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CREATING AN ART HISTORY ACTION IN PHOTOSHOP


Image of a painted Egyptian Mask

Yesterday I found this really cool action that can be used in Photoshop using the Art History brush on any image. I have always been a bit fascinated by this type of painting as it is really simple to do, has been in Photoshop for ages, and is very flexible in the way you can create with it. (See my How to Use the Art History Brush-It Really Is Pretty Nice! blog for more info.) This time Marko Kozokar, on of my favorite digital painting creatives, came up with yet another great action (Check out his Envato list for lots of other actions).

CREATING THE ACTION

The three images shown both used the Palette Knife action that I created by following the steps in his How to Create a Palette Knife Photoshop Action on Envato. Unfortunately Envato has changed it’s policy and you cannot buy an individual action, so you must join the site for a fee. Therefore, it is necessary to follow the instructions to make the action if you want one. This action took me quite a while to figure out, but if you have done them before, it follows the same basic steps. So here are my tips if you decide to do this:

  • First need to make sure image is in 8-bit mode, RGB Color (go to Image -> Mode to see this), and less than 4000 px on the largest size (go to Image -> Image Size to see if it needs to be resized.) It is important to know if you resized the image.
  • Note that when you start recording an action, you can always turn it off to do another step that should not be recorded, before continuing with the action. This happens a lot when making this action. Marko created a few brushes and I went ahead and made them first before continuing with the action so they would be ready to use. With these brushes, make sure you save them as a set (Palette Knife-Art History Brushes) to use again. I named the brushes Palette Knife-Art History Brush1, Palette Knife-Art History Brush2 and Palette Knife-Art History2-small for the second painting layer, and Palette Knife-Art History3 for the last painting layer. You will see these steps appear as you continue creating the action. When a new brush is introduced, I add a Stop in my action and note which brush to use at this point so I won’t forget next time I run the action.
  • If you downsized or changed the mode of the image, need to stop recording before painting and make a Snapshot in the History Panel. If you do not put your Art History brush icon by the snapshot, buy leave it by the top image, it will not paint because you changed the mode or size of the image. Just remember to this before painting if you are having an issue painting.
  • When creating the action and a Background copy needs to be moved up in the layer list, be sure to use CTRL+] – dragging will not be picked up right in the action.

Once you finish the painting part of the action, adding in the other adjustment layers and filters is pretty easy. Also remember there are a few other things you can do with the brushes. The image below used a default Legacy PS Artist Brush called AH Oil Medium Wet Flow brush instead of the Art History2 brushes. Besides the size and opacity, try changing the Mode in the Options Bar when applying paint. Also you do not have to paint out the whole image, try just painting out parts of it as in getting rid of an ugly background. For some of the best tips on using the Art History Brush, check Julieanne Kost (the Adobe Photoshop Evangelical) and her Art History Brush in Photoshop video – it is older, but since the tool has not changed in forever, it is still accurate.


Image of a digital painting of a man playing the guitar

This is a really great action once you get it running properly. If you have problems, don’t hesitate to drop me a comment. As I said, it did take me a while to get it working smoothly so maybe I can help.

GETTING THAT FINAL TEXTURED LOOK

There is a “Secret Sauce” that he added to his images to give them a really nice painterly texture effect that is not in the action. If you look at the leopard image at the bottom of his link, you will see a really nice finished painterly effect. How do you get this effect? It is one of my favorite techniques that I have actually written about several times, but it is so useful, I will go through it again. (For a video on this, check out my How to Add Texture to an Image without Adding Its Color blog.

  1. Load any texture you like that has some really great painted look that will match the recently painted image. – I like those from French Kisses Artiste Collection (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) which show strong stroke lines but there are many texture creators that do this. Even making you won is definitely an option.
  2. Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer on top – clip by clicking on the first icon at the bottom of the Adjustment Layer. Set the Saturation Slider to -100 to desaturate the texture so the color in the texture does not show up on the image.
  3. The texture blend mode was then set to Hard Light blend mode and a layer opacity around 30% as a starting point. I find these settings work well with this technique but try different blend modes to see which looks best on your image.
  4. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added to brighten the image as the texture tends to darken the midtones.

 Image of an Amur Leopard at the Jacksonville Zoo
This Leopard at the Jacksonville Zoo is one where I had to downsize and use a different snapshot to paint the image. This image shows the texture better as it was a little different type – French Kiss’s Atlelier Canvas texture using the Hard Mix blend mode and 27% layer opacity. (The Guitar image used her Artiste Dove Wings texture at Vivid Light blend mode at 35% layer opacity and the Egyptian Mask used the Tableaux Sea Nymph 2 texture at Hard Light blend mode at 22% layer opacity.) Not sure I would use this image but used it to create the action. Still I learned a lot from just experimenting with it.

Hope everyone is still learning some new things (and old in my blog’s case). It was a lot of fun to create this action. ….. Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO COLORIZE USING IMAGE COLORIZER


Vintage Image of the Yellowstone River cc 1899

This week I am trying out a different method of colorization – this was really simple and I have to thank that wonderful guru Unmesh Dinka at PixImperfect for introducing me to this technique. I have always been a big fan of old vintage images, especially those that Shorpy posts and very old family shots. (See below for some other blog links on how to colorize using other methods.) The pictures are only black and white or sepia images.

Recently Unmesh had a short video called Free Tool to Auto Colorize Black & White Photos where a free program called Image Colorizer was used to create color images. If you watch the video, it shows the program taking a long time to process – it appears they have updated the program and it works much faster. To get this started, here are a couple things you need to know:

  • The file must be less than 4 MB, less than 3000 px X 3000 px, and be in jpg, jpeg, or png format. So you may have to go in and reduce the size of your image before using this program. I found my images needed to be less than 3 MB to get it to work correctly – it still produced a pretty low res image no matter what the original size was.
  • This does not create a perfect colorized image – but it does a really good job for a starting point so do not be disappointed if your image has color splotches on it – this can be fixed in Photoshop.
  • The final image will be created by stacking the colorized image set to Color blend mode on top of the black and white image in PS.

Once you have the image set up to us in the software, go to the website – click on this link here. You just drag and drop your image into the square and watch the progress icon – it takes a few moments depending on the original size you put into the program. Then just download the image and open it up in Photoshop or Lightroom to post-process it. (There is also an app available for Apple and Android phones.)

Original vintage 1899 image of the Yellowstone River

The above photo was from a list of old 1800’s vintage images at a site I cannot now find. The image was 1200 px by 927 px so it fit the criteria just fine. I want to go over a couple of tricks that I found especially handy when using this program. Once the Image Colorizer has been run, place the image over the original black and white background image and set it to Color blend mode. Below is what the image looked like out of the Image Colorizer – it was not too bad but there are some color distortions along the sides of the road and in the water. It does not look that bad overall – just if you zoom in you can see the issues. I found it amazing that just adding this amount of color can create such a colorful final image after PS editing.

Screenshot of Image Colorizer result

Basic Workflow:

1. Run Image Colorizer and download the image.

2. In PS open the original black and white image.

3. Need to check the Image Size (Image -> Image Size) turn off the Resample button and set it to 300 dpi, then recheck the Resample box, and change the size amounts for the final image.

4. Place the Colorizer image on top and set to Color blend mode. Since the colorizer often introduces some color that is not too flattering in places, need to remove it where you do not want it. Two ways to remove color here:

The color in the above was removed by adding a New Layer on top and setting it to Saturation Blend Mode. Then used the Spotlight Brush (here is what I use – select a soft round brush set to 100 pixels and a Flow of 9% and turn on the “Enable airbrush-style buildup effects” icon). Select black (or any neutral color or else it will really saturate the color) and paint on layer where you want the color removed – build up the effect to remove more. This tip was from the great PS guru John Paul Caponigro – still has a DVD that includes this along with many other great tips.

A Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer could have been used also by setting the Sat to -100, inverting the mask to black and painting with white in the mask where color should be removed.

5. One way to remove the lines that do not look good is to go to Filter -> Blur -> Surface Blur and set the Radius to around 30 and the Threshold at 60, or less, – just experiment to see which looks the best. This was not used on this image. Also a good Smudge Brush can be used to even out color striations – there were lot of really funny lines in just the water area of this image. So a Smudge Brush was created from watching some YouTube videos by RArdell for painting watercolor in PS. Used a Smudge Brush set to soft round brush at 16 pixels and in the Options Bar set a Strength of 81% and Sample All Layers checked. Really simple but it creates some nice smooth lines for the water area to remove the subtle color lines. Increase the size if it is too small.

6. To add color in where the software missed it, just add a New Layer on top, set it to Color blend mode – then sample the color needed and paint.

To finalize this image, Luminar 4 (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) and Viveza were used on stamped (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) layers. Also two Color Lookup Adjustment Layers were added – one using Foggy Night at 23% opacity and another using a Heat Waver LUT from On1 at 87% opacity to really warm it up. Then some spotlight effect layers were used to add in that additional dodge and burning effect to really add the depth to the image. (See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog. Used White, Black, Yellow and Blue layers to paint in the colors where needed. Also on a separate layer, texture was added to give the water more of a flowing look using Grut NM Tack Ranker brush. The real trick was to add in a blue sky so a Gradient set to yellow and the Difference blend mode was added – just dragged down from the top and used a mask to remove from the sides but left a little light in the distance.

I attempted using Image Colorizer on a black and white low res image of some children, and found using a Frequency Separation method for the skin worked the best. Unfortunately it was taking a long time to get the results that looked good, so it is definitely a work-in-progress. This technique works great as a starting point, but PS filters need to be added to get the great color needed. On the other hand, this is a free program and it does look pretty good considering. Hope everyone has a chance to try it out – enjoy the hot summer days we are having!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Colorize an Old Photo
How to Convert Black and White Images to Colorful Painting with Topaz Studio 2
Giving a Vintage Young Lady a New Appearance
How to Hand Tint a Vintage Image and Create a Brush to Do This
Contemplating Life


REBOOT – HOW TO USE LINEAR DODGE (ADD) & LINEAR BURN BLEND MODES ON IMAGE


Image of some African Lilies

Decided to present a Reboot of this blog from July 2016 since I find it a really handy Dodge and Burn technique and it is easy to do – definitely worth a try for some types of images. I used it on the African Lily image above, along with Luminar 4 (once again used the Glow filter which I find gives a nice soft effect) – for website link check out my Tidbits Blog sidebar. A really simple action can be created to do this technique – I made one and set the color swatch to the default so the white comes up each time for the masks. Also created a brush to use with it. Pretty simple. So here it is again.

Painted image of a Laughing Kookaburra at the West Palm Beach Zoo
This technique is another simple way to dodge and burn an image using blend modes. I figure you cannot have too many different techniques for this – some pictures just do better with one over another. (Check out Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs links at end for some other techniques.) The bird above is a Laughing Kookuburra taken at the West Palm Beach Zoo. He has some very beautiful colors in his feathers.

This technique I learned at a Photoshop World several years ago and am not sure who even presented it. It was just in my notes so I thought I would give it a try and got some really nice results! For the bird the Linear Dodge (Add) blend mode really softened his head and the Linear Burn blend mode did a great job on darkening the feathers on his body.

The workflow is pretty simple:

  1. Duplicate the image twice after doing the basic color and tone corrections to the image.
  2. Add black layer masks to each layer by holding ALT key while clicking on the Add Layer Mask icon (rectangle with circle in center) at the bottom of the Layers Panel or by pressing CTRL+I in a white layer mask.
  3. Now on the top duplicate layer, change the blend mode to Linear Burn and name it Darken.
  4. On the layer underneath, change the blend mode to Linear Dodge (Add) and name it Lighten.
  5. Using a soft round brush set the Options Bar Opacity to 9% and Flow 55%.
  6. On the Lighten layer mask paint in white over areas to brighten. Do same for Darken layer mask on areas to darken. Since the Opacity and Flow are set fairly low, it will be a build up effect to get just the amount needed.

It is a very easy way to add a little color and/or focus to different parts of your image. If the effect is too strong, just lower the layer opacity. Also, the Linear Dodge (Add) blend mode could be used as a spotlight effect to fill darker areas with some soft light.

Just to let you know what is happening with this blend mode, here are the blend mode explanations according to Lesa Snider of in her Photoshop CS6 – the Missing Manual book (an excellent book BTW):

Linear Dodge (Add) – “Lightens your images by increasing its brightness. It is a combo of Screen and Color Dodge modes, so it lightens images more than any other blend mode. But since it tends to turn all light colors white, it can make an image look unnatural.”

Linear Burn – “In this mode (which is actually a combination of Multiply and Color Burn), Photoshop darkens your image by decreasing its brightness. Linear Burn produces the darkest colors of any Darken blend mode, though with a bit more contrast than the others. It has a tendency to turn dark pixels solid black, which makes it ideal for grungy, textured collages…”

From this it is apparent that Linear Dodge (Add) can make an image look unnatural so take care when using it. And Linear Burn can give a grungy effect so watch the results of this. Therefore if your image does not look quite right, try changing the layer blend modes to Screen or Color Dodge for the Lighten layer, and Multiply or Darken blend modes on the Darken layer. Experimenting with blend modes can give some great effects! Image of a Dragonhunter bug on flowerThis image is of a Dragonhunter bug (they like to eat Dragonflies) that was taken at the West Palm Beach Zoo and used this technique to bring out the wing patterns. Just painted areas to lighten and areas to darken. Used Nik Color Efex Pro 4 to add a slight vignette and the Sunlight filter to soften some of the bokeh effect that is a little too bright.

Hope you get a chance to try this little technique – pretty easy to do and can give some great results. See ya later!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Create a Subtle Dodge and Burn Effect
How to Do a Basic Dodge and Burn with a Twist
How To Use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image
The Best Dodging and Burning Technique!
What Does the Difference Blend Mode Do?
How to Use Linear Dodge (Add) & Linear Burn Blend Modes on Image – similar blog but with different images


HAPPY 4TH OF JULY

Happy 4th of July image of fireworks
Just a quick Happy 4th of July blog – hope everyone has a chance to see some fireworks, or at least enjoy them on TV.

A few quick notes on how to create this look or use these fireworks in some of your non-4th of July images. I created this image on my Tidbits Blog a few years ago. The fireworks are from freeimages.com and Jai Johnson’s Fireworks Overlay Collection which is now for sale. Check out my very old (but I just updated links) blog called Faking Fireworks which contains several great tips on using the Blend If to good results on these fireworks.

The letters were scanned using some inexpensive letter templates and then adding layer styles using Shadowhouse Creations free Patriotic Pattern set. Used a different one for each letter by placing each letter on its own layer first. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to add some contrast back. Then it seemed like there was not enough smoke in the background that fireworks always generate. Therefore Phlearn’s free Fog Brush set to light blue and 11% opacity was applied. A Gaussian Blur was then applied to the layer to soften the edges of the fog a little.

Have a wonderful holiday!…..Digital Lady Syd


USING THE FUN TOON ARTIST PHOTOSHOP ACTION

Cartoon Effect of image of Old Ford
Just a quick blog this week – wanted to share this really free fun Photoshop action downloaded from Adobe Create. Nuwan Panditha (Black Null) made this wonderful action and the results are give a nice cartoon-like effect. The image above was processed as a regular photo before, but the cartoon look worked out well for this close up of the front of an old Ford.

First, here is the download link. The download folder contains the action, a PDF guide, and a .pat file of 20 patterns. I would suggest looking at the PDF guide giving relevant information on the different layer groups before running the action. I will also caution you that the files can get pretty big – the Jaguar image was over a gig after running the action.

There are a few things you need to do before running the action: 1) set the image to 8-bit and RGB modes; 2) make sure the document does not exceed 5000 px on a side and 3000 px is best; 3) make sure Open CL is active in PS preferences; 4) if image is cropped, be sure to “Delete Cropped Pixels” is checked in the Options Bar; and 5) load the patterns (info on how to do this is in the PDF). The other thing that must be done is to create a brush that has a Hardness set to 100 and Spacing 10% – use it to paint in white on the new layer where you want the action to place cartoon effect before actually running the action.

Nuwan says that close up images work very well with this action – image should be sharp and well lit. So do not use images that are all white or black and use Levels Adjustment to balance the brightness of the image before running image.

To run the action, two layers are required, the bottom image layer and a New Layer on top – this is where you use the brush noted above is used to paint with white over the part of image to be emphasized. The action can take 3 to 4 minutes to run.

Once the actin is run, a Toon Artist folder is created that contains all the subgroups which allow you to get the different effects. Just turn on and off the eyeballs to see what each section does to the image – and open them up to tweak each. Several have layer styles attached so check out those. In the Screenshot below the 2nd layer up shows just the white painted front part of the car that was detailed with the cartoon lines. The painted background effect was created by turning on in the BG FX folder the Original BG layer and adjusting the BG Color (Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer that shows a brownish icon color) located at the bottom of the Toon Artist folder (3rd layer up in screenshot). In the Screenshot it can be seen that the BG Pattern subfolder was not used in for this image.
Screenshot of Toon Artist Photoshop Action

Here is a Jaguar image taken at the Jacksonville Zoo that shows some of the other cartoon features that can be added to an image with this action. To keep the image size under a gig, I had to resize it making the long side 6 inches, and remove all the hidden layers that were not being used.

Cartoon image of a Jaguar from the Jacksonville Zoo
Bottom Line: It is a bit complicated to use, but once you try it a few times, it is really fun to create different effects. I enjoyed having something different to try out. Nuwan also did another action I wrote about a while back that you might download. The blog is called Trying Out the Free Watercolor Action from Adobe – Pretty Nice! Have a great week…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO USE A SPATTER BRUSH FOR A BACKGROUND EFFECT


Image of a Lily

The image above is an example of what I like to do with a spatter (or splatter) brush in Photoshop. It can really pull an image together when it is lacking some interest. Thought I would show you a couple ways to get this nice effect and where to find the brushes to do it. I got this idea from watching an “oldie-but-goodie” video by Mark J. Johnson, one of my favorite Photoshop people from years ago – I have not been able to find any of his more recent material. The video is called Photoshop Workbench 418: Paint Splatter Border Effect from 2014. He is using a brush from Lisa Carney, another one of my favorites – he does not give you the brush, which has more of a splatter look to it, but you can see what it looks like and the settings he used. These are the settings I used on some of my brushes from various resources.. 
Image of a Sand Cat at the Smithsonian Washington DC Zoo

So lets start with this tiny adorable Sand (Desert) Cat image taken at the Smithsonian Washington DC Zoo. It was not a great shot as it was he was inside a building with poor light and was moving a lot, but his face was well focused. By adding some interest to the background, the overall moving effect could be blended in with a spatter brush. So after doing some initial clean up, it was time to add some spatter marks.

Finding the Brushes

This image used the Splashy brush in Kyle Webster’s Spatter Brush set. To find the spatter brushes, open the Brush Panel (I usually just press F5 and it opens up along with the Brush Settings Panel) – just click on the little “hamburger” icon in the top right corner of the panel. In the pop-out menu, there is a choice called “Get More Brushes” – that is where Kyle has all his brushes for you to download. Once the website is opened, you will see a New Release Summer 2020 Brushes at the top – the Lily image uses the Spladoosh Variant brush from this set. Scroll down and find a group called Spatter brushes – download them – to add them to PS, can just double click on the spatter.abr file – they will load in as a group at the bottom of your brush panel. (Even if PS is closed, it will open up PS and add them in.) Scroll down the group list until you see the Splashy brush.

Adding a Spatter Layer

For the cat image, a New Layer was added and the Splashy was selected. Just dabbed around until an effect was created. In this case, no texture was added first. No changes were made to the Splashy brush but it should be noted that it is set to “Multiply” blend mode in the Options bar which appears to give the brush a much softer lighter stroke effect in this case. If it is switched to Normal, marks have more emphasis on the dark and light aspects of the brush tip itself. Also for this image the actual spatter brush layer was set to Linear Burn at 72% Layer Fill. A Color Lookup Table using a Cerulean Blue preset from PhotoFocus was used to get the overall image color effect.

The Tilde (~) Keyboard Shortcut

New with the November 2019 update of PS 2020, the tilde key (~) key acts as an eraser – so when you paint with a brush, pressing the Tilde key will erase using the exact same brush with the same settings, not the brush selected in the Eraser Tool. This can be quite useful for blending when the brush is set to a lower flow or opacity – it will remove just a reduced amount of the stroke. You can use this in a layer mask to create soft blended edges.

Also, press the Tilde key (~) and the right arrow (->) key to rotate the brush tip clockwise. Use the left arrow key (<-) to rotate counterclockwise. Add the SHIFT key and it will change the Angle in 15 degree amounts. I really love this key – it has made it a lot easier to paint in PS.
Image of a group of Flamingos called Flamboyance

Using Spatter Brushes in a Layer Mask on a Texture Layer

In the Flamingo image, Spatter Brush 139 in a free set called Abstract Paint Brushes by Darrian Lynx was used – the settings in the Brush Panel were: Shape Dynamics Size Jitter 31%, Control Pen Pressure, and Angle Jitter 100%; Transfer Opacity Jitter 29%, Control Pen Pressure and Minimum 48%; and increase size to 1158 pixels. On one of my painted textures a layer mask was added and the above brush was used to paint out the center with black for a border effect. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E), Luminar 4 (for website link, see sidebar of my Tidbits Blog)was opened and several “looks” were applied to soften up the edges of the painted spatter border to give a sort of dreamy feel to the image.

The top image of the Lily used a brush from Kyle’s new Summer 2020 Brushes set called Sladoosh Variant. This brush is set to Normal blend mode at 30% opacity for this image and no changes were made to the brush settings. The Tilde keyboard shortcut was used a lot to get the effect around the blossoms that I wanted.

Brush marks can be combined on different layers and set to different opacities to make new spatter brushes. Also several different layers set to different layer opacities or blend modes using different brushes can be stacked above the image to create some great effects. And don’t forget to try different textures with different blend modes to get some interesting results. It is really a lot of fun to do this. Have a great week and start looking at those spatter brushes!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO GET A SOFT TEXTURED FLOWER EFFECT


Image of an orange Bird of Paradise plant

In the process of reorganizing my office so have not done a lot of Photoshop. But I did recently enjoy one of my favorite texture people, Kim Klassen, blogs and some of her really nice give-aways. She also is a Lightroom expert but her textures have always been great for that soft subtle look. Most of her looks are with florals and of very peaceful surroundings. Sign up for her newsletter and she will give you some great textures. Also a Jai Johnson texture was  used (see more on this below) and her textures are a favorite for me, especially with my animal images.

For the above image, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Sharpen AI was applied on a duplicate layer. The spotlight effect was added to bloom and leaves (see my How to Add a Spot of Light blog to do this) to draw the eye to the focal point. To further sharpen the bloom only, a High Pass filter was added with a black mask – painted back only what needed a little more sharpening. Chris Spooner’s Wood Grain Texture 01 png was added next and the plant was painted out in a layer mask so the grain only affected the background. (These are really nice textures and are a free download – check out Chris’s site for lots of free goodies.) A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip) to add the blue color to the wood grain.  A texture by Jai Johnson at Daily Textures called Watercolor Experiment was set to Vivid Light at 20% layer opacity. This was a free give-away from Jai – if you sign up for her newsletter she will give you several great textures. Her specialty is creating natural textures that look great with animal images. Jai also has some great tutorials at her site for adding animals into her textures which is a lot of fun.

Now Kim Klassen’s Mocha stamp brush was used to soften the whole image down – this was a free give-away this month and is in her Dry Brush Stamps set. Set it to 43% and did just one stamp down. Kim’s Minimay grunge frame was added with a layer mask and everything but the frame was painted out. The texture was set to Pin Light at 83% layer opacity. Another Selective Color Adjustment Layer was clipped to the frame to adjust the color for a very rusty effect. The last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer to add back some contrast.

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Image of Pink Pentas in my Yard
This is more of a real Kim Klassen “look” compared to the top image. This also was a much simpler workflow. On a duplicate layer converted to a Smart Object, the Camera Raw filter was opened and the Calibration Panel was opened to add a little more pink back into the flowers – it really improved the color. This is one of Kim’s tricks when she is processing her images – a great way to remove some greens if they are overdone or not quit the right color. I brought a butterfly image taken at the Butterfly Rain Forest to just add a little interest – this orange beauty was turned into purple to fit in subtlety. Wish there really was a purple butterfly like this – to soften those edges a little, put an Inner Glow on it (compositing trick learned from Matt Kloskowski) – set your blend mode to Normal and sample color from image for swatch. Clip a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to butterfly layer to change its color. On a new layer another free brush set from Kim called Edged Stamp (used 2) was selected – just clicked once – it gave a beautiful textured look. On top another Kim Klassen texture called Paper and Grit 2 was added (this is from a set I got several years ago but I believe she still sells it – these are really beautiful textures). This one was sort of a concrete look but in a light beige color and was set to Soft Light blend mode at 100% layer opacity.

The last step is pretty nifty – very similar to my Spotlight Effect, but this time Unmesh Dinka did a One Trick to Add Light or Shine to Anything in Photoshop video that shows how to add some shine to any object. That is what was done on this image to just slightly pop the flowers. I actually created a simple action to do this as I found this technique really helpful – just need to create the brush first so it can selected in the action.

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Digital Art of some flowers
Just another example of a Kim Klassen’s effect. This time the steps in her A Start to Finish Quote Art Photoshop Video Tutorial were followed using her mostly-subtle stamp brushes that are available on the site. It was a lot of fun to do. The flowers are from Vector Huts Globe Flowers – 40 Plant III No. 4 which were free a while back.The outside frame is from Jai Johnson and is called Chaos Frame Border. The dark lines were selected using Color Range and a layer mask added – you want the dark areas to appear as white in the mask. It was one of her give-aways from December. That was all that was done.

If you want to get some nice textures to tryout, get on both Kim’s and Jai’s mailing lists – they are super about giving you samples to try out and their textures are absolutely fabulous! Have a good week…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO GET A SOFT BLACK AND WHITE LANDSCAPE EFFECT

B&W Image of Spanish Cay in the Bahamas
This week I decided to try to create a soft landscape look. A fabulous German photographer named Christian Zieg inspired me to try to achieve a similar effect. Of course there are several ways to do this both in-camera and in Photoshop. In Photoshop any type of filter using the word glow, radiance or diffusion will probably give a good start to creating this look. I tried several different ways, and the following was the best result for this image in my opinion.

This vacant beach on Spanish Cay (as of February it is now open after the devastating Hurricane Dorian) in the Bahamas used two different types of filters to get the final look. Below is how the image looked after a few basic adjustments in Lightroom.

Image of deserted beach on Spanish Cay in the Bahamas

For this image, Skylum’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Luminar 4 was used to get the original soft look. In Luminar these were the “Looks” used: In the Essentials section AI Structure was applied and a Luminar Structure mask was created so only the dead trees were selected. Next in the Creative section the Color Styles (LUT) was applied – the LUT selected was called BW_XInf preset (created by retoucher and photographer Victor Fejes for KelbyOne). By setting the Saturation to -100, the image became a black and white. Next the Glow Look was selected and set to Type: Soft Focus Light, Amount 61, Brightness -18 and in Advanced Settings Smoothness 15 and Warmth 0. The AI Structure layer mask was copied and pasted into the Glow mask,  then set the Density slider to 18% so there is not much effect from the mask. By adjusting the Smoothness slider, a very soft effect can be achieved. The last step was to open the Pro section and choose Advanced Contrast where Highlights Contrast slider was set to 39, Midtones Contrast 13, and Shadows Contrast 19. At this point a preset was created called SJ Dreamy Look so the effect could easily be applied to other images. Below is how the image looked after applying the above plugin. I have to admit I sort of liked just this effect.

Luminar version of Spanish Cay Image

Now using the Luminar plugin is really great for the soft effect, but to get the dark look, a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer is added using the white to black gradient which creates a beautiful black effect with the white showing up for emphasis. Be sure you have white selected as the foreground color and black as the background on the swatch. A clip-art moon was added to the image with a Levels Adjustment Layer clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip) to it to adjust the moon tones.

The second filter used is my favorite, Nik Viveza, to adjust the brightness of the different areas in the image and drive the eye to the moonlight. Wanted it to appear as though the moon was lighting up the island and water behind it. Then just a little clean up was done like dodging and burning on a few of the branches so they are correctly lit. (See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog to do this.) That is all that was done to get this effect and it is a lot of fun to do.

There are other ways to get the nice soft effect, but this one worked best for me. I tried Diffusion and Radiance techniques, but they did not look as good as Luminar’s Glow. The Gradient Map Adjustment Layer was great for switching up the blacks and whites. Will catch everyone later!….. Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Add a Simple Glow Effect to Your Image
How to Add a Darker Background Image for a Darker Background Image for a Different Effect
My Glowing Porch Flowers!
Can You Spot the Photo Bombing Kids?


HOW TO USE A PHOTOSHOP TEMPLATE

Image of template of birds
This week is a reblog from 2016 that shows how to use a template (of mine that can be downloaded at DeviantArt – see link below) to create a fun image in Photoshop. I decided to try a new image as shown above. Notice I did not really follow the template markers, just used them to give me a layout idea and deleted all of them but the top one. The results are very similar to my post of on How To Do a Little Subconscious Digital Art Journaling a couple weeks ago. Lots of fun to do.

My image above used free Graphics Fairy images for the top image and white heron, but the Osprey is mine. The two birds on the Text word are from Watercolor Russian Birds by Anna Faun. The background texture is one I took in St. Augustine of part of a wall at the Castillo de San Marcos fort. The flying birds are from PixelSquid. And now on with the previous blog. Have a great week!

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Template showing various imagesLast week I covered using templates in Lightroom to display your images. (See my How To Use Lightroom’s Print Templates to Display Your Images blog.) This week I am using Photoshop and a template I created a while back that shows another way to display your images and objects. Any template that can be opened in Photoshop can be used, I just like this particular the photo arrangement in this template. Here is the link on my Deviant Art page where my SJ 5 Opening Template can be downloaded if you would like to use it. This blog is just discussing how to use a template in Photoshop. (See my Using a Template to Create Your Own Unique Valentine Blog for steps on how to create this template.)

In each of the two images I selected a color scheme and added texture and natural objects to the mix. When you open the template in Photoshop, you will find a white Background layer and 4 black blocks where images and/or objects can be placed. In most templates, this is what you will find – black or colored boxes where the images are to be placed. For each layer with a black block, an image or object was placed above it. The crucial step is this next step – the image was clipped, which means the image was linked to the black block and showing up just in the black box area, not outside that area. There are several ways to clip the image or object layer – can go to Layer -> Create Clipping Mask, or use the shortcut keys ALT+CTRL+G on layer, or right click on layer and select Create Clipping Mask from list, or my favorite, just ALT+click between the two layers to be clipped. Very easy! Next using the Move Tool (V), the image was dragged to fit in the location just right. If it does not fit correctly, go to Edit -> Free Transform or CTRL+T to adjust the size. The top version contains little images I painted or just some of my favorite clip art. For the starfish, a vintage texture was added behind it (all clipped to the black block as more than one layer can be clipped at a time). The background texture was added just above the white Background Layer and only a portion of it was used. It can be transformed and different Adjustment Layers can be added to the texture to match the template pictures. To get the line around the openings, be sure to add a Stroke Layer Style on the black block layers to get the same treatment for each, not the pictures. To copy the Layer Style to another layer, just ALT+drag the fx letters to the new layer.

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Template showing several images and objectsThis image uses the same template and same workflow as used above. Just found some interesting objects and one of my painted trees. Again, just clipped them to the black block layers, added one of my painted textures underneath (texture was created in PS using Grut’s Inky Leaks Brushes which are wonderful). No strokes were added to the black boxes in this image. This time Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Texture Effects’ Dingy Cream preset was used with a few changes to give the interesting border. On a New Layer, some texture was painted on the image (see Just Jaimee Summer 2012 Brush Sampler 4) to finish up. Sometimes painting on a little extra texture adds a nice touch.

That was it. The trick to using Photoshop templates is to clip the images to the openings. If you just want the layout without using the block, just add your objects on top, then once placed, just remove the black box layer. Just remember that and it will be very easy – maybe easier than Lightroom. And there is more leeway for creativity with all the cool templates out there that can be downloaded many times for free. That’s it for this week – have a great week and chat at ya soon!…..Digital Lady Syd


JUST A LITTLE LANDSCAPE LOVE

Sunset image from Spanish Cay in the Bahamas
Taking a bit of a break this week from blogging. Well I thought I was but this image took a very long time to post process so it is a good thing I like Photoshop! I will share with you some of the techniques that went into creating this image.

  • This was a 5-image HDR taken at Spanish Cay in The Bahamas several years ago. (It is also one of the places to go through customs when sailing in and out of The Bahamas.) Used the Lightroom HDR program – just made sure the auto settings were turned off so I could do the next step.
  • The resulting DNG image was opened in Photoshop. I have been learning how to work with Jimmy McIntyre’s Luminosity techniques for landscapes. The steps he explains in his How to Use Luminosity Masks and Single Exposure video – this is a bit of a complicated technique that uses the Apply Image command, but it gives great results. In my Tidbits Blog of Thursday called Little House on Green Turtle Cay, the same technique was used.
  • The resulting image was pretty noisy so on a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E), Topaz (See sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) DeNoise AI was added – used the Auto settings and it cleaned it up with just a small amount of the sliders. Best I have seen it do! Also Topaz Sharpen AI was added using Stabilize model (Sharpness 74 and Suppress noise 16). Be sure to watch haloing with this filter – it probably caused some of my clean up issues that had to be addressed later.
  • The Lighting Effects filter added some more warmth to the image. Last week I did a blog on this filter – this week Colin Smith came out with a new video called Lighting Photos in Photoshop – add Stunning Sunset Lighting. I felt like it did a good job on this image.
  • There were several places with some color discoloration on the water – used a tip I learned from Randy van Duinen. This is the best way to fix it when faced with type of color distortion: make a rough selection of problem area and enter the Quick Mask Tool, go to Gaussian Blur Filter set to a large amount for blending edges (depends on size of selection), go out of Quick Mask, and add a Curves Adjustment Layer (or any Adjustment layer needed) and adjust all the channel curves to match up. See my How to Subtle Adjust Areas of an Image Using Two Methods blog for more on this. This is one of my favorite PS tricks.
  • There was a little haloing where the clouds met the treetops – it really was not haloing but it looked bad. To smooth the colors between the clouds and the trees, David Belliveau’s fabulous mixer blender brush was used at a small size – it can be downloaded at his Painter website. The brush is one of the best for blending anything.
  • Several areas were accented with a little spotlight effect – set a layer to Overlay blend mode and Brush Options set to 100% Opacity and 9% Flow. Just dab where a little brightness (or darkness or color) needs to be added.
  • Last step was to create a little vignette. Since this sunset makes the image off-balance, the vignette techniques I usually like did not work. Went back to Jimmy McIntyre and followed his The Power of Vignettes in Photoshop where he uses two different Curves Adjustment Layers to create the vignette. This technique worked the best and gave a more natural look.

Well that is it for this blog – just a little landscape jargon. Hope everyone is safe and still enjoying learning new things that can be done with Photoshop. I am slowly trying out some recently viewed video techniques – many were used above. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO USE THE LIGHTING EFFECTS FILTER

Image of a Squirrel Monkey at the Jacksonville Zoo
This week I did some video viewing and trying out the Lighting Effects Filter again. Colin Smith from Photoshop Cafe did a set of 5 videos on this filter the last few weeks. This filter has been around for a while (it is exactly the same in CS6) and I have used it on and off over the years. Colin is an expert at using this filter, and there is a lot more to it than what it appears to be and what I knew.

Colin Smith had one particular video I felt was extremely helpful for lightening the Squirrel Monkey image above and the Butterfly image below. It was called Lighting Portrait Photos in Photoshop, Its Amazing – Part 2. The other videos are definitely worth the time to watch if you are enjoying using this filter, but this one was the most helpful to me. An Alpha Channel selection to limit the effect to just certain areas in the image was not created for my images (but is discussed in great detail in the other videos and looks great on some images), but several minutes into the video Colin shows you how to adjust the lights and use the filter.

Basic adjustments: The above image is of a Squirrel Monkey at the Jacksonville Zoo. To use the Lighting Effects Filter (Filter -> Render -> Lighting Effects), it is best to begin with a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) that has been turned into a Smart Object (or Filter – they are the same thing). It is good to use it as a Smart Object so the settings can be re-adjusted after applying the effect. A default Spot Light is shown when the filter is first opened. Dragging your mouse around the points on the light give you several options for adjusting the actual light (Move, Rotate, and Scale Width or change its size).

Available lights: Three types of lights were added in the above: Spot Light, Infinite Light and Point Light – Colin goes into detail on each of these types of lights in the 5 videos, but he seems to prefer the Spot Light effect. If you look in the Options Bar Presets drop-down, the first one listed is called 2 o’clock and is a good starting place. (There are many choices in the drop-down menu – check out the Adobe link below for the list.) An Infinite Light was added to basically just lighten up the whole image. The Point Light was just a small light placed on his face to brighten it up a little more.

To get good results: Need to just go back and forth making adjustments between the “Color and Intensity slider” and the “Colorize (swatch for tint of the overall lighting) and Exposure slider (controls highlight and shadow detail).” Clicking on the color swatches bring up a Color Picker with an adjustable Intensity slider which makes the color lighter and is using 32-bit lighting (per Colin).

Other sliders: There is a Texture field that does not have to be added to your image but it can really help an image that is lacking a little in detail. First set in the Texture field drop-down the Red Channel (it appears to be the best channel to use for this) and a Height of 1 (if you want texture to be in the other direction, use -1) – it really sharpened up this guys fur. Moving the Height slider too much can give some really weird looks. For a natural look keep it to 1 or 2. The Metallic and Gloss sliders work mainly as contrast sliders. Ambience is one of my favorite sliders as it lightens up or darkens the surrounding areas around the lighting edges.

This filter requires a lot of playing with sliders, which is what I really like to do! For more info on the post-processing of the Monkey, check out the end of the blog. Here is the Adobe Photoshop link to the Lighting Effects Filter.

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Image of a Malay Lacewing Butterfly at the Butterfly Rainforest in Gainesville, FloridaThis image is of a Malay Lacewing Butterfly (took this pix at the Butterfly Rainforest in Gainesville, Florida) and was much easier to post process. (See post-info at end of blog). Used a stamped layer that was turned into a Smart Object before selecting the Lighting Effects Filter. A single Spot Light was added – similar to the giraffe image below. No Texture field was added since textures were added before on other layers in PS. The light was directed to the left side of the wing where the light was naturally falling onto the butterfly.

A couple tips when using the Light Effects Filter:

  • It is a little cumbersome to use and sometimes it is hard to adjust the lights. To zoom out, click on the bottom left corner and change the amount in box to zoom, or hold the ALT key with the scroll wheel (this did not always work for me).
  • When the interface is in the way so you cannot tell what you are looking at, do a CTRL+H to toggle the tools on and off.
  • When I open this filter an awful scary dialog box called Embedded Profile Mismatch comes up – just click Cancel to use the filter. Get same dialog when applying the filter – still clicked Cancel and it applied the filter. Not sure if anyone else will see this, but this does work.
  • Need to be in 8-bit mode to use this filter now (used to be also for 16-bit, but no more).
  • For a dreamy glow effect, set the Metallic slider to -100 and then move the Gloss slider towards the right to achieve a nice result.

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Image of Bronze Giraffe Sculptures from the Philip Hulitar Sculpture Garden in West Palm BeachThe above is an image I had shown before, but it used the Lighting Effect Filter. This bronze giraffe sculpture is part of the Philip Hulitar Sculpture Garden in West Palm Beach and was created by Henry Mitchell in 1959 – and was one of my favorites at the Garden. To get this effect and see what Lighting Effects filter settings were used, check out my How to Get a Fantasy Feel in Photoshop blog that shows a Screenshot of the filter. You will see in the older blog that a Red Channel was used for a Texture and the Height was set to 9 to emphasize the really nice markings on the giraffes. In this case it is okay to set the Height slider amount up a little.

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Below is another older image taken at Flagler Beach in Florida and the Lighting Filter Effect was used for adding a little sunlight effect in a painted image sky. It shows a different way the filter can be used to add some artistic interest.

Image of Flagler Beach and the natural Sea Oats

Since this is a Photoshop filter, it is an easy one to try out and produces some really terrific lighting results. And since photography is all about light, it has a lot of possibilities. I have used it for years on and off, and I am going to try it out some more now that I have learned a few more things about how to use it. Hope everyone is doing fine and will be able to get out and start taking pictures soon……Digital Lady Syd

Image Post-Processing Details:

Squirrel Monkey Image:  To begin this image, a texture group was created using FrenchKiss’s Stone Blush texture (these are fabulous painted textures) and Kim Klassen’s Epic texture (and yes, Kim is doing her wonderful textures again). The textures were put in a Group and set to 30% opacity – this gave the image a really beautiful pastel spring-like feel. The monkey was selected and place on top and lots of clean up was done, including adding some fur in strategic places (used coyotemange brushes Rough Tuft and Long Fur from last week’s blog). Next on a stamped layer Skylum (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Luminar 4’s Sky Replacement look for this image was applied – it found all the white areas and added in the sky – totally Amazing! On another Smart Object stamped layer, the Lighting Effects Filter in PS was added. This really sharpened up his fur by setting the Texture field to Red Channel (appears to be the best default channel to use for this) and a Height of 1. A Spot Light was used first on the whole image. Next an Infinite Light basically just lightened up everything. Last a Point Light was just a small one placed on his face to brighten it up only and get that backlit feel. The rest of the image was the standard clean up layer, Curves Adjustment Layer, and Levels Vignette.

Butterfly Image: Just used Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Sharpen AI (love this filter) and Topaz DeNoise AI first. Then added a texture called BB Orange and Gold Bokeh (not sure where I got it as it is from 2008) set to Overlay blend mode at 72% layer opacity – duplicated texture and set it to 17% blend mode. On a new layer painted in some Bokeh circles sampling the colors from the texture (used a brush from MiniPixBox-Bokeh 34). Did some clean up and the image just looked a little drab to me. On a stamped layer turned into a Smart Object, the Lighting Effects Filter was opened – only a single Spot Light effect was added – similar to the giraffe filter settings. No Texture was added – here are my settings on a Spot Light set from upper left to lower center right: Color White and Intensity 26, Hotspot 22, Colorize (light yellow H58/S27/B75 and Intensity +1.50) and Exposure -76, Gloss -32, Metallic -6, and Ambience 26. It definitely added the light in the area on the wing where the light was coming onto it.


ENJOYING A LITTLE RELAXATION WITH SOME TEXTURE FUN

Image of a Bonobo Monkey from the Jacksonville Zoo
Taking it a little easy time this week and decided to show this Bonobo Monkey (link describes difference between the Bonobo Monkeys and Chimpanzees) from the Jacksonville Zoo totally enjoying himself in the warmth of the day on his blanket and having a good chuckle. The technique used was partially from a webinar that Matt Kloskowski gave last week called Texture Photo Challenge – Hands On. Since Matt has a Wildlife Tutorial Blending course for sale on this, the Webinar does not seem to available anymore. Matt used some different techniques and brushes – I like mine so that is okay since I have a little different way of doing this. I will say that he starts with very basic Photoshop steps so even a beginner can follow. And Matt’s videos are always a lot of fun to watch. Here is the one tip I will give: download from DeviantArt this free set of brushes by Coyotemange called Wildlife Texture Brushes – they are great for painting in missing areas of fur on all kinds of animals, and by making them smaller, nice sharp edges can be made. I have used these brushes for all kinds of animal images – by adjusting the color dynamics, size, angle, etc., almost every kind of fur issue can be fixed.

Below is a Ring-Tailed Lemur that had posed nicely at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Rookery and was featured in my Tidbits Blog last year. Used the same brushes and similar technique.

Image of a Ring-tailed Lemur at the St. Augustine Animal Farm in Florida

Hope everyone is getting a good opportunity to watch some new techniques to use in Photoshop. I have been learning about Luminosity Masks from Jimmy McIntyre and Luminosity Selections from Steve Arnold, some macro techniques from Mike Moats and shooting some new ways from Denise Ippolito, creating clouds from Glyn Dewis (this was fun to do), and adding ethereal glows to landscapes by Mark Denny – all these people have fabulous YouTube sites or blogs and their photography is excellent. I’ve definitely got a lot of new things to try out. Have a great week…….Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Getting the Joe Sartore Look on Your Zoo Images


HOW TO DO A LITTLE SUBCONSCIOUS DIGITAL ART JOURNALING

Image of Digital Art Journal showing the Man in the Moon
Sorry I missed last week – just got way behind with all the fabulous webinars and videos everyone is making. In fact, the above is the result of listening to five videos presented by Design Cuts on journaling and scrapbooking. I have never done either too much, so it was kind of fun to try it out.  Thought I would have a little fun this week and share some of what I learned.

The video that particularly got me interested was called Basics of Digital Art Journaling by Tangie Butler. Tangie pointed out that Digital Art Journaling is a little different from scrapbooking or collage, which I have done a few times before. (See some of my related blogs at end.) She says “it has some sort of meaning or symbolism that is an expression of your thoughts and feelings in your life right now.” What I found fascinating is how you do this. Just start moving different files into an another image open on your computer. Use whatever items fit your mood at the moment – they will stack as layers in your extra document. Tangie says it is your subconscious coming up with all the items. I thought I was just pulling several of my favorite objects into the document to use. But then I tried to figured out what my image was saying: Possibly that I want to get my bicycle tires fixed, there are deer in our neighborhood (and I love to photograph animals), I really like Mystic, Connecticut, and Astronomy is my favorite hobby behind Photoshop. That was a little subconscious coming through I think. Hum!

Resources

The image above used 28 layers and was filled with lots of Hue/Saturation, Curves, and Color Lookup Adjustment Layers. It used a couple textures and several objects. If you want to find some great free resources for your journaling efforts, go to The Graphics Fairy and the Old Design Shop. Both have lots of old signs and vintage objects – you may need to remove the white backgrounds by selecting the Color Range command in most cases. I love the Man in the Moon on the image above which was from Graphics Fairy. Also Deal Jumbo has lots of free items every week to download so get on their mailing list. Design Cuts is great and have just about everything a creative could use in Photoshop, including lots of freebies. Do not forget some of the great scrapbooking sites also – they have some nice inexpensive sets, but watch out for the usage copyright rules, many are for personal use only and cannot be used on the internet. My favorites are Pixel Scrapper and E-Scape and Scrap, who has giveaways in their newsletter all the time

A Few Digital Art Journaling Tips I Learned

  • Using Layer Styles, especially Drop Shadows and Strokes, and the Blend If sliders, especially the Underlying Layer white tab, can make for some nice grungy looking text. A small shadow or stroke can really make an object pop and try different colors for them.
  • Just painting on a layer can make a huge difference – try using splatter brushes or watercolor ones. Kyle T. Webster has included a bunch of specialty brushes with Photoshop so this is a good place to put them to use. And GrutBrushes has great Photoshop brushes (check out his free brush every Monday and free his Sampler Brush Set).
  • When working with so many layers and using the Move Tool, be sure to check the Auto Select and Show Transform Controls in the Options Bar. It can get very frustrating trying to find the needed layer quickly.
  • If you keep selecting the wrong layer (or if PS jumps to a different layer thinking that is what you want), just click on the object, the Transform Lines should show up around it – then press the CTRL key and it will let you move or transform the correct layer now. This I found very helpful.
  • If you need to resize or stretch an object, instead of just placing it into your image, open it up in Photoshop and make it a Smart Object – then resize, save and move it into your journal page. It keeps the sharpness of the object.
  • When you do a Layer Style and want to do some more things to the layer, exit the Layer Style, add a New Layer either above or below this layer, highlight both layers and press CTRL+E to merge the two layers. Now you can make changes easier and do more things like changing the blend mode or do another Blend If.

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Image of a Digital Art Journal of Spring in FloridaThe digital art above was all about Spring – I wanted to do lots of plants but these darn seals (or maybe these guys are Sea Lions) just sort of showed up in some nautical clip-art and I could not say no to them. (How they got into my subconscious I do not know!) I did not know seals were in the Bahamas (one of my favorite places to sail), but the text behind them is from a book published in 1731 and says they were – I think of them in Monterey, California (where I used to live). So that must be why they popped in. Otherwise the other objects are sort of how Florida looks to me right now. The Pelican, the Dolphin, fish on the beach and Hyacinthe (one of my favorite flowers) are all doing their Spring thing without a worry like the rest of us. There were 35 layers in this document.

To learn more, check out other You-Tube videos by Tangie. This was a fun mental exercise to try. I think one of the most intriguing things about this technique is that it dives into your unconscious. I did not believe it until I attempted these two images. There was a Photoshop Virtual Summit a week ago and I have a lot of new stuff to review. I will try to get a blog on some of the new things I have learned together shortly. Have a good week and stay safe!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Pseudo Scrapbooking
Enjoying Some Spring Butterflies
A Victorian Visit
How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images


WHEN DO YOU USE TOPAZ DENOISE AI, SHARPEN AI, AND AI CLEAR?

Image of a large red hibiscus bloom
I was going to do a review of the updated Sharpen AI, but decided instead to write about when to use all these fabulous Topaz AI plugins since I think it is personally very confusing. I actually had this blog half-drafted a whole year ago and did not publish it as I could not figure out exactly what was going on. This week I finally got some answers in a couple Topaz (see sidebar of my Tidbits Blog for website link) Webinars that Joel Wolfson did in the last few months. So here is my take on what is going on and how I am using these products.

Always apply Topaz DeNoise AI (or any denoise product for that matter) first before applying Topaz Sharpen AI (or any sharpening filter) – you do not want to sharpen any noise residing in your image. Lots of photographers do their RAW processing first, then use DeNoise AI, and finally apply Sharpen AI – both programs can be reached directly from ACR, Lightroom, OnOne, and several other software programs or from within Photoshop as a plugin.

Topaz DeNoise AI

They have upgraded DeNoise AI several times since it was first released a year ago. It has been greatly improved with each revision. DeNoise AI also includes AI Clear and I will discuss that in more detail below.

So why use DeNoise AI? It is especially good for images set to a higher ISO, especially with lots of dark areas like night images. More noise will show up in the shadows and with the newer cameras especially, the ISO can be cranked way up to get that all-important detail. DeNoise AI has the ability to find just the noise in the darker (or lighter areas) areas and leave other noise-free areas alone. I have an older DSLR camera and the higher ISO setting images show lots of noise – this program has been a life-saver for me as I want to take those night-time shots too. The image above was taken in low evening light using 2000 ISO, which is unheard of for me and my camera. Below is the screenshot of what DeNoise AI was able to do to clean up this image – it may appear a little soft looking here, but at 100% it is still pretty sharp.

Screenshot of Topaz DeNoise AI interface

What the Sliders Do:

First, turn off the Auto-update preview or your computer will go nuts running all the time – just remember to click Update when ready to see the changes. Also note that at the top there is a Brightness button – it sometimes helps to see the noise better. To me the Auto button does not recognize the correct amount of noise in my images, so I do not use it. When adjusting these sliders manually, I usually over-adjust the Remove Noise amount, then move it back to the correct setting. And yes, keep hitting the Update button to see the change if Auto Update is turned off. What does the Sharpen slider do if there is a Recover Original Detail slider? According to Topaz, “It sharpens the details in your image since removing noise can sometimes soften the details in images, this allows you to retain that sharpness after processing your image.” The Recover Original Detail slider allows for refinement of details in the image to achieve a more realistic look if it appears that DeNoise AI has over-corrected the image. Still not clear on this, but it does seems to improved some images. It helps add some detail back when the image looks too smooth, especially with Portrait images – it definitely helped this flower image too. Looking at other images, it appears most people use Recover Original Detail somewhere around 25 to 35 for a setting. If there is color noise in your image, moving the Color Noise Reduction slider is very useful – a Size slider will appear where you must decide how much more of the image each pixel will look at – Joel says 0.50 is a good setting for this.

TOPAZ SHARPEN AI

The above image also had Topaz Sharpen AI applied after Topaz DeNoise AI from above. This is turning out to my very favorite Topaz product because I do not often shoot with a tripod and it has saved me on many occasions. One thing Joel pointed out is that when you are looking at your image set to 100% in Topaz, it is really the equivalent of looking at your image at 200% in Photoshop or other image processors. So if your image looks a little “crunchy,” it will not look like that at 100% in Photoshop. I do believe I get some really tack sharp images with this filter and often do not use DeNoise at all, but go directly to this filter before doing any other post work. One down side about this filter is that it takes a while to process and the larger the image, the longer it will take to Update and Apply.

Image of Topaz Sharpen AI InterfaceWhat the Sliders Do:

So more confusion here. Personally I do not use the regular Sharpen mode – it corrects for just general out-of-camera softness and does not do too much for my photos. But usually I will try both the Stabilize Mode (for motion blur or camera shake issues) and Focal Mode (great for bringing an eye in really sharp focus – corrects up to 10 pixels of focus blur). Sometimes one gives better results than the other. I will use the Auto button as a starting point for this filter – it appears to be a little better than DeNoise AI’s. Also, turn off the Auto-update Preview if you do not want to update every time you move a slider or the image –  just remember to click Update when ready to see the changes. Obviously the Sharpness slider will sharpen. But why yet another Suppress Noise slider? Topaz says it is to help remove noise so I am not sure why they put it here when they have DeNoise AI. I have found that if I do not quite remove all the noise in DeNoise AI because I am losing too much detail, by going into Sharpen AI, the noise can be adjusted a little more accurately to keep the sharpness tack sharp. But that is a bit of a pain to do. I never use the Add Grain.

Here is the best part about this filter – it now has masking capabilities and you can paint in just where you want the sharpness to be applied. So if you are doing a portrait and want the eyes sharper, just adjust the whole image for the eyes only, then click on the brush icon at the top, adjust the brush size, and paint out the eye only. The rest of the image stays just how it was. This is a fabulous addition. I like that you do not have to sharpen the background of an image to get a really sharp foreground such as a bird or animal in the foreground. The brush has settings for Edge Aware, Radius Size, Softness, and Opacity. A red Overlay can be turned on and off to show where the mask is being applied and a small mask window appears in the bottom right. Just click apply mask, click update again, and Apply.

AI CLEAR

In the DeNoise AI filter, there is an AI Clear Model. This is supposed to be exactly the same filter as the one that is in Topaz Studio – one big difference is that you can adjust the View with the Scroll Bar in Studio while you must use the parameters Topaz gives in you in DeNoise AI – mainly 100% and 200% are the most useful. I will not go over all the settings as there is an overlap between them and the DeNoise AI sliders – basically one is simplified for quick use. Below is a screenshot of the red flower using only the AI Clear filter in Topaz Studio and using the extra Exposure and Clarity sliders.

Screenshot of AI Clear interface in Topaz Studio 2

I personally like having the other two sliders to help adjust the lost contrast that denoising causes. Also, I noticed that the Recover Details did not work well on this image using either filter. Below is an image of Piccadilly Circus in London after AI Clear (Remove Noise High, Enhance Sharpness High and Recover Details 55) and Topaz Sharpen AI (Model Stabilize, Manual mode, Sharpness 100 and Noise 100) was used. For some reason, when Topaz DeNoise AI Mode was applied it lost a lot of the detail, especially of the very back building.

Image taken at night at Piccadilly Circus in LondonHere is a screenshot of part of the original so you can see all the noise in the image – it was taken at ISO 1600 and F/7.1. I was totally surprised that AI Clear would do a better job, but it did here. I would suggest trying both modes in DeNoise AI if you do not the like the results of one of them.

Screenshot of a noisy close up of Piccadilly Circus

What is the difference between DeNoise AI and Sharpen AI?

From Topaz website “DeNoise AI uses AI algorithms specifically made for digital noise removal. Its sharpening functionality is used primarily to smooth out any artifacts created during the process, and aren’t nearly as advanced as Sharpen AI, whose AI algorithms are custom built for focusing images.”

What is the difference between Sharpen AI and AI Clear?

From Topaz website “The Stabilize (shake reduction) and Focus (focus correction) modes in Sharpen AI have no AI Clear alternatives. These modes serve the purpose of InFocus classic plugin (with better results) rather than pure output sharpening.

The Sharpen module in Sharpen AI does have similarities with AI Clear. The difference here is a bit more subtle and come from the training process between these two products. AI Clear was trained on images with generally more noise, whereas Sharpen AI was trained on images with generally less noise but more blur. Resulting in AI Clear’s main detection is noise whereas Sharpen AI’s main detection is to recognize blur.  This makes Clear optimal for noisy images and Sharpen more effective for a bit more blurry images.”

What is the difference between DeNoise AI and AI Clear?

Joel answered this question and I have found it very helpful. Most DSLR camera’s have a low pass filter in front of the sensor which blurs the image a little. AI Clear is basically a Capture Sharpening and he personally applies it on every normal image first thing. He does not need a lot of denoising or sharpening, but just a little. I know I have used AI Clear in Topaz Studio (he uses it from DeNoise AI) for a long time and it is one of my favorite filters. You should use DeNoise AI when there is a bigger noise issue.

Bottom Line

Use DeNoise AI for images that just have too noise. The Sharpen slider adds back any softness that the filter may have caused, but it has limited capabilities.

Use Topaz Sharpen AI to fix up any images that are a little soft from shake or lack of focus. Especially useful for helping images that were hand-held. The DeNoise slider in this tool does not seem to be as robust as using DeNoise AI’s Remove Noise slider but does work some.

Use Topaz AI Clear (in Topaz Studio or DeNoise AI) for capture sharpening at its default settings for most images. Just really sharpens them up the right amount and helps with the final look.

For me Topaz Sharpen AI may be the best filter on the market right now – it is totally incomparable IMHO! The new Masking Brush is just an added bonus. By having the Suppress Noise slider, it will find any excess noise that was missed in DeNoise AI. I would definitely get this filter if I did not already own it. I think DeNoise is a fabulous program but it is not usually my issue. AI Clear does a wonderful job in Topaz Studio for me so I stick with it. I believe if I upgrade my camera soon, DeNoise AI may be much more important since I will be using those higher ISO settings, but right now, AI Clear fixes most of my noise issues.

Hope this cleared up a bit of the confusion on these filters. It has been a struggle for me to figure out when and which one to use. Have another great week and I hope everyone is catching up on some of that post work that seems to be always waiting for you! ….. Digital Lady Syd


SCANNING WITH A BLACK BOX

Image of Plumbago flowers taken in a black box and scanned
To keep busy I have been watching a lot of videos, especially some drawing videos by Aaron Blaise, possibly the greatest wildlife illustrator around (and he has some great deals on his site right now), and Johannes Vloothuis, a fabulous painter and teacher (he creates these great “paint-along” videos using regular paint media, but the information applies to digital painting very nicely). Also this week I did try to get a bit creative with my photography and made a small black box out of cardboard to scan some of my yard flowers.

Quick Workflow

  1. Took a small cardboard box (7″ X 10″) and cut the bottom and top off of it. Then cut down the sides so they were only 3″ tall. With some flat black matte spray paint, sprayed the inside of the box. Also sprayed one side of a flat piece of cardboard to use as a top – made it a little larger than the inside of the box. (Note: in the related blog at end, a black sunglass case was used as a black box for a small bloom.)
  2. Plucked a couple flowers off my Plumbago Plants growing outside and pulled a couple of leaves off also.
  3. Put the black box on the scanner with the top off and laid out my flowers and leaves. Put the black top piece facing down on the cardboard box.
  4. Fired up my old scanner (a 16-year old Epson Perfection 3200 scanner – I can’t believe Amazon still has it????) that is actually working fine – set the resolution to 3200 and tiff output.

And a rather interesting image appeared! I really liked the soft look of the flowers it created.

Issues to Look Out For

  1. The scanner software I use is called VueScan X64 which was bought ages ago. They continually upgrade it and it has always worked for me until their latest upgrade in March – I had to remove it and go back to the earlier version. I guess my scanner model is getting too old so just beware when upgrading your scanner software.
  2. I tried a few different arrangements. Found out that these flowers wilt very quickly, so you have to do this pretty quickly or pick more fresh blossoms to scan.
  3. I had not cleaned my scanner glass very well and it was also dusty even under the glass. Be sure to clean the top of the glass before doing your scanning. I have no idea how to clean the inside area.

There were lots of white dots showing up in my image with the black background. Luckily Photoshop came to the rescue. To get rid of these nasty white dots, went to Filter -> Noise -> Median and set the Radius to 2. It can be previewed easily while you adjust the slider. This got rid of most of the dots. Just remember the filter also softens up your image just like any noise filter does so don’t overdo it. A layer mask was added and the areas to keep sharp were painted back. Since there were still a few white dots left over and on some of the flowers painted back in, a New Layer twas added for the Spot Healing Brush to finish the clean up process. I could not believe how well this worked.

The image was sharpened using Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Sharpen AI before doing the white dot clean up – it definitely did help sharpen up the blossoms. The vintage border was from Heybing Supply Company. A little dodging and burning was done using lighten and darken Curves Adjustment Layers – painted in where the dodging and burning should occur using black layer masks. (See my How to Use Curves Adjustment Layer to Dodge and Burn an Image blog for more on this.)

What I liked about the black box effect is that the colors of the flowers were pretty close to what the blossoms really looked like. A slight depth-of-field was obtained with this method which I found rather pleasing.  Lots of fun but I did learn a few things along the way. Hope everyone is doing well and trying out some new techniques! Have a great week creating! ….. Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Scanning a Bloom for a Different Look


HOW TO ADD A LITTLE EXTRA DETAIL

Image of two Moon Jellyfish
This post was going to be a review about one of my favorite filters, the now updated Topaz Sharpen AI filter that contains a brush for creating a mask to locally sharpen certain areas of the image. There appears to be a few bugs yet so I am not ready to review it. Instead I went back into my archive to find some new things to work on during this stay-at-home time. Therefore this week is going to be just a short blog on getting a little detail into an image, in this case some Jellyfish images. Hum!

The Moon Jellyfish image above seems to be both creepy and beautiful at the same time. (Their body is white in color, round, and very transparent so when the sun or the moon is shining on them, they look just like a lit-up moon.) What was really interesting to me was how to get all the nooks and crannies of this image to look as transparent as the jellyfish really looked. The Camera Raw Filter was opened  and a free Profile in a Sparklestock set called Lemon – Pumpkin 02 profile at 106% was selected (they have many  great presets and all have free samples). Then the basic sliders were adjusted so that the background was a little darker and the light lines showed up a better. Some Texture and Clarity were also added. Since I did not have my Topaz Sharpen AI working, I decided to use my back-up which never lets me down – Luminar 4 (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link). It has also been recently updated for Landscapes or Portraits. Sometimes the AI Enhance Tool is used, but in this case it was lightening up the background too much. The AI Structure Tool (Amount 73 and Boost 43) and painted in a mask where on the areas needing sharpening was used first. Then applied the Details Enhancer Tool (Small Details 49, Medium Details 25, and Large Details 37). These are usually the only two filters needed to get some great detail from Luminar. Now here is a great trick when working with objects with thin lines – go into Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Studio 2 and apply the Edges Filter. This filter can do wonders to give a little more edge to objects. In this case these filters and settings were used: AI Clear: Remove Noise Auto, Enhance Sharpness High, Exposure 0.02 and Clarity 0.40 (I still love this filter in Studio and just by adding a little Clarity here helped quite a bit in this case); and Edges: Edge Type – Monochrome Line, Edge Tone – Light, Edge Strength – 0.67, Simplify Edge – 0.04, Suppress Weak Edges – 0.35, Suppress Small Edge 0.84, Edge Thickness 0.12, and Edge Resolution – 0.84 – painted off any long white lines which looked over the top. That was basically all that was done on this image, but the sharpening process turned out really good.

So for this image the following items were used to add the detail: (1) Camera Raw Filter and the Texture and Clarity sliders in particular; (2) Luminar 4 using their AI Structure and Details Enhancer Tools; and (3) Topaz Studio 2’s AI Clear (especially the Clarity slider) and Edges Filters.

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Image of a traditional jellyfish with a watercolor effect

This image is of a more traditional looking Jellyfish, the kind I have seen in the ocean before. This time a more painterly effect was applied and most of this was done in Topaz Studio 2 where the more artistic filters can be found. This time an older version of Topaz Sharpen AI (Model: Stylize at Sharpness 0.90 and Suppress Noise 0.20) was used to do my initial sharpening – and it did a great job. Luminar 4 was applied on a stamped layer and the Dramatic set Mystic Look preset was applied which gave it an overall painterly feel. Then on another stamped layer Topaz Studio 2 was opened and AI Clear applied – Remove Noise: Auto, Enhance Sharpness: High, and Clarity 0.78. Next the wonderful Edges filter set to 100 Opacity, Multiply blend mode, Edge Type Monchrome Edge, but this time Edge Tone: Dark instead of Light as above.  All the other sliders refine the original Edge Strength (0.78) setting:  Simplify Edge 0.40, Suppress Weak Edges 0, Suppress Small Edges: 0.00, Edge Thickness 0.40, and Edge Resolution 1.00. In layer mask with brush set to Transparency 0.50, Radius 0.03, Softness 0.50 and Edge Aware On, painted effect off in a mask where the lines were just too dark – this still left an enhanced line but was not as obvious. The Impression filter was set to Type 13, Background Color Original in Texture section, and in inverted layer mask, just painted over the top of the Jellyfish with brush at 0.78 Transparency. Back in PS, the background was created by using 3 different colors on 3 different layers using the Shadowhouse Creations texture brush set to a large size (it was the 2nd example created in my recent How to Create a Texture Brush to Match a Texture blog). Then put layers in a group and set it to 82% layer opacity. On a New Layer on top, the top part of the Jellyfish was smoothed with a Mixer brush. Then on another New Layer, a small brush was used to add in some of the tentacle lines that were missing. Text was Hardwired Script Update and it was a lot of fun to use – the creator added in many variations for the letters. Still more clean up, but these were pretty much the steps. Once again Studio’s Edges filter was a great help.

For this image, these detailed items were used: (1) Topaz Sharpen AI; (2) Topaz Studio 2’s AI Clear and Edges filters; and (3) actually drew in any small lines that needed emphasis using a tiny small brush.

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Image of Moon Jellyfish in a sepia tone
More Moon Jellyfish – this time in a sepia tone. Did initial sharpening in Lightroom using the Detail Panel before applying the old Nik Silver Efex Pro filter to the image. Just the default preset was used to start and then changes were made using Toning Preset 9 to give a slightly bluish look. Back in PS the image was inverted (CTRL+I on the image). A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using a Color Negative Device Link preset (not sure if this is from PS or not) set to Hue – it added the nice sepia effect. The Moon is from Rule by Art (in Design Cuts Planet-Space-Explosion-Background and Ancient Texture set) and it was also adjusted to match the Jellyfish using the same Silver Efex Pro and Color Lookup Adjustment Layer settings. Another Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added and set to the Foggy Night preset at 63% layer opacity and Overlay blend mode. Used the same Hardwired Script Update font. Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little contrast back.

In this case, the only sharpening needed was in Camera Raw. It is interesting to see that each image had such different requirements.

Hope everyone is taking it easy and trying out some new techniques. That is what I was trying to do with my images – try a few different things and see what I like. It is actually nice to be able to slow down and think about this – just hope it is not for too long. Stay safe!…..Digital Lady Syd


GOT SOME FREE TIME! TRY DRAWING!

Drawing of an Elephant
This week I decided I to try another drawing video and see what results I could get this time. One of my favorite wildlife artists (and Disney cartoonist extraordinaire!) Aaron Blaise had a sale on an older set of videos (he was using Photoshop CS6) called Wildlife Painting Bundle for Photoshop. The above Elephant was drawn and painted following the steps in his 1-1/2 hour long Elephant Painting Tutorial video. He takes you step-by-step on how to create the image in great detail. It took me much longer than 1-1/2 hours to do this – had to walk away a few times and start certain sections over to get it correct. The main challenge was to get used to the Erodible Brush he showed you how to create. Once you have mastered the brush, it was amazing what it could do! One hint here, I had to actually add some Softness to the brush (41%) to keep my lines from getting too sharp when making wider strokes – and the brush size was set to 7 or 8 pixels to get sharp sketchy lines. The only downside was the Elephant video’s resolution was lower than the other three and this made it a little harder to see some of his settings.

Aaron’s Elephant image was darker and used warmer tones rather like a Safari. My image used Topaz (see sidebar of my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReStyle to get more gray tones. The file became very large – almost a gigabyte and that seemed a bit excessive for a drawing. Therefore two different files were saved – a drawing file after finishing up the video, and a duplicate stamped layer from the drawing file to add my other changes. Aaron also teaches you how to create an interesting textured background and how to add special effects to it to enhance the overall drawing when finished. This bundle contained videos for a Leopard (which I am doing right now), a Lion and a Panther.

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Drawn Image of a wolf
My wolf drawing above was created a few years ago following Aaron’s YouTube video called How to Paint Fur – Photoshop – Wolf Portrait. It contains very similar steps, but since the wolf has hair instead of skin, it used different brushes. For more details on how this was done, check out my Learning to Draw a Wolf! blog. Aaron’s video for the wolf is also great for learning to draw. He has lots of other YouTube videos, several where he is using natural media as opposed to digital, but all of them are very informative. He is an excellent teacher.

There are several other digital artists that are sharing their Photoshop techniques. I am a big fan of David Belliveau of Paintable for learning to paint people. (See my Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter blog.) A couple times a year he offers free week long lessons that are terrific, and he has some really great PS brushes for free download. And EDX (University of Newcastle in Australia) offers a free Drawing Course called Drawing Nature, Science and Culture: Natural History Illustration 101 – this is a course I keep meaning to start taking and have not had time to do it. This may be a great time to try! And just for some crazy fun, try doodling! (See my blog How to Enjoy the Doodle!)

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Below is a little drawing and painting done several years ago. Just another example of something that can be drawn easily. It followed my blog called Some Flower Power that describes the basic steps used.

Image of some drawn flowers

Some Photoshop News

Also thought I would just add a couple notes for everyone. Photoshop just posted an upgrade (fixes tablet issues which I was having big-time! Thank you Adobe!), Skylum Luminar 4 update that now allows adding components into your sky and has greatly improved the skin panels (Thank you Skylum!), and Topaz AI Sharpen which now allows selective sharpening using a mask (Thank you Topaz Labs!). See sidebar of my Tidbits Blog for Skylum and Topaz website links. Should be some fun stuff to investigate this coming week. Hope everyone is at home and feeling well! Have a great time with drawing in Photoshop. There are so many things to learn by drawing that can help your photography skills too!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO CREATE A TEXTURE BRUSH TO MATCH A TEXTURE

Image of a Blue Morpho Butterfly
Creating a brush to match a texture might not need to be used on every image, but there are times is can be really handy to have, especially if the texture has a very obvious texture. In the Blue Morpho Butterfly image above, it created a very nice painterly effect to place on top of the subject. Thought I would write a very short blog on how to do this as it took me a few minutes to figure it out. Maybe I can save you a bit of time when you need one.

The beautiful texture I was using is one by Melissa Gallo called Bowl of Roses Canvas and it comes with her older Painting with Photoshop Workshop (this is still an excellent class if you are serious about learning to paint in PS and she provides lots of extras). The butterfly looked really strange lying on top of the texture I liked so by creating the brush with a similar texture, the edges and new color could be added to the butterfly to blend it in nicely.

So this is how the brush was created:

1. While still in my document with the texture added, the Circular Marque Tool was used to make a small selection on a part of the texture that looked particularly nice.

2. Press CTRL+J to place it on its own layer above the texture.

3. Turn off all the other layers so only the circular texture can be seen.

4. Select the Gradient Tool set to Black/White in the swatches and drag out from middle to lightly fade the edges of the brush.

5. Go to Edit -> Define Brush. My brush was named SJ Round Texture Bowl of Roses.

6. As the brush looks right now, it is not very good. Need to open the Brush Settings Panel so that a few variables can be added. In the brush above, only two sections were changed. In the Brush Tip Shape section, the Spacing was set to 70% so you can see the texture. Then the Textures section was adjusted as shown on the left below. Pretty Actions Antique is the pattern used – this will blend with the texture in the brush. Try different patterns that will give different results. A variation of the brush which enhanced the spatter that was in the pattern more is shown in the brush settings on the right side. Same brush but slightly different settings tipping the texturing in the brush more towards the pattern and less the original texture. Note that the pattern’s Invert box is checked for this brush.

7. Once you are happy with your settings, be sure to resave the brush by clicking on the plus icon at the bottom of the Brush Settings and the Brushes Panels.

Screenshot for Texture Brush used in blog
Screenshot of the variable brush for blog

That is all there is to it. Of course the different sections can be added to the brush to a really special look you want, but it is a really easy and fun way to create these brushes. The strokes were applied on their own layer above the butterfly so that the opacity and blend mode could be adjusted. In this case, the blend mode was left set to Normal and at 100% opacity.

*****

Two birds at the Jacksonville Zoo
These two birds (not sure what kind they are but appear to be a type of duck) were not fighting, but seemed to be buddies (or mating possibly). Anyway I thought the connected beaks was sort of interesting as far as birds go. The image was also post processed the same as the butterfly image above. First selected the birds from their background, found a texture to put behind them (in this case it was a free Shadowhouse Creations Nov 2014-7 texture) and then a brush was created from the texture using the above steps. Changes were made to the brush settings with the spacing to 139% (to avoid patterning), Angle Jitter 50% (to avoid pattern repetition), and Orchid Pattern (4) from Jessica Johnson set to Scale 249% (again to avoid patterning – this was a freebie from one of her newsletters), Brightness -1, Contrast 7, Mode Multiply, Depth 84 and Depth Jitter 16. In the Options Bar the Smoothing was set 12% – this seems to make the brush move smoother. Two brushes were made – one at 234 pixels and one at 900 pixels, which was used with a rust color on the background to add in some color over the texture. Then on a New Layer above the birds, the smaller brush was used at a 30% opacity to paint a soft beige over some of the edges of the birds. One of Jessica Johnson’s Pattern Stamps (see my blog link on this below) was used to paint in the blue-green clumps of grass between the birds (using her The Masters 52 pattern). Two Color Lookup Adjustments Layers were added (Foggy Night preset at 64% and a free Sparklestock Bleak Spire 02 preset at 28%) – Color Lookup Adjustments can really pull the color of an image together.

I had written on this subject 6 years ago but it is still a fun technique to use and it really helps keep the texture flowing on the edges of a subject. It is also a nice way to add other colors and texture to a background for a more unique effect. Hope you give it a try – it is so much fun to make brushes! And hope everyone stays healthy this Spring. It is is a great time to enjoy Photoshop and learn a few new things – I know that is my plan!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:

How to Paint with a Texture Brush from Your Image
What About the Pattern Stamp Tool? Not So Bad!


USING A COLOR FILL ADJUSTMENT LAYER AS A SUBTLE SPOTLIGHT EFFECT

Image of Philippine Ground Orchids from the Big Island in Hawaii
This week I am combining a couple older blog tips written a while back but are still very useful. This technique I frequently use in my everyday post-processing and it is especially useful for directing a viewer’s eye subtlety.

I am using this orchid image as an example of how you can use a Color Fill Adjustment Layer as a subtle spotlight to direct the eye in the image but with a color vignette feel. I processed this image using the free Adobe Texture Pro Panel (it was called Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel – check out my blog Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel – A Real Winner!). Flypaper’s Apple Blush Texture (included with the panel) was set to Hard Light Blend Mode at 71% Opacity and gave the image a very greenish look but with that great canvas texture.  The Muscatel Texture (also included) was added next and set to Overlay Blend Mode at 29% Opacity to slightly darken the image and add some orange tones. Since I felt like the green was still a little overwhelming, a Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added – a royal blue color was selected and set to 54% Opacity. In the Adjustment Layer’s white Layer Mask, a very soft large brush was set to 15% opacity and with black set as the color, the blue color was gently painted off some of the orchids to give the subtle spotlight effect, from the light green image tones underneath, that will direct the eye. Try setting the Adjustment Layer to different blend modes – I tried Saturation set to a low opacity and it looked great on this image also. This is a cool little trick if you need to draw the eye into a certain part of an image and works very well with flower images. I also like adding my own colors into an image.

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This next example came from one of my longer posts called How to Use a Solid Color Adjustment Layer which contains steps on actually applying some beautiful color to an image. One of the sections is called “Use Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer to Add Some Localized Ambient Light to an Image” and does basically the same thing as the flower example.
Image of Porch in Savannah, Georgia, with Ambient Light from Solid Color Fill Adjustment LayerHere is a great example how using a Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer direct your eye in an image. This image of a porch in Savannah, Georgia, was taken in bright sunlight but it did not have that real translucent golden-hour feel to it. To get the warm fall look, a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was applied changing the Reds, Yellows, Greens, Neutrals and Blacks. In Viveza 2 the flowers were sharpened and saturation by adding control points. Next the Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added using the bright golden color #e7e148 and a black mask – just the leaves, flowers and gold fence tips were painted and set to Soft Light at 57% layer opacity. The layer mask was filled with black and only the leaves and flowers were painted back, thus directing the lighting effect to those areas. The final steps added a Levels Adjustment Layer for contrast and another Selective Color Adjustment Layer for a little more Yellow tone. The Solid Color Adjustment Layer added a very subtle effect to draw the eye towards the hanging flowers.

I hope this blog gave you something new to try by adding a spotlight or ambient effect to your images. I think I will use the Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layers more – the steps from my older blog (linked above) are still quite useful for adding great color into an image. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd


WHAT IS A “CLEAN UP” LAYER IN PHOTOSHOP?

Image of a Bulldozer in the Bahamas
Thought I would do a quick post on this since it seems to be a bit confusing as to what a Clean Up Layer is for and why have one. If you do not use Photoshop that much, it is probably something you do not think about – but when I go into Photoshop to finish up my post-processing work, it is very important.

Often it is necessary to do a “clean up” layer before applying filters or adjustment layers as it can save a lot of time at the end when you are trying to finalize an image. What I mean by that is that if a spot shows up at the end, it is often necessary to do that final clean up and, if you are like me, it just adds to the size of your image. That does not mean you can’t clean up an image later in your workflow (I have done it a lot! but not because I wanted to!) – it can also create problems if you are trying to blend out or clone areas, then decide to change a blend mode from an earlier layer in the stack – there now is this ugly layer that does not match up and you have to do the clean up layer again. It can get a bit frustrating.

Usually I create several Clean Up layers and I try to label them a little bit to remind me what I did on that layer. If you are using different tools, like the Paint Brush and the Clone Stamp for example, it is really handy to put each tool’s corrections on their own layers. This is useful since you may not like an Clean Up layer effect produced as you post processed the image and you can just delete that layer. Also, if the results create too strong an effect, like too much additional color from a paintbrush, just reduce that layer’s opacity. Another handy thing to remember is that a layer mask can be added to the Clean Up layer – can paint over areas using a low opacity brush to reduce the effect in just certain areas – and the Properties Panel can always be used to adjust the Density of the layer mask changes.

WHEN DO YOU ADD A CLEAN UP LAYER?

Often one is needed immediately after bringing the image into Photoshop since neither Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw have layer capabilities which makes clean up difficult. By starting with a blank New Layer on top of the background layer, it is easy to use the Spot Removal Tool for any little corrections to your image. Also the Clone Stamp Tool can be used to “clean up” areas that need a few tweaks. And of course regular brushes can be used to clean up a line or edge.

Another time to use a Clean Up layer is if you need to blend using a Mixer Brush or Paint Brush – it can be handy to have this on a separate layer to blend in the strokes perfectly. This is a great time to try out different brush strokes to see if they work better than the brush you are using. Try never to paint directly on the image as it is a destructive process doing that – the separate layers above can be deleted easily if the result is just not right.

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For the image above, the ability to go back and forth between using a regular Paint Brush and the Stamp Tool Brush to “clean up” an image was used. This may sound pretty obvious, but I am not sure many people try this.

Image of Original Image and of Clean Up Paint Layer
As you can see on the left image there was a great big palm frond hanging down in front of this Bahamian Bulldozer. It was parked on the trail up to Nippers Beach Bar and Grill on the Great Guana Cay (if you don’t go to Nippers, you have not been to the Outerbanks!) The palm frond is basically why this image was not post processed before. By sampling the colors near each frond area, the messy area was cleaned up. To restore the texture of certain areas that just could not be painted, the Stamp Brush Tool was set to a small size, sometimes as small as 3 pixels, and Hardness set to 75% and Spacing to 25% in Brush Tip Shape section in Brush Panel. Then the texture could be added to areas where the paint brush would not work. (This means the palm fronds areas hanging down were replaced with the green bush “texture” in the background by using the Clone Stamp Tool.) The Regular Paint Brush used was my Chalk Brush 60 that contains a setting of 19% Angle Jitter in the Shape Dynamics section. Set to a small size it gives you a lot of stroke control but also some variation in the stroke to indicate a little variation. See right side for what the Chalk Brush Clean Up layer looked like – shows the frond area painted over by sampling the color and painting with the brush.

This image also had several other “Clean Up” layers – one for the Patch Tool used after cropping to fill the top expanded area, and Spot Healing Brush and Clone Stamp Brush to clean up the texture applied to this image. The texture is from French Kiss Artiste Collection – Cote d’Azure texture. It was chosen since it had a sort of sandy bottom and blue sky at the top. A New Layer (same as a Clean Up layer) using the Clone Stamp was applied over the texture to just smooth the edges up to the object and still match the texture. My last “clean up” layer was used on the tire lettering. Totally indispensable!

When adding a layer mask do not forget to highlight the mask and press the \ key to see what you are painting out of the image – it really helps to fine-tune the layer mask this way.

I hope this cleared up a little bit of the confusion about what a “Clean Up” layer is used for, but you can use it in any way. What I discussed is how I use them and almost every image I post-process in Photoshop uses at least one. Have a great week…..Digital Lady Syd


CREATING COMPOSITE IMAGES USING THE JULIEANNE KOST WORKFLOW

An image of a composite containing the ocean and a small island
I would imagine everyone who has Photoshop has run across the name Julieanne Kost – she is an Adobe Evangelist and attends most major events that showcase Photoshop. She really loves to use texture and recently created a short video on her blog called Happy Birthday Photoshop! to let you see how she puts here fine art composites together. I found this short video really interesting and thought I would give her style a try and share it with you. The above image was my first attempt.

I have always felt that composites are really fun to do, but it does require a bit of creativity to pull together several different elements into a meaningful result. The above image I named “Hope on the Horizon” as I wanted to depict a rather lonely feeling but with the moving clouds and birds, there is always activity and hope.

WORKFLOW:

Here is how I perceived her workflow – my own steps for the image above is in italics.

    1. First select an image that would work as a nice background for the image. This usually means there is a really nice ocean scene, or flat foreground grassy area and it may or may not have a horizon line. Just need something of interest to build your composite on.
      In the above, an image taken while sailing showing the clouds out over the ocean was used as a basis for the image.
    2. She will add a texture on top of the background layer sometimes. It is often necessary to desaturate the texture so it does not change the tone in the image so SHIFT+CTRL+U is used to desaturate it.
      On the image above, a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using the Candlelight preset was added instead to reduce the color but not change the texture of the water at this time.
    3. Add in some elements – these can be brought in from anywhere. It can be helpful to select the items out of the image before copying them into your composite, but you do not have to – just add a layer mask to clean up what is being added.
      In the image above two images from PixelSquid (one of my favorite element places, but it is a membership site) using a sand and dunes element and a palm tree element. The dune contained the nice grass and weeds. The wood structure behind the tree was taken from another one of my images and just added in – used a layer mask to remove its background. Selective Color Adjustment Layers were used to adjust the color of the elements. Also added a New Layer and painted some small white and black flowers (scatter brush dots) in the weeds. And you may want to paint over the edges with a low opacity Regular brush or Smudge or Mixer brush to blend in elements.
    4. Used a fog brush to soften the horizon on a New Layer if you do not want it to be too noticable. Julieanne appears to soften the horizon a lot in her image.
      The brush used above was a cloud brush called Adonish CLOD3 from a free set by DanLuVisiArt on DeviantArt and does a great job with this – need to set the size of course.
    5. Next texture(s) need to be added – any number and try out different blend modes and and adjust layer opacity for each. Some may need to be desaturated and some may not – that is what makes it fun.
      Above two textures were applied: one from Melissa Gallo’s canvas collection called Dark Naples Yellow Canvas set to Overlay blend mode at 74% layer opacity and contains the strong yellow and green components, and one from the Adobe Texture Pro Panel called Villa Adriana – it was desaturated and set to Hard Light at 45% layer opacity.
    6. More elements can be added on top too.
      See the birds flying – they are also from PixelSquid but bird elements can be found all over the internet.
    7. Now the final steps need to be done. Usually a Curves or Levels Adjustment Layer need to be added to retain the  contrast lost by adding all the textures. Also any other masking or tweaking needs to be done to get your image just right.
      In the image above, Viveza was opened on a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and set to a Smart Object so it could be readjusted. The Camera Raw filter could have been used to do the same. The sliders were set to brighten up the whole image a little and add a little structure which was lost by adding all the texture. The last step involved adding a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer on top and reducing the saturation (-25) just a little as it was supposed to be a little darker than the happy yellow it currently was.

    *****

    Image of a Sumatran Tiger
    This Sumatran Tiger from the Jacksonville Zoo is really not as mean as he looks (although I am not sure of this) – I wanted him to look like he was walking straight at you. Since there was a fence behind him, an element was created using some horizontal lines with a brush and adding some texture to the layer. So, yes, the original image and background of the tiger are the same, but many things were done that are similar to Julieanne’s type of image. A brush was created to paint in a warm orange texture around the lion but under the horizontal line layer. For instructions on how to do this, check out Envato’s tutorial called How to Create Photoshop Brushes from an Old Newspaper by Ivan Gromov. It was a lot of fun to do and the created brushes make nice texture layers. Two other texture layers were applied – Melissa Gallo’s Green Lake set to Overlay blend mode at 60% layer opacity and Trees in May set to 75% layer opacity. A High Pass layer was used to sharpen just his face (used a black layer mask and painted in just the face area). On top one of my own white textures was set at 75% Layer Opacity to give him a less sharp and bright overall appearance. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to add back some contrast and that was about it.

    Julieanne has a class on compositing at Lynda.com for a fee. Her technique is pretty consistent if you watch her short video and she does create some really nice textured images. I hope you will give it a try since it is pretty fun to do and it is not a real hard workflow to master. Have a good week…..Digital Lady Syd

    DIGITAL LADY SYD RELATED BLOGS:
    How to Make a Basic Composite Image
    ReBlog – Get Inspired using Your Favorite Textures
    A Few Compositing Tips and Tricks! – Recycled
    A Flamingo’s Private Park


GETTING THE JOEL SARTORE LOOK ON YOUR ZOO IMAGES

Bonobo Monkey at the Jacksonville Zoo
This week I spent a lot of time working on my Jacksonville Zoo images. It is really hard to get that perfect shot when you are without a tripod and the animals and you are moving a lot, not to mention the weather aspects that can affect the final picture. Therefore it is sort of a hit or miss prospect and it takes a little manipulation to get the perfect image.

The above is an image using the effect that Joel Sartore (a National Geographic photographer) uses and is his images are currently being displayed throughout the Jacksonville Zoo. He mission is to photograph every live animal on the earth using this beautiful technique. He uses lighting and sharpness very effectively. I thought I would try to get a similar effect with some of my images and this Bonobo Monkey is one of my results. (This technique is also displayed in my Sneaking a Quick Snack image on my Tidbits Blog.)

So how do you create this effect? First the basic color work was done in Lightroom and the image was cropped once in Photoshop. A Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer using the color black was added under a duplicate layer of the Background Layer. Joel uses white also as a background color, but I really like the black background effect.

Getting a Good Selection

A good selection is crucial – you do not want any discoloration from the original background where the animal was located. The Quick Selection Tool was used to select the monkey from his background. As you can see, the above had a lot of head hair and was easily discolored since his hairs were so thin. The Select and Mask panel was opened and the Refine Brush Edge Tool (2nd icon down on the left) was selected at the default 30-pixel size. An 8-pixel Edge Detection Radius was entered. With the Refine Brush Tool, the monkey was painted over his edges. Sometimes you do not get the best results with this tool, but it is a good start. At this point I usually look at the Black & White View and use the Brush Tool (3rd icon down) to clean up anything that looks bad. The Shift Edge was set to +37% to show up the hair on his head more. Exited using New Layer with Layer Mask (no decontamination used as it did not look good but always check to see). It totally depends on what is being selected as to whether all these sliders used on this image. The Eagle below used only the Refine Edge Brush. I personally find this panel to be very finicky as to how well it works. I would list a reference but so far I have not found any that are that great. I always do paint around the edges with the Refine Brush Edge Tool no matter what is being selected. Some experts say paint from the inside out over the edge – this works sometimes for me. The good news is that the layer mask can be painted in directly once out of the panel to further tweak the image. This is where a some special brushes can really help. This also may be a case to use Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Mask AI if you own the filter – it does give a better selection sometimes.

Finding a Good Fur or Feather Brush

Back in Photoshop, a good Fur Brush is necessary to use inside the layer mask since so many hairs might be missed in the Quick Selection Panel. They need to be added in at this point. There are several places where you can get fur brushes. My best set is free to use from Coyotemange called Wildlife Texture Brushes on DeviantArt – great for painting in missing areas on all kinds of animal fur. Aaron Blaise also has some great animal brushes for sale. The one used a lot on the monkey image (and is one of my favorite brushes) was created from watching a short free brush video (No. 21) by Karen Alsop included in her class called Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World on Creative Live. It has been very useful for all kinds of rough edges and I use it as a Clone Stamp Tool brush and Eraser also. By alternating between black and white on the edges, the hairs can be added back in with a very realistic look. Another very handy brush was created by watching Aaron Nace’s How to Cut Out Hair with the Brush Tool in Photoshop video. You can download the brush from there – I use this brush a lot in the layer masks for individual fur hairs – just need to adjust the stroke angle in the Options Bar or the Brush Panel.

Color and Lighting

Next the color of the subject needs to be considered. The monkey used a Levels Adjustment Layer. The Red in the drop-down menu was opened and the white tab moved left (which added Red into the Highlights) and the Midtone (center) tab was adjusted for contrast. In the Blue both the white tab was moved left a little and on the Output Levels, the first field was set to 14 to add blue into the shadows a little bit. To understand how this works, check out Aaron Nace’s How to Use Levels & Curves in Photoshop – Day 6 video – it is an excellent explanation! A Curves Adjustment Layer was used for contrast.

Now I could see the hair did not look right so another Curves Adjustment Layer was selected and the layer mask was filled with black (CTRL+I in the mask). By painting over the hairs with a white brush, the hairs could be exposed. Then the Curve was adjusted by using the little hand tool in the top of the Curves Panel and getting just the right tone on the hair. A Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer was added and the layer mask from the Curves Adjustment Layer was copied over so the color of the hair could also be adjusted. The eyes were brightened using the Exposure Adjustment Layer (see my The Eyes Have It – How to Make Them Pop in an Image blog). The last step was to use a Spotlight Effect on the subject to enhance the light already on the monkey. (See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog.)

I used Viveza 2 to do final image adjustments but Photoshop’s Camera Raw Filter works just as well – mainly was adding a little focused structure to parts of his face for focus. Also a text layer was added.

*****

Image of one of the Eagles at the Jacksonville Zoo
This Bald Eagle is located at the Jacksonville Zoo with his blind buddy eagle. I felt bad for him as he was extremely alert and really wanted to take off but he seemed content to watch all the visitors as we passed by and said Hi. His final image is not as dramatic as the monkey image since the lighting was essentially non-existent in this image. Since he was not moving much, it was pretty easy to get a really sharp image. It was also easy to select the Eagle just using the Refine Edge Brush in the Select & Mask Panel as he did not have all the little feathers or hairs that many birds and animals have sticking out. Basically did a little spotlight lighting on his face and neck areas. Used Luminar Flex (could have used Luminar 4) to add the sharpness to the image (used Accent AI Filter 2, Structure, Details Enhancer, Golden Hour to adjust color in the beak, and Microstructure filters). Popped his eye with an Exposure Adjustment Layer. That was it. This was a very easy image to use for this type of effect.

It really is not that hard to get the look – just have to be careful of the mask being used. An edge discoloration could really overall ruin the result. Love this look that Joel did with his wonderful pictures. Hope you give a try. Have a great one and will be back soon!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Add a Darker Background Image for a Different Effect


HOW TO CONVERT BLACK AND WHITE IMAGES TO COLORFUL PAINTINGS WITH TOPAZ STUDIO 2

Image of Cowboys at a Roundup in Montana in 1939
As most of you know, I have been working on learning to paint in both Photoshop and Corel for a long time – it is a very challenging process and sometimes I do resort to using my favorite Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) filters to use with my paintings. While playing with Topaz Studio 2 recently, I discovered several filters that could be combined to create very colorful and painterly looking images out of black and white ones. I have blogged several times on how to colorize black and whites (see end of blog for lots of links), but with a few of the Topaz Studio filters, very nice painting effects can be achieved fairly quickly.

All the blog images used a Studio “Look” to get the colored effect. Looks can contain many different filters so different results can be achieved. The really cool thing is that each filter in the Look can be manipulated individually and additional filters can be added to get an effect. And these Looks are saved just like a Filter preset is saved so it can be used over several times. That is what I did with a Look I call my SJ BW to Painted Color. I would post it to their community, but I do not believe they are doing this at the moment. Therefore, I will share the settings below so if you want to create the Topaz Studio basic Look and save it, you are welcome to use it.

The top image is called “Cowhands Singing after Day’s Work” – Quarter Circle U Ranch roundup in June 1939 – thank you Shorpy for finding this gorgeous image! (If you love historical images, you have got to check out Shorpy.) Click the link to see the original black and white image. See Image 1 (Cowboys Image) for all the details on how this image totally post-processed.

IMPORTANT: With old images, the size and resolution needs to be reviewed first – most have resolutions like 3200 pixels/inch since they were probably scanned. Go to Image -> Image Size and set Resolution to 300 ppi – the size can go really crazy like 0.5 X 0.7 inches so uncheck Resample, next look at the sizes and change if needed, then recheck Resample before exiting – the image will downsize and upsize just fine in PS. And always do your Topaz Studio changes on a duplicate layer since it does not support Smart Objects.

Topaz Studio Basic Looks Settings for these Images

Screenshot of Topaz Studio 2 Look
The screenshot shows a different image I am working on (a B&W Shorpy image called Cathedral Place at Charlotte Street, Plaza de la Constitucion, St. Augustine from 1906) where a screenshot of the settings was taken as they appear in Studio. See how there are 8 filters included and two additional filters added on top (Color Theme and Edges again). For the Cowboy image,

This could get long but here we go – wish the Community was available for downloading it. My Look is saved in a Look Category called My Looks and contains only ones I created since Topaz Studio 2 was introduced. I go in and automatically Apply the Look. Right away the image I am working on looks pretty good. At this stage, the Opacity could be adjusted and just use it as it is. I would normally start off adjusting the top AI ReMix filter and then go into Impression before changing the other filters. If the colors or effect still does not look right, another AI ReMix is added (turned on my Look’s since one is toggled on and other one is off in the Look). But since I am giving you my settings, lets start with the bottom filter and build it up.

Filter 1:  All Clear – set to Opacity 0.10, Normal blend mode, Remove Noise Auto, Enhance Sharpness High, Recover Details 0.10, Exposure 0.31 and Clarity 0.85. Now if the image needs less sharpness or it looks crunchy, you can always adjust these settings or turn it off if not needed. Note that I set the Opacity very low as I felt it most images don’t need much with all the manipulation being done, but it is very easy to change this.

Filter 2: AI ReMix – this is the turned off one. Mine is set to Opacity 0.71, Normal blend mode, Neon Rose Style, Style Strength High, Brightness -0.31, Contrast 1.26, Sat 0.75, Hue -0.10, Smooth Edge 0.20, Sharpness 0.64, Suppress Artifacts 0. These are probably the settings I was using on a different image a while ago and never reset the filter. But at least it is a starting point for adding some different effects. As you can see, ReMix is where the color is picked up by the image. For my image I will turn it off again as it was not too good on it.

Filter 3: AI ReMix – this is the ReMix filter I use most of the time but change the style. My default is set to Opacity 0.25, Overlay blend mode, Beige Sketch Style, Style Strength High, Brightness -0.61, Contrast 1.65, Saturation 1.69, Hue 0, Smooth Edge 0.20, Sharpness 0.82, and Suppress Artifacts 0. All these settings are changed depending on the image. The Ballerina image used the Cotton Candy Style and it gave a totally different color and overall effect.

Filter 4: Edges – this filter may or may not be useful – need to turn it on and off to see if it helps or if Dark edges are better than the Light ones. Here are the settings: Opacity 1.00, Screen blend mode, Edge Type Color Edge, Edge Tone Light, Edge Strength 0.51, Simplify Edge 0, Suppress Weak Edges 0.09, Suppress Small Edges 0.02, Edge Thickness 0.16, and Edge Resolution 1.00.

Filter 5: Glow – this filter can make a huge difference in your image so be sure to turn it on and off to see what it is doing. Currently set to Opacity 0.85, Overlay blend mode, Glow Primary, Primary Glow Type Dark, Primary Glow Strength 0.62, Primary Effect Sharpness 0.87, Primary Electrify 0.45, Primary Simplify Details 0.66, Primary Edge Color 0, Primary Detail Strength -1.00, Primary Detail Size 0.05, Primary Brightness 0, Primary Contrast 0, Primary Saturation 0.72, Primary Line Rotation 0, Primary Glow Spread 0.80; Finishing Touches – Effect Coverage 0, Coverage Transition, 0.50, Sharpness 0, and Sharp Radius 0.10.

Filter 6: HSL Color Tuning – Opacity 1.00, Normal blend mode, Color – Red Hue 0.29, Saturation -0.54, and Lightness 0.29; Orange Saturation 0.51, Yellow Sat -0.3, and Blue Hue -0.32; Details 0, Suppress Artifacts 0, and Color Sensitivity 0. These all need to be adjusted depending on how the image is getting colorized.

Filter 7: Impression – I believe this is Topaz default settings except I like Stroke Type 03; I will give the settings anyway as these are the ones I like. Opacity 1.00, Normal blend mode, Brush Type 03, Number of Strokes High, Brush Size 0.50, Paint Volume 0, Paint Opacity 0.50, Stroke Rotation 0, Rotation Variation 0, Stroke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width 0, Stroke Length 0, Spill 0, Smudge 0, Coverage 1.00, and Painting Progress 1.00; Color – no changes; Lighting – no changes; and Texture – no changes except Background Type set to Original.

Filter 8: Precision Contrast – I do not always use this one and often I will add Detail filter on top instead. Opacity 0.51; Normal blend mode; Contrast – Micro 0.30, Low 0.54, Medium 0.78, and High -0.54; Lighting – Shadow 0, Midtone 0, Highlight 0, and Equalization 0; and Color – Saturation -0.52, Vibrance 0, and Color Contrast 0.

Now you can add any individual Filters and maybe another Look on top of these settings if you want. You can also add new filters into the Look and save another Look. This is a very flexible process and has so many possibilities.

*****

Painted image from a famous B&W image by Albert in 1936
The above original black and white image was called “Ballerinas on Window Sill in Rehearsal Room at George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet” from 1936 – it was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life Magazine and appears to be a Getty image now. The original image used was very small so it was taken into Topaz Gigapixel to make it larger – 4 X was used (I mention this program as it is fabulous for this type of issue). Then the file was opened in Photoshop. Since it was still a very small image, the resolution was set to 300 and the size increased to roughly 6″ by 8″ (need to uncheck Resample to change the size, then recheck. Then Topaz Studio was opened on a duplicate layer and the “Look” applied. I have gone through all the individual steps in Image 2 below if you are interested. This one took a little more effort than the others – some just are easier to do.

*****

Black and white image converted to color
This image taken by Jean Eugene Auguste Atget of the “Passage des Singes, seen towards rue Vieille-du-Temple, 4th arrondissement, Paris” in 1911 and was provided by the City of Paris Museum. This is the original image used to create my Looks settings above – it was taken from a Topaz Studio 1 preset and migrated over to Topaz Studio 2. For more info, check Image 3 (Paris image) below. Basically wanted to show what a nice landscape type image can be obtained using these same basic settings.

I hope you will try this – it really amazed me how realistic the painting results were. I do think I get better results in Corel Painter, but it does have a very large learning curve and takes a while to get the brushes down. I am not sure PS has these effects down, although they are making great strides toward getting it. And the interesting thing is that Topaz packed all these creative filters together for you – you cannot get these type results without combining Topaz ReMix, Impression, Glow and mixing in a few others. And don’t forget the to try the Topaz ReStyle filter. I will be working on a few more images to show you but for now, if you own Topaz Studio 2, give it a try. (And actually you might be able to do it with Topaz Studio 1). This is really so much fun to do! Have a great week……Digital Lady Syd

Image 1 (Cowboy Image): After duplicating the background layer in Photoshop, the image was opened in Topaz Studio 2 where my Look was applied. The following changes were done to my Look: AI ReMix: Changed Style to Market Street at 0.23 filter Opacity and Overlay blend mode; Glow: Opacity 0.85, Primary Glow Strength 0.42, and Primary Electrify 0.11; Edges: turned off; Impression: 50% Opacity; and the Additional Filters – Color Theme filter: changed the second color swatch to more of a red color (37400c); and Detail: Overall – Overall Small Detail 0.61. Note that the second AI ReMix was not used as it is turned off but present in my Look since sometimes I need two of them. Back in PS the biggest problem facing the image was the color of the grass in the front – it was blown out. Color was added by setting a layer to Color blend mode and painting with a soft round brush a sampled tan color over all the grass – tried not to go into the face areas. Next one of my favorite Color Lookup Adjustment Layer presets called Foggy Night (a PS preset) was set to 43% layer opacity. This really softened down the overall effect. Then a Levels Adjustment Layer was added to add some contrast in the midtones (0.78) and clip a little of the black (Output Levels 0/229). Next a Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer (Master: Sat +62 and Lightness +3) was used to add just a bit of color into the skin areas of the cowboys – the layer mask was inverted to black and just areas needed were painted back. Last step was a Color Balance Adjustment Layer (Midtones +17/-12/-55, Highlights 0/-12/-55, and no change to Shadows) for the grass – black layer mask and grass painted back.

Image 2 (Ballerina Image):  Going to go into detail here so you can what can be done to get a really nice painterly effect. After resizing the black and white image, Topaz DeNoise AI was applied on a New Layer. On another New Layer changes were made in Studio to my Look preset: AI ReMix: 0.30 Opacity, Overly blend mode, Cotton Candy Style, Style Strength High, Brightness -0.61, Contrast 1.65, Saturation 1.69, Hue 0.04, Smooth Edge 0.20, and Sharpness 1.00; Edge: Set Opacity to 0.76; Impression: In layer mask, painted back the 2nd ballerina’s face and part of the closest ballerina’s back – used a brush in layer mask set to 0.69 transparency; Precision Contrast: Opacity 0.10; and added Filter: Texture: Opacity 0.24; Selected Rainbow Leak 4; Brightness 0.06, and Contrast -0.02. Back in PS, Topaz ReStyle was used to adjust the color tone a little. Created a preset called Ballerinas using the colors now in image and placed it in my Colors from Images collection: ReStyle Opacity 68% and Color blend mode, Color Style Sat Primary 0.06, Secondary 0.08, Fourth -0.09, and Fifth 0.22; and Lum Secondary -0.02, Third 0.63, Fourth 0.33 and Fifth 0.31; and Texture 1.00; Basic Color Temp 0.23 and Sat -0.16; Tone Black Level 0.09, Midtones 0.33 and White Level -0.06; and Detail Structure 0.36 and Sharpness 0.30. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using Joel Grimes Soft and Desaturated preset set to 30% opacity. Some clean up layers were used to even out some of the face distortions caused by Studio Impression. A Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer was used and set to 57% layer opacity. A Selective Color Adjustment Color was opened and the Whites and Neutrals were used to add a little cyan to the sky outside the window. Viveza 2 was used to sharpen up the paint strokes in the ballet skirts. a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer at 12% layer opacity was added on top to adjust the color – had trouble getting the effect just the way I wanted it. Then a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode and 47% layer opacity was added. A Levels Adjustment Layer was the last step and a Gradient Tool was applied to the layer mask going from black to transparency so only the front two ballerinas were affected by these changes – it also emphasized the stroke more on the front ballerinas.

Image 3 (Paris Image): Well this image took a while to complete since I was experimenting and trying to get a nice “Look” together that would be somewhat useful to all types of black and white images. I started with a Look using a Cartoon Look I had created in Topaz Studio 1 that contained the HSL Color Tuning, Glow, Edges, AI ReMix twice and AI Clear filters. (See my Best Friends Tidbits blog for where I used it first.) The settings are slightly different from the above Looks settings so I will list them. HSL Color Tuning: Red – Hue 0.29, Sat -0.54, and Lightness 0.29; Orange – Sat 0.50; Yellow – Sat -32; and Blue – Hue -0.32. Glow: Set to Overlay at 0.85 Opacity; Primary – Glow Type: Dark; Primary Glow Strength 0.62; Primary Effect Sharpness 0.87; Primary Electrify 0.45; Primary Simplify Details 0.66; Primary Detail Strength -1.00; Primary Detail Size 0.05; Primary Contrast 0.29; Primary Saturation 0.72; and Primary Glow Spread 0.80. Edges: Set to Screen blend mode; Edge Type – Color Edge; Edge Tone Light; Edge Strength 0.51; Simplify Edge 0; Suppress Weak Edges 0; Suppress Small Edge 0.02; Edge Thickness 0.02; and Edge Resolution 1.00. First AI ReMix: Set to 0.25 Opacity and Overlay blend mode; used Beige Sketch preset; Style Strength – High; Brightness -0.61; Contrast 1.65; Sat 1.69; Smooth Edge 0.20; and Sharpness 0.82; Second AI ReMix: turned off; AI Clear: Opacity 0.19, Remove Noise Auto, Enhance Sharpness High; Recover Details 0.10; Exposure 0.31, and Clarity 0.85; and on top of the Look, added Impression filter with my SJ Basic Favorite preset (Stroke: type 03; Number of Strokes – High, Brush Size 0.50; Paint Opacity 0.50; Coverage 1.00 using Original Background Type in Texture section). Next Filter: Precision Contrast – Opacity 0.50; Contrast – Micro 0.30, Low 0.54, Medium 0.78 and High -0.55; and Color Sat -0.50. Back in PS French Kiss Spring Impasto texture was added and set to Linear Light at 45% opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip) to the texture and Master-Saturation was set to 100. A Levels Adjustment Layer was clipped on top of it to contrast back to the image (Midpoint set to 0.92 and white tab Output Levels set to 174). (See my How to Add Texture to an Image without Adding Its Color blog and short video.) Then a Light Gesso layer style I had purchased from Kyle Webster before he became famous at PS was used to add some extra painterly strokes into the image. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added last.(See my How to Create an Impasto Texture Layer Style blog and video.)

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Colorize an Old Photo
Giving a Vintage Young Lady a New Appearance
How to Hand Tint a Vintage Image and Create a Brush to Do This
Colorizing NASA Photos and Using Topaz Studio (And Check out Updated Detail)
Get the Boy Something He Wants
Abandoned Texaco Station
A Cowboy in Montana
Contemplating Life
Topaz ReMix – Update and Better Than Ever!


REBLOG – GET INSPIRED USING YOUR FAVORITE TEXTURES

Comic Image of me watching TV

This week I am doing a reblog from a few years ago – thought you would enjoy it since it is on one of my favorite subjects and lots of fun to use with images. In the meantime I am taking a week off from blogging to get some new pic and ideas (and taking a little down time – HaHa)! Have a great week!

Digital painted image of a farm sceneLots of times I have found or created a texture I really like that I would like to use in an image but not sure where. So this is a blog on how to create images for that texture, and possibly get your creative mind going. Not particularly a new concept, but a little different approach for using texture. It also gives you a chance to brush up on your compositing skills and try out some nature brushes. The image above is an example of my using a texture that I created in Corel Painter and used in this image originally.

There are not a lot of steps to this process. Just open the texture above a white Background layer in case the texture needs to be set to a different blend mode or opacity amount. Next add elements and/or text, and finally do the finishing steps as if post-processing an image.

That is exactly what was done above – here is the workflow for this image to demonstrate the steps. The texture was added and left as it is. Next Photoshop’s tree filter was used to create this pretty foreground tree. If you have not experimented with this filter, give it a try. (For more on this see my How to Create a Photoshop Artistic Tree.) It is so much fun! These are my tree settings – most of the settings were changed to get the tree effect shown above. (Base Tree Type: 19: Fraxinus Griffithi which is an Evergreen Ash, Light Direction 85, Leaves Amount 22, Leaves Size 130, Branches Height 94, Branches Thickness 77, Uncheck Default Leaves and select 8: Leaves 8, Uncheck Randomize Shapes Arrangement 21.3.) A layer mask can always be added if you do not quite like the way the branches look – in this case some of the leaves were too dark so a 30% brush was painted over them in the mask to lighten them up. The Liquify Tool can also be used to get the branches sitting just right. A Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the tree to make it more golden in color to match the texture. The texture looked like a golden wheat field to me so a little red barn from PixelSquid was added – a mask was added so the bottom of the barn could be removed and hide it from view. The layer was set to 55% layer opacity so it is looks a little less sharp and more distance. I love the brushes by DeviantArt’s ninelvlsup and her Dandelion Whisps brush was used in the foreground. Some of the edges were removed with a layer mask. The birds are from a Flypaper Bird Set that I use all the time. To soften the effect of the birds, a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip) to the birds and a yellow and red pattern was used. The bird layer was set to Multiply blend mode at 77% layer opacity. The last element is the single bird from the same brush set called Big Crow Fly Birds brush – it was duplicated and the top layer was set to Multiply blend mode at 65% layer opacity to emphasize the bird a little more. The elements are now in place. A stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) ReStyle was opened. There a different color palette was applied – one that was less bright and yellow and created a cooler color tone – the preset was created from another image. (See my Flagler Beach Pier image for color palette used.) This layer was set to Color blend mode. The final steps are what I generally do when finishing up a regular photo image. Not all my steps were used here but a lot of them. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added to add some contrast back. On another stamped layer Nik Viveza 2 was used to shift the focus back over to the bird from the barn. On a New Layer a little spatter brush was used to give the grass a little life – I wanted it to look like little bugs flying around. A soft orange Light Leak was added to the top left for a bit of color in the sky. A Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer was added to pull the whole image together. The last step was to add a layer style to the edge for a soft brown border – just an Inner Shadow set to Normal blend mode, brown color, Distance 0, Choke 53, and Size 29; and Inner Glow set to Saturation blend mode, Opacity 100%, white color, Softer Technique, Edge, Choke 0, and Size 250 pixels. Know this got a little long, but it is a pretty good example of how to pull a composite effect together once the texture is chosen.

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Below are two examples of using basically the same elements in the same place but used with different textures that give a totally different look. Digital Art image of fur trees and a deerThis image used a really colorful background texture that I created using a whole bunch of the brushes in Grut’s Inky Leaks Splatter Brushes, which are fabulous brushes. Here is a link to how this texture was used before. It gives a subtle effect especially in the sky in the above. Here is a quick run-through of the steps using a very similar workflow. The tree was created using the PS Tree filter again (the Pine Tree 2 was used) and duplicating and flipping it to make a second one. The deer element is from Tara Lesher (could not get weblink to work). Frostbo Grass Set 2 brushes were used. The flower under the large tree is actually from a recent Checking Out the Buds Tidbits Blog. I try to save out anything that could be used again for other images. The flying ducks are also from the Flypaper Bird set above. A light leak was added on right side. A Van Gogh preset was applied in Topaz Impression 2 – a layer mask was used to paint back the deer, birds and tree trunks. Three more textures were used get even more of a painterly look: one of mine which had yellow and a slight bluish vignette around it and set to Darken blend mode at 57% layer opacity (used Topaz Texture Effects in PS to create it), 2 Lil’ Owls (for website link, see sidebar on my Tidbits Blog). The Grey Collection 3 was set to Overlay blend mode, and her Ancient 1 set texture 2 was set to Linear Light at 28% layer opacity. Nik Viveza 2 was applied to adjust focus. Last step added a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using a Candlelight preset – it was set to Linear Burn at 10% layer opacity. Pretty much the same as above but very different result.

In the image below I wanted to show how a different texture gives a very different result. It contains the same basic elements except that the grass was created using Aaron Blaise‘s Foliage brush set and Directional Fur and Hair brush set. I was really surprised what nice flowers and grass can be created with these brushes. The texture is another one I painted in Corel Painter. The font is called Winter Holidays. I am not sure I have ever used this texture before but I like it. The reason this image looks so different is that the PS Lighting Effects filter was used to set the lighting on the right side. Otherwise the image was post-processed as the first one.

Digital image of fur trees and a deerThis is something to try when you do not feel so inspired. There always seems to be some texture that will get you interested in creating. Until later…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blog:
How to Make a Basic Composite Image
Creating Winter Wonderland Effect!
How to Create an Image From Nothing!