Anything Photoshop or Photography

Author Archive


Image of abstract buildings painted in Corel Painter
I found some good info in my old notes on the settings for Color Dynamics in the Brush Settings Panel. With so many sliders it is easy to be confused on how to use these settings when you want to just add another color to your brush for painting. In the image above, which was created in Corel Painter, a scatter brush was used on a separate layer in Photoshop using Kyle’s scatter brush below using blue colors. The Color Dynamics section is not available for all PS brushes, but is for the Regular Brushes, Pattern Stamp Brushes and Art History Brushes.

Back in 2014, Melissa Gallo, a Corel Master and great painter, created Painting with Photoshop Workshop with 26 videos. It contained all kinds of brushes, patterns, actions, etc., that covered everything needed to learn to paint in PS. It is still available on her site and worth getting if you are really interested in learning to paint with PS. One of the her videos has a very uncomplicated way of looking at the Color Dynamic sliders. The other major reference for this is from David Belliveau, who mainly draws portraits in Photoshop (he offers a free class a couple times a year which are excellent so look for this) and has some wonderful free PS brushes (scroll down the page to find them). He covered this topic in Brushmakers Blueprint, a video from 2016 which appears to be only available on his member site.

Below is a screen shot of the Color Dynamics Section as shown in PS. Be sure to click on the actual words “Color Dynamics” to open up the settings. If just the left side check mark is clicked, it does not open up.

Image of the Color Dynamics section in PS Brush Settings Panel
Kyle’s Spatter Br-Pressure Control brush is in his Scatter Brushes group, one of the free sets that can be downloaded if you use PS. (To find these brushes, go to upper pop-out menu in the Brushes Panel and select Get More Brushes – the Scatter brushes can be downloaded from this page.) Note that this is an Airbrush as shown by the icon checked in the Options Bar – the longer you press on the brush, the more dense it gets. The original brush does not have Color Dynamics checked so all the brush strokes will appear in just one color. To get the colorful effect shown in my top image, the screenshot settings were used.  After adding the settings, the brush was resaved (by clicking the “plus sign in a box” icon at the bottom of both the Brush Panel and Brush Setting Panel). In the New Brush dialog, rename the brush (I added my initials to it so I knew it has the new settings) and check “Capture Brush Size in Preset” and “Include Tool Settings.” Below are listed all the color settings and what they do. The word “Jitter” means change in the digital world according to Melissa.

Foreground/Background Jitter: When kept at 0, the colors will mix just fine but will have mostly Foreground color variations. If you move the slider right, more of the Background colors are picked up until the stroke shows more of the Background color variations. (This is when the Hue is set to 0 – move this slider and get a lot more color variations.) This setting is not so important if the Control field is set (see next paragraph). I tend to adjust this slider and not change the Control field when adding color to most of my brushes.

Control: In the above brush settings, Control is set to off as I liked the effect I was getting as is. By switching in the drop-down to Fade with Foreground/Background Jitter set to 0, it takes 25 steps (if that is the number chosen in this field) to go from the foreground color to the background color. If set to Pen Pressure, it lets you paint using foreground to background colors depending on how hard you press (when using a tablet & pen). Many people just use this and not change much else in the panel.

Apply Per Tip: Located at the top of the Brush Setting Panel, when turned on, the colors are all mixed according to the panel slider settings. With the Pen Pressure set in the Control field, press hard to get the foreground color and light to get background colors. If you turn this off, each time you make a stroke, the same color will appear. So all the scatter color might be pink with one stroke and red with another. Different way of laying down the color in the stroke. I find this a little hard to control.

Hue Jitter: This decides how many colors you get between the foreground and background colors. Want more, move slider right; want fewer, move slider left. Note that as you increase the slider, more colors will be added into the stroke with Apply Per Tip on. Set to 100%, all colors will be shown. The Hue Jitter above is set to 25% which means 25% will go from the foreground color to variations of the foreground color, and 25% will go from the background color to variations of the background color. Increase that amount to get more color variations.

Melissa says the next three settings work in tandem, meaning they work together.

Saturation Jitter: How much of a change do you want between Saturation and no saturation? Set to 50% means that 50% of 100% of the colors are saturated and will show some gray randomly placed. When Saturation is set to to 96%, 4% of the colors are saturated and 96% of the colors will be randomly grayed out. When Saturation is set to 0%, no colors are grayed out and are all equally saturated. The scatter brush is set to 40% so 40% of 100% means that 60% have some gray showing up. This seems a little complicated to me. Basically this means when set to 0%, PS is using the original saturation of the foreground and background colors for all color variations created, and when set to 100%, PS is adding in a lot of desaturation to the color variations.

Brightness Jitter: Set to 100% means the colors are very dark – the jitter goes from high to low randomly. The brush above shows a 54% change in brightness – pretty middle of the road between overly dark (100%) and overly bright (0%).

Purity: How pure the color is. I wondered what this meant and David says the slider is acting like Hue and Saturation. When set to -100%, it becomes a black and white stroke and whens set to +100%, it is totally saturated. The brush above was set to -12 which causes it to be slightly darker overall. To get a black and white brush, set everything to 0 but Foreground/Background Jitter should have some settings to be able to see the variations, and set Purity to -100.

Here are some ways to set up these sliders:

  • With some Hue added, set Brightness Jitter to 80% and Purity to 55% to get very bright strokes.
  • Decrease Brightness Jitter to 15% and get a much lighter look.
  • Adjust Purity to -45% to get more of a pastel look.
  • For a nice pastel look set Brightness Jitter to 23% and Purity to -47%. To put some color in gray and others in pastel, set the Saturation to 100% (changes how many colors are completely grayed out and how many are in full color).

I figure you will not remember all these settings (I know I won’t), but maybe you can use this blog when you need a reference on the settings (that’s why I wrote it). Bottom line is to experiment with your brush and the different settings to get that perfect effect. Hopefully it will help you get the brush results you need. Hope everyone is having a great winter – so far not too bad!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter


Image of a painted Bird of Paradise plant
This week I found yet another pretty easy painter effect to use. And what I liked best is that the steps can be altered to use your own resources. The post is called How to Create a Photoshop Painting by Ivan Gromov at Envato Tutorials. (If you want, for a small fee an action can be bought to set up this painting effect.) A short video and very good written steps are provided. Also for free two brushes, a texture and an overlay are provided. This is where you can get very creative – instead of using their resources, use your own. (For this image, their first brush was used – I created a new brush from it by just using the spatter edge and removing the rest of the brush in another document – then saved it down as a new brush and used it around the edges. I think it will be very useful for other images.) For the above image of my huge Bird of Paradise in my front yard, a texture from Kim Klasson (called 3112) and the additional color was created by a splatter layer I had created a long time ago. There are four Photoshop filters used for this effect: Dry Brush, Crosshatch, Paint Daubs and Spatter. Each can be adjusted to get the effect you want. If you are getting halos, go in adjust the stroke sizes to remove it or just turn off the filter. Very flexible. In the above the Paint Daubs filter was turned off. And some color splotches were added on top as overlays – did not use their texture or overlay. But I did use their brushes. You actually paint out your subject, then clip the filter layer to it – this gives you the painterly effect. Therefore, the brushes can also be swapped out for your own. This was so much fun!


Image of a painted butterfly
This image followed the instructions more closely but I did use a peach colored texture at the bottom instead of the provided one. Ivan’s supplied brushes were used and the Overlay texture was set to Overlay blend mode at a low layer opacity. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to add some contrast and a crackle overlay was applied (it was an old one from French Kiss Textures) and set to 27% opacity. A New Layer was added and used this fabulous ink brush from Nicholai at GrutBrushes Free Brush of the Week called Slim Piko to paint in some of the lines in the butterfly. (I have been looking for a long time to get just the right brush for lines when painting and I think I finally found it! Check out this site for lots of great brushes!) And another Overlay was added using another Kim Klasson texture Cloth & Paper Touch 1 – a Blend If This Layer layer style was used to give the rough edges to show.


Unsplash image by Atikh-Bana painted
This last image was selected from Unsplash by Atikh-Bana to see how this effect works on a portrait. I wanted a sort of fashion look here so some other things were done to finish it up. One of Serge Ramelli’s free Watercolor brushes (no. 5 –  and where he demonstrates another painting technique) was used underneath the white painted area over her body that the filters were clipped to. To bring back the face, a duplicate copy of the original image was placed above the filter smart object layer and a black layer mask was added – then some of the face was painted back using the Grut ink brush above. Spotlight layers using white was used to get the high key effect on the face. A Color Grading action called Fresh Moss by Chris Spooner was added on top to give the cinematic effect to the image. (Chris has lots of great free resources on his website.) The fonts for the image are: Magnies, Ramland (for personal use only), and one of my favorites, Argentina Script. They were put in a group and then set to 71% group opacity – also a layer mask was added to make parts of the text look partially hidden.

As you can see, this is a pretty nice painterly effect. I created an action that sets up the size to 2000 px,, converts a duplicate layer to a Smart Object, and adds the 4 filters with the settings Ivan used. It is pretty easy to do – if you need some help let me know and I will go through the steps. The action makes the major part of the technique happen quickly – then you just add your own resources and brushes. This was really a lot of fun. For a couple other painterly effects I have blogged about, check out below. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Edinburgh Lunch
Trying Out the Free Watercolor Action from Adobe – Pretty Nice!


Cartoon or Comic Image of a Sleeping Lion at the Jacksonville Zoo
It took some time to pull this little blog together. Sometimes it just takes time working with an image to get the effect wanted. I had found several videos on how to create a comic or cartoon effect over the past few years so I though I would share them. I am not sure I would like the effect on all my images, but they are fun to create. And you can tell there are many different types of cartoon effects that can be achieved. The image above is one I just did with mainly painting. The same basic image was used and up to a point for all four images. The one above used Kyle’s Spatter Blot Tilt brush (in regular PS specialty default brush) with Color Dynamics turned on to get the different colors on the bark of the tree and the ground around the lion. (Used orange and tan as the colors, created a separate layer, painted in the dots, and set the layer to Hard Light at 73% opacity. This brush is really fun to use!) A Scatter brush on the lion fur and Kyle’s Inkbox Classic Cartoonist brush (also in the default wet media brushes from PS) for the black outline was used. Obviously lots of touch up to get the effect, but overall it was a lot of fun to do.


Image of a sleeping lion from the Jacksonville Zoo

Another iteration of the same lion, this time using a technique by Jesus Rodriguez. He recently created a video which basically creates a Smart Object of a duplicate layer of the image. Then the Filter Gallery -> Artistic -> Poster Edges, Threshold, and Oil Paint (you can see this in the image as a typical look for this filter) adjustments were added. Each adjustment can be changed. Then on a duplicate of the image he applies the Poster Edges and Oil Paint filters again. The video is called Smart Way to Quickly Make Comic Book Drawings from your Photos. It created a really nice image. I could have used a mixer on a New Layer set to a lower opacity to get a smoother coat and face, but the pattern looked rather nice on the overall lion. If you have a person’s face, this could be easily smoothed out using several different methods.


Image of a sleeping lion at the Jacksonville Zoo

Yep, here he is again – still sound asleep. A lot of you may remember Topaz Simplify (which is still part of Topaz Studio 2 (for website info, check out my Tidbits Blog sidebar) but does not appear in quite the same format). I used the older version and added some Simplify and Adjust slider changes, but the big result is from the Edges (which Topaz Studio 2 has) set to a strong Edge Strength of 3.63 using a Normal Color Line and a fatten Edge of 2.57. Created the wonderful lines which I believe only Topaz Simplify can do. I think it creates a rather unique cartoon effect and the colors look great without having to manipulate them much back in PS.


Image of a sleeping lion at the Jacksonville Zoo

This image looks very similar to the second image by Jesus Ramirez above – that is because they use some of the same filters but with different settings. This technique was by Chris Spooner and he shows you how to do it in his video called How to Create an Illustrated Cartoon Effect from a Photo in Adobe Photoshop. Chris uses the same technique of creating a duplicate layer smart object and then added these filters: Shadows/Highlights, Oil Paint, Poster Edges, Reduce Noise, Unsharp Mask, Smart Blur, and Cutout. It has a bit more of a drawing effect to it.

If you like this kind of look, these are just a few of the techniques that can be used to get that cartoon or comic effect. Many others incorporate a half-tone look in them and many paint parts out to make the image less detailed. Lots of creativity here and these few techniques were all pretty easy to try out. Have some fun and see what results you can get. Have a great New Year week!…..Digital Lady Syd


Happy New Year greeting from a Christmas Ornament of a Cardinal
Happy New Year! Instead of doing the traditional “My Best Photos for the Year” blog, I decided to list what I think are “My Best Photoshop Technique Blogs for 2019.” It is easy to overlook what is really useful when blogging all year and trying out all kinds of fun and crazy things. (I seem to be trying out a lot of PS actions recently?) So hopefully you will enjoy going back over the tutorials I found most useful and use this blog as a quick link when you need the steps. (And yes, that is one reason I write these blogs – there are so many great things that can be done in Photoshop and I can’t remember them all!)

I am finding I use these tricks a lot when there is an area where the contrast or color just does not fit right with the rest of the image. By blending the edges softly, the adjustment can be gradually blended in.

I also use the strips a lot to get my colors set exactly right. I had never used them much, but once I figured out how to do it, it is really handy.

This is the main vignette technique I now use. I like how it can be targeted exactly to where I want it and the shape can be adjusted easily to fit.

The Pattern Stamp Tool really helped me create some great backgrounds especially. When an image has too much going on, using a matching pattern (which I usually make with this tool) can help get rid of the confusing background.

Use it all the time!

I would never have thought of doing this without Serge Ramelli’s tutorials. It completely changes the way an interior of a room looks.

This is another technique that I use when doing a more painterly looking image. This is actually from a blog I did several years ago and still use it all the time. Looks great with Topaz Impression.

Still use these tips when I go to any place that has animals behind fences.

This has been very handy to use with animal images.

This technique has saved some of my favorite images!

Obviously there are many more tips and tricks scattered throughout my blog this year. And I do like to cover what is new with all the Photoshop plugins – I could have done this same blog on just filters. It has been a great year and I appreciate everyone for following me and watching my occasional YouTubes. Hope the next year brings you great joy and lots of good Photography!…..Digital Lady Syd


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Message
Just my annual Christmas image – I love creating them! This year I had a lot of fun with several of the many beautiful free fonts that are available. And the berries are from my neighbors tree – perfect for this time of year. Hope everyone is having a great Holiday Season. Enjoy and Be Merry!…..Digital Lady Syd


Calendar image of painted fur trees
This week I decided to do yet another blog on how to create nice calendars in both Photoshop and Lightroom. It just makes logical sense to me that a calendar showing your family or some of the beautiful places you’ve been is a perfect gift (or I find mine often show up on my refrigerator each month). Since the season is winding up, it can be a quick extra addition to your holiday gifts. The tree above was created using one of Corel Painter Master Karen Bonaker’s Painter holiday brushes (if you own Painter, you must check out The Digital Art Academy website – loads of info there). This calendar used only Lightroom’s templates – see Matt Kloskowski’s video with all the steps needed for Lightroom calendars and the templates. It is a pretty basic calendar look, but I kind of like it.


Image of a Lion in a 2020 Calendar

My digitally painted lion image from the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC (scroll down to the Webcams to see the lion above in the Lion Cam) was started in Lightroom, but I did not like the calendar, so the image was opened in Photoshop and a different one was placed over the one used in Lightroom. The template for the year (and individual months also) was downloaded from Microsoft and opened as a Word document. Just highlighted the calendar by clicking the little square with a plus icon in upper top left corner, right click and select copy.  In open image in PS, just CTRL+V to paste as a layer. Used a little Free Transform magic to adjust the template. The black text did not look good so a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT + click between the layers) to the calendar layer to get more golden tones in the lettering. To remove the white background in calendar, also clipped a Warming Filter (85) Photo Filter Adjustment Layer set to Density 30% to remove it. So this image used both Lightroom and Photoshop.


Calender image of a white rose
This calendar was created completely in Photoshop using the same 11 inch by 8 1/2 inch size at 300 resolution, just like the Lightroom template size (Lightroom will let you make them any size you want – if find this size is very convenient). This time one of my painted textures was added behind the image and the calendar itself was darkened by using the Layer Style’s (to bring up, double click on the layer text area) Blend If-This Layer and setting the black tab to 182/220 – then the layer was set to Subtract blend mode at 80% layer opacity. To bring out the days in the calendar, a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to it and set to Colorize – Hue 82, Saturation n 37 and Saturation 7. A Stroke layer style was also added to the flower image.

I could create calendars all day long – they are pretty easy to do and can be made so very unique. Do check out my similar blogs listed below for more instruction or ideas (note some of the older links have expired, but there are still some good ideas in the blogs). Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season!  ….. Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Create a 2018 Calendar
How to Create 2017 Calendars in Both Lightroom and Photoshop
Free Calendar Template
Create Calendar Photoshop Templates


Scenic image from Guana Cay in the Outer Banks in the Bahamas
I finally purchased Perfectly Clear – had the free plugin but never the whole program. It takes a very different direction from the regular Photoshop plugins like Nik, Luminar, OnOne and Topaz Studio. I think that is one reason I have not been sure what to think about the program. I ran the it (along with some of the other plugins for comparing) on some of my pix to see what results it gave. The Bahamas Guana Cay image above is an example of using Perfectly Clear. Their website says there are 175+ Tools, Features and Presets. Several tutorials on how to use the product are at the website. And if you get stuck, click on a Question Mark in the interface and the website opens for more information since no software manual is available.

The major difference between this plugin and the others is that it is mostly preset and slider driven and no masking is available to remove parts of the effect. If you want to do a quicker type of post-processing, this is the program. What is also very different to me is that it seems to correct the Exposure using the Intelligent Auto preset when the image is first opened into the program and before any settings have been changed. Normally I would say this is a bad thing, but it usually makes the image look better right away. The preset can be changed quickly by just selecting other presets or adjusting the individual sliders in the Tone section. One tip is that by hovering over each of the presets at the top, different descriptions on what type of image to use it on are presented – very handy.

What I Do Like about Perfectly Clear

    1. This program has several very different sliders – I am sure they are similar to sliders in the other programs, but the interface makes it very easy to see where to make your adjustments. Below is a screenshot of the settings used on the image above. (Click on Screenshot to see settings larger in Flickr.)

      Screenshot of Perfectly Clear settings for Bahamas image

      For example one of my favorite sliders is located in the Preprocessing section and is called Image Ambulance. I believe this was in their earlier versions, but it is new to me. What it does is act and look like an Exposure Compensation button on your camera. How cool is this? My image ‘s EV can be adjusted very quickly if it needs just a slight change. I really like the visual effect of this slider. Also check out the Color section’s Color ReStore which adds richness to the blacks and a Fidelity slider which gives accurate colors in the image.
    2. It has an overall Strength slider at the top and when reduced (or increased), all the sliders applied move in their proportional amounts. It does seem to use Smart Objects so the sliders can be readjusted easily.
    3. The Portrait section is very unique and very good. I have tried this on a couple images – see my model below with a cinematic effect added. Luminar 4 and On1 both have many similar sliders – each of their sliders vary somewhat – but Perfectly Clear’s portrait sections are a little different. The Makeup section is really nice. There is even a Catchlight slider for the eyes with 5 different types to apply. Skin Correction section has different presets like Blemish Removal and Shine Removal. The slider settings for Perfectly Clear are shown under the model’s image to give you a chance to see what they look like (click on Screenshot for larger view in Flickr). I am not a retoucher so there are some areas that need a little more work. Photoshop was used to even out the coloring with Nik Viveza – really helped me with the arm skin tone. Overall the results were very good with the adjustments Perfectly Clear provided.

Cinematic Effect on an image of a model

Screenshot of Perfectly Clear's portrait filters

What I Don’t Like about Perfectly Clear

  1. No Masking capability in the program. The effect is applied to either the whole image or not at all, except where the portrait sections are being used. And there is no layer capability which would help in this regard. One trick I did learn is that you can select just a portion of your image in PS and then take it into Perfectly Clear to work on just that portion of the image.
  2. Would like to add all my personal Color Lookup (LUT) files to the program. They sell a lot of them if looking for a particular style but are fairly expensive.
  3. I have not figured out how to reset all the sliders if I do not the like the original results – not sure it is an option since the program is preset run basically. Still it would be nice just to start from scratch. You can save out your own preset which is great if you do find settings you like.
  4. Has limited options – great for people who just want to pop in and adjust a few things but I like to adjust things in different ways and that is hard to do. And there are not  many creative type filters like Topaz is known for – pretty much standard filters here.

Image taken at Iolani Palace State Monument

This image of the grounds at Iolani Palace State Monument in Oahu, Hawaii, also used Perfectly Clear as a starting point. The plugin definitely added in some exposure and color. Back in Photoshop I added an Orton action to get the soft final look. (Want to know how to do it? Look at my How to Create an Orton Effect blog from a while ago – all the simple steps are there.)

Bottom Line

I like the fact that when on sale, it is a fairly inexpensive software. It is both a stand-alone and a Photoshop plugin – and is probably a good choice for those who do not want to bother with settings in the standard type plugin. It does have batch processing capability. It does have the Looks (LUTs) capability. It does have great Exposure presets and sliders. Am I glad I bought it? Yes – when on sale, it is a bargain. If you do a lot of portrait images or selfies, this program would be great for fixing up faces quickly.

I have not watched all the tutorials so I plan on doing this soon. I would like to do a blog on some techniques that can be done with this plugin. At least I hope you got a feel for what this software does do – Perfectly Clear has a 21-day trial version and some very good deals going on right now. Check it out and see what you think. I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked this software!…..Digital Lady Syd