means that in this case ReMask ended up being the easier to use and giving the best final results with not a lot of additional tweaking to get the feathers selected. So do not get discouraged if you do not have this filter – OnOne does a great job on most selections, but I just had trouble when tried on this image. Usually Refine Edge will give me great results on hair, but not as good on the bird. Guess the bottom line is, try different selection tools before giving up. One may end up doing exactly what you want.

That being said, if you want to see the way I selected this image in ReMask, check out Darcy Wheeler’s Topaz blog called A Hair Masking Trick That’ll Blow Your Mind.  Try adjusting the Color Recovery slider – I set mine close to 100 to get the best results. And check out the Mask Strength to get the best amount showing. Below is how my egret looked inside ReMask before any Brush cleanup, especially in the feather areas. By making your Magic Brush very tiny and zooming in on the image, you can remove some of the haze at the end of the feathers. You can see I added back some of leaves to give him something solid to be standing on.
Screenshot of Topaz ReMaskAlso, I should give credit to Jai Johnson textures – they are always wonderful on wildlife images and can be bought individually. This time I used her Soulful Sea Breeze texture under the bird set to 100% layer opacity and Normal blend mode. On top her Filly In the Field texture was set to Normal blend mode at 68% layer opacity which turned the texture into the lovely pinkish tones. The bird was the next layer, and then on top of that, her Soulful Sea Breeze texture was added again – set to Soft Light at 60%. A Color Balance Adjustment Layer was clipped to the texture to get the color adjustment just right – mainly added a little blue and cyan into Midtones and yellows into the Highlights. Some clean up on the foreground leaves and over the bright beak was done, and then Nik Viveza 2 was opened to adjust the strength of the feathers. Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer to add back some contrast.

Hope this was helpful next time you got totally stumped on a hard selection. Have a great weekend!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of Caribbean Flamingoes
Thought I would cover a little texture trick that I had never used before. The image above was taken at SeaWorld-Orlando – these beautiful Caribbean Flamingos are so graceful looking and seemed quite content to be situated in this rather crazy area near the entrance to the park and a roller coaster.

What I really like about this image is first, the color. I have an interesting older book called Pantone Guide to Communicating with Color by Leatrice Eiseman  that says the color “purple is a glorious yet complex color, preferred by very creative and eccentric types.” This is a color I do not use a lot, but the purple color seems to add a nice exotic look that seems appropriate for these elegant birds.

Texturizer Filter for the Impasto Effect

To use the Filter Gallery, the image or texture needs to be in an 8-bit mode (File ->Mode->8 bit) or it will be grayed out in the menu.  (See Tips Squirrel’s Solving Common Photoshop Problems-Greyed Out Filters for a work-around.) The purple impasto texture is one I created with a little help from one of my favorite texture people, Shadowhouse Creations, who has some of the most beautiful free textures. This one is located in his Vintage Soft Grunge Set 2 called SHC V21b. First converted this texture into a Smart Object (or Smart Filter – same thing) so it can be adjusted later if you do not like the results or want to change the settings. To add the nice impasto feel to this texture, need to go to Filter -> Filter Gallery -> Texture and select Texturizer. In the dialog there is a drop-down box where you can select Burlap, Brick, Canvas or Sandstone – there is also a little box to the right where you can Load Texture. A psd file, also in 8-bit mode, must be selected. There is no limitation on what it looks like, even the same image can be loaded. The bird image used a texture I created in Painter called Crazy Sky that was saved as a psd file.

Image of the original texture and after it was applied in Texturizer

When added as the Texture in the filter, it softened the image but no color information was added. The filter is taking the My Crazy Sky Texture Red Channel from the RGB file and using it to displace the SHC V21b Texture. On the bird image, it gives a nice Impasto effect. Here are the settings used for the bird image: Scaling 165, Relief 34, Light Top, and check Invert box. Change these setting around and you get very different results. On a New Layer use any brush to smooth out noticeable  patterning due to the scaling. At this point I saved the file to my textures folder as psd and jpg files so it could be used over again without reapplying the filter.

Below is another example of how SHC V21b texture looks with a different one of my psd texture files used for the Texture. The Relief was set to a much lower amount along with the Scale.

Screenshot of image using a different texture

To create the image, the new saved texture was placed under the flamingos image. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was used to get the purple color. A layer mask was added to the bird layer, and using a brush with some texture in it and a very low brush opacity of 30% and Flow of 60%, the birds were lightly painted back just leaving some of the impasto effect of the texture on the birds. The rest was just clean up. Don’t forget that you can change the settings of an Eraser brush to help adjust some of your strokes. I have created a couple brushes just for this use – one I like for painting uses a brush opacity of 38% and Flow of 15%.

Changing the textures in this Texturizer Filter is really a lot of fun. There are so many different effects that can be created from images and textures you already have! And it is really easy to do!…..Digital Lady Syd


Painted image of Early Morning in the SwampSince I am still on my blogging break, I thought I would share a little painting done completely in Photoshop. And I might add, no Mixer Brushes! A few months ago my photo club took a trip to the Viera Wetlands in Brevard County, Florida. This inspired me to create what I imagine how the wetlands would appear in the early morning of a summer day.

Some of the brushes used in this image were purchased, but all of them are very inexpensive or free brushes and links have been provided below, along with a few of tips. The final image included 34 layers so it took some time to create. It represents a lot of experimentation and trying different effects to see what looked good. To me, this is what I love about Photoshop – all the possibilities and ways to do things is just incredible. This is probably why this program has remained the image editing standard for other programs to try and emulate. I hope everyone will have a chance to paint and play in Photoshop this week. Try out some new strokes with these resources…..Digital Lady Syd

Image Info including Resources and a Few Tips:

The basic scene of the tree, grass, and water was created on 8 individual layers. I tend to put each type of brush stroke on its own layer so the strokes can be erased, opacity changed, blend modes used, or just redone easily without redoing all the painting, – then group all the layers together to create just one line in the Layers Panel so it appears as a single layer. The brushes used to create the grass were from one of my very favorite natural brush sets and are available for free at DeviantArt called Grass Set2 Frostbo Grass 009. (Frostbo has many brush sets that can be downloaded and all the brushes are really easy to tweak in the Brush Panel to create different strokes. See my How To Create a Magical Feel in Photoshop blog on how to do this. Also, be sure to read his usage rules.) The tree was created using a brush from Aaron Blaise’s Foliage Set – SB 46-4. Water ripples from Aaron Blaise’s Water Set was used for the water effect (Brush SB 51-15-1436). Aaron has some great inexpensive brushes with videos explaining how to use them. He is a former Disney animator and all his brushes are wonderful. Light shoreline sketches were made using a very simple sketch brush  (Settings if you need one: Brush Tip Shape – 2 pixels, Hardness o, and Spacing 9%; Shape Dynamics – Size Jitter Control set to Pen Pressure; Transfer – Flow Jitter Control set to Pen Pressure; and Smoothing on. This makes a really nice sketch stroke and I use it all the time in my paintings. These layers were all put into a group by highlighting them all and pressing CTRL+G.

Underneath the group a New Layer was placed and Grut brush NM Wool Meander was used to add a little soft yellow accent in the sky and water, showing some behind the reeds and tree. Check out his site each week for a new free brush – these are totally great brushes. A stamped layer was placed on top. Topaz  (see the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impressions was opened and the supplied Ethereal Background by Blake Rudis preset was applied. A layer mask was added to the layer and the tree and reeds were painted back. On another stamped layer converted to a Smart Object, Nik Viveza 2 was added and 7 controls points were used to add blue into the image. The resulting layer opacity was set to 79%.

A New Layer was added on top and a free DeviantArt Midnighttouch’s rEgrets I’ve Had a Few set Egret Sample Brush #51 was used to create the bird in the image. A Bevel and Emboss layer style was added to the layer and set to Style Emboss, Tech Smooth, Depth 93, Direction Up, Size 2, Soften 5, Highlight Mode Linear Dodge (Add) at 5% opacity, and Shadow Mode Multiply at 38% opacity. This gave the bird just a touch of edge to it. On a New Layer the Beak and Eye were painted in with light orange and black. It was set to a 50% layer opacity. The layers were all highlighted and put into another group called Egret. On a New Layer above the group, Midnightstouch Sample Brush #4 was used to add the bird grouping. This layer was set to 36% layer opacity. She also has lots of other beautiful unique brushes – and do check out her use requirements before using.

Now to me the focal point was all off center, so the Crop Tool was selected to line up my objects, and then Content Aware Scale was used to add to the canvas. Content Aware Move was used to readjust the flying birds in the sky. On a stamped layer Topaz Lens Effects Reflector Gold filter was selected (Strength 0.17, Transition 0.40, Position 0.20, and Angle 90). You could do the same thing with Nik Color Efex Pro – I learned this trick from Jai Johnson. The Gold reflector filter adds a nice subtle warming effect to nature images.

So another cool trick for adding some localized blurring is to use the Blur Tool set to Strength of 72. I have never used this tool much, but it worked really great in this image. Since I did not want the white egret so emphasized, the blur tool just softened those edges a bit on the emboss layer style created on the bird. It was also used to soften the rather sharp edges of the leaves in the trees to give a more painterly look without removing the actual shape too  much. The flying birds were also blurred slightly.

I really did not like the reflection of the tree and some of the grass in the water and was having trouble getting it softened the way I liked it. Finally the Smudge Brush was selected and using Aaron Blaise’s Grass SB 48-3-236 smudge brush, the area was smoothed. This brush comes with his Foliage brushes but probably any smudge brush would work fine. Just keep it subtle – it was set to 35% Strength. This layer was then set down to 65% layer opacity as the smudge effect was a bit too much. (See my How To Use the Brush Modes and Smudge Brush on Objects blog.) A Levels Adjustment Layer was added. Since this image was supposed to have a dreamy soft early morning look, but still needed a contrast boost, the middle tab was set to 0.70 but the black and white tabs were left alone. The trick to the dreamy effect is to adjust the Output Level strip. The black tab was set to 23 and white tab to 239 to maintain the soft look. Lots of other clean up layers were sprinkled throughout this document, but I hope you can see how to get some pretty nice effects with these brushes.


Image of a painted Snowy Egret Still taking it easy with blogging, but thought I would discuss a topic I sometimes forget to do. While having a little break here, I am having a lot of fun adding a little, should I say “personality” to my images. As you can see in the image above called the “The Ballet Diva Making a Grand Entrance,” this Snowy Egret bird image (taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery) seemed to lend itself to some mild “ridicule” as I developed the painted version. I think I was inspired by an old Bob Ross Joy of Painting TV show I watched the other day, where he said that he gets to know each item he adds to his paintings. He was actually talking about one of the shrubs he was painting, but the point is that he was giving each item personal attention, not just painting in a bunch of shrubs. That sort of struck me as something I probably do not do, especially when digitally painting (and that is probably another whole blog topic). But it got me thinking – and I actually feel like I know these birds when working on one of their shots. Maybe that is why I enjoy painting them so much. So this brings me  to the point that even though most photography and painting is supposed to tell a story, maybe the story is just the crazy way you look at an image. It seems to be really rewarding to post-process or paint an image “just for the fun of it” so that is what I have done here. Check out my Tidbits Blog links below for more funny bird examples. Hope you are all enjoying your summer – I know I am!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Here’s Looking At You
Singing Spoonbill Duet Takes Rookery by Storm!
I See You! Checking Out a Snowy Egret
Storytelling with Your Images

Image Info: This image took a while to put together. It needed Photoshop’s Shake Reduction filter. Then lots of blending with Fay Sirkis’s Precious Oil Diamond Blender Mixer Brush which I find works well on feathers. (Her brushes are hard to find unless you are a KelbyOne subscriber – this one is a very creamy & oily brush which pulls out the feathers to points nicely.)  Little eye sharpening and leg clean up. Finally got to a stamped version. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression Watercolor IV preset was first applied, then Topaz ReStyle using the Lavender Gray preset with some tweaks, then another layer of painting with Fay’s mixer brush and PS Flat Angle Mixer, before adding a texture by Jai Johnson called Spring Blush canvas on page 6. Thought I was done so added Nik’s Viveza 2 to finish and then I thought, hum, I wonder what Topaz Glow would do for this image. So I added Abstract Settings-Blake Rudis preset and set it to Soft Light at 45% layer opacity. On another stamped layer, Topaz Impression was once again opened and the Degas Dancers I preset was applied. On a layer mask in PS, the bird was painted back somewhat but the background and foreground retained the painted effect. Phew!


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