Anything Photoshop or Photography

Holidays

A LITTLE VALENTINE FUN

Heart image for ValentinesThis week I have been feeling “under-the-weather” so I am going to present a valentine link for the image above and the workflow for the card below from a few years ago. To get the info on how the top valentine was created, check out my original blog at Free Valentine Templates and a Valentine with Heart.

To create the above, these steps and resources were used:
1. Started on a New Document with Spatter Heart Frame from PS Brushes. A Layer Style was added – Outer Glow set to a soft yellow and Linear Dodge (Add) at 75% and a Spread of 21; and a Gradient Overlay adjusting Graphix1 Muted 8 for a gold tone.
2. Next a background was added underneath using Colored Vintage Paper by Ciara Panacchia Texture 08 (Deep Red).
3. Another texture was added above this one – Vintage Valentine Paper by Aramisdream using Texture 09. It was set to 59% and a layer mask was used to brush out the center and to create a vignette effect around the edges.
4. A layer was placed on top that used Obsidian Dawn’s Glitter set-hearts-glitter brush in a soft beige at 43% opacity.
5. Glass Prism’s cupid brush was placed in the center on it’s own layer.
6. The red valentines were placed on their own layer – Hearts by King Billy Sample Brush 20 was used (there are some other nice valentine brushes in this set). A Layer Style was added using a red Color Overlay and a small 1 pixel Stroke.
7. Two Text Layers were created using the font Precious, a perfect Valentine font. A Layer Style was added using: Inner Shadow set to Distance of 21 and Size of 21; Outer Glow set to Linear Dodge (Add) at 45% opacity and Size of 24 pixels with a light yellow color; and Bevel and Emboss set to Inner Bevel, Smooth, Depth 103, Size 10 and the rest default settings.

That is how I made some Valentines. It was a lot of fun to try out the different effects with the brushes – the layer styles really made a difference. When you have a minute, try a layer style on some of your brush strokes – you may get some surprising results!…..Digital Lady Syd

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SOME OF MY FAVS FROM 2016

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.
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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.
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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.
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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 Shorpy.com.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Image of several ants on a dandelionImage taken with a LensBaby Composer on my camera which gives a very lovely soft effect.
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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


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Happy New Year image
Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year with lots of Photoshop Fun in your future!

This week just a few details and free goodies to start your year.

The trees, reflection and small plants were painted in Corel Painter using mainly Karen Bonaker’s wonderful free painter brushes – so many choices here so I will not go through them all – actually do not remember them all! I am sure most Painter people have all these brushes, but if you are new to Painter, check out the link for a great website and to get a huge assortment of great brushes (and Karen’s classes are terrific – she usually includes new brushes and teaches how to adjust them). The image was saved as a PSD file to be opened up in Photoshop.

In PS a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) composed of the Painter layers was created and then duplicated. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Texture Effects 2 was applied to the top layer to create the basic soft background (used Dingy Cream preset and made tweaks).

On another Stamped Layer on top, Corel ParticleShop (these brushes can also be bought and used in Painter) was opened and the Wild Grain brush and the Fur brush were used to add a little more detail to the image. What is really nice is that only the changes to the layer are brought down on the layer that was duplicated – it was set to 44% layer opacity and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip) to the ParticleShop layer. The Adjustment Layer was needed as the colors from ParticleShop were a little too vivid and needed to be slightly desaturated.

Jai Johnson’s free Flying Birds overlay was added – a few birds were painted out with a layer mask and a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer using a gravelly stone looking pattern was clipped to the birds to give them some texture. Set the bird layer to Overlay blend mode at 80% layer opacity.

On top Texture Times Bokeh Number 5 was set to Overlay blend mode at 48% layer opacity.

A couple text layers using the free font called Winter Holidays by Vintage Voyage Design Company from Creative Markets – need to get on their newsletter list to get all kinds of wonderful free PS items each week. A Layer Style was opened by double clicking on the layer words and added a red and gold Pattern Overlay style to fill font with color and a 2 pt Stroke style around the letters. Used a layer mask to paint out parts of the lettering – note to make this look right be sure to check the “Layer Mask Hides Effects” in the Blending Options section.

A Curves Adjustment Layer was added for contrast – pulled the curve down a little bit.

On a Stamped layer the free Nik Viveza 2 plug-in was applied using only one Control Point on the tree leaves to add a little more detail with the Structure slider.

Added a Black & White Adjustment Layer and adjusted mainly just the Reds to pop the image – viewed in B&W then converted to color by setting the adjustment layer to Luminosity blend mode.

It is not really as complicated as it seems. Many steps that were pretty much my regular workflow. At least take a minute to check out some of the wonderful people who still supply us Photoshop Nuts with free products that make our images unique. Hope you have a great New Year!…..Digital Lady Syd


2016 INEXPENSIVE GIFTS FOR THE PHOTOSHOP LOVER ON YOUR LIST

I have not done one of these in a few years, but I thought I would share some of my favorite inexpensive items that any Photoshop Lover would want. So without further delay:

1.  Grut Brushes

($1.00 to $20)

Nicholai has some of the best brushes around using all kinds of media. He gives away a Free Photoshop Brush of the Week  – it is so much fun to get a new brush to try out each week – remember, you can never have too many brushes! My favorite brushes are his Cloud FX set – best variety of cloud types I have seen from any brush providers and they can make such a difference in a landscapes. A close second is his Inky Leaks Splatter FX set which are really great too! I have a hard time choosing between all these brushes. He also has some great Impasto brushes that do not require a layer style to work. Check his site out for some fun browsing!  The image below is one that used several of the Inky Leaks Splatter FX brushes for the background texture and his mixer brushes to paint the goose. (For post-processing info, check out my A Little Brush Fun blog.)

Image of a painted goose from the Palm Beach Zoo

2. Corel Particle Shop Plug-in

($49.99 but check site for sale price/$29.99 for additional sets)

I never thought I would like this plug-in since I use Corel Painter a lot. I was totally surprised when I found out what it will do. See my Intro to Corel ParticleShop Plugin for Photoshop blog for several other examples usng just the basic brush pack. ParticleShop comes with 11 brushes to get you started – Debris, Fabric, Fine Art, Flame, Fur, Hair, Light, Space, Smoke, Storm and Superhero.  I seem to be doing fine with these, but plan on getting a few additional packs in the future. A couple things to remember is that it only works on 8 bit images and it applies just the changes to its own layer, which is major handy for adding other effects in Photoshop. (For post-processing info, check out my Feeling Fancy blog.)

Image of a Gray Heron all dressed up

3. Creative Live Videos

(Price varies depending on length of videos – and watch for sales)

Creative Live has been on the air for several years now – usually 5 or 6 classes run 24/7 around the clock covering all kinds of subjects (click their On Air button to see what is currently playing), but they do an especially great job on Photoshop and Photography classes. Each daily program is run for 24 hours so you can decide if would like to purchase it – the videos can then be downloaded or run from their website anytime. These programs always have at least 6 hours of training and experts from all over the world are showcased. I think it is an excellent way to learn. Recently I watched a Kathleen Clemons class called Creating Painterly Photographs where she discussed macro and Lensbaby photography on flowers and then how to process them in PS (see my How To use Motion Blur for Artistic Effect blog for info on flower below.) I also loved Karen Alsop’s Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World – her work is wonderful and she does a great job of teaching how to do this in her videos. There are also wonderful classes by Ben Wilmore, Dave Cross, Brooke Shaden, Art Wolfe, just to name a few. Lots of great inspiration and technique here!

Image of a Gardenia

4. Jai’s Jewels Daily Textures

($10 to $80 depending on size of collection)

For several years I have been buying Jai Johnson’s beautiful textures. She is a marvelous wildlife and bird photographer and her textures look especially good with this type of image. She has several beautiful textures that are free so I would recommend trying these out. Recently I bought one of her new collections called Unpredictable Texture Collection (see image below for an example that uses one of these textures). Sign up for her newsletter to get  her sale announcements. (For post-processing info, check out my Tiger in Snooze Mode Tidbits Blog.)

Image of a Snoozing Tiger at the Jacksonville Zoo

5. Argus Preset Viewer

($10.00)

I always like to promote this little program which I have found so helpful when searching for specific brushes or gradients, layer styles, fonts, shapes, patterns, color swatches, just about everything except preset tools, which I wish it had. It is still a very handy item that is added to your Windows Explorer – and it is a major time saver! Below is how the Argus Preset Viewer shows my free Cloud Brushes from my Deviant Art site when highlighted in the Windows Explorer.

Image of screenshot of how Tumasoft Argus preset viewer looks

6. Lori Jill’s Udemy Classes on Painting your Images in Photoshop

($40 – $100, but Udemy does give some large discounts on their classes)

The past few years I have been trying to improve my digital painting ability in both Photoshop and Painter. I always keep coming back to Photoshop to do this as I feel a lot more comfortable with the its brush engine. Part of the reason is that Lori Jill teaches this topic very clearly in her videos. In her Turn Photographs into Digital Paintings Using Photoshop videos, she uses an action that comes with PS. This class was made in 2014, but it is still one of the best I have seen on basic painting in Photoshop using this complicated action. The class supplies brushes and jpg files to learn her techniques. Lori has two other videos that are also very good, but a little more advanced – Digital Pet Paintings Using Photoshop and Create Vintage Style Pin-up Portraits from a Photograph. All these classes do not allow you to download the videos, but you always have access to them on-line once purchased. Below is an example of following Lori’s workflow .

Painted image of the Japanese Restaurant at the Hilton Wikaloa Resort

7.  Coolorus  2 Color Wheel

($14.99)

I watched a video recently where the presenter was using this handy color picker that is based on the one in Corel Painter. I now find I cannot live without it. It is so handy to have open on my desktop when I am painting and want to change a shade or a color just slightly. It also shows the complementary colors and two tabs: Mixer has several strips that can be left open when needed (Color History, Swatches, Scheme, Shadows and Tone, and Blender); and Sliders which shows the selected mode (RGB, HSV, LAB, CMYK or B/W) corresponding color sliders (keep them all open by holding CTRL when selecting). Definitely check this out if you like to have a picker open all the time. Below is what Coolorus 2.5 and the Mixer tab looks like in CC2017 when opened. It is another great time-saver!

Image of Coolorus in PS

8. Topaz Texture Effects

($70 – watch a Topaz Labs live webinar and get a good discount on their products)

I can’t say enough good things about Topaz Labs (for website, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) and all their products. I do not think I could choose my favorite plug-in from the collection if I had to – therefore, I am going with their latest and one I use a lot. Topaz Texture Effects is just a fabulous product! Lots of nice presets come with this program and many more can be downloaded from the Topaz Community. Your own textures, light leaks, and double exposure images can be added into the program which makes it very useful. You do not have to use a preset, just use the program to add just your own textures (more than one can be added – just keep adding a Texture section) where many different sliders can be selected to adjust it the way you like. Also love the Masking tabs in this program (both individual section masks – open by clicking Yes on Enable Masking – or the overall Masking section are the same)  – use them all the time! If you love textures, you need to at least download and try this one out. It is really a class program (I know, Topaz Impression is fabulous and so is ReStyle for creative endeavors, but Texture Effects is right up there!).  See my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Texture Effects Blog for more examples. The image below actually used the Corel Particleshop along with Texture Effects.  (See my Bird of Paradise Tidbits Blog for more image info.)
Image of a Bird of Paradise

I hope this blog gave you few ideas for your Photoshop lover or possibly yourself. These are all items I use a lot and would not recommend if I did not think they were great. Let me know how you like them if you decide to purchase or try them out. Have fun shopping!…..Digital Lady Syd

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HOW TO ADD SOME LOCALIZED GLOW TO YOUR HOLIDAY IMAGES

Image of a Native American Boy and RudolfThis week I wanted to do a quick blog on how to get that Holiday glow look that is so nice to have in Christmas cards or Holiday Facebook/Instagram images. The above is definitely a composite image. I will say this image took several hours to get to a point where it began to look like the image I envisioned.

When I started out, I knew I wanted to do a Christmas theme and wanted a child to be part of the image. So first the image of the Native American boy was found from in a batch of pictures taken several years ago from a festival. I love to go to these festivals as the costumes and people are just wonderful! The boy had to be removed from the background, so in CC2017, the Select and Mask panel was used to get a really nice cut-out. I always have to go back into the layer mask and do a bit more tweaking. The mask was applied and this layer was moved into a New Document to start the composite. Since PixelSquid is my go-to program for finding objects, the reindeer and wolf were downloaded from them and lined up in the document with the child. (See my How To Use the PixelSquid Add-on in Photoshop blog.)

Glow Effect 1:  Now for some Glow – highlighted the reindeer layer and took it into Corel ParticleShop to add some pizazz and turn him into Rudolf. Last week I did a blog on this, and am using the same brush set here. (See my Intro to Corel ParticleShop Brushes for Photoshop blog.) The Cluster brush was used to add the glitter to the antlers. The Flame brush was used to add some snowy feel to the ground. The Light brush was used on the nose to get a shining light – added red color first, then yellow and a dab of white to finish it off. The Hair brush was used to create the background Christmas tree with the Cluster brush set to white to add snow on it. Back in PS just the changes were on their own layer. This plug-in is actually very easy and a lot of fun to use!

Next some grass was added and a background texture (French Kiss’s le Petit Chateau – for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) was placed just above the white original background layer. The neutral color fit the image as too much color would have drawn the eye away from the story.

Glow Effect 2:  This week Pretty Photoshop Actions gave away a really nice Photoshop Action called Holiday Magic. (Sign up for the newsletter to get some great give-aways all the time!) This is a really nice action but their video needs to be watched to really understand how it works. It contains overlays, brushes and the 3 major actions. In the above, the Book Glow action was run first, which added the extra lightness around the nose to indicate a large glow. Next the Brush Applicator Action was run where the fancy snow flakes were added around Rudolf and the tree using their supplied brushes. There is one trick you need to use if you want to run the action in the middle of your workflow. At the point where the actions needed to be added, I had to create a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and name the layer “Background” before running the action. The action will be looking for the Background layer for it to run. Once I finished up with the action, this Background layer was deleted so more editing could be done on all the layers.

Lots of clean up layers were added to get the exact color effects. Several Color Fill Layers (set to Color blend mode and various layer opacities) were used along with many Curves Adjustment Layers to tweak the contrast. What really brought the effect together was creating a stamped layer on top and applying Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (I so wish this plug-in were still available as it is really incredible), and set to a high Smooth of 21 and just a little Detail adjustment of 189. Then this layer was set to 60% layer opacity so it was not too soft.

Last steps were adding the now free Nik Viveza 2 to adjust the focal points, a Curves Adjustment Layer with a Red Channel Luminosity layer mask (see my How To Use a Red Channel To Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog), and a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode to make sure tones were correct (see my How To Use a Black & White Adjustment Layer to See Contrast in an Image blog).

I do not expect you to do all these steps, but I wanted to give a good example of what can be done with a few nice tools. The Glow effect got me thinking about what wondrous Holiday effects could be achieved with composites. I find creating composites takes a lot of work but I always feel good about them when finished.

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Image of a Red and Yellow RoseThis rose is a pretty basic example of a Christmas Glow that can be achieved pretty quickly. This rose was taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. It is a painted image using regular and mixer brushes in Photoshop – nothing too hard about painting this image so no special brushes were required. After painting, used Photoshop’s Select and Mask to select the flower. The layer mask was applied and two of my Corel Painter backgrounds were added under the cut-out flower.

Glow Effect 1: Once again, Corel ParticleShop was opened up and this time the Cluster brush was set to Size 156 and Opacity 45% set to a glow yellow color – painted around the flower to get the lit up effect. Used the Eraser brush in the plug-in to remove any mistakes. If the colors look a little strong on the PS layer, use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and clip it (ALT+Click between the layers to clip) to the layer to desaturate just the ParticleShop layer. Mine looked real orange.

Glow Effect 2:  The glow was just not quite enough for me.  Aaron Blaise’s Canvas Texture Brush Set 42 3 is a brush that has a slight edge around it so the strokes will give a glow effect when used with a lighter color. It amazes me where you can find that special brush from ones you already own! The foreground color was set to a bright light yellow and on a New Layer, the Cluster brush lines were painted over again. This layer was then adjusted down to 95% layer opacity.

My snow overlay was set to 32% and can be downloaded free at my Deviant Art site. I think this gives yet another nice Holiday card effect that you might be able to use.

Know everyone is very busy at this time of year, but hope you got a few good ideas for adding a little Holiday Cheer to some of your images. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd

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HOW TO USE THOSE HOLIDAY RESOURCES

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


2013 Inexpensive Gifts for the Photoshop Lover on Your List

Image of snowman and card scene created in both Photoshop and Corel PainterThe last two years I have done blogs on inexpensive gift items that I felt were a good deal if you are a Photoshop and/or Lightroom lover like I am. All the previous items I still recommend and would still make great gifts.

2012 Inexpensive Gifts for the Photoshop Lover on Your List
Inexpensive Gifts for the Photoshop Lover on Your List (for 2011)

This year I am running a little late with my list, but I thought I would add a few more items that might help you out if you need another quick, last-minute gift. All can be downloaded in some form and put on an inexpensive little thumb drive from WalMart or Staples for a nice little gift. These items are not listed in any particular order, just how I thought of them.

1. Topaz ReStyle ($59.99)

The snowman greeting above used this Photoshop plug-in which has turned out to be my favorite Topaz plug-in (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) – since I love all their plug-ins, that is quite a statement! I almost always try it on every image opened in Photoshop, usually as a last step, just to see if a slightly better color palette can be achieved. More times than not I will apply it. At least try out the trial to see if you like it – just a fabulous plug-in that no one else has. The snowman image was originally in whites, greens and browns, which looked okay. But when put into Topaz ReStyle and the Warm Steel Wash preset applied, this was the result which looks more wintry to me. Totally love this plug-in as seen by the various references to it throughout many of my recent blog postings.

2. Dave Delnea’s Lightroom Develop Presets ($10)

This is a set of 46 presets that I use all the time – I love the way he has added different light effects that sit on top of your other presets in many cases. It can really helps even out a dark corner in an image and the presets can be easily edited in Lightroom if the effect is too strong. These sell for $10 or you can get a bundle with David duChemin’s Lightroom presets (see last year’s #10 item) and get them for $16. Can’t go wrong with either set.

Image of Colonial Park Cemetary in Savannah, GeorgiaThis image of the Colonial Park Cemetery (the link is to a website on the ghosts said to haunt the cemetery in Savannah, Georgia where over 10,000 people are said to buried) used both David duChemin’s Toxic Cool Heavy + MTC preset which added the soft fall tones, and Dave Delnea’s Backlight Horizontal Left preset that filled the back corner with light for a more natural tree shadow and lighter background.

3. Argus Preset Viewer ($9.99)

Last year I recommended the Preset Viewer Breeze by Tumasoft (last years #3 item) and it has been a great little program, but the Argus Preset Viewer appears to me to be just as good, faster and cheaper. It adds thumbnails down the right side of your Windows Explorer where you can view a complete set of Photoshop brushes, swatches, styles, shapes, gradients, or patterns. This is such a time-saver and at such a reasonable price. Definite must have!

Image of screenshot of how Tumasoft Argus preset viewer looks

Above is an example of how my free Cloud Brushes look in the Argus Preset Viewer from my Deviant Art site when highlighted in the Windows Explorer.

4. Flypaper Nik Color Efex Presets  ($8)

We all know that Flypaper Textures are great. Recently they offered 84 presets for Nik’s Color Efex Pro plug-in and they have turned out to be really nice. Also gives a great starting point for stacking several filters to get an interesting effect. And the good thing is that they are very inexpensive! This would be a great stocking stuffer!
Image of an old building in the Belarusian countrysideThis image used three plug-ins: Topaz DeNoise, Nik Color Efex Pro using the Fly For Girls preset which stacked Cross Processing, Darken/Lighten Center, Reflector Efex, and Graduated Neutral Density filters, and Nik Viveza. The clouds were added using my brushes 1 and 2 in brush set shown above. The image is of an old residential building in the Belarusian countryside outside Minsk – I have always wondered what stories it could tell.

5. Melissa Gallo’s Painted Textures  ($5 to $35)

Her textures are so gorgeous and I use them on many of my images. If you like the very true vivid painted texture look, check out her textures. She does have a couple texture sets at very reasonable prices – her Winter Solstice Mini Collection of 10 textures for $20 and her Monet Collection of 20 textures for $35. This is something that you cannot get right now, but usually the first Friday of each month, she offers two of her beautifully painted textures for sale for $5 – only time they will be available. She has some more expensive bundles with tutorials and actions included. If your Photoshopper likes textures, definitely check these out.
Image of Mums with Melissa Gallo texturesJust an example of what several of Melissa’s beautiful textures can produce. My mums were not that outstanding an image, but by stacking Melissa’s Mist on the Lake texture at 100% opacity and painting back the flower, her Thanksgiving Mayflower texture set to Overlay blend mode at 87% layer opacity, and finally her Spring Rain texture set to Soft Light blend mode at 92% opacity, an interesting and unique texture look can be achieved. These textures were all from her 2 for $5 deals each month.

6.  Lightroom 5 Unmasked E-Book  ($20)

If you are like me and get a little discouraged that every time Adobe upgrades their software, you have to spend bunches of money on a new book to cover all the little upgrades they did, this is the solution. When Adobe upgraded to Lightroom 4, I bought Piet Van den Eynde E-book and it served my purposes since I knew how to use the program, just needed a quick reference for the new things. When Lightroom 5 came out, Piet came out with an update to his book for just a few dollars (Lightroom 5 Up to Speed) and I was now all set for version 5. His updated complete Lightroom 5 E-book is 356 pages.

7.  Trey Radcliff’s Photomatix Pro Presets  ($14.97)

Needless to say anything Trey sells has got to be good! I am listing these presets as they are very unique and once again I do not know anyone who sells this type of item. Trey also has several nice inexpensive Lightroom preset sets and many inexpensive E-books available in his website store so check them all out.Image of miniature mushrooms that look like hobbit homesThis is a 3-image HDR using Photomatix Pro 5.0 and Trey’s A Little Sumfum Sumfin preset was applied.Some mushroom edge sharpening and a radial vignette were added in Lightroom. These were the tiniest mushroom I have ever seen, only 2 inches high at the max, and I had to shoot them lying on my stomach! I actually expected a little tiny hobbit to walk out!

8. The Way of the Digital Photographer by Harold Davis  ($25.61)

I have always been a big fan of Harold Davis ever since he released The Photoshop Darkroom and The Photoshop Darkroom 2 books (they are still great books). This book is his latest and I just bought it. Planning on spending a few days enjoying some of his new techniques this holiday. Anyway, not sure you can go wrong with any Harold Davis book and they are all available in Kindle editions from Amazon.

9.  Video Tutorial – Snapseed – The Definitive Guide  ($15)

I just bought this and it looks really good. Snapseed is a free IPhone or Adroid application from Nik to create all kinds of interesting effects on your phone images. The above E-book, example images, and videos from Flatbooks discuss how to get the most out of this really cool app. Would make a great gift for someone just getting a new phone (like I did).

A COUPLE FREE ITEMS THAT MIGHT BE USEFUL

10.  Adobe Photoshop Suite CS2 and/or Photoshop CS2

For people who do not really want to buy Photoshop because they do not need to use it that  much, this is a pretty good alternative. Adobe no longer is supporting this version but they will let you download it for free. Since it is a 10-year old program, it lacks a lot of the bells and whistles of the newer versions, but for people who just want to add an adjustment layer or select with a channel, this is not a bad way to go. Thought I would put this out there since not everyone is as crazy about Photoshop as I am. And the bonus is that you can learn the basics of some of the other Adobe programs and see if you might want to actually upgrade to the CC Cloud verion. The link above goes to a recent Gizmoto blog that discusses this in more detail and contains the link to Adobe.

11.  NKS5 Natural Media Toolkit

This is a Photoshop Panel that I have been trying out a little but have not spent much time on it due to the holiday overload. It is a free download and you might want to give it a shot. It is opened from the Window -> Extensions -> NKS5 where a panel with all kinds of brushes and effects are set up on icons. It could be a real time saver. I actually added it to Photoshop CC without any issues even though it says it is for CS5 and CS6.

For some other fairly inexpensive gifts for the photographer, check out this recent episode of The Grid where Photoshop Guys Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski discuss all kinds of items. Lots of fun to watch too. Also, I cannot say enough good things about Creative Live and all the programs they present. If you like what you see during the live presentations, you can get the videos for a reduced price. Keep checking in as they often have different videos at reasonable prices – several are under $50. Still one of the best places to learn about all types of programs that have to do with photography.

Hope this little blog will give everybody some quick ideas for their last minute shopping.  Happy Holidays everybody!…..Digital Lady Syd