Anything Photoshop or Photography

Holidays

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY

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

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

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

Have a wonderful holiday!…..Digital Lady Syd


DIGITAL LADY SYD’S BEST PHOTOSHOP TECHNIQUES FROM 2019

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

HOW TO SUBTLY ADJUST AREAS OF AN IMAGE USING TWO METHODS
I am finding I use these tricks a lot when there is an area where the contrast or color just does not fit right with the rest of the image. By blending the edges softly, the adjustment can be gradually blended in.

WHAT ABOUT THOSE COLOR STRIPS IN THE HUE/SATURATION ADJUSTMENT LAYER?
I also use the strips a lot to get my colors set exactly right. I had never used them much, but once I figured out how to do it, it is really handy.

USING A LEVELS ADJUSTMENT LAYER FOR A VIGNETTE
This is the main vignette technique I now use. I like how it can be targeted exactly to where I want it and the shape can be adjusted easily to fit.

WHAT ABOUT THE PATTERN STAMP TOOL? NOT SO BAD!
The Pattern Stamp Tool really helped me create some great backgrounds especially. When an image has too much going on, using a matching pattern (which I usually make with this tool) can help get rid of the confusing background.

WHEN TO USE THE PATCH HEALING TOOL
Use it all the time!

HOW TO ADD A LITTLE INTERIOR GLOW
I would never have thought of doing this without Serge Ramelli’s tutorials. It completely changes the way an interior of a room looks.

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

HOW TO GET RID OF THOSE DARN FENCES IN ZOO SHOTS
Still use these tips when I go to any place that has animals behind fences.

HOW TO ADD A DARKER BACKGROUND IMAGE FOR A DIFFERENT EFFECT
This has been very handy to use with animal images.

CAN A BLURRY IMAGE BECOME SHARP? MAYBE
This technique has saved some of my favorite images!

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


MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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


CHRISTMAS GREETINGS FROM DIGITAL LADY SYD

Christmas Greetings CardJust wishing everyone a Wonderful Holiday. This little bird was from a set called Watercolor Russian Birds by Anna Faun and the breast was turned red using a Selective Color Adjustment Layer, my Santa and Reindeer PS brush, and Julie Mead’s A Winter Lullaby White Tree and Green Tree stacked. The lights on tree were from Corel Particle Shop using the Cluster brush. Several different textures were stacked and my snow overlay was placed on top. Finished off the image by going into Topez (see sidebar my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReStyle and applying the Snow Cover II preset. So much fun to do Christmas Cards! Hope everyone is having a good one!……Digital Lady Syd


A SHORT CHAT ABOUT PHOTOSHOP CC2019

Image of a Santa Claus Christmas Ornament
A little late on this post – but then writing about Photoshop is never late to me. As usual whenever Photoshop updates to a newer version, I have mixed feelings. It seems to take me a while to get organized and this was the case with Photoshop CC2019. I have watched several recent posts by some of my favorite Photoshop gurus, Julieanne Kost, Colin Smith, and Scott Kelby, and here are a few things I discovered about this new update:

  • First I got totally confused with the old Edit -> Fill command (for me it used to mean Content Aware Fill) and the new Edit -> Content-Aware Fill command. After playing around with it, it does seem to have much better results than the old “Fill” command and it is much easier to see what is changing right in the new panel. One thing I learned is that if you do not use the Lasso Tool but instead the Magic Wand or Quick Selection Tool, there can be discernible lines where the selection edge was. To fix this, just go into the Select -> Modify -> Expand Selection and set it to 2 pixels before going into the new command. Lines disappear or edges are much smoother.
  • On the Toolbar the tools can be pulled apart and added in by clicking on the three dots near bottom of the Toolbar (under the Zoom Tool) and then dragging the tools apart. I set both the Rectangle Marque Tool and Elliptical Marquee Tool up on my toolbar. Also put the Patch Tool under the Spot Healing Brush (which still contains all the other tools). I added the new Frame Tool onto the Toolbar but not sure it is that useful.
  • There is now a Windows -> New Guide Layout panel (versus the old New Guide panel) where the number of columns (or rows) and a Gutter amount between them can be set up. This is handy to blend two different images together using the Gradient Tool in a mask and placing the gradient between the two line in the gutter area to create a nice smooth transition.
  • Here is something you may have not noticed – when adding an object/texture/image whatever into the main document and a Group is highlighted showing layers, the object layer will go into the group and not above the group. Just close the group before adding the new material to add above.
  • Did you know that if a part of a filter name like Gaus for Gaussian Blur is added in the search field (on the Options Bar on the right side), it will bring up the dialog box without going through all the steps to get there?
  • To me this is a biggie! Regarding those darn layer styles that sometimes just do not look right when applied. Here is one thing that is going on. If applying a style to a group, PS treats all the layers in the group as if they are flattened before applying the layer style to the group as a whole. Same thing with blend modes. So if you start to get some really strange results when applying a lot of different layers styles in image, check out the group and layers underneath to see if this issue is happening. Hope to blog on this later as I want to experiment with this.
  • I personally, and apparently many other people, have been having problems taking an image from Lightroom Classic into Photoshop when PS is not already open – most of the program is grayed out. The work-around is to first open PS before bringing the LR image into the program. Very annoying but it does work.
  • If you are like me and use the File -> Info panel, the Photoshop History field is stuck and you cannot scroll within it. This information is set in the Preferences -> History Log – I always keep mine set to Save Log Items to: Metadata and Edit Log Items: Detailed. It come in handy when you forget what you did not an image. The good news is that the information is contained in Adobe Bridge under the Metadata tab, Edit History section and it works.

I am sure there are lots of other new ways to do things with this update. I just have not had time to find them all. I hope this helped you out a little with some of the things going on.

So how did I get Santa to twist like this? Well once again it is a filter in Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website) Studio called the Motion Blurs Adjustment – set to Type Swirl, placed marker on nose, and Angle to 0.06 (just a little is enough). Then added the Smudge Adjustment set to Strength of 0.13, Extent 0.49 and Sharpness 0.61 and painted it in a mask just on the Santa and letters to get an illustrative feel to the ornament. Then went back into PS.

Hope everyone is having a great holiday – Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd


HAPPY VALENTINES DAY (WITH A FEW TIPS)!

Image of a pink dahlia for Valentines DayJust my annual Valentine Blog with a few tips. I really like to create images for this holiday. The little tiny dahlia flower above is growing in my otherwise very dead-looking garden. Unfortunately in Florida we had a couple cold days below freezing at night and many of my beautiful plants and flowers were lost.

The image was taken into Photoshop where the Shake Reduction filter was applied since the shot was taken hand-held while on my hands and knees – definitely some shakiness there! Then the layer was duplicated and the flower was selected – used the Select and Mask dialog to refine the selection. Applied the mask so the background could be painted out. I had to use Tip 1 to find out which brush I had used to paint the background – it was a Fay Sirkis’s Precious Oil Diamond Blender brush (her brushes are pretty hard to find now but worth it for painting in PS – they are still available from KelbyOne along with several very good earlier PS painting videos if you are a member – just search for her name and download course assets) with a few Brush Setting Panel changes that made a nice smooth pinkish background. Her Portrait Face Sfumato Detail Blender was used to paint the flower petals. The Valentine Brushes created in Tip 2 were used to add the holiday feel. A Bevel and Emboss default  layer style was used on the valentine objects. A yellow-orange light leak was applied to the lower left corner (see Tip 3 for this). Finished off with my regular workflow. The text font is Birch Standard.

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Happy Valentine greeting with textured imageThis image started out as a texture I was creating with the hearts from Julie Mead’s Valentine Gift 2 set (See Step 2 below for link). The cupid is also from this set. Used my SJ 3 Pastel-Van Gogh TI brush was used to add the green background color on the bottom layer. (Also Tip 2 below.) Different layers were used to add each valentine brush and the cupid brush to the image. To make the cupid green, the cupid layer style was opened up by double clicking on the layer words in the Layers Panel – a 2 px Stroke was used in a dark red color, a Gradient Overlay was selected using the Forest Walk green to white linear gradient from Random Gradients – Graphix 1, and an Outer Glow set to 65% opacity using a pink color. A small 17 pixel valentine brush by Digital Touch was used to paint little valentines all over a New Layer and a Pattern Overlay layer style was added using a pink valentine pattern set to Multiply. (Tip 2 shows you how to create this brush easily.) The font used was MC Sweetie Hearts. Last step was to add a New Layer and use a spotlight effect on the cupid – set to Overlay blend mode at 55% layer opacity. (See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog.) The last step used a Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer to create a vignette using a dark red color. (See my Yet Another Great Way to Create a Vignette blog.)

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By My Valentine image More crazy Valentine Fun above – this time started with the free Big Heart brush – the rest of the valentine was built up around this main feature.  A darkish red and pink texture was used and could be made using Dave Belliveau’s Mixer brush from Tip 2 for a bottom background. On top of this a Heart Bokeh Stock element by sweethooligan (no current link could be found but appeared to be an old DeviantArt location) was applied and set to Screen blend mode at 57% layer opacity. The Be My Valentine text blurb was from by Ulia Choo. The music playing cupid was from Glass Prism Cupid Brushes at DeviantArt set to Multiply and then a dark Inner Gray Layer Style was added that shows the original square edge around the element. Upper left element is Heart Corner Large from Valentine Brush Set by Cheshire Angel that was set to Multiply blend mode to remove the white background. Some small valentines using the same Digital Touch brush as in image above was used – this is a handy valentine brush! Then three Light Leaks were used to add some variance to the color tones in the image.

Tip 1: Use the File Info Dialog to Find Brushes and Filters Settings Used

This is a tip I have mentioned before, but it is worth repeating. Have you ever forgotten what brush you used to create a certain effect and want to use it again? Or what settings were used on an Adjustment or filter that were not noted? This info can be found if you go to File -> Info (ALT+CTRL+SHIFT+I) to open the dialog. But to be able to recover this information, your Preferences (Edit -> Preferences -> History Log) in the History Log tab must have the Metadata radial turned on when the image is created. I just keep this turned on even though I do not use this function often, there are times it has been helpful to have.

Tip 2: Find or Create Brushes – then Get Comfortable Using Them

Mixers: When painting in Photoshop, it is really important to have a couple Mixer brushes ready to use – at least one good blending brush and one for adding color. It is important to have confidence these brushes and learn to change the settings on the fly to get good results – that is what I did using Fay Sirkis’s Precious Oil Diamond Blender brush. I have large and small sized ones and a couple that add color using the same basic dab. To find out what the dab of any brush looks like, just turn off the Spacing setting in the Tip Shape section of the Brush Panel. One of my favorite Mixer blender brushes for smooth background colors is free from David Belliveau with his How to Blend Colors in Photoshop: 4 Essential Technique blog download (included with regular soft and hard edged brushes and a Smudge brush).

Regular Painting Brushes: Check out my How to Create my Favorite Brush blog and make a nice regular brush (my SJ 3 Pastel Brush) – great for painting or just touching up an image when used at a small size. In the second image, my SJ 3 Pastel-Van Gogh TI brush was  used. It can be created by following my Painting Fun in Photoshop blog’s third paragraph – gives an explanation on how to make the base brush more painterly. My favorite paint brush site is Grut Brushes.com who gives away a brush of the week to try out – also his sampler has some really nice paint brushes. I use Grut brushes all the time.

Regular Stamp Type Brushes: Converting a PNG to a regular stamp brush: Both these images used some brushes created from nice free valentine hearts by Julie Mead at E-scape & Scrap. There are 9 wonderful valentine PNG files that instantly made me think of Photoshop Brushes. So that is exactly what I did – created several valentine brushes. See Tip 2 below.. All the PNG but the first heart were converted to brushes adding the PNG file to a New Document, then converting to Black and White – I used the Black and White Adjustment Layer to do this – and then creating a stamped layer on top. Now go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset and create the brush. I did not make many changes – mainly just size. I also created a couple of brushes that were created by stamping down the new brushes together on another layer and saving that as a brush. This can be seen in the second Valentine Greetings image. This image started out as a texture that was created by using New Layers for each color and just stamping down the Julie brushes for the effect.

Creating a stamp brush from a Photoshop Shape: The little Valentine Brush used in the last two images can be created by selecting the Custom Shape Tool in Photoshop and set to Shape in the Options Bar. On a New Document, go to the Options Bar Shape: drop-down menu, select the valentine and drag out holding the SHIFT key to hold the shape and press enter. Go to the Layers Panel and use the Marquee Tool to draw a selection around the shape – go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset and press Enter. A Valentine Brush has been created and added to the bottom of the Brushes Panel. Now any settings you would like to add can be done in the Brush Settings Panel.

Tip 3: Make Other Resources

Sometimes it is easier just to use resources you have collected, but sometimes this is not possible. That is when I try to reproduce what I like – it may turn out better than the original. This does take time so I do not make all my resources. Make your own texture when you can. In the last valentine, the red heart background could easily be created by using a black background and painting red hearts using the valentine brush (shape brush in Tip 2) and Brush Settings Panel’s Scatter and Color Dynamic settings. Tip 2 shows how to make the Valentine texture in the second image. The text block could easily have been reproduced using Text Layers and fonts in PS. Create some Light Leaks to add nice color variations to your images. (See my How to Create Light Leaks to Use Over Again blog.) I keep them in my PS Library so it can be tried out on images quickly.

Hope these tips were useful and has some fun making Valentines in Photoshop. It is my favorite Photoshop holiday – Happy Valentines Day! …..Digital Lady Syd


MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM DIGITAL LADY SYD!

Digitally Painted Christmas MessageWishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! And thank you for taking the time to stop by and check out my blogs. It has been a busy year, especially the last few months with all the new software and updates to older versions being released. It has been a real challenge to keep on top of it all. So for the next week I am taking it easy with family and friends. Then I am going to try and figure out how these programs really work and present some new techniques.

A couple of notes  –

  • If you are a Windows Luminar 2018 owner, Skylum sent out an update just a few days ago and fixed the plug-in problem with Photoshop. It now comes back into PS with the changes applied – that in itself is something to celebrate! If you are still having trouble, go into the stand-alone program and to File -> Install Plugins dialog where the Photoshop and Lightroom should say installed. Change to uninstall, go out of the dialog, then go back in and click Install. It should now work properly when you open PS.
  • Also, Topaz Studio issued an update last week with a few interface changes and the Glow filter added into the program – it should show the new Glow filter if you already own Topaz Labs Glow.  It stacks the Glow (which looks very similar to the Labs version) with HSL Color Tuning, Vignette, and Smudge filters. Wonderful extra Holiday treats here!
  • Have heard lots of people (including me) are raving over the updated Auto Button in Lightroom and Camera Raw – I am finding it is a great starting place for my other adjustments so give it a try!
  • And On1’s new Photo Raw 2018  seems to be really good – I am especially enjoying the overall speed and sharpness in my images with this program.

It has been a wonderful year with all the new advancements to the various plug-ins. (All the above plug-in website links can be found on the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog.) I see 2018 just getting better for us Power Photoshop Users. And with the old Nik filters being picked up by DxO, it should get really interesting!

The Christmas card above was one I created mainly using just Photoshop. The trees were created using the Filter -> Render -> Trees where the Pine Tree 1 was selected (this filter is not available in CS6). This is too much fun creating your own trees in PS – and did you know that if you select the Advanced tab (yes, there really is one there right next to the default Basic tab) the color of the leaves and branches can be changed! As silly as it sounds, this is the reason I keep coming back to PS – it just has some of the best tools and filters.  The tree was duplicated 4 times and each was Free Transformed and selecting the Warp Tool in the Options Bar.  Then mainly created some snow brushes (check out Corey’s Universal Particle Brush video to make one) and used one of Grut’s brushes called W Wain Riff brush to paint in more snow – this brush is free until Monday – check out each Monday for a new free brush! The deer is from Deer Antler Clipart by Tigerlily Design Co. The Santa and Reindeer is a brush I created. The color in the trees is from one of the basic Corel Particleshop plug-in packs using the Cluster and Light brush. The Merry Christmas lettering is from a major cool Photoshop template called Free Ice Cool Text Effects by Alifuwork where the font called Adrenaline Brush was used. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using PS’s Foggy Night preset was applied and set to Multiply blend mode at 69% layer opacity.

As stated before, hope everyone is having a Wonderful Holiday Season! Enjoy and see you next year!…..Digital Lady Syd


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


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


Creating a Realistic Rainbow in Photoshop

Since I am doing a post on rainbows, I thought I would first pass on a little  trivia about them. Did you know that there are usually seven colors in a rainbow, but most people do not see the indigo layer between the lighter blue and purple arcs? The stronger the sunlight and rain, the more intense the rainbow. This is actually a pretty complicated weather effect. The image of my miniature mums was just plain fun to do and is not exactly a very realistic rainbow representation. I started by adding French Kiss Artiste Promenade texture and painting out the mums in a layer mask. Next a rainbow was created following Deke McClelland‘s Creating a Synthetic Rainbow Effect from his Photoshop Masking and Compositing Fundamentals DVDs. (He is coming out with his new Photoshop book shortly that should be great!). The Gradient Tool was selected to create a rainbow. Below are the basic steps for creating a rainbow effect:

1. Add a New Layer. An optional step is to restrain the actual size of the rainbow – select the Rectangular Marquee Tool and in the Options Bar set t0 Style -> Fixed Size and enter Width  the settings I used above were 1000 and Height 337 pixels while Deke used 1840 width by 187 height.

2. If using a selection, keep it  active and set up a gradient using settings as shown in the screenshot or download my gradient below. The Rainbow gradient provided by Photoshop has some issues – mainly rainbows do not contain any orange colors, the reds are too squished, and a cyan color is included which is not in a rainbow. Deke suggested these basic gradient settings to make a more realistic rainbow gradient.

The lower color tab locations could be adjusted to get more or less of a specific color in the rainbow. Save your new Gradient as a preset so it can be used again or click to download my SJ Rainbow Gradient and resulting rainbow PNG files that contain these settings.

3.Using the Gradient Tool with the Options Bar set with the new rainbow gradient and Linear, drag out to create a horizontal line rainbow. If using an active selection from Step 1, drag exactly between the top Rectangular Marquee line and bottom while holding the SHIFT key to get a straight across effect. Be sure you drag top to bottom or your rainbow will be backwards. (I know because I did this.) Deselect (CTRL+D) the selection.

4. Now go to Edit -> Transform -> Warp and in the Options Bar select Warp Arc and Bend 90% to get a large semi-circle rainbow. To switch back to the other Free Transform settings, just click the Warp icon in Options Bar. To make size of rainbow smaller to fit in your image, set bend and click on the little chain icon (Maintain Aspect Ratio icon) in the Options Bar between W: and H: and change 100% to 70% (or whatever size works on your image). If scaling manually, be sure to hold the SHIFT button while dragging on the corners or the perspective of the rainbow will change. To get a more stylized rainbow look or one that fits around an object, the corners  can actually be pulled to adjust the transform lines to make the rainbow line up any way you want by right clicking in the rainbow and selecting Distort or Skew. Then click on the check mark to set the total transformation.

5. Add a layer mask and with a soft low opacity black brush, adjust the rainbow into your image.

6. Set rainbow layer blend mode to Linear Light and change the Fill value to 15%

7. To reduce the edges of the colors in your rainbow, go to Filters -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set a Radius to 8 (or whatever setting you think looks good).

You now have a beautiful rainbow in your image! I actually added a sketch on top of my flower and a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer using the rainbow gradient again and set the layer to 31% opacity to get the rainbow effect on the petals.
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Here is another image that uses the same rainbow created for the first image. The PNG rainbow blurred from my rainbow download was brought into the image. The image was first processed in Lightroom starting with David duChemin’s Iceland Split Greens preset (from his newest book The Print and the Process: Taking Compelling Photographs from Vision to Expression) and using an Adjustment Brush to add sharpening and clarity to the houses. In Photoshop Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and the Detail Extractor and Graduated Neutral Density filters were added to enhance the clouds and give them a brighter look on the right side of the image. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to darken down the area behind the houses to give more of a stormy effect, which is needed to get a realistic looking rainbow. Next the rainbow was placed in the image and Free Transform (CTRL+T) to get the right size and location. The rainbow layer was set to 51% opacity and a layer mask was added – the upper right corner of the rainbow was gently painted out. My SJ Painter Oil Frame was applied and a Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers so change only effect the layer below) to the frame – the color was changed to a matching light color in the image. To get the painted edges, a layer mask was added and using a 12% soft brush, the edges were painted out lightly to get more of a painted canvas look. French Kiss Artiste Breeze texture was added on top. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to it and the Saturation set to -100. The texture layer was set to Vivid Light blend mode at 22% opacity. This is an image I probably would not have processed if a texture had not been applied to it and the rainbow really opened up the sky. Now I really like it – it looks like the English countryside that I saw while traveling to Bath.
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Just having fun here. Was not sure where this was going and this is what I ended up with. This is actually made up of three groups – Rainbow, Shamrock Pot and Flower Pot. French Kiss Artiste Flower Garden texture was used as a backdrop. It took a lot of manipulation to get the main components set up correctly. The Rainbow was warped to fit into the pots. The flowers were created from an image of a pin I had taken and turned into a brush. All the clip-art is from the wonderful Obsidian Dawn St. Patricks Day brushes. Various layer styles were applied to the different layers and the Cosmi font is called 36 – you might find it on an old CD of fonts.

There are a few other tutorials out there on how to make a rainbow. One in an older book called Photoshop Photo Effects Cookbook has a fairly easy tutorial to follow – I just did not like the gradient effect and final rainbow quite as much. I hope you download my rainbow and give this a try. This was really a fun thing to try….Digital Lady Syd


Using a Template to Create Your Own Unique Valentine


I had a hard time coming up with something to write about this week – writer’s block or creative block or something! Then I came across JennyW47 Flickr site where she used a pretty basic template to create a very cool look. This sounded like a lot of fun so I created two images using a template I created with some different ways to use it. I thought I would teach you how to create it (or download mine if you like), add photos to it, and then make it your own. So lets get going.

Basic steps to creating a template:

1.  Create a New Document that is large enough to hold all the photos you want to add. Mine was set to 8 inches X 12 inches, a fairly standard size that will still print out on my printer. To make the document fit on a 4  X 6 inch card, go to Image -> Image Size and change the Width to 4 inches and Height to 6 inches (or change inches to percent and set 50 for both width and height).

2. Create a New Layer.

3.  Go to the Rounded Rectangular Shape Tool (in Tool Group with Rectangular Shape Tool) and in Options Bar, change these settings:

– Pixel to Path

– Click on the Gear icon (just to the left of the word Radius) and select Proportion or Fixed Size if you want the template openings to be an exact size. My top opening is set to 7 by 5 to fit that size image. I also check From Center in this box. There are also two square boxes and set to 3 x 2 proportional.

– Set a Radius – I used 30 px to round the edges.

3. Now click in your document and drag out to set shape on your page.

4.  Go back to Options Bar and click on Make: Selection button – it turns it into a selection.

5.  Since I had my Foreground and Background colors set to black and white, I just clicked ALT+BACKSPACE to fill with black and CTRL+D to deselect the selection.

6. Create a New Layer and repeat process.

7. When finished save the document as a PSD file – you now have a basic template that can be used over and over. When Move Tool is selected, the alignment icons are available so you can make sure the edges are lined up by selecting the affected layers.

This is what my final template looks like for the top image. It is a pretty simple process and you can make many different types of templates. You can even use the Custom Shape tool to create interesting shaped openings.

You may download this PSD template from my Deviant Art page here. Also included is a basic PNG file where the images can be just dragged and lined up under the openings, but there is no easy way to adjust or remove the openings as I will be discussing for the PSD template below. Enjoy!

Steps for adding images to your Template:

Adding images to your templates is pretty easy.

1.  Open up the template in Photoshop and in the Layers Panel, highlight the layer where you want your first image to go.

2.  Open up the image you would like to add in another window in Photoshop, and then move the image into your template. If your image is a PSD file, I would recommend flattening a copy and save as a JPEG, the move the file in. To do this, select the Move Tool, grab you image (NOT THE LAYER OR THUMBNAIL which I keep doing!), and drag to the Template Image Tab – it will open up this image and you let go of your mouse and drop it. Use the Move Tool to adjust it over the opening the best you can. If you do have a PSD file and you only want to move a layer over, just make sure you have the layer highlighted in the Layers Panel and do the same steps to move it in.

If you are in Adobe Bridge, right click on the image and select Place -> In Photoshop. It opens up as a Smart Object which I always Rasterize right away since you do not need that capability and it gets in the way. Just right click on the layer and select Rasterize from the menu. Can also just go to the Menu and select Layer -> Rasterize. If you Place a PSD file, if you click on the smart object icon in the Layers Panel thumbnail, it will open up as a separate document with all your image layers showing. If you Rasterize it, you will lose that capability and it will be converted to a single layer.

3.  Next I clip the image to the black rectangle layer. The easiest way to do this is to highlight the image, ALT+Click between the layers and now you see only what the black box will let you see. If this makes you nervous, highlight the layer, go to Menu and select Layer -> Create Clipping Mask. Note you can clip more than one layer to a bottom layer – New Layers, several Adjustment Layers, and other image layers can all be clipped at the same time.

4. In most cases what you are bringing in will be too large or small. Just click on the image layer and press CTRL+T to Free Transform (in Menu go to Edit -> Free Transform). If you want the image to stay exactly to scale, hold the SHIFT + ALT keys and pull or push on a corner to adjust it. If it is close or does not matter, just drag the edges in and out.

That’s it! You just keep bringing in images and lining up with which ever rectangle you want to fill.

Steps for making the Template your Own:

This is the fun part. There are not major rules to using this template. The image at the top follows the template openings pretty closely but you can see the bottom image does not look like I used the template at all, but I did – there are ways to make the edges disappear.

Let’s talk about the basics in the first image. I wanted to have a theme with my beautiful tulips I bought at the grocery a few weeks ago. I spent a lot of time photographing them and playing with my camera settings, so I got some really nice shots and thought they would create a nice grouping for the template. I am going to go through each element for you.

  • The top image was one I created using a different phrase and in very soft light colors. I changed all that in Photoshop before placing in the template – just to help you out I found the Valentine phrase on a blog called Best Valentine Day Quotes and Phrases to Make Her Melt. I actually used a textured background I created in the image. I saved down a copy as a JPEG to drag into the template. Just followed the steps above to add the image.
  • Next a close up of my tulip was added – it was also processed first as an image and then brought in. It used one of my favorite textures by Melissa Gallo’s Painted Textures Taupe Canvas, a Black Friday purchase, which gave the beautiful white painterly streaks.
  • The pink and white heart image was created using a texture from French Kiss called Pink Corel (and is a free download – scroll down to the end of the article which is very interesting) and Obsidian Dawn’s Hearts Glitter brush using white and a size of 1200 pixels was painted on top of the texture. That was it and it looks so pretty.
  • First Brush Hearts brush 11 was added on its own layer in a light pink corel color and was clipped (see Step 3 above on Adding Images to Template section) to the bottom left rectangular layer. I then pasted my flowers (that I selected in one of my tulip images) and used the Warp Tool to make them fit into the Heart that was painted into the opening. A layer mask was added so the flowers would pop out over parts of the heart.
  • The little pink heart in the middle was just a New Layer set on top of the layer panel and the Custom Shape Tool was selected. In the Options Bar set the mode to Path and in the Shape field, click on the down arrow and select the Heart that comes with Photoshop. Just drag out to the size you need. A Stroke Layer Style set to light pink and 16 pixels was added. (See last bullet below on how to do this.)
  • The Floral Valentine graphic on the left of the bottom opening is a Flowers Swirls Hearts Brush – Sampled Brush 5 with an angle change and set to 506 pixels. The brush layer was copied and each was set to a different color using a Color Fill Adjustment Layer. Then a black layer mask was applied to the top floral graphic and the hearts and flowers were painted back so they appear in a different color. Pretty easy way to get two different colors to show up.
  • I decided the image would look best with a black background so at the bottom of the layers panel above the white background layer, I added a New Layer and filled it with black (from Menu go to Edit -> Fill and in Use: set Black.
  • To add just a touch of color and detail to the background, a New Layer was added above the black layer and the same Flowers Swirls Hearts Brush-Sampled Brush 5 that was used the Corel Texture image and on the Teddy Bear image below was added with a soft pink color and painted to peek through the sides. The opacity was set to 68%.
  • The font is one I bought from Cosmi in the 1990’s – not available anymore but you should be able to find a nice font, probably on your computer even if you did not download one. I like dafont.com for free ones (for personal use only) when I need a new one but there are lots of nice sites available.
  • The last step was adding a Layer Style to each of the openings. To get to the Layer Style menu, double click on the Layer thumbnail in Layers Panel and you will see all the different things you can apply to the edges of the template. I just used a Stroke effect set to 16 pixels and after experimenting with several color, an orange-red color was used.

This may seem like too much work, but you do not have to do all the things I did. I wanted to show how to use different types of items in your openings. You can always increase the size of the openings or make them skinny or fat by applying the Free Transform Tool (CTRL+T) to the black rectangular layers. Using different textures and types of images really adds to the appeal of this type of image. That is what makes it so much fun to do.

I won’t go into so much detail for the image below as you probably get the idea of how to do this. Several of the elements are the same. You can see that I moved the rose box to the right (select the Move Tool, hold down SHIFT to make the move straight and drag the black rectangle over. If you have the image already added, you need to highlight all the clipped layers that are attached to the black rectangle. Notice that almost all the edges are gone – that is because layer masks were added to each of the black rectangle layers, and the edges were painted out with a low opacity black brush to remove the hard edges and make the images fit on the background smoothly. Still using the basic design of the template though.

I will make a quick list of the resources I used since they may help you find some design elements you need for your own valentines. The background is French Kiss Solstice Initiation texture which really adds that sense of nostalgia to the image. On the background is a Flowers Swirls Hearts Brush – Sampled Brush 2 set to 42% opacity to just give a little design in the background. The beautiful red hearts are a PSD file from GraphicsFuel Valentine hearts card template. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped (see Step 3 above on Adding Images to Template section) to the hearts and the hue set to -7, Saturation -38, and Lightness +3 to get the matching red color. The really pretty pink flowers in the corner are from Design Shub Greeting Card Valentine – just the flowers were dragged into the template and the 4 layers moved individually to the corners. The text font was rasterized in this document and brought to this file – then Free Transformed (CTRL+T) to make it fit. The Vintage Valentine Paper is by Aramisdream and the Cupid is  glass prism cupid brushes CupidReq14. A Gradient Overlay Layer Style using a cream to orange gradient was used on the cupid.

I hope I have given you some ideas for creating a different type of valentine. They can be so personalized and if you just work your way from top to bottom, it is really not that hard. I had a great time creating this blog and I hope you will find it useful! …..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Where To Get Those Free Valentine Templates
A Few More Valentines to Make
Create a Valentine


Where to Find Those Cool Free Christmas Card Templates?

It is that time of year and everybody is looking for the cool Christmas Card templates so I am posting early this week. I have found a few sites that might help get you through the “I need to create a Christmas Card quick” panic or to make that special one for family or friends. Update: It is hard to keep links active as this blog was posted a couple years ago, but I have tried to keep it fairly current with a few corrections and additions.

Becky Higgins 2012 Holiday Cards (no longer available but check out steps in next paragraph on how to create it)
Becky Higgins website had 10 basic cards in PNG format and various sizes to add your photos into – please note that these templates are for personal use only. Above is an example using one of her beautiful templates. The image is a 1898 Christmas ad of Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railways ad that appeared in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine from The Old Design Shop site, a great website to find interesting vintage photos for free download. This template could be created fairly simply in Photoshop –  just fill the background layer with red (ALT+BACKSPACE), duplicate the layer and cut out the photo area using the Rectangular Marquee Tool press BACKSPACE. and remove selection (CTRL+D). Add a text layer (here is a link to some nice Christmas Brushes by annie 252). On a New Layer above, use a grunge brush with white (check out Obsidian Dawn’s Glitter II brush set).

Steps to add photo:
1.  Open PNG file up in Photoshop – you will see the checkered opening where your photo will go.
2. From Adobe Bridge drag you image into the PNG file and then drag it underneath the card template.
3. Use Free Transform (CTRL+T) to adjust you image to the opening.
4. In this case a Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped above the image to give a greenish tint to the black and white image.
That’s it! Pretty easy and beautiful results! You can always add another text layer and sign your name – I used the Beyond Wonderland font from dafont.com – check it out to find hundreds of really great free fonts.

Check out this short tutorial called How to Create a Beautiful Christmas Card with lots of free holiday references. They provide links to Christmas fonts that can be used for the holiday text also.
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MCP Actions
This card was actually created from a card furnished by the wonderful people from MCP Actions. These are very basic cards where you can substitute various elements to create a very unique card. In this case the birdesign-freebie1 front was used. To see how I did the flower image, see my Tidbits Blog Beautiful Christmas Flowers . After saving and finishing the image, it was brought into the card PSD file and placed above the background. It was adjusted to fit the opening. All the pattern layers were removed, guide layer, and the top text layer. The bottom text layer was changed to a font that I had on my computer – a free download font called SF Foxboro Script. I liked the sentiment for the card so all that was done was to add my name in a little larger font size. By double-clicking on the thumbnail, the layer style dialog was brought up – the Color Overlay style was chosen with a light beige color and a default Drop Shadow added. The turquoise bottom half had to go – so the background was changed to a color that was sampled from the flowers. The bottom half looked boring, so I found The Christmas Tree sheet music from Graphicsfairy. (This is an incredible vintage website.) To get rid of the yellow background and leave the sheet music, a Select -> Color Range was performed – once selected, backspace to remove the background so just the music remains on the layer. It was turned at a an angle, a Color Fill Adjustment Layer was changed to a white color, and Drop Shadow added with no changes. The opacity was set to 26% – adjusted last so it does not compete with the card text. To grunge up the bottom half a little more, French Kiss Glorious Grunge Edging Overlay was added and also turned at an angle, and a Solid Color Adjustment Layer set to a light pink to soften the music color. The last step was to apply a Curves Adjustment Layer on top. I could send this card out and be happy!
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Chasing Dreams PhotographyChasing Dreams Photography is a website I only found recently and she has two wonderful free Christmas Card templates using the chalkboard look that seems to be all the rage in textures right now. These can be downloaded (one of her 12 days of Christmas gifts) along with lots of other goodies at her Fan Page on Facebook, similar to the MCP Actions download above. It was very easy to place my image, and the fonts that are in the card templates are free downloads from dafont.com. The image is one I scanned on my old Epson Perfection scanner and had to do quite a bit of retouching. I actually used Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 plug-in on this photo to help enhance it. It printed up very nicely on a matte finish paper.
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Gavin Hoey just provided a very nice Christmas card template on his Gavtrain blog. Also Leslie Nicole at French Kiss Collections has a very wonderful vintage Christmas card available until the end of January 2013. Here is a link that links to several websites offering free holiday templates – check out Free Holiday Card Templates. (Wow- just realized one of my cards from last year is linked here!) Another place that has 4 nice photo templates is from DesktopPCWallpapers.com – check them out at this link. I hope everyone appreciates as much as I do these wonderful sites that are giving away their beautiful cards for free – it providses such quick and easy access to making beautiful cards. If it were not for these kind folks, it would take a lot more time and experimenting – thank you for sharing. Check out my Related Blogs below for more free resources to help add that original look to your cards. I hope these links will help you get a beautiful quick unique card out and take some pressure off so you can Enjoy the Holiday Season!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Free Christmas Card Templates-Part 2
Free Christmas Card Vectors and Brushes
Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template
Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template Using Photoshop Elements


Some Free Christmas Overlays to Spice Up Your Christmas Cards

It is that time of year again and everybody is busy trying to get their cards ready to send out. Last year I gave out a pretty nice PSD template that is very flexible for creating any kind of card you want with an appropriate opening for those kid shots that are so popular. (See Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template.) Recently I have been working with overlays and I have created a few for you (see download link below) that can be used both on your images and/or as an inside card message. (Note: these could have been made as JPG files but I like to create PNG files where their is transparency involved – you do not have to remove any white or black backgrounds since it is just the object itself in the file.)

These beautiful Alstroemeria flowers were taken at the local grocery store using my point-and-shoot Kodak camera. They were processed first with OnOne (see sidebar for website link on my Tidbits Blog) Perfect Effects using two filters stacked: Rice Paper Light Texture topped by Hollywood Glow at 50% opacity. French Kiss’s Artiste Joyeuse Texture (this is not a free texture but they are so nice that I bought this collection) was placed on top and set to 94% opacity.  The flowers were painted back in on a white layer mask using a 30% opacity black brush – just gradually built up the effect so the edges are not as visible as the center area. To create the red and green effect from a very beige and pink texture, a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was placed on top and clipped to the texture layer (CTRL+click between the two layers in the Layers Panel). The Colors Neutrals, Reds and Yellows were adjusted to get the Christmas colors. My Merry Christmas Overlay was placed in the right upper corner and can be downloaded for free below. To change the color of the overlay to green, a Color Fill Adjustment Layer (Layers -> New Fill Layer -> Solid Color and check the Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask box to clip the layer to the overlay layer) was added. A Drop Shadow Layer Style (click 2nd icon at bottom of Layer Panel and set color to White, Opacity to 63%, turn off Global Light, Distance of 6, Spread 36,and a Size of 7) was created to make the letters stand out better. To get the red text, the Overlay layer was duplicated and a layer mask was added – just remove anything you want left in the original color by painting it out with a black brush in the mask. Then add a new Color Fill Adjustment Layer with the new color clipped to the duplicate layer and you get a second color in the overlay! The Drop Shadow Layer Style color was changed to a light pink at 27% opacity, distance of 0, spread of 32 and Size of 141. A brown 3 pixel Stroke was also added. The last step was to add a layer with snow – my very favorite snow brush is Snow Drops by Frostbow painted at 500 pixels in white. That is all that was done. Not a real difficult process and the textures, overlay and brush combine really nicely to give a great holiday look!
…..Here is another holiday overlay that you can add to your cards. This time these miniature white mums were first processed in Lightroom, before cleaning up the background and flowers in Photoshop. Then French Kiss Expressions Watercolor Texture Verve (very inexpensive but lovely  watercolor set – perfect for trying out textures without too much cost) was added and set to 77% opacity. By filling a layer mask with black and painting back the background using a 30% opacity white brush, you can a create soft edge look to your flowers. To get the pretty soft green coloration in the texture (this was originally a yellow and light brown texture), two adjustments layers were clipped on top: a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added and changes made to the Colors Reds, Yellows, Whites and Grays; and a Color Balance Adjustment Layer to add a touch more color. Next my Holiday Greeting PNG Overlay was added (see download link below) and a Color Fill in Green was clipped to add the color to the overlay. My vertical text was the Orial font with a Stroke Layer Style using a green stroke color and an Inner Shadow using a dark brown color at size 7 px. That’s it!
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The bottom texture overlay is one of my favorites from Shadowhouse Creations called MO8-2012-5 and the beautiful Rockinghorse Santa png overlay is also from him. The Merry Christmas brush is from Obsidian Dawn’s Christmas Vectors Brush Set with a red Inner Glow layer style. Next my Snow 2 Overlay (download below) was added at 68% opacity. I love the vintage feel of this image.
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I want to recognize the wonderful sites used to create these overlays and give you their resource links so you can make some of your own. See my blog How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images for steps on how to create your own overlays and for steps on how to add these already created overlays to your images.

  • Snow1 and Snow2 Overlays: The Snow Overlay was created using the instructions from the December 2012 Photoshop User Magazine article by Bert Monroy (this guy is incredible!) called Let It Snow. Pretty simple to follow except I had to add more Gaussian Blur to get the effect I wanted.

****DOWNLOAD LINK FOR MY HOLIDAY OVERLAYS USED IN THIS BLOG****

I hope you enjoy the overlays. These are really fun to do. If you like the way an overlay looks in certain colors, follow Steps 5 and 6 in the Basic Section in my Overlay blog and save it down as a color version – creating an overlay in black and white just makes it easier to change the colors each time you use it. In the meantime you are welcome to use the ones I posted on my Deviant Art site – this is a good starting point. Now get busy and make some beautiful cards!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template
Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template Using Photoshop Elements
Free Christmas Card Vectors and Brushes
Some Holiday Cheer
How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images


Halloween Greetings!

Unusual vintage hearse at Univeral City’s City Walk Horror Night in Orlando, Florida (for a nice video of this event see Halloween Horror Nights 2012 at Universal Studios Orlando). This image was created by using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2, duplicating the layer and painting out the center in a layer mask to retain some of the original color of the image. Brushes used:  BB’s Fogs and Mists Brushes; Halloween Spider font with a layer style that includes a Bevel & Emboss, Stroke, Inner Glow, Color Overlay and Outer Glow effects; Obsidian Dawn’s Halloween Vectors and Cobweb Brush Collections; Pureanodyne Halloween Brushes, and Janine Smith’s Vintage Halloween Brushes. Finally OnOne (see sidebar for website link at my Tidbits Blog) PhotoFrame 4.6 was added. I think it is a pretty spooky image!
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This is an image I created a year ago on my Tidbits Blog – see Spooky Halloween Fun! for info on how I created it.
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Here is another image I created on my Tidbits Blog – see Halloween Resources – Time to Go Batty! for information on how it was created.
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Image from my second blog post two years ago. See Around My Neighborhood. Still love it!
…..This may be my favorite bat image – the Haunted House at The Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. This image was included in a previous blog called Digital Landscape Effects with Nik Software.

It is a lot of fun to create your own Halloween images. Give it a try. Have a Happy Halloween!…..Digital Lady Syd


Where To Get Those Free Valentine Templates

It’s that time of year and everyone is trying to get creative quickly and present just the right valentine. Here are the latest and greatest I have found in my search.

The first valentine is from Graphics Fuel. I added a layer and painted using brushes . Personally I think is a very classy looking valentine and is very easy to use. The font is called Precious and has a very valentine appeal to it. I created a layer above the background and used Brushesstock Flowers Swirls Hearts Brush 1 and 8 set to a layer opacity of 54%. On the top Obsidian Dawn’s Glitter set Hearts-Glitter brush was used to scatter the little hearts around.
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Each year Florabella Collections always has a nice set of free Vintage Valentine templates to give away and this year is no exception. Here is an example of several she has to offer. The font in this card is one she used called Batik Regular. Florabella is known for her wonderful photo actions but now has textures available for sale also.
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This valentine is being promoted from their Facebook page, MCP Actions, for a site called Photographer Cafe. The image is just a stock photo and a layer was added on top where a valentine brush from DigitalTouch was used. There were several choices and are free for download here.
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This example is from Designrs Hub and uses Photoshop Layer Comps for the cover page and the second page. I had to search around to find suitable fonts and ended up using Loci Cola and adjusting the butterflies to look right. I am not sure this is a correct color representation as it is pretty pinkish but you can see what a pretty background this is.

I hope this has helped out a few of you who are the creative type and want to jazz up a nicely created template. It is never too late to download a few brushes and add a couple layers to give them your own look. Hope you have fun creating some Valentines!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Using a Template to Create Your Own Unique Valentine
Free Valentine Templates and a Valentine with Heart
Creating Your Own Art (and Cards) While You Are At It!
My Valentine Images
A Few More Valentine to Make
Create a Valentine
How to Add Images to Text


Happy Holidays from Digital Lady Syd!

Since the season is upon us, I have decided to present a few of my favorite holiday creations. For resource and technique details, see information listed at end.

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Image Details:
1. Used the tutorial “Christmas Night Magic scene with flying Santa”  for initial direction – very easy to follow and lots of fun to create; Snow images Frozen Landscape and a different Frozen Landscape from Stock.xchng; my own sky Belarusian sky image; Santa sleigh in Christmas Brushes by Fina; Snow Drops brush by Frostbo (my favorite brush for realistic falling snow); BB’s Fogs & Mists brush #3; and the Fonts are  Old Script and an old Cosmi Font I bought years ago called 41. The images were transformed and blended using a layer mask to get the look above. OnOne PhotoFrame Acid Brn Controlled 05 was applied – (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link).
2. Some of my favorite pictures have been made of these beautiful pink and white tulips I bought this year at the grocery store. This image uses three free textures all by Shadowhouse Creations – Aged and Distressed Vintage 1, Oil Painting 3, and Attic Treasures Creative Texture 7. All his textures are beautiful and he has great tutorials on how to combine the many textures. The first texture was added into a layer mask by opening up the texture in it own document, CTRL +A and CTRL+C to select and copy the texture; ALT+Click on the layer mask to make the layer white; and CTRL+V to place the image into the layer mask. The other two textures were added above and a layer was added with the Snow Drops brush by Frostbo.
3. I guess I was really into Santa sleighs this year??? Very simple image that started with the Bright Christmas Texture by Graphix1 where the color was changed into a darkish blue to appear like a night image using a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer; BB’s Fogs & Mists brush #12; my SJ-Cloud brushes; my SJ-Mountain brushes; Snow Drops brush by Frostbo; Santa sleigh in Christmas Brushes by Fina; Moon brush by Hawksmont; Font is Fantaisie Artistique (my favorite); the pattern used on Santa and it’s sleigh was added in the Pattern Overlay using Pattern 23 from Obsidian Dawn’s Grunge and Dirty Patterns; and Bevel and Emboss and Drop Shadow layer styles were added to the text layers. OnOne’s PhotoFrame Dave Cross 01 was added as a border (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link).
4. This image first appeared in my “Free Calendar Template for Use with Elements” blog. The image is the top of the Standard Life building in Jackson, Mississippi. The gradient used is from Gorgeous Gradients – PrimaveraII, and the snow is a very useful snow brush called Snow Drop by Frostbo. The lettering on the building is called Kingsthings Christmas font, the Flying Santa Sleigh is by Fina, the fog was created using Sampled Brush #3 and #12 from Brushes Fogs and Mists, the green Christmas Tree and Icicles are in Obsidian Dawn’s Holiday set, and the icy edges are an OnOne PhotoFrame Taufer Texture 08 frame ((see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link). I have to admit this image was a bit of a challenge but I really liked the final effect.

5. A tutorial called “Glossy Snow Globe Text Effect” was the inspiration for this image. I used the layer styles and brushes from the tutorial along with my SJ-Cloud brushes on a light to darker blue gradient for the background. OnOne PhotoFrame grunge 15 was applied. It is not hard to do, but it takes some time to create the brushes and styles.
6. This image was posted in my “Christmas Card from Digital Lady Syd!” blog which contains all the resources and information for this rather complicated card.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and takes time to enjoy the time with friends and family!…..Digital Lady Syd!


Inexpensive Gifts for the Photoshop Lover on Your List


I decided to do something different for this week’s post since I love Photoshop and am constantly on the hunt for the best and cheapest items to make it more fun. The following items are some real treasures I have found in the last year that might help you find that perfect little gift for the person who loves to dabble in Photoshop. (For books and prices listed, see Amazon.com.)

DIGITAL LADY SYD’S BEST INEXPENSIVE PHOTOSHOP FINDS FOR 2011

1. TOPAZ ADJUST 5 ($50)

Since I am such a plug-in lover, simply the best value for the price you will find in the plug-in industry is Topaz Adjust 5 (see my Tidbits Blog for a link to the site). I have written several reviews on this plug-in that was recently upgraded and made even better. Plus, once you buy a plug-in from Topaz, you will always receive the updated versions for free – no other plug-in company does that. Check out my blogs for examples of what this wonderful plug-in can do. (See Digital Lady Syd’s Review of Topaz Adjust 5, Why I Love Topaz Adjust, and Topaz Adjust 5 Is Here! First Look.) The image in the above middle filmstrip was enhanced using Topaz Adjust 5 in Photoshop, but it also works with Elements.

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2. DAVID DUCHEMIN BOOK VISION & VOICE-REFINING YOUR VISION IN ADOBE PHOTOSHOP LIGHTROOM ($25)

Any of David duChemin’s books or E-books (priced at $5.00) are excellent.  “Vision & Voice – Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom”(see Digital Lady Syd’s Favs – Photoshop Books No. 6) has Lightroom tips that can be used with Adobe Camera Raw also. A very enjoyable read for any Photoshop person. The image on the right uses a preset created after reading the book.

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3. GAVTRAIN’S BLAST FROM THE PAST ACTION SET ($8.50)

The Blast from the Past Action Set is by Gavin Hoey, a British Photoshop guru. Listed as a great value, these actions are lots of fun to use, but can only be used with Photoshop CS and on and not Elements. I bought them a while ago and use them quite a bit. Great stocking stuffer for the Photoshop Nut. (See my blog “Same Image-Different Look! 6th image down for an example of the Lomo Effect from the set.) The filmstrip is also one of the actions from this set.

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4. JIM ZIMMERMAN’S CREATIVE TECHNIQUES WITH NIK SOFTWARE E-BOOK ($9.50)

Creative Techniques with NIK Software downloads as a 79 page .pdf file on the NIK plug-ins, if you have them. Although the book refers to Color Efex Pro 3, it is still very relevant for the new Color Efex Pro 4.  It also covers NIK’s Silver Efex Pro 2, Viveza 2 and HDR EFex Pro. Very good information packed into this file.

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5. JOHN DERRY MIXER BRUSHES ($20)
Mixer Brush Set contains six very helpful video tutorials on how to use them. These brushes are Photoshop CS5 specific. From my Adobe Photoshop CS5’s Mixer Brushes blog, “These brushes are by far the easiest way to get comfortable with the Mixer Brushes and I would highly recommend them if you really like the Mixer Brush effects. In his bundle he includes some textures for the brushes to help get a real painterly look on the image. Also, an action to set up for painting on an image is included and I am still trying this out. What may be the best part of this set is a restore brush that can bring part of the unpainted image back into the painted areas and is totally unique as far as my research indicates.” Needless to say, these are great brushes with great instruction! Great for the artistic Photoshop person.

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6. COREY BARKER’S PHOTOSHOP DOWN & DIRTY TRICKS FOR DESIGNERS BOOK ($29)

I do not have this book but I am planning on asking for it for Christmas. Corey is one of the best Photoshop creatives I have ever seen and the book will not disappoint. (For an example of one of his tutorials, see my blog “That Flaming Fire Brush!“)

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7. DOVER CLIP ART BOOKS ($10 to $25)

I have used these books for several years and always find lots of fun ways to add them into an image. They have many vintage era, butterfly and flower clip art that is equal to none. Makes for a great addition to any Photoshop fans arsenol. The image on the left uses a sketch from Dover’s Floral Embroidery Designs book.

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8. PHOTOSHOP IMPRESSIONISM VIDEO TUTORIAL SERIES DOWNLOAD ($25)

This is a little gem I just discovered. If you like to do artistic looks to your images, this is the information you need. Mark S Johnson has been doing some of the best Photoshop video tutorials for several years – I have learned so much from his expertise and this downloaded information is just an extension of all his knowledge. This would be a great gift for the Photoshop fan!

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9. PRESET VIEWER BREEZE PROGRAM ($20)

I would be lost without this Preset Viewer Program. When you need that special brush to load into Photoshop and cannot remember which set is it in, this program will open them up to view within seconds to help you find what you need. Definitely a real time-saver. It also reads patterns, fonts, jpgs, shapes, styles, and swatches. A great addition for speeding up your Photoshop workflow.

I hope that this list will give you a few ideas on getting that special Photoshop person a nice little surprise for Christmas. So much that has to do with Photoshop is expensive and unfortunately that keeps people from being able to explore all the many new techniques out there. These items should help give everyone some new ideas for the coming year. Happy Holidays and Enjoy…..Digital Lady Syd


Free Christmas Card Templates-Part 2

UPDATE: Since posting the information on the cards below, I have created my own card template for free download – see my Tidbits Blog “Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template” – that can be used in Photoshop and Elements for your use and enjoyment! Also, check my newer blog Where to Find Those Cool Free Christmas Card Templates?

This is going to be a short but sweet post since I posted on the updated Topaz Adjust 5 plug-in earlier this week. Last year I attempted to provide some Christmas Card template links and resources as I was able to find them. Many of those templates are no longer available by various websites. Unfortunately as of 11/17/14 this card template offered by MCP Actions a few years ago is not available anymore – I will continue searching for it or a similar one as I really liked the card. In the meantime, my Basic Holiday Card Template is a very similar set up.

The postcard below is very nice and the clip art and type can be changed easily. This example involved going to Edit -> Place to add the image above the highlighted photo mask layer. Since this causes the new image layer to be a Smart Object, it is very easy to adjust and rotate to fit the opening. Then clip to the layer below (CTRL+ALT+G). A little Noise was added to give a graininess as in the holly clip art.

The red card is showing how you can take this simple template and make a totally different feel to it.


With this card I first created a New Layer and filled it with a bright green above the photo mask layer. Another New Layer was created and the star in the center was made by stacking several Texturemate Stars2 brushes in different colors. Then BittBoxes Grunge Ice Texture 5 was added below the star to create an interesting setting for the star. The texture was taken into Topaz Adjust 5 and the HDR Strong preset was applied to make the texture pop a bit. Back in Photoshop the blend mode was changed to Divide which makes it green and yellow. Next a Hue/Saturation layer was added above the beige background and the sliders adjusted to get a bright red. The lines were removed on the right side so the type did not have to line up. Snow Drops Frosto brush was used for the small white flakes sprinkled around the background. (This was the best snow brush I could find and it turned out nice!) The large white flakes are from Snow Flakes Brush by Ann Stock Brushes. The Merry Christmas and New Year fonts were changed to SecesjaPL. The text over the star was created using the Razzle Dazzle free font and was placed at the top of the pile. Finally the tape was removed from the frame by cloning it out and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to it to make the frame whiter. It was then transformed to make it larger and straighter on the card.

I wanted to show you how you can change things up with a nice basic template to work with. The resources above are a good start to finding more good Christmas oriented items. It is always fun to find new things! Well I guess this officially kicks off the holiday! Hope you have some fun with this template!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template
Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template Using Photoshop Elements
Free Christmas Card Vectors and Brushes
Free Christmas Card Templates
Some Holiday Cheer


Combining Plug-ins – Double the Effect!

NIK Color Efex Pro 4, Topaz Lens Effects, and OnOne PhotoFrame 4.6

The original image was of a shop on St. George Street in St. Augustine. My Vivid Drawing Look preset (see my Tidbits Blog “Settings for Vivid Drawing Look ACR/Lightroom Preset and NIK Color Efex Pro 4 Pseudo HDR Recipe“) in Lightroom was used with some luminance color adjustment before being brought into Photoshop. In NIK Color Efex Pro 4 (CEP4), the Darken/Lighten Center filter and Film Efex: Vintage set to Film Type 27 was added. The layer was copied and Rasterized to get rid of the Smart Object (right-click on layer and select rasterize) and then the Topaz Lens Effect plug-in was used. The Fisheye Lens Effect was applied using 73% distortion amount and adjusting all the Image Adjustment sliders. A New Layer was added above and the Sharpen Tool was used to locally sharpen parts of the image. Finally the “acid burned controlled 05” OnOne PhotoFrame was added to finish the look. This is a crazy look but it shows what an interesting result you can get by stacking the plug-in effects on one image.

Photomatix Pro 4, NIK Color Efex Pro 4 and Topaz Adjust 4


This image is of the famous pedestrian St. George Street in St. Augustine, Florida. It was processed as an HDR in Photomatix Pro 4.0 and then brought into two of my favorite Photoshop plug-ins: NIK Color Efex Pro 4 and Topaz Adjust. To get this vintage artsy effect, six CEP4 filters were stacked into a recipe (Darken/Lighten Center, Brilliance/Warmth, Tonal Contrast, Image Borders, Dark Contrasts, and High Key in that order); and in Topaz Adjust 4, a preset was created from a Topaz video on “Rick Sammon’s Top Topaz Tricks, Tips, and Techniques” that used the Spicify preset to create a soft artsy effect.

NIK Color Efex Pro 4.0, Topaz Black and White Effects, and OnOne PhotoFrame 4.6

All my favorite plug-ins were used on this one. The Flagler Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine is one of the beautiful places to see while enjoying the city. NIK CEP4 was first applied using my Pseudo HDR1 preset from my blog “Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4” with an additional white Vignette filter. It was then toned down by using the Topaz Black and White Effects plug-in.  The Albumen Collection – Aubergine preset was used as starting point and then adjusting the Basic Exposure settings and setting the Transparency setting to 0.58. Back in Photoshop this layer was set to 59%, a New Layer was added and the Sharpening Tool was used to bring out the edges on the tops of the little towers, and finally the “acid burned controlled 15” preset from OnOne PhotoFrames was added in a matching cream color. These three plug-ins really do go hand-in-hand to create some stunning results!

It is a lot of fun to use these plug-ins! It is even more fun to mix and match! I use the OnOne PhotoFrames a lot because it can enhance an image that lacks some pizzazz. It is very great that the colors can be changed easily and sampled from the image to match the colors in the image. I also like Topaz Black and White Effects and NIK Color Efex Pro 4 as my two favorite creative plug-ins. Topaz Lens Effects does a great job of recreating the fisheye look without having to buy an expensive fisheye lens – there are several other effects in it that can be a lot of fun to try out. See below for my other blog links to these plug-ins for further information on how to use them.

Try stacking some of these effects – you will be surprised what great results you can create! Have fun experimenting!…..Digital Lady Syd

Related Digital Lady Syd Blog Links:
Topaz Lens Effects Plug-In
Why I Love Topaz Adjust!
Topaz B&W Effects Plug-in – A Real Winner!
NIK Color Efex Pro 4.0 – First Try!
The New Film Efex-Vintage Filter from NIK CEP 4
NIK Color Efex Pro 4 – Digital Lady Syd’s Review!
The Art Corner: Painting and Sculpture by Tassaert
Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4
Settings for Vivid Drawing Look ACR/Lightroom Preset and NIK Color Efex Pro Pseudo HDR Recipe