It was a busy week since Adobe decided to do a major update to their products including Lightroom and Photoshop. That kept me very busy since it seems to take forever for me to get it all working the same (still have a couple problems that aren’t working correctly). so I took a break from my normal blog and just decided to show what I worked on creatively this week! Chris Spooner made a short video called Create a Fantasy Map of Your Own Fictional World in Adobe Photoshop that really caught my attention. I had never thought of doing that! The more I worked on it, the more things I thought about adding. I named a few places after some my favorite people who create great work and some classical artists. It took forever to actually set the text, which I find really fussy with Photoshop anyway, and add a bunch of clip-art, mostly from PixelSquid, my favorite object site. Some of the images were from images I took and selected parts to add, like the resort hotel from Disney World. Chris Spooner also has a blog Download My Free Treasure Map Maker for Adobe Illustrator some basic map elements. I opened his Illustrator Treasure Map Assets.eps file, which opens up in PS. Created brushes from the objects by using the Lasso Tool and SHIFT+CTRL+J to put object on it own layer, then creating a brush by Turning on just the object layer and going to Edit -> Brushes. Not sure I used them on this map, but they looked like good, especially the pirate ships.
The hardest thing about making this map was to keep the layers organized (contains 84 layers). Therefore group of layers were created for lots of the different elements so I could find them quickly, including text layers (31 text layers). There are water layers, road and trail layers, and each text and object had groupings. Many of the layers had Hue/Saturation or other types of adjustments layers (26 in total) attached to them to adjust out the colors. Most of the object and text layers have layer styles added to them.
Overall lots of fun if you want something different to try. The basic land masses are very easy to create and as you can see, the maps can be as complicated as you want. I have to admit it was a bit of a challenge. Until later ….. Digital Lady Syd
Loving this new version of Aurora HDR (for website link, check sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) – it really does add an extra HDR boost to an image without taking it over the top like some of the older HDR software can do. I feel like the image above (taken at the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida) represents what this software does best – sharpens up the image for spectacular detail and color – and much of it occurs just on opening up the image in the program. Skylum states “Skylum’s Quantum HDR Engine harnesses the power of AI for a more streamlined editing experience than ever before. It reduces burned-out colors, loss of contrast, noise and unnatural lighting caused by halos and unstable deghosting.” As far as I can tell, this appears to be true. Aurora HDR 2019 seems to be very different from the Aurora HDR 2018 – the images appear to be brighter and more color visible in the new version. And very little post-processing was done to get the above result. This program can be used as a Photoshop or Lightroom plugin or as a stand-alone program. See below the original RAW file before LR and Aurora HDR 2019 changes were done.
In Lightroom some Basic Panel and HSL Panel Luminance and Saturation changes were done. Then in Photoshop, duplicated the Background layer and opened Aurora HDR 2019 as a PS plugin. I am not one to use presets (now called Aurora HDR Looks) a lot, but Aurora HDR 2019 comes with a new Collection (previously called Categories) named Randy Van Duinen Looks and the Night Tungsten Mix Look was selected – totally opened up a rather dark image. Check out all the looks in his Collection – they seem to be really nice. (I also noticed that most of the original presets from 2018 have been replaced with newer versions – I believe this is due to a realignment of several of the panels, especially the HDR Basic Panel.)
Trey Ratcliff is a major proponent of Aurora, actually helping to design the program with Skylum, and he says 70% of his RAW processing in Aurora is done with just a single image – he finds no difference when three bracketed images are used or just a single RAW image. I personally find this amazing! I am now just mainly using it with the best HDR bracketed shot I have and am getting really good results also. He states that both the Windows and Mac versions are exactly the same. I did find an instance when this was not true – in the new Adjustable Gradient Panel (based upon the older Top and Bottom Toning Panel) does not have the ability to set a point and be dragged out to blend the look on your image. Instead Windows still has the Blend, Horizontal Shift, and Rotation sliders – it is sort of hard to tell where the Top and Bottom effects start and stop. The really good news is that Aurora 2019 has moved the Highlights and Shadows sliders out of the top HDR Basic Panel into this Panel. Now the highlights can be protected in the clouds or shadows lightened in the foreground areas much easily. This is a big improvement to me. The new HDR Smart Structure slider in the HDR Enhance Panel analyzes the scene and applies structure in areas where the details are not in the sky, for example, so that it is now applied locally instead of globally.
To finish up the post processing, a layer mask was added to the Aurora layer and in the Properties Panel, the Density was set to 47%. In the mask a few of the details were painted back individually to sharpen them up (the newspapers, hanging clothes on the bed and cups.) Nik Viveza 2 was used to add a little vignette to the image, but this could have been done with Aurora. That was it. This rather dark image was totally sharpened and brightened up with Aurora HDR 2019! I particularly like the texture effect on the walls. Trey does say that interior architecture images, which are difficult to adjust due to the bright outside and dark insides, are much improved with this version of Aurora HDR.
Here is an example of a different kind of image from Waimea Valley in Oahu, Hawaii – the original was all in green tones which was also nice, but I wanted to give it more of an engraved feel. In this case the image was turned to black and white using one of PS’s new Profiles called B&W Red Filter. Then a few adjustments in the Basic Panel were done before going into PS and duplicating the Background layer for opening in Aurora as a plugin. I wanted to show the difference using the exact same settings in Aurora HDR 2018 and 2019 – it is quite a noticeable change. Settings used in Aurora were as follows: Bottom Layer: HDR Basic: Contrast 27 and Smart Tone -24; and AL1: Dodge & Burn using Lighten at Size 28 and Strength 24% -painted over the foreground limbs to get some depth and detail onto the tree branches. Set to 54% opacity.
It seems to apply more contrast to give a more crisp HDR image in the update. Then additional settings can be applied. Sometimes just opening the image in Aurora HDR 2019 is all you need to do. The Aurora HDR 2019 image was taken back into PS where a layer mask was added to the Aurora layer. In the Properties Panel, the Density was set to 53% and just the foreground bright branches were painted back to restore the Aurora effect a little more. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added for more contrast. Topaz Len Effect’s Diffusion filter was applied to just soften the outside areas a little leaving the focal point very sharp. (This step could have been done in Aurora with the Image Radiance panel.) The blue tone was created setting a PS Color Lookup Adjustment Layer set to Foggy Night at 50% layer opacity. (This all could have been done in Aurora 2019 – they now have 11 LUT’s that can be applied, and the PS LUT’s can be accessed and applied to your image inside Aurora).
This image was mainly post-processed in the Aurora HDR 2019 stand alone edition, but had to be opened in Photoshop as there is no way to remove lens spots as far as I can tell. Used the Adjustable Gradient Panel to give the balanced feel to the top and bottom. I really love how clean the image looks with no noise at all. It would probably look pretty good in Aurora HDR 2018 even – the program has always been very good. In PS a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using my SJ Darkly Bright, which was created in my video a while back and it really added a color pop to the image. (See my How To Use and Create Lookup Table (LUT) Files blog.) Last step was a slight vignette effect using Nik Viveza 2.
Overall this updated version seems to be a real winner! It does run a little faster and has a lot of nice improvements, especially for us Windows users. If you already own the program and use it a lot, it should be one you will want to update. If you like the HDR look but have never used Aurora HDR to see what it will do, you definitely need to download the 14-day trial and see what you think. I have always liked the program as it seems to always sharpen up my images just a little, especially when I have not used a tripod, and it reduce noise wonderfully. For me these are both really big deals. Hope this has give you something to try out to see if you like it – I do not think it will disappoint you! …… Digital Lady Syd
I know I am a major Topaz groupie – been beta testing with them since almost the beginning and cannot seem to get enough of what their team does for us Photoshop users. They have created some of the most remarkable software – totally different from what I call the “big boys” in the field do and it never lets me down. Now they have come out with Topaz (see website link at my Tidbits Blog sidebar) A.I Gigapixel, a stand-alone program, and it is what I consider a major software phenomenon – a 30-day trial version can be downloaded through my link. What it mainly does is enlarge any image using “artificial intelligence” to fill areas of your image to upsize them. At first I thought, why do I need this? Well the above image is a great example. This egret has been upsized 600% in Topaz A.I Gigapixel to make the bird eye image go from a size of 777 pixels X 670 pixels (2.59 inches X 2.233 inches) at 300 ppi to 4662 pixels X 4020 pixels (15.54 inches X 13.4 inches) at 300 ppi. The eye looks sharp and you can even see the feathers on the head. Below is what the original image looked like before any editing, cropping or upsizing. The size of the image was 14.293″ X 9.493″ at 300 ppi – almost the same size as the new image above.
Make Small Details in Image Main Focal Point in Cropped Version
It has been suggested that this can be done with a panorama that has some details that would look nice printed out as individual images. Once the image was upsized, it was post-processed like normal in Photoshop. In this case a Curves Adjustment Layer for contrast was added along with a Color Balance Adjustment Layer and an Exposure Adjustment Layer for the eye color. That was it – not much to it.
Copy Out a Frame in a Video to Make a Sharp Image for Printing
Above is the final image from Oahu, Hawaii, after doing edits in PS (added Camera Raw Filter, and a Curves Adjustment Layer) to the upsized image – definitely something that would look great printed out. Image size is now 20 X 11 inches at 300 ppi or 59.5 megabytes. Below top image was taken from a rather low res video – I ran it through my video player (I like the free VLC media player – it lets me play my videos without converting the file type) and stopped at this frame. Used the Windows Snipping Tool to save it down as a jpg. When opened in PS, the original image size was 17 X 10 inches @ 96 ppi or 4.5 megabytes. Below are close ups of the kids showing the original and underneath, the image upsized 400% with A.I. Gagapixel for detail comparison.
If you look closely, the faces are a little bit clearer, the palm tree in the background is a lot sharper, and the fronds at the top of the image are a lot clearer. If you look at the finished image, the fronds look really incredible. A.I. Gigapixel fills in areas with pixels it thinks need to be added – Topaz says the program does 1 -2 million operations per pixel when it is analyzing the image.
To Increase Size of a Favorite Image from Internet or from Your Social Media
I love to find images from old famous painters or photographers for slideshows on my computer (Windows 10 capability). So many web images have very poor quality so running it through A.I. Gigapixel creates some really nice results. Here is an example of how this can work. The original image of the Waterloo Place image from London, 1899 has a size of 89 KB (600 X 438 pixels) and 72 resolution. (See image below.)
After running the image through A.I Gigapixel (see below) and increasing it by 600% to 1919 KB, it is so much smoother and much less grainy. It was enlarged by 600% for a size of 12 X 8.76 inches (3600 X 2628 pixels), which is large enough to get a nice print. No changes were done to this image but the Reduce Noise and Blur was set to Moderate in A.I. Gigapixel – it really improved the atmospherics of the image. If you have a relatively clean image, this is not needed.
I am sure this program will continue to grow and get better, and they promise that if you buy it, all the upgrades will be free. This same process can also be used if you have textures you created or bought that are older or just not that large, this program can be used to bring them up to the new large size photo standards. Also, downloading a thumbnail from your social media can be run through A.I. Gigapixel to get a good result, even if the image is only a few kilobytes large. I have not tried it on my phone images, but I am sure it will really help. Topaz has a really nice video called Topaz Live Training: Introducing A.I. Gigapixel that takes you through several images. They also show how to use this A.I. Gigapixel with 3D so it definitely has some cutting-edge uses.
I will try and do a video once I have learned all the tricks. I only downloaded the image a couple days ago and I can already see lots of possibilities. Give it a try if you are like me and have lots of old photos on your computer that could use a little help or would like to really zoom in and get a nice high resolution image of a part of a favorite shot. Have a good weekend!…..Digital Lady Syd
Recently I came across a very interesting technique for making a layer mask based on how saturated your image is versus a luminosity mask based on how bright your image is. A filter called Multi-plugin, a free download from Adobe, is applied to a “duplicate of your image.” First created for Photoshop CS5, it still works in CC and can be downloaded here: Windows version ; for the Mac Version and Photoshop CS6 (for both 32-bit and 64 bit), go to this page to download using buttons for “Electric Image and HSBHSL (Optional MultiPlugin).”
The filter pretends to convert the RGB mode of a duplicated image to an HSB or HSL mode (a choice is given and slightly different results can occur) to create masks for Hue (red channel), Saturation (green channel) and Brightness/Lightness (blue channel). To create the Saturation mask the green channel is duplicated in the “duplicate image.” Then go back to the original image and the “duplicate image” Green channel is applied from the Select ->Load Selection menu item. Okay – this is not as hard as it sounds. I will list the steps below on how to do this.
I learned about this nifty little plugin from John Paul Caponigro (possibly the best Photoshop guru out there) blog called Selecting the Unselectable with Photoshop’s Saturation Masking. He goes into great detail on how to add in the plug-in and steps for using it. The plugin is to be used on images where semi-neutrals are not saturated enough and the other colors are not over-saturated. This plugin gives different results from what Vibrance does to an image. When you load the plugin, it appears in the Filters -> Other as HSB/HSL in the menu. The image above is of Camachee Cove in St. Augustine in Florida and had a rather gray look to it. For this image only the medium ranges of Saturation were targeted which I feel gives a much richer feel especially to the water. John’s blog walks you through this workflow along with targeting specific hues. I have used this technique on several images and really like the results. Below is a video of an image taken recently at Haw Creek in Florida.
Steps for applying the HSB/HSL Filter
- Duplicate the original file in Photoshop (Image -> Duplicate).
- On Duplicate image go to Filter -> Other -> HSB/HSL filter and click OK – some really weird colors will appear.
- Go to the Channels Panel and highlight the Green Channel. Right click and select Duplicate the Channel. It will be named Green copy at the bottom of the panel. Note that the more saturated the color is in the original image, the lighter the values will be in the green channel.
- Highlight your Original image and and go to Select -> Load selection – in Document drop-down, choose the “image copy” and Channel set to Green copy. Say Okay and a bunch of little blinkies appear which show where the most saturated areas are in the image.
- With the selection active, add a mask to your layer or add an Adjustment Layer. I find the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer makes the most sense to me for adjusting the saturation. Most changes will be to the Saturation slider but there try out the others.
The image above of a magnolia tree pod used a regular High Saturation Curves Adjustment Layer where mainly the Blue channel and the RGB channel were adjusted. Then the Curves Adjustment Layer was duplicated and the mask inverted so just the low saturated areas were selected in the mask – the Red Channel was adjusted and the layer was set to 71%. Mainly the color channel curves were adjusted to get the look needed. This actually gave the leaves a more satin look.
I guess what I like about this filter is that it gives a very clean effect to the image – no halos are created, just nice bright colors. I have also experimented with the Hue (Red Channel) and Lightness/Brightness (Blue Channel) selections to see what happens. It does produce some different results, so give that a try also. Hope everyone will check out this filter, it is really spectacular and not that hard to use. Have a wonderful fall – have to love the colors this time of year!…..Digital Lady Syd
Just doing a quick blog this week – this image from The Land Pavilion at Epcot Center, Disney World-Orlando, just caught my eye this week. This may be my favorite place to see when I visit Epcot – never get tired of all their exhibits. Depending on the time of day, different versions can be seen.
In Lightroom Dave Delnea’s Backlight_Horizontal_Right preset (these appear to be unavailable at this time) was applied. It gave the original lighting effect from the window that was needed to create this image. The Camera Profile was called Crisp Warm Soft (from the LUT file in Photoshop – Matt Kloskowski gave it away). Basic section changes were done and the Graduated Filters were adjusted to fit the image correctly from the preset. Then went into Photoshop to finish up.
The background layer was duplicated and taken into Luminar 2018 (for website link, see my Tidbit Blog sidebar). My favorite Joel Grimes Indian Summer preset was applied on the bottom layer. (To download his free presets from Luminar, open the stand-alone version, click on More Presets button which opens up Microsoft Edge in Windows, choose Presets and scroll down to his Pro Photographer and Artist Presets-Joel Grimes. There are several free and inexpensive categories here. To load them in the program, go to File -> Load Custom Presets Pack – they will then show up as one of the Categories that can be selected. Joel gives us 6 presets and they are all great!) Then the Sunray Filter was added to Layer 0 – just played with the light until something looked good. Back in Photoshop, Shadowhouse Creations Dust Particle brushes were loaded and some light and dark dust was sprinkled around in the Luminar sunrays to get a reflected light effect. The last steps involved my normal workflow: added a spotlight effect on the air balloons facing the light, used a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little over-all contrast, and lastly, on a stamped layer applied Nik Viveza 2 to sharpen the air balloons and direct the focus to them.
This image is a view taken from the other side of the room on a different day and time. You can see the air-balloons much better. Used another preset by Dave Delnea called Highlight Warming Look 3 and a few Basic slider adjustments in Lightroom. Then in Photoshop the Background layer was duplicated and Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbit Blog sidebar) ReStyle was opened. The Tangerine Gauze preset was used and set to Multiply blend mode at 50% opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added for some contrast. Then Nik Viveza 2 was opened on a stamped layer to adjust the focal point just a little. That was it – I loved the detail that can be seen in this version.
Below is an older image previously posted to Flickr before I was blogging that is still different. It appears a Lucis Pro effect was added, an Ash bright green Texture 8 (which is not available anymore – it was my first set of textures I ever bought) set to Overlay blend mode, and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Pretty basic but it has a nice feel to it.
And here is a link to a blog where Topaz Impression was used on the image called Hot Air Balloons the Disney Way. Wish I could go to Disney and Epcot all the time – it is a perfect place to get gorgeous pictures. It is always fun to see the beautiful hanging air balloons throughout the years – I hope they do not change them. And The Land Pavilion has several exhibits that are always fun to photograph. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd
This image of a wolf took me several days to complete! I am not exactly an expert with drawing, but I followed a rather lengthy tutorial by Aaron Blaise and it came out looking pretty good. (I actually had to start over as it looked wrong to me on my first attempt.) Of course, it is not as good as his, but considering I have very few skills here, it was really fun to create something I like! That is why I am passing this on in my blog – if I can do this, you can do this!
Aaron Blaise is one of my very favorite illustrators and I have been following his blog for several years now. He worked for Disney Animation for a long time on many of their great movies (The Rescuers Down Under, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, and more). He has several videos on YouTube and many reasonably priced lessons on his website. The Youtube video followed here was called How to Paint Fur-Photoshop-Wolf Portrait. What I really liked about the video is that he breaks the whole process down into several sections (and layers) so it is easy to understand how the image is actually going together. He starts off with teaching how to draw a rough sketch of the wolf, continues on with refining the drawing, adding color, then shadows and highlights, and finally adding the fur textures. I felt like I learned a whole lot and this is just from a YouTube. Below is what the drawing looked like after finishing up the tutorial, and it sort of looks likes his since I followed the steps pretty closely. In this case I would watch for a few minutes, then try to do what he was doing – this is a great way to learn how to do this.
I liked how this image turned out too. There are lots of techniques Aaron shares on how to get the fur looking natural. One thing I did want to say is that you have to decide on a few favorite brushes and stick with them. It took me quite a ways into the video to decide which ones were giving me effects similar to what he created. A couple of his brushes I had, but they did not look right to me – he is using a Cintiq and I am using an older Wacom and it did seem to make a difference on how the strokes looked. I ended up creating a set of ABlaise Painting brushes to use and started by adding in just a soft round brush. He has a “go-to” brush that he always uses, but it seems too organic for me. For the actual drawing, my “go-to” brush is Grut’s I Qwillo brush – got used to it and always use it. Then for the local color and fur, a brush tip of one of Aaron’s brushes was used. Not sure which brush but it is basically a very solid color with Size 35 pixels, Opacity 100%, Opacity Pressure icon on, Flow 83% and Smoothing 10%. It was reduced down in size for the fur and and seemed to work pretty good. To get the ends pointed for the fur, the Pressure for Size was also turned on. It takes a little experimenting and several brushes were created to fit all the strokes he is teaching. He also talks a lot about values and how to light your subject – very interesting and practical since you can watch as he creates the lighting effects – the drawing sort of just pops! The last several minutes he is teaching how to finalize the image to make it look less drawn and more like an image.
One of my Corel Painter textures was added to the top image a couple times, set to Linear Light blend mode where the Fill slider was adjusted, and parts were brushed away in a layer mask to get a more artistic effect. It gave it that cold look that makes me think of wolves. It was so much fun to do this project, but it did take time. I would recommend you trying it if you have an interest in drawing animals and even if you do not – Aaron teaches a lot of little tips and tricks. It was a great way to stay inside when it is so hot and rainy! I am going to try to do a different one soon. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd
Sometimes when you get so busy blogging about cool things you can do in Photoshop, you forget about just having fun with what you already know how to do. I have not blogged a lot recently as I am trying to catch up on my creative side and just have some fun. This week I am showing a few things I have been doing to just enjoy myself.
The above is an image trying to emulate a piece of art called Bird on a Flowering Branch by Watanabe Seitei, a famous Japanese painter, created in 1887. My image does not look a whole lot like his, but it gave me a good place to begin a composition. I don’t see anything wrong with trying to emulate a piece of really good art as long as it is not a direct copy. I think it is a great way to learn so that is what I did. A Kim Klassen Cloth & Paper texture called huges was placed on the bottom to give a nice layer effect to build on. The paint spatter underneath the piece is in a free set called Oh La La Llama by principesca. Then the branches were painted in and the painted bird is from one of my bird images. The flowers are from another free set called All Ginko Textured Watercolor Graphics by Paperly Studio – these are beautiful floral elements. All the layers had to be juggled around a little and opacities adjusted. On a stamped layer, Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle was used to further blend in the correct colors and soften them a little. That was about it. I need to take some more pix of little birds to create some more of this type of image – it was very relaxing and fun to do.
Created this image using several items from one of my favorite places to get reference objects – PixelSquid. They had the meat grinder, the basil, the scale, the sandwich, the plate, everything but the wonderful recipe by Kelly at Wildfleur’s Cottage Kitchen. It appeared to be pretty close to the one my mom made since I do not have her recipe. Every now and then the meat grinder would appear on the counter and low and behold, there was a ham salad sandwich! To learn how to add PixelSquid objects, check out my How to Use the PixelSquid Add-on in Photoshop blog. Several textures were then applied to really soften the image and get a vintage feel. These are all ones I made and just removed the color from them. Pretty simple. The font is called Mr. Grieves.
The Hogan House and Museum has recently been designated as an historical home in Bunnell, Florida (Flagler County). It has some really nice period pieces including the old waffle iron on the counter. First Luminar 2018 (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) was applied using Joel Grime’s Dramatic Detail preset (his presets are all pretty good so if you own the program, try to download them). The same textures applied at different opacities as the ham sandwich image were also used on this one. A couple Gradient Map Adjustment Layers and a Curves Adjustment Layer were used for the final result.
I guess I have been in a vintage mood recently. It is nice to take a break and just work with your images to give them a look you like – not just what you see. I could almost imagine being back in time. Well hope everyone is not too hot – this summer has been a really warm one! Stay cool and create something fun!…..Digital Lady Syd