Anything Photoshop or Photography

Corel Painter


Charcoal effect drawing of my cat Sophie

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to everyone! It has been a while since I posted. Sometimes life just gets in the way, but it feels good to get back to doing Photoshop and painting again! I have been watching a lot of creative videos. Sophie’s pix above was one created by following a video called How to Paint a Pet Portrait with Nathan Brown (Part1) using Procreate. Since I am not an Apple person I can’t use Procreate, but the video gave such clear instructions that it was easily followed using Photoshop. Part 2 demonstrates a color effect which I will put on-line soon. The charcoal look actually fits Sophie’s actual gray fur color so I kind of like this representation of her. The drawing was sketched and a lot of Photoshop painting was done with Kyle T Webster’s Real Watercolor Alcohol brush in black (note-this brush is set to Hard Light mode). That gave the texture feel to her fur.


Mountain scene drawn in Corel Painter

The image above was mainly painted in Corel Painter 2022, but at the end a couple PS brushes were used to fill in some areas. Not sure if I could have created the same image in Rebelle, but maybe. If you have Painter and want to learn more about how to create different types of images, check out Corel’s Painter Webinars See More Tutorials Tab at top of this link. By following the Winter Fantasy Fine Art Webinar (above link opens to this) from 2020 by Elite Painter Master Karen Bonaker, this image was painted. There are several different people creating the various tutorials so lots to learn here!

Regarding Karen, she has an excellent site called Digital Arts Academy (DAA) – this is where the brushes and papers can be downloaded for this video (just click on Products tab -> Sale, click on 2 for second page to download the Mountain Majesty paper, and on 3 to download her Pastel Gold Brush Bundle category). Also all kinds of tips and other great digital artist paintings are displayed on her site. This was a really fun project to do and I learned a lot about mountain landscape painting. Thank you Karen!


Painted Pixabay image of a model playing guitar

Another painting software called Rebelle 5 by Escape Motions gave a very deep discount before they released version 6 this week. Thought I would share my opinion of it since it is a fairly simple program and plays nicely with PS. Rebelle 5 was used to paint this Pixabay guitar image above (I played the guitar in the past and am very partial to guitar images). To begin, the model was hand sketched on a layer over the Pixabay image in Photoshop. Then it was taken into Rebelle where their Acrylic Flat Oily brush was selected to paint over the model’s skin and guitar. Since Rebelle has a psd file format capability, the image was brought into PS where my basic workflow was used. The background is my SJ Pastel Watercolor and can be downloaded from Deviant Art, and the fence is from PixelSquid (great site for compositing). Back in PS, the tones on the skin used a Dodge and Burn technique I wrote about in 2016, but is still really relevant. The technique is described nicely in Sam Peterson’s You Tube video called Controlling Light & Shadow (he gives you starter files to use for practicing). His Dodge and Burn brushes (that can be easily created) worked nicely with this image. It is very easy to make a small action to create a 50% gray layer for this technique. A trick to getting smooth edges on the objects and skin is to use a PS Mixer Blender brush – the one I mainly use is David Bellevieu brush that is a free download at this link – to add color just switch it from a blender to adding color by going to the Options Bar and turning on the Current Brush Load – then sample a color(s) (ALT+click in image) for painting. (If you see a multi-color swatch in Current Brush Load field, can open drop-down to select Load Solid Colors Only.) And yes, Viveza was used to get the final image results – still my top PS plug-in!

Overall this is a pretty good program, easy to use, and I plan on painting with it more. I was really surprised that PS has not tried to improve their brush engine since CS6 – Rebelle is a small program but it definitely fills in painting brushes where PS lacks.


Cartoon image of a lady's face

So when I am just playing around, usually with a new brush set in either PS or Painter, I end up doing something like this. I called her “My New Plumped Lips” – I have to chuckle when I see them on some of the famous people images. I do not consider myself an expert in cartooning, but it sure is fun for me to do. If you are taking up digital painting, try to find some type of doodling that is just fun – it is amazing how your skill set in other areas of your painting will increase! The above was done mostly in Corel Painter with some clean up in PS which is what I usually do. The background is one I created in Painter and I use all the time, just changing the colors for the image. The hair was painted using the same brush that the mountains used above. I might also add that a long-time friend of mine, Kerry Mitchell, makes some really terrific digitally painted lady portraits, all in Rebelle – check her out!

I have several other items I have been working on and will try to get a blog out more often. Hope everyone is having a Happy Holiday!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:

Living in the Abstract

Working on Digital Painting in Photoshop

Painting Acrylics Digitally – Can It Be Done?

Got Some Free Time! Try Drawing

Digital Painting a Photo in Photoshop

Painting Acrylics Digitally – Can It Be Done?

Happy New Year everyone! One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to get back to what I really like and learn some new things. Therefore, I did my first project – digitally painted this rose following the acrylic painter David Jansen’s video called Painting a Beginning Rose with Acrylics. I wanted to see if I could actually follow his painting directions to create a similar result. I have never painted so this was a real challenge for me.

The basic flower was done in Corel Painter 2020 on several layers – created my own Acrylic brushes using their Opaque Acrylic Brush and adjusted some of the settings. (In Painter you can go in and change the Resat and Bleed settings easily to change the strokes and create blender brushes to somewhat get David’s stroke effect.) If you want to try this in Photoshop, I would suggest you download a set of free acrylic brushes by Jess Robley – select the first brush and try reducing opacity and adjust stroke angle to create some good acrylic strokes. (I tried size 30, 21% opacity and 86 degrees for angle.) I believe converting it to a Mixer Brush would be great for blending. NOTE: Here is a cool tip for converting a regular brush to a Mixer: select a Mixer Brush whose settings you like, then hold ALT + CTRL and click on the regular brush to convert to a Mixer – Voila! It is now a Mixer! This is a fairly new shortcut to PS. Just click off and then back on the brush to bring it back to a regular brush.

Now that the flower is basically there, the image was saved as a PSD file in Painter and brought into PS to finish up. The bottom flower cluster was created using what I consider a very cool Pattern Stamp Tool technique by Jessica Johnson (see video and some freebies at this link and my blogs listed at end). This image used a Pattern and Brush from her inexpensive Romantic English Garden Set. These are really nice brushes and patterns and is a great way to add in a little color or detail into all kinds of images, not just painted ones – good for filling in those little holes that show up in odd places. I actually had a hard time deciding which brush and pattern to use for this image! The flower was darkened down the right side with an Overlay burn layer with black paint and 9% Flow on a soft brush. Last step was to add the text – it is called modernline by Ef Studio and I really like it.

So the bottom line is that if you were familiar with painting in acrylics, the transition to digital painting with an acrylic look would probably be very easy for you. For me, I am not sure I got the true essence of acrylic paint but as a first attempt, it was really fun to try. I definitely want to try this flower again using just the PS brushes – I believe it would be just as good. I am glad I got a start doing something different and working on a new set of skills. I hope everyone is trying out some new things since we are still pretty much working at home. In the meantime, enjoy the New Year!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:

What about the Pattern Stamp Tool? Not So Bad!

Trying Out Some New Things

The Rag-a-Muffins


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 when 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 setting 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

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Image of a bird feeder with a couple of birds
Just doing a really quick blog this week – have been working on an image that was taken this last summer that I really liked, but it just was not that sharp. Mainly my settings were off – they were working on the butterflies but not for the skiddish birds. If I walked in closer, the birds were totally freaking and would not come near the bird feeder, so this was a problem. Lesson learned – shoot manual when having problems! It may not be the best image, but I did get a nice remembrance of the birds and they are at least recognizable. So here is what I finally came up with to fix this.

Obviously I was shooting a lot of images and that was a big part of why this worked. I have learned that a little burst shooting and several attempts are especially good when I am not sure that I am getting the image I want. The two images were not shot at the same time – actually several deer images were taken in between. The juvenile Blue Jay image was shot first and the Cardinal second. You will probably never find a Blue Jay and a Cardinal at this feeder at the same time. That is why the bird images were taken at different times, but I decided to leave the Blue Jay alone as I thought he looked cute. Below are the actual RAW files taken. You can see these both are in pretty bad shape. One reason I wanted to use this Cardinal shot is that I liked the way his head was turned.

Original Raw photos of bird feeder and birds

In Lightroom these simple settings were applied: first opened the Detail Panel to adjust some Sharpness and add Noise reduction (because it is always there with this camera), then in Lens Correction the check boxes for Remove Chromatic Aberration and Enable Profile Corrections were turned on. The image was next cropped into a Square. In the Basic Panel the Auto button was clicked and Texture and Clarity sliders were adjusted. That was it. The image was taken into Photoshop where it could be seen this just was not good. Topaz (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Sharpen AI was added and set to Stabilize, Remove Blur 1.00, and Remove Noise 0.20. It helped, but it could not totally fix this pix. In Lightroom an image that used the same bird feeder that was sharper had to be found – the one with the juvenile Blue Jay was selected. The changes made to the RAW file for the Cardinal were copied over to the Blue Jay image and it was also brought into PS. Below you can see what they both looked like at this point.

Bird feeder images after Lightroom adjustments made to them

Now the Blue Jay image had to have Topaz AI Sharpen applied in PS before stacking on top of the Cardinal layer. Several layers of cloning and painting with both regular and mixer brushes was required to add back the needed detail and blend the colors together. Once brought into the Cardinal image, the Blue Jay layer had to be Free Transformed to fit and a black layer mask added – just painted back parts needed. The info was all there on the originals, just slightly blurry. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added on top using Sparkle Stock’s Bleak-Shoji 01 LUT and set to 58% layer opacity – this tended to tone down the very green background color. Viveza 2 was used to highlight the birds and add a little detail with the Structure slider. The setting were placed on the Blue Jay in this case where the Structure slider was set to 65%, Brightness 42%, Contrast 49%, Saturation 22% and Warmth 25% – really made the bird pop – I use this program all the time to even out an image. I used 6 different points in this image to help direct the eye to the birds. I really feel it is much better than Lightroom’s filters and a lot easier to use. I do still love LR so don’t get me wrong, but this program to me is still the best Photoshop plugin ever made. (See screenshot below of how this plugin was used.)

Screenshot Viveza 2
On a stamped layer, Topaz Lens Effect’s Vignette filter set to Burnt Sienna was used – the effect was painted off the birds and feeder in a layer mask. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to add some contrast back. Then on a New Layer the Sharpen Tool was set to a Strength of 100% to just the Cardinal and some of the seeds in the bird feeder – it was set to 45% layer opacity to keep it natural. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added next to adjust the red color in the Cardinal – this really added some depth and detail to the birds body which was not seen in the original image (Reds set to Cyan +82, Magenta +6, Yellow +2, and Black +13). Next a Black and White Adjustment Layer was added on top and the colors were adjusted as a black and white before setting the layer to Luminosity blend mode – great way to make sure you have your tonal values correct. (See my How to Use a Black & White Adjustment Layer to See Contrast in an Image blog.) Last step involved adding a Red Channel Luminosity Mask to a Curves Adjustment Layer – the Red Channel lighted up the birds the best. (See my How to Use a Red Channel to Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog.) I hope I am getting across the fact that the sharpening is just slowly built up using different tools for different parts of the image.

Image of a painted deer
Who is this that just walked into my blog? Oh yes, one of the deer that was wandering around the yard near the bird feeder. My goodness! (Image was digitally painted mainly in Corel Painter 2019 and then finished up in Photoshop – my normal paint process.)

Anyway, thought I would show you how to fix something that may not seem fixable. It can be done, just takes a little experimentation and imagination to make it work. It actually is a lot like compositing images. Hope this was a bit of help to some of you – a favorite image might be saveable with a little manipulation. …..Digital Lady Syd


Image of some snowy berriesFor some reason I have been sort of fixated on how to create a nice wintry feel in an image without getting fake falling and unnatural looking snow. This week I will show a couple ways I use to create a more natural snow and piling up effect in my images. Its a lot in the brushes!

The image above is of a pretty red budded plant (unable to find the name in my resources) that was growing at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. In a short Corey Barker video called Corey’s Universal Particle Brush video, a fabulous brush was created to add the falling snow in exactly the places it needs to be. Corey gives very clear steps to creating this brush that uses PS Noise Filter, PS Gaussian Blur, a Levels Adjustment, and Gradient Tool to make the basic brush. Then changes are made in the Brush Panel to the Shape Dynamics, Scattering, Transparency, and Brush Tip sections. This brush was then saved as both a brush and Tool Preset – size is 1000 pixels. Corey uses this brush not for just snow but anywhere that particles are needed like fire sparks and rain effects.

Now to processing the image. Once some random flakes are added to the image, Corey suggested adding a subtle Motion Blur to the flakes (Angle 75 and Distance 11) which makes the flakes look more realistic without doing anything else. Add a New Layer and make the brush smaller (500 pixels) to build up more dense snow around the plant branches. The layer opacity can be controlled for each snow layer to give the effect wanted. Also layer masks can be added to remove flakes where unwanted. A stamped layer was placed on top (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) and Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Black & White Effects was opened. In the filter, the Local Adjustments brush section was used to bring back the color in the image where I wanted it. The filter’s Color Brush was used to paint in the red buds and using a lower opacity, the green leaves were painted in. This softened the background a lot but color could still be introduced – in PS the layer opacity was set to 76%. On a New Layer more snow was painted in using the smaller sized Particle Snow brush again. This is how the lower leaves show snow building up on the leaves.  A basic Mixer brush was used on a New Layer to add dabs of white paint for snow – I used Fay Sirkis’s Pet Pastel Underpainting Highlight Photoshop brush (I can’t seem to locate a resource with her brushes right now). But any small sized Mixer brush (45 pixels) will probably work – in the Options Bar set the mixer combination field to Dry and turn on the Load the Brush After Each Stroke with  the color set to the snow color and just paint in the snow. Next a text layer with some icicles hanging from the letters were added on layers above using the free Frostbo Ice Brush 01 for the icicles. The last step was a Levels Adjustment Layer to adjust the contrast. I feel like this plant looks like it is in a “winter wonderland” and not a sunny Florida garden.

Image of entrance to apartments at Windsor Castle in EnglandThis image of the St. Johns Tower Entrance to apartments at Windsor Castle turned out to be lots of fun to convert to a spooky winter image. The original image was taken on a sunny day in August so it has definitely been winterized. First Topaz Clarity was used to sharpen the image overall. Then the Adaptive Wide Angle Filter, Topaz Glow, and Lucis Pro were all used to get a really sharp and correct image. At this point I was just trying out different plug-ins and this is what I ended up using. Now the snow was painted in. A free set of very basic star brushes was downloaded by KeReN-R on DeviantArt and 4 brushes were used to paint in a lot of the snow (Sample Brushes 4 – see next paragraph on how to adjust this brush, 6, 8, and 19). Also Grut’s FX Inky Leaks Bottle Topple and Romato brushes were used to give the wet slick look on the street and steps (many brushes in this set would make great snow brushes). This step was a lot of fun to do! At this point Corey’s Particle Brush could be used, but instead I took the image into Topaz Texture Effects 2 and used the Winter Day I preset which contains a snow texture. A Spot Mask was used on the entrance so it could be adjusted a little differently. Back in PS the layer was duplicated and a Gaussian Blur with radius set to 250 pixels to really blur the image. Then it was set to the Subtract blend mode. The same entrance area was painted out in a layer mask. This darkened the image down immensely. On a New Layer white was painted in the entrance and set to overlay blend mode. Another New Layer for snow was used and some snow effect painting around the doorway in front using the Grut Bottle Topple brush. On a stamped layer Nik Viveza 2 was used to really pull out the lighting effect in the doorway and to darken down the on the street. There was a lot of trial and error on this image and I personally believe that is how to actually pull this look together.

I am using Sample Brush 4 in the KeReN-R Star Brushes a lot to get the nice piling up effect of snow. These settings were changed in the Brush Panel to get a really great snow smoothing and piling brush:  In Brush Tip Shape:  Change size from 773 px to 150 px and leave Spacing at 25%; check Shape Dynamics and set Angle Jitter to 9%; and leave all other settings alone. In the Options Bar turn on the icon next to the Opacity amount so pen pressure will increase or reduce the amount of snow added. This creates a really nice brush to build up snow in any image.
Painting of a duck in his wintry home
Above is an image I painted showing how a duck sees the beauty in his home during a light snow that we humans do not get a chance to appreciate. It was initially painted in Corel Painter by first adding a lot of the basic elements and grasses. Just enjoying painting at this point. Then the image was opened in PS and many more details were added. In this case the snow was painted in using Corey’s Particle Brush and the snow was built up using the Snow Build Up brush (sampled brush 4) and sampled brush 6. Many more plant elements were added along with the duck. Topaz ReStyle was used to change the color scheme from a warmer one to a color for a more wintry look. This is a good example of how to use these snow brushes when doing creative painting.

It is very handy to have the snow in brush format as opposed to a large vector overlay. I hope you will try creating these two basic snow brushes if you enjoy making wintry scenes. I am still experimenting with them, and trying out other brushes. I like the overall effect of these two brushes and am using them a lot to just add a little wintry effect to a cooler image. Until next week…..Digital Lady Syd


Thought I would do a short post of my favorite images from the last year – have not done this in a while. For more info on photo adjustments, click on the image to go to Flickr where links to the original blogs are available. Hope you enjoy my favs!Image of the Veira WetlandsImage above is from the Viera Wetlands in Brevard County and used the Orton Effect.
Image of a Malayan Tiger at the Jacksonville ZooThis beautiful Malayan Tiger was post-processed using the fabulous Topaz (for website link, go to my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Impression 2 filter. This is one of my favorite images created using Impression.
Image of a painted pink roseImage of this peach rose is one that was painted in Photoshop with the mixer brushes, and the background was created in Corel Painter – then the layers were stacked in PS.
Image from Shorpy's of a boy looking in a store window in DC cc 1922The original image was taken in Washington, DC, around 1922 was cropped and hand-tinted in Photoshop. I find it is really fun to hand-tint old images found at
Image of the Flagler Kenan Pavillion at the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, FloridaThis is the Flagler Kenan Pavillion at the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, Florida. It is one of the lightest, brightest rooms I have seen and is on the IntraCoastal Waterway. This effect was created with the no longer available Lucis Pro 6.0.9 Photoshop plug-in – too bad that in 2016 it finally became a reasonable purchase and then it discontinued.
Painted image of St. Trinity Church in Belarus Image is of St. Trinity Church as seen from the Mir Castle in Belarus. This image was painted in Photoshop using Jack Davis’s painting action.
Image of three painted birdsThese three painted Florida birds are presented in a Lightroom template with the background added in Photoshop. The birds were all painted in Photoshop and the bird backgrounds painted in Corel Painter.
Composite image of Rudolph the Raindeer and a Native American little boyThis image is an example of a composite that integrated several elements into a story.
Image of several ants on a dandelionImage taken with a LensBaby Composer on my camera which gives a very lovely soft effect.
Flowers created using Paintstorm StudioThese flowers were painted in Paintstorm Studio, a really nice painting program.

Next week I plan to continue presenting all the Fun Tips and Tricks that can be done in Photoshop with a little painting mixed in!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of painted zinneasThis week I have just been working on my flower painting skills. This is a beautiful Zinnia elegans with a Dahlia blossom in the lower left – I am looking forward to planting  both in my yard later this month. I am now getting to a point that I can objectively see differences and similarities between painting in Painter and Photoshop.

The painting technique used above is basically the same one I use on my various bird images, except I am painting the flowers in Corel Painter and finishing up in Photoshop. I am taking Karen Bonaker’s 2016 Painter Club at the Digital Art Academy and it really is a lot of fun. This month she is presenting a Blenders to Brushes class where she teaches you how to use different Painter brushes to create this effect. Of course, since I am a Photoshop person, I ended up finishing the composition in CS6 (which I and Karen prefer when using the Mixers in PS – the computer seems to paint much faster). I am finding that Painter brushes are definitely the most gorgeous, but the the basic program is a lot harder to manage than Photoshop (I can’t believe I am saying PS is easy to manage????) I am also using some PS tricks in Painter since the programs are similar in some respects (Layer Styles, Transforming, Blend Modes to name a few). I find selecting an item and using Layer Masks is much easier in Photoshop. And no Commit to Layer commands. In Painter a Mixer Pad with just black and white color swatches was created to quickly sample between the colors for working with a layer mask. And there is no way to view what the layer mask looks like on the image as in Photoshop (press the “\” key to see the colored overlay of the Layer Mask on the image). And I totally miss the Quick Mask selection tool in PS. Karen’s class supplies some wonderful brushes for this type of painting which produces a rather realistic painted rendition of the image.

This technique is similar to what Lori Jill teaches in her Udemy classes for PS but applies it to portraits and landscape type images. She also does a great job on teaching you how to use the PS Cloning Action which can be a little difficult to figure out. (See my Tidbits Blog Looking Glamorous! and An Old Victorian House for some examples.) I could easily create brushes just from watching her videos, but some brushes are supplied with a couple of her classes. Fay Sirkis’s (if you are a KelbyOne member, should be able to download) skin brushes for children work really well with flower images and were used to clean up painting problem areas from Painter. I am finding the basic trick for this technique is to figure out what brushes work for you. It is easy to get really confused by all the choices in Painter and sometimes really good brushes are forgotten. One thing I do like about Painter are the personal Palette’s that can be used to hold your favorite brushes and commands. A couple weeks ago I blogged about how to create Tool Presets .tpl files when painting in PS – similar concept, just not as easy since only one Tool Preset Panel can be opened at a time on your desktop. (See my Why Use the Tool Preset? Photoshop Painters Listen Up!)

Painted image of a pink roseThe pink rose used the exact opposite workflow from the first image – it was painted completely in Photoshop and the background was done completely in Painter. Topaz ReMask 5 was used to separate the rose in my original image from the background. Then the Painter background texture could be placed behind the rose. Now the edges of the rose can painted into the background to keep it all very blended – same technique as in my bird paintings. (See my How to Paint an Image Using Regular and Mixer Brushes in Photoshop.)

The other area that I am trying to figure out is exactly how Painter’s new Blending Panel relates to the Options Bar settings in PS. PS also has lots of presets choices – basically just need to know that if the word Dry is in the preset, it will be adding color if the Load Color icon is turned on; if the word Wet is shown, it will be mainly blending with Load Color icon turned off. Usually Sample All Layers is turned on unless the PS default Mixer Brush Cloning Paint Setup Action is run – then turn it off. These settings are very similar to using Painter’s Blending Panel Presets, new with the 2016 version. (Note the Blending Panel used to be called the Well Panel which does not have the presets.) One thing I do not like is how finicky the Blending Panel Preset field is – the Enhanced Blending Layers checkbox does not always work correctly and has to be reset by setting the Preset field back to Balanced and turning the checkbox on and off to get it to work. The Preset settings also do not save with down if a new brush is saved. And the Preset field is sticky, meaning if you go to a different brush and starting painting and the preset field is not set to Balanced, you can get some really weird results or none at all. Just beware if you use Painter’s Blending Panel Presets to always set them to Balanced before painting with a new brush. Sometimes I am just not using the presets and am adjusting the brushes manually. Definitely a glitch here that Painter needs to fix.

Painted image of some purple violetsThe purple violets are just painted but with a more illustrated feel to them. Tried to change up the colors a little for a slightly different look. Same process – this time painted in Photoshop and using a Melissa Gallo texture. The difference is that Kyle T Webster’s Impasto brushes, the Oil Dry brush and the Palette Knife 1 brush along with his action and layer styles, were used to paint some impasto stroke effects into the flower petals. This is a similar technique used by John Derry and Melissa Gallo to get that impasto effect, but I am still experimenting with this effect. It does give the flowers a little different look!

Well that is what I am learning. If you are interested in trying this technique, I would encourage you to check out the links above to check out their courses. I plan on being a little sporadic in getting blogs up for the next few weeks – trying to reorganize my office and set up my video capability on my new computer. In the meantime, keep on having fun in Photoshop!…..Digital Lady Syd


Painted Image of Pensacola Beach, FloridaThis week will be just having some fun and doing a little comparison between Photoshop Mixers and Corel Painter’s brushes, specifically John Lowther’s wonderful Landscape brushes. The image was taken at Pensacola Beach in Florida – the best beach in the US in my opinion. I lived there for a year and loved going to this beach!

The above was completely painted with the Mixer brushes in Photoshop. As I have stated before, I am one of those people that has a dilemma on which software program to use for painting. I am so comfortable with Photoshop that I can actually visualize what brushes I need to use to get the look I want. For my Photoshop painting, I like to use Fay Sirtis (a Corel Elite Master) Mixer brushes – if you are a KelbyOne member, at their Photoshop User site some of her brushes can still be downloaded from links under her older webcasts. I really love her Fays Portrait Pet Brushes set. A new free Breath of Sea Air texture from Jai Johnson (wonderful nature photographer and beautiful textures on her site) brought out a little bit of the wind blown feel at the beach and was set to Hard Light blend mode at 100% layer opacity. Also the sunlight effect on the left side was created using a fun little video by Glyn Dewis called Create a Sunset Glow with Photoshop. It really works!

Now the biggest difference I see between the Mixers (not the regular Photoshop brushes} and Corel Painters beautiful brushes is that it is harder to dab a Mixer brush, although not impossible. With Mixers I find I usually have to stroke to paint onto the image, not just stamp it down. In Corel painter, you can get some fabulous results by just dabbing, especially with when using their Captured Dab Type. One of the confusing things is that there are so many brushes in Painter so you definitely need to keep track of your favorites. I think I have created over 20 palettes with different brushes. Not all brushes work using a full stroke – totally depends on which type of brush you are using. Painter has a very complicated “brush engine” with many panels controlling each brush. This gives some wonderful variations, even in the same brush. I find it really interesting that you can now add a Photoshop brush to Painter as a Captured Dab Type. I have not had a lot of time to try this out, but I did one brush and it turned out pretty good!

The image below uses John Lowther’s Landscape Painter brushes. It was really fun trying these brushes out, although they mainly seem directed toward creative art. But there are three cloner brushes in the set. Usually I clone an image in Painter, but this time the image was painted over as it seemed to work better. Therefore it is very similar to the workflow as the Photoshop Mixers. There are no rules to use.
Corel Painter image of Pensacola Beach, Florida
The Lowther brushes used were the cloud brushes, ground cover and grasses brushes to paint over sea oats, and a couple objects – mainly the fence and birds. I almost always go back to Photoshop to add the Contrast, and in this case a Color Balance Adjustment Layer, to the image and save.

There is quite a big difference between the Mixer brush image and the Painter look. I am not sure which I like best. It is fun to use the different programs on the same image as they rarely turn out the same. I do believe that Painter has the edge on the actual brush variations and the color in the brushes is very nice. Photoshop definitely uses a totally different technology to get their results, which is what makes it interesting to use both programs. I find I often paint a lot in Painter and then return to Photoshop for clean up with the Mixers! And that may be the answer. With each upgrade I keep hoping that I will be able to just stay in one program, but so far that is not working out. Use what you are comfortable with from each program. Sort of like getting the best from each! Until next week…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
More Painting – With Painter and Photoshop


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

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

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

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

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

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


Image of a house on a bluff in St. Andrews, ScotlandNow that I have been doing digital painting for a while, I am finding that the painting is only just a part of what has to be done to create a great image. This week I thought I would just cover a few of the techniques that are helping me get the contrast, and therefore the focal point, of my image exactly where I want it. The image above is of a house perched on a bluff in one of my very favorite places I have visited – St. Andrews, Scotland. This shot was actually taken from the ruins of St. Andrews Castle and the hills in the background are where the famous golf course is located. What a place to call home! This image actually took me out of my comfort zone a little due to the different color palette I chose, but I think I got across the effect I wanted in the painting. Recently I purchased Karen Sperling’s  Landscape Painting brushes and video access. I am finding I like her style of painting – a bit more in line with what I like to do with my paintings. I am still enjoying painting more abstract looks too. Her brushes also work really well for me, and it was easy to follow her video steps to get some good results. But after painting, I was not sure about the focal point results. So we all know in most cases dark areas draw the eye as this is where the contrast in the image will appear. And logically the focal point will be somewhere around that area(s). Jason Maranto in his You Tube video series called Color For Painters has some great tips for understanding this concept. One of his suggestions is to make your image a black & white to accurately see where the contrast is going to be. He also stated that 95% of our color perception is based on the value – defined as everything between the darkest darks to the lightest lights in the image. So using Jason’s suggestion, a temporary Black and White Adjustment Layer was used in Photoshop to get this result shown below. In this original B&W image, to me the eye goes straight to the dark part on the cliff, and secondarily to the lightest areas are on the house. Screenshot of original image before paintingI had originally thought the house would be my focal point.  As you can see above it does stand out some, but the dark bushes are showing up even stronger. So as an aside, how did I get this rather wild color scheme? In Corel Painter 2015, you can add image sources to use for cloning colors other than the original ones. By adding Topaz (see website link at my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle into the Effects, different color themes can be observed without ever applying them to your image yet. (To add this filter, the Topaz ReStyle folder has to be copied into the Corel Program Files Plugins folder.) The Orange Peel preset was selected which created warm orange and yellow tones in a new source in the Clone Source Panel. I really like that you can change colors and see results before putting all that time into the painting. Also just the standard Basic Paper with the default settings were used in Painter. Once the image was painted, the white house sort of faded away a little. Here is the screenshot view after the image was painted showing the different values in the image. You can see the house does not appear quite so bright and the bushes are really popping. The dark bushes sort of scream focal point to me. Screenshot of black and white value image I really wanted to show the connection of the stairs in the image as I could imagine myself climbing down them. Where my problem occurred was that the stairs did not exactly show up and did not fall on a point when following the Rule of Thirds. Instead the dark bushes lie exactly on a point. Note below that by selecting the Crop Tool and clicking in the options bar, the Triangle ratio (by opening up the drop-down, more options are available if the Rule of Thirds does not fit your image) actually fits this image and shows both the house and the dark bush as the focal points with the stairs sitting closely on the diagonal. The diagonal does works in this image and may explain why the composition does not look so unbalanced. Screenshot view of the Crop ToolTherefore, before cropping down your image, check out the other options to see if possibly the image is actually composed correctly or may give you a better crop choice. In this case, no crop was necessary. To try to further emphasize the focal points and diagonal, a few more steps were done. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) that was turned into a Smart Object, the Camera Raw filter was opened and a Graduated Filter was used to darken just the sky so house stands out a little more – the house and hillside were painted back so the filter did not affect these areas. The dark bush area was still too over-powering. A New Layer was created to paint in a little more detail in the dark areas to break it up a little and add some interest. Next a light orange Overlay was loaded and set to Lighten blend mode at 35% layer opacity to lighten it up a little more – a black layer mask was added and only the dark contrast areas were painted back to soften and lighten this area. On another stamped layer Nik Viveza 2 was opened and control points were added to the dark areas where a little brightness and saturation was added in the dark areas. After this, a New Layer was added and the Sharpen Tool was used to sharpen the detail the fence area and steps a little more. Whew! These little tweaks can make all the difference in the image, but it takes a while to figure out which ones work. Image of a painted Roseate Spoonbill birdThis image is of a beautiful Roseate Spoonbill that was doing a little photo shoot for me at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery a few weeks ago. I am assuming this is a female and she was actually busy at work setting up her household for the new babies, but took a moment to show off her beautiful spring fashion look. This image was also painted initially in Painter. I used one of Karen Sperling’s really nice brushes from her Portrait Painting set to get that feathery look, and basically hand-painted the whole image. Back in Photoshop a lot was done as I wanted a sort of illustrative feel to this one. Just used a Smudge Brush to really smooth out the distracting body lines. Nik Color Efex Pro was used and one of my favorite filters, White Neutralizer, was applied to tie the colors in better. As you can see below a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added to tweak the Red-Pink colors to the exact colors I wanted. Then I applied the Black and White Adjustment Layer. The head and eye area did not stand out that great so I just started dragging in the image to get the contrast effect I liked. The white on her back was calmed down a little also. As you can see, the mask was turned to black and I painted back just the areas I wanted enhanced – that is the eye and head. Turned the layer to Soft Light and there is my painted Spoonbill as seen above! As you can see, I had to use some different tricks to get this one to come out the way I wanted. Below is the screenshot of the final image in black and white so you can see the contrast in the image and that the head is the now the more prominent area and the white back not so distracting. Screenshot of B&W image of roseate spoonbill bird There are a several other ways the color and saturation of parts of an image can be controlled. Color Balance Adjustment Layer or Curves Adjustment Layers used to lighten or darken different area by painting in black layer masks can really guide the eye through image and are easy to do. I use every trick I can find! Each image is so different. I think it is definitely a good first step to open a Black and White Adjustment Layer to see where your contrast really sits in the image, and then try to use it to your advantage. And it is not a bad idea to do it again after you have added your creative techniques to make sure the value did not change As in the spoonbill image, I actually added to my mage the Black & White Adjustment Layer to adjust the contrast correctly. Hope you get a chance to use this technique. I am trying to get in the habit of doing this regularly. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs: What About This Focal Point Issue?


This technique involves opening up a favorite image in any  format, and creating a color swatch from that image for use in your new creations. It is something most people do not realize can be done in Photoshop, and Corel Painter has a similar process for doing this. Apparently this option has been in Photoshop for a long time, but I just learned the basics from bittbox’s Jake Rocheleau in a blog called Build a Custom Photoshop Swatch from an Image. I am finding it is really nice to be able to sample the colors used in your favorite artist’s or photographer’s works.

Photoshop Workflow for Adding Color Swatch Sets

It is much easier to add color swatch sets in Painter (see end of blog for steps), but here are the Photoshop steps:

1.  First find an image that contains the colors you want to sample for use in your new creation. I opened up my image above to create swatch colors from since the orange colors are some of my favorites.

2. Now open up the Swatches Panel (Window -> Swatches) in Photoshop. Click on the pop-out menu at the upper-right hand corner of the panel, select Save As and name your original swatches – I usually save with the date in it like 042515 Swatches in a file folder on my desktop called Photoshop Presets. This way, if you want to return to your originally loaded swatch colors easily, all you do is replace the current with the original ones you just saved. See below for more on the pop-out menu.

3. Go to Image -> Mode -> Indexed Color and select Local (Perceptual), which uses the color spectrum where the human eye is most sensitive. (Local-Selective optimizes colors for the web and Local-Adaptive reproduces the colors that occur most often in the image – other options to try.) In dialog make sure other drop-down fields are set to None (Forced, Matte and Dither). Now go to Colors field and try different amounts. This will be a live preview so depending on the number chosen determines how your image looks and how many swatches will be produced. For example, if set to 10 (see top image below), there are just a few colors shown in the image and only 10 color swatches will be made; set to 256 will give 256 color swatches and probably some colors that look very similar (see bottom image below).

Screenshot of Indexed Color Table dialog

4. Unfortunately we are not done – one would hope they would just load into the panel, but they do not. Go to Image -> Mode -> Color Table. There are now 256 swatches from the image since 256 Colors were entered in Step 3. (See image below.) You can delete some colors in the table by clicking on the eyedropper and then on colors you do not like or appear to be duplicated. This can also be done later so I did not do this now. The Color Table needs to be named (mine was named Mums for Painter) and in the Save Type As select .ACT file format. The image can be closed at this point.

5. Back in the Swatches pop-out menu, select Replace Swatches and in Load dialog, above the word Load button, change Swatches (.ACO) to Color Table (.ACT), which was the only file extension allowed in Step 4), and click Load button. If you want to change the ACT file to an ACO file, can now go into the pop-out menu and select Save Swatches and the file format will change to ACO. I do not know why there are two different extensions in this process as it is confusing. Just know that both ACT and ACO file extensions are color swatches.

The Swatches Pop-Out Menu:

  • Select Replace Swatches to change from the original or current swatches to new one created.
  • If you choose Load Swatches, the new ones will load underneath the current swatches already showing.
  • Choose Reset Swatches to select the default color swatches that come with Photoshop. A choice comes up to either replace, or append the swatches which adds them at the bottom.
  • Select Save Swatches to back up the ones already loaded so they can be restored at a later date or to change the Color Table (ACT) file extension to Swatches (ACO) file extension.

If you find color swatches you want to remove, or if appended and want to change the swatch order, there is an easy way to do this. The Preset Manager can be used to do this. To open it, go to Edit -> Presets -> Preset Manager, or the easiest way to do this is to open the Brush Panel or Brush Picker Panel and click the Open Preset Manager icon at bottom of each (2nd icon over). In the drop-down Presets field at top, select Swatches. To remove a swatch color, click on the color to remove and then the Delete button. Also by CTRL or SHIFT clicking on the colors, you can remove a large group number of colors or drag and move them into a different order. I find this much easier than doing this while creating the Color Table. The Preset Manager will also save several swatch sets together into one set.

The colors from your selected image are now available to use in new creations by just sampling the color swatches while painting. Below is an image used recently in my Tidbits Blog (see Springtime Wishes from Betsy) where I had set up three of my favorite images into a Color Swatch set in the Preset Manager. Using this grouping of colors seems to be improving my color choices since these colors all seem to go together nicely. The three images whose colors I created my Color Swatch set were from: Wild Roses and Irises by John La Farge, Sunrise by Phil Sabado (apparently the Sunrise painting is not circulation anymore but all his art is beautiful so his website is linked), and The Picnic Party by Jack Vetriano. The tree colors are definitely from Wild Roses and Irises and the soft reed colors are from The Picnic Party. I am using these specific swatches a lot for my creative images. Also, if you find you want to add a color not in the loaded Color Swatch set, at bottom of the Swatches Panel click the first icon, Create New Swatch of Foreground Color or right click in swatches and select Add New Preset – it loads at the end of color swatches. Right click on a color and select Delete Swatch to remove it.

Screenshot of my color swatches for an image

This image below was also from my Tidbits Blog (see A Wintry Scene) and used the same Color Swatch set. This time different green colors were used. The dark colors picked up the greenish dark tones and even the sky tends toward the cooler colors  that improved the overall color quality.

Image of a Wintry Scene that I painted

How To Create Swatches in Corel Painter

In Painter they are called Color Set Libraries instead of Color Swatches or Color Tables. Open the image in Painter that you want to use for sampling from the color swatches. Go to Window -> Color Panel -> Color Set which puts Color Set Libraries panel on your screen. Click in the upper right pop-out menu of panel and select New Color Set from Image. Name and select the number of colors, just like in Photoshop’s Indexed Color dialog box. Say okay and it automatically adds the swatches to the bottom of the Color Sets listed. To remove, just click on pop out and select Color Set Libraries – just remove the check mark by clicking on it and it disappears. This is much easier to create your swatches than in Photoshop, but it is harder to remove colors you do not want to keep as there is no Preset Manager – icons at the bottom of panel must be used. I do not use this feature as much in Painter since there are several other ways to sample colors (for example, loading the artist’s image in the Mixer Pad, using it as a Reference Image, or adding it as a source in Clone Panel).


The swatches are not that hard to create and can be loaded for use whenever you want that color theme for your new painting. It is great Photoshop will create the colors in famous paintings to let you actually get the exact color for the blacks and light colors that they used. Just using the wrong colors in a black can totally ruin an image. I hope you will try making a few Color Swatch sets of your favorite paintings and images. You may find you get some great combinations that will really improve the color in your new creations. Until next time…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of bushes with snow created in Corel PainterBeen doing a lot of experimenting and learning about Corel Painter brushes and thought I would share how my Weed Brush was created. This process is very similar to what is done in Photoshop but requires a few different steps. The above image is an example of just playing in the program, with a little help from Photoshop. It is fun to sometimes not use a photo but just paint. I had never understood how the Painter brushes worked until I started taking Jason Maranto’s Brush Engine Essentials at the Digital Art Academy . These are the most thorough and informative videos that teach everything about how all the brush dab types work all the way through the manipulation of the different panel sliders that apply to each dab type. Probably overkill if you do not love brushes, but since I do, these are an absolutely fabulous way to learn about the brushes and at your own pace! I will be watching his Brush Engine Extended videos soon and hopefully will be creating some watercolor images with my own brushes!

A captured “dab” brush was created to use as the basis for the large bushes that are the main subject of this image. (This always confused me – a dab is the actual mark laid down by the brush – a stroke is made of many dabs created by moving your stylus before lifting it from the canvas. A captured dab can originally be made up of several strokes that are now captured into one dab by following this method – and this is what I did to create the second brush below.) Therefore I thought I would go over how this brush was created in Painter with a few tips I have learned.

Image of captured brush dab in Corel PainterHere are the basic steps that were used to create this brush:

1. Created a square document to keep the proportions of the brush accurate. Painter will let you make a brush up to 750 pixels, but you do not want to make it that large or else it will slow your computer way down when using it. Choose an amount that is approximately the largest size you will need so no artifacting occurs. Try something in the range of 128 to 256 pixels for both the width and height sizes and set the resolution to 150 ppi. The brush above was set to 200 pixels square.

2. I used the Airbrush Category Fine Tip Soft Air with these settings:  Size 4.0, Opacity 100% which creates “a smooth fast-drawing tool” according to the now defunct Corel Magazine Issue #24 where they talked about the Airbrushes. (If you have any of the them, they are still great references for even the current version of Painter.) Since brushes will look best if created in black and white, select black color and paint a stroke similar to the one above on the Canvas. Corel will make the dab black and white if you do not and the results are not always great.

3. Select the whole brush document to CTRL+A and then go to Brushes -> Capture Dab. To deselect, press CTRL+D. Just to be safe, at this point I usually save the new brush by going to Brushes -> Save Variant and select a category for saving the brush.

4. Open the Dab Preview Panel to see how your new capture brush dab looks. Now it’s time to tweak your brush.

-General Panel Subcategory was changed to Grainy Hard Cover to pick more texture in the paper. Leave it to Soft Cover to get brighter more solid lines in your dab.

-If the brush is not a circular, go to the Angle Panel and change it from a 25 degree angle to something more reasonable or 0 for none. The above is set to 8 degrees for a slight variation with an Expression set to Pressure.

-The spacing of the dabs needs to be set in the Spacing Panel – set to 200% for one dab without overlapping. My brush is set to 56% Spacing and Min. Spacing of 0.1.

-Color Variability Panel Settings were used to get the variation in color. These need to be tweaked quite a bit to get the effect you want in your brush, if you want this look. For my brush, the H (Hue) was set to 15%, S (Saturation) 30%, and V (Value) 6% since I wanted that colorful variation. Do not open this panel if you do not want this effect.

-The Size Panel is set to 200 pixels, Min Size 29%, Expression Pressure, and Size Step 14%.

-The Opacity Panel is set to 100% for the Opacity, but Min. Opacity to 64% for some variation, and an Expression of 76%.

5. The last step is to update the brush you saved with the new settings by going to Brushes -> Set Default Variant. Next time you open brush, your new settings are there.

You do not have to use any of these settings for your captured dab. This is an example of how my Weed brush was put together to get the wispy texturized effect. By adjusting the size and changing the Color Variability and Subcategory, very different results can be obtained with the same dab. There are many other panels which will influence your stroke. By pressing the last icon on the Menu bar with the dot and brush, you can see which panels affect this brush for more choices.

For the rest of the image, here are the steps used. Each brush used was placed on a different layer so the opacity could be individually adjusted. The clouds were created by using a couple of brushes from Karen Bonaker’s Around the World Clouds that are free from her website. The Impressionist Sky brush is definitely a great one to begin with – then use a blender brush to smooth the edges. To really create some wonderful clouds, follow her Corel Webinar called Corel Painter Mixed Media Painting to really learn how to use all the brushes. The 3rd example is about creating the clouds.
Image as completed in Corel PainterOnce finished in Painter, the image above was brought into Photoshop where French Kiss’ Brayer Blocks 02 was used (it is very similar to her Free Photo Mask on her website if you would like to try out the effect) to add the whole scene onto it. A pink Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between layers) to the block to remove the black color in the block. This was done by creating a group in the Layer Panel, duplicating the group, right click and select Merge Group, and turn off the eyeball of the original group. Now you have just the elements alone to clip to the Brayer Block layer. (See Related Blog below for more info on this.) On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReStyle was applied using a preset I created way back that gives a bluish tone to rather bright original. My free SJ Snow 2-Overlay-slightly blurred overlay was added on top and set to 94% layer opacity. On a separate layer under the trees I used Fay Sirkis’s Snow Classic Powder Highlights (I love her brushes! If you are a KelbyOne member, they can be downloaded from her older webinars) but as you can see just a simple whitish sponge brush could be used to add a little snow. A light blue Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added since the blue tone effect was just not right – it was set to Color blend mode at 41% layer opacity. The last step was to use the Camera Raw Filter Radial Filter to emphasize the middle bushes to draw the eye.


Above image painted in Corel Painter of a skierThis image used the same brush created above, but this time several dabs were put down in a document and then it was saved as a new brush called Lots of Weeds. The reason there are bare spaces between the trees is that it was not converted to a black and white brush first, so the lighter variations did not appear. I did not mind that as it gave a totally different feel to the same stroke. Below is the brush file used to create the new one in Painter.Brush Created in Painter for above imageThe trees were on a separate layer, some sprayed snow was placed underneath on a different layer, and then the file was saved as a psd file and brought into Photoshop. The skier is from a free brush pack by brusheezy called Vectoroom Snowy 2.0 and the skier was rotated in the Brush Panel Brush Tip Shape section to approximately -45 degrees, spacing set to 1000% and size down to about 80 pixels to get the downhill effect correct. I used the Blur Tool to slightly soften the edges of the skier. A think pencil effect was used to the the slight ski lines. The original tree layer from Painter was duplicated and set to Vivid Light blend mode and a Drop Shadow layer style was added to give a setting sun feeling. (Blend Mode Multiply, Opacity 55%, Angle -33, Distance t0 px, Spread 0, and Size 13.) Jai Johnson’s beautiful free Iced Blue Canvas texture was added on top, set to Multiply blend mode. In the Layer Mask the Blend If This Layer white tab was split (ALT+drag to split) and set to 130/209 and on the Underlying Layer the white tab was set to 239/255 – this gives the sort of snowy effect granular effect I wanted in the image. On a stamped version (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E), Topaz ReStyle’s Snow Cover II was applied. (Here are the settings if you want them: ReStyle to Layer Opacity of 81% and set to Multiply blend mode. Set Basic to Color Blend Mode; Tone Black Level 0.17, Midtones -0.16, and White Color -0.37; and Detail Structure to 0.14 and Sharpness to -0.39.) This layer was set to 55% and on a Layer Mask, just the skier and center focal point area was lightly painted out. That was it and it gives a totally different look from the above with essentially the same brush.

As you can see, it is major fun to create brushes in Corel Painter if you can figure out what you need to do to make it look good. The brush classes really help. There are also several You Tube videos that I have found to be really helpful with these settings. Check out Karen Bonaker’s Favorite Brushes-Artists Sargent Brush, Heather Michelle’s Brushology 101 for Corel Painter, and Cher Pendarvis-Theiren’s Painter Wow! Exploring Brush Expression videos, for starters. They contain some great tips on how to create brushes and use the brush engine panels. Hope you get a chance to try out some new brushes – it is so much fun!

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Bring a Corel Painter Brush into Photoshop
How To use a Photo Frame Mask (using Brayer Blocks)


A Valentines Day Wish for You with a vase and flowersHappy Valentines Day to everyone! Finally got a chance to get create a valentine for one of my favorite holidays! I took some still life type images today and used this wonderful pitcher purchased a while back at at the Deland Antiques Show. I bought the fake flowers at Michael Arts and Crafts Stores. Used Seim’s and 2 Lil’s Owls Studios (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for both website links) in Lightroom before bringing the image into Photoshop. Topaz (also linked at my Tidbits Blog above) Detail 3 was applied to overall sharpen up the detail. Then the hearts were adding using a valentine brush I created – to get the random opening in the heart, use a dual brush. The background doily was from Design Cuts Valentine Poster Freebies and a Pattern Fill Layer and a Gradient Fill Layer using a red gradient were clipped to the doily object. Some layer style effects were added to make it stand out a little. Similar effect was created using little valentines and setting the Color Dynamics section to add different colors. On a stamped layer Topaz ReStyle’s Pastel Green Field preset was added. The last step was to add the valentine pattern on the background just to add some interest.

Another Valentine this time using Corel PainterThis is another Still Life image created using a different pitcher. I like this plain white vase as it is easy to put things on it, like the soft pink valentine, to fit your theme.  So the original raw file was opened Lightroom where I used Jack Davis’s Five Step Tango from his videos at Creative Live to clean up the image. In Photoshop the image was sharpened using Topaz Detail 3. It was changed to an 8 bit image for Painter at this point. Then in Painter, 4 source images were created. A source using Topaz ReStyle was used the most to get the warm pinkish colors. Just did the basic painting steps to lay out the background and then bring in the object details. My favorite brush for this image was one from Legacy brushes called Medium Bristle Oils 25. Also one created from watching Commercial Packaging Illustration with Michael Bast – a Corel webinar. He uses a Distorto Brush that breaks up the texture – it really works great to get rid of those really eye drawing sharp lines. Painted Textures‘ Concrete Canvas was added and a Layer Mask was used to bring back the flowers. The layer was set to Multiply blend mode before bringing back into Photoshop. Here a very basic heart was added onto the pitcher and warped to look correct – then Pink Sherbert Dirty Grunge texture (not sure this is available anymore) was added and clipped (ALT+click between layers to clip) to get the right color in the heart. The heart layer was set to 63% layer opacity. The font is Kingthings Pique’n’meex, and a Levels Adjustment Layer was added last.

Hope everybody is having a great day!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of Somewhere in ScotlandCould not resist blogging just a little bit on what I did recently in my favorite programs, even though I am taking a vacation from blogging. The above image was post-processed in Photoshop – an image in Scotland that I overlooked. Won’t go into great detail as this was pretty basic – each was done on a duplicate layer – Shake Reduction filter, Topaz (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Clarity Clouds 1 preset, then Clarity Color and Contrast III preset, Topaz Glow using the Room Glow Blake Rudis preset created in blog link below, a couple Selective Color Adjustments Layers, one for the clouds in particular, and Nik Viveza 2 to adjust vignetting.
Landscape image painted in Corel PainterJust created a little impressionistic painting following the basic steps from Thomas Churchwell’s video called Turner Style Painting in Corel Painter using Marilyn Sholin Brushes. I did have to add the my image in as a Source in the Clone Panel for me to get it all the brushes to clone correctly. And a pretty rough paper texture worked best on the canvas for the effect. Love the free cloner brushes from Marilyn (see bottom blog link below for site).

Well that is it – have a good week!

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Get the Soft Glow in Topaz Glow
Corel Painter’s Auto-Painting Results – Not Bad!


Painted image of AlionaThis week I thought I would show just where I am in my painting journey from one year ago. Since my New Years Resolution last year was to really learn to digitally paint, it has been a huge endeavor, and I have so much more to learn. With that said, I feel I have come a long way. Since I was pretty much clueless on even the basics of painting, it has been a lot of fun to understand some of these principles and try to apply them. Therefore, I present where I am and a few notes on how I got here.

The first major step I took last year was learning how to paint digitally in Photoshop. I also found I actually enjoy painting people in Photoshop, but it takes a huge amount of time to get them just right.  Not many people are teaching this. Melissa Gallo of Painted Textures may have the best program around – check out her Painting with Photoshop Workshop. The key to both learning both Photoshop and Painter are the brushes: changing the settings quickly while painting, and how the strokes are applied. It has helped me to watch Melissa’s videos, and others in the case of Painter, to learn how to do this effectively. Painted Textures Baby Gold and her Oil Sketch Brush (both come with her workshop) were used to get the above result.


Image of flowers painted in Corel Painter and PhotoshopThese are some of my fake flowers I photographed. As I continued on my journey, the image was painted in Corel Painter X13, then in Photoshop’s Topaz (see website link in sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) ReStyle plug-in and texture were added to get the beautiful color. In Restyle my favorite preset was applied – Cream and Plum (set Detail to -1.00 and Sharpness to +1.00; in Masks painted out the pink main flower and some of the flowers just above and to the bottom left). Painted Textures Dark Naples Yellow Canvas was added twice, once set to Multiply blend mode at 36% layer opacity and the second set to Hard Light blend mode at 48% layer opacity. Try stacking the same texture with different blend modes and opacities to get some beautiful effects.


Image of a still life painted in Corel PainterAfter viewing lots of videos from several people, I have started to learn how to use Corel Painter with a better understanding of its brush engine – the key to the whole program. Compared to Photoshop, this program is “brushes on steroids!” Besides learning how to actually stroke the brushes and using their different panels, there is a lot to learn on how they interact with the different Painter papers to create the same beautiful effects actually seen in the traditional field of painting. The above was an image that used a still life photo provided by Melissa Gallo in her Autumn Still Life Studio course. (Yes, I added the geometric background – I seem to enjoy this effect in my paintings!) My next step is setting up some of my own still life shots – I keep on the look-out for inexpensive flowers and props for trying this. And obviously I am still learning to paint, but this image represents to me that I have come a long way!


Image of some flowers painted in Corel Painter and PhotoshopHere is one of my latest creations painted in Corel Painter using a grocery store phone image. One of the things I learned was how to use different sources to add color and depth to your painting – in this case Topaz ReStyle’s Nordic Punch preset was used to help paint this image. In Photoshop Kim Klassen’s May Magic Pack 2 overlay was set to Color Dodge blend mode at 52% layer opacity and Painted Textures Winter Storm left set to normal at 100% layer opacity.


Wintry image painted in Corel Painter and finished in PhotoshopThis image was created in Corel Painter using Karen Bonaker’s brushes – mainly her Bare Trees brush from her Holiday 2014 Brush Set, the 7-deer variant from her previous holiday set, and cloud brushes from her July Clouds set – all these are free brushes that can be downloaded at her site Karen Bonaker Art. She is so nice to give us newbies to Painter a chance to try her great brushes. This image started out using all colors of yellow but added Topaz ReStyle plug-in in Photoshop. I created the yellow texture and used it to get the wintry snowy look. It was set to the Difference blend mode at 73% layer opacity along with Blend If This layer white tab split and set to 198/221 and Underlying Layer black tab split and set to 199/255. Then one of my favorite presets was applied in ReStyle. (Here are the settings for my SJ BW with greens preset: Peppermint Gray preset as a starting point. ReStyle Opacity – 76%; Color Style: Sat-Primary -0.14, Secondary 0.48, Third 0.30, Fourth 0, and Fifth -0.58; and Basic Color Temperature -0.58, Tint -0.22, and Saturation -0.11. These changes were then applied to the preset: Texture Strength 1.00; Basic blend mode set to Screen, Temperature set to -0.58, Tint -0.22, and Saturation -0.11; Black Level 0.05, Midtones -0.50, and White Level -0.58; and Detail Structure to 0.56.)

I hope you enjoyed seeing my progress, or what I consider progress. There are so many people out there that are doing great digital paintings. Besides the resources mentioned above, the following people have really helped me with my journey: Jason Maranto (check out his free Corel 2015 Video Manual – it’s wonderful), Jeremy Sutton (his Corel Painter X3 videos from Creative Live was a great help-and his way of painting is very interesting), Cher Threinen-Pendarvis (her books including the Painter Wow books are totally the best!), Marilyn Sholin, Carolyn Beccia (she teaches actual painting techniques in her The Digital Renaissance book), Fay Sirkis (get her videos and brushes at Kelby One – she is the one who got me started using Painter way back at Photoshop World), and, of course, Skip Allen! I am sure there are others I have forgotten to mention, but all of these people have been so kind to share their expertise that it makes learning how to paint just lots of fun!

I am assuming my creative buddies had some similar successes last year! I plan on working hard this year to continue learning and trying out some new types of brushes for some different effects. Oh yes, the most important thing I have learned is that you need to paint at least a little bit each day as it is very easy to forget what you learned! Practice, practice, practice! In the meantime have a wonderful New Year and lets see how much progress we make this year!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of a Santa Claus Christmas cardSince it is the time of year many people are creating cards, I thought I would post a few using some of my favorite resources and showing some of the ways to use their items.

The Santa card above was created using a tutorial created by Design Cuts for a holiday party flyer. I started following this tutorial and finished it up my own way. If you have not been checking out Design Cuts for some wonderful textures, fonts, vectors, brushes, actually anything needed for graphic design and just plain fun in Photoshop, then you need to check into this site. It presents wonderful resources at very reasonable prices. And they always have tutorials to try out and freebies – so even if you do not purchase the particular package they are offering at the moment, you can still try out some of what they are offering. Can’t say enough good things about them. The tutorial being followed is called Design A Retro Style Christmas Cocktail Party Invite and to be honest, it is rather complicated. If you follow the steps exactly, it does give the results they achieved. The background used tutorial texture Paper 15 from Lost & Taken in a group called 42 Free Vintage Paper Textures. Then followed their Steps 3 through 5 for the type effects and background. I also added 2 Lil’ Owls (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Vintage Papers 8 set to Multiply blend mode at 34% layer opacity under the green strips (from their tutorial) to get more of a candy cane look in the background. The Santa was the one from their Step 6 downloaded from Graphics Fairy. When added as a layer, it was taken into Select -> Color Range and in drop-down, select White and check Invert Box. Now the black outline was selected and a Layer Mask was added. Right click on the mask and select Apply Layer Mask – it is now a transparent line image. New Layers were created underneath the outlined Santa and using my Chalk 60 Brush set to Angle Jitter of 19% at 30% brush opacity, the beard, mustache, eyebrows, and hat were painted in white; the face was painted a light pink; and the cheeks and lips were painted a brighter pink. Adjust the opacity to make it look right. A red Color Fill Layer set to Color blend mode at 94% layer opacity was placed on top and clipped (ALT+click between the two layers to clip) to the Santa graphic to give the black areas some reddish tones. Also added 2 Lil’ Owls Creative Masks Set 2-20 mask, which is a black texture, set to Screen at 75% opacity – just added to the vintage feel. Still with me? One of my new finds is Nicky Laatz – her Watercolor packages. This image used her Instant Watercolor Set, which also came from one of Design Cuts wonderful packages. I love what she does with type! Her Form 24 was used to create this watercolor effect on the Merry Christmas text which by the way is Ornatique font. A New Layer was created using Santa (and the flying reindeer) in Christmas Brushes by Flina, one of my all time favorite Christmas brushes, and set to Multiply blend mode at 79% layer opacity. Two layers of my free Snow 1 Overlay were applied to just the bottom section of the card. The last step involved adding a Curves Adjustment Layer on top to add back some contrast into the final card. Sounds like a lot, but it was basically just created by working through different sections of their tutorial and adding my own twist. I love holiday cards!
Image of a Christmas Card created in both Painter and PhotoshopWhat started out as a simple card always turns into a major project as I keep experimenting. This was so much fun to create. The card was started in Corel Painter using the wonderful Painter Holiday brushes by Karen Bonaker, who has graciously made them available to the Painter community. (If you use Painter at all, you have to check these brushes out – great fun!) I have used several of her previous holiday brushes for many years and never tire of them. She recently updated all her free brushes so they are completely compatible with Painter X3 and Painter 2015.  Check out her new holiday brushes and you will find the deer, brushes for making trees, snow and snowfall brushes. By putting some of them on layers, they could be brought into Photoshop and manipulated more using layer styles. Text font called Kingthings Christmas 2 was used. Also I added some snow on the trees in Photoshop. This was pretty much just trying out different things.

Christmas Card collage This was just totally fun trying different objects and putting them together. To do this I first used my SJ 5 Opening Template as a guideline and turned it 45 degrees. After that it was simply trying different little Christmas objects and giving them different layer styles to get the looks I liked. Since I wanted a vintage feel to this card, several of the objects are from two of my favorite vintage resources. The Santa image, Christmas Clip-art Poinsettias, and Merry Christmas typography are all from a terrific site called Graphics Fairy.  The Bird on Branch Silhouette and Vintage Tag Roses were from another wonderful site called The Old Design Shop. Both these sites have lots of vintage items and most are free to download. The beautiful vintage background texture is from Painted Textures called Scattered Leaves. The Christmas Tree I painted in Corel Painter and brought into Photoshop. Most of the items were lined up basically with the template, and then the black box layers were just deleted so they did not show up on the edges. Most of the items have layer styles applied to the layers using various color strokes or glows. This was basically just experimenting. The last step involved adding my Snow Overlay that can be downloaded in section on first image. I enjoyed putting the different items together to get this total vintage effect.

I hope you all have are having a great Holiday Season. I also hope everyone has a few new things to try out on the computer during this wonderful time of year!…..Digital Lady Syd


Painted image of a yellow gerbera daisyI just had to retry the auto-painting aspect of Corel Painter just to remember what it really does. Most digital painting artists would not even consider using this part of the program, but it was fun to experiment with it this week. The yellow gerbera daisy was partially auto-painted and partially hand-painted. By following a short 6 part video series by Corel Painter’s Michelle Chinn called Easy Auto-painting, the above was achieved pretty easily and quickly. She demonstrated how to stop and start the auto-painting process so brushes can be changed and their individual settings adjusted. Two Elliptical Marquee Selections were used, one for the flower and one for the center, to contain the auto-painting to just those areas. (The selections can be inverted to auto-paint on the outside area by going to Select -> Invert.) Give this a try if you are interested in getting some nice quick painting effects or want to lay down a nice foundation for hand-painting follow-up. Since auto-painting is not limited to the clone brushes, one of my regular brushes was used to auto-paint in the background and a smaller one for more detail in the selections. Afterward a blender brush and the same small detail brush were used to actually paint on the image, just do not go to the Restoration Panel if you want to hand-paint in the image. I still love to hand-paint and will probably redo this flower just to see what the difference will be.

Image of a store on Southwark Street in LondonThis image followed the instructions in Auto-Painting Magic with Painter Master Marilyn Sholin, a wonderful webinar from a while back. This was so much fun! The technique is similar to the one in the videos above, but with her own twist on it. Not sure this is exactly my painting style, but I totally enjoyed trying out her workflow. Basically I followed all her steps pretty closely using my image of a nice little sandwich bar/delicatessen called Harpers on Southwark Street in London. (Apparently it is now Costa Coffee and the building architecture has been totally redone and not near as interesting-see above link.) In Painter Marilyn’s MS_MUSHV_Cloner from her Free Cloner Brushes set was used to do the auto-painting and some clean up. Back in Photoshop more clean up was done with the Mixer Brushes for both blending and adding in some details. A Levels Adjustment Layer was created to increase the contrast. Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and instead of using the Tonal Contrast, like Marilyn suggested, the Darken/Lighten Center with the lighten centered on the people at the table was applied to pull them out a little. Also the Detail Extractor was set to fine and the Opacity to 57%. The actual Layer Opacity in Photoshop was set to 84%. The last step used John Derry’s Varnish Gloss Light Layer Style from John’s Impasto for Photoshop set where the Shading Highlight Mode was reduced to 41%. Give this webinar a try if you have Corel Painter XII, X3 or 2015 – Marilyn did a very good job with it – easy to understand and some great tips in it.
Painted image of Native American Boy
Loved this image of a Native American boy in costume taken at the Native American Festival earlier this year. Just wanted to try one more Painter auto-painting image – this time the child was selected out of the original image in Photoshop and saved before taking into Painter. Just did the same basic steps – ran auto-painter with the larger brushes, then did more individual painting with the smaller detail brush. Afterwards brought the image back into Photoshop and did more clean up with my Chalk 60 brush set to 19% Angle Jitter. 2 Lil’ Owls (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Cosmos 11 texture was applied and set to Linear Light. In the layer style, the Blend If This Layer white tab was split (ALT+click on tab) and set to 116/189 – it brought out the feathers better. To add the gold painted texture, just used a brush I created (see my How to Paint with a Texture Brush from Your Image blog) from French Kiss texture called Atelier Georgia – it makes a really nice textured brush set and was set to a low layer opacity. (See sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link.) Used a layer mask to remove the paint off the child. Added a Curves Adjustment Layer to add contrast to finish the image.

As you can see, there are lots of variations you can get – pretty much the same as if you painted the image. The related blogs below both contain other examples of the auto-painting feature. I still like painting the image myself, but I do believe auto-painting is not a bad way to go if you do not have a lot of time to create a painting, or just want to get the first blocked-in step done quickly. It might also be handy to try out different brushes to see if you like the results when using in painting. Also, anytime I can combine Painter and Photoshop I am having a blast! So go out and experiment. I believe the referenced videos will work on at least the last 3 versions of Painter. Have a nice week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Related Blogs:
Some Pros and Cons of Corel Painter (And Why I still Love Photoshop)
Topaz Restyle with Corel Painter & Nik Analog Efex Pro


Image of outdoor cafe in Edinburgh, ScotlandSince such a busy week so I thought I would just post some of the painterly effects I have been trying and maybe give you some new ideas to improve your digital artistic flair! The above was done completely with Photoshop plug-ins – I am always amazed at how these results can be achieved with a little mix and matching! This image used Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Clarity, Topaz Impression twice, Topaz ReStyle, and Nik Viveza 2. For the specific settings, check out Image 1 info at end of blog.

Image of some painted looking gondolasThese gondolas I had actually painted in Corel Painter before opening them up in the Smart Photo Editor. Check out Image 2 info for the shorter details in this case!

Image of some red roses paintedThis is an image I did mostly in Corel Painter 2015, but finished up in Photoshop. The roses were painted from an image taken at the grocery store and painted on a gray background where the finished image was saved as a Photoshop file in Painter. See Image 3 for more info.

Image of a Bird Still LifeThis image I set up and took in my home-sort of a little still life. Wanted to remind everyone that Photoshop still does a great job of getting that painterly look with its wonderful brush engine. This image used Melissa Gallo’s Antique Rose Canvas texture for the beautiful background effect. More info under Image 4 below.

I know I have said it several times before, but it is definitely a lot of fun to mix and match the different softwares and plug-ins to get different effects. This is definitely worth the time exploring if you are interested in creating unique artistic effects. Now that there are so many apps that can be uploaded to fix up phone images, it is hard to look unique and not just canned. That is why you have to pay attention to how these programs work together. Hope you get some time to paint and play with your plug-ins over the holidays and try out some new combinations……Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Painterly Plug-ins – So Many Choices, So Many Choices!
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Smart Photo Editor Photoshop Plug-In
Getting Back to Playing in Photoshop

Image 1:  Started in Lightroom with a preset I created from David duChemin’s wonderful, but dated book, called Vision & Voice which used Lightroom 3. It is just a Split Toning setting which means it can be used with other Lightroom settings. Highlight Hue is 50, Saturation 60, Shadows Hue 266 and Saturation 35 – that’s it! I have used this preset a lot in the past as it creates a very pretty tint. Clean up was done to remove some people walking. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Clarity’s Color & Contrast Boost III preset was applied as is. On a new stamped layer, Topaz Impression’s Charcoal I preset was applied. Then the layer style was opened (double click on the layer to open) and set the Blend Mode to Divide, Opacity to 32%, Blend If Gray-This Layer white split tab (ALT and drag to separate) and set to 90/156. Added a Solid Color Fill Layer set to Color Blend Mode using R77G51B31 reddish/sepia tone. Topaz Impression was applied on a new Stamped Layer using my Watercolor-like effect on buildings preset – what the heck is this! Okay, this little preset is one I am using a lot in this plug-in so you would like to try it, here are the settings for SJ WC like effect on bldgs preset (started with Watercolor II preset and these were the final settings: Stroke Type 04, Brush Size 0.91, Paint Volume 0.42, Paint Opacity 0.87, Stroke Width 0.33, Stroke Length 0.89, Spill 0.23, Smudge 26, Coverage 1.00, Color Overall Hue 0.15, Saturation -0.20 and Lightness 0.06; Red Sat 0.47 and 0.14; Orange Sat 0.60 and Lightness -0.42; Yellow Sat -0.33 and Lightness 0.13; Green Sat 0.20 and Lightness -0.32; and Blue Sat 0.36; Lighting Brightness -0.04, Contrast 0.39, Vignette 0, and Light Direction X0.33 and Y0.06; and Texture Strength 0.78, Size 0.30, Canvas IV, Background Type solid white, and Background color used #d38967 – all other settings not listed at 0.) Adjust your color swatches to get other color tones – this is the secret to this preset. Next was Topaz ReStyle set to my SJ BW with greens preset (changed ReStyle blend mode to Color; Color Style Sat Primary -0.14, Secondary 0.48, Third 0.77 and Fifth -0.58; Lum Third 0.57; Basic Opacity 76% and blend mode Luminosity; Color Temperature -0.58, Tint -0.22, Saturation -0.11; Tone Black Level -0.59, Midtones -0.16, and White Level 0.36; and Detail Structure 0.73). On a new Stamped layer, opened Nik Viveza 2 and just add a little extra Structure, Contrast, Saturation and Warmth on the people in the center – basically my focal point area. Next another Stamped layer and Photoshop’s Gaussian Blur was applied using a Radius of 8.4. Adding a black layer mask, paint out just some of the signs so you cannot see all the writing too clearly – it draws away from the focal point. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added to add back some contrast. Next a Color Balance Adjustment Layer was added (Highlights Cyan-Red -5, Magenta-Green -4, and Yellow-Blue -37; Midtones Cyan-Red -2, Magenta-Green -6, and Yellow-Blue +17; and Shadows Cyan-Red +2, Magenta-Green -6, and Yellow-Blue -3). Next I painted a white edge frame around the image. This was a rather extensive workflow, but I love the results!

Image 2: The Photo art at a click of 050 preset by andrewb2012 was applied. (Here were the settings: Effect Controls: Master Fade all the way right; Multi-color Match 0.81, Exp -0.029, Highlight Clipping 0.254, High Clip Detail 0.044, Vibrance 0.673, Hue -1.000, Sat -0.312, Bright 1.156, Gamma -0.223, Contrast -0.085, High Clipl 0.421, High Clipl Detail 0.54, Vibrance 0.85, Hue 0.146, and Sat 0.265.) Used Grunge White Border by superdave to add the pretty edging, and then went out of Smart Photo Editor. Took the same layer back into Smart Photo Editor and applied the Photo art preset again with a little less Master Fade. This produced quite an interesting effect. This plug-in is so much fun!

Image 3: To learn to do this effect in Corel Painter, I have to thank Melissa Gallo and her Painter Workshop for Photographers and the Autumn Still Life Workshop. If you use Painter and want to get the most out of your brushes, definitely sign up for one of her future workshops. In Photoshop Two Little Owl’s Shabby Creek texture was applied and was set to Darker Blend Mode at 61% layer opacity. In the Layer Style the Blend If Gray This Layer white tab was split to 190/227. French Kiss’s Brayer Blocks 13 was added and a copy of the background layer was clipped to the png file (ALT+click between the layers to clip). A Stamped layer was created on top and Topaz ReStyle was opened using the Orange Bush in Snow preset (these settings were adjusted: ReStyle opacity 57%, Hue Primary -0.89, Third -0.31, and Fourth 0.30; Sat Primary 0.84 and Secondary -0.03; Lum Primary -0.06, Secondary 0.25, Third -0.62, Fourth -0.16, and Fifth 0.08; Texture Strength 1.00; Basic Blend Mode Color; Temperature 0.22, Tint 0.50, and Saturation -0.17; Tone Black Level 0.41, Midtones -0.39, and White Level 0.13; and Detail Structure 0.86 and Sharpness 0.45). Nik Viveza 2 was used to emphasize the top rose and add a little structure into the bottom two roses. Four New Layers were used to selectively sharpen and paint in to fix distracting areas. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added for more contrast and another Levels Adjustment Layer was created. The layer mask was turned to black by CTRL+clicking in the mask and painting back just the very center of the flower.

Image 4: This image was done totally in Photoshop following the directions of Melissa Gallo’s Painting with Photoshop. This was definitely the turning point for me in understanding the brushes and how to use them. This image was cleaned up a lot and Topaz Detail 3 was used to sharpen up the image. Most of the technique is how Melissa uses layers and brushes to get the final effect. Just wanted to let everyone to know that Photoshop can be very effective as an artistic form. Just experiment with the different types of brushes and you may be surprised how nice an effect you can get from them.


Sign on a deserted beach in Spanish Cay in the BahamasLittle bit of a strange title, but that is exactly where I am with this huge program. I decided to try and see what I could do with this new version of Corel Painter 2015 (this website has lots of resources to help you out), but I must be honest and say I keep falling back on my Photoshop painting experience. I was having a hard time deciding if it was worth the upgrade since I am still just learning this program. I do believe I am happy with the new version if for no other reason than it seems to be running a lot smoother on my older computer. Since I have not fully explored all the new “bells and whistles,” I am not considering this a review – just showing you what I am trying out using this updated version of Painter – I by no means have even scratched the surface of this program. For those who are in the know about Painter, Aaron Rutten has a great video on all the new things called What’s New In Corel Painter 2015 that I just watched and was really surprised at all the updates (he also gives useful tips on how to use them).

The sign image above was located on a beautiful beach on a basically deserted cay – only a marina and small hotel/restaurant were open – but lots of abandoned buildings from the 1990’s were still standing. It was taken at Spanish Cay in the Abacos. Most people only stop here in their boats to get through Customs for entering The Bahamas. This image was first processed in Lightroom using Seim’s (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Power Workflow 4 Super Hero X-Natural preset. The lettering was also sharpened with a Local Brush set to high in Clarity and Sharpen. In Photoshop clean up was done to the image and Topaz (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail 3 was used to sharpen up just the lettering again (a black mask was added to the Detail layer and only the signs were painted back). A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to get rid of some of the shadows on the signs – once again a black layer mask was applied and just the brightened shadow areas were blended back into the image. Topaz Adjust 5’s French Countryside preset (one of a couple of my favorites in Adjust) was applied and this time a white layer mask was added in Photoshop and only the lettering brought back since there is some diffusion going on in this preset.

I opened up the original image in Corel Painter 2015 to try it out. I selected a clone brush using the Cloner Category – Bristle Brush Cloner (which is not new) to paint in the signs and some foreground on the Canvas layer. On a New Layer above I used Karen Bonaker’s July Cloud Category brushes (these were made for the X3 version, but once Imported they seem to work fine) – she did a wonderful video using her Cloud Brushes called Corel Painter Mixed Media Painting (if you have the time, it is worth the watch) and she lets you download them for free from the Digital Arts Academy – actually love all her brushes but these are especially nice. Her Simple Cloud brush was used to create the blue water effect and her Soft Cloud New and Summer Sky brushes were used in the sky. On another New Layer from the new Particles Category – my SJ Spring Feathers Sketch brush variant was used – same as the original Particle brush variant designed by Cher Pendarvis (of Painter Wow! book fame and another one of my favorite Corel Masters) for outlining the signs except in the Brush Calibration Panel the Enable Brush Calibration was checked – the brush just worked better for me this way. I did learn that if you open up this little gem of a panel and check the Enable Brush Calibration box and either adjust the sliders or open up the brush window to add your own stroke effect, you can override your general brush calibration settings and make it specific for this brush variant. Very cool! To learn more about this brush, check out her short video called Painter 2015 Particle Feather Sketch Brush – this brush is turning out to be a new favorite for me. To learn about brush calibration in major detail, check out Jason Maranto’s Chapter 04 Part 01 video on Brush Tracking (I have been following his free Painter 2015 Video Manual series on You Tube – he is doing a fabulous job covering this program.) The image was now saved as a Photoshop (PSD file) and reopened in Photoshop.

Now the cool thing – opened up both versions in Photoshop. Did some clean up to the Corel file layers and added a stamped copy on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E). Copied the Topaz Detail layer into this image to restore the sign lettering. This could be done by adding to the Topaz Detail layer a black layer mask and painting with a white brush just the lettering, or by placing the Detail layer under the stamped Painter layer with a white layer mask and painting with a black brush the the lettering – either way works just fine. Or use the Clone Stamp Tool between the two files to restore the lettering. All work equally well. I am sure I could also have done this some way in Painter, but I have not tried that yet. On a New Layer on top, my chalk brush was set to 19% brush opacity and used to paint in the ground area in the background – the complimentary color from the blue sky tones was used as a color.  To get a complimentary color quickly invert your image (CTRL+I in image thumbnail in Layer Panel) and then sample by ALT+clicking in the image to get color, and finally undo this step. Or add an Invert Adjustment Layer, sample the image, and then delete it. Also added a little bit of this color in the foreground. Next added a Selective Color Adjustment Layer and only adjusted the Neutrals – Cyan +2, Magenta +6, Yellow +3, and Black +17 set to Absolute, just enough to pop the image a little. Another stamped layer was added and Nik Viveza 2 was applied – it was used to bring out the sky and yet slightly soften the structure, and to sharpen the signs a little more. Added a Levels Adjustment Layer and moved Midtones to 0.79 and Output Levels to 36/255. This just gave me the effect I wanted. Usually I use Curves for both of the last two layer adjustments, but I could not get it to look right so I tried something else. That is the end of my workflow for this image. It took a lot more work than I expected but I am find that this is what happens when you are looking for the right effect and working between programs. Here is a link to the first time I published this image, if you are interested.

Image of a Small Barge docked at Spanish Cay in the BahamasThis small barge that was docked at the Marina in Spanish Cay in the Bahamas. Not sure why I painted it, but it was something different to try. Admittedly, I am still in the learning process with using Painter so I am trying out different types of images. I still like doing the final tweaks back in Photoshop and find I am using almost the same workflow I used when just painting in Photoshop. So for a quick recap of how I got to this point, and unfortunately this one took me a while also, the workflow is as follows. Topaz Clarity’s Color & Contrast Boost III preset was used with no changes – wanted a more natural looking sharpening and Detail made it too crisp. Next added Painted Textures Christmas texture and set to Luminosity Blend Mode at 100% layer opacity. I decided to use this as a sort of underpainting since it gave a really simplified view of the image. A layer mask was applied and the barge and some of the pier was painted back in. On top French Kiss’s (see) Studio 3 Wave texture was applied and set to Screen at 79% layer opacity.

Image was opened in Painter several layer were created. First used more of Karen Bonaker’s wonderful July Clouds category brushes from above. On one layer used Impressionist Sky brush variant with blues and whites to create a hint of clouds – layer was set to 17% layer opacity later in Photoshop, and another layer used the Impressionist DW brush variant at 105 pixel size where different colors were added to background to give a green yellow foliage feel and add some color interest. It was also set to Multiply at 76% layer back in Photoshop later. Another Painter person to follow is Aaron Rutten – I have been trying out his Corel Painter 2015 Custom Workspace and brushes and used his Smooth Palette Knife brush variant to emphasize the white color to the barge. I like a lot of his brushes and he also has some great instructional videos on You Tube. Next layer used a brush I created after watching Painter 2015 Particle Brushes Featuring Jeremy Sutton. It was based on one of the new particle brushes, Gravity Lazy Sketch which I really like, but in the Particle General Panel, Jeremy explains some changes that can be made. For my brush I set the Count from 32 to 73, Global Chaos from 0 t0 10, and Local Chaos from 0 to 32. A rather shimmery brush was created that was used add some depth to the water areas and some of the sky. Really liked the effect. Image was then saved and brought back into Photoshop where I proceeded to add yet another layer on top where my SJ Chalk Brush as a regular brush was used to soften some of the harsh edges on the boat. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to get a good contrast. A stamped layer was created and Topaz ReStyle’s Silver and Ivory Cloak preset was used. (Here are the adjusted settings if you are interested: ReStyle Layer Opacity 66% and set to Luminosity blend mode; Color Style Hue Primary 0.14, Fourth 0.14, and Fifth -0.44; Sat Primary 0.14, Secondary 0.02, Third -0.12, Fourth -0.47, and Fifth 0.09; and Lum Secondary 0.16, Third 0.67, Fourth -0.31, and Fifth 0.06; Texture Strength -0.77; Basic Color Temperature 0.33 and Saturation 0.03; Tone Black Level 0.31, Midtones -0.27 and White Level -0.17; and Detail Structure -0.03 and Sharpness 0.66; and in Masks painted back the white of the boat using Brush Edge Aware, Strength 0.55; Brush Size 0.25 and Hardness 0.30, then switched to Strength 0.18 and painted a bit of the in barge softly.) Set this layer back in Photoshop to Overlay at 71% layer opacity. Created another stamped layer on top and this time opened up Nik Viveza – added 13 control points to get the colors the way I liked them! Not sure I have ever used this many before. Mainly wanted to make sure the barge was working properly as the focal point. That was about it. I am always amazed how much work goes into creating these paintings, but usually I like the results if I spend the time doing it.

Well, as you can see I was able to get use some of the new things in Painter, especially the Brush Calibration panel for brush tracking and the new Particle brushes. Watching Jason’s videos (link above) is taking up a lot of time, but he is really covering the different topics very thoroughly so I am find them very helpful – and a lot of it is just on basic Painter. Since there are not many books on the newer versions available, these videos are a great resource. Hope you have all at least downloaded the trial to see what you think. Oh yes, another thing that is pretty cool is that there are now live previews like in Photoshop when using commands like Equalize and others I have not tried. That is very handy! Hopefully I will start to pull some of these new changes into my limited workflow and start painting more creatively! Well, I must get back to my painting and practice, practice, practice!…..Digital Lady Syd


Painted image of neighboring dachas in BelarusThis week’s blog is sponsored by the word “Confused” – I can’t seem to make up my mind how I want to paint digitally! I do one version, then try it differently, and realize I like both version, but they are very different. And I am finding out that I can’t seem to settle on one program or plug-in – sometimes I have to use everything but the “kitchen sink” to get the results I like! Therefore, this week I am just going to share a few things I have painted recently, do a little image comparison, and explain what I learned from each image. Maybe you might get a few ideas that will help your creative process, and let me know of any other suggestions.

Painter and Photoshop

I like the above photo of neighboring dachas on a dirt road near Minsk in Belarus. This image was basically painted in Corel Painter. The brushes used were created from a short Corel video called Reason #2 – Cloning Feature by Melissa Gallo.  The basic colors and shapes were cloned in roughly following her basic steps. The image was then brought into Photoshop where Melissa Gallo’s Painted Texture Embossed Fabric Warm Paper was set to Color blend mode. Just the dachas and greenery along the trail were painted back. This gave a beautiful yellow orange feel to the sky and looked pretty nice already! On a New Layer on top a Cool Grunge Mixer brush (碎块) in Blur’s Good Brush 5.1 Pro set (a wonderful huge free download of all kinds of Photoshop brushes including several really nice Mixer brushes!) was used in a beige-white color to add some texture mainly to the sky. Also used this brush, 透明水色 – 2(正片叠底), to add more grunge on another layer. On a New Layer on top of this, Fay Sirkis’s (a Corel Painter Master) Fays #2 tap n blend brush (one of my favorite mixer brushes – if you are a Kelby One member, her fabulous painting brushes are all downloadable for free from her webinars posted on the site) was used  to clean up some of the painted edges from Painter. What really popped this image was a Selective Color Adjustment Layer that was added next and just the Reds Colors were changed to give a more pinkish tint to the overall image. A little frame I had created in Painter previously was added to finish off the image.

What I learned from this image: It seems that at my stage of learning, I am still heavily relying on Photoshop. My results when Painter is used has a much more abstract feel to them. I think it is okay to use both programs to get that final result if you are comfortable going back and forth between the programs. Also, you have got to create some brushes that you can use easily. Otherwise it can be overwhelming. Melissa’s Painter brushes were a great place for me to start, then adjust them to get the right stroke effect. I will add that Fay Sirkis is another artist with fabulous brushes and I use them a lot.

Photoshop, Alien Skin Snap Art 4, and Topaz ReStyle

Image of the dirt road a some dachas in BelarusI tried to create a different painterly effect with the same image as the first one. I did a lot of experimenting with the image to get this more “photorealistic” look to the image. I like the results, but it took a long time to get it the way I liked. First in Lightroom Seim Power Workflow 4 (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog Sampler Super HDR X preset (free download that contains some really nice presets) was used to brighten up the image first. In Photoshop some clean up was done to remove the electrical lines and a box, and flowers were copied and added to the bottom front. The Warp Tool was used to get a nice effect. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) everything I could think of was added. Two Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer, two layer textures, Alien Skin Snap Art 4, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReStyle, Nik Viveza 2, two Curves Adjustment Layers, a Selective Color Adjustment Layer, and a Blender Mixer Brush layer. Whew! At least I got to experiment a lot to decide which tools and plug-ins work best with my painterly style. Lots of fun!

What I learned from this image: You do not have to do a lot of painting to get a really nice painterly look in an image. The plug-ins worked nicely instead of a lot of hand painting – just one layer used the Mixer Brush to clean up a few things. But beware, if you really want an overall artistic feel to an image, it will probably require some initial work in Painter.


Painted image of the entrance to Dr. Seuss LandThis was fun to paint! The colors and lines were so bold and beautiful in this sign indicating the entrance to Universal Studios Orlando. And it was relatively easy to do! Basically in Lightroom added Seim Power Workflow (free sampler link with this preset) Magic Ugly Shade Fixer preset and Dave Delnea’s LR Develop Presets Backlight Vertical Right preset (love both these presets). Then in Photoshop Melissa Gallo’s Painted Textures May Garden was added on top of image with a layer mask. Using my Chalk Brush (Adobe Chalk Brush 60 with a Shape Dynamics set to 19%) set to black at 30% opacity brush, the major parts of the image were painted back – actually quite a bit was painted back. The rest involved using the Chalk Brush as a regular brush, Mixer Brush, Eraser Brush and Clone Stamp Brush to get it looking like I wanted it to look. Just be sure to save the altered regular brush to your Brush Presets so you can select it for the other types of brushes. When finished, the Camera Raw filter was opened up and a Radial Filter was used to direct the view and lighten up the focal point, the red door.

What I learned from this image: One favorite brush can do a lot in an image, especially in Photoshop. Find one you like and practice using it. I am liking my Chalk Brush more and more as I become better at painting.

Painter, Photoshop and Topaz ReStyle

Painted image of Dr. Seuss Land sign at Universal Studios OrlandoWhat I really love about Painter is that the colors seem to be so much more vivid which gives your images a bit more of a painterly appeal. I am still trying to get comfortable with a more abstract feel to my Painter images. This image follows the top blog image’s workflow very closely and used the same Painter brushes. The results in Painter are never what I really like so the painted file goes into Photoshop. The detail is added back in just a little and the Mixer Brush is used to clean up my Painter messes. This time Topaz ReStyle was used to get a little better color palette using the Peach Prairie preset. That was about all that was done. This time I did not paint all the way to the edge in Painter so I have a naturally occurring frame.

What I learned from this image: Painter does have better color and brushes – hands down! It has a large learning curve, but once again, find a couple brushes that work for you and stick to those until you get the hang of what you are doing. That is what I am trying to concentrate on. It is so tempting to try and learn everything about every type of media and brush, but you really need to find one that suits you to start using. I find I am leaning towards the oils and pastels, and will learn watercolor when I am more accustomed to Painter.

Photoshop and Alien Skin Snap Art 4

Image of silk flowers post-processed with Alien Skin Snap Art 4Since this image of some silk flowers had a lot of soft background color in it (actually emphasized nicely in Lightroom first by using Seim’s Power 4 Workflow Sunday Cross preset and Dave Delnea’s LR Develop Backlight Vertical Right preset), the Snap Art 4 plug-in was used to add paint in the area quickly. The Oil Paint Abstract preset was modified by setting Photorealism slider set back to 21 so it does not look too much like a photo and the Colors Saturation set to 46 to add more color to the image. On New Layers above the plug-in layer, an Oil Pastel Mixer brush was used to paint over the flowers and to add some some more random colorful strokes to the image. More details were painted back into the image using the original image as a guide. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to add some contrast back into the image and John Derry’s Varnish Satin Light layer style was added to the top layer to give a more painterly finish.

What I learned from this image: You do not have to have everything perfect – it sometimes looks better to have the color but not the lines to give a strong feeling to an image. It was a little scary putting bright blues and purples on the flowers, but it gives a more artsy feel to the image than what the plug-in did – and it lets you put your own twist on the picture. Now the viewer can use their imagination to see what was really going on with the image. Needless to say, I am still working on this concept.

Painter and Topaz ReStyle

Image of silk flowers post-processed in Corel Painter This final image started the same as the one above, but this time the image was painted completely in Corel Painter. First the source image was changed and set Adjust Color to Hue Shift -2, Sat 84, and Value 62. Melissa Gallo’s same brushes from Reason #2 Cloning Feature video were used – her Medium Bristle Rough brush, Coarse Sergeant Brush Jitter and Luscious Oil, used mainly as clone brushes. There is nothing wrong with using cloning brushes in you digital art, especially if you are actually doing the brushstrokes – you really are just sampling color and positioning objects from the photo. The Painter image was brought back into Photoshop where a little clean up was done on a separate layer with the Chalk brush. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to adjust contrast. Then Topaz ReStyle’s Snow Cover preset was applied which added a little structure to just the flowers in the Basic layer mask for the plug-in. The image had a much softer lighter feel to it now. I am always amazed how different the images can turn out!

What I learned from this image: It is okay to clone – just do your own strokes. And add some of your own color into the image. It does not have to look just like the original photo – in fact it is probably more interesting if it does not. Many famous artists added different elements than what they were actually seeing while painting.

That said, I do believe that both programs will probably be in my workflow for digital painting since in Photoshop I do know what to do if I really mess things up! I still have problems getting brushes to paint on separate layers in Painter, which to me seems so necessary with my Photoshop background. There are ways around it, but you do have to spend a lot of time researching this. I plan on discussing this topic later in another blog. I hope you enjoyed some of the experiences I am having with my painting venture this year. Hope you are having as much fun learning about it as I am!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Some Pros and Cons of Corel Painter (And Why I Still Love Photoshop)
New Years Resolution – Painter and Photoshop Together!


Image of a pink gerbera post-processed in Corel PainterThis week I decided to mention a few things I personally like and don’t like about Corel Painter at this stage of my learning process, and basically, what I think it does better and worse than Photoshop. I have been starting to dive down into some of the more hidden features of Painter. (PRO) We all know the brushes are definitely better – there are so many ways you can change a brush in Painter. I have not even begun to explore how to use them properly, much less figure out what can be changed to get certain effects. I find I am going into Photoshop a lot to clean up parts of the painting. I understand Photoshop’s brush panel and I know which brushes to use for the final tweaking. So that is where I am at this week with my New Years Resolution.

The above image is a good example of how I can get to a certain point in Painter, but then end up in Photoshop. For one thing, I usually do some basic processing in Lightroom – then I have to take the Camera Raw image into Photoshop if for no other reason than to change it to an 8-bit image since (CON) Painter will not open up a 16-bit image. Then I save down the image and usually designate it for use in Painter in the rename.

Now the image is opened in Painter. Not sure what I would do without Corel Master Skip Allen‘s wonderful videos on YouTube and his website – there is so much information there if you need help. This time I followed his video called Advance Auto-Painting with Watercolor, which selectively applies effects using channel selections in this technique. I never thought I could do watercolor images, but he explains it so well that I may actually get comfortable with this artistic medium. After following this video tutorial, the gerbera image actually looked pretty good, but I decided to add some contrast in Photoshop. I really like the Curves Adjustment Layer and this does not seem as easy to do in Painter. (CON) Painter does have an Effects menu with various items listed that appear to be similar to Photoshop’s layer adjustments, but many of them have very different results when applied. They cannot be applied as easily as Photoshop’s Adjustment Layers. Therefore, I find myself going back into Photoshop to control the contrast that I am used to. (PRO & CON) This does not mean that Painter does not give some interesting results when manipulating, for example the Effects -> Tonal Contrast -> Color Correction which has a Curves option in the drop down under the curve, but it definitely gives different results than in Photoshop. I also added a Photoshop Selective Color Adjustment Layer where the Reds, Greens, Cyans, Magentas, and Neutrals were adjusted. Adjust Selected Colors in Painter seems similar – check out Skip’s Beyond Painting videos to learn about how this is different. On another layer WOW BT Watercolor Small brush was used to clean up edges and fill in – I am finding it is very handy for adding in some color to a missed place or smoothing out an ugly edge. This brush is in Davis One-Click Wow Preset Mini Sampler of brushes from Jack Davis, who allows you to download it from his Facebook page Freebies or directly by clicking here if you do not have Facebook. (He has lots of other goodies on his Facebook page so check it all out.) Added a watercolor frame created using my SJ WC Salt Brush at 60 pixels on a New Layer. The last step involved going into Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) ReStyle to check for a little better color combination. This time I got one (started with Butterfly Wings preset and set ReStyle Panel Opacity to 78%; Color Blend Mode; Color Style Hue to Fourth -0.62 and Fifth -0.33; Sat – no changes; Lum Primary -0.27, Third 0.52, Fourth -0.45, and Fifth 0.83; Texture Strength 1.00; Basic Panel Opacity 28%; Multiply Blend Mode; Color Temperature 0.56; No Tone changes; and Structure Detail -1.00 and Sharpness 0.44. Named preset SJ Very Soft Watercolor). Plug-ins can actually be added into Corel Painter – ReStyle is one of them – but I am just more comfortable adding them in using Photoshop. (CON) In Painter to create a stamped layer on top so the plug-in effects can be applied requires going through a lot of steps – another disadvantage.

******Image of a painted Yellow RoseThis yellow rose, a free image from stock.xchng y MEJones, was used to begin my painting. Skip’s Beyond Painting Tutorial videos were followed on this image. (PRO) Painter’s Stroke Attributes feature is really interesting and helped to get the effect in the rose petals especially. Skip talks about how to use this with Painter brushes – it is very similar to changing the Mode in the Options Bar in Photoshop. Now here is the big question – how often have you done this in Photoshop? Probably every so often when using the Burn Tool to adjust bright spots, but usually not to paint on an image. Most Photoshop gurus say don’t mess with this since it is easy to forget that you have changed the Blend Mode since it is a “sticky” setting and will mess up a different image when using the Brush Tool again. It is recommended to change the Blend Mode in the Layer Panel instead. The Stroke Attributes actually is a really nice feature in Painter and seems to be better than its Photoshop counterpart. For me the biggest problem seems to be that Stroke Attributes do not work on all brushes, only some and I do not understand how to tell when it will work. This appears to be another “quirk” Painter has and it takes some sorting through the brushes to figure out which ones work best. By watching the videos, you can learn a few of the brushes that do work with this feature.

(PRO) Painter also has a couple of extra Photoshop “blend modes” or what they call Composite Methods. One is Gel which acts like a transparent area or gel overlaid on top of your layer, and another is Colorize which affects just the color in an image. If layer is set to Gel and you want to take it into Photoshop, change the method to Multiply so it will copy since there is no Gel blend mode in Photoshop. Colorize comes into Photoshop as Color and looks bad – change to Lighten blend mode. The reason I bring up this information is that if you find brushes they works with, it can create some really nice effects on your images. You can switch between Composite Methods for your layers depending upon whether you want to darken an outline in the image, or add some really bright strokes in another part to smooth out or fill out an outline. Sample the color by ALT clicking on color in image (just like Photoshop) and painting. (CON) A layer mask can be added, just like in Photoshop, but not all brushes work on layer masks, unlike Photoshop. Need to watch Skip’s videos to get a handle on this, but the good news is that he does supply you with a pretty decent brush to use on a layer mask. The original background, splashes of color, and flower coloring were all done in Painter, and then I brought the image into Photoshop. On a New Layer, Jack Davis WOW Watercolor Small brush was used again to clean up some of my mistakes. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to increase contrast just a little. Next a different plug-in, Nik Analog Efex Pro, was added to get the vintage feel – the Nik plug-ins will also work with Painter. Lots of filter effects were used on the image, but not Film Type which can change the color of an image and I did not want that.

Skip says he actually prefers doing the things I am doing in Photoshop in Painter because he learned that program first and understands it better. I totally get that – I am not sure I will be able to do everything in Painter as well as he does. I seem to need my crutch using Photoshop. I hope Adobe is working on making the brush engine better in Photoshop so that many of the Painter brush effects can be achieved. The Mixer Brushes were a great start, but they do not have many ways to manipulate them or the range of strokes effects like Painter. When I look at my work in Painter, it does seem to be more realistic like I would expect a painting to be. So this is where I am at – a few steps forward but still a lot of things to learn. I hope I have not confused everyone, but I believe that if this program can be “tamed,” it will reap great benefits toward creating a unique style for anyone that wants a creative look in their images – but I will always love Photoshop!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of a pitcher of flowers created using Corel PainterThis week I took it a bit easy. Hope everyone is having a great New Years. It always feels good to put the past behind and start over or focus on what you want to accomplish in the coming months ahead. As I stated in my Tidbits Blog, I am not very good at keeping resolutions, but I have one I am going to try to keep this year – learn Corel Painter. I will still learn everything I can about Photoshop – not sure you ever could quit learning with this program and it is my favorite program ever – but I want to expand my abilities and try to incorporate the two programs into something that will create my own “personal style.” With that in mind, the above is one of my first efforts at creating a watercolor in Painter, but with a lot of help in Photoshop (and I hope tolerance from the blog world). I am learning that for my particular “style” I have to try different effects in both programs. This painting used Skip Allen’s wonderful Floral Maker brush that eats away the Painter canvas (this technique is totally amazing!) and his Roman Candle brush created the little rows of flowers. More info and links on Skip and his magic in the paragraph below. Since I do not draw, the pitcher was created from a low resolution Shutterstock stock photo (from a 2006 Advanced Photoshop Magazine No. 25 CD – could not find this pitcher on Shutterstock anymore, but they have several other beautiful pitcher images if you need one) – just selected the pitcher in Photoshop and took it into Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4 using one of their watercolor presets. Next Painter supplied the flowers, and finally back in Photoshop Melissa Gallo’s 2 for 5 Friday Set 2 Seafoam texture from her Painted Textures website was layered into the image using a Darker Color Blend Mode at 79% opacity. To smooth out the texture a little, a Gaussian Blur was added to the texture so it gives more of a soft watercolor look. Used the same border as the image below, and voila, a floral image!

Floral Arrangement Image created in Corel Painter and Photoshop Wish I could take credit for this image idea, but instead I followed Skip Allen’s 10-video tutorial called Corel Painter X3 SP1, New Flower Brushes…Loads of Fun that teaches you how to paint this image. He gives you links to download his brushes and everything you need to create an image similar to the above. I can’t say enough nice things about Skip and these videos – not only did I learn a lot about how to paint a watercolor, but I also learned a lot about Painter. My image was pretty rough compared to Skip’s at this point, but since I know Photoshop pretty well, I decided to clean it up there. My leaf lines were way too sharp, so on a New Layer the Wow BT Watercolor Small brush was used to clean up and soften the edges quite a bit. This is a brush supplied in Davis One-Click Wow Preset Mini Sampler of brushes from one of my favorite Photoshop people, Jack Davis, who allows you to download it from his Facebook page Freebies or directly by clicking here if you do not have Facebook. (He has lots of other goodies on his Facebook page so check it all out.) I also removed a few of the splats that I got carried with. Since I always try out Topaz (see website in sidebar of my Tidbits Blog) ReStyle when dealing with major color issues, this plug-in was opened and sure enough, I found a little bit better color combination. The Orange Bush in Snow preset was selected that brought out more of the reds that I really liked. (Changed these settings in the preset: Hue Third -0.81 and Sat Third =0.34; Strength to 100%; Temperature 0.39 and Saturation 0.09; Tone Black Level 0.23, Midtones -0.11, and White Level 0.11; and Detail Structure 0.25 and Sharpness 0.44.) Back in Photoshop, the layer was set to 42% opacity so the color change was not overdone. The last step involved adding a watercolor frame created using my SJ WC Salt Brush at 60 pixels on a New Layer. It had been saved from another image so it was just added onto this image. As you can see, Photoshop really helped me finish up my photo.
Image of a wintry scene using textures and Corel PainterHere is just another rather quick painterly image that I just like – the colors are a palette I would never have tried without Topaz ReStyle. The trees are the same painted grouping I created in this image on my Snowmen Passing Through! Tidbits Blog a few days ago. This time several of Melissa Gallo’s textures were stacked in Photoshop: 6 for 6 Thanksgiving Foliage texture set to Soft Light blend mode; 2 for 5 Friday Set 12 Summer Silk texture set to Hard Light at 13% layer opacity with a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer attached and set to Hue 18, Saturation -56 and Lightness -11; another layer of Summer Silk Texture set to Overlay blend mode at 100% layer opacity; and 2 for 5 Friday Set 12 Ice Palace set to Divide at 100% layer opacity – the Blend If This Layer white tab was set to 159 to bring back some of the underlying color. A stamped layer was created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Topaz ReStyle using Tiara Frost preset was applied with a few adjustments (Sat Fifth 0.66 and Fifth 1.00; Texture Strength 1.00; and Structure -0.61 and Sharpness -0.55). This layer was set to 80% opacity. Melissa’s textures create such interesting results when combined with your own basic painted images.

Painter does seem to have a lot of quirks and to really learn it, I believe you have to do a little in the program every day – not that different from Photoshop. What I really like about Painter are all the beautiful effects you can get from its brushes, as shown above with Skip’s. I like Photoshop’s Mixer Brushes, but find they have a very limited scope when compared to all the different Brush Controls in Painter. If you are interested in learning how to use this program and especially watercolors, I would recommend downloading the trial and following along with Skip’s videos – you may surprise yourself like I did. I never thought I would be able to create anything that remotely looked like a watercolor, but am finding I really enjoy the artistic media and will work on improving my skills in this area. Happy Painting!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Topaz ReStyle with Corel Painter & Nik Analog Efex Pro
Photoshop with Corel Painter for Texture
Happy New Year!
Christmas Flowers!
Just Painting!


Arrangement of an wood egret, flowers, and clock done in Corel PainterSince the holidays are coming quickly, I decided to show you a little more about these plug-ins and program and how they all all work together – maybe it will help you decide if you want to purchase them. There are a lot of plug-ins I could have used, but these are the ones I have recently been using the most. I will add that Alien Skin just came out with Snap Art 4 – have not totally explored it but it is definitely as good as Snap Art 3 that I loved it! This week I am just going to show what a little Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle and Corel Painter and/or Nik Analog Efex Pro can do to an image. All these images used Photoshop to apply the plug-ins, but you can actually apply both the Topaz filters and Nik Collection from Painter. (To do this, find the Topaz or Nik folders on your hard drive and copy the whole folder over to the Corel Painter -> Support Files -> Plugins folder. They appear in the Effects menu item.)

Corel Painter and Topaz ReStyle

I am really enjoying Painter, but it does have some quirks and a huge learning curve that you need to know to be really good at using it. I am still diving into that. I thought I was finished with the image above when I took my final Painter image back into Photoshop for the last steps. That is when I did something I do a lot with my images – take the it into ReStyle for a last look – just in case somethings really strikes me. It is easy to try different color presets to make the image look totally different. ReStyle also has a couple of very useful sliders in its interface that can really make or break the whole effect. By using the Texture slider in the ReStyle section and the Detail Structure and Sharpness sliders, some really interesting results can be obtained. Sometimes I put the Structure slider down and the Sharpness up or vice versa. And then the Texture slider can also have a big effect, although sometimes I do not see any. You have to be careful to not “overcook” the look (especially the Lum sliders seem to do this a lot), but it is worth experimenting with these sliders just to see if you can improve the appearance to the image.
*****Image of a white bird of paradise flowerI was so excited to find my first Bird of Paradise bloom – it was hiding under my huge Elephant Plant leaves – guess it likes the protection since I have not had good luck getting the plants to bloom. I actually did not know that they came in white flowers! The image was first processed in Lightroom with just the Basic tab sliders and cropped slightly. In Photoshop OnOne’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) new Perfect Effects 8 was opened and the Dynamic Contrast Natural preset and the Sharpening Amazing Detail Finder preset were used – love how these two filters work together on an image. Another reason I like this image is that I created the background texture in Corel Painter X3 using a series of my favorite brushes. This texture layer was set to Pin Light blend mode and a layer mask was added so the plant could be painted back into the image. The original texture color was a light turquoise, but I ran the image through Topaz ReStyle and realized I liked more of the grayish tones for this image (the settings: Selected Dusty Desert preset as a starting point. Set Texture Strength to 0.86; Basic tab set Saturation to 0.53; Tone Black Level 0.34 and Midtones 0.05; and Detail Structure 0.19 and Sharpness 0.83). Just a little clean up and contrast was added. Note the Texture and Sharpness sliders are set high and the Structure slider not so much.

Nik Analog Efex Pro and Topaz ReStyle

Image of buildings in London treated with Nik Analog Efex Pro and Topaz ReStyleThis photo is one I took a while back in London during the first Scott Kelby Photowalk. The original image is rather industrial look – it was first just cleaned up with the Basic sliders in Lightroom and added Dave Delnea’s Backlight Vertical Left preset to lighten up that corner a little. In Photoshop it was first treated with Topaz ReStyle starting with the Firebrick Red preset to bring out some bright orange tones, then Texture was set to 0.61, Detail Structure 0.52 and Sharpness -0.20. The image looked very sharp and detailed at this point. Next Nik’s Analog Efex Pro plug-in was added – both were smart filters connected to the same layer. I really liked the way the tower on the left was slightly blurred and bowed by setting the Lens Distortion tab Pincushion Barrel slider towards the Barrel end. This image actually used all the plug-in tabs but the Zoom & Rotate Blur and Dirt & Scratches to get this really cool vintage effect. Back in Photoshop a Curves Adjustment Layer was added and the layer mask filled with black – then painted in white to lighten parts of the sky just slightly, and a Levels Adjustment Layer was added to add just a little overall tonal contrast. I really like the rather surreal vintage feel to the image. By combining these two plug-ins, you can get really interesting results – this is one of my favorite pastimes in Photoshop is to try different combinations.

Corel Painter, Topaz Restyle and Nik Analog Efex Pro

Image of collectibles at Michaels Arts & Craft storeThis image of some Christmas collectibles at Michaels Art & Craft Store uses a similar process as above – the same texture from the Bird of Paradise image, but this time Topaz ReStyle changed the color palette so you would never guess the original texture and image colors (started with Cream and Plum preset. Texture Strength .88, Color Style Lum Fifth 0.38, Sat Secondary 0.64, Fourth 0.34, and Fifth -0.20; Color Tint -0.42 – no Structure or Sharpness).  This image used Nik’s Analog Efex Pro and a preset I call SJ Blurred Good preset (settings used include Basic Adjustments, Bokeh at Blur Strength 9%, Light Leaks 2 over 3 down at 25%, Dirt & Scratches Organic 3 over 2 down at 74%, Frames Lightbox 3 over, and Levels & Curves adjusting the Luminosity (slight upward curve) and RGB (slight S curve) channels). To get really nice results in Analog Efex Pro, I am finding the Levels & Curves tab makes all the difference – especially Luminosity curve. To use the same curve in Photoshop, you must go into LAB mode. The snow is my SJ Snow1 Overlay (a free download in my set of SJ Holiday Overlays) with a 33% layer opacity. The text is from Obsidian Dawn’s Christmas Vectors.
Image processed with Corel Painter of some benches in a park in Edinburgh, Scotland
Here is another example of an using all three programs. In this case, the original image of a bench in a park in Edinburgh, Scotland had the Nik Analog Efex Pro applied to it using basically the same preset as in the Christmas image. This photo was then taken into Corel Painter where Auto-painting was done using the Sponge brushes – the Dense Sponge brush at 30 px, 15 px and 9 px on three different layers. (See a really good book by Martin Addison called Corel Painter 11 for Photographers – pg. 118 or video included on book CD for info on this technique.) The photo was saved as a PSD file in Corel and brought into Photoshop where the spot healing brush was used on a separate layer to clean up rough edges. Topaz ReStyle was then applied to get a little look from the really bright green in the image. (Settings were: Started with White Fields preset. ReStyle Opacity 65%; Color Style Hue Third 0.45; Sat Primary -0.05, Secondary 0.02, Third -0.86, and Fifth 0.23; Texture Strength 0.77; Basic Opacity 62%: Color  Temperature 0.16 and Tint -0.17; Tone Black Level -0.17, Midtones 0.19, and White Level -0.06; and Details Structure 0.11 and Sharpness 0.13.) I was not really familiar with the Auto-painting function in Painter, but it does seem to do a nice job.
Really liked this one.

All of these programs have trial and it would be worth your time to check them out. What I like about Corel Painted is that you can still get some nice results without knowing everything about the program. The two plug-ins have very short learning curves and both give really great results. Anyway, hope this gave you a chance to see some more of the results you can get. Have fun checking them out!….Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReStyle
Photoshop with Corel Painter for Texture
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Nik Analog Efex Pro
A Day in the Sun!
Let’s Hear It for the Graphophone
Digital Lady Syd’s Rule No. 6: Try Something New!
Corel Painter and Photoshop Together to Create a Pastel Painting
Surprising Results with Nik Analog Efex Pro
Rural Church in Belarus


Image of miniature mums using Corel Painter in backgroundThis week I am going to discuss a really short but sweet way to increase areas to be brighter and darker in localized areas. Last week my Photoshop with Corel Painter for Texture blog covered how to use Corel Painter in image backgrounds, which is what was done in the above Miniature Mum shot. For this week’s technique, Pete Collins (one of the Photoshop guys) did a short video on the NAPP website (best deal for Photoshop Nuts to learn new tricks) a while back demonstrating this concept, but I have also seen it in other places.

The Technique

The basic premise is that you can use any adjustment layer – does not matter which one you choose – to create an overall brightening or darkening of your image by just changing the blend mode of the layer. So to brighten your image, select the Screen blend mode, and to darken your image choose the Multiply blend mode, for example. Now just fill the layer masks with black by clicking in the mask and pressing CTRL+I or going to the Properties Panel and clicking the Invert button. With a soft brush, or any kind of brush for that matter, paint back in white areas you want brighter for the Screen blend mode layer or darker for the Multiply blend mode layer. In the image above, an unadjusted Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer was set to Screen blend mode and the white petals were painted back at a low opacity brush setting to dial in the focus a little more to the flower and yellow center. Next an unadjusted Curves Adjustment Layer was added and set to Multiply blend mode. The image became really dark. By filling the layer mask with black and painting back a slight vignetting effect, the focus could once more be directed to the flower effectively. If you want to add a little feathering for the vignette, go the Properties Panel and set it to 100 pixels as a starting point. The Layer Opacity was set to 68% so the vignetting was not too dark. (See screenshot of Curves Adjustment Layer below showing no changes made to it and corresponding layer highlighted in Layer Panel.) If you wanted the image lighter or darker, you can always duplicate the adjustment layers and then adjust the layer opacities to get the exact amount required. You can also make changes in the actual adjustment layer if it helps the image. This is such a wonderfully easy technique and it keeps the image size much smaller than if you were duplicating the layer each time. The text font is a free download called Adorable.

Screenshot of Curves Adjustment Layer

Christmas Ornament of Santa Claus imageJust thought I would add a Christmas image that used the same technique above. This time the Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer was set to Screen and the Santa Claus and Red M&M ornaments were painted back in the black layer mask. Then on top another Curves Adjustment Layer was set to Multiply – this time the outside edges were painted white in the layer mask to reveal darker edges, similar to the screenshot above. No Painter was used but it does use my free SJ-Snow2 Overlay – slight blur set to 65% layer opacity that I created last year. Last, Obsidian Dawn’s Merry Christmas brush was placed on a layer with a layer style added (using Bevel & Emboss, Stroke, Pattern – created using Christmas day by Photoshop-Stock pat 5 set to a scale of 332%) to get the candy cane look. I should also add that the first thing done in Photoshop was to apply Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) DeNoise, the best noise plug-in around, and Topaz Clarity, another favorite used to add a little localized sharpening on the Santa Claus.

This is definitely a really easy way to pop you images and get the lighting the way you want in your image without having to do a lot of Camera Raw, Curves or Levels adjustments. Hope you enjoyed this tip – have a great Turkey Day for my fellow US friends!…..Digital Lady Syd